September 27, 2014

Mary Burke apologizes. Do you understand why?

Scott Walker's opponent in Wisconsin's gubernatorial race got criticized for doing something that's extremely common in politics: telling the story of one person as if it represents and explains some problem that's a current issue.
Neenah District Administrator Mary Pfeiffer sent Burke a letter [on September 19th] "to express my disappointment regarding your use of our district as an example of your perceived negative impact of Act 10 on education.... It is unfair and misleading to claim that Act 10 is the primary reason why one specific candidate chose to accept a position in Minnesota over an opening in the Neenah Joint School District.... There are many reasons why candidates choose to work in other districts and certainly some effects of Act 10 may factor into those decisions."
Now, it is reported that Pfeiffer says Burke called her on the phone on September 24th and apologized, and then apologized in person yesterday.

Is this the beginning of the end of anecdotal politics? 

IN THE COMMENTS: Original Mike recommends reading Pfeiffer's entire letter: PDF. Pfeiffer calls attention to Burke's position as a member of the Madison School Board, which really does underscore the need for Burke to be strongly fact-based and accurate in whatever she chooses to say about the effects of Act 10.


sojerofgod said...

Because the Burke statement was critical of the public school district, one of the primary supporters and funders of Democrat politicians? Even though she was trying to criticize Act 10 it still made the district look bad?

What do I Win?!!

David said...

End of anecdotal politics? Get real.

It is a curious public apology though. I would have thought it would be handled privately, a little private spat between allies that could and should stay private.

MadisonMan said...

I doubt it's the end. Not when the News Cycle is approximately 10 seconds long.

Now, if *Journalists* would routinely report on why anecdotal example-making is wrong in politics, then things would change. The problem is that Journalists use single anecdotes in their *cough* "reporting" and we can't have them making more work for themselves, now can we?

It is refreshing to see the apology, though, and makes me think more highly of Burke.

Original Mike said...

It's worth reading the letter Pfeiffer sent to Burke.

Bobber Fleck said...

Burke was sufficiently specific in her statement to raise the ire of the Superintendent of Schools in Neenah, who responded with factual detail in writing.

Mary made several mistakes: She specified a target. Drawing from her unusual Madison school board experience, Burke assumed the Neenah school district would be supportive of her campaign. She was factually wrong, as the superintendent's response showed.

RecChief said...

Is this the beginning of the end of anecdotal politics?

No. Next Question

traditionalguy said...

I always thought the Wisconsin elite Education Administrators cashed in vested pension fortunes and other benefits of resignation as soon as a lateral high paying job could be arranged in another State Bureaucracy. That is a common 50 + age groups Professional strategy and is actually ALL an education bureaucrat spends any time planning and doing when not taking turns giving each other bonuses and awards as the Greatest Person of the Year

But it must be that evil Walker that got them into such carefully planned double dipping...for the children of course..

Dan from Madison said...

Well of course Burke doesn't know about Act 10. They cut their deal with MTA real fast when they saw that writing on the wall.

Brent said...

How many more times do the citizens of Wisconsin need to be made aware of Mary Burke's dishonesty? Plagiarism, not once, but multiple reported, new-covered times, and now the blatant and purposely false misrepresentation of a citizen's personal story?

Mary Burke is disqualified from being considered for governor, and this applies whether or not she is a Republican or a Democrat. No one who lies so much and will not fess up to it is a person of despicable and low character, no matter what other good points they have. It's not about the point total at the end of the day. its about a candidate who lies with abandon and evades responsibility will be a governor who will lie to Wisconsin with abandon and evade responsibility. See: Current President of the United States. Yeah, that's worked out well.

The only people in Wisconsin who can vote for Mary Burke are of low moral character. Citizens who obviously believe there are exceptions to being a responsible, honest person. The kind who ,when it comes down to it, put personal goals above high moral character. And ultimately don't give a damn about their children's morality either.

Why does Wisconsin have such a hard time getting honest politicians?

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Does Mary Burke have a dick? 'Cause she keeps tripping over one.

Sam L. said...

When will Joe Biden...?

Ah, who'm I kidding.

John Lynch said...

What I see is sloppiness and lack of attention to detail. This isn't good executive behavior. Was she really in charge of Trek?

Anonymous said...


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Alex said...

Bottom line is Burke is gonna wipe the floor with Scott "Dropout" Walker in November. It's a done deal.

Garage - chill the champagne.

Big Mike said...

Is this the beginning of the end of anecdotal politics?

One could as well wish for $1.99 per pound lean ground beef.

Brent said...

Alex is one the people I described.

DKWalser said...

"...This isn't good executive behavior. Was she really in charge of Trek?"

No, she wasn't in charge of Trek. Allegedly, she was in charge of Trek's European operations. I say "allegedly" because Trek is a family owned and run business. It is not uncommon in such businesses for a family member to be given a fancy title while the organization continues to perform as it did before the family member assumed her new role. For example, I had a client where the company president had nothing to do with the performance of the company because all the division heads reported to his father, the chairman of the board.

Is this what was going on with Mary Burke at Trek? I don't know. We do know, however, that she had very little if any experience that would qualify her for such a lofty position. She had a good education, but people with such an education do not start out running a division or European operations unless they got the position based on family relationship. With millions of dollars at stake, the company would have been very foolish to risk the success of its European operations on someone of her relative inexperience -- unless, of course, it had another way to make sure things were done properly should she screw up.

Original Mike said...

"Well of course Burke doesn't know about Act 10. They cut their deal with MTA real fast when they saw that writing on the wall."

I do hope this is a topic of discussion during their debates.

Gusty Winds said...

It's just a flesh wound!