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Pro-Walker teacher threatened amid atmosphere of political aggression

By   /   December 2, 2011  /   No Comments


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — Kristi Lacroix took a political stand.
Now she said she’s paying an awful price.
The teacher at Lakeview Technology Academy, a choice school in Kenosha, appears in a campaign ad praising Gov. Scott Walker and his controversial reforms, not the least of which was Act 10, which curbed collective bargaining for teachers and many public employees in Wisconsin.

In the ad, Lacroix says she is “not big on recalls,” and the Democratic Party’s push to recall Walker “feels a little like sour grapes — It’s you know, ‘We didn’t get our way and so we want to change the outcome.’”

“Scott Walker said from the beginning, ‘I’m going to do what’s right for Wisconsin,’ and he did. He did,” she says in the ad.
Walker opponents have criticized the add and Lacroix’s point of view, arguing Walker never campaigned on Act 10 or cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public education system.
Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, in a statement called Lacroix a “Republican activist” who continued the “misleading response to his recall” campaign. He said Walker and his “special-interest backers can spend as much as they want on a dishonest ad blitz featuring a parade of Walker apologists, but Wisconsinites are too smart to be fooled.”
But some have moved beyond political disagreement into harassment and threat, Lacroix and her principal said.
Facebook campaign?
Lacroix did not return requests for comment, but in a post on conservative radio talk show host Vicki McKenna’s Facebook site, the teacher said there is an online movement called “Fire Kristi” where “they are going to email, post, and talk to everyone millions of stories to ruin my reputation carrer (career) and life.
“Kind of hard to keep my head up with stuff like this. I have said for a couple of years that I really need to leave teaching …I think it is time for me to move on …” Lacroix writes.
In an email to Lacroix, the writer asserts “on Facebook there are lots of people willing to join the Fire Kristi effort. Too bad the protection of collective voice from educators was dismantled by your champion,” presumably Scott Walker. “You are alone in the wilderness … Your best bet is to start a job search soon … Enjoy your isolation.”
There are others.
‘Good teacher’
Tate did not return a phone call Friday from Wisconsin Reporter seeking comment on the alleged harassment and threats.
Lacroix need not worry about her job, said William Hittman, principal and director of Lakeview Tech, a science, technology, engineering and math high school among the state’s leaders in academic achievement.
“She is really a good teacher. Very good,” Hittman told Wisconsin Reporter on Friday. “As parent of five children, I definitely would want to have her as a teacher.”
Hittman, who describes himself as a Glenn Beck-style libertarian, said Lacroix doesn’t bring her political views into school, and neither do the other staff members. And party labels have nothing to do with the effectiveness of educators, the administrator said.
Lacroix has received several “vicious emails” into her school account, Hittman said, so many that he “can’t keep up with them.”
Rising tempers, rising complaints
Complaints of harassment, threats and extremely disagreeable disagreements appear to be dogging the early days of a massive recall campaign targeting Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, and four GOP state senators. And the bad behavior, law enforcement officials say, is on both sides of Badger State’s deep political divide.
The allegations range from opponents of the recall campaign threatening to collect signatures on petitions and burn them to pilfering of “Recall Walker” yard signs. Recently, an Edgewood College student and recall campaign volunteer reported that a fellow student ripped up his petition, with signatures.
A Madison woman collecting recall petition signatures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers football game last weekend said a man “assaulted” her by pushing her clipboard into her stomach, and that it was a “politically motivated” act, according to police records. The man denied the charge, saying he was walking in a highly congested area with his 8-year-old son when he bumped into the petitioner.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin’s Recall Integrity Center has received several complaints concerning petitioners harassing residents. A woman at a Delafield McDonald’s said petition circulators blocked her car and asked that she sign the petition to recall Walker, according to a GOP news release. She attempted to drive away when a petition circulator allegedly raised his middle finger to her, called her an offensive name and threw an egg at her windshield “as her children watched the entire scene unfold.”
The Government Accountability Board, or GAB, which oversees the states elections, and the state Department of Justice, or DOJ, on Thursday jointly held a webinar, training local district attorney’s offices on investigating recall-related complaints.
Investigation is the domain of local law enforcement, unless the DOJ is asked to get involved, said Steve Means, executive assistant with the DOJ. As of Friday, he said no cases have been referred to the department.
In these politically charged times, DOJ, the GAB and other law enforcers advise calm and respect.
“This is obviously something people feel strongly about. That’s fine; that’s good,” Means said. “But you can also disagree in a respectful manner, let the process play out and see what happens.”
For the most part, cooler heads have prevailed, said Joel DeSpain, public information officer for the Madison Police Department.
“I’m pleased so far, and I know the chief (Madison Police Chief Noble Wray) is, that since February we’ve had no major incidents and no major injuries to speak of,” he said. “There have been a lot of tensions running high, passions on both side, but we haven’t had serious problems. When you look around at the rest of the country with the Occupy (Wall Street) movement, I think that speaks well of Madison.”
But with so much at stake, and so much bitterness in Wisconsin politics, some worry about escalation.
So far, so good, DeSpain said.
“There’s always a concern that things can boil over, and certainly we have had some pretty heated exchanges among people at the Capitol Square,” DeSpain said. “But the lion’s share of people have done so with a good deal of civility.”