The Advocates for Student Achievement -- a pro-voucher group that's trying to unseat Peter Blewett -- has been a source of much unintentional comedy of late. From their dubious polling to their getting sued for hinky activities to their discussion of hinky activities in a secret forum that was in plain view ... these guys are a hit machine that rivals Air Supply at their peak.
But for the Brawler, the biggest chuckle came when he saw that this gang that couldn't shoot straight was communicating with Alan Borsuk, the not-at-all self-righteous education reporter who'd be exactly the last guy you'd turn to if you wanted to understand shortcomings in the Milwaukee voucher regime.
But none of this would matter much is Alan Borsuk, education reporter for the Journal-Sentinel, wouldn't cover it. And in response to ASA's appeals, and the gathering storm around the "push-poll," Borsuk apparently had gotten cold feet:
From: "Anne Curley"
Date: Mon Feb 2, 2009 4:21 pm
Subject: Need your immediate advice on handling question raised by Alan Borsuk
Alan seems most interested in the issue of whether we included push-polling questions against Blewett in our survey. He wants to know how the questions about Blewett were worded. He doesn't care about the results, just the questions.
Which, of course, defeated the whole purpose. What happened to the good old days, when you could tell a reporter what to write, and he published it?
If Borsuk wouldn't play ball, Curley had another idea:
From: "Anne Curley"
Date: Mon Feb 2, 2009 10:29 pm
Subject: Update on Journal-Sentinel story
Alan Borsuk says he doesn't plan to do a story for tomorrow's paper...not that excited about the poll results...seems to feel they are compromised by the allegations of push-polling. Wants to see all the questions, in the order in which they were asked, so he can judge for himself whether it was a biased or otherwise inappropriate survey. And he's only willing to look at this information on an on-the-record basis.
I have a call in to Mark Kass at the Business Journal to see if we can get a good spread on this there.
Other suggestions on how we should leverage the poll results while they're still fresh?
Trust me: If Borsuk and Kass have any shame they are blushing at the revelation that the little achievers viewed them as marks.
But the thing that strikes the Brawler is that, while Borsuk feels free to incite outrage against MPS, or manufacture controversy around potential stimulus spending (this defense against Gretchen Schuldt's takedown is positively pathetic), he has managed to completely ignore controversy around ASA's hijinks despite having reason to believe something was amiss...for quite some time. Borsuk stood silently by as Patrick McIlheran approvingly quoted the poll (without noting some of the questions around it, naturally) and, hilariously, subsequently described ASA as "an organization whose leaders include people with ties to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, as well as some with ties to labor organizations."
"I wish it weren't so, but here's a fact: There is no one in the Milwaukee area who can say, 'I am a news reporter who focuses on covering education,' who does not work for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," Borsuk recently self-righteously declared in the JS. "We have four people who do that, and the benefit shows."
Except when it doesn't!