A few weeks ago, we broke the story that Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic had openly endorsed a delinquent named Lamar (Penny) Amos Sikora for an open seat on the Milwaukee County Board. Radio host Charlie Sykes and watchdog reporter Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) both shared different takes on the same story.
In sum, our report provided a 10-year snapshot of Sikora's offenses that include two charges of misdemeanor battery, merchandise theft from Office Depot, unemployment fraud, three restraining orders, a disorderly conduct, and a couple of small claims judgments. In an email, we asked Supervisor Dimitrijevic for an explanation of her endorsement. We instead received a protestation about our unfair coverage. Dimitrijevic did, however, express to Bice that Penny Sikora is the best candidate for the job despite his rather lengthy rap sheet of misdeeds. For a deeper analysis than that, you may have to be in Marina's innermost circle.
Sikora told watchdog reporter Dan Bice that they [he and his ex-wife] had used the courts as a marriage counselor. He was forthcoming about his past, but told Bice that his current predicament, in part, was a byproduct of being young and broke.
According to criminal records, Sikora earned a disorderly conduct in 2002 when he had slapped a relative and broke his cell phone. The case was dismissed through a deferred prosecution meaning that Sikora had to plea bargain himself into an anger management course to avoid a conviction. In the same year, Sikora stole merchandise from Office Depot, a misstep that earned him six months of probation and 30 days of community service.
In 2003, Sikora's wife told law enforcement authorities that he had punched her in the throat and ripped the phone out of the wall as she tried to call the police. And in 2005, Sikora was charged with misdemeanor battery for throwing his wife into the couch and allegedly punching her in the face despite the restraining order already in effect at the time of the incident.
And as late as 2009, Sikora's wife alleged Sikora took their 4 year old daughter from the house without permission. When she tried to stop him, Sikora pushed her into the car and broke her cell phone resulting in yet another restraining order which is still in effect today.
Sikora's rather vivid criminal history makes Dimitrijevic's endorsement intriguing for a number of reasons. For starters, it gives us a sneak peak into her political paradigm. Dimitrijevic's endorsement indicates that left-of-center candidates are qualified for office despite a history of crime. If this is true, then it can be argued that Dimitrijevic cares more about expanding progressivism than she does about promoting candidates best suited for managing the fiscal affairs of the county.
Second, Dimitrijevic's endorsement was a political misstep that will likely insulate her opponent from future attacks. Can Dimitrijevic really throw stones when she endorsed a candidate mired in delinquency?
And finally, Dimitrijevic's endorsement may call into question her allegiance to feminism. According to Marina's colleagues, she talks a big game about female advancement. But is it just talk?
On Monday, State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa passed over Penny Sikora and endorsed Tracey Corder for the 18th County District. What makes Zamarripa's endorsement even more interesting is that while Penny Sikora was allegedly manhandling his wife, Tracey Corder was working with battered women as a social worker. You really can't make this stuff up.
According to Zamarripa's endorsement, Corder "spends her time advocating for youth and their families though the juvenile justice system, aiding veterans and the homeless, and working with battered women." It makes you sort of wonder who the real feminist is, Dimitrijevic or Corder?
When Julio Guerrero - the Chair of the Latino Caucus of the Democrat Party of Wisconsin - had linked to my article about Sikora on his Facebook page, Dimitrijevic took exception to it. She posted on Guerrero's page, "Thank you for re-posting a blog from the conservatives. Thank you for supporting a young, progressive representative of the Latino community for leadership. Oh wait . . . "
According to Dimitrijevic, Guerrero should agree with her endorsement because Marina is a proud progressive representative of the Latino community.
The irony, however, is that this so-called "representative of the Latino community" tried to cut out more voting-age Latinos from her district not more than six months ago. Supervisor Dimitrijevic voted for a plan that would reduce the voting age Latino population in her district from 51% to 43%. This would have kept the Hispanic community from securing a second majority district for 10 more years.
When El Conquistador asked Supervisor Dimitrijevic why she had supported the county plan, she explained that the Latinos are more integrated in Milwaukee County than the black community. In other words, because Latinos are scattered about in the county, 43% was the best Dimitrijevic could do.
To Dimitrijevic's surprise, however, Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo had introduced a plan that would beef up the voting age Latino population of Dimitrijevic's district to 57%, which is 14% higher than the plan Dimitrijevic had originally supported. Sanfelippo's plan proved it could be done and that Dimitrijevic was wrong.
After Dimitrijevic experienced mounting pressure to change her vote, she added an eleventh-hour amendment that would put the voting age Latino population of her district to 50.6%. And although this is much higher than the 43% she had originally endorsed, her amendment still reduced the overall voting age population of Latinos in her district from 51.8% to 50.6%. Dimitrijevic offered no explanation why she cut more Latinos out of her district.
Dimitrijevic has no scruples endorsing a candidate mired in delinquent candidate, but why? At some point, voters will have to decide whether a long and continual pattern of criminality is enough to tank a political campaign. The public should also consider the character, judgment, and motive of a politician willing to endorse someone so derelict in past behavior that it makes good citizenship a lost art in public office.