Mystery place: Dec. 7, 2008

Work with farm women honored

Rep. Ryan talks about the economy

Lake Geneva native named pastor

Downtown Whitewater chooses new board members

Delavan manufacturer closing

Better e-mail address for Dan Plutchak

Swope conviction upheld

Lake Geneva home prices drop

Delavan woman pleads not guilty to embezzlement

Oct. 2008 stories

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Friday, February 29, 2008

How politics gets sidetracked

Mudslinging and politics go hand in hand.

I've always thought the true professionals at it were candidates on the state and national levels. Local candidates always seemed to be more civil.

But this political season has gone topsy-turvy.

While Democratic opponents Hillary Clinton (up until this week, at least) and Barack Obama have treated each other like the best of friends, local politics has seen its share of mean spiritedness.

We get our share of news "tips" on candidates for local offices. These tips allege to have uncovered some dirt, but under closer scrutiny their claims are either misinformed or flat out wrong.

The anonymous flyer or letter is a popular technique. Many county residents have received them in one form or another, and for the most part, the ones we've looked into don't hold up to the facts.

The same can be said for the comments on our Web site, Like every news organization, one of our missions is to provide a forum for public discourse. Our role isn't to dictate that discourse, so we put as few restrictions on those comments as possible.

Sadly, the online world seems to be the place where people can vent their most negative emotions.

The real trouble in this sort of mud slinging, is that it diverts voters' and candidates' attention from what's really important-a vision of what kind of community we want to live in.

In Lake Geneva, for example, how a candidate runs his or her business is probably less important to the future of the community than how that person may vote on the proposed Mirbeau-Hummel residential development on the city's south side.

Lake Geneva is at a fork in the road, and the course of its future will be determined to a large extent by which way its leaders go on that development.

It's an issue that should be decided simply on its merits, not by rumor or innuendo.

The same is true in county government.

The current debate is about taxes. The future, however, is about what services the county will or will not provide.

Many claim the county takes too much tax money. Some have even proposed a tax levy freeze.

It's an idea worth debating.

But after that, what kind of a Walworth County would that lead to? That's what candidates and voters should be thinking about.

Keep in mind, the owner of a $250,000 home chipped in about $975 to pay for county services last year.

A 10 percent cut or 10 percent increase in the county tax levy would amount to less than $100. That's a nice chunk of change, but it's also not a life-changing amount of money for a homeowner.

The effect on county services, however, would be dramatic.

Ultimately, that's the issue that should be considered and debated by both candidates and voters before the polls open on April 1.

Post continued HERE

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Week wins three state journalism awards

Considering the hotly contested primary races for the Walworth County Board, the announcement last weekend that Mike Heine won an award for reporting on local government seems particularly timely.

Heine's coverage of the Walworth County Board downsizing debate earned third place honors at last weekend's Wisconsin Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest was held as part of the WNA convention at the Kalahari convention center in the Wisconsin Dells.

The award was one of three The Week received.

Heine also received second place in interpretive reporting for his package, "Broken trust," which examined how the August, 2006 raid on Star Packaging in Whitewater affected how members of the community perceived each other.

The Week's advertising and creative design departments also won a second place for best advertising sales tool for our special section, Feel Well. This year's section is HERE. The section highlighted businesses and services related to health and fitness in Walworth County.

For Heine's coverage of the Walworth County Board downsizing debate, judges from the Michigan Press Association poured over stories from four editions that spanned six months.

In February, Heine's cover story, "One size doesn't fit all," examined the size and make-up of other county boards, and how Walworth County might fare under similar setups.

In March, prior to the vote, Heine compiled a package of interviews where various interested parties explained their positions for and against the move to downsize the number of seats on the board from 25-11.

Then, in July, Heine wrote two stories covering the fallout from the vote, which some said led to the ouster of Supervisor Ann Lohrmann from her position as Walworth County Board chairperson.

The final chapter of that story will be written April 1 when voters chose the 11 members who will make up the leaner Walworth County Board.

It may be beneficial to others to go back and see how the predictions of 2007 play out in 2008.

Heine's coverage of the raid of a packaging business in Whitewater also looked at issues from a variety of perspectives.

Some said the raid targeted immigrants, others said was the result of an identity theft investigation.

In any case the raid raised suspicions about law enforcement among members of the large Hispanic community in Whitewater.

Heine's coverage examined why the raid led to suspicion and the Whitewater police department's ongoing efforts to bridge the gap in perceptions.

Post continued HERE

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