Kenosha County Eye Editor, Kevin Mathewson, won a recent lawsuit against UW-Parkside, its Chancellor, Debbie Ford, and its Executive Director of University Relations, Tannette Elie Friday afternoon. The lawsuit was filed becuase the University, under Ford’s direction, withheld documents from Kenosha County Eye that it didn’t legally have the authority to do. Parkside refused to provide KCE with the job application and salary of a violent felon Ford hired named Sharmain Harris. The Wisconsin Department of Justice, who was representing UW-Parkside in the suit, agreed to immediately release the records, pay Mathewson’s legal fees, and pay Mathewson statutory damages. In turn Mathewson agreed to formally dismiss the lawsuit.
“While I take no joy in cashing a check from the taxpayers due to politicians like Ford breaking the law, suing is sometimes my only avenue to get access to pubic records,” said Mathewson of the settlement. “I’m happy that the Assistant Attorney General who defended Parkside was reasonable and didn’t waste more money fighting a losing scenario that the University put her in the middle of.” Mathewson has won lawsuits or formal appeals to public records denials now nine times and one more is close to being decided. He successfully sued DA Michael Graveley (D) twice.
What We Learned
Sharmain Harris is a local career-criminal, with many violent felony charges and other violent convictions. He made friends somehow with Kenosha’s District Attorney Michael Graveley (D) while he was in prison. Because of this, Graveley is lobbying Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to pardon Harris and his father who recently was charged with repeated sexual assault of a child. Harris had his hearing recently and says he is expecting the governor to pardon him. Harris posted on Facebook that DA Graveley, who is also a professor at Parkside, got him a job as a professor of criminal justice at UW Parkside. “I walked in thinking I was about to interview… But in reality… it was orientation,” said Harris about his new job. But Harris didn’t meet any of the requirements of the position. For example, the job required “Minimum of a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice or related field.” According to his resume, his degree is in “Business Design/Innovation.” This is certainly not a related field. The job also requires “Knowledge of best practices in Criminal Justice and expertise in the content area of one or more available courses.” Unless they count Harris’ years behind bars, he doesn’t meet this qualification.
Perhaps the most shocking thing we learned about Harris and Parkside – he wasn’t even required to fill out a job application. This means that UW-Parkside has a violent multiple felon as a professor of “Introduction to Criminal Justice” that didn’t submit a job application or conduct a job interview. The recommendation of Mike Graveley was good enough for the ultra-liberal Chancellor, Debbie Ford. Harris experienced his “Introduction to Criminal Justice” as a juvenile when he was arrested, charged, and convicted of burglary. Harris makes $3,009 per semester. The Wisconsin Board of Regents was aware of our lawsuit and didn’t offer any comment. So the question that most law abiding citizens might be asking: From the Kenosha County DA, to the Governor-appointed Board of Regents, to the Governor himself – why is the democratic machine trying to make a hero out of a dangerous and violent man?