The Good Fight

Battles to keep a good reputation, stay connected with voters and keep a promise to a daughter

Keeping a Promise

Malinda Turvey was just eighteen years old when she died in a horrific crash on the Interstate near Janesville, packed into a van with other
members of a traveling magazine sales crew. Her father, Phil Ellenbecker, has spent “every second of every day” in the decade since the accident looking for a way to find some justice for his daughter. There were days when Ellenbecker was bone-tired after walking the halls of the state Capitol trying to persuade legislators to support a bill regulating the traveling sales industry. But his promise to Malinda on her grave kept him going. We spoke in the weeks after Governor Doyle signed into law “Malinda’s Act”—the first of its kind in the country. When he first started his journey, Ellenbecker didn’t think he could accomplish something as significant as getting a bill passed. Now he knows the truth: anyone can do it; they just have to push hard enough. Going forward, he’s directing his considerable energies toward similar federal legislation; I wouldn’t bet against him.

Tweet Speak

Republican Scott Walker’s campaign for governor regularly updates his followers on Twitter—which provides 140 characters of space—to let them know what he’s doing on any given day in his role as Milwaukee County Executive and on the campaign trail. Example: “Spoke 2 WI Seasonal Workforce Coalition. Thanked them 4 leadership on jobs. Glad 2 b a part of it.” Who is writing these tweets? Prince?

Too Close for Comfort

Wisconsin’s “squeaky clean” reputation was tarnished in 2001 when news broke that state employees were using taxpayer resources to campaign. When a recent piece from Good magazine examined federal corruption convictions by state, I couldn’t resist the chance to find out the answer to the question of just how corrupt we are. South Dakota was the worst—with 8.31 convictions per 500,000 people in 2006. Louisiana, Alabama, Montana and Delaware rounded out the top five. Where did Wisconsin rank? No. 26, just behind Illinois. Does this mean we’re just slightly better than Blago and Chicago politics? I want a recount.

Fightin’ Words 

If we needed more evidence as to why people hate politics, the chair of the state Democratic Party, Mike Tate, provided a colorful example in an interview with this summer: “If you’re not punching your opponent in the face, it’s much easier for him to hit you.” Yes, that’s his exact quote.

Supplies and Demand

Back-to-school costs can average more than $400. When we’re loading our shopping carts with notebooks and crayons, many of us forget that there are families in our community who can’t afford them. Luckily, local organizations step in to help fill the gap, but they can’t do it without help. Backpacks for Success (Aug. 28), sponsored by 100 Black Men of Madison, and School Supplies for Kids, a partnership of Madison-area Urban Ministry and the Vogel Foundation, need donations. To help call 256-0906.

Got capital ideas or comments for Jenny? E-mail her at

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