It’s been recently announced that the University of Illinois (U of I) reached a legal settlement with Stephen Saliata, who had a job offer revoked by the U of I because he tweeted his personal opinion about far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of peace in the Middle East.
Last year, Saliata was offered a tenured professorship at the U of I. After the U of I received backlash from students, alumni, and donors who are to the Netanyahu regime in Israel than they are to America, the U of I pulled their offer of a tenured professorship from Saliata. Saliata rightfully sued the U of I for infringing on his First Amendment right to free speech and infringing upon academic freedom, and the lawsuit has now been settled, but not before the U of I is legally bound to pay out a total of $875,000, $600,000 of which will go to Saliata himself, and $275,000 of which will go to Saliata’s attorneys.
In short, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for the U of I’s war on academic freedom and caving to pro-Israel interests. Had the U of I actually hired Steven Saliata, it would have cost Illinois taxpayers less than what it cost to settle the lawsuit over not hiring him for political reasons.
I’d never thought that I’d say this, given how I’ve criticized Martha Laning multiple times on this blog, but I’m actually pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning in the race for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).
Obviously, you’re probably wondering why I would do something like that. It’s because of this letter from the Jeff Smith campaign, which was sent to at least one DPW member that I’m aware of, in which Smith offered Laning the post of DPW Executive Director if he were to be elected chair, and then criticized Laning in the same letter, which is something I’d never do if I was offering someone a job. After I notified Laning’s campaign of Smith’s letter via Facebook, the Laning campaign issued this statement, in which Laning strongly stated that she had refused Smith’s offer and criticized Smith for mentioning the offer in campaign literature. What Smith did was the single most asinine thing I’ve ever seen someone who I’ve sincerely endorsed ever do. I think that a candidate offering an opposing candidate a job if the candidate making the offer wins is, in my opinion, downright unethical. Do I think that Jeff Smith would make a good leader of the DPW? I think he would. However, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support Jeff’s campaign after he sent out that letter.
Do I agree with everything Martha Laning has said or done in her life? No. Do I agree with every single political position Martha Laning has taken? No. Is Martha Laning the most electrifying person in all of politics? No. What I can say about her is that Martha Laning has promised a more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If she is elected chair, I will hold her accountable to that promise. Laning also has some interesting ideas, including helping candidates send out literature in foreign languages to Wisconsin voters who don’t speak English as their first language and providing more funding to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin.
Also, regarding the race for First Vice-Chairperson of the DPW, if Laning is elected chair, David Bowen, a Wisconsin State Representative representing a district containing Shorewood and part of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, would automatically become first vice-chair, because the chair and first vice-chair of the DPW are required to be of the opposite gender, and no male candidate is running against Bowen that I know of. Consider my endorsement of Laning as, by extension, an endorsement of Bowen. If one of the male candidates is elected chair, I would encourage DPW delegates to vote for Dottie LeClair. This is an extremely rare example of a dual endorsement from me; the only reason I’m issuing a dual endorsement is because of the way DPW conducts elections for chair and first vice-chair, as well as the fact that both male and female candidates are running for DPW chair and first vice-chair.