Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
State Senator Mary Lazich appears on FranklinNOW.com with this opening paragraph:
“Welcome to Conservatively Speaking, my new blog in the “Community Voices” section of this website. I am very excited about sharing news and insights about your state government, and I thank Community Newspapers and NOW Online Editor Mark Maley for this wonderful opportunity.”
And with that, blogs on FranklinNOW.com were born.
Yours truly soon followed as did others, and their blogs helped make FranklinNOW.com one of the most popular of the MyCommunityNOW sites.
The variety of topics covered is impressive.
Senator Lazich covers state government and other public service issues, and an occasional piece on motorcycles.
Bryan Maersch and Janet Evans keep a watchful eye on local politics.
Greg Kowalski writes about development and the environment.
Marjorie Pagel has a keen interest in local history.
Former blogger Fred Keller had a passion in his writing for the military, and also refused to accept the status quo of local politics. I hope he returns to the blogosphere soon.
The Franklin bloggers work very hard. They read. They research. They attend meetings. They question those in authority. They file open records requests. They seek out answers to questions that need to be asked. These volunteers share powerful information that brings residents closer to their community. That’s why I was stunned to read recently that a School Board member doesn’t read the blogs. I would think a locally elected official would want to use the blogs as a means of staying in touch with the community she represents. Ignoring the blogs, I feel, is a major mistake for any local pol.
Have the blogs made an impact?
You bet, in a way that wouldn’t be possible with the small reporting staff at each community paper. Just think about the substance the bloggers have provided all year long.
I’m proud that my blog was the only source to offer a perspective on why a NO vote was necessary on the April 3 referenda. Voters rejected both ballot questions by big margins.
There was more in 2007, a lot more.
The laser was focused on a troubled school system. Bloggers pointed out the unethical, if not illegal “Assembly” Franklin High School staged just before the referenda. There was a great attention paid to the ouster of a superintendent, a new School Board president, a highly controversial school budget process, and a former School Board President’s insider account of how some School Board members behaved and what they said that was very revealing.
City politics were not ignored. Officials at City Hall took some heat over another bloated budget.
Development projects were subjects of blogs from different perspectives. Blogger Greg Kowalski was critical of architecture at the proposed Target and circulated a petition for change. Others, like me, questioned Franklin’s process of approving projects. The blogs helped give exciting news about the grand opening of Sendik’s. And even though was little to write about anything going on at the main Fountains of Franklin site at 56th and Rawson, I wrote about it anyway, with my disappointment the focus.
The community came together when bloggers informed them of sex offender Steve Hanke’s refusal to obey a Franklin ordinance by staying in his Franklin home near a school. Readers were kept aware of all the latest developments in the case that has gone to the court system. I talked about it on WISN.
There is one incident that stands out in my memory of the past year that clearly demonstrates how influential the blogs can be.
Shortly after Mayor Taylor proposed in his city budget the elimination of the un-elected Environmental Commission and Economic Development, I wrote what I imagined would be a rather innocent account of my chance meeting at a restaurant with EC Commissioner Kristin Wilhelm.
She told the EC “doesn’t do anything” when I simply asked how things were with the Commission.
That one little blog touched off a firestorm in the community. Two commissions that few people were aware of suddenly got a couple weeks of attention and exposure (You’re welcome, guys).
I’m not sure, but that might have led Mayor Taylor to flip-flop and keep the commissions in the city budget after all. That blog came at about the time FranklinNOW started allowing readers to write their own responses to our blogs. An anonymous writer called me a “liar” on two occasions on Greg Kowalski’s blog. The same writer also had some vicious comments elsewhere that needed to be removed. When Greg Kowalski refused for many weeks to remove the offensive comments that were also proven to be untrue, I banned him from my blog.
The comments section has become, as I’ve pointed out, a separate blog. Readers check in to see what topics we’re writing about, and then return to see the verbal slugfest /soap opera that occasionally ensues.
It is my contention that anonymous bloggers and contributors, not all, can damage the Internet. Ideally, I wish all people who write in would give their real names and not some phony made up nickname. It’s not as easy to be offensive when you can’t hide behind an alias.
I know and have met all the bloggers. They’re good people who care deeply about what they write about.
Do we always agree?
No we don’t.
Does the discussion get heated at times?
Yes it does.
But that’s ok.
This isn’t Wisconsin Public Radio.
Passion, emotion, and yes, controversy should be embraced on the blogs. Writers shouldn’t shy away from issues because they fear they may step on some toes.
Thank you for checking in the past year. I know I have readers from all parts of the country.
For the life of me, I’ll never understand why you like some of the blogs that you do.
But I’m grateful.
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2007
7) THE EMERGENCE OF THE FRANKLIN BLOGGERS
8) FRANKLIN CITY TAX LEVY GOES UP 5.7%
9) SUPERINTENDENT SZAKACS FORCED OUT
10) THE LACK OF PROGRESS AT FOUNTAINS OF FRANKLIN