Vol. 4    No. 13
June 25, 2009 Archives

2009 Production Schedule

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Claire G. Mendoza

President Barack Obama's town hall
meeting on healthcare reform
    We are all deeply saddened by the death of Michael Jackson this week. He has indelibly impacted world culture
since he first began singing as a part of the Jackson Five back in the early 1960s. Indeed his career spanned from my
high school days way back when to today. For our children, there has always been a Michael Jackson.
   “Thriller” was such a seminal event ion our mass culture because it launch music videos onto a totally different plain
and musical numbers such as “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” raised public awareness about the issues of gang violence and
fatherhood responsibility. Michael Jackson was such an incredible positive voice back then and his messages still
resonate today. “We Are the World” symbolized how Michael’s music brought a unifying sense to the world long before
there was talk about the global economy and a shrinking world brought about by advances in transportation and
   In contrast to his professional messages, his personal life became a polarizing influence in American life. While some
viewed him as weird and a social deviant for his relationships with young people, particularly young boys, I also know
that there were many in Black America who felt that Michael was persecuted because White America could not stand to
see a wealthy, influential, independent Black man. It will probably be well after my lifetime before the “truth” of Michael
Jackson’s personal life will ever be known.
   Personally, I will always think about Michael Jackson — before his physical appearance drastically changed — as the
very talented and handsome young Black man who gave expression to the dreams and concerns of several generations.
His music will continue to make my body move and take me back to a time of innocence whenever I hear his music. No
level of controversy or spin can ever take that away.
   On July 7, the city of Madison may rezone the corner of W. Washington and Bedford Streets, which will lead to the
demolition of the Badger Bus Depot and the construction of a five-story mixed use building. It’s not that the Badger Bus
Depot is moving. For the first time in many decades, Madison will be without a bus depot period. This is so surprising
because Madison has always made alternative plans for such eventualities and intermodal transportation linkages are
extremely important.
   Mass transit — intercity and intracity — is inordinately used by low-income citizens. And in this community, many of
those individuals are people of color. It is unfortunate that the city of Madison hasn’t created a bus hub – transfer hub
like those it created in South Madison and elsewhere for the intercity bus traffic. The Memorial Union on Langdon
Street is already over crowded with bus traffic and the Dutch Mill Road site is very inconvenient for many intercity bus
users. The city should make some provisions for a downtown hub — even if it is temporary until high speed rail comes to
Madison — for the convenience and safety of Madison’s intercity bus riders.
   It seems that the election controversy in Iran, the death of Michael Jackson and other events have overshadowed the
Obama Administration’s efforts to enact healthcare reform by October 2009. Healthcare is a $2.5 trillion industry in the
United States. And in its current state, it continues to consume a greater proportion of the American economic pie every
year. This is having a detrimental effect on the cost and quality of care.
   Last week, the Obama Administration released some facts about the state of healthcare in Wisconsin. Currently,
• Eight percent of people in Wisconsin report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.
• Wisconsin businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $900 per year on premiums as a direct
result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.
• Nine percent of people in Wisconsin are uninsured, and 67 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time
• The percent of Wisconsinites with employer coverage is declining: from 74 to 67 percent between 2000 and 2007.
   There is a lot at stake here in Wisconsin and across the nation and the Obama Administration as well as Congress will
come under increasing pressure from special interests across the political spectrum to fashion healthcare reform
according to their own narrow interests. It is important for everyone to find out what is at stake and to call their elected
representatives to support them in the stands on healthcare reform they have taken or to urge them to reconsider.
Personally, I think a public option of some type is important. There are some heavily moneyed interests — judging from
the frequency of their advertising — who do not. Make your voice heard on this important issue, which will impact us for
generations to come!
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                  Michael Jackson and issues