Excuses and Rationalizations

Daily Bread for 3.27.24: “Nice Person, But…”

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be windy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 6:42 and sunset 7:16 for 12h 33m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 95.1 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1975, construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins.

Yesterday’s post, These Aren’t the MAGA Claims You Were Looking For,  seemed clear to me. While opinions on local issues differ, residents should be able to discern plainly-stated views. (Opinions in Whitewater — and even basic accounts of events — vary among residents now more than at any time since FREE WHITEWATER began publication in 2007. See Rashomon-upon-Cravath.) 

Of that post, summarized:

(1) The post was about open government1.

(2) A more detailed series on the district and proposals to improve governance can wait until after the election.

(3) Too many people in this town have election fever, and it’s left them dehydrated and decomposed. Their malady is not mine.

(4) The claims and proposals that boardmember (and whistleblower) Maryann Zimmerman has made since December are not conservative populist claims. They are claims of no single ideology or partisan view.

(5) I’ve never met Mrs. Zimmerman and it’s not as though we’re in a knitting club together2.

(6) The current board president has done no better than to beg off every question with the false, self-protective claim that he cannot speak for legal reasons and the district has a superintendent who not only won’t speak but has tried to prevent others from speaking.

That’s yesterday’s post in a nutshell. 

And yet, and yet, a community leader wrote me last night to explain to me that, thirteen months ago, Mrs. Zimmerman voted not to deny a petition to alter district boundaries regarding a taxed property, concluding from her vote that Mrs. Zimerman was a “[n]ice person, but she does not know what she is doing.” (I responded bluntly via email.)

This emailer’s claim might as well have been a parody of whataboutism3.

The overall policy competency of this boardmember wasn’t the point of my post.  (It’s evident that she’s as capable as others on the board. Practically, whether intentional or not, this boardmember alone has been able to knock the board president and the district administration back on their heels. It’s much easier to paint a single boardmember as ignorant than it is to admit — or perhaps grasp — that official responses to that boardmember have been strategically and tactically inept. That’s not the fault of students, parents, or residents. It’s the responsibility of boardmembers and administrators who’ve exacerbated the issue through their own responses.)  

A tax issue from thirteen months ago matters not at all now. The insular frustration that’s come to district officials from more recent events, the excuse-making and rationalization of fumbled and self-injurious responses, evidently grips them.

What matters most is a better path than the one that overreaching and underthinking officials have taken. 

Other district officials made that mess.

Nice people, but they do not know what they’re doing.

Belgian farmers spray manure towards police who respond with water cannon4:

1. Of limited, responsible, open government with individual rights, of progressive theology through traditional liturgy, and of cats, this libertarian blogger is, it happens, a true believer.

2. It’s not as though Boardmember Zimmerman and I are in a knitting club together. I don’t knit, and have no idea if she does. Nonetheless, all my best to the knitters of Whitewater and the sheep who’ve supplied their yarn. I have only love in my bleeding-libertarian heart for all of them.

3. The emailer pointed me to the minutes of the year-ago discussion, but in any event, the minutes are not the first place to look. A recording of the meeting would be the first, best place to look. Again and again: no record like a recording. After reviewing the recording, it seems to me that there were issues that no one considered fully. It certainly wasn’t obvious — except to those of narrow and motivated reasoning — that there was one only way to vote on items. 

4. Does anyone know if some of these district officials have visited a Belgian farm lately?

Daily Bread for 3.15.24: A Sunshine Week Story

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 52. Sunrise is 7:04 and sunset 7:02 for 11h 58m 32s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 33.4 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1991, the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany comes into effect, granting full sovereignty to the Federal Republic of Germany.

  It’s Sunshine Week in America. You know, your right to know. Miles Maguire has published a story for Sunshine Week about the fight for open government in Wisconsin entitled UW-Oshkosh buried facts about mishandled Native American remains. Sunshine laws uncovered them:

Last April the Wisconsin Examiner published an examination of the way that Native American human remains have been retained by public institutions in Oshkosh long after the passage of a federal law that was intended to speed their repatriation to the tribes that once inhabited the area.

The article included some startling details that demonstrated the callousness of the institutions, especially the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. But the university also managed to keep even more graphic information out of the story.

For example, readers did not learn that a Native American skull, collected in Oshkosh on the south bank of the Fox River, had been stolen in 1990 from an exhibit case on campus and “broken during the bungled burglary.” Nor did they read about the time that the remains of one individual went missing from an excavation where an assistant professor found 43 burials but apparently lost track of one “en route to the archaeology laboratory.”

The reason that these details, contained in inventory records that had been easily accessible at the campus library, were not included in my story was that during the course of my reporting university officials stepped in and placed the documents in a restricted area. I was in the midst of reviewing the documents when the university decided that they needed to be kept from the public on the basis of what turned out to be a completely bogus rationale.

Last month the university released a full set of the inventory records under prodding from the Winnebago County district attorney, whose investigation showed that UW Oshkosh had repeatedly and egregiously manipulated state law.

The DA’s investigation confirmed what I had asserted in a complaint filed in July, that UW Oshkosh had made a mockery of the state’s public records law, slow-walking responses, making up excuses for redacting information and misapplying doctrines like the attorney-client privilege. Among other things, I pointed out, UWO had withheld documents from me that it had released to another news organization and claimed that it had the right to keep from me a copy of an email that I myself had written.

(Emphasis added.)

Again and again: public officials in public institutions conducting public business aren’t entitled to private avenues of concealment. Officials who would like private protections can find those defenses just as soon as they return to private life. 

Not a moment sooner.

See also Speech & Debate in the Whitewater Schools. 

Watch Brewers grounds crew remove outfield covering at American Family Field before opening day:

Daily Bread for 2.19.24: Former WISGOP Chairman Says He Was Tricked (But He’s a Lawyer Who Signed False Documents)

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 45. Sunrise is 6:45 and sunset 5:31 for 10h 46m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 78.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board will hold a legislative breakfast at 8 AM, and Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1954, the Soviet Politburo of the Soviet Union orders the transfer of the Crimean Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Anderson Cooper, Aliza Chasan, Sarah Koch, and Madeleine Carlisle report Former Wisconsin Republican Party chair says he was tricked by fake elector plan:

Former Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt was nominated to be an elector if former President Donald Trump won the state in 2020, but after Trump lost, Hitt and nine other Republican electors met at the state capitol and signed documents falsely claiming Trump won.

Hitt said lawyers told him the documents they were signing were meaningless unless Trump’s legal team won its lawsuit seeking to dismiss over 200,000 votes in two Democratic counties.

Hitt said he was advised that if a court ruled in Trump’s favor and he and the other Republicans did not meet and sign the documents on Dec. 14, 2020 — when the Democratic electors were required to meet to cast their votes for President Biden — he would be responsible for Trump forfeiting Wisconsin.

“It was not a safe time,” he said. “If my lawyer is right, and the whole reason Trump loses Wisconsin is because of me, I would be scared to death.”


But Hitt said he didn’t believe there had been widespread fraud in the state.

Hitt said he was advised by the state GOP’s outside legal counsel on Dec. 4, 2020, to gather the other Republican electors at the Capitol on Dec. 14 and, as a contingency, sign a document claiming they were “the duly elected and qualified Electors for President” for Wisconsin. 

“In case a court would overrule the election here in Wisconsin,” Hitt said he was told.

On the morning of Dec. 14, in a narrow 4-3 ruling, the state Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s attempt to throw out votes cast in the two Democratic counties. Hitt said he and the other fake Wisconsin electors met anyway to sign documents falsely claiming Trump won, because he had been told the Trump campaign was still planning to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hitt is, himself, a lawyer. He signed false documents, and now relies on other lawyers’ opinions in place of his own. He signed false documents and now contends that he was afraid not to sign. (Instead: he was not courageous enough to decline.) 

Hitt is unfit for the law and should be disbarred. No person of good judgment, whether lawyer or non-lawyer, should have sympathy for him. 

Yulia Navalnaya: ‘I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny’:


Daily Bread for 2.14.23: Nothing Upsets the Populists Like Contrary Speech (esp. from Blacks or Gays)

Good morning. Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 50. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 5:25 PM for 10h 33m 36s  of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 40.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Now, Whitewater — don’t let showers dampen your spirits. There’s romance in the rain.  Whitewater’s…

Daily Bread for 9.11.22: The Nutmegger and Carpetbagger

Good morning. Sunday in Whitewater will be rainy with high of 61. Sunrise is 6:31 AM and sunset 7:10 PM for 12h 39m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.3% of its visible disk illuminated.  On this day in 2001, al-Qaeda launches the September 11 attacks, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killing…