Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Let the purges begin. WB City council dumps library board member who stood up against censorship.

Here we go.

After swearing in new members, the ultra-conservative majority -- with a lead by former Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schlotfeld -- voted to dump Barb Deters off the library board. Ms. Deters received national recognition last year for her role in the fight to keep local ultra-conservatives from removing material in the West Bend library.

This same clan, so offended by her determination to stand up for civil liberty and voted into power this month in a low turn out election, is now a majority on city council and the local school board. One has to imagine that the purges will continue and accelerate.

Ginny covered it admirably.

On the upside, West Bend promises to be in the national news even more often in the next few years.



John Jost said...

Reminds me of Citizens for Decency through Law outlawing Playboy and Penthouse in West Bend in prehistoric times. My consolation: what happens in tiny West Bend ultimately does not count for sh**.

DanBack said...

So not being afraid of the impact fictional gays have on teenagers gets you kicked off the board. Fantastic job Ginny!

I suppose the silver lining from all the events of 2009 is that Ginny's own actions ensured that she can't ever run for local office herself.

Free Lunch said...

West Bend has found an interesting way to discourage educated suburbanites from moving to their fair city.

DanBack said...

Ginny wrote:

"As most will recall, Barbara Deters, the library board president who led the revolt against the citizens of West Bend during the issue concerning sexually explicit books for minors,"

Ginny should write for Fox News.

Eema-le said...

I'm completely confused by Schlotfeld's rationale for denying Barb Deters' reappointment. The whole leaky roof bit seemed like a convenient excuse.

Rich said...

I am guessing that you are all fully aware that there will be no real changes to the decision making process on the library board. Department Heads have a tremendous amount of influence on who gets picked for Committees, Commissions and Boards. The censorship you all seem to be worried about happening will not happen.

I do applaud the Council for replacing a member who acted as though she and the Library Board were bigger than the Council. Continuing the award road show, trying to hide public emails by using a 3rd party legal counsel instead of the City Attorney and a poor handling of the whole issue (don't fight it out in the media, make a decision and stick with it) all pointed to the need to be replaced.

James Dionne said...

There's a big difference between the words "remove" and "move", Mark. Only a select few special wacko's wanted to remove and/or burn the books. Most citizens just wanted them moved to a more age appropriate section. But, the board refused to even consider moving the books, alerted the national press, tried to hire their own lawyer, blocked open record requests for their emails (while stupidly using private email addresses for public business), ignored or ridiculed the concerns of patrons, and became belligerent with the elected aldermen on the city council. I now hear they screwed up some roofing repair contract. I'm shocked that you are all shocked that there are political consequences to ones actions (or inaction) on a public board. Isn't that how the system is supposed to work? If you don't like something, vote them out. That's as American as it gets. (Until the ACLU lawyers get involved, that is.) If I were Kristine Deiss, I'd be looking for a new job come November.

Mpeterson said...


You weren't here to watch it and have apparently rewritten what did happen as the Maziarkas complaint migrated around like a drunken wildebeast. The same people who led the attempt to censor the materials are deeply involved in these electoral victories. Their first targets were and are predictable.

Barb and the board acted completely within the law.. she simply pissed off members of the group who ran a strong campaign and won. They're now in a position to get some back. That's what they're doing.

And yep, that's politics.

But I'll still put my reading of the constitutional law ahead of their's any day -- and test it in federal court with complete certainty of success. With any luck at all, it'll come to that.

Rich said...


Perhaps you are forgetting, either intentionally or not, that "The same people who led the attempt to censor the materials are deeply involved in these electoral victories" were not in place when they replaced other Library Board members. Only 1 of the 5 that voted to not re-appoint was new to the Council.

Like I said earlier, there will be zero difference in the Library Board actions. Do you really anticipate that your former Dean is going to allow the censorship you are worried about? Do you really think, or want, this to go to a lawsuit? I thin you know the answers to these questions already.

DanBack said...

James and Rich - are you sure you guys are talking about what happened in West Bend? Because it doesn't sound like it.

I'm still patiently waiting for Ginny to submit her challenges for each book the way she was asked to per library policy. It's been what, 9 months now? Nine months of children have been scarred forever because of hardcore gay porn on display at the library just because Ginny is too lazy? God help our children.

John Jost said...

James D,

"Stupidly using private email addresses"? I seem to remember that the city wouldn't give them any.

Besides, have you suddenly decided that anything one writes in private emails is public business? That seems to be Ginny M's concept. Which agency do you people work for?

Rich said...

Yeah Dan, talking about the underlying issue of what happened in West Bend - not the superficial part of it. People can and will challenge books - don't care who they are or who they are affiliated with. They may or may nothave the laws on their side (I am not a lawyer).

A better handling of the issues, however, can be expected by people that are representing the city's interests. That is what the root problem is... Talk to any of the veteran Aldermen.

As a completely off topic side note, Dan, did you see Mark Maley on B&S quote your sarcastic letter to the editor in his debate over the school board election? It was quite comical. He thought you were serious!

DanBack said...

I missed that Rich. I stopped visiting B&S a long time ago. I listen to Belling and figure he keeps me fully up to date on the current ultra-conservative fluff.

Can you link me to the post? Wading thru B&S isn't how I like to spend the time I'm on hold...


James Dionne said...

Dan, I thought you didn't even live in West Bend nor Wisconsin?
All you know is what people you like tell you.

John- The board members should have used a separate email for the business of the public library. That's public service 101. Being on a public board requires that you follow open meetings laws and open records requests. The law is very clear on this. You would go ballistic if a Republican senator opened a Gmail account to perform shady public business and then tried to hide it as a "private" email account during an inquiry. Don't even try to defend that one.
To the three of you- I'm not on Ginny's side, in fact I think some of the books were OK. What I found distasteful was the over-emotional over-political response from both sides and the inability to discuss things in a calm rational manner. Your attempts to lump anyone who thinks "the books could be placed in a better location in the library" along with the crazy christian book burning Nazi's is exactly why the Dems are being politically pushed out. Keep it up!

Mpeterson said...

I think I agree with most of your assessment James, but it'd help you understand if you'd lived here. :)

James Dionne said...

I've lived in the Kewaskum/West Bend area all my life, Mark.

(except for five years @UW-Madison for school)

Mpeterson said...

James, that surprises me.

I will say this much, however, Barb was not dismissed for the reasons given: the strange notion that Barb didn't "handle the situation well" or, worse yet, the recently propagated and outright lies that she'd made inflammatory statements about the council. Since you have to invent new evidence and rewrite the actual record to make these justifications work, her dismissal reads more like political payback than managerial turnover. That's all I'm saying.

Rich said...

So Mark, you are calling the Aldermen liars? Please, enlighten us on how you are privy to that information - as it is he said, she said... And since the ones I know didn't have an opinion on the books, why would they make things up? If you really believe the situation was handled maturely, correctly and professionally, then your definitions surely don't mesh with many in the community (on both sides of the issue and who these citizens "represent"). Ms. Deters would still be on the board with the other members that were replaced had they taken quick, decisive action without comment and without trying to pry themselves from ORR.

You have yet to answer my question as to how things will be different with your former Dean on the board - you are expecting sweeping changes?

I am really beginning to think you cannot have these misguided opinions and "the sky is falling" mentality about these non-issues (creationism will be thrust on the school board and now censorship will happen in the West Bend Library) as you are too smart for that. It seems more like you are trying to stir the pot up here a bit for the sake of entertainment only... That is sad as even though we didn't agree on most issues, at least we had rational debates.

Mpeterson said...

I can make these comments about Barb because I was involved and have a record of everything she said publicly about the council. If you have the offending materials, I'd be happy to retract everything I've said.

Why are you so surprised people are making things up about Barb?

About David Nixon... I did not know, in fact, that he'd actually been appointed, only that his name had been forwarded. I think he'll be an excellent choice. He's been a first rate leader for our campus and has a first rate mind. Plus, he can do math.

The Open records request business was a one day, 15 minute, double check over the phone for a second legal opinion of the city attorney's ruling that all of the board members'private and non-library related email would also be vulnerable to an ORR. They wanted a second opinion. The law is not perfectly clear.

I don't make stuff up Rich. I just don't feel the need spend time helping my readers get up to speed.

You've probably forgotten Terry Vrana calling the Library a porn shop and Ginny harping about Barb being the Porn Queen? Barb never once said anything derogatory about the council.

The other way to look at it would be to note that facing down a mob of gay bashing and xenophobic yahoos to help the city avoid a long and internationally publicized lawsuit that would have cost us millions -- and which we would have lost -- is precisely the definition of a mature and professional way to handle the situation, especially considering the hysterical response from city council.

It was that very professionalism that offended Ginny's crowd the most.

But the central tragedy for Ginny's crew was that they hadn't bothered to read the constitutional/federal rulings which made it clear they were in the wrong and wouldn't have a prayer bringing their case. They did and what happened, happened. They made us an international laughing stock.

So, this crew now has members on the school board -- elected as a result of first rate organizing and hard work. I hope they bring some financial experience with them, but, again, I've no reason to expect they'll let the constitutional separation of church and state stop them anymore now than it did during the library mess. Why do you think they'll put aside their religious values now?

Rich said...

I find it funny that you emphasize the "publicly about the council" - it is not the public part that was a problem - ask the veteran Aldermen. They have no reason to make things up either. I am sure you will continue to call them liars, but I think you should ask them. As for Alderman Vrana and Ginny, I don't condone their comments either, but last I knew they were not applying for Library Board.

As for the ORR, it is funny how every other Committee, Commission, Board has not had a problem with the City Attorney ruling. So make a legal issue of emails? If you are "representing citizens", be prepared for it. It is common sense (not to be confused with the taxpayer group).

Your statements sound like sour grapes that the other highly organized group did not get both of their members elected to the Council after all their work. Even with your attempts to smear a candidate for the unthinkable act of trying to sell his house, it was unsuccessful.

And for thinking there is political motivation, you are right. Those of us that criticized the Board for their handling of the issue (not the final ruling, mind you) and are completely comfortable with ORR laws were not contacted even though we put in applications to be appointed to the Board. There are now 3 heavy supporters that have been appointed - so yes, there is some political motivation. It is just not the kind you are thinking.

John Jost said...

I am more than a little surprised this morning by UWWC professor Chris Hays, who attends Trinity Lutheran Church, declaring: “Any scientist who’s honest with you has elements of faith in their scientific life. For instance, tell me if you know anyone who has a picture of an atom.”

I don't have pictures of atoms, but I, for one, remember that this country blew up some of them, causing the death of several hundred thousand people, so I know they're there, no faith required.

Mpeterson said...

Rich, stop it.

You're defending the idea that standing up for constitutional rights constitutes unprofessional behaviour. City council should have given them an award. And the roof nonsense is an even worse rewrite of history since the board was told they did not have responsibility for selecting the contractor. City council decided it would be a good idea to go with the lowest bidder. That worked out great, eh?

"Smearing". Embarrassing maybe, smearing, no. There was never any smear involved in pointing out that Mr. D was selling his house in the district he wanted to represent and, now that he's apparently going to run for mayor next year and leave his aldermanic post, it seems even more obvious that he was never really interested in representing the 3rd district. Even my black hearted cynicism missed that one.

As for sour grapes, you have your metaphors confused. "Sour grapes" refers to a case in which you can't reach the grapes and so decide that they must be sour -- that you didn't want them anyway. In this case, those of us in favor of science and politics created after 1650 are all chewing on the fruit of this election. To me, it is sour but that's not what the metaphor meant. The moral of the story is this: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

It's in Aesop.

But I have no sour grapes about the three of 'em winning -- think of the column opportunities they'll provide. I do, in fact, admire their organizing -- I know exactly how hard they had to work (and believe me, I know *exactly* how hard they had to work) to get those votes. That's how democracy works... actually, that's next week's column: something about the importance of public voices and the Wisconsin Idea. Van Hise was a smart guy.

So, no sour grapes... just anticipation of all the worst things they could do. Again, why should we expect Dave and Randy to set aside their religious beliefs when it comes to the school curriculum?

Anyway, if I'm wrong, I'll be delighted to eat crow publicly. In a case like that, even crow will taste sweet.

Be well,

Rich said...

Mark, come on - there is a professional way to handle constitutional challenges and a non-professional way; the high road and the low road. If it was such a black and white issue, awards would not be necessary, by the ACLU or anybody else. It would just be another day in the office.

I also know *exactly* how hard your side's candidates worked to try and get on. Its a medium sized city with small city circles. I was very suprised Mr. Duquaine won against the highly organized campaign unit.

As for running for Mayor, your ratinalization makes no sense. The Mayor still represents District 3, just on a different level. Would I like to see him stay on and not run for Mayor - of course. The whole "resign and appoint" process that West Bend (the Council and the School Board) seems to leverage, drives me crazy. In closing, I will say we can definitley improve our Mayor situation here in West Bend.

Mpeterson said...

Hmmm,then you must have forgotten something I am unable ever to forget, which is that populist and progressive political views in West Bend -- on their best day since Washington County voted for LBJ -- only count for one third of the electorate. The most amazing thing is that the three winning Citizens did not win by even wider margins... but that is due, no doubt, to voter apathy.

Not clear cut? Are you honestly still in doubt about the constitutionality of libraries censoring books on moral grounds?

I don't think it would have been more professional to simply accept Ginny's demands that a government institution bend to the moral taste of an community group -- and the library board acted on responsibilities to all local residents, and defended our rights against a city council that had begun to spout Porn Shop nonsense.

Put politics have won out for now over common sense. We'll see how this new approach works out. Making Mr. Duquaine mayor will probably be a most excellent experiment in democracy.

Rich said...

Perhaps you have forgotten that I had questions about the process and not the contstitutionality. We discussed the censorship label that was being thrown around liberally. I never said they should have just taken and passed the complaint. I have long said they should have acted on the first complaint immediately and without comment. No awards, no speaking tour, just handle it like you should.

I think you are not giving the liberal population of this city a fair shake. Although we are still strongly conservative, the liberal candidates have made stong progress (Dobberstein, Deiss, Kist, Schlotfeldt and by some accounts Anderson). Deiss and Dobberstein will have a tough re-election campaign next year but only if strong candidates become visible. You may not like being represetnted by Duquaine, Bush or any Republican, but I don't like being represented by Obama or Doyle either (although I have voted for a liberal or two).

Ah well, I think we have exhausted this topic - off to paint the bathroom. I have an extra brush if you are interested!