Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trying to Make Sense of the Evolution of the West Bend Library Fiasco

Are you finding it hard to keep track of everything that's been going down with regard to the West Bend Library controversy? Me too. Here are some helpful links:

  • Maria Hanrahan has a nice timeline of Ginny Maziarka's library complaints (but it ends on April 11).
  • We have a post highlighting some of Ginny's confusing/contradictory commentary, especially her repeated claim that this isn't about the gays...
  • Michael Zimmer, a professor at UWM, has a detailed summary of the events, along with related news coverage.
  • And Kristina Smithers took the time to review a number of Ginny's interviews to highlight the number of times she's called for removing books, reclassification, etc.
  • New entry: check out the library's pages on the controversy here.

It's 1:00pm. Do You Know Where Your Book Burners Are?


It is currently 1:09pm, and I'm missing the CCLU's prayer vigil over at city hall.

It must be my fault, since the insanely media savvy Christian Civil Liberties Union (are they getting a website anytime soon?) faxed a notice about the vigil to the Daily News this morning. I mean, we all know that the best way to promote an event is to fax a notice to the local newspaper mere hours before it happens.

I bet they have over 1,100 people there right now.

All is not lost, since the CCLU's fax also teases us with a later event where they plan to burn "the Baby Be-Bop book." Sweet. I hope I get on their fax machine rolodex, cuz I have a bottle of lighter fluid and a copy of the JC Penny catalog ready to burn (those pages selling maternity bras are morally reprehensible, BTW).

The ominous fax also mention a forthcoming federal lawsuit, which should be a gem.

[PS: You'll love the Street View image of the CCLU's address: 2634 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53205.]

Friday, June 19, 2009

More National Media Attention

First it was local. Then it hit the blogs. Now, we've gone national!

ABC News has a story on the CCLU book burners and Ginny's related crusade. I love the opening lines:

There are 174,000 books in the West Bend Community Memorial Library, but Robert Braun, 74, of West Allis, Wis., just wants to burn one -- "Baby Be-Bop," by Francesca Lia Block.

"We will have demonstrations if they don't remove it," he said. "It has to be out of the library. If that doesn't happen, I will be out there burning."

Maybe Letterman will joke about us next....

Again with the deception and subterfuge, Ginny?

Ginny Maziarka is at it again, using heated and exaggerated rhetoric to try to rile up a controversy, and then quietly retreating with the [delete] key when caught.

This morning she posts her reflections on this Boots & Sabers post about the library board seeking an outside legal opinion. Her title is "Mayoral recall suggested over (mis)handling of City Council/Library Board", and her original leading sentence is "Seems the gang over at Boots and Sabers is on board for a mayoral recall" (emphasis added).

Problem is, no one over at B&S has called for a recall, not Owen (comment #10), not a "gang".

So, Ginny was called out on that by Maria Hanrahan (comment #8), and, in typical fashion, Ginny changed her text to indicate (still incorrectly) that "some" are calling for a mayoral recall, not a "gang."

Here you can see the original wording captured in Google's snippet from a search result:

And here again when the original post was reblogged at RightyBlogs:

Ginny, you really should place a note in your blog posts when you make substantive changes to them, especially in response to public criticism. You can't hide from Google's cache, and your actions are deceptive and undermine your credibility.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WB Library Board Wants its own Attorney?

The West Bend Library Board has scheduled an emergency meeting tonight, apparently to discuss hiring their own attorney to represent them, instead of the city attorney.

This is a bad, bad, bad idea.

Boots and Sabers has posted a response letter from the current city attorney, Mary Schanning, pointing out the numerous problems with this idea, not the least of which that the library is, in fact, a city agency that must be represented by the city attorney in any legal matters. She also points out that there's no avoiding the state's open records laws, which appears to be a motivating factor is seeking different representation.

Perhaps the board just wants to get a second opinion on some of Schanning's legal advice? That might be reasonable, depending on how much it would cost. But if they're truly looking to replace Schanning, that's a bad idea.

The open records laws exist for a reason, and the library board must respect them. And until Wisconsin passes a law allowing libraries to become indpendent entities, they must accept representation from the local city attorneys.

And while we're at it: why hasn't the library board posted any minutes from their meetings since January 6? C'mon, folks....

// Tonight, the board voted to enlist the services of Robert Feind, esq. Guess we'll see where this leads....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Citizens of West Bend, Meet Gawker!

The immensely popular (and snarky) blog, Gawker, has a post today on the WB library kerfuffle, focusing on this blog's battles with Ginny in a post titled: Small-Town Wisconsin Has Its Own Blog Wars, Thank You Very Much.


And I'll try to take Gawker's advice to ease up on "obsessively reblogging crazy Ginny".

New WB Library Board is Less Qualified

Last night the West Bend City Council voted in 4 new, and largely inexperienced, library board members, thus continuing their irresponsible oversight of this important community institution.

Rather than having a retired University of Wisconsin-Washington County librarian and a 24-year member of the city Library Board, an attorney who served for two decades, or a retired middle school and high school reading and language arts teacher on the board, West Bend will now be served by a collection of citizens that, as Alderman Schlotfeldt puts it, have "a more diverse background" and lack degrees in education.

Is the absence of a degree in education supposed to be seen as a positive?

Included in the new batch are Jim Fowler, who works in health care and apparently is Roman Catholic (not sure how Ginny will feel about that!). Also joining the board is Judy Schaar, who works at St. Joseph's Hospital (as does Ginny!).

Alderman Richard Lindbeck agreed to replace Alderman Nick Dobberstein as the city council's representative. Hopefully Lindbeck will spend more of his time actually in West Bend so he doesn't have to abstain from controversial votes like in the past.

A couple of the alderman complained that the candidates weren't present for questioning or that they didn't have any background materials. That's a reasonable complaint, but lack of personal contact that didn't stop them from refusing to reappoint the sitting members. The council didn't ask for the outgoing board members to come in and explain their actions. They just declared that the board members' "ideology" wasn't in line with the community. How they came to that conclusion without actually talking with the board members remains a mystery. It if is so important to talk with the nominees prior to appointment, they simply should have delayed the vote until that could happen.

End result? West Bend has a new library board with less experience and qualifications. All good people, I'm sure, but it is hard to see how the community will be better served with this change. Time will tell..........

// Folks leaving comments seem to agree that the new members are solid people that should do a good job on the library board. Good to hear.....

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The World is Laughing at West Bend...Thanks, Ginny

Remember that ridiculous lawsuit by the so-called "Christian Civil Liberties Union" against the the city of West Bend, Mayor Kristine Deiss, the West Bend Library Board and Library Director Michael Tyree? Remember how they argue (without likely ever actually driving to West Bend and reading the book) that the young adult book Baby Be-Bop includes words that "are derogatory and slanderous to all males, and dangerously offensive and disrespectful to all people" and that "can permeate violence, and puts one's life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike"? Remember how they are demanding the destruction of the book, the resignation of the mayor, and $30,000 for each of the 4 plaintiffs?

Well, seems this is getting more attention, and not the kind West Bend wants. Recently the story was picked up by the very popular and influential blogs Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos, not to mention the Times Online and the Drudge Retort, and the West Bend community is not cast in a very positive light.

Thanks, Ginny Maziarka.

// This incident has now crossed the big pond: The online site for the major British newspaper, The Guardian, has a story about the CCLU's vendetta against West Bend's copy of Baby Be-Bop. Cheerio!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ginny Maziarka: All Rights Reserved

Within a day of being lambasted for appropriating other people's online content and failing to adequately indicate the original source/author, Ginny has slapped a copyright notice on her own blog (one at the very top, and one at the bottom of the left column).

Good thing she's now learned the importance of protecting her own intellectual property rights; hopefully she's also learned a lesson about giving proper attribution when she cuts & pastes from others' copyright protected material (see another past offense here).

(And, BTW, you don't need to put those notices on your site to gain copyright protections; they are automatic once you put your thoughts into material form.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I hope Ginny has a good lawyer

The way Ginny Maziarka keeps shooting her mouth off, I hope she has a good lawyer.

I also hope she knows the meaning of defamation, especially the particular part of U.S. defamation law of defamation per se, where damages are presumed and do not have to be proven. In my estimation, Ginny has made numerous accusations that fall under "Allegations or imputations injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession" as well as "Allegations or imputations of moral turpitude".

Think back to when Ginny defamed Professor Mark Peterson, describing him as having a vendetta and "scrafic[ing] the innocent minds of children to further his own agenda."

Just a few days ago Ginny defamed Kristina Smithers, calling her "maniacal", suggesting she has escaped her "caretakers", and making other allusions to mental illness. [[ Update: Ginny again suggested Kristina needs medication in comment #22 here]]

Then, today, Ginny defames Paul & Hjordy Wagner, the authors of Ready or Not...They're Gay: Stories from a Midwestern Family, a book they wrote about raising two gay sons. Ginny accuses these parents of being little more than "pawns" in some larger conspiracy to "deceive the West Bend citizens." She also labels them as being gay ("Gay Authors..."), when they're not; they just happen to be parents of gay kids.

In each case, people's reputations are being defamed in such a way as to affect their trade, business, or profession (could the university retaliate against the professor? might Ms. Smithers' employer react to notions of her being maniacal? could the Wagner's lose future publishing contracts due to being cast in this light?)

Ginny, please think next time before you click the "Publish Post" button.

// I think we could also add the following to Ginny's legal worries:

If Ginny Would Only Follow her Own Logic

Here, Ginny Maziarka complains about how Fireside Books has invited a couple who wrote a book about raising gay sons to come and speak at their store. There are a variety of problems with Ginny's post (shocking, I know), and much is discussed in the comment thread there.

Most notably, Ginny cut/pasted the announcement from another website, and included the tagline "POSTED BY gsaxpres" within her post. This gave the impression that gsaxpres actually wrote and posted that entry on Ginny's blog. Of course, she didn't.

So, during the discussion of this faux pas on Ginny's blog, Ginny took exception to the fact she should try to follow general blog netiquette, stating (emphasis added):
Blog etiquette is not mandatory. I choose to have the freedom to write my blog as I like, despite your dismay over my choice of style. I enjoy writing as I please and am not bound by any particular lines that others may draw.
I tend to agree with Ginny that one shouldn't be "bound by any particular lines that others may draw."

I just wish Ginny would apply that same logic when she attempts to bind the West Bend Library by the lines she draws.

(And by the way, Ginny has completely ignored my other requests for clarification in her blog post, such as how Fireside's invitation to these authors is an attempt to "deceive the West Bend citizens". Whatever.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do you want 3% of the population setting "community standards"?

Ginny Maziarka keeps going on about how the library isn't listening to "community standards." How do we know if Ginny is accurately representing the standards of West Bend?

Well, she brags here (comment #21) that she's turned in over 1,100 signatories to her petition. That sounds impressive, but let's do the math.

First, we must recognize that Ginny's petition was knowingly targeted to people outside the city of West Bend. But, for the sake of argument, let's assume she's already scrubbed those signatories from the list of names she submitted to the library board.

So, that's 1,100 people, out of a 2008 city population of 30,320. That comes to 3.6%.

Hmm......Ginny convinced 3.6% of the city to sign her petition. That means she must be accurately representing the "community standards", right?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

XXX-Rated Library?

This is just ridiculous.

And hilarious.

And terrifiying.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

West Bend Library Board Unanimously Rejects Censorship Attempts

Logic & reason prevailed:
The Library Board on Tuesday night unanimously rejected efforts by a local citizen group to restrict access of young adults to books depicting sex among teenagers or those describing teenage homosexual relationships.

Such books already are separated from children's books, either in a young adult fiction section on the first floor of the library or shelved as young adult non-fiction alongside similar adult texts on the second floor, board members said.

The nine-member board listened for 2½ hours as nearly 60 people discussed the appropriateness of the library providing such books to the public before the board voted to maintain current policies. (JSOnline)

Ginnny's position is amusing:
On Tuesday, Ginny Maziarka told the board that if they rejected her petition that she would not consider the library a safe place for children.
But look here:
Ginny seems to have a copy of Deal With It ....gasp.... right in her own kitchen!

Does that mean her own home is also not "a safe place for children"? I mean, if the entire library is unsafe for children just because that book is shelved in the "young adult" section, then I'm surely not going to allow my kids near Ginny's house. No ma'am.

(Note: No children were harmed in the making of this blog post)

// Go check out Emma-le's excellent summary of the night's proceedings.

If You Don't Agree with Ginny Maziarka, You Must Be Crazy

Ad hominem alert!

West Bend resident Kristina Smithers recently filed an ethics complaint against Alderman Terry Vrana over comments he made regarding the current library dispute. Much like myself, she appears to take issue with some of Vrana's comments at recent council meetings. According to the media report:
Smithers alleges statements Vrana made during an April 21 Common Council meeting during debate over the reappointment of four Library Board members demonstrated unethical behavior because: He did not act in an independent, impartial manner; His “conduct did not reenforce the public’s confidence in the integrity of the city government;” “(H)e used his aldermanic position to purport his personal philosophy not that of the city as a whole.” Vrana had expressed an opinion that pornographic books were in the library’s young adult section.
Whether you agree with Smithers or Vrana, her complaint seems to be based on a reasonable premise, and the Ethics Committee is determining if it merits further consideration. They might throw it out as frivolous, or they might investigate further. That's how the process works, and it is every citizen's right to raise what they feel are potential ethical concerns.

Ginny Maziarka has a different take on this. Ginny, of course, doesn't agree with Smithers. But instead of addressing the core issue in Smithers' complaint, Maziarka argues we "should be looking at the complainant."

In her comments at Boots & Sabers, Ginny wonders aloud about Smithers: "Does she have a caretaker? And do they know she is loose?" And in her own blog post she accuses Smithers of being "maniacal" and links to this music video that depicts mental illness in a very mocking and insensitive manner.

So, let's sum up: mere days after many members of the community reached out to Ginny with condolences about the loss of her grandson, Ginny attacks someone who disagrees with her by insinuating she is mentally ill.

Remind me where in my Christian Bible it tells us this is ok?

// While I wasn't able to convince Ginny on her blog that her ad hominem attacks against Kristina Smithers were out of line, a response by Kristina herself here (comment #24) seems to finally struck a chord with Ginny. She apologized in comment #25 (insulting me in the process), and deleted the offensive post.

Luckily, I've learned my lesson with Ginny trying to cover her trails, and took a screenshot or her libelous rant: