In my three years at The Badger Herald, I have seen a lot: murders, political infighting, campuswide snowball fights, University of Wisconsin administration changes and a new president. While these events often make the front page of our news section, those people who drive these stories are often forgotten and lost.
I have served as news editor of this paper for the past year and will be graduating this month. While I’ll still be around, I’m quitting the Herald to focus on UW Law School. For my last article, I want to share the top five characters that have influenced this paper over the past semester, making all us newsies laugh, groan, sigh and murmur.
1. Marc and Eric Fortney
As siblings and UW alumni who own Brothers Bar & Grill on University Avenue, these two made headline news when they decided to sue the UW System Board of Regents over its decision to exert eminent domain over the establishment to construct a new building for the UW School of Music.
The situation came to light this semester when the Fortneys started their guerilla advertising campaign, taking out advertisements in both student newspapers, attacking eminent domain and Board of Regents spokesperson David Giroux personally.
“I’m quite tickled. I had to pick up extra copies to bring home to my children,” Giroux said in a previous interview. “I can tell them, ‘This is what daddy does for work.'”
The brothers also hung a giant three-story banner from their establishment reading “No UW Music School, MOBILIZE” across a giant red bull’s-eye target. However, less than 24 hours later, the city forced them to take it down, as it was too large for city codes.
“We want to stay in Madison; we want no money from the university whatsoever,” Eric Fortney said in a previous interview. “Our family is about to lose $1 million. We are the ones being extorted. The black eye is theirs.”
However, the Fortneys finally dropped the suit April 6, accepting the original $2.1 million offer.
2. Jeff Wood
Rep. Wood, I-Chippewa Falls, was in the limelight this semester due to his intoxicated run-ins with the law.
After being arrested five times for operating while intoxicated, Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater filed a resolution to expel Wood from the state Assembly in October 2009, sparking the creation of a Special Committee on Ethics composed of three Democrats and three Republicans.
The most recent incident took place in September 2009 when he was arrested with 71 mg of Lorazepam, 200 mg of a non-narcotic anti-depressant and over-the-counter cough syrup in his system, the latter of which was found to be over the therapeutic range.
“I am expecting the district attorney to release the charge of OWI,” Wood said in an earlier interview.
The committee hearings took place in March, during which time the members deadlocked on every vote: One to reprimand Wood, two to expel him and one not to expel him. On April 22, the Assembly decided not to expel, but rather to censure Wood for his multiple OWI charges.
Only a few days later, Wood again made the top news headlines when he was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $1,615.50 fine after pleading no contest to a his third OWI charge in 2008.
The incident occurred when he crashed his car into a highway sign and urinated on the side of the road. Police found him drunk and in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Wood reported to his first day of jail the evening of April 26 and was granted work release privileges to complete some of his legislative duties.
3. Tina Trevi?o-Murphy
Campus Women’s Center Director Trevi?o-Murphy has been at the center of several controversies this semester, including the continued fight for funding for CWC as well as Madison People Organizing for Wisconsin Education Rights’ grab at power during the Associated Students of Madison elections.
In 2009, CWC was denied funding for the 2010-11 school year. The group, with Trevi?o-Murphy at the helm, then made five appeals to Student Services Finance Committee and Student Judiciary, each of which was denied.
In March, Associated Students of Madison’s Finance Committee granted CWC $33,100 in operations grants so it could continue to operate. Student Council later reduced its funding in half to $15,376.
“I think it’s telling that the two people who made the original motion… both interacted closely with us through our appeals process,” Trevi?o-Murphy said at the meeting. “I’m sure they were not neutral in making those motions.”
Trevi?o-Murphy was also in the news this semester as a founding member of MPOWER. She ran for ASM as a Letters and Science candidate. While at least 10 of her fellow MPOWER candidates were elected to ASM, Trevi?o-Murphy did not make the cut.
Still trying to get involved, she ran for chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee at the first meeting of the new ASM session, but was called “unreliable” by a current United Council member, who said many of the board members were happy to see her go. UW freshman Sam Polstein was instead elected as next year’s chair.
4. Fred Mohs
Over the past semester and even longer than that, Mohs has become the face of opposition to the proposed Edgewater development by Hammes Co.
As president of the Mansion Hill Steering Committee, Mohs has opposed the Edgewater project from day one for a variety of reasons: The proposed building’s height, its design not being in accordance with the historic character of the neighborhood, its disruption to a quiet neighborhood and more.
Along with his partner in crime Madison property owner Gene Devitt, the two have put on displays and powerful speeches at many public meetings in order to convince residents and City Council members the new Edgewater would be an insurmountable obstacle to the community.
The most famous demonstration of noise concerns associated with public events near private homes was when Devitt played polka music during the meeting, after which Devitt tried to speak over the music to further prove his point.
This semester, the Edgewater project has passed through Plan Commission and Urban Design Commission, the former of which Mohs and his group appealed and ultimately lost.
“The elephant in the room is the mass, height and setback of the tower,” Mohs said. “But there are other very important issues that need to be developed….”
5. Max Love
A freshman at UW, Love has already made his mark at this university through his involvement in ASM.
Love is known for his notoriously controversial and possibly rebellious behavior at Student Council meetings, often objecting to a vote for what appears to be for the sake of objecting.
Most famously, Love led a group of ASM representatives to walk out of a March Student Council meeting, breaking quorum and halting the meeting completely because he and other members did not want to vote on topic at hand — cutting an Academic Affairs intern almost halfway through the semester.
Love also filed a complaint in April against four of ASM’s top leaders, alleging they were in violation of a bylaw related to stipends, as they accepted stipend increases they voted on. This complaint came days before the ASM elections, though he denied any attempt at a smear campaign.
In an act of rare cooperation, Love joined with Legislative Affairs Chair Adam Johnson later that month to propose several amendments to the bylaws that were passed without much debate.