Vol. 4    No. 7
April 2, 2009 Archives
   It’s about 45 minutes to press time and I’m trying to focus what few brain cells that are still in function to write this
column. I was saddened by an e-mail I received from Amy Mondloch that Lea Zeldin had passed yesterday
afternoon. I always found Lea to be a true-hearted progressive who always had a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Lea experienced a stroke last week while volunteering at WORT-FM, one of her many community loves.
   Among Lea’s many accomplishments was the founding of the King Holiday Free Community Dinner, a perfect
intersection of two of her passions: food and social justice. Every year, Lea would direct the solicitation of food
donations from area food producers and distributors and gather a flock of union and other volunteers, including a
head chef at the Memorial Union, to put on a scrumptious free dinner at the First United Methodist Church off of
the Capitol Square. At the dinner, the homeless would rub elbows with politicians and business people and
everyone in between in the spirit of fellowship that was Dr. King’s dream.
   There would always be a speaker from the grassroots who would speak about Dr. King and his legacy. They were
leaders from the neighborhoods who spoke. And although they may not have had the polish of the speakers at other
King events, they didn’t lack the passion for the justice that Dr. King had in mind. Lea, wherever you are at this
moment, I hope you have found the peace that you fought a lifetime for. We will miss you.
   Dane County United held one of their community forums last night at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Mineral
Point Road. Over 400 people attended to participate in a discussion about two educational initiatives that are on
Dane County United’s agenda, four-year old kindergarten and culturally-relevant instruction. After some
presentations by Dane County United members and others, school board members and candidates were asked to
get up and reflect on their positions. All of them expressed support for the two initiatives
   It was an interesting assembly in that although it was a multicultural audience, it was predominantly Euro-
American. And the primary concern of the audience was the achievement gap between students of color and the
student population as a whole. In many ways, it was an act of the communities that Dane County United represents
taking ownership of the problem and exclaiming that children of color are their children too. It was a beautiful
moment. . Now the hard part comes with making these two important initiatives a reality.
   On April 7, our spring election will be held. These elections usually have a relatively light turnout although the
positions that are being decided are very important. One only has to think back to one year ago when Supreme
Court Justice Louise Butler, the first African American to sit on the high court, was defeated in part due to the low
voter turnout in Dane County.
   We have just as an important race this year because Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is up for election to
another four-year term. I can’t tell you how Abrahamson is going to vote on a particular issue because she won’t say
and takes each case one at a time on their own merit. I truly believe that Abrahamson believes in the rule of law,
an important test for me on whether or not someone should be elected a judge or a justice. Too often, the law is
looked upon by well-endowed interests as something to be manipulated in the pursuit of their own narrowly-defined
self-interest. With Abrahamson on the bench, I feel that the law trumps all and that the laws of Wisconsin will
continue to protect me as I pursue life, liberty and happiness. Shirley Abrahamson deserves our support in the
voting booth.
   An old friend of mine, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, is running for election as Madison’s 5th District alder. I have known
Shiva for 10 years now and have known her to be a passionate, hard working advocate who has paid her dues. She
has worked on non-profit boards like SMHFC-Harambee and sat on city commissions like the Police & Fire
Commission. Her deep ties with the Latino community are a real plus in my mind. If elected, she would be a tireless
advocate for the 5th District where she has lived for the past 14 years and worked in for the past 12 years at UW
Hospital & Clinics. She deserves your vote.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                  Some random thoughts
Aliko Songolo "Knighted" for his French