The Mockery of the Madison Media as a Meaningful Medium

Posted February 26th, 2013 @ 8:48 AM by

The Madison School Board race has been interesting to say the least.

For those of you scoring at home, three candidates declared their candidacy for Seat #5, Sarah Manski, TJ Mertz and Ananda Mirilli. Having three candidates meant that a primary was triggered to narrow the candidates on the April ballot to two. On primary day, February 19th, Manski and Mertz were the top two finishers and moved on to the April Ballot. On February 21, Sarah Manski dropped out of the race:

In a message to her supporters Thursday afternoon, Manski writes, “I regret to say that due to family and career needs, I sadly withdraw from the race for the Madison school board. Because I value honesty and transparency I am letting the public know about this development now. My name will remain on the ballot but I will not campaign in the coming weeks.”

Manski says that her husband, Ben Manski, has been admitted to a sociology PhD program in California.

Manski supporters and donors and the rest of the people in Madison were upset that she would withdraw so soon after the primary. Not happy to just go off into the sunset with some people a little upset with her, she decided to abdicate all responsibility and throw current Madison School Board member “under the bus“.

Sarah Manski, who dropped out of the race Thursday, said she mentioned those concerns to School Board member Marj Passman, who Manski said encouraged her to run. Passman told her it wouldn’t be a problem if she had to resign her seat because the board would “appoint somebody good,” Manski said.

Passman vigorously denied encouraging Manski to run or ever knowing about her husband’s graduate school applications. After learning about Manski’s statement from the State Journal, Passman sent an email to other School Board members saying “I had no such conversation with her.”

“It’s sad to believe that this kind of a person came close to being elected to one of the most important offices in our city,” Passman wrote in the email, which she also forwarded to the State Journal.

If anyone has ever talked to Marj or heard her speak in public, you would know that she pulls no punches. If she truly told Manski that, I have no doubt that she would own up to it. However, the story here is NOT that Manski is dropping out. In our Constitutionally-limited democratic republic, we are limited by the fact that not everyone has the means, time, ability etc…. to run for office. Which means we get to choose between those who have the financial means, time or willing to sacrifice to serve and not always the best possible people to represent us. Hence, people run, do not run, seek re-election, do not seek re-election, etc… It happens.

Secondly, the story here is NOT that Ananda Mirilli does not get a chance to run against TJ Mertz. Ananda already actually had that chance on February 19th. People had their choice of who to vote for and they voted. I respect Ananda for running and for all of the great work she has done in the community. It is very very hard for an outsider to break the ranks of the insider politicians. For all of the pretense on being outsiders, the Manski’s are a local political machine. The insiders do not like to let outsiders in. So kudos to Ananda for running and if she decided to try and overcome the odds with a write in campaign, I respect that also.

The story that has come out of this Manski/Seat #5 fiasco is the incompetence of the media. I expected the right wing blogs to have a field day with this, they have no credibility anyway! What I did not expect(although I probably should have) is that two of the main sources of “journalism” in our great city have based their stories on hearsay!

First the Wisconsin State Journal and Chris rickert, repeating the unbelievable rumor that Marj Passman told her to run & if she had to move the School Board could “appoint somebody good”. Missing from Rickert’s article? Any quote from Passman that he himself received. Its easier to pass on rumors than do the work himself I guess.

The next comes from Channel3000 and their EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Neil Heinen:

The disagreement between school board member Marj Passman and candidate Sarah Manske over who said what and knew what when is unseemly enough. We simply expect better from people in these positions. I mean this is the school board we’re taking about. Our public schools. But what’s really unfortunate is that in the process a really good candidate – Ananda Mirilli – was denied a well deserved opportunity to square off against the remaining candidate, T. J. Mertz.

It’s undemocratic, it feels sleazy, and it smacks of a Madison political class that has gotten too comfortable with itself.

Again spreading the rumor and again without actually talking to the parties involved. “We expect better from people in these positions” – Well Neil if Marj did not say that to Manski, how much better would you expect from her? Should she control every thing that anyone says about her true or not? What position, besides former candidate does Sarah Manski hold exactly? FYI Neil, Sarah Manski currently lives in a rented house and has no children. Sarah Manski has absolutely no ties to “our public schools”.

So Neil, what is unseemly is that we live in one of the most politically connected and educated communities in the country with a great public school system and a world class university and you are putting out this drivel in the media.

The fact that you would report this story this poorly is undemocratic, it feels sleazy and smacks of a media that has become corporate, generic, lazy and comfortable with itself!


Categories: | Community Events | Defend the Wisconsin Idea | Education | Madison | Media | politics | Schools | Wisconsin

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