FREE WHITEWATER

Politics

In Whitewater, Three Recent Trespasses Against Public Comment

Whitewater’s public comment periods are lawful rights worth defending, and there has never been a time when respecting public comment – humbly and gratefully – has been more important for the city. Since June, there have been three meetings during which Whitewater’s current council president has deprecated public comment, or wrongly set the order of…

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Helpful Advice for Whitewater, Wisconsin

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is rightly celebrated as a masterpiece. It also offers useful political advice, even for small town officials. From that musical’s Washington on Your Side, consider this sage observation on the limits of intra-institutional reform: If there’s a fire you’re trying to douse, You can’t put it out from inside the house. There’s…

Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

It was the Trump apologist Salena Zito who, by way of defending Trump, suggested that his words should be taken ‘seriously, not literally.’ (She offered this defense in a deceitful effort to absolve Trump from the plain meaning of what he said, at any moment. Instead of considering his statements, one was supposed to take…

Social Capital and Hardship

What role does social capital play in a community’s health? Adam Gopnik, in The Paradoxical Role of Social Capital in the Coronavirus Pandemic, ponders whether there’s a relationship between communities with high social capital and a community’s public health. Gopnik uses a traditional definition of social capital as the “parts of society that, without being…

Widespread, Continuing National Support for Racial Justice Protests

Steven Long and  Justin McCarthy of Gallup report Two in Three Americans Support Racial Justice Protests: WASHINGTON, D.C. — About two in three Americans (65%) support the nationwide protests about racial injustice that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. Half say they feel “very” (23%) or…

Engagement and Engagement-Engagement

Sometimes, as a matter of emphasis, people repeat a word – so a big tree becomes a big-big tree, and something sweet becomes sweet-sweet. The repetition of the adjective suggests an exceptional thing – more intense or more significant. In this way, there might be both engagement and engagement-engagement. In this first situation, there’s some…

Barriers to Substantive Change in a Small Town

Several recent posts here are FREE WHITEWATER are, collectively, a cautionary series on the difficulty of effecting substantive change in Whitewater, Wisconsin. One might want change; realism demands a clear-eyed assessment of its likelihood. Other towns might have better (or even worse) odds; Whitewater is not, by definition, another town. A listing of challenges, with…

After a News Desert

A news desert is a community without coverage from a daily newspaper. If coverage means timely newspaper reporting on a city’s principal public meetings and events, then Whitewater has been a news desert since the nearby Daily Jefferson County Union stopped reporting on Whitewater’s common council & school board meetings. If coverage means timely, insightful,…

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…

Trump’s Undersized Base

Polling from Morning Consult illustrates well the limitations of Trump’s base-only strategy: his support (base and supportive voters) represents less than needed for re-election. That support is, in fact, notably consistent in its inadequacy: Over many months, including before the brunt of the pandemic, Trump has been stuck in a weak position. This does not…

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…