Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why I Won't be Voting for Donald Chewning

"The evil that men do lives after them.  The good is oft interred with their bones." Mark Antoni's eulogy for Julius Caesar.
You are known by the company you keep.  old adage 

Attorney Donald Chewning is running for Manitowoc County Judge.
I will NOT be voting for him.

His sense of right and wrong are not the same as mine
In 2005 I bought an old set of farm buildings with the intent of rehabbing them.  In the process I hired a contractor who then hired "sub-contractors" who were actually just individuals with questionable backgrounds who were working off the books.  That contractor "Nite Way Construction" owned by Robert Nachtwey.  While working on the project one of Mr. Nachtwey's men decided that a wall on the building they were hired to fix was in his way and demolished it.  Mr. Nachtwey, realizing the problem called me and apparently retroactively tried to get my permission to remove it which I refused citing the fact that I would then have to rebuild the wall.  Being at work I was unable to go investigate at that moment.

In fact my son and I had already removed the wall in one piece and dropped it into the basement for re-use so I was puzzled as to why he felt he had to remove it.  Since the wall had been stored out of site I had no reason to suspect that it had been destroyed and didnt investigate any further.  However when the concrete job they did was completed I went to retrieve the wall and put it back into place only it was completely missing.  Since Nachtwey had called me about it I then contacted him about what he might have done with it.  He claimed not to have any knowledge of it but But suggested that my tenant in the house at that time might have stolen it in order to sell the valuable barn boards which were a rather unique pattern of dutch lap siding, not just common barn boards.

Later I found remnants of the wall hidden under a stack of surplus beams and other lumber that Nachtwey had stacked up saying that he saved some salvaged pieces for me.  Not all the material was there but it was cut up into small pieces and unsalvageable.  the pieces had been carefully covered up.  I also discovered that he had mis-set a critical beam several inches off center on the barn which meant that the main loft door could not be closed properly and would have to be cut free and reset.

I payed Mr. Nachtwey a visit demanding to know why he had destroyed the wall and set the beam out of level.  He denied destroying the wall and claimed not to know anything about the beam but refused to come look at the damage.  I demanded that if he wanted to be paid he needed to come and repair what he had done.

The next I heard of from him was a court summons for small claims sourt collections.  I contested that case in which he gave the same set of excuses which the judge did not buy and denied the judgement.  Mr. Nachtwey had made the mistake of again changing his story about the wall claiming that it never existed.  Unfortunately for him I had come armed with before and after photographs of the property.  It was a slam dunk.

End Round I

Shortly after that I received another summons appealing the case this time represented by Attorney Donald Chewning.  In a series of emails about the case Chewning refused to engage in any negotiations or provide any help in getting Mr. Nachtwey to repair the damage.  He insisted on payment in full and said that he would get all of my evidence suppressed if it went to court.

What I learned was that he had filed the appeal as a "de novo" case which meant that none of Mr. Nachtwey's former statements could be used in this new (novo) case.  What I did not realize is that Mr. Chewning had apparently coached his client to change his story.  In addition to that he one main witness he had brought to the original trial had magically gone out of state and was not available for testimony.  Mr. Chewing was successful in getting nearly all the evidence that I brought to show what Mr. Nachtwey had done to the barn.  His story had now changed to that of, "I had no knowledge of  wall" and the unlevel beam had been that way all along despite his having been hired to repair barn and that the beam was now set in cement he poured.  That cement footing was intended to support both. I may be a layman but I call this perjury.

Because I was so infuriated with his tactics I wrote a letter to the editor about my experience and the state of contractors evading the law and its consequences.  Even though I never named either him or his client Mr. Chewning wrote me a spiteful letter where he had decided to charge me an additional $300 in legal costs "considering my letter".

As a result of this I have ever since had a low opinion of Mr. Chewning.  I castigated him for taking up the cause of an obviously crooked contractor who broke any number of DWD and DATCP laws and rules and Mr. Chewning using his legal skills to suborn perjury.  His response was that Mr. Nachtwey had a right to representation.  I beg to differ.  This was not a criminal matter.  He had no "right" that Mr. Chewning was obliged to protect.  There was no moral imperitive to help Mr. Nachtwey make me his victim other than the fees he collected which he enhanced as an act of vengeance.

I was never able to get the wall rebuilt in time to preven the collapse of that section of the barn.  It is still laying in that condition and will costs much more now because of the weight.  It eventually will have to be completely demolished and built from the ground up.  Mr. Chewing will also never be able to rebuild his reputation with me and though he claims to be a great Liberal (which I doubt) I would not vote for him if he were in fact the very last one.

Ethics matter Mr. Chewning.
And wronged consumers have long memories.

See Wisconsin Circuit Court Access

Robert Nachtwey vs. Bernard Starzewski

Manitowoc County Case Number 2005SC001251

Update: 1/31/17 8:36pm
I attended the candidate forum at Dem HQ where Chewning spoke in a nervous low wattage way and managed to say absolutely nothing except some obligatory support for drug courts.
At the end of his presentation he stated that an endorsement from Judge Deets, the judge in this case.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Winter of our Discontent

"Now is the winter of our discontent" William Shakespeare - Richard the III

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves"William Shakespeare - Julius Caesar

"Poor country!  It hardly knows itself."  MacDuff

There are a lot of bad things that can be said about Donald Trump.  I won't bother to repeat them in detail.  In summary it can be said that he is a bigot and a huckster selling and thereby enabling the worst of what Americans can be to say nothing of his sickening relationship with Vladimir Putin.

If you believe that elections reflect the character of a country then I do not recognize this country any more.  But is Trump truly the choice of the people or is he instead the winner by default?  There is a lot of evidence that Democrats simply handed the Presidency to him and that the Clintons were complicit in their own defeat.  

We knew this.  In his series of what happened to the Democratic Party Thomas Frank began by describing how the Republican Party was operating in his book, "The Wrecking Crew".  They would first campaign as reformers claiming that government was broken and then proceed to break it completely.  Then, using the resulting chaos to confirm their original premise... that government was broken!

In his next book, "What's the matter with Kansas?" he described the demise of a once entirely Democratic state after the Great Depression and dust bowl days into perhaps the most broken and ultra conservative one he carefully documented how the D Party abandoned the farm towns and main streets of that very rural state for the caverns of Wall Street..

In his most recent book he is considerably more blunt.  It was the Clintons who wrecked the Democratic Party!  Memories can be short in politics, a malady often attributed to those of the members of the TEA Party.  But Frank provides such a clear refresher course you are left with little doubt of how we came to this dark moment in American History. For decades it was FDR and the New Deal that had guided the party and provided it with its greatest moments.  It was the Clintons that put a stake through its heart.

Specifically they brought about "The end of welfare as we know it", "Three Strikes" laws that filled the prison pipeline, undermined long time Democratic allies by passing NAFTA and most notoriously the "Commodities Modernization Act" which kicked down the barriers that the Glass Stegal Act had put in place to cure the causes of the Crash of 29 and Great Depression.  More so than any of the Bushes, it was the Clintons that set the stage for the crash of 2008 and the mortgage securities bubble.

As well documented and within our memories these events are, if it was the sole claim of a single author the argument might be blunted.  But it is'nt.  In a pre-election piece the well respected PBS show Frontline did a profile on both Trump and Clinton and the detail of how that came about is all the more damning. It began with the Clinton "Third Way" which effectively enabled any number of Republican issues that they could never have passed even under Reagan or Bush without also total control of Congress.  It starts out well enough showing that at least at the beginning, Hilary believed that the purpose of politics was to make the impossible possible and that she was capable of speaking that truth to power, but in partnership with Bill learned to compromise her principles for short term victories.  In the end, it was the involvement of Dick Morris that put her on the track for this historic debacle.  But for her, the ends justified the means.  Principles took a back seat to political survival.

There is a certain logic to that.  The Clintons themselves were fond of saying that "You can't achieve your goals unless you get elected!"  True  enough.  But from a Democratic point of view in looking back at the 90s it is increasingly difficult to see what goals were achieved other than keeping the Clintons in the White house.

" I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself, And falls on th' other."  MacBeth, Act1 , Scene 7

But what of her own career?  In the Frontline piece it is noted that on the day that the Senate failed to evict her husband from office her office in the White House was already filled with political maps of New York beginning the plans for her Senate run.  Having survived the political attack there were several lessons Hilary might have learned.  One could have been that centrism wins you not loyalty but derision.  They had after all been attacked with all the ferocity had they been Communist moles.  No recognition, no quarter had been given for their support for conservative programs.  But that is now what she learned and it was not what we saw.

If only she had been able to free herself from the lessons learned with Bill we may have seen a different, freer Hilary Rodham as she began her career.  But that did not happen.

What she did learn was that political shape shifting was the way to succeed.  The problem was that it was the way for her to succeed, not the party, not working people and certainly not New Dealers or modern Progressives who would have benefited from a strong advocate of "the impossible" as she said in her Welsley graduation speech which originally propelled her into the public eye.

Given the choice of winning on principle vs. survival by rebranding she sadly took the latter option and set the trend for the Democratic Party for two decades of cascading failure.  By blurring the lines between the parties she undermined the party brand that had served us so well. You've heard it.  "They are all the same!"  Yes, it would seem that they all are.

The age of the Clintons is over.  It can be no other way.  If she returns and achieves national prominence again it will in fact destroy the party forever which at that point might be the only option.  I hope not.  The question is, what will we now learn the lesson she failed.  The first question on that test should be an easy one.  Just what is it that you stand for?

The party is now on life support and it can choose to live or die but it must also decide if its own survival will be worth more than the mere existence of a label.  We need if not that party but some party to take up its old causes.  I wish it to stay because as the Weyrd Sisters asked themselves, "When shall we [] meet again?" except in that party?  And I ask, shall we again draw the wrong inferences from their spells?