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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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 Most people who watch our news have never had the opportunity to vote for or against Alderman Michael McGee Junior. Why then do we cover the allegations against him so extensively?

The Alderman is one of 15 legislators representing fewer than 40 thousand people in the City of Milwaukee. Our viewing area covers approximately 2-3 million people in the Metro area, most of whom obviously do not live in Michael McGee Junior's district. Still, the charges against him and the ensuing battle over them is a big news story. Its reach stretches far beyond the limits of his district and even the City.

The Alderman is a polarizing character. Few people exhibit indifference toward him. People seem to love him or loathe him. The latter group looks at these recent charges and says, "Told you so."

The people who love Michael McGee Junior, I suspect, would vote for him today even if he admitted to the allegations against him.

This is why this story concerns We the People of Southeast Wisconsin. It identifies a rift, a separation between people that runs long and deep. It largely breaks along racial lines, although not exclusively. It makes people angry... angry with one another.

Already today we're getting word of a protest that will form at the County Courthouse. McGee supporters will rally before his second court appearance. We aired interviews with people saying police and prosecutors are out to get McGee. This bolsters their feelings and fears that those same police and prosecutors are out to get them too.

The camps have rallied the troops before the facts have even come out. How can you protest in support of the Alderman if we don't even know all the specific charges yet? On the flip side, a lot of people have convicted him in their minds before we know the charges.

All I'm saying is the story exposes the extraordinary differences dividing the people of Southeast Wisconsin when we need to be coming together as a region on so many issues.

The latter point there is another reason this ought to matter to you in Waukesha, and Kenosha, and Mequon, etc. Elected officials from throughout this part of the State are beginning to realize we can and must market "Milwaukee" as a region. The Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) was born some time ago as an effort to make regional decisions regarding large public projects, particularly transportation. Recently we have the birth of the Milwaukee 7. Same kind of thing, only from a marketing stand point.

In these "cooperative" efforts it seems Milwaukee often stands alone. It's in conflict with Milwaukee County. It's in conflict with neighboring cities and Counties. We can't all just get along. The McGee story illustrates this perfectly.

As I have always pledged as a News Anchor and Journalist I must remain publicly impartial on these stories. I take no public position on whether I think Michael McGee Junior is a good guy getting railroaded, or the devil on the common council finally getting what he deserves, or somewhere in-between. 

I'll say this either way. Other people's business is our business, and Michael McGee Junior is good for business.




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