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Yesterday in La Crosse

How to choose a school board–a dilemma 50 years ago

Brad Williams



In early 1970, more than 3700 people in the La Crosse School District signed petitions for a referendum affecting how the city schools would get funding, whether they would be financially independent from City Hall.  The idea was to form a “unified school district.”  There was also a debate about whether members of the La Crosse school board should continue to be chosen at-large, or from districts, like the city council.  One council member opposed the at-large method, claiming that all the school board members would be chosen from just one part of town.  In April, the unified school district idea was overwhelmingly defeated.   

A vote in the U.S. Senate that same week was 51-to-45, rejecting President Nixon’s nomination of Florida Judge Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court.  He was the second Supreme Court nominee in a row to be defeated by the Senate.  Thirty-eight Democrats and 13 Republicans opposed Carswell.  Nixon claimed Democrats were biased against Southern nominees.  His next choice for the court was Harry Blackmun from Minnesota.  Blackmun was confirmed unanimously.   

The Oscars were handed out that week in April.  The show had no host that year.  The Best Picture award went to the X-rated “Midnight Cowboy.”  John Wayne, Maggie Smith, and Goldie Hawn took home acting awards, and Burt Bacharach got an Oscar for writing the best movie song, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”

A newspaper photo showed Wisconsin’s new Cherry Blossom Queen, Jamie Hendrickson.  Jamie would represent the Badger State in the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival.  In the picture, Jamie was being crowned by former Wisconsin Congressman Melvin Laird, who at the time, was the Secretary of Defense under Richard Nixon, 50 years ago.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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