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Feb 24, 201312:58 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

(page 1 of 2)

The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.

Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.

For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?” 

So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:

Manski said she didn't plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

As Vito Corleone would have said, ‘It was Mathews all along’

Here is Madison school board member Mary Burke’s online comment Saturday afternoon at, which Matthews denies to Blaska’s Bring It!:

Do we really think Sarah Manski looked to Marj Passman to decide to run and then to stay in the race through Tuesday even though she knew she was going to drop out? Marj is a clever woman but who is really behind this? Facebook postings indicated John Matthews recruited Sarah to run. This is a travesty of justice. It smacks of dirty politics. I hope the Madison community stands up for what is right.

People of Madison, we have our smoking gun. Remember that Madison Teachers Inc. endorsed Ben Manski for state Assembly, even though Manski did not live in the west-side Madison district he sought to represent.

With Sarah’s ability to tap into Ben’s political machine, MTI was assured of getting its union lackey. Her online appeals for cash were always a little too polished for a supposed grass-roots campaign.

Sarah Manski has always claimed that (a) school board member(s) asked her to run. Sarah Manski obviously knew that Ben might leave town, given that he had applied to out-of-state doctoral programs. It is not difficult to believe her story that Marj Passman said not to worry, we’ll appoint “someone good.”

The news media conspiracy

Here are the three candidates Madison’s Tammany Hall is trying to defeat (or have defeated):

Left to right: Wayne Strong, Ananda Mirilli, James Howard; candidates for Madison School Board opposed by the Madison Machine.

Few sycophants are more pro-union than the Manskis, Progressive Dane, the Dane County Democratic Party, and John Nichols of the non-union Capital Times.

Comrade John has been promoting the Manskis for several years now and for good reason. He is their employer. John is president of Liberty Tree Foundation, a fact he does not disclose. Sarah and Ben are officers of that the proto-Marxist, Green Party-line organization.

It is an insider game. The Dane County Dem Party endorses a professional Democrat, the unheralded Greg Packnett, vs. board president James Howard, who had the temerity to vote for Madison Prep.

Watch also the campaign behind Dean Loumos, who employs Mike Basford, who chairs the Dane County Dems, a majority of whose members voted to endorse Loumos, who is running against retired Madison cop and south side community builder Wayne Strong.

Dean Loumos would ‘deny another candidate of color’

I said this Madison School Board race is one interconnected, insider-controlled conspiracy between school board insiders, the Dane County Democrat Party, and MTI (the teachers union). That’s the Madison Machine. School Board member Ed Hughes is no Tea Partier. But he seems to agree. Hughes ventured into the leftist snake pit known as TheDailyPage to make this observation about Democrat(ic) Party-backed candidate Loumos:

by Ed Hughes » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:17 pm

... The way things appear is that Loumos is just another candidate whose qualifications are measured more by opposition to Walker rather than actual involvement in our schools, who is pushed by John Matthews and Paul Soglin to run for School Board and whose success would end up denying another candidate of color.

Loumos isn’t helped by pages like this  [An appeal to build the national Green Party via Sarah Manski]

Or by his pre-primary financial disclosure form ... which shows a donation from none other than Sarah Manski, plus other persons of interest. [including such Rads as Bert Zipperer, Austin King, Ald. Brian Solomon, Marj Passman’s husband, Bill Keys, Nan Brien, and (yes), John Matthews.]

Or his campaign website ... which makes no mention of the achievement gap and evidences far more concern for the welfare of the adults employed by the school district rather than the welfare of the students the district serves.

Loumos may well be a nice guy, but as both an actual candidate and as a symbol he falls short for many reasons, not the least of which is that Wayne Strong is better qualified for the Board.

And as a current School Board member, I get pretty incensed at candidates who are running to further their own career – or, God help me, to advance the agenda of the national Green Party – or to express their opposition to Scott Walker or anything other than to help us address the substantial challenges we face in preparing all our students for the world they’ll inherit.

Loumos is endorsed by virtually the same cabal that backed Sarah Manski: Madison Teachers, Inc., UW teaching assistants union, South Central Federation of Labor, the Green Party, Progressive Dane, Bill Keys, Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Paul Soglin, and Terese Berceau.

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Feb 24, 2013 03:37 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

This post is ridiculous, especially since Madison Teachers, Inc. did not endorse Sarah Manski. Go onto No candidate was endorsed for Seat 5 of the School Board. SCFL did not endorse Manski either. SCFL endorsed TJ Mertz. This is irresponsible writing that isn't based on facts.

Feb 24, 2013 03:39 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Actually, Bill Keys and the TAA both endorsed TJ Mertz. You should really check your facts.

Feb 24, 2013 06:55 pm
 Posted by  epistemic 1

Who fact checks this blog? With all of the falsehoods, misleading statements and inaccuracies, IBMadison should be embarrassed to even have this blog connected to them at all.

The Madison Teachers Inc (MTI) endorsed James Howard (a minority).
MTI did not endorse Sarah Manski, although they did already go through the recommendation process BEFORE Manski's announcement. So if the MTI members do end up endorsing someone other than Manski after the Primary (i.e. Mertz), then it would have been initiated BEFORE they even knew what Manski was considering. In addition, there are PLENTY of teachers, social workers, electricians, plumbers, and others who did not support Manski one iota.

The UW teaching assistants association (TAA) and the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) did not endorse Sarah Manski.

The SCFL did not endorse Packett either.

Also, Sarah Manski put people down as endorsers, but some did not endorse her (such as Mahlon Mitchell). It's ironic that her husband accused Hulsey of doing the same thing when Ben was running for that seat. What's important to note when it comes to endorsements, is that the various Unions members and entities were independent, went in different directions and most did NOT support Manski.

And even if people WERE asking others if they would be interested in running for local office, that is not nefarious or such a terrible thing. Community members ask their neighbors, friends, co-workers and others to run for office all of the time.

It's apparent Blaska has an agenda against Union members. I don't know the history of this guy, but it's rather sad that he makes such negative stereotypes about workers and unions.

Blaska seems really good with his flowery language and an expansive vocabulary, but he's extremely short on factual data, evidentiary logic, and rational thought. That is the difference between a sophist and a rationalist. In this context, Blaska is no different then the Manski duo after all.

Feb 25, 2013 08:18 am
 Posted by  patricko

I don't believe that it should be mandatory to have children in order to be on the school board, but don't you think it's bit odd that people who do not have children are so interested in setting the agenda to educate everybody else's? Yes, they have a stake in seeing that our children are well educated, but they don't really have skin in the game like a parent does.

Feb 25, 2013 08:43 am
 Posted by  uwbiz96

I nearly spit my bagel out upon reading that the Manskis got off on being countercultural heroes.

Doesn't Mr. Blaska get off on being exactly the same thing? This story is full of code meant to collect high fives from his fans. He's Ben Manski with different bumper stickers and yard signs.

Feb 25, 2013 09:11 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Read for comprehension, epistemic. I did not say that Sarah Manski was endorsed by MTI. I did not say that MTI backed James Howard's opponent. I did not say the TAA and SCFL endorsed Manski, I said they endorsed Loumos. I did not say SCFL endorsed Packett.

I did say that the county Democratic party, of which MTI is a major player, DID endorse Loumos and Packnett, who have zero involvement with the schools to date, according to school board member Ed Hughes, over Wayne Strong and James Howard, who have plenty of involvement with the school district.

I wrote that Loumos was supported by "virtually the same cabal" that supported Manski. Indeed, there is inter-locking involvement by Democrats and former teachers union activists involved in both. Manski herself donated to the Loumos campaign.

I DID write that Manski was supported by the mayor of Madison, its U.S. congressman, the Democratic minority leader of the Assembly, who is from Kenosha, the Democratic minority leader of the Senate, who is from Milwaukee, and other local Democrat bigwigs, such as State Rep. Terese Berceau.

I DID write that school board member Mary Burke points at John Matthews as the instigator of the Manski campaign, not Marj Passman (who is almost more MTI-union than Matthews himself), whom Manski herself credits/blames for getting her to run "and a few other people."

Really, Espis, why all the misdirection?

Feb 25, 2013 10:02 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

I might also point out that Marj Passman was unquestionably behind the Manski campaign and is a listed endorser. (What is in question is whether she knew than Manski's candidacy was, in essence, a placeholder for a board appointment of "someone good"). Her husband Donald Passman is a major contributor to the Loumos candidacy ($100). In her campaigns, Passman has received the legal maximum from the MTI political action committee (something over $1,500). Dean Loumos has already cashed a check for $1,697 from MTI. Four Lakes Green Party supported both Manski and Loumos.

Perhaps I should have written "many of the same people."

Feb 25, 2013 06:57 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dear Readers:

Please don't use the words "fact" and "Blaska" in the same sentence. It offends the force.


Feb 27, 2013 02:06 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

David Blaska has joined the other lone real reporter, Matt DeFour, in being the one of the small handful of people exposing this election scam. The fix was in to shut out minority voices seeking change in Madison schools. And the self-congratulatory liberals are cheering on the fix. Yet they have the audacity to criticize Scott Walker for (legal!) district maps! Incredible. Hypocrisy, thy name is liberal.

Feb 27, 2013 06:09 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Mr. Blaska, you live in Sun Prairie, so why do you even care what happens in MMSD. Unless you are a Tea Party member. Why not talk about the fact that Kaleem Caire's candidate was Ananda Mirilla, and that the people of Madison School District do not approve of private schools dressed up as charter schools (ie Madison Prep) be pushed down our throats trying to steal tax payer money and cherry picking their students. Don't forget James Howard voted for Madison Prep and is now up for re-election. The fact that Wayne Strong is supported by those who are pushing for Howard and Mirilla makes me wonder if Strong isn't also a Caire plant.

It does make sense that you would cut down MMSD when you don't leave in the district. The tea party along with you are trying to demoralize public education and segregate our students. It doesn't affect you or your children so worry about things that truly affect you.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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