FREE WHITEWATER

Babbittry

Built Against Substantive Change

Over time, no matter how small the city, national conditions and trends make their way to the edge of town. Some towns will address these conditions, but others will be resistant to substantive change. For those towns in the latter category, business as usual and rhetorical feints suffice in response to powerful forces to which…

Public Relations v. Journalism

Anyone familiar with a proper newspaper should be able to tell the difference between public relations and journalism: the former advances a corporate or government perspective, the latter reports and assesses that perspective. There are public relations outfits (often called media relations) in big and small communities, with this obvious difference: small communities have few…

Cameras, Not Committees

Recent protests across America against excessive and biased use of police force began after ordinary people in those communities recorded official (to the point of murderous) actions, and then shared their recordings with others. It was not government – local, state, or federal – that promptly shared these recordings of excessive force; it was ordinary…

The Lingering Problem of Local Exceptionalism

A common error in small rural communities is the persistent, false claim that local officials are examples of a local exceptionalism that makes them implicitly immune from the flaws and mistakes that beset the rest of humanity. Under this thinking, while there may be problems in the wider world, there are no local examples of…

Boosterism, ’30s Style

Although the Roosevelt Administration was (whatever its other mistakes) candid about the economic conditions it faced, there was in the ’30s, as there has been over the 2010s in Wisconsin, a delusional impulse to happy talk – regardless of economic conditions – among some politicians and some business groups. Margaret Bourke-White‘s Kentucky Flood depicts the…

Local Voting & Voting Locally in Whitewater

The spring election, conducted during a pandemic, is now behind Wisconsin. There’s little question that statewide, it was a good night for Jill Karofsky and Lisa Neubauer. (I supported both candidates.) Whitewater – the city proper – also supported these candidates. A majority of the city’s voters did, in fact, prefer these voters even while…

An Empty-Headed Man’s Next Gig

Updated with a longer – and so more revealing – video of Kushner’s vapidity. When Jared Kushner is finished impairing America’s response to a pandemic, he’ll need something else to do. Wisconsin still has the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and in small Wisconsin towns like Whitewater one finds development hucksters, business leagues of landlords &…

A Newspaper’s Boosterism During a Pandemic

A worthy person – a man or woman committed to reason, honesty, and seriousness of purpose – would have little respect for the Janesville Gazette. This critical view is not a new one, truly: the paper’s work has been inferior during the Great Recession, during an opioid crisis, during cheerleading for countless state and local…

Local Public Policy as if Charitable Assistance

Whitewater’s policymakers, and those of other small, rural cities, should – in these times of economic stagnation, a lingering opioid crisis, failed business welfare, and an approaching recession – view their principal obligation as if it were charitable outreach. (It’s not charity, of course, but that’s how policymakers should view it: as both palliative and…

Whitewater School Board, 1.27.20: Palmyra-Eagle & Competition Between Districts

?? On Monday night, Whitewater’s school board met first in closed session, and about an hour later in open session. (A video of the open session is embedded above.) Part way into the meeting, after a summary of the latest developments concerning the nearby Palmyra-Eagle School District, a candidate for that school district’s board spoke…

‘But Not in Conditions of Their Own Choosing’

It’s a truism to say that all people make history, but not in conditions of their own choosing: Admittedly and sadly, the local boosterism of the pre-Trump years is now in retrospect worse than one might have initially believed: across America boosters who peddled false descriptions & junk solutions during the economic hardship of the…

Aside

‘Innovation Center’ as Empty Rhetoric: “As a general term, innovation center doesn’t say anything specific to us, so we were from the start trying to understand what they meant by that” — Matt Jewell, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, writing of Foxconn’s chimerical ‘innovation’ centers.

Spot-on.

 

Forget the Tender Feelings of a Pernicious Faction

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Craig Gilbert writes about the political divide in For voters in this purple part of Wisconsin [Richland Center], the impeachment fight is a symbol of broken politics. The story establishes a false equivalence between those who support impeachment and those who oppose it, as though the conflict between these views…