March 25, 2010

Three judges weigh in for Herrera

Three county judges endorsed Georgia Herrera this afternoon, a few hours after another judge supported Gene Gasiorkiewicz, her opponent in the April 6 election for a seat on the Circuit Court bench.

The three backing Herrera in press releases sent out by the Herrera campaign are former Racine County Circuit Court Judge and current Reserve Judge Dennis Flynn, Circuit Court Judge Gerald Ptacek and Circuit Court Judge Faye Flancher.

Flynn said: "She served Racine County well as criminal prosecutor and again as Circuit Court commissioner. I first appointed her Circuit Court Commissioner over ten years ago, having watched her try cases to juries and practice law in my court for many years. She’s got a proven record as attorney, prosecutor, and court commissioner. She demonstrated her ability to preside in Court as a Circuit Court commissioner and Deputy Family Court Commissioner. She will clearly be an excellent judge.”

Ptacek said: “I've seen Georgia Herrera's work for many years, when I served as District Attorney and then as Circuit Court Judge. She was an excellent criminal prosecutor for Racine County. Her law enforcement experience and good judgment are needed on the bench. Georgia has strong support throughout our County and has also demonstrated her ability to preside fairly and impartially in Court as a Circuit Court commissioner over the last ten years.”

Flancher, who appointed Herrera as deputy court commissioner in the Family division of Circuit Court in Racine, said: "I know Georgia's work and qualifications well. Her broad experience and good judgment are needed on the bench. Georgia's made the tough decisions necessary of a family court commissioner on hard issues like child custody and placement. She's demonstrated she can run an efficient and impartial court room. She is exceptionally well qualified to be judge."

All three were quoted saying, word-for-word: "She is the right person for this important job.”

Earlier this morning, Judge Allan "Pat" Torhorst, deputy chief judge of the Second Judicial District, sent out a letter condemning Herrera's criticism of Gasiorkiewicz' qualifications. More on that issue here. And for more on the endorsement battle that this race has turned into, go here.


  1. WTF Racine Post?? The real NEWS today is the endorsement by Torhorst. Doesn't "news" require something to actually be N-E-W ? By focusing on a press release by the three judges who already have endorsed Herrera instead of the NEW endorsement, you've lost all credibility as a neutral news source. It took a while to cut through your distorted reporting of today’s news to figure out what really happened. I hope you're proud of yourselves for apparently taking a lesson from the FOX News Channel on how to slant the news. I've been wrong all along in thinking that Racine Post was better than the JT. I first had a clue of this when others commented on your inaccurate "he-said-she-said" headline a few days ago that would more accurately have been stated as "She Lied, He Didn't" Now I'll know better than to have any hopes of real journalism from this pathetic e-rag.

  2. Anon 5:43. Get a life. We had, and still have, the Torhorst story up on our front page. This is, as it clearly indicates, a follow-up to that.

  3. I am for Gasiorkiewicz, so I do find your article a bit fawning, considering it does cover general endorsements made in the past. It seems like the news in Torhorst's letter is his obvious anger at Herrera's tactics and his refutation of it.

    this election would make more sense if the parties would frame it as a technically skilled & experienced technician vs. a community/political activist, sort of technocrat v. values or something like that. Why does Herrera want to try to fight it out on qualifications?

  4. Pete:

    Not a very nice tone towards your customers.

  5. Why does Herrera want to try to fight it out on qualifications?

    Because she's got 'em.

  6. I think it's clear to anyone following this race that Herrera has made misstatements about Gasiorkiewicz's record. We reported this last, and the JT followed suit.

    This morning, we followed up with Judge Torhorst's attack on Herrera's campaigning techniques.

    The Herrera campaign, which is a well-oiled machine, responded by pointing out two current and one former judge had endorsed her. That's a reasonable claim and an acceptable follow-up story.

    I think today's back-and-forth, and resulting anger in the comments, is important for three reasons:

    1. It's clear this is a race between a politician and a lawyer. Herrera has been through this type of race before, has had her eye on a judgeship for several years and clearly went into the election with the intention of winning at all costs.

    Gasiorkiewicz is more of a traditional judicial candidate. He's at the end of a prominent local legal career, he has the respect of his peers and is the type of candidate who typically wins these kinds of elections.

    But he doesn't have a politician's edge. That was clear early on when Herrera rolled out several endorsements and Gasiorkiewicz responded that he wasn't seeking endorsements. It's a reasonable response, because he wasn't interested/ready to run a down-and-dirty campaign.

    2. Gasiorkiewicz overwhelmingly won support from the Racine County Bar Association, but Herrera won several high-profile law enforcement endorsements. Which do you think plays better with voters: The support of lawyers? Or the support of police officers?

    It's clear Herrera went in with a game plan to distinguish herself from Gasiorkiewicz by emphasizing her experience as a prosecutor, and then going negative with her campaign.

    Gasiorkiewicz hasn't fought back - though Torhorst did today - and is relying on his reputation to carry him through.

    3. It's not a surprise this race turned nasty. First, the winner has a seat for the rest of their working careers. No one challenges a sitting judge. Second, local judicial races are notoriously brutal. They divide lawyers, pit judges against one another and become big money popularity contests because the candidates can't/won't talk about issues that mean anything to voters.

    Gasiorkiewicz and his supporters should also know there is no way Herrera is backing down in this election. If they attack her, she's going to attack back.

    That said, it's clear Herrera misstated Gasiorkiewicz's record. Whether she did it intentionally, or mistakenly, she put Gasiorkiewicz on the defensive and is controlling the tone of the race. That's no guarantee she'll win. Anyone who goes negative runs the risk of turning voters away, especially when the other attorney's reputation appears solid.

    I guess we'll find out Tuesday. For people criticizing RacinePost for pro-Herrera coverage, I'd refer you to the stories we've written calling Herrera out for her mistaken claims. For anyone who says we're pro-Gasiorkiewicz, well, Herrera did misstate his record in campaign literature. When candidates are caught in mistakes/lies, it's going to look bad.

  7. Gene is a great man. He is ethical and kind. This type of crap will not dent his reputation. It just shows what he is up against. Good luck Gene.

  8. Herrera ads with photos of uniformed police officers are a violation of ethics codes for law enforcement officials and a violation of election law for municipal employees to use their position to influence a political race.

    Why is no one following up on that?

  9. One of Herrera's prominent Law Enforcement supporters is not going to run for re-election. His endorsement does not carry much weight.

  10. I see that some of Herrera's signs were removed by municipalities for being placed in the right of way, in violation of law and ordinance. I also question the placing of these signs on vacant lots, do they even know who owns the properties and have permission from ALL of them? The "well oiled" machine seems slimey to me.

  11. Anyone that tries to dig up dirt on their opponent is not to be trusted - especially when her comments turned out to be lies. Do we really want a liar sitting on the bench? I don't think so - she is very desperate if she has to stoop that low.

  12. From the comments I'm hearing the strong law enforcement endorsement is going to hurt her because there is no balance. As noted in an earlier comment, the one elected law enforcement official appears to not be running again added to the Meier thing just makes her look bad not good. That one backfired.

    This races sure hasn't looked judicial. Mis-information and smear tactics don't make you look like a judge. Better luck next time. I hope future judge candidates learn from this one.

  13. So I looked up the Hatch Act for myself and not only can officers who are municipal employees not appear in uniform for political purposes, but they cannot engage in political activity while in a government office or using a government vehicle.

    In Tuesday's Journal Times, Herrera's ad shows 3 uniformed officers in front of a building that sure looks like the police station with a police vehicle in the background.

    This stinks to high heaven.

  14. In addition to Judge Torhorst, Gene also has the support of former Judge Costello, as is evidenced by the following statement, which appeared in the JT on 3-25-10:

    "Gasiorkiewicz will make us proud
    Having been a Circuit Court judge and practicing attorney in Racine, I have witnessed the thorough preparation and competent presentation of both civil and criminal cases by Eugene Gasiorkiewicz.
    He has always achieved the highest level of professionalism and understanding in the pursuit of justice for his clients. He has aggressively pursued claims for relatives of mine, always obtaining the best possible outcome.
    I am proud to consider Eugene a friend and feel that Racine County is also proud to have a candidate of his caliber available to represent them as a Circuit Court judge. He will be a respected addition to the Racine judiciary and to the justice system.
    Honorable Dennis D. Costello
    Williams Bay"

  15. Not knowing beans about the Hatch Act, I looked it up as well. A quick read of the FAQ shows that the election must be partisan for a violation to take place. While many of the prohibited acts certainly look to apply here, it is simply not a partisan election so I don't see the violations. Granted I didn't read the mass of pages and digest every detail but I think it's a moot point once the race is non-partisan!

  16. No you are wrong. The Hatch act specifies "elections" in addition to partisan and non-partisan for restricted activities which are prohibited.

    A direct quote from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel:

    Restricted Federal employees may not:

    * use official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election;
    * knowingly solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution from any person (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations);
    * be a candidate for nomination or election to a partisan political office;
    * knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of anyone who has business pending before their employing agency; or

    * on duty;
    * in a government office;
    * wearing an official uniform; or
    * using a government vehicle.

    A non-partisan election makes no difference. Go to the website and see for yourself:

  17. The partisan/non-partisan divide pertains to running for office and other activities but always states that your official authority cannot be used to solicit money or endorsements in elections.

    Police officers etc. cannot engage in political activity while on duty, in official uniform and using an official vehicle. It does not say "non-partisan" political activity.

    Herrera has broken election law.

  18. I agree. Bob Carlson appears in her video as Racine County Sheriff in uniform and in front of his official vehicle.

    If he was listed as "Bob Carlson, Racine" as one of her endorsers they would be in the clear. Because he uses his authority as Sheriff he is probably wrong. The same is true for the photos of the cops.

    Law enforcement is heavily funded by federal money making this more than just a little fishy.

  19. I agree. Bob Carlson appears in her video as Racine County Sheriff in uniform and in front of his official vehicle.

    If he was listed as "Bob Carlson, Racine" as one of her endorsers they would be in the clear. Because he uses his authority as Sheriff he is probably wrong. The same is true for the photos of the cops.

    Law enforcement is heavily funded by federal money making this more than just a little fishy.

  20. If you think this is a Hatch Act violation, step up and file a complaint against Wahlen and the others.

  21. Here's another interesting directive from the Dept of Defense on Political Activity by Armed Forces on Active Duty as it pertains to the Hatch Act:


    This Directive does not preclude participation in local nonpartisan political campaigns, initiatives, or referendums. A member taking part in local nonpartisan political activity, however, shall not:

    1. Wear a uniform or use any Government property or facilities while participating.

    Interesting. Someone should file a complaint!

  22. I seem to recall getting a Herrera mailer a week or so ago that had a photo of Judge Flancher. If that's the case this "new endorsement" is hardly that.

  23. Wow - I received a mailer today from Herrera's opponent, Gene's lit piece reads like a liberal democratic laundry list of good programs he will pursue with no wallet damage - ha, what a joke!

  24. So now Gene's campaign is threatened by Georgia's signs? Gene's campaign has more signs on vacant or farm land than I have ever seen before... One can only assume that each campaign has done the due diligence and has received permission to place their sign! Signs don't vote. Come on guys, do your research, place your vote, be confident in your choice and leave it alone. I have the highest respect for Herrera based on my interactions with her, both community and professional based!

  25. Oh and by the way, Herrera wasn't trying to dig up dirt on her opponent, simply trying to clarify the facts. I sat through a forum where Gene clearly stretched the truth, including embellishing his teaching credentials he claimed that he created trucking law as well as created a legal education program for grade schoolers. What's next, Gene created the internet? Frankly, I am not sure what took Herrera so long to bring her opponents claims to light.

  26. Ok - take a look at the article in the JT's this morning. The JT's says "However she said she doesn't have any concrete ideas or plans of what she would do if elected." Then to quote Georgia direct "I don't presume to think I should make plans for when I'm judge." Now is this really the person you want for judge? No concrete ideas or plans and does not have any plans. A very learned and convincing candidate - NOT. Georgia go back to being a soccer coach.

  27. Let me quote Georgia direct from the JT's interview. "I don't presume to think I should make plans for when I'm judge". "If I am elected by the voters (I'm not quite sure who else would elect her) I would be very hard working to learn all I need to know to be the best judge." She sounds like she's running for High School Freshman class president. The JT's also goes on to say, "she doesn't have any concrete ideas or plans of what she would do if elected. These comments are beyond comprehension. Georgia has no business being judge or any other elected position based on these comments. And if you went to her for legal advice you'd have to be crazy.

  28. Sorry for the duplication - I did not think it took the 1st time, but I think you get my drift!