Jeff Stone takes low bid for black votes | WisCommunity

Jeff Stone takes low bid for black votes

How many politicians have bought the false idea that you can buy blocs of votes in Milwaukee's central city?

The answer is "a lot," and Jeff Stone, the Scott Walker clone running for Milwaukee County executive, appears to be just the latest to fall for the scam.

Dan Bice of the Journal Sentinel details the history of LaMonte Harris, a black community activist , well known in the central city, who has both a criminal record and a record of working for politicians who end up in trouble. Not that Harris's past should disqualify him; people deserve a chance to be rehabilitated and gainfully employed, just like some Wisconsin politicians who have served their time and are back on the streets. But some hires raise eyebrows.

Harris's latest employer: Jeff Stone.

Stone's campaign is paying Harris to arrange coffees for him and give him a chance, apparently, to mingle with and speak to some black folks, to give him some credibility in the community. He also thinks, no doubt, that Harris can deliver some votes, which is another proposition altogether.

The central city is rife with people who will lead you to believe that, for a price, they can somehow produce votes on election day. A lot of white politicians think you need to spread some "street money" around to assure you get some votes.

What no one ever explains, of course, is how that's going to happen. That's because it doesn't happen. The "consultant" or "organizer" pockets your money, and escorts you through the hood, but that's it. The joke's on you. There are no votes that come with the deal.

But it's instructive to listen to Stone's campaign manager, Vi Hammelman, explain how Stone came to hire Harris, who's already been paid $1500:

"We hired somebody to gather some coffees so Jeff could talk to people from diverse parts of the community," Hammelman said, "and hear what they had to say and have respectful conversation with people that he wouldn't otherwise be able to engage in because he doesn't know who to call to have the conversation."


   Other community activists were asking for much more money, including one who wanted $100,000 to help Stone establish ties with the city's black population.


By contrast, Hammelman said, Harris was a good deal.


 She said she is hoping he puts together even more coffee meetings. But she said, "I'm not paying him any more."

So the contract to introduce Stone to some black people goes to the lowest bidder.

It's quite a campaign Stone's putting together -- with "volunteer" Tim Russell, the Scott Walker ex-staffer who's under investigation for illegal campaign activity, doing opposition research on Chris Abele, and Harris putting together his central city coffees.

Harris offered his services to both campaigns, but Chris Abele's wisely didn't give him the time of day.

Did I mention that Stone is pushing a voter ID bill, because he's worried about clean elections?


Xoff has been the campaign manager or chief strategist for four campaigns for mayor of Milwaukee and two for county executive.  


March 27, 2011 - 11:11pm