Saturday, September 30, 2006


Yesterday’s missive to the Journal Sentinel editors, about the continued hi-jinks of Spivak & Bice (“The Spice Boys”), got the attention of at least J-S Managing Editor George Stanley, who wrote the following to me:

Mr. Plaisted: Today’s Spivak & Bice column could hardly be seen by any reasonable reader as “GOP talking-point propaganda.’’ In fact, I’m sure we’ll hear from readers today, as we often do, about how anti-Republican the column is. Every election season we receive the same volume of complaints from people who work for candidates of both major parties, with each side saying we are biased against their candidate or party. However, our reporters typically maintain the respect of the actual candidates for being fair and unbiased in their coverage. I understand you were involved personally involved in discussions about tossing out the original Kenilworth bids and in who should get the contract. When questions are made about how public money is spent, how public projects are bid, and how campaign donors get taxpayer-funded business, I promise you will be very aggressive reporting it, no matter which party is in power at the moment.

Boy, it's hard to figure out where to start. The e-mail is rife with generalizations, weasel-words and veiled threats to drag me into the Journal Sentinel's phony Kenilworth obsession. But I responded, of course:

Mr. Stanley:

Thanks for responding.

Just to clear one thing up, you have me mistaken for my brother Jim Plaisted. He is the Executive Director of the East Side Bid and facilitated the concerns of others involved to get the Kenilworth project done right. It is interesting, though, that you would seize on the (mistaken) fact that I might have an interest in the process, other than just being a citizen. Did Spivak and Bice make the connection or did you? Either way, it is a typical tactic of the right-wing to avoid addressing an argument by attaching ulterior motives to the messenger. Not that I’m saying that’s what you are doing.

I don’t know anyone who respects the Journal Sentinel these days for “fair and unbiased” coverage of the governor’s race. If they do, they are not paying attention. The “actual candidates” may say so, but how could they say otherwise? Rather than making these broad assestions about how wonderful everyone thinks you are, I would like to hear you address the specifics of my observations – the “Green Will Appeal” headline and lead, the S&B phony open-records complaint, etc. I know you have heard from others (other than the Republicans who brought the lawsuit, that is – by the way, wasn’t it dismissed? I think I read it back near the classifieds one day) about what happened with the Kenilworth building and I know those people can’t get a word in edge-wise about their perspective in the paper. Is the truth and being right a defense?

I am sorry to see that you don’t see the problem with your biased coverage. Because of its history, its position as a former great newspaper and the only newspaper in town, I think the Journal Sentinel has sacred trust with the community not to go on campaigns in favor of one candidate or another on its news pages. I don’t care if some Republican supporters complain that you don’t print every word of their press releases. You’re close enough.

It is interesting how quick Stanley was to try to dismiss my complaints out of hand because he was (mis)informed (by the Spice Boys, I’ll bet – I mean, you can’t really expect these great reporters to get details like first names right, do you?) that I was an interested party. Although we had this exchange early yesterday, I have not heard from him again.

In today’s paper, we got more Greenie spin on the voluntary dismissal of Green’s lawsuit. So, here’s today’s e-mail:

To the Editors:

If I were running the Journal Sentinel, I would be very upset with the Mark Green’s campaign right now. Here you are, putting your journalistic integrity on the line every day trying to get him elected, and all he does is play legal games and lie to you. With friends like this...

Green was apparently so dynamic and convincing earlier this week, promising to appeal the judge’s ruling in Madison, denying Green’s request for a temporary restraining order and affirming the State Elections Board, that you led with his vow to appeal, before even describing the judge’s ruling. As it turns out, a mere three days later, it turns out Green is not appealing the denial of the restraining order, as he said he would. In fact, he asked that his own case against the Elections Board be dismissed.

Green could have asked the Appeals or Supreme Court to take the matter of the denial of the TRO before the case was finished. Such an appeal would indeed “hasten the path” to the Supremes – he could have filed it any time this week. But he knew those courts wouldn’t take it for the same reason the judge in Madison denied the TRO – because he was not likely to win and there would be no irreparable harm if he prevailed later.

So, he turned tail and ran. This would have been a good time for the Journal Sentinel to show how “air and balanced” it is by not allowing Green to spin his pathetic dismissal of his own complaint. Alas, that would be asking too much. Apparently, when he ran away from his doomed court challenge, he ran right up to the supplicant Journal Sentinel reporters, to again “vow” to appeal to the Supreme Court. And, again, the Journal Sentinel eats it up, leading with how the action will “hasten the path”. But, if Green is allowed to appeal his own voluntary dismissal, he will be the first litigant in state history to do so. Green has the same chance of getting the Supreme Court to take the case as I do getting a guest slot on Charlie Sykes’ TV show. He’ll get laughed out by them, and, no doubt, praised by the Journal Sentinel for trying.

Green and his legal team are out there, creating smokescreens that everyone but the Journal Sentinel can see through. At some point, the Journal Sentinel will have to start seriously addressing the implications of the $400,000 to $1.3 million that he has illegally sitting in his war chest? Ever since the decision of the Elections Board, Green has been playing for time by phony legal stall tactics. And the Journal Sentinel has been giving it to him.

It’s one thing for the Journal Sentinel to be a shill for a doomed candidate. It is quite another to be played for a chump by the same candidate. If I were you, I know which one I would be more concerned about.

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