March 22, 2009

Democrats honor 3, hear Lt. Gov. Lawton

One year ago, last March, when Racine County Democrats held their annual banquet, the theme was "November is our turn." Or so they hoped.

Sunday night, as Democrats filled the banquet hall at Infusino's, they celebrated the results of that election -- and the work ahead. The party also honored three notable members, including:

Corinne Owens and Mike Shields
Corinne Owens received the the annual "Phyllis Dresen Spirit of Democracy Award" presented to an individual who has had a significant impact on the community through efforts to support the democratic principles of peace and justice. Mike Shields, county party chairman, described some of the 96-year-old Owens' accomplishments -- well known to the crowd -- and cited her motto: "Live to do good for others." Owens rose from a janitor's position, when she was refused a teaching job because of her race, to become chair of the Gateway Technical College Board, president of the NAACP, and a leader in the effort to pass the Fair Housing Act

John Lehman and Lenny Hand

Lenny Hand received the James Arena Award, for his long and continuing contributions to the Democratic Party of Racine County. The award was presented by State Sen. John Lehman, who wondered "why Lenny didn't receive this 15 years ago." Lehman praised Hand's activities on behalf of the community, unions and the Democratic Party, and noted that he has been involved in party activities so long, George McGovern crashed his wedding.

Jane Witt was named Democrat of the Year, for her efforts for the Democratic Party during the year. The award was presented by Judy Van Koningsveld, last year's winner, who noted that she and Jane "are the type of people who will never be candidates," but who will make sure the actual candidates get their messages across. Witt recalled being asked to make election calls late on election day in November, and cracked up the crowd by describing the results of one call, at 6:40 p.m. that evening: "Lady, are you a bleepin' idiot?" "I said, 'Yes, I am,' and went out and celebrated the election," she said.

The evening's keynote speaker, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, put the times in context, noting the "complexity of the moment in which we live" and "the importance of these people, celebrating the thousands of hours of community building in Democratic values."

She urged those present "to guide budget creation in both capitols," using the lessons they've learned to fight "the widening income gap that defines this moment, driven by the financial industry with two many people engineering financial derivatives that became toxic."

Corinne Owens
with Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton

Lawton said "the need for government regulation is indisputable," and she made no apologies for the tax increases coming in Gov. Doyle's budget. "A deficit situation is, by definition, bad." She said the "uncontrolled spending under George Bush" -- tax cuts for the rich and the costs of the Iraq war-- "brought the U.S. into this."

The only question, she said, using a medical metaphor, is "where to place the paddles on the heart of the economy."

At the same time, she said Racine is "uniquely positioned to offer leadership," praising our restored and attractive downtown and our "richly diverse population -- not just whites but also African-Americans and Hispanics." The city has "an embarrassment of riches in the strong field of mayoral candidates," she said.

She also decried the "inflammatory rhetoric which confuses the public," coming from Republicans Paul Ryan and Robin Vos. Referring to Ryan's "Road Map," Lawton said, "privatization is not innovation. What would have happened had we privatized Social Security, as he proposed? Health care savings accounts are not a solution."

ONE MINOR GLITCH: Ah, such a nice banquet, slightly marred at the end (after I'd left). Among the many Democratic dignitaries introduced during the evening were the four Democrats present who are running for mayor: John Dickert, Kim Plache, Q.A. Shakoor II and Robert Turner. Each was promised two minutes at the end to address the audience. But when it came to Shakoor's turn, he was denied the floor; seems he hadn't filled out an application form to formally join the party. The incident left a bad taste in some people's mouths...


  1. Thanks for the coverage. Yes, the audience was embarrassed, to say the least, when QA was denied the opportunity to speak. He was most gracious about it, and most of us were furious. That incident marred what was otherwise an exciting, celebratory event.

  2. Laura French3/23/2009 8:06 AM

    Hooray for Jane! Your hundreds and hundreds of hours of phone banking, picnic arranging and other activities had a wonderful result for Racine, for Wisconsin and for the United States.

  3. Unlike Corry Mason at least the Lt Governor is able to fight Doyle for jobs in Wisconsin. Thank You Barbara

    But the Civil War in the Dems is a good time!
    First the Dickert- Turner Civil Wars and now the Dickert- QA Civil War.

  4. AP Hill - QA is not a dem and never has been to my knowledge. He plays both sides of the fence. So it's not exactly a civil war where he's concerned.

    We'll see who the party chair Mike Shields supports for Mayor this time around. As I recall, back in 2003 he supported the only non-Dem candidate running. We had, Ron Thomas, Gary Becker, Laurie Kell, and Ken lumpkin running as Dems.

    The only non-Dem candidate running then was Jim Smith. Mike Shields chose to support Jim Smith. And now Shields is your party chair? Shame on you Racine County Democratic party. Hypocrites!

  5. 8:57

    So Q.A. should not be allowed to speak? I thought the Dems loved everyone! Guess I was wrong.
    Poor Q.A. must not be Black enough or rich enough for the Dems of Racine.
    After all Dickert is I understand a fan of the DRC you know IMHO The area for Racine for the rich white folk

  6. Mike Shields is supporting Bob Turner for Mayor. He appears in a rambling video on CAR25.

  7. I wasn't there but I would think they'd have to keep some control on the program. Someone who is not a member of the party and hasn't requested to be a speaker ahead of time probably shouldn't be allowed to get up and speak.

    From what I know about QA he has been asked for years to become a member of the dem party but has refused.

  8. Funny someone should bring up the Smiths. I hear they are back in action and involved in the Turner campaign. Wish they would stay in political retirement, things get nasty whenever they are involved.

    Who's bright idea was it to have a Phyliss Dresen award? I hate to speak ill of the dead, but while she was alive she was not the most pleasant of people to deal with.

  9. The Mayor's seat is an nonpartisan position. In spite of the political scrum, no one runs with a D or an R after their name.

    Chairman Shields said it was a rule that only party members may speak, a rule no one can ever remember seeing or reading.

    Rule or not, in the end, it was rude and petty. Not a great way to build a party.

  10. Pete QA is not a democrat. People assume he is I guess because he's black but he has never wanted to become a party member.

    I highly doubt there are any rules about having to be a party member to speak however.

    Shields has never had a clue how to run the party.

  11. AP...I guess do not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    Shields, a Turner supporter, is the chair of the party did not let QA speak. How did Dickert get into the conversation? It's a Turner / QA civil war! With Turner being led by non-dem, former mayor, former felon, Jim Smith.

    Maybe, this was done by Plache? She did not want the non-party loyalist to speak? She has support among the board members.

    I agree with Jane it sounded like a good event. Too bad gossip and lies have to ruin it. It is however the Racine County Democratic Party.

  12. Dickert was the major backer of the last guy to run for Q.A. seat.
    IMHO Dickert wants to purge the City Council of any who might think for themselves
    So anything he can do to screw Q.A. he is all for it.

    Can anyone explain why Turner would want the loser scum Smith working for him, the only one worse would be Keith Fair

  13. Funny you should say nasty when the Smiths get involved. My campaign sign went missing as well as many others we placed in the city. Then looking around my block and others I noticed many new Turner signs put up. They didn't even leave the metal posts. Dirty politics.
    Anyone but Turner or Plache would be great.

  14. I especially enjoyed the fair and balanced coverage by the objective Racine Post in covering the Racine GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.

    Wait, you did report on that didn't you?

  15. From where I was sitting (nearer to the table Q.A. Shakoor and John Dickert were sharing than to the podium), it appeared that many persons present were surprised when the moderator during the candidate speech portion of the program, Linda Flashinski, skipped over Shakoor's name when calling individual candidates forward to speak. (They were called in alphabetical order, and it was the second time in the evening when his name was omitted from a list of candidates present.) When Bob Turner was done with his speech, a number of people suggested that Shakoor, being present, should be allowed to speak. Shields at first announced that only registered Democrats could speak from the podium ("those who have signed papers"), to which someone reported that Shakoor had signed membership papers that very evening. Shields then invited Shakoor to speak, but Shakoor remained seated, tacitly declining the invitation.
    It was an awkward moment, but I got the impression that party members overall would have liked to have heard what Mr. Shakoor had to say. A number of people did speak with him before and after the formal portion of the program.

  16. I recently asked QA at a meeting with about 20 other people if he was a Democrat or Republican and he responded Independent. He is not a Democrat and should not be invited to speak at a Democratic function. Let him speak at the next Independent Awards Banquet.

  17. I respect QA for not being a member of a political party. Wait....why was he there???

  18. QA pulls the same shenanigans that Alderman Dave Maack does. They try to act as though they are on both sides without committing to one or the other.

    Dem or not, when it came to recognizing elected officials in the audience Shields should have recognized QA.

    Dem party members - I'm not sure when your next election is but please stop embarrassing yourselves and elect a new chairman. And please, make sure the next one doesn't have nude photos circulating on the internet before you elect him/her like the chairman prior to Shields.

    Can't you guys find someone who is going to help organize and grow the party instead of disgracing it?

  19. 3:13

    Hey leave the Dems alone this is great entertainment!

  20. Is Dummy Doyle going to pay that $5oK (for that stupid WI slogan that someone already has )out of his own pocket? How stupid can one be?

  21. I was there and John Dickert called to allow QA Shakoor to be able to speak as did many dem party members who were guests at the dinner. As a matter of fact Dickert and Shakoor were sitting at the same table right next to mine. So, the idea that there is some sort of Dickert v. Shakoor war going on is pure bull.
    I can not find a rule anywhere that would disallow anyone from speaking at any democratic party event. On the contrary we have hosted many speakers that are not party members.
    It was a hot mess that left a bad taste in many people's mouths.

    As far as QA not being a dues paying member of the democratic party goes, well there were hundreds of Obama supporters and volunteers who worked to get Obama elected and they were/are not members. Some were even self proclaimed republicans. There comes a time when you have to work together for the betterment of all. This petty stuff is what we wanted to change away from, IMHO. More change is needed, evidently. And, the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.

  22. Kay

    Dickert spent a lot of time and money trying to get Q.A out of the counsel a few years ago. Something I think Q.A. will not forget and we all know the story of the Dickert Turner on going feud

    Please keep up the great job entertaining us Mr. Dickert

  23. I think there was a guy running for Q's seat that was a friend of Dickert's, but at the time Q was not the incumbent so both were running for the first time.

    So AP Hill your story is not quite accurate.

    Nobody was trying to remove QA. And actually, Q already had his County Supervisor seat but wanted the aldermanic seat too. (That is something I still do not feel is appropriate. A person should not hold both the county supervisor and aldermanic seat, the people are cheated out of representation that way in my opinion. Kaplan is in the same situation.)

    As far as the Dickert/Turner "feud" = that did cause division in the local party but that didn't begin with Turner/Dickert - it began when some of the members of the dem party supported Jim Smith, who at the time was a known Republican.

    Turner was one of the Smith supporters which made many loyal dem party members gravitated towards Dickert because they were sick and tired of the Smith machine.

    People who were part of the Smith group also included Mike Shields, Keith Fair, Kim Plache, to name a few.

    Interesting how you (AP Hill) are trying to create a story about a feud between Dickert and QA where none exists.

    AP Hill - you are seeing what you want to see and pulling out small bits and pieces of history. But without the complete story, you are way off base and very inaccurate.

  24. Mr. Shakoor was sent an invitation to attend and to run an ad, in regards to Democratic Party.

    Inwhich he responded to both. Perhaps in the future, they may want to leave out the Non Partisan people.