The following are some select stories from my time at The Daily Cardinal. You can also find all of my stories here. (Of course, all stories © The Daily Cardinal)
While at the Cardinal, I also Co-Created and Co-Produced CardinalCast, a weekly podcast covering the latest news and events. Here is one example of our CardinalCast podcast.
Doyle, Cieslewicz lead chorus of anti-tobacco feeling at ‘Smokeout’
By: Mike Ewing /The Daily Cardinal – November 17, 2006
As part of its 30th annual “Great American Smokeout,” the American Cancer Society honored Gov. Jim Doyle and 15 other lawmakers, doctors and leaders from Wisconsin for their continuing efforts to promote tobacco control and awareness Thursday.
In his first public appearance since celebrating his re-election, Doyle said in his acceptance speech that he would love to sign a statewide smoking ban. “To me this is an issue of how quickly we are going to move in the clear direction that history is moving, and the quicker we can move in that direction, the more lives we’re going to save, and the more kids we’re going to allow to grow up in a way that they have good, strong, healthy lives,” Doyle said.
The awards ceremony, taking place in the drawing room of the Governor’s Mansion, began with the playing of an old Flintstones cartoon. A black and white Fred and Barney leaned up against their home, watching Wilma and Betty do all the chores while discussing the finer points of Winston cigarettes.
“Winston tastes good, like cigarettes should,” Fred Flintstone sang, taking a puff from his long, black and white cigarette.
Careen Wild, director of Development at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center said that the Flintstones cartoon illustrated how far those fighting against tobacco use have come.
“America now has more former smokers than current smokers and with per capita smoking at its lowest level since World War II, lung cancer rates are finally starting to slip,” she said.
The American Cancer Society honored Doyle for his public fight against tobacco use. This fight began while he was attorney general of Wisconsin in 1998, when he helped prosecute a $206 billion dollar suit against tobacco companies.
Since then, Doyle signed a bill banning smoking in all state office buildings and established a “Tobacco-free Wisconsin” campaign. The campaign aims to prevent young smokers from starting and to convince current smokers to quit.
Other lawmakers, including Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, were honored for similar efforts, including Madison’s smoking ban, enacted in the summer of 2005, to combat smoking. Milwaukee Ald. Joe Davis was honored for his efforts to pass legislation banning smoking in all public places in Milwaukee.
“We want to make sure that we move forward to promote the health of everybody to give the new generation the opportunity to grow up with some hope,” Davis said.
State reps. urge governor to investigate incarceration
By: Mike Ewing
/The Daily Cardinal – December 7, 2005
Wisconsin’s designation as the ’Worst Place in the Nation to be Black’ by an online newspaper prompted members of the Wisconsin state Legislature to formally ask Gov. Jim Doyle Tuesday to form a task force to address the issue.
The article was published in The Black Commentator on July 14, 2005, granting Wisconsin the title based on the disproportionate incarceration of blacks in the state. Comparing the percentage of the black population in prison to the percentage of the white population in prison, it found blacks in Wisconsin went to prison ’at a rate 11.6 times higher than whites.’
While this proportion is equal to the proportion in Iowa, the article said Wisconsin was worse because a greater percentage of the black community was in prison. ’Just over four percent of black Wisconsin, including the very old and the very young of both sexes, are behind bars,’ it said.
Pamela Oliver, chair of the UW-Madison Sociology Department, studied the difference in incarceration rates and said Wisconsin became worse than other states when the disparity ’kept rising in the late 80s while other places leveled off.’
According to Oliver, the escalation in the disparity resulted from the war on drugs. While the use rates are similar between blacks and whites, Oliver said the difference emerges when blacks are disproportionately sentenced to prison for drug crimes. ’The disparity ratio of going to prison for a drug charge for 18-to-19-year-olds was basically 70 to one,’ she said.
This article spurred action amongst legislators when state Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, received it from one of his constituents. Black said it inspired him to approach state Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, about co-authoring a letter to Doyle requesting a task force be formed to investigate the issue.
Grigsby agreed, saying the root causes of disproportionate incarceration needs to be investigated. ’It’s way too simplistic to say that certain groups commit more crimes,’ she said. ’It’s about police practices and criminal practices that contribute to it.’
The letter authored by the two representatives and containing the signatures of 16 other members of the legislature will be delivered to the governor’s office Tuesday. The letter claims a task force is necessary because the disparity causes bad publicity and directly relates to the other disparities faced by the black community.
According to Black, the task force could help solve the problem. ’We have to look at the social causes, but we also have to evaluate fairly whether the criminal justice code and the criminal justice system impact disproportionately on African-Americans,’ he said.