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Jefferson’s Dirty Dogs Turn Mangy

I’ve been critical of the so-called ‘Harry Potter Festival’ that last year migrated from Edgerton to Jefferson, Wisconsin. It’s left so many people disappointed, taxpayer-salaried city officials have only doubled-down on their support for the shabby event, and (predictably) the Daily Union‘s initial stories about problems quickly gave way to laughable boosterism. See Attack of the Dirty DogsThanks, City of Jefferson!, and Print Retreats to Print.

Now one reads “Potter Fest recast as Warriors and Wizards.”

If this seemed a matter of dirty dogs before, it looks now like a matter of mangy, dirty dogs.

N.B.: I’ve lost nothing at this event; my concern is how ordinary people are being asked to pay for a disappointing experience, and how taxpayer-supported officials just won’t let go of it, and how a local newspaper has abandoned any inquisitive role about municipal involvement and funds for this event.

A few remarks and questions:

Intellectual Property, Part 1. Wow, one of the promoters is quoted saying that

“Warner Bros. is actually going around the world right now and no longer allowing Harry Potter festivals,” Scott Cramer, founder and organizer of the event, told the committee. “They’re actually yanking all the rights, if you will. I get it. It’s just the long arm of the law. They need to control their intellectual property.

Did the promoters or any municipal officials receive a cease & desist letter from Warner Bros.? If they did, then what did it actually say? If they didn’t receive a written communication, then how did the promoter learn Warner Bros. was ‘going around the world right now’?  One can guess he didn’t learn about this from CNN.

Intellectual Property, Part 2. If Harry Potter characters were an intellectual property challenge, what does the promoter think “Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Star Wars, Star Trek” will be?

A Comic Con. The promoter claims to have visited a Madison-located convention (“He explained that he attended a comic convention in Madison last year to welcome vendors that later would be coming to the Jefferson event. He paid $7 for parking and about $65 for the day.”) I’ve no idea where the promoter went in Madison to look at a comic convention, but Madison’s Wizard World Con is a big event. (The promoters, Wizard World, hold conventions in many cities (“Portland, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Columbus, Boise, Winston-Salem, Chicago, Tulsa, Austin, Sacramento, Springfield, Montgomery, and
Madison).

These events have comics, sci-fi, and fantasy stars, panels, attractions, etc. If he thinks “It really is nothing more than a shopping mall to buy goods” then he neither understands nor appreciates the experience.

Entertainment Law. If it’s bad not to appreciate the experience, it’s worse if neither city nor private parties have a grasp of entertainment law. These events – like a Wizard World event – require particular contracts, and a grasp of what these creative parties want and need.

The Press. The Daily Union‘s coverage of this started well, but now it’s all boosterism. My best guess (and it’s just a guess): some insiders know it’s a weak event, and suspect it will be again, but the paper’s publisher would rather put on a happy face for advertisers and city officials at the expense of actual festival patrons.

Here’s the sad situation:

Coverage of the festival is proof of how weak the local press really is. The Daily Union ran a fine investigation into the festival’s bad showing in Edgerton, and gave Jefferson a forewarning of the debacle that was to come. The DU even reported on this year’s mess, until someone apparently got cold feet and coverage shifted into overdrive in support of city officials and promoters who were behind it all.

Indeed, the paper has already implicitly admitted how much influence advertisers have over news coverage:

At the Daily Union, in a print editorial for Friday 1.12.18 (“It’s a brave new world for Daily Union staffers”) one reads that “[i]t’s a brave new world for some of us old J-School grads weaned on the axiom that ‘the advertising department makes the money, the news department spends the money … and ne’er the twain shall meet.’ ”

Once Again, Praise Deserved. Ramona Flanagan, Edgerton City Administrator, passed on this event after two years (that’s why it  landed in Jefferson). A few months months ago, I wrote about that decision:

Note to Edgerton: You need to consider a promotion for Flanagan. She’s served you well. I’m not up on all the titles available in your city, but if baroness or duchess is untaken, I’d say that’s a start. Good sense deserves a good reward.

These months later, Ms. Flanagan’s decision looks better than ever. Honest to goodness, she must be like Isaac Newton compared to local officials in Jefferson. She’s perhaps even approaching Bugs-Bunny level insight (and no one – no one – is smarter than Bugs).

Ramona Flanagan really does restore one’s hope that good decisions are possible at the local level.

Why Would Whitewater’s Town Blogger Mention a Jefferson, Wisconsin Event? One needs to mention all this because it’s important to draw the line against other towns’ bad ideas. See A Bit More on Examples.

It’s wrong that a few in Jefferson care so little for their own people; no one should settle.

I’d argue against a bad idea like this in Whitewater, unrelentingly, until the cows came home.

Whitewater deserves – and always will deserve – better.

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