I earlier called this an “ad”. Janesville Gazette in a tweet today said
Get an anti-teacher flyer in your Gazette box?We didn’t produce or distribute it.Here’s more:… fb.me/272LVbSwj
— Janesville Gazette (@gazettextra) May 22, 2012
Last Sunday a blue sheet accompanied the Janesville Gazette. It listed the salaries of all Janesville teachers with the heading, “How much do WEAC teachers make in the Janesville school district?”
At the bottom of the page is a “Parents’ Rights Protection Form” which a parent can use to request that their child be assigned to a “non-radical teacher during the 2012-13 school year”. The form also leads the reader to look up a teacher to see if she or he signed a recall petition against Walker (soooo apparently the signature on a petition is “radical” to whomever wrote up this ad?)
The author doesn’t make clear who he is. But a radio report on 1230 WCLO says that the only person to make a public records request of the Janesville District recently for the sort of information in the blue flyer was Orville Seymer.
At first I assumed that Orville Seymer, a CRG Network Field Operations Director, ran the ad. To double-check, I put in a call to Chris Kliesmet of CRG (Citizens of Responsible Government). He said that CRG helps citizens make open records requests and Orville helped a citizen make the request to get teacher salary information. He said CRG helps citizens pro bono and helps them stay anonymous adding that CRG has been doing this service for 10 years. I told him that although I understand the importance of open government, I am troubled by what happens when records are used against individuals in a politically charged environment. I didn’t record the call but took notes including this phrase Chris used to dismiss me, “Democracy is a contact sport”.
Orville Seymer is technically doing “non-partisan” records work. Right-o. Can you guess who he stands with?
“Orville Seymer of Milwaukee helped hold up a 10-foot pro-Walker sign in the rain and frigid temperatures. “We’re supporting the removal of collective bullying,” he said in April of 2011 to a Waukesha Freeman reporter.
“Citizens for Responsible Government” [or should I say their political branch?] worked to install Scott Walker in his first gig as Milwaukee County Executive. CRG and its members promote starve-government-at-all-costs tactics that usually focus on Milwaukee County. In a spirit of openness that CRG would approve of, I share that Orville Seymer can be reached at 414-573-8709 [that's according to an announcement about the failed recall against Sen. Jauch, which CRG assisted].
Many of us are also wondering if the Janesville Gazette ran this “ad” to let us know it stands with Scott Walker?
Janesville resident and candidate for Assembly Yuri Rashkin
thinks not wrote: “It appears that the Gazette had nothing to do with distributing this anonymous attack. The flyers were put on top or underneath the Sunday paper, and were not limited in their distribution exclusively to Gazette subscribers. Nor were these distributed throughout the entire city of Janesville.”
However a friend of mine on facebook [I'm not sure if it's OK to reveal her name] said her grandparents in Janesville got both the flyer and the Janesville Gazette on Sunday even though they don’t subscribe to the paper.
After reading a recent post from rocknetroots called Janesville Gazette Admits Cover-Ups Are A Courtesy In Exchange For Access, my gut tells me that Janesville Gazette has given the ad a nod. Frankly, the newspaper needs to clear this up.
In an interview with 1230 WCLO, Doctor David Parr of Janesville Education Association delivered his comments on the blue sheet. He said the professional caliber of the Janesville staff justifies good salaries and their masters degrees and years of service should be rewarded. He said “Scott Walker has made a direct attack on the teachers of Wisconsin. We’re doing our political duty to make him be held accountable for it” and he added that it is discouraging that somebody is trying to include children in politics that should be left to adults.
In truth Wisconsinites — adults — find this kind of personal, smear-tactic politics over-the-top and offensive. But how disgusted Wisconsin teachers must feel right now to see this. It would be very thoughtful if you and I could set aside some time today to send the Wisconsin educators we know a supportive note or phone call. Let educators know you value teachers and you have their back.
Footnote — More on Janesville Gazette’s political leanings:
[Note: I think the Janesville community and many of us in Wisconsin would appreciate the publication of statement from the editorial board of the Janesville Gazette to make it clear where they stand on both the content and the tactics used to spread the anti-teacher screed.]
Most of you have already seen a video of Scott Walker telling billionaire Hendricks that he would practice “divide and conquer” tactics. He said those words when replying to her question, “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work?” They were at an RC5 event [RC5 is a Rock County business group]. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, Janesville is in Rock County. The blog rocknetroots chronicles the umbrage Janesville Gazette took with guy who filmed that. J.Gazette wanted film maker Brad Lichtenstein to cover up the conversation “just like they apparently always do, and the Gazette went so far as claiming that Lichtenstein owed the RC5 that service because they granted him access to the meeting …just like they do.”
Footnote 2: According to Janesville Gazette a flier also appeared in March in Janesville with salary info. and smear statemetns:
Those fliers listed the salaries of some district administrators and teachers and made specific charges against public schools, including “dumbed-down curriculum,” “Marxist/globalist agenda,” “sexualization of children” and “union bullying and vindictive targeting of students.”
Footnote 3: A little comparison to the Milwaukee County days that includes CRG: CRG [I assume its political arm] held a rally for Walker back in 2009. He pledged to have zero tax increases in the 2010 budget. This is what CRG laps up. Meanwhile Milwaukee County First’s Chris Liebenthal (AKA Cog_Dis) said the budget “was based on revenues and on savings that will never occur, setting it up, and the county with it, for a fiscal crisis before it’s even enacted on the first day of the new year.”
Senator Chris Larson at the 4:41 mark in this 2011 video says that Walker has always seen the world in only 1 dimension: tax cuts. He said an the analogy would be going to purchase a car and cutting parts of the car out with no consideration for safety such as saying “no seatbelts”. He said the Milwaukee County board would get outrageous cut demands from him like cutting 45 tons of food to their poorest community, cutting pool access to seniors, cutting funds to an AIDS resource center, etc. He said the county would then go back and fix the situation “almost enabling him” and then Walker would push for cuts again.