The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Peter Sobol

Monona Blogs on Life Support

Last month, Monona Alderman Doug Wood made official what we all knew – he was done posting on his blog –

No matter what you think of Wood, he was a prolific writer. By his count, he wrote over 1,500 in about five years. It was not all political content, but instead a mixture of current events/politics with subjects that interested him. He presented a lot of great information to the public, which is always helpful.

A few years ago Monona citizens could get online and visit a multitude of Monona-centric websites, including Wood’s blog, plus sites run by school board members Peter Sobol, Jason McCutchin and Jessica Ace. Now? Not so much. Only Sobol’s is left – and he is pretty spotty with his posts, and he focuses mostly on school district related subjects.

So what happened? Are we simply out of ‘controversial’ subjects to discuss? Are people just tired of the online orgasm of arguments and counter arguments? Is the community just tired of arguing after nearly a decade of school closings and referendums?

To a degree, I suspect it’s ‘all of the above’. But also there’s a simple drag on the blog authors. Doug Wood started his blog for fun many years ago. But the fun can slowly leak out of the affair. I can sympathize. It starts to become a job. People come to expect a certain level of commitment to the affair. And then the extremists take to the comment sections, turning your job into a police action.

Personally, I have slowed down writing for many reasons. The main one has simply been family commitments. There is only so much time in the day to write. And only so much time to devote oneself to an issue. But also some of the hot button issues – especially those related to the school district – are behind us (or simmering under the surface).

So what’s the the future of Monona blogs? Are we better off without all these blogs – and their tendency to bitch and moan more than offer solutions? For us, I say no. The Rag promises to continue. I would like ideas and suggestions as to what issues you’d like covered. But we hope that other people will emerge to bring out a voice in the community. There’s nothing really devoted to the Monona community (even the Herald Independent website has gotten worse in its coverage – if that’s possible – over the years). Simple blogs by local citizens is probably the best way to highlight current and emerging issues in the city. Now, we just need those voices to step forward.

School Board Fashion Review – May 2011

Designer Karl Lagerfeld begs for madness to stop

This was barely a step above a city council fashion review. Dull, dull and more dull. I almost cried watching. I miss Jill List.

One side of the room wore black. Most of the other side was stuck in 1978.

Thanks to Superintendent Gerlach and Lionel Norton for adding some variety to the affair.

Here’s a rundown.

Craig Gerlach – The superintendent was natty looking wearing a turquoise dress shirt and tie. We liked his sharply cropped head of hair. It was fun to watch him let his glasses hang off the edge of his nose as he looked around at the school board. We give Gerlach credit – he’s consistently natty at these events. Maybe next time he can take a risk and go more casual – maybe a nice polo.

Susan Manning – One of the row of black (with Jason McCutchin and Jessica Ace). Susan wore black jacket over of a white top. It was classic and smart. Nothing earth shattering, but nicely done. A nice floral pattern scarf would have looked good with this outfit, bringing some color to the mix. Perhaps next time.

Jessica Ace – Just a simple black top. Nothing to stand out. Just a bit dull. We want Jessica to do better – I nice dress with some color or a pattern might be interesting.

Jason McCutchin – Jason continues the dullness with a black polo shirt. It’s a ‘meh’. Nothing wrong, nothing exceptional. We’d like to see Jason step up his game and wear a sharp, deep purple dress shirt (long sleeve) with a colorful tie (not to garish, but enough to pop a bit).

Dean Bowles – The board’s newest member gets his first fashion review. The results are nothing to write home about. Bowles is wearing a crisscross pattern short sleeve shirt that could be at home in any decade. Is it timeless? Maybe in a supper club. First step for Dean is to work on the comb over.

Susan Fox – A grayish jacket over a white top is predictably average. Sue needs a sleekness upgrade. Her wardrobe is never offensive, but never grabbing our attention.

Peter Sobol – Drab green shirt, short sleeve. Mustache. Peter Sobol does not change. Should we even try to change Peter? He is like granite – gray and drab and unchanging in face of any storm or circumstance. Final note – trim the hair – it’s getting a little shaggy.

Lionel Norton – Norton wore a white and purple checked shirt. The pattern was like the picnic tablecloth my parents had when I was a kid. Not that Lionel looked like a table cloth. The shirt was good. The purple, as well as pattern, offered the most unique garment of the night. We also liked the scruffy three-day beard with the shaved head – Lionel looked cool. Lionel should wear a suit to an upcoming meeting. A pin strip suit of gray or blue would be a killer.

School Board Fashion Review

"Damn, they look almost as awesome as I do."

The weather was hot for the last School Board meeting, but we have to say the fashions were sweltering.

My fingers are sweating it was so good.

And the best? It was all the best! Simply amazing. Let’s start at the top.

Superintendent Craig Gerlach was dashing and casual all at once in a tan wool Giorgio Armani sport coat. His comfy Ecco Oxfords were a perfect match. It was all complimented by a Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Watch. It was smart and sophisticated.

Things are smoldering hot!

On the board we’ll start with the very pregnant Jessica Ace. Ms. Ace was, frankly, stunning in a Isabella Oliver maternity dress with yellow floral patterns. The Bulgari clutch bag was adorable. Simple and elegant.

My fingers are burning up!

Next we look at Peter Sobol. Today, Peter was sharp and colorful, with a Roberto Cavalli ensemble of tan slacks with light linen jacket over a purple shirt. It was hip and SUPER comfy looking. The David Yurman gold bracelet on his right wrist was an equally cool touch.

We’re smokin’ now.

Board president Susan Fox kept up her appearance with her position, choosing a brown Dolce & Gabbana wool suit. But Susan busted out of the conservative look with a leopard-print satin long sleeve shirt – also from Dolce & Gabbana. The outfit was nicely finished out with Alexandre Birman ankle boots and a leather bag from Alexander McQueen.

I’m feel like I’m at Milan Fashion Week. Too much fun.

Lionel Norton was the next fashion maven to grace the board meeting. Norton was the most casual board member of the night, but not the least stylish. He wore dark designer jeans from hip fashion brand 7 For All Mankind. With the jeans he wore a gray John Varvatos vest over a simple white shirt. And the best was the awesome leather boots from Salvatore Ferragamo.

So cool it’s hot.

The last of our female board members in attendance was Susan Manning, who kept things at a high level with dark blue double-breasted blazer from Michael Kors. The black Akris Punto were a nice match, and the Burberry scarf was an even better touch.

I am weeping with joy.

The final board member was Jason McCutchin – and he didn’t disappoint. Jason wore a gray Gucci blazer with light strips along with black slacks. His shirt was basic white, which only helped the aqua and blue striped Stefano Ricci tie stand out. The classic Rolex Submariner finished out the outfit.

Things are simply white hot!

We’re sorry Jill List was unavailable for the amazing night of fashion. We look forward to her Louis Vuitton outfit for the next affair.

Donatella Versace eat your heart out. We have the Monona Grove School Board.

Sobol’s undies in a bundle

Sunny went postal on the school board a couple of weeks ago, calling them a ‘bunch of monkeys’ in her column. The reference came up when she criticized the board for not having a member in negotiations with the teachers union.

That got Peter Sobol’s undies in a bundle¬†on his blog and in the Herald Independent. He called her ‘irresponsible’ and ‘lazy’.

Sonny backed off a week later.

It’s all rather amusing.

People kind of shrug at Sunny’s articles and treat her like the crazy aunt. She says what she wants, when she wants, to whomever she wants. It’s sort of her charm. And she often gets to the point way more efficiently than the rest of us. Getting into a pissing match with her is probably unwise.

I will say that Sobol has a point about the situation – I don’t think having a board member in negotiations is necessary. If they can bring something to the table, then sure, but if none of these people have ever been involved with contract negotiations, it’s probably a waste of their time (and the negotiators, who have to answer his/her questions).

But what Sunny’s article illustrates is that the board should work hard to let people know what exactly is going on, who is involved, etc. Sunny’s previous articles had forced some of them to actually talk publicly about the negotiations. Too often people don’t have a clue what’s going on. For every single person who’s ‘informed’ on these subjects, another 10 are ignorant monkeys-like newspaper columnists and bloggers (we completely made up the 10-1 ratio and use it strictly because we don’t have a clue and 10-1 ratio sounds pretty awesome.)

The board Рand the district as a whole Р should make a concentrated effort at expanding their communications efforts. Not just a few blogs, but email newsletters, online updates, plus regular notices sent home to parents during the school year.

Hey, they can email us updates! We’ll be happy to post things.

School Board Vote

As we look at the school board election for this week, there are two seats and three candidates. We have to admit that from the perspective of trying to keep education long term in Monona for k-12, it’s a bit dismaying.

On one hand, Susan Manning has fought to keep our kids in Monona even before joining the board three years ago. Selecting her is a no brainer if you think Monona should try and keep it’s kids educated in this community as long as possible.

The other choices aren’t inspiring.

Jennifer Pickel is from Cottage Grove, and her campaign has touted out the ‘best for the kids’ and ‘best programming’ lines – meaning don’t expect her to vote to help preserve Monona’s schools.

Peter Sobol, while from Monona, has long been a supporter of moving our kids out of our city. Peter was an ardent supporter of moving 7-8 graders to Cottage Grove, and recently voted to move 6th graders there as well. He also supported closing Maywood School. We at least give Peter credit for being consistent – the support and votes he’s cast sucked a little bit out of Monona each time. You close a school here, move a couple of classes there, close another school, move another class – all in the name of programming and fiscal sense. But nothing to maintain k-12 in Monona. Peter just doesn’t see the importance of that.

So what do we do?

Vote Manning. Do a write in. Not that it will help. The vast majority of Cottage Grove voters will pick Sobol and Pickel – since both will likely do a great job getting education to Cottage Grovers.

Sadly, the status quo will remain on the board.