"I am recommending that our candidates not answer this. Capital City Hues is [sic] has a small distribution and probably almost none in your area."-- Phil Salkin, Governmental Affairs Director, Wisconsin Realtors Association

      Sometimes, there are things that seemingly drop out of the sky that provide a profound understanding of the way that the world turns round. I received the above in an e-mail last week. For this issue, I had sent out Capital City Hues questionnaires to MMSD board of education candidates and candidates for alderperson in six aldermanic districts. As we usually do, we asked questions of the candidates that are pertinent to communities of color in the Madison area.
      At least one of the candidates contacted Salkin to get advice on the questionnaire. It could be inferred from Salkin's statement that he was contacted by and/or gave advice to more than one candidate. While it appears that Salkin was directing the comment at the beginning of this column to the candidate, it was e-mailed to me instead.
      Obviously, this did not sit well with me. I sent back an answer to Salkin and the candidate stating that The Capital City Hues actually distributed several hundred copies in that aldermanic district and was read by politically active readers. I should know because I'm the one who delivers to that area and I hear from readers in that area as well.  The candidate to whom Salkin's comments were directed didn't complete the questionnaire, citing the lack of time (10 days), but did offer to sit down and talk with me personally about his views after the election.] Salkin never responded, no apology, no explanation, nothing.
      I couldn't believe what I was reading, so I sent it to a number of friends from different racial backgrounds to get their reactions. There was universal outrage. I was relieved, in a way, to have it affirmed that this offense went beyond the marginalization done to this publication.
      Now I have had candidates e-mail or call me before in previous elections to tell me that they were not completing the questionnaire because they had other priorities. While I am always disappointed when a candidate doesn't complete the questionnaire because we want our readers to know all of the candidates' views on these issues, it is the candidate's choice and right not to respond. So be it.
      However, I do have a problem with a staff member of a statewide organization reaching down to the most local of all political levels and using its association and lobbying resources to provide political consultant services to selected aldermanic candidates. Salkin referred to "our candidates," so the Wisconsin Realtors Association must be working with a citywide slate of candidates. This is a well-funded entity choosing in which circumstances and who will hear the messages of candidates. It is a direct interference with the right of citizens -- all citizens no matter how large or small their peer group may appear to be -- to know the views of candidates who may one day be making decisions that affect their lives. I am appalled at this thwarting of the democratic process by a large private organization.
      Has the city of Madison entered an era where  "big money" is now actively engaged to influence local elections? Is Mr. Salkin's political consulting to these candidates being reported to the state elections board as an in-kind contribution to their campaigns? This should be of concern to anyone concerned that local elections may drift away from door-to-door, grassroots electioneering.
      But what outraged me the most were the implications that Salkin's advice has on communities of color. By far, the great majority of our papers are picked up by people of color because we are a multicultural newspaper. We have a particularly strong readership in the African American community. We also have Euro-American readers who have an interest in race relations and multicultural issues. As I go to many, many community events, I hear from people that The Capital City Hues is trusted by people as their number one news source and that they don't read the mainstream dailies. It is a reflection of the race-conscious society we all live in that the majority of people pick up and read publications that reflect their own racial/cultural backgrounds -- not all, but the majority do.
      Salkin's comments show that he is, at best, detached from communities of color in the Madison area. At best, his comments about The Capital City Hues show that he knows nothing about our newspaper, who our readers are, and how many papers are circulated in each neighborhood of the Madison area. At best, Salkin has made a quick, uninformed recommendation to a number of aldermanic candidates. There were four who didn't complete our aldermanic questionnaire.
      At worst, Salkin dismissed our paper in this particular aldermanic race because he thought The Capital City Hues was a South Madison publication -- I have heard this from some Euro-Americans -- because many people view South Madison as the place where African Americans, Latinos and other people of color live. At worst, Salkin felt that his candidates didn't need to reach out to people of color in this and other aldermanic races.
      Whether it was intended or not, Salkin's advice is an example of electoral redlining. This is a representative of a large organization deciding what and where people of color are going to hear the views of candidates who may one day be making decisions that impact their lives. It is an example of  "racial steering" of the political process. It's an example of  "the more things change, the more they remain the same." With this kind of thinking, it is no surprise that it takes so long for African Americans and other people of color to make any kind of strides in this community.
VOL.II No. 6                   March 21, 2007
March 21, 2007
stories/columns


* T
he Literary Divide: U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales under fire,
by Dr. Paul Barrows

*
Sheryl Lee Ralph performs 'Sometimes I Cry,',
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Kathleen Falk: Dane County's longest serving executive (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

*  Decision 2007 Candidates for MMSD Board
- Beth Moss
- Rick Thomas
- Johnny Winston Jr
.
- Maya Cole
-Marjorie Passman


*  Decision 2007 Candidates for Madison Alder
- Aaron Backer
- Jed Sanborn
- Lauren Woods
- Larry Pasha
- Satya Rhodes-Conway
- Julia Kerr

- Thuy Pham-Remmele
- Gary Poulson


*
Politicas de Hoy: La reforma migratoria se queda cruda en la olla,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

*
Asian Wisconzine - Charlotte Deleste: Anchored in love of family,
by Heidi M. Pascual
(www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
Simple things:
Not a day
,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

*
Voices: Bring them home,
by Dr. Jean Daniels

*
Project JAMAD Black History Program,
by Jonathan Gramling

* JC Wright Middle School African American History event,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
East High School Black History performance,
by Jonathan Gramling

* Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
China Dispatch: First day in Anqing,
by Andrew Gramling

* 100 Black Men History Challenge Bowl
by Jonathan Gramling

* Global Connections

* City Happenings
2007 Woman of Distinction Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings
Talking about Public Education
Reflections/Jonathan D. Gramling
Electoral redlining
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