It is all so hurtful

Campaign abuses are bad, but we learned . . .

How to make a good message unpalatable

The Rodney Dow method of communication

Why go through all the hoopla when you didn’t even really report this allegation?*



SHOREWOOD, WI. (Feb. 19, 2004) --   I have taken the time to re-read former Village President Rodney H. Dow’s message to the Village Board, which he read in part at the Feb. 16, 2004 special meeting.


This message was a very important message to Mr. Dow, as he asked several times that the rules applying to everyone be waived for him and this message. The reason he gave for wanting the rules to be waived is that he had already prepared his remarks.


A similar plea was made to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board in his request that the word limit applied to all other people not apply to him because an editorial the newspaper published was so unfair the remedy would be for the newspaper to allow Mr. Dow to write something longer than anyone else.


Clearly, some people are more accomplished communicators than others, and some people are more analytical and wiser than others; those people we would benefit from their perspective.


So I am taking another look at the two-page message titled “election fraud” that, like many of the pieces Mr. Dow writes and that we have obtained copies of from officials who still are in government, was sent back and forth several times before finally being printed and distributed to our village governing body.


Discounting the 15 lines of header material at the top of the page, Mr. Dow has 57 lines of text he asked the Village Board to allow him to read although it required more time to read than the rules that apply to everyone else allow.


Because Mr. Dow insisted with such urgency and persistence that he be allowed to speak longer than anyone else because he had already prepared his message, I propose to look at what Mr. Dow has to say.


The meat of his message is this:


“I am going to report to the District Attorney that there have been violations of election law and I would like the Village Board and citizens to respect the First Amendment by urging fellow Village residents to not remove campaign literature.”


This is a nice message and one worthy of stating at the village meeting.


I have diluted Mr. Dow’s 57 lines to two and one-half lines. I timed the reading of the message and it took about 20 seconds.


But even if we use Mr. Dow’s own words, the guts of his message, even with the wordiness, adds up to just 13 lines – less than one quarter of what Mr. Dow insisted he be allowed to read. See our edited version.


What was in the other 44 lines that Mr. Dow so animatedly insisted on reading?


I’ll put the information in numbered sentences with two boxes to the right of the information.


Please print this out and complete the following exercise, then mail it to me at 4101 N. Prospect Ave., Shorewood, WI. 53211.


If the information in the numbered sentence was essential to the core message and should have been left in, check the “in” box. If the information was not essential to the core message and does not add anything to the message that Mr. Dow is going to report this matter to the District Attorney or that Village residents should disapprove of this behavior, check the “out” box.





1. Dow spoke to Ellen Eckman by telephone last week.



2. Ellen Eckman is an incumbent trustee.



3. Ellen Eckman is concerned about her election materials.



4. The materials she is concerned about are the ones she left at Stone Creek.



5. Stone Creek is on Oakland.



6. Eckman left 70 cards on a windowsill.



7. The windowsill is in the foyer (Between Stone Creek and Blockbuster).



8. The cards were gone the next day.



9. Candidate Phinney’s campaign materials were on top of Eckman’s once.



10. Eckman sees a couple at Stone Creek almost every time she is there.



11. This couple opposes Eckman’s candidacy.



12. This couple was involved in political actions in the past.



13. This couple was an intermediary in a “call-to-arms” directed by Kohlenberg



14. This couple attends meetings of an ad-hoc committee.



15. One Saturday Mr. Dow needed to mail2 letters at the Shorewood Post Office.



16. He invited his spouse and dog to accompany him to the Post Office



17. Dow stood at the Northeast corner of Jarvis and Oakland with the dog.



18. Dow’s wife went to  Stone Creek’s foyer to check the literature situation.



19. Dow had his back to Walgreen’s.



20. Dow saw the customers Eckman complained of through the window.



21. The man was sitting to the south, reading a newspaper.



22. The woman was to the north.



23. The woman to the north had her back partially to the foyer.



24. It was about noon.



25. They did not make eye contact.



26. One minute later, Dow’s spouse exited the foyer and walked toward Dow.



27. At about the same time, the woman stood up and walked toward the foyer



28. Dow’s spouse informed Dow that Phinney’s literature had covered Eckman’s



29. Dow told his spouse that he had seen the stone Creek clientele.



30. Dow’s wife separated the campaign literature into three piles.



31. Dow and his wife crossed Oakland.



32. They walked south on Oakland after crossing the street.



33. They spotted a resident walking on the other side of Oakland.



34. The Dows waved across the street to the other person.



35. The other person was carrying a Stone Creek container.



36. They conversed across Oakland about how often he frequents Stone Creek.



37. The other person frequents Stone Creek “regularly.”



38. The Dows asked the other person to “keep and eye on Ellen’s literature.”



39. The person said someone was just burying Eckman’s literature



40. Dow visited the Post Office.



41. They returned home by the same route.



42. At 12:20 p.m., Dow entered the foyer of Stone Creek.



43. Dow’s wife and dog stayed outside.



44. Dow found Eckman’s literature buried under Phinney’s



45. Dow straightened into three piles.



46. The piles that Dow made were “neat piles.”



47. The neat piles were Krieger’s, Phinney’s and Eckman’s from South to North)



48. Dow returned 10 minutes later to find the piles as neat as he had left them.



49. Dow returned the following morning at 8:20 a.m.



50. There were no other customers.



51. The literature in the foyer was in two piles.



52. Eckman’s literature was buried under Phinney’s.



53. Dow arranged the literature in three piles.



54. The piles Dow arranged the literature in were “neat” piles.



55. This behavior is childish.



56. It is malicious or illegal.



57. Vida Langenkamp also complained that literature was removed last spring.



58. Ed Madere on Nov. 10, 2003, said “This isn’t Shorewood anymore.”



59. The Journal Sentinel ran a newspaper article calling for an audit of the Library



60. The Village Board was ambushed by surprise (the worst kind of ambush!)




It is not clear to me why Mr. Dow added all the superfluous material to his message. It detracts from the message and requires more time than is appropriate for a government meeting.


Why did it have to be read at all?


Mr. Dow challenged me in his message to join the cause because I am a “great believer in freedom of speech and expression.”


On Tuesday, Feb. 17, I sent Mr. Dow an e-mail inviting him to provide me with a copy of the message and offering to post it on his behalf.


I have not heard from Mr. Dow, so, because I do believe in freedom of speech and expression, I went to the Village Hall on Wednesday and purchased a copy of the message, which I posted yesterday.


In the future, I’d welcome Mr. Dow’s messages and will post them as appropriate so the public can be spared another spectacle like they witnessed Monday night.


Meanwhile, despite the urgency, neither Shorewood police nor the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office reports any complaint by Dow.


So, what is this really about?


Lastly, if Mr. Dow had removed the header material from his message, he would have reduced his message to one page, saved that much paper and would have cut the cost – to Shorewood residents, Foley & Lardner or himself, depending on who ultimately pays – by half.


Cutting waste would be a good quality in someone advocating candidates for public office.


Or is this a different Shorewood?







*As of Feb. 18, 2004 neither Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney Mike Mahoney nor Shorewood Police Chief Michael Meehan could report a complaint from FORMER Village President Rodney Dow.