Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Scrima supporter defends Wandsneider


(Note: Around the time a comment was posted below criticizing me, the Scrima for Mayor campaign pulled the picture down. We’re going to have a complete photo album of pictures the Scrima campaign has pulled down due to criticism before this election is over. It still doesn’t change that Wandsneider never should have posed for the picture in the first place. – JW 3/5/14 5:36 PM)

I received an email (posted below) from Kelsie Wendelberger, who is an ardent admirer and supporter of Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima. She asked in the email for me to remove the blog post concerning fellow Waukesha Freeman columnist Gregg Wandsneider. In short, I will not, but I will respond to the email.

In the blog post, I criticized Wandsneider for appearing in a photo with Mayor Jeff Scrima that would obviously be used to promote the mayor. I pointed out that in the eight years of writing a column for the Waukesha Freeman, I have never posed for a photo with someone running for local office. I realize the standards are different for guest columnists like Wandsneider and I than it is for actual staff for the newspaper, in theory. However, willingly appearing in a photo that would be used in a campaign crosses an ethical line.

Here is the photo in question:

Waukesha Freeman columnist Gregg WandSchneider poses with Mayor Jeff Scrima (left)

Waukesha Freeman columnist Gregg Wandsneider poses with Mayor Jeff Scrima (left)


It’s obviously a posed photo. Far from objecting to the photo being used, Wandsneider actually went to the Scrima for Mayor Facebook page and “liked” the photo.

Here is Wendelberger’s email:

Hi James!

Though we’ve never officially met, I do read your column and keep up with your blog/Twitter. (As do a lot of people, which I’m sure you know!:)

I just saw your post about Gregg. James, Gregg is very dear to my heart, and to so many people. I have no problem with freedom of speech or opinion, however Gregg in my cover photo probably does look bad since he is standing with Mayor Scrima. And this message is all politics aside, so please don’t take it from that perspective. Jeff, Gregg, and I are all Christians, and friends through faith. I go to Wheaton College, a Christian College in IL. Mayor Scrima attended Wheaton as well.

I’m on the crew (rowing) team here, and the captains approached me about having our spring season retreat in Waukesha because they looked up the city and it seemed like an awesome place. So of course I said yes. I asked Gregg, being a close friend, mentor, and flat out inspiration to me for so many years, to talk with the team and share his testimony of being a Christian and what he’s been through in his life with us. Since I work for park and rec, I had the team come out to Lowell Park to go sledding, so that’s why the location is at Lowell. It also provided Gregg a good, comfortable place to talk. (He’s honestly such an inspiration – really get to know him if you haven’t yet!)

Mayor Scrima is a Wheaton grad and also was on the swim team. The swim team and the crew team are big rivals, so I figured it would be fun for him to talk to us on his Wheaton experience, share some swimming – crew team rivalry stories, and so on. The team loved both of them, and felt they could really connect and learn from fellow Christians and see what life after Wheaton can all entail.

The Scrima for Mayor page is separate from my profile, James. I don’t think that displaying community involvement, people smiling, and snow falling is a political ploy by any means. If Gregg were standing there holding a Vote for Scrima sign, then yes, obviously there would be something innately wrong with that.

If you have any questions regarding this I am happy to answer them, but please just know that this is in no way some sort of political statement.

Do you think you could remove that post from your blog, for Gregg’s sake, since you now know all of the surrounding details?

Hope you enjoyed the debate this evening (kills me being in IL and not being able to go!) and are having a great start to your week.


~Kelsie Wendelberger

Wendelberger spends a lot of time explaining how they’re all-so-Christian which, last I checked, does not exempt someone from moral and ethical standards. Although I will concede that some so-called Christians feel differently.

I don’t care if they all secretly worship Satan. Local newspaper columnists, even the super-duper-always-positive kind, should never pose for a picture with someone running for office. The photo was not taken some time ago but just last weekend. The photo fits the “fun” theme of the mayor’s juvenile campaign. Wandsneider would have to be incredibly naive to believe the photo was not going to be used by the campaign. It would have been very easy for Wandsneider to excuse himself from the photo, just as it would be easy for him to ask Scrima’s campaign to pull it down instead of clicking the “like” button.

Wendelberger says her Facebook page is separate from the Scrima campaign page, although at times it’s hard to tell. (“Mayor Scrima should be mayor of the world.”) Okay, then her argument is not with me. It’s with whoever posted the picture on the mayor’s campaign site, and with Wandsneider for agreeing to appear in the photo.

Wandsneider’s a grown man. I think that, unlike the mayor, Wandsneider can take responsibility for his own actions. But I suspect he isn’t as concerned as Wendelberger, judging from another picture on his Facebook page:

Meanwhile some advice for young Kelsie. Don’t wrap your chewing gum in a cloth napkin at a nice restaurant. And if you want to be thought of as a Christian, don’t re-post emails calling me, “a bully and a hater.”

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