Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
A lot of people will be sending, and receiving long-distance gifts, usually of the edible variety.
That means fruitcakes, candy, popcorn tins, glazed fruit, meats and cheeses.
Not everyone on the receiving end will be doing cartwheels.
So, you get a baked good in the mail from Aunt Hazel that looks like its true and more effective purpose would be a doorstop.
Do you feed it to Fido?
Another relative you’re not crazy about?
Or does the disposal get to swallow?
After all, Aunt Hazel will never know, right?
I should toss it, shouldn’t I?
This particular culinary conundrum was cataclysmic enough for one reader to pen a letter of concern recently to DEAR ABBY:
DEAR ABBY: Every year I receive baked goods from a friend who lives across the country. They are petrified by the time they arrive. About the same time, I get food baskets containing highly processed food and waxy chocolate candies (heart attack inducers, I call them) by mail-order from several family members. I have never eaten this kind of food. I throw it all right in the trash. It bothers me to be wasteful, but I don't want the stuff, and it's not suitable to give to a shelter. I have asked repeatedly that any gifts to me be donations to charities of their choice. It doesn't matter what I say; I keep getting stuff I don't want. Any ideas how I can get my message across without being perceived as rude or ungrateful? -- PIQUED IN PALM DESERT
Even before I saw Abigail’s response, the obvious answer jumped out at me.
DEAR PIQUED: You have already gotten your message across. Your friend and family members have chosen to ignore it. Your name is probably part of a long list that is routinely submitted to these mail-order companies every year -- and removing it may take more effort than these people are willing to exert.
While I’m enjoying some time off, the time-sensitive Week-ends is also on hiatus. The feature will return Saturday, November 24.
That is astounding, considering the vulnerable Barrett is ripe for the picking.
The conventional wisdom is that Barrett has a huge war chest, and that frightens potential challengers who prefer to run for the city of Milwaukee’s top job in 2012.
In reality, a strong candidate could give Barrett a run for his money. The right candidate could knock him off. That person, I believe, is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
The most critical issue the city confronts is violent crime. On that front, Barrett has failed miserably.
Whenever a violent crime blitzkrieg breaks out, Barrett has managed to be out of town, being quoted at some seminar by the New York Times.
Worse yet, Barrett has no significant plan or vision to aggressively combat crime. His solution is to bring out the bookmobile, hand out Summerfest pamphlets to gang members, and blame guns.
When outgoing Police Chief Nan Hegerty, herself a major disappointment, said Milwaukee suffers from a societal crisis, Barrett disagreed claiming there was no crisis. That begs the question of how many crimes and dead bodies it would take before Barrett’s eyebrows would move.
Sheriff Clarke has fought crime his entire life. Whenever the subject has come up during my fill-in stints on WISN Radio, Clarke has called in to blast Barrett. When I’ve pressed Clarke on running for Mayor, he has been evasive.
Barrett has dropped the ball in other areas.
Last week, he ripped the Milwaukee School Board for proposing a monstrous tax increase. Barrett, of course, was right, although a blind squirrel would have gotten that one correct. What Barrett doesn’t tell you is that he was responsible, in part, for MPS’s ludicrous plan.
The School Board proposed a 16.4% increase, but the increase actually would have jumped several percentage points because of a tax collection error in 2006.
As the Journal/Sentinel has reported, “An error a year ago at City Hall that left $9 million off the MPS tax levy gave people, in effect, a one-time break on bills issued then. But bumping up the levy this year to the base it was supposed to be at last year will make this year's total school tax collections increase by about 13%”
The error took place, where? At City Hall? And who’s in charge?
Remember the many problems that surfaced under Barrett’s Election Commissioner, ranging from unprocessed registration cards to undelivered ballots to unrecorded votes?
How about 20,000 registration cards that were not processed, a problem Barrett first learned of the day before the November 2006 election. That led to a late-night scramble to organize them and get them to the polls. On Election Day, 238 absentee ballots were not delivered to the polls before they closed. They were counted late, only after the city sought and received special permission from the state. An unknown number of people who asked for absentee ballots never got them. The Journal Sentinel reported that, “About 1,200 votes came from invalid addresses and city records showed a gap of about 7,000 votes between the number of people recorded as voting and the number of ballots cast.”
And yet Barrett opposes photo ID.
David Clarke can unseat Barrett. The mayor’s popularity has waned among south side blue-collar Democrats. Conservatives who put Barrett in office feel betrayed, believing the liberal Barrett has done nothing for them. Meanwhile, liberals have told me they think Barrett has been too conservative. How, I’ll never know. But if liberals and conservatives are both angry, that doesn’t bode well. Barrett’s support in the black community, I am told, is fragile.
Despite Barrett’s money and a Barrett machine, the signs all point to a tough re-election fight if Clarke, who knows a thing or two about winning elections, would enter the race.
My understanding is that Clarke has been in serious discussions with his top campaign people. If he’s thinking about it, he better get his toes out of the water and dive in……real soon.
Since the management of these sites decided to allow readers to offer feedback, it’s my observation that the implementation of the comments section created two separate blogs.
You have each individual blogger writing in his/her own style. Then the community is afforded the opportunity to react.
The comments have taken on a life of their own, ranging from complimentary to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Generally, the vast majority of the comments have been the kind that don’t need to be sent to the “BLOG COMMENT GRAVEYARD.”
Readers must understand that if they bite, the blogger has every right, and is going to bite back.
I’ve been struck by the calls to tone it down and be nicer. They seem to come from individuals who don’t mind tossing the mud around.
It’s this spirited feedback that I believe has generated great interest, so much so that readers check in, not just to read what Kevin and Fred and Bryan and Mary are offering, but also to read how others will respond. Whose skin did they get under this time?
The pattern usually goes like this: blogger writes about a topic that grabs attention, reader takes issue and expresses his/her sentiment, another reader takes issue the response, and back and forth they go. Suddenly, like a soap opera, you have one or more sub-plots cooking all at the same time, in effect, two blogs in one.
Most chuckle at the verbal pro wrestling. A small minority gets so taken aback that they clamor for turning the blogging fisticuffs into an ice cream social. Don’t buy it.
When I worked at WTMJ Radio in the 90’s, our news department made a conscious decision during the O.J. Simpson trial to produce on a daily basis in-depth reports on various legal angles, often utilizing the expertise of local attorneys and analysts.
Our phones rang. Get that stuff off the air, they yelled. We’re sick and tired of that junk over and over again, they hollered.
The reality was the public was interested in the case, the public was following it, and they wanted more, not less coverage. Ratings went up during this period.
The same is no doubt true for the fireworks on this website. With rare exceptions, I find the spirited commentary to be welcome. Personally, I believe those who strongly disagree with me do me a favor and a disservice to their cause(s). And for the most part, like those who slow down to view the aftermath of a traffic accident, readers love the give and take on our blogs.
Of course, more civil debate is also welcome. But even those who have moaned that the climate gets too nasty never leave. They keep coming back to read, and comment, more.
There is, in my view, a major drawback.
When you have two or maybe more blogs going on the same blog (if I can put it that way), the theme of the original blog or topic can be lost in the swirling myriad of all-over-the map comments.
This can be corrected, but it will require greater discipline on the part of bloggers who should rarely take action while moderating. They can and should urge readers to stay on topic, and yours truly is just as guilty of dropping the ball as anyone else.
So FranklinNOW.com has morphed into not one, but two blogs. If handled properly, that will be a win-win for readers.