There were so many losers to pick from in 2021 for Wisconsin Right Now’s annual Wall of Shame awards. Top officials – from partisan Josh Kaul to weak Tony Evers – let us down, and Tom Barrett fled the country while his city suffered from its worst homicide numbers ever.
A top BLM leader and Republican AG candidate imploded, court officials released a violent offender who preyed on a Christmas parade, and Milwaukee County’s court system tipped into chaos. Liberal policies (like defund the police and shutting down courts) blew up spectacularly while minority communities suffered most. Commissions – the liberal Fire and Police in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Election Commission statewide – weren’t just dysfunctional, they were downright nefarious and disregarded the law. But at least UW-Madison got rid of a rock!
Here are our top 30 losers riding the 2021 Wall of Shame. Gas up the clown car, and make sure it has a lot of seats.
1. Darrell Brooks
He’s one of the biggest scumbags in state history, which is saying a lot. After all, we’re the state that produced Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein. Life in prison is his future.
2. John Chisholm
Almost no one was talking about the Milwaukee County DA a year ago, although conservative feelings about him remain bitter due to the past John Doe. But Chisholm has dropped the ball on public safety this year. His non-prosecution rate is sky high, and he’s bought into a liberal plan to reduce the jail population. His assistant was responsible for recommending a very low bail amount for Darrell Brooks.
He’s been quietly letting people be released on summons for crimes. His office has a backlog. They couldn’t even be bothered to review 14 retail theft referrals against the same guy in a timely fashion. He looked the other way at a massive alleged marijuana grow in a Franklin neighborhood. His office has stonewalled the public, refusing to reveal which cases were not prosecuted, in what is frankly an egregious violation of open records laws (we have an open records request him with the State AG that has been pending since April). Brooks wasn’t an aberration. The only problem with ousting Chisholm is he’s been relatively good on police use-of-force cases. What replaces him might even be worse.
3. Brett Blomme
This guy is the loser of the year for sure. A juvenile court judge in Milwaukee County, Blomme disgustingly, horrifically, was caught downloading videos of adult men having anal and oral sex with Asian and Caucasian toddlers and other male children, including a crying boy in a Mickey Mouse shirt. When sentenced, he tried to blame the pandemic and being gay.
4. Wisconsin Election Commission
This brigade of losers (except for GOP Commissioner Bob Spindell) was absolutely brazen in its absolute disregard for the law during the 2020 election, facts that came out more fully in 2021. Led by screaming Democratic partisans and major Joe Biden donors Ann Jacobs and Mark Thomsen, this group simply made up the law and decided they were above it. The Racine County Sheriff thinks it’s criminal and has referred felony charges. A nonpartisan audit that Democrats tried to stop believed they violated the law in numerous ways. Was the election stolen? It was gamed by this group, rounded out by a supposed conservative, Dean Knudson. We learned exactly how they did it in 2021, including ordering that special voting deputies should not go into nursing homes. Shame on them all. Hold them accountable. Yet unlike the exodus from the equally awful Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, this group brazenly sticks around, pretending they’ve done nothing wrong.
5. Tony Evers
The lockdown-and-mask obsessed Democratic governor botched unemployment benefits (the state fell below federal standards into 2021) and wants to extend them regardless of the effect on small businesses. He threw Kenosha cops under the bus – again – even after a DA cleared the officer who shot Jacob Blake, issuing a disgraceful statement on the shooting anniversary. He’s been MIA on bail reform, making tepid statements about everyone needing to take “a breath” and seems inert about worker shortages. He’s a Biden apologist. He’s single-handedly blocking the Republican-controlled Legislature from implementing needed reforms. He defended the Election Commission (of course). He’s basically wrong on every issue, from critical race theory to protecting elections. He’s obsessed with “equity” while doing nothing to protect public safety. Too bad there’s not another ambassadorship in Luxembourg; we could send him along.
6. Josh Kaul
He’s an ideological AG who leads with partisan politics first, but the media won’t hold him accountable for that. He’s completely bungled the state crime lab, gutted the DOJ’s criminal justice mission, eliminated its involvement in a gun tracing program, and neglected public safety – while prioritizing a new diversity post and opposing an election probe in order to help his political party. He literally pledged to not follow the if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Schmaling said he wasn’t interested in investigating the claims against the Wisconsin Election Commission, and Kaul has tried to block Michael Gableman’s subpoenas. The Attorney General’s position should be occupied by someone who cares about public safety, not partisanship. Kaul needs to go.
7. Tom Barrett
He fiddled while Rome burned, and now he’s running out of town to host wine-and-cheese parties in Europe while Milwaukee is literally on fire due to policies he pushed. He leaves behind a disastrous legacy of skyrocketing crime, a distressed police department, a failed trolley almost no one rides, a looming pension bomb and inept leadership. Primarily, he failed the black community and its children (isn’t that racist?), leaving behind a legacy of poverty and social ills that are among the worst disparities in the nation. But he did a good job scolding Republican legislators! Don’t let the door hit you in the back.
8. Mainstream Media
They dropped the ball on so many stories this year that it was hard to keep track, but they did find the time and resources to dredge up positive, smiling family photos of people accused of endangering cops! They used their finite resources to obsess unfairly and endlessly over Michael Gableman and Ron Johnson (yeah, we get it media. You want people to think they’re crazy because that’s what you do to all conservatives who threaten your liberal causes.)
They missed a lot of stories, completely ignoring failures by Democrats (like Josh Kaul and the crime lab). They completely dropped the ball on Kyle Rittenhouse’s valid self-defense claims right up to his trial. They enjoy obsessing over police, though. The bias often comes through what they don’t report and the frame placed on what they do. DO better.
9. Defund the Police Movement
Has any “movement” ever discredited itself so thoroughly and quickly? The idea of defunding the police or abolishing them was always insane, but the media took it seriously and made people sound like racists if they opposed it. However, defunding the police (such as the systematic defunding of MPD or the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department) has led to the worst homicide numbers in the city’s history and a revolving door justice system that puts repeat criminals on the streets. The awful ramifications of these movements have been born most distinctly by the black community.
That’s the tragic irony, but it was completely predictable, and still the media and officials won’t acknowledge it. This is a failed movement, and it’s being repeated all over the country. After 9/11 society widely recognized that first responders are heroes who run toward danger when others run away from it. The majority of society never stopped believing this, but the media have highlighted the small number of loudmouth activists who keep driving this destructive movement, even as homicide numbers reach historic highs.
10. Gaige Grosskreutz
Yeah, we know. His bicep was vaporized in 2020. But, in 2021, his laughable star turn on the witness stand during the Rittenhouse case only exposed his innate sliminess (it’s well-known to cops in the area that Grosskreutz is basically a snake) and made him a national joke just like Thomas Binger’s Star Wars pins. Yeah, you pointed a gun you didn’t have a valid permit to carry at Rittenhouse while advancing toward him at close range but… you want us to think the police are the problem? Okay. Then he appeared on Good Morning America and told yet another story…
11. Wisconsin Health Care Companies
Hospitals say they are filling to capacity, yet they’ve imposed draconian vaccine mandates that have led to a loss of employees. MacIver estimated that about 800 healthcare workers in Wisconsin “have been terminated over the mandates” and more resigned. It does make you wonder when medically trained professionals don’t want to be forced to put a chemical in their bodies. While we aren’t anti-vaccine, we are pro-freedom.
12. Mary Triggiano
We’re conflicted on this one. Milwaukee’s chief judge is incredibly transparent. We appreciate that. She recognizes that the public deserves answers, and she doesn’t hide from tough questions or data requests. We don’t hesitate to say she’s the most transparent official in Milwaukee County. But she’s presided over COVID-19-related decisions that have led to an absolute crisis in the court system. While we think her intentions were well-meaning, we don’t think she got the calculus right.
Not opening the courts fully sooner (all judges still can’t do jury trials in their courtrooms) is more harmful to society than exposing people to COVID, most of whom aren’t in the age group likely to die from it anyway (in Milwaukee, 96.4% of deaths labeled COVID were of people with serious other ailments, and the average age was 74). The 2-year backlogs created by her COVID policies are dangerous. The other issues that stem from them – from low bail amounts to electronic monitoring bracelets – are proving deadly. Just ask Darrell Brooks. Or Dennis Kurasz.
It’s at a tipping point.
13. Cedric Cornwall/David Herring
These court commissioners, one from Milwaukee County and one from Waukesha County, flew beneath the radar in the Darrell Brooks‘ case, but they’re both responsible for the fact he was on the streets to commit the parade attack. DA John Chisholm took the majority of the heat, but the decisions by Cornwall and Herring were even more responsible. Cornwall gave Brooks $1,000 bail in a serious felony case, and Herring rejected a lawyer’s request to jail Brooks in a child support case.
14. Tearman Spencer
He was credibly accused of harassment by multiple employees and later trashed them. He allegedly “made potentially harassing comments and has [allegedly] exhibited behavior targeting female employees in the workplace,” an investigative report obtained by Wisconsin Right Now through an open records request says. He presides over an incredibly dysfunctional office with skyrocketing turnover. And yet there’s no accountability at all. The Milwaukee police union says he has failed to represent officers, who are his clients. Gwen Moore’s pal is probably the strangest and most buffoonish character in state politics. And that’s saying a lot.
15. Chantia Lewis
She’s a Milwaukee Alderman and US senate candidate (against Ron Johnson). She’s accused of serious crimes – prosecutors say she’s a common thief who went on an illegal multi-year campaign finance spending binge, using donations and unlawful city expense reimbursements as her own personal piggy bank, for everything from meals at Waffle House and Hooters to trips to Las Vegas, Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin Dells, and a trampoline park. But she’s still pontificating about public safety and setting policy on it for the city (she wants to divert 911 calls from police), and the media are still quoting her like she’s a serious person. She has made a series of bad decisions and comments including opposing police canines and a federal COPS grant. She called Chief Morales’s lawyer a racist. He’s not one. Please exit stage left.
16. David Bowen
He is an anti-police joke who has decided to run for Lieutenant governor despite his disgraceful behavior in Wauwatosa. He was present at the scene of a violent assault against two police officers at their own home, and then never told the police what he knows. Police reports released in 2021 revealed that even two of his own colleagues had turned on him, telling police he lied to the public about that attack. According to police reports, while referring to a bullhorn that was cracked over Officer Joseph Mensah’s head, Bowen told protesters, “It was good that we got at him, and now Alvin Cole’s mom has a souvenir.” For good measure, he is suing the City of Wauwatosa alleging emotional distress. Can the city sue him? We are giving honorable mention to the state Legislature for doing nothing about it.
17. The Kenosha County DA’s Office
Kenosha County’s assistant prosecutors Thomas Binger and James Kraus are men of many memes, and the mockery was well-deserved. Michael Graveley, the elected Kenosha County District Attorney, should have never charged the Kyle Rittenhouse case in the first place. It was obviously self-defense from the start. His decision to charge the case and then not prosecute it himself this fall was disgraceful cowardice. He did get the Rusten Sheskey decision right, but his political and media-pandering prosecution of Rittenhouse was so egregious it enters the realm of prosecutorial misconduct. His own criminal complaint made the case for self-defense. Then he left his assistants to argue that.
ADA Thomas Binger (and his testy cohort Jim Kraus, AKA Lunchbox) became national laughingstocks by presenting witness-after-witness that just helped the defense and by using slimy tactics in court that enraged the judge repeatedly (like playing audio referring to a militia when the judge told them not to and appearing to use Rittenhouse’s right to silence against him). What a clown show. But the media thought the stern and fair judge was the problem? Graveley should return the big award he got.
18. Glenn Yamahiro
The Milwaukee public defender turned court commissioner ignored his obvious conflict of interest and did the unheard of when he found probable cause for homicide charges against Mensah, in a very, very old shooting case in which Mensah was already repeatedly cleared (what a frightening precedent). Those are charges that were pushed for months by Yamahiro’s ex-wife and the mother of his child, who works with Kimberley Motley, the relentlessly anti-police BLM lawyer who brought the case.
Yamahiro made his decision after a one-sided hearing in which Mensah’s lawyer couldn’t present witnesses or speak in a case in which multiple reviews had already found the officer’s use of force was justified. It’s disgraceful. The two – yes, TWO – special prosecutors appointed by Yamahiro need to do the right thing here and clear the officer, just like all of the other investigators before them (including a federal one).
19. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission
What a dysfunctional gang that can’t shoot straight this Commission has been. They violated Alfonso Morales‘ due process rights (we know that was in 2020) and wouldn’t make it right, but they didn’t get much right after that, either. The new police chief search was a disaster that boiled down to a tie between two candidates left perpetually twisting in the wind before the commission picked a guy who was already here (and is underwhelming so far). The ethically challenged former Commission chair Steve DeVougas stepped down in 2021. Almost everyone else there during the Morales disaster left. One of its new members, Amanda Avalos, has argued that police should be abolished and threaten communities by their very existence. The commission did manage to require the new police chief to list race and gender after every promotion he makes, though.
20. Ryan Clancy
What a laughable loser this uber-liberal, cop-hating, soy-drinking loser is. He tried to troll the Jackson Police Department, because the Milwaukee County supervisor apparently has nothing else better to do, but ended up mixing up Jackson, Wisconsin, with Jackson, Mississippi. That tells you about all you need to know about Ryan “I hate cops” Clancy. But the County Board sets funding for the Sheriff’s Department and part of the courts, so its role matters.
He sued the county because he was arrested during “protests.” He wants funding diverted away from the Sheriff’s Department at a time the jail is in an absolute staffing crisis because of low officers’ pay, imperiling public safety and compounding the problems in the courts. For good measure, he posted a Valentine’s meme that mentions Molotov cocktails and Milwaukee police.
21. Social Media
Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump from the platform and censored people who dared to argue that Kyle Rittenhouse was using self-defense, labeling him a dangerous person before trial, removing his presumption of innocence, and socking even people who offered fact-based analysis with restrictions and violations that weren’t removed even after a jury found that Rittenhouse… used self-defense. It was the latest round in censorship that most conservatives have felt.
This happened to us. We posted a fact-based story on Wisconsin gun laws meaning that Rittenhouse couldn’t be convicted of illegal possession a firearm – the judge dismissed the charge a couple days later using the same rationale – and Facebook banned us from going live (we still can’t) and stopped us from posting on our professional pages using our personal pages, among other restrictions. It’s extreme censorship. The control of information by a few unaccountable faceless, liberal tech companies is the biggest danger of our time. When will Republican officials do something about it?
22. Black Lives Matter Protestor Sabrina Carpino
BLM protesters who descended on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony were among the most despicable characters of the years. One of these jackasses is named Sabrina Carpino. The Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony, flying a “f-ck 12” flag and shouting negative comments about police during a chaplain’s prayer in a disgusting show of disrespect for fallen officers and their families. When the chaplain began reading a prayer, two protesters talked over her with a megaphone saying, “Let’s pray for the black lives that were lost as well. We’re shot daily” and “The police are not for you. They are here to harm you. These are not sacrifices.”
23. Khalil Coleman
Once flying high with “glowing” mainstream media coverage as a supposed peaceful protest organizer, the People’s Revolution leader with blatant Gangster Disciple ties tanked his career and probably his freedom when he was accused in Kentucky of trying to get a juvenile to rob a drug house. Robbing drug dealers is often the perfect crime because it victimizes people who won’t call the police. Unfortunately for Coleman and his cohorts, police say they tried to rob the wrong house. Honorable mention goes to fellow BLM leader Frank Nitty. He didn’t have a great year either, basically vanishing from the movement. We’d include Vaun Mayes on the list except we liked his parody videos of Nitty too much. But that’s what the Milwaukee BLM leadership has become. Parody.
24. UW-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman
She banned the thin blue line flag from coffee mugs and everything else in her police department. “Effective immediately, visible public displays of thin blue line imagery while operating in an official capacity are disallowed. This includes flags, pins, bracelets, notebooks, coffee mugs, decals, etc.,” Chief Kristen Roman wrote in an internal email obtained by Wisconsin Right Now. Way to support your officers, chief! She then lashed out, calling her own employees cowards for supposedly leaking the news to Wisconsin Right Now, even though none of her actually did. Oconomowoc’s mayor gets the honorable mention here for taking down the thin blue line flag in that community, but at least he put it back up.
The Minocqua Brewing Company is raising money to pay for a class-action lawsuit “against every school board in Wisconsin that isn’t mandating masks for kids too young to get the vaccine” and “not following CDC guidelines.” Kirk Bangstad, owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC and a failed Democratic candidate for state Assembly, announced the move in an incendiary Facebook post on Sept. 26, 2021.
26. Milwaukee Kia and Hyundai Owners
If you owned a Kia or Hyundai in Milwaukee, don’t expect it to stick around for very long, since auto thefts, 2/3s of which were those cars, reached astonishing levels, over 10,000 (up 132%). That outpaced Chicago. which has a population of more than four times that of Milwaukee. But Milwaukee aldermen are blaming the car manufacturers.
27. Ryan Owens
The hapless Republican Attorney General candidate/Madison prof was the flavor of the month with big GOP donors and party insiders for a flash-in-the-pan moment. Until we revealed that his comments on old podcasts weren’t exactly as conservative sounding as they’d become on the campaign trail. When Mark Belling picked up the story, upset by Owens’ comments about conservatives being loudmouths at the end of a bar, it wasn’t a great idea for Owens to basically blow him off for a day. In fact, it was a REALLY bad idea for Ryan Owens to blow off Mark Belling.
His attempted explanations on various talk radio shows were convoluted, disingenuous and made it worse. And then it turned out there were some old podcasts that were deleted… as they say, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Just run on who you are. But then, of course, he wouldn’t have gotten any support. It’s a sign, though, that a never Trumper can’t win a Republican primary in Wisconsin. If they’re honest about it.
28. University of Wisconsin System
Despite plunging enrollment and difficulty getting students fully back on campus (at UWM, the WiFi often didn’t work off-and-on ALL semester), the UW System doubled down on COVID restrictions and woke nonsense. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called out UW-Madison for trying to silence conservative speech on campus and having a politicized double standard after the provost refused to grant Cruz and conservative author/radio host Michael Knowles an exemption from the mask mandate that exists for artistic performances.
Charlie Sykes’ podcast with a UW-Madison center went mysteriously missing.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter to University of Wisconsin System President, Tommy Thompson, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor, Rebecca Blank, warning the leaders that recently hired UW-Madison mental health counselors cannot be assigned to serve only non-white students. The university did prioritize removing a “racist” rock and banning thin blue line coffee cups at the campus police department (see above).
Michael Wagner, a UW-Madison journalism professor who runs a fact-checking site there, apologized and deleted a tweet he admits “could be read as encouraging violence.” UW-River Falls, a publicly funded university, posted articles that carried the headlines, “Black Lives Matter & Why ‘All Cops are Bastards’” and “Why Riots Work,” and compared police to slave patrols.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a publicly funded university, held a workshop to train students and staff on “confronting whiteness in the campus community.”
“We will discuss ideas and develop strategies for identifying and confronting whiteness,” the event’s web page said. The workshop was designed to give strategies on how to confront a single race – whites – on campus, including for personal views supporting police through the phrase “Blue Lives Matter.”
29. Liberal School Boards
The great spring 2021 parental awakening, in which conservative parents all over the state took back school board seats, speaks volumes. Liberal school boards got it wrong on COVID and on critical race theory and in 2021 parents decided not to stand for it anymore in communities from Burlington to Germantown to Slinger to Tomah to Mequon. All over the state, they rose up. The continued intransigence of liberal school board members is giving the Wisconsin School Choice Movement its biggest expansion opportunities ever.
30. The “Racist” Rock
Rounding up our list and no doubt the stupidest story of the year, Chamberlin Rock was unceremoniously yanked from UW-Madison’s campus because it was described with a racial slur in a newspaper article 100 years ago, even though that word was commonly used to describe such rocks at the time.