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Paul's Falls

I have lived in the Falls since 1968. My great-great grandfather was one of the village founders. I have served the community in multiple ways: Firefighter, various boards and commissions and for many years was president of the Falls Cable Access Corp. Currently I own, and am active in, a restaurant equipment manufacturing company.

Jefferson Davis Redux - Part 8

Local Elections

We are nearing the end of this series of articles about a former Falls official:
From the files of the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)


COUNTY LINES Davis' promised 186-page `tell-all' actually tells little

LAUREL WALKER of the Journal Sentinel staff Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
Published: January 23, 2005
Davis' promised 186-page `tell-all' actually tells little Jefferson Davis the submissive turned up at a Waukesha County courtroom last week.

An hour later, before dozens of his supporters gathered at Nino's Italian Bakery, Davis the magician appeared, turning a disgraceful day into a victory celebration.

In court, where the Menomonee Falls village president was convicted of eight campaign finance violations, ordered to pay $1,480 in fines and costs and told he must resign his office within a day, it was, "Yes, your honor" and "No, your honor" and "I do, your honor."

His attorney, Michael Ganzer called him "remorseful," "humiliated," "embarrassed."

Davis was apologetic to the judge and openly thankful to District Attorney Paul Bucher for a deal that made most of the original 29 campaign finance charges -- including three felonies -- go away.

"I want to take full responsibility for this," Davis said in court, having already repaid the unlawfully accepted campaign funds, which he had blamed on his ignorance of the law. Still, Judge Lee Dreyfus Jr. found it necessary to remind him that thousands of candidates run for public office every year, following the law that he didn't.

At Nino's, nearly as packed as the olive bowl in the deli case, there was the feel of a campaign rally. And who knows? Maybe it was, since Davis did nothing to discourage fans in the audience who urged him to mount a write-in campaign.

The first chance for that would be in the Feb. 15 primary, where three candidates -- but not Davis -- are on the ballot for village president.

When Davis walked in with his sons, ages 21 and 14, the friendly crowd applauded enthusiastically as a wall of media representatives with notebooks and cameras stood ready.

"You'd think I was running for president or something," he said, grinning to the gathering as he laid out his props. As many have come to expect from Davis, that ammunition was sizzle without the steak.

Davis is an adept public speaker, but at showtimes like this he's a master of innuendo.

At Nino's, time and again holding up a 186-page document that a day earlier he'd promised would be "extremely revealing," Davis repeatedly told the Nino's audience that the documents would speak for themselves.

The Holy Grail of what was right with his leadership and disturbingly wrong with this opposition.

If the documents spoke, they had little to say.

A purported section called "ethics and public policy" involving a controversial skateboard facility he's been unable to get through was indexed to a printed page off eBay for a "Disney Store Mickey Mouse Picture Frame" identified as "Skateboard."

The bid price on the print-out, by the way, was $3.95, but it wasn't worth a plug nickel in explaining anything.

Apparent ethics concerns he labeled "Trustee Slinker's fate" and "corporate campaign contribution to state representative's account" and "village clerk's office" just weren't there at all.

One accomplishment Davis touts is a public-private partnership between the village and Coca-Cola. Apparently, the copied Coke bottle label -- nothing more -- represented his evidence in that respect.

Under a category called "apprehension -- commerce," he simply listed "marketer-economic recruiter," which was indexed to a page with nothing more than an Office Depot advertisement.

The flip side of that page, indexed to the words "improving entrances to village" and "county boulevards," is an overexposed picture of Davis standing next to a Menomonee Falls sign and the words "President Jefferson Davis . . . Making a difference in Menomonee Falls" superimposed, as if in a campaign flier.

Without explanation, most of this is nonsense. Maybe it is even with an explanation.

There were tax bills with circled numbers, and e-mails with circled names, including a chain e-mail that pointed recipients to a Web site that openly made fun of Davis, and letters and newspaper clippings and charts and memorandums.

One person who sounded like he had the most sensible seat in the house for Davis' magic act was Ralph Bronner, a 28-year village resident who said he showed up at Nino's because he'd never met Davis in person.

Speaking up after Davis had bashed the prior administration's record of running the village, he said calmly:

"I wouldn't agree that the past was that terrible. You have done some good things for the Falls, and there have been some problems in the Falls. What you have here is the very thing that a lot of you are complaining about. You have sort of a one-sided group where everything is wonderful and your complaint is that the other group is ripping Davis to shreds on everything. And somewhere in the middle is the truth."

Buy that man a cannoli, please, because he hit the sweet spot of this entire village saga.

Still, with the criminal case behind him and backers more interested in hearing what he had to say than in the cinnamon scones and frosted doughnuts, Davis looked ebullient, not disgraced.

He summed up his day, from courtroom to cookie room, one way: "It's a great day in Menomonee Falls."

That is, perhaps, the one thing even his fiercest opponents might agree with, since it produced his resignation.

------------ Call Laurel Walker at (262) 650-3183 or e-mail lwalker@journalsentinel.com Credit:WILLIAM MEYER Source:WMEYER@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM


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