Local so-called “news agency” advocates overnight street racing on Taylor Drive to generate revenue for Sheboygan
While Taylor Drive in Sheboygan is seeing significantly more traffic due to road closures in Kohler, a self-described “journalist/news agency” based in Sheboygan (using a Kohler P.O. Box as the business address), is advocating overnight street racing on Taylor Drive with “viewing stages” suggested at ACUITY, Applebees, Lutheran High School and Aldi.
MySheboygan.com, which is operated by Asher Heimermann of Sheboygan, posted a poll on the MySheboygan Facebook page (facebook.com/MySheboygan) yesterday asking the question, “Should overnight street racing be made legal on Taylor Drive in Sheboygan as a way to bring additional revenue to the City?” The poll received more than 1,900 votes with nearly half (41 percent) voting yes.
Many followers of MySheboygan.com believe the business is a legitimate professional local news agency (it’s even listed in the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce member listing under media and newspapers).
While most who commented on the street racing Facebook post were dumbfounded by the poll, other comments indicate that some residents appear to be taking his poll seriously as a legitimate proposal by the City of Sheboygan. When one comment suggested the airport as an alternative location, due to the use of Taylor Drive overnight for third shift workers and patrons leaving bars, MySheboygan continued to advocate Taylor Drive as “the best road for street racing” insisting it would drive millions in revenue to the city. Nowhere did MySheboygan indicate where the idea came from, or whether it was a joke, even after followers questioned him about it.
One MySheboygan follower, who supported the idea, said overnight street racing is already happening, just not under safe and supervised conditions. Another follower suggested Union Avenue near the future new Aurora hospital to be built on property owned by Kohler Co. as a street racing alternative, after which MySheboygan advised that the road was “too short.”
This is just one on a long list of deceptive antics by MySheboygan that has caused grief for law enforcement officials and private citizens alike. Last February, the Sheboygan Police Department posted a notice on their website and Facebook page criticizing MySheboygan for perpetuating a false rumor about a potential school shooting at Sheboygan South High that led to numerous students staying home from school the following day. The SPD’s post warned individuals and businesses “to carefully consider how they are supporting and encouraging” the activities by MySheboygan.com. See sheboyganpolice.com/setting-the-record-straight-south-high-threats/.
MySheboygan recently reported on a tactical situation in Kohler involving a suicidal Sheboygan man with a gun near Riverside Drive. His “breaking” headline and story had the incident as being “near Blackwolf Run,” even though employees and patrons at the golf course were never in danger. MySheboygan also ran a click bait type headline last December, misleading readers to believe The American Club was shutting its doors for good.
In spite of the warning from police about “encouraging” MySheboygan.com, as well as reports by media locally and around the state, some Sheboygan political candidates running for City Council continued to encourage MySheboygan by granting video interviews and purchasing banner ads, even as private citizens raised verbal complaints, threatened boycotts, and continued to be victimized by some of MySheboygan’s unethical actions, which include using his “news site” to taunt and intimidate critics and victims of tragedies. Posting critical comments on MySheboygan or Incident Response is futile, as they are deleted and the person is blocked.
Heimermann also operates the Incident Response websites and social media accounts, where he uses a logo that is similar to police badges, and is currently offering gifts to citizens for news tips and reports on the location of any police presence. His news tip phone number is almost identical to the non-emergency number for the Sheboygan Police Department, save for one digit that is different. Some fear private citizens will have their identity or privacy compromised, if they mistakenly report a crime to Incident Response that was intended for the Sheboygan Police, because of one misdialed phone number. Incident Reponse also offers an email address for their tip line, that looks deceptively similar to City of Sheboygan email addresses that are also used by Sheboygan police. While Crimestoppers offers rewards for tips, they guarantee anonymity and they partner with eight local law enforcement agencies.
Many have asked why police can’t do anything about this person posing as a media agency or imitating law enforcement as a means to mislead the public. (He even claimed for a short time on his personal Facebook page to be working for The Kohler Villager). The police can’t take action against this behavior because there are no actual laws against starting a website that shares news and calling oneself a “news agency” or “journalist,” and police impersonation laws require that the perpetrator commit very specific and damaging police-type actions in order for police to be able to arrest them; such as pulling people over, handcuffing someone, or telling someone they are under arrest, etc. Some deceptive actions may fall under tort law, meaning individuals affected by these actions to the point of suffering damages could file a lawsuit, but police can’t arrest them unless their actions violate the specific laws that are on the books, or fall within disorderly conduct laws, and even then the district attorney must deem the violation as not prosecutable.
In the end, it’s up to the media to hold those claiming to represent the industry accountable by reporting on their unethical practices that mislead or cause grief to the public — even if they don’t break the law — and it’s also up to individuals and businesses to use discernment when supporting websites or social media accounts with their views, shares, follows or advertising dollars.