Well, Kathy Nickolaus has done it again. In honor of her latest “failed plan,” I put together a “Best Of” from my 2011 Waukesha Wonk Collection, along with my interview with Jessie Read, the Democrat who plans to run for Nickolaus’ seat. Warning, these posts are snarky. Snark makes an excellent coping mechanism.
Kathy Nickolaus seemed to channel Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann in her first and only interview since her Supreme Court race “error” on April 7, 2011. Similar characteristics include: denial, playing the victim, and the usage of Jesus Christ for job-related purposes.
Nickolaus’ error could have been prevented had she simply reported municipal results like the other county clerks do, like the previous Waukesha county clerk did. She knew this, yet Kathy wanted to do things her own way, despite complaints by the county board. She had her chance to prevent this catastrophe and she neglected to do so. Hello, denial.
And what did she expect the media to do? When you make a huge, preventable error with such far-reaching consequences, and you have a history mired in scandal, like Kathy’s, yeah, the media will be parked on your doorstep. The role of the media is to find out what happened and report it. It’s not personal. She’s no victim.
Nickolaus is contrite now only because she doesn’t want to lose her job. But it’s too late for “next time”. She can’t just win back voters’ confidence in a few election cycles. It’s not like we’re going to go to therapy with her to work on our trust issues. Some things can’t be fixed after they break. This is one of those things.
Kathy is correct about one thing: her mistake did happen for a reason. But she doesn’t have to wait around for it to “be shown” to her “when it’s time”, I can tell her right now why it happened. Lady, you had your chance to prevent this whole debacle and you stubbornly refused to take it. That’s all there is to it.
Call me crazy, but I don’t find Nickolaus’ plan to triple-check everything and rely on Jesus in the next election comforting. And I don’t trust Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman to be our president, in part because they exhibit the same characteristics as Nickolaus: they’re stubborn, mavericky, and love to play the victim. More importantly, they simply cannot handle the job, and no amount of praying can change that.
Kathy Nickolaus almost cost Waukesha County a cool mil. And she blamed it on the Supreme Court Recount. No, seriously. Her office received an important letter via certified mail, signed for it, then lost it. Luckily, the company that sent the letter sent another, and that’s when it came to the attention of the county. You can read the whole sordid story by Waukesha Patch here.
Along with the repeated mistakes, it just kills me that she can’t seem to accept responsibility. Even if a staff member in the office misplaced the letter, she is ultimately in charge of that office. Blaming it on the recount is unacceptable. Kathy Nickolaus has got to go.
Kathy Nickolaus is my county clerk, and I hold her to certain standards. I expect her to remember to save super-important files, and not lose letters whose loss could end up costing Waukesha county a million dollars. I know I expect a lot from my elected officials, but I’d also like Kathy to provide election results on election night, broken down by municipality. Much to my dismay, this afternoon Nickolaus stated that she will not be providing that breakdown.
After the Supreme Court debacle, when Nickolaus “lost” and later “found” 14,000 votes (and completely changed the outcome of the election), she vowed to earn back voters’ trust. In May, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that in future elections she would post unofficial election night results with the numbers from each reporting unit.
Reporting all units instead of simply providing a summary is standard practice in Dane, Washington and Racine counties, just to name a few.
So this latest announcement doesn’t inspire much confidence. Instead, it feels like a slap in the face.
Just because the GAB doesn’t require Nickolaus to post the breakdown by municipality, does not mean she shouldn’t include it. On the contrary, it’s the least she can do. After all, it’s her job to ensure the transparency and integrity of our electoral process, right?
Due to the recent political awakening in Wisconsin, more citizens are taking an active role in our political process. Here in Waukesha, many new people have signed up to work as Chief Inspectors (aka poll workers) in upcoming elections. The Government Accountability Board requires these citizens to complete the Baseline Training course before working the polls. That makes sense. But the fact that Kathy Nickolaus will be leading those training sessions does not make sense; it’s like hiring Bristol Palin to teach sex ed classes.
Yes, the GAB investigated Kathy Nickolaus’s mistakes in recent elections and found her not guilty of criminal activity. But that’s not enough to inspire confidence in her abilities, at least not with the Waukesha residents with whom I’ve spoken. And yet, the GAB’s website lists Kathy Nickolaus as the Waukesha County Trainer for Chief Inspector for the November 29, 2011 courses. Seriously, GAB? Was there nobody else available? Come on.
“Honesty, integrity, non-partisanship, and transparency.” Those are the words Jessie Read used to describe the platform for her bid for Waukesha County Clerk when we spoke this afternoon. Sure, it’s got all the makings of a catchy campaign slogan, but those four words also accurately describe who Jessie Read is and what kind of County Clerk she’ll make, should she win the 2012 election.
Read is not a stubborn maverick who would ignore GAB recommendations and do things her way. On the contrary, Read understands and respects the importance of following “best practices.” That’s why she’s running for Waukesha County Clerk. As a long-time resident of Waukesha county who “believes in the democratic process and that everyone’s vote counts equally”, it worries her that she “doesn’t feel that her vote can be securely counted.”
It’s not just Waukesha County’s election practices that concern Read, but the apparent “lack of process and organization” within the Waukesha County Clerk’s office, in general. Read cited the missing letter incident as evidence of disorganization. She is confident that she can bring organization to the office.
Jessie has her Master’s degree in accounting, “a tremendous amount of practical experience” in bookkeeping, and has demonstrated the ability to properly follow processes. If elected, Read would follow the recommendations for best practices, seek out correct information, and learn from the experiences of other county clerks; what a concept.
When asked about her newbie status in county politics, Read stressed that the job is non-partisan, and “accounting, organizing, and keeping track of things in a secure and transparent fashion… has no political basis.”
Of course, some right-wing bloggers have already tried to paint Jessie Read as some sort of unqualified hippie because she worked for Peace Action Wisconsin in the past, as though “warmonger” was in the job description for a county clerk (I checked-it’s not.)
And, Read gained managerial skills from her past position as business and office manager of Peace Action Wisconsin just as she did with her work at other non-profits and area churches. That’s an asset, not a liability.
Perhaps most importantly, I find Read’s desire to be a “servant to the people” refreshing in these days of corporate personhood. Jessie Read would actually work for the taxpayers, not as a corporate tool; I know, that’s a pretty radical concept, isn’t it?
On a personal level, I like Jessie Read. I’ve been sizing her up for the past few months, ever since she first expressed an interest in running. She seems honest and genuine. Many weeks ago, she promised to grant me her first interview after announcing her candidacy. Others have said the same to me before, only to ditch me when somebody they perceived to be more important came along.
But not Jessie.
Jessie Read keeps her promises.