Recalling Henry Dudek, A Beautifier Of The Neighborhood

If you sit on a bench at B.B. Clarke Beach or notice certain Hosta plants at lawns in the area you are seeing a part of Henry Dudek.  Many new faces in our neighborhood never knew Henry, while older residents will warmly recall him.  May 11th is the anniversary of his death and I want to take note of the man.

Henry had over 26 varieties of Hosta at his home and was always dividing them and giving plants away.  He would never entertain the idea of selling them, as he wanted to share his garden, and encourage others to grow their own.  He even at one time planted a full garden of glorious blooms, with his own resources, on a neighbor’s lawn so to further beautify the neighborhood.

I first met Henry when he worked in the state’s budget office.  My legislative project was to develop a program to stop the looting of underwater shipwrecks on the great lakes and to incorporate those sites into tourism destinations.  I had come to learn about the need of such a program when working as a radio broadcaster in Sturgeon Bay.

I had walked home with Henry from the Capitol, as we both lived not so far apart.  But I was not allowed to make my pitch for the idea until the tea was brewed and properly served at his Spaight Street home.  Certain social rules were to be observed! Henry would write approvingly of the mission, and the governor did not remove it from the state budget.

Many years later James met Henry through a shared interest in languages. Henry was a Latin scholar, James a professor in French and Spanish.  Henry would make fun of James for speaking ‘lesser languages’!

In time the combination of interesting people in Henry’s orbit would include our attending salons at his home where conversations and laughter would linger for hours.  James and I were introduced to a wide range of intriguing people, including Henry’s best friend, and now a long-time neighborhood resident, Rolf.   A continuing friend of ours over the many years.

Henry died on May 11, 2007.  James and I made the decision for the condo association to place his ashes in all the flower beds that were in existence at that time.  There is a real sense with each mowing or planting over the years of the friend who still shares a bit of the past and present at this home.

Henry willed several friends who were close to him money, and also provided a local gay non-profit a sizable endowment.  James and I were willed his condo.  It was a most generous act that changed our lives. We moved from the West Side to this neighborhood in August 2007.  We started at once to put our fingerprints on the entire property with improvements and beautifications.  In 2019 we used our legal rights to bring an end to a truly comical selling process and finalized the purchase of the top two floors of the 1892 home.

I know Henry would be pleased with the total transformation of the interiors of the upper floors, including a many weeks-long total re-wiring of the house.  He would doubtless smile at the third-floor broadcast studio, too.

Henry loved to sit at the beach across from his home.  After his passing, and since he requested no grave marker, a decision was made to use the remaining portion of his estate funds to have new and artistic city benches created for the park. Today when out for a walk, (with a mask, please) stop for a spell at one of the benches.  Look around and note the plants on the backside of the place you sit.  Those, too, are from the gardens of Henry.

The circles of life continue in a variety of ways.  Henry Dudek still demonstrates that fact. Thanks for reading and coming to know Henry for the first time, or smiling again with a fondness for a truly kind man.

Below is a great memory of the colorful cows that dotted Madison.  Pictured is Henry, Gregory, and James.

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Waushara County Column On Urban Milwaukee: My Post About Red-Counties And Covid-19

There is no denying that red-counties in the nation are being impacted by COVID-19.  What those conservatives places have to say, how it reflects on the White House, and how it defines our sense of America is a topic to be found at Urban Milwaukee. 

GOP Will Fall For Anything As They Show Support For Trump

Republicans who still stand alongside and give support to Donald Trump show they will fall for anything.  With that in mind comes the lacerating words this week of columnist S.E. Cupp.

Less than two weeks after unimaginably suggesting injecting disinfectants might help kill off the coronavirus, the past few days have seen him spiral out of control, proving utterly incapable of staying focused on the biggest crisis a president can face. Instead, he has:

• Spread unfounded conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus, about former President Barack Obama and about an MSNBC cable-news host.

• Made statements that can only be described as delusional, like comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln, inventing a non-existent letter of apology from Joe Biden, and spewing non-science about his favorite drug, hydroxychloroquine.

•  Attacked two female reporters for doing their jobs, lamenting that they didn’t behave like Donna Reed, an actress synonymous with the gender role-abiding, kitchen-dwelling 1950s housewife she played on television more than 60 years ago.

• Attacked another female cable-news host, calling her a “3rd rate lapdog.”

• Gone on a 234-word rant on Twitter, complaining about an ad released by a Republican anti-Trump group whose leaders include George Conway, husband of his staffer Kellyanne, in which he used words like “deranged loser of a husband,” and “Moonface” to describe him.

It’s a frightening commentary on the slow normalization of this completely abnormal behavior that we can greet the undeniable deterioration of the president of the United States with mere shrugs. And the only concerns from his inner circle seem not to be about the mental instability itself, but the political ramifications of it being exposed in daily press briefings.

Another Sign Of The ‘COVID-19 Times’

I have been watching how the newspaper cartoons come to terms with the pandemic we are now living through.  This past week Blondie became current with COVID-19.

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Ji Chaozhu, Dead At 90, Part Of History

A slice of history.

Ji Chaozhu, who was a longtime interpreter for top Chinese officials, including Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and who was at Zhou Enlai’s side during President Richard M. Nixon’s groundbreaking trip to China in 1972, died on April 29. He was 90.

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Ji published a memoir in 2008.

 

Exposing The Rot In A Georgia Town

The must-read newspaper article from this weekend.

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Ahmaud Arbery.

When the Glynn County Police Department arrived at the scene of a fatal shooting in February in southeastern Georgia, officers encountered a former colleague with the victim’s blood on his hands.

They took down his version of events and let him and his adult son, who had fired the shots, go home.

Later that day, Wanda Cooper, the mother of the 25-year-old victim, Ahmaud Arbery, received a call from a police investigator. She recounted later that the investigator said her son had been involved in a burglary and was killed by “the homeowner,” an inaccurate version of what had happened.

More than two months after that fatal confrontation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case this week, arrested the former officer, Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael, on charges of murder and aggravated assault.

The charges — which came after the release of a graphic video showing the killing as the two white men confront Mr. Arbery, who was African-American — made clear the depths of the local department’s bungling of the case, which was just the latest in a series of troubling episodes involving its officers.

And it was one element of the broader potential breakdown of the justice system in South Georgia. Attorney General Chris Carr, through a spokeswoman, said on Friday that he planned to start a review of all of the relevant players in that system.

Mr. Carr’s office has already determined that George E. Barnhill, a district attorney who was assigned the case in February but recused himself late last month, should have never taken it on. Among his many conflicts: His son once worked alongside one of the suspects at the local prosecutor’s office.

S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing Mr. Arbery’s family, has called for a federal civil rights investigation focused not only on the men who pursued Mr. Arbery, but the broader justice system.

“It’s small-town America,” Mr. Merritt said in an interview on Thursday. “Those counties, the law enforcement community there they know each other well, they recycle officers in between themselves — it’s a very tight-knit community.”

Over the years, Glynn County police officers have been accused of covering up allegations of misconduct, tampering with a crime scene, interfering in an investigation of a police shooting and retaliating against fellow officers who cooperated with outside investigators.

The police chief was indicted days after Mr. Arbery’s killing on charges related to an alleged cover-up of an officer’s sexual relationship with an informant. The chief, John Powell, had been hired to clean up the department, which the Glynn County manager described last fall as suffering from poor training, outdated policies and “a culture of cronyism.”

The Glynn County force was the sort of department where disciplinary records went missing and where evidence room standards were not maintained, leading the state to strip it of its accreditation.

Question For Conservatives Pushing For Fast ‘Re-Opening’

Here is a question to ponder.

If it is so hard to maintain a healthy environment at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the most famous office address in the world, where staff members are tested regularly, some every day, then how can businesses across the country without anywhere near as much access to the same resources establish a safe space for the workers?

South Dakota Republican Governor Digging Political Grave

Before I get too far into this story about South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem it needs to be noted this is the same person who used–even after the rebukes–her anti-drug campaign tagline: “Meth, We’re on it”.

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We are not talking about a person of great academic achievements. She was a former South Dakota Snow Queen.  And she governs like one.

So with that comes another in a series of news stories about her lack of scientific reasoning when it comes to COVID-19.   As the slaughterhouse chaos grows.

The disdain for data-driven policy moves from conservatives, as we proceed with this pandemic, is startling to witness.  To only pander to Donald Trump in the guise of active governing is astonishing to witness.  Yet that is what she is doing.  As a result, there will be actual deaths that can be placed at the feet of Kristi Noem.   In time, that will resonate at the ballot box.

But it’s also drawn criticism even from Republicans in her solidly red state, who say she’s been slow to lead the response and seems focused on climbing the political ladder. They worry, along with health experts, that the fallout from her decisions hasn’t yet been felt. The state’s virus caseload isn’t expected to peak until June.

“No governor has faced this enormous a test before, but this is the kind of challenge they will be judged on,” said Gail Gitcho, a Republican strategist and former communications director for the Republican Governors Association. For Noem’s national profile, Gitcho added, “it becomes her leadership resume for future office.”

(Playing with the lives of citizens for her future partisan desires is vulgar.)

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Noem has stuck to a hands-off approach, refusing to order businesses to close and rejecting calls for sweeping stay-at-home orders. She’s held her ground even as mayors and doctors — including the state’s largest medical association — called for stricter measures.

Noem argued that would only delay the peak of infections and extend disruption of daily life. She invoked the state ethos of individualism and said she trusted South Dakotans to be responsible.