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You may have read the Op Ed about me in the Lakeland Times and River News last Friday

Kirk Bangstad

You may have read the Op Ed about me in the Lakeland Times and River News last Friday. It was expected, and matched the low character that we've come to expect from our paper. I've posted it here.

Here is my response that I'm sending as a "Letter to the Editor." We will see if they publish it. I promise this is my last post fighting a dying paper and the trolls that run it. Time to lead with values and inspiration instead of constantly trying to wash the gunk of bad journalism off my hands.

The editorial “Leader of the Mob” in the Lakeland Times and River News is just the latest example of the newspapers using their institutional power to smear a local resident. There are so many things to respond to, but I will mention just three.

I called Gregg Walker a “crook,” and he asserts in the editorial that the word means “criminal.” But he knows full well that the definition of the term – found in multiple dictionaries – includes “dishonest” or “bad” person. I made clear that was what I meant and it is certainly justifiable to hold that opinion of him. To keep insisting that I called Walker a criminal is, well, “crooked.”

What gave rise to my condemnation was one of the papers’ many hit pieces, this one against Linda Conlon who had the audacity to do her job as county director of health by following science in order to protect the health of the people of the Northwoods. Walker ironically accuses me of smearing, when I was simply calling out his paper for this and the many other examples of him using his papers as a malicious bully pulpit in an attempt to harm or destroy the reputations of citizens.

And Walker brings up climate models, implying that he takes a reasoned, balanced approach to climate science. But Walker more than once has claimed the models are “all wrong” in the sense of universally exaggerating the dangers of the climate crisis. But he knows that the last five years are the hottest on record and multiple studies show that the models have, if anything, underestimated the rise of global heating and the damages that come with it. One is tempted to say, as he said of me, evidence is irrelevant and so is the truth. To my mind, he is being dishonest about his dishonesty.

It is an essential aspect of democracy and part of the rights of the citizens to stand up to abusive local papers. But the effort is really a distraction. I entered the race for Assembly to call out the failures of Rob Swearingen and the Republicans in Madison, because the people of the Northwoods deserve a state representative who actually works for their interests. They deserve a representative who will truly listen to the people, rather than rig elections so politicians don’t have to. Someone who works for the people, not the corporate elites and lobbying groups. Someone who protects our natural resources that provide us with outdoor recreation and our tourist economy, instead of opening our land to a foreign corporation who wants to make profits off toxic mining. Someone who promotes the health and healthcare of the people, rather than weakening our healthcare system. Someone who advocates for the well-being of working people, rather than corporate donors. Someone who will boost the quality of public education rather than drain taxpayer money away from it. These are the issues I will be attending to in the months to come.

Written by Kirk Bangstad on 06/22/20

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