Madison Alder Used Vile Cursing During Council Meeting, Totally Unacceptable


When it comes to cursing in the public square I come from a very different point of view from many who now toss about any word that comes to mind.  Like this week when Madison Alderman Paul Skidmore used the most despicable four-letter word that can be used on a woman.   I have been a politico for decades and do not recall an elected official ever having used this word publically, and certainly not against a woman who was to testify and offer thoughts on the issue up for discussion.

This evening on Facebook I read the following about this incident and was truly rocked back in my desk chair.  It was the first I learned of what had occurred.

Last night in the wee hours of the morning, my daughter was about to testify at the Common Council, when alderperson Paul Skidmore called her the most despicable name a woman can be called. He should apologize to her and resign immediately. Clear standards of conduct are obviously needed.

Readers to this blog know where I stand on the word choices that we make every day.  I have called out newspapers and even The Economist for the lack of professionalism when allowing the lowest common denominator to rule.  I take this stand as a former radio broadcaster and one who has worked in the state assembly.  I know there must be standards of conduct.

And when they lapse we see the results and are angry about them.

Granted, I grew up 50 years ago when social norms were far different.  Radio did not have crude shock jocks, cable television was not yet a factor, and there were still some rules of the road for what passed as public communication.

I can recall mom hearing an elected official use either the word “damn’ or “hell” and commenting that it was not appropriate, as those placed into office should have a higher sense of self-respect.  I have never forgotten those moments and lessons.

I have commented before on the use of cursing in our culture, and have always reached back to years of childhood when radio was a constant source of news and entertainment in our home.  The respect announcers showed for their audiences has never left me.  That decorum, that professional touch, that mature quality is not only how I presented myself in work environments, but also in my personal life.

Coming from a broadcasting background where words matter, and working in a legislator’s office where conduct was always viewed or heard by someone, means perhaps I see this issue as more prescribed than others in society.  But it really should not be so.  We all should care about the use of language by elected officials.

I contend it should not be hard to conduct ourselves in society with word choices given we have the entire dictionary from which to use when making a point.  I suspect throughout the entire city council meeting every other elected official acted as if they were sitting in front of the entire council with many constituents gathered about in chairs.  What Skidmore seems not to appreciate is that words have weight, and if we are to live in a society where the hope of coming together is to exist at all, we need to be aware of the impact of the words we use.

I use to speak before groups of constituents when working in the statehouse and was always aware of the audience I was in front of to push the right message by using the right words.  I used words many hours at a time when working in radio and never felt the need to resort to ones that were laced with vulgarity.

Or as we heard last night, words that were vile and mean.

The use of words is key to everything we do.  Being an adult is knowing how to employ the best use of words.   Elected officials are always walking a line on how to frame issues and respond to all sorts of inquiries so word usage to them is as basic as washing hands before dinner.  So one has to assume that just acting meanly was intended when the four-letter word was uttered by Skidmore.

It is not the first time I very much question those who wish to have a leadership role in either our city or nation when their word choice includes trash talk, cursing, and vulgarities.  It shows a lack of respect for an audience and a public body they wish to influence.

I know it sounds truly old-fashioned to mention Paul Harvey, a radio broadcaster I always listened to as a boy because of how he enunciated every syllable of each word.  I enjoyed his broadcasts until he died in 2009.  But here is the message I want to end this post with about what Skidmore must ponder.

Harvey would wear a shirt and tie for a radio broadcast, as it was a sign of respect for the audience he wanted to spend some time with over the airwaves.  Think about that consideration he gave to his listeners.  That was the world I grew up in.  Surely Paul Skidmore grew up in a very similar time.

And so it goes.

How COVID-19 Spreads In Rural Wisconsin

This week I talked with a public school employee who had a rather stark response to my question of how long it was expected for that school to remain open once it commences classes next week.

Without hesitation, the response was right to the point.

“Two weeks”.

Today as I looked at my home county newspaper and it was once again apparent the medically prescribed safeguards requested so to stem the spread of the virus are not being practiced by many people.

The first photo that struck my attention was one with the caption which started, “Plainfield’s Tri-County students are seen waiting for the bus to arrive….  There are ten people and two masks.  And the saddest statement is the ‘adult’ in the middle of the photo seeming to be blissfully unaware.


“All ages swarmed around….” was the second phto that alerted me regarding an event to raise money for local concern.  Not a mask on anyone.


Then I saw this reminder online today about how people can help spread the infection with friends and strangers alike over several days this weekend.


Too many of our medical professionals work long hours and endure huge amounts of stress so to do their part to keep the public as healthy as possible. Many citizens statewide have played their part in staying closer to home, wearing a mask, and self-distancing.  Then there is a huge swath of the state that seems wedded to the idea they can act in any fashion they desire and not care one iota for the well-being of anyone—not even themselves.

This is truly a damning indictment on the caliber and fiber of too many of our fellow state residents.

Great Analogy: Pride Parades And Belarus

The mass demonstrations for fair elections and democratic principles has played out for the past month in Belarus. It has been uplifting to see the average citizen take to the streets in favor of truth and fairness when it comes to the election returns.  Along with the needed ouster of their dictator.

In the most recent addition of the The Economist (August 29) comes one of those masterful lines about the demonstrators that underscores the skill of the writers at this international publication.

“The atmosphere had an odd resemblance to that of an early Pride parade: some thing repressed was coming out, surprised and delighted to recognize itself.“

The international community can only hope the people of Belarus will be as successful with their march for rights as gay men and women have had with their struggles over the past years.

Kennedy Election Loss, Heavy Hearts For Believers In Camelot

The election loss last night in Massachusetts for Joseph Kennedy III was more than just a political happening.  For many who have journeyed in spirit and through history with this famous family, in good times and bad, it was far more than just a campaign loss.  It was as if a part of our larger family had been impacted with a major setback.

I never shook a hand of a Kennedy at a whistle-stop or was able to stand in the back row at a campaign rally for anyone with the famous Irish name, and yet I was always able to feel like a part of the show,, the drama, the humor and broad, beaming smiles.  After all, their politics was mine, too.  Liberal Democratic values.

And the family knew precisely what they were fighting for, as they had also experienced it in their own generations and wanted the government to even the playing field for all the ones yet to come up from hardship–no matter how that hardship manifested itself. I have read the books of this family since high school and recall a term that almost punched from the pages when reading of immigrants packed on “coffin ships”.  It was an image from my teenage years that speaks to the hopes immigrants had for their new home, and the risks they took to reach it.

That is how the Kennedy family made their way to these shores, and as we know in three generations Jack Kennedy would be sworn into the presidency of our country.  What has always alerted me to the family’s pull on the nation was, following the assassination in 1963, a landslide proportion of citizens told pollsters they had voted for Kennedy in 1960.  But we know that 1960 was a squeaker election outcome.  Yes, some of the responses after Kennedy’s death was due to national grieving, but let us be clear about another fact. Politics did not always matter as the Kennedy family had passed above being just a partisan name.   They were a part of the larger family for millions in the nation.

The tales of Camelot and the beautiful and handsome faces of generations of Kennedys have left their mark on the hearts and minds of millions of my fellow citizens.  Their fame and feats have been the stuff of headlines and history, their times of crisis and funerals have showcased family solidarity and steadfastness.  The family of doers and dreamers also faced frailties and human shortcomings, which also made the headlines, and in the end, proved how very much they were like every other family in America.

So yes, today there is a real sadness in the nation among those who still know the value of history and nostalgic touchstones.  Our nation needs to have those moments from history that still evoke passion and energy and bring forth the best of us.  The Kennedy family and Camelot was such a marker.

We still love them.