Opinion: Rep. Colon, Assembly 45 and a tip of the hat
More from the CSI Outlook and Op-Ed pages
Just when you thought lame-duck Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle might finally be in a position where he can’t do further harm, he demonstrates his cretinous legacy remains under construction.
Doyle is not seeking re-election in November, but that doesn’t mean he’s through rewarding the cloying sycophants who enabled his ethically challenged administration for eight years.
Last week, the governor inexplicably appointed outgoing state Rep. Pedro Colon, D-Milwaukee, to a circuit court judgeship. Colon has been trolling for months for a better-paying job on the public dime, and finally wound up with a six-figure patronage position for which he is wholly unqualified.
Colon is best known in these parts for taunting state Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, while Nass was grieving the death of his mother. Nass had been the chief critic of state Rep. Jeff Wood, a Chippewa Falls independent who is a serial drunken driver and, perhaps coincidentally, a reliable vote for Assembly Democrats. Attending to the funeral of his mother, Nass missed a vote on the attempted expulsion of Wood from the Legislature, and that prompted an obnoxious Colon to mock Nass for being home, rather than in the Capitol.
That Doyle is not bothered by this — or Colon’s scant qualifications for a position on the bench — speaks volumes about a governor whose self-serving reign long will be regarded as a truly toxic chapter in the history of a once-proud state.
If, indeed, the November general election is to be the conservative tsunami predicted by so many political pundits, Wisconsin’s 45th Assembly District might well serve as a microcosm of the political washout.
Pending results of a re-count in the Republican primary, newcomer Amy Loudenbeck of a Clinton Township is set to square off against Democrat Roger Anclam of Turtle Township for the seat held by outgoing Beloit Democrat Chuck Benedict. Loudenbeck, a former Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce official, won a close primary against two top-notch candidates, Jeff Klett and Jim Reseburg, and now has a legitimate chance to win a seat typically ceded to Democrats.
She’s smart, ran a savvy campaign and offers a message of fiscal responsibility that resonates in the current political climate.
Anclam, on the other hand, is a former United Auto Workers functionary — Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville traveled a similar route to the Legislature — who seems preoccupied with assailing the Republican bogeyman.
In a self-described “victory statement” immediately following his “overwhelming” primary win, Anclam offered a tired denunciation of the GOP, and by extension, Loudenbeck.
“Unlike the Republicans, who think deregulation and cutting taxes for the rich is the answer to our woes, I am ready to get to work on solutions that help average families,” Anclam said.
Such political tripe is almost laughably hackneyed, and might actually benefit Loudenbeck, whose commitment to “average families,” as best we can tell, has never been in question.
If Anclam truly believes that thoughtful Republicans like Loudenbeck, Klett and Reseburg are merely reflexive tools of big business and the hated rich, voters should seriously consider whether the 45th District deserves a more-reasonable voice in Madison.
Finally, we offer a hearty hats off to Central Christian Church in Beloit, which provided free health care services to hundreds of people this weekend, and a group of Palmyra-area aviators, who are teaching teenagers to build and fly airplanes.
Central Christian’s Project Hope is an ambitious outreach to a community that continues to be battered by a grinding recession. Last year, some 600 volunteers provided health and dental care, clothing, massage therapy, home repairs and school supplies to more than 1,000 people who otherwise would find it difficult to pay for such things.
“It’s about who we wanted to be as a church,” said the Rev. Joel Otto.
Mission accomplished. Project Hope truly is a remarkable endeavor that epitomizes the grace of God.
Not far away, in Palmyra, 88 Charlies is demonstrating that the wild blue yonder is within reach of any kid, regardless of socio-economic constraints.
For two years, the group of volunteer pilots and aviation enthusiasts has given young people a hands-on introduction to the joys of flight.
“What about kids who aren’t going to a four-year college?” asked cofounder and pilot Dave McCoy. “What about kids like me who didn’t even finish high school? What do we do for them? Well, this is one thing we can do.”
And it is a very special thing, indeed.
Read more on the Outlook and Perspective pages of CSI's Walworth County Sunday e-edition on pages 8A and 9A. and add your comments below.