Maybe I am divisive….

Posted May 25th, 2011 @ 10:26 AM by

Showing a case of Sour Grapes, former appointed Cottage Grove Village President Mike Mikalsen, submitted a LTE to our local paper attacking me.

Last week, the newspaper printed two letters containing personal attacks on Trustee Paula Severson. The letter writ¬ers, Mr. Jeff Simpson and Mr. Ed Lemay, are two of our community’s most divisive participants in local and state pol¬itics.
I have no problem with people vehemently disagreeing over policies and decisions of our elected officials. However, these two members of our community don’t stop at disagree¬ing over the policies. They attack the person’s character, integrity and morality on a regular basis through several ven¬ues including this newspaper.
During the recent local election (and forward), both Mr. Lemay and Mr. Simpson attacked people that they disagreed with by raising concerns about their employers and in one disturbing incident attacked Trustee Paula Severson’s reli¬gious faith. The tactics being utilized by these gentlemen aren’t about debating controversial issues. Their antics are about personal character destruction and intimidation in the local political process.
Our community is now over 6,100 residents with very diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. It’s time for people of goodwill with divergent opinions to step forward and openly reject the toxic political speech coming from these individu¬als.
Mike Mikalsen Cottage Grove

Since it was a personal attack (and not surprisingly lacks details), loaded with revisionist history, I thought I would address it head on, out in open. I will ignore however, the irony of a personal attack letter denouncing personal attacks(but I digress). First off let me give a bit of history, sorry for the length but there is much to address. When Mr. Mikalsen was appointed under questionable circumstances, i expressed concern over this column in the Isthmus. Specifically this questionable quote:

He also makes more inflammatory comments than his boss. Explaining Nass’ 2005 push to make faculty follow codes of conduct, including not making “anti-American” statements, Mikalsen says, “Part of the issue is we have foreign-born professors. Those professors say things.”

This was completely ignored by the village board as their vote was determined long before the application process and nothing was going to change it. After he was appointed Mr. Mikalsen called me and told me that(amongst many other things) the “community was sick of my shenanigans” and that he “had many people wanting to attack me but he had been holding them back, no longer though”. That very evening, after that conversation, I received a phone call from a local right wing hate blogger asking about information on me and my family, and have been receiving such things as this(and much worse) ever since:

Author: Carson Noma
Jeff Simpson,

It’s Carson Noma. I’ll be back to visit!

In lieu of the many stories of right wing terrorism, it is a little disconcerting, but I am not playing the victim. Also within the last two years, since I dared question the appointment of Mr. Mikalsen, I have many other incidences. Trustee Paula Severson told everyone she could, I called her a racist(which she knew to be untrue), Trustee Duane Hubing told everyone he was going to “get me” last summer for the crime of having a garage sale(first weekend of August for those who want to come), They spent an hour at a meeting in January when I was out of town, attacking me personally and making a show of kicking me off a committee that they had disbanded prior to kicking me off. The list of childish and personal attacks goes on and on.

Now lets break down the LTE.

*“I have no problem with people vehemently disagreeing over policies and decisions of our elected officials”

Actually we know that is not exactly true as was witnessed here. Trustee Wiedenbeck made the mistake of trying to cut the village president and trustees salaries and your reaction prompted two citizens to write in disgust.

* “They attack the person’s character, integrity and morality on a regular basis through several venues”
I challenge anyone, to find where I attacked someone personally and not policy wise! Since everything I have done (and what I believe makes our democracy run) is public debate, let me help you. My “venues” are open to anyone in the public to weigh in and in many instances people do. Here is a list in case you did not know, Forward Lookout, Blogging Blue, and my facebook page is open to everyone(feel free to “friend” me). In case you did not know I was recently asked to contribute to The Paul Ryan Watch and I joined twitter JeffSimpson7 (follow me and I will follow you). (Personal note: I recommend everyone check out and bookmark the three blogs!). You see I am hiding nothing and very transparent, so please tell me where I attacked anyone personally and if it was personal and not policy related I will gladly apologize. In lieu of that, if you look at any of the above links you will see that it actually is “about debating controversial issues”.

* “by raising concerns about their employers”

I am assuming you mean (THIS), I stand by that. See above (re: transparency) if your running for office you should disclose that your a lobbyist. In these times, while I understood why she did not, I also believe that when your job is dedicated to ending unions and taking people’s rights away, that should also be disclosed to the voters. Ideally, in a representative democracy, the people we elect to represent us, should represent our values. If trustee Severson’s value is that people do not have the right to organize or collectively bargain the citizens of Cottage Grove should know that and be able make decisions accordingly. The fact that she tried to hide that from the electorate I find to be dishonest. As Tom Morello says: “When you come to take our rights away, we will give you hell everytime.”

* “antics are about personal character destruction and intimidation”

Are you not the one who called up your opponent and told her that if you won she had better quit because you can not work with her(despite the fact she was an actual elected official)? Are you also not the person who “claimed” to have someone come to your door and threaten your family? Can you give a single time that you were president that a “serious debate” was allowed(in public)? This was all I could find.

* “Our community is now over 6100 resident with very diverse backgrounds and viewpoints”
We agree on this, it is also filled with well educated professionals. It is too bad Micah Zielke had such disdain for the people of Cottage Grove when he said Paula was the most qualified person in the village, without allowing any of these professionals or “diverse background and viewpoints” to be heard. Speaking of diverse backgrounds, in the 2008 President Obama won the Village of Cottage Grove in a 2-1 margin, and in the Republican Wave of the 2010 fall election Barrett/Nelson, Hebl, LaFollette etc, all won the Village. How exactly does a 6-1 or 5-2 split of far right wing village board trustees represent the Village of Cottage Grove? I understand it is a “non-partisan” election, but that does not mean you keep your beliefs and ideals secret.

So maybe I am divisive, but I would disagree. I would say it is Governor Scott Walker who has divided this state. I would also say that there has been rampant toxic speech, but it has not come from me!

I am just someone who thinks that democracy is practiced 365 days a year, and that an all inclusive government is a better government. I am the one after all who sent a letter to the board asking to keep Trustee Severson on her committee assignment despite the fact that the voters of Cottage Grove do not want her serving on the board.

Scott Walker decided to divide the state as part of his philosophy to push through his agenda, I just picked a side. I chose to stand shoulder to shoulder with fire fighters, police, teachers, secretaries, nurses, doctors, clergy, atheists, parents, kids, elderly, students, professors, teaching assistants, snow plow drivers, LGBT, state workers, city workers, bus drivers, prison guards, day care workers, entrepreneurs, republicans, democrats, independents, progressives, The Wisconsin 14 including our own Mark Miller, the assembly democrats and our own Gary Hebl, union members, non-union members, all different religions(including our own Archbishop Listecki), races, and other assorted SLOBS etc…

Please do not forget that it is the Democrats who go out and speak, above roaring standing ovations, to the unprecedented thousands who show up at the capitol. While it is the republicans who have to sneak out through tunnels, with massive police guard, when leaving. Why is that?

I put the facts on the table and will let the people decide. I chose my side, Which Side Are You On?

As a reminder, here are a couple of pictures of recent times in Madison. I think I was in both crowds. They do not look very divisive to me.


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