Joel Winnig making state Supreme Court run…

While running down a Tweet this evening, I ran across this tidbit from the Isthmus Daily Page last July:

* * *

Madison lawyer Joel Winnig says he’s running for Wisconsin Supreme Court because a new law aimed at improving the integrity of the process makes it possible for him to win. The only problem: An old rule aimed at protecting the integrity of the process makes it impossible for him to run as he’d like.

The new law is Wisconsin’s Impartial Justice Act, which provides public financing of up to $100,000 in the primary and $300,000 in the spring election — and potentially much more to counter profligate spending by, or independent expenditures on behalf of, opposing candidates.

To qualify for this largess, candidates must raise between $5,000 and $15,000 from at least 1,000 state residents, in amounts between $5 to $100. But an existing Supreme Court rule that recently withstood legal challenge bars judicial candidates from asking anyone for money or directly accepting it. Others must do this for them.

There’s more and you can read it here:

Now, I knew Joel Winnig was in Madison, but he’s the same Joel Winnig that grew up in Wausau.  He’s a year or so older than me and during “The Great Liberal Experiment” of the 1970s, he held a student seat on the Wausau School Board.  He was an interesting fellow and smart.  And when he graduated from high school and wanted to get on with his life, I took over the seat.  (As heady as that might sound, I doubt that there was really much demand among the student body at Wausau East for the privilege of sitting through long, boring meetings — but in retrospect, it turned out to be a cool thing, if only for the ability to look back on it now.)

First, I have to tell you that it was a different time.  At the meetings, I sat next to Mr. Krause.  He was an accountant and he used to try to talk me into becoming a CPA.  He might has well have been trying to talk me into joining the French Foreign Legion or becoming a monk, for all I cared.  Just poring over those mind-numbing ledger pages in the meetings was enough to make me want to puke.

But here’s the funny part.  In those days, you could smoke at the meetings and they sure as heck weren’t televised.  It was literally the era of the “smoke-filled room.”   The School Board met in the Wausau City Council chambers in those days and once the meeting got going, Krause always liked to light up a stogie.  Better yet, he would sometimes offer one to me and I always took it when he did.

So there we sat at our desks in the City Hall, puffing on our cigars — old white-haired Krause and young long-haired me (and yes, I DID have hair and it was pretty long.)  But you know, the Indians knew something about smoking.  Old Krause and I probably had very little in common other than going to School Board meetings, but as I look back on it, he was doing his civic duty on behalf of the young people in our school system.  He was trying to make sure they got educated decently.  He gave a damn.

Of course, today nobody can  smoke in public meetings and on the balance, it’s probably a good thing.  And if a school board member gave a high school kid a cigar and they both lit them up and smoked them together — even outside in a designated smoking area — he’d probably be pilloried or recalled or at least he’d certainly lose the next election.

And speaking of up in smoke, I noticed that Joel Winnig, my student predecessor on the Wausau School Board and now Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate , was one of the speakers at last weekend’s 40th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Festival.  It was a nice day and you can see his remarks on YouTube here:

So I wish him luck and I thank him for the chance to smoke stogies with Old Krause and learn something about people, politics and public service way back when.



One Response to “Joel Winnig making state Supreme Court run…”

  1. Harvey S. Scholfield Says:

    Joel was in my class (East ’72).

    He is a great guy.

    Thanks for sharing the vid.

    Page 72 of our yearbook reveals how boring those school board meetings were…

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