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Blue Jean Nation 'Treasure in sport, rarity in politics' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Monday, 17 April 2017 10:57

dick-bennettWisconsin's remarkable success in Basketball is based upon Dick Bennett's five pillars: Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Qualities in short supply elsewhere in the Capitol these days.


ALTOONA, WI - Any idea which college has won the most NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament games in the past four years?

If you’re guessing North Carolina, guess again. If you think it’s Duke, you’re thinking wrong. Kentucky? Incorrect. Kansas? Wrong again. Villanova? Louisville? UCLA? Gonzaga? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The answer is the University of Wisconsin, with 13 tourney wins and four trips to the regional semifinals known as the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four appearances and one run all the way to the national championship game.

The Badgers have made it to the national tournament the last 19 years straight. That streak started under coach Dick Bennett. The program’s remarkable success is built on a foundation of Bennett’s five pillars: HumilityPassionUnityServanthoodThankfulness. In fact, those five words to live by are literally cemented in the foundation of the arena the Badgers call home.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 April 2017 11:29
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Take a Stand Against Islamophobia After Brutal Milwaukee Attack PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
Saturday, 15 April 2017 15:32

woman-hijabA man demanded she remove her hijab and beat her. We must stand up against the misguided hate and violence being fueled by a loud but small minority.


MADISON – Senator Chris Larson and Representative Jonathan Brostoff issued the following statement after a violent attack of a Milwaukee woman.

chris_larson“Our thoughts are with our neighbor as she recovers from a hateful, brutal attack. Hate crimes have been on the rise over the past year and, with each one, so has the response from the community to rise up and condemn it for what it is: a cowardly act from fringe individuals who pervert our American values.

“We must continue to stand up against the misguided hate and violence being fueled by a loud but small minority. Keeping America on the path of inclusion and opportunity depends on us standing up against hate each time it seeks to divert and diminish us.

Jonathan Brostoff“Beyond the hateful rhetoric spewed by the Republican president and his followers, real families are in imminent danger. This is not the America we strive for and it is not the history the majority of us want to be written.

“In January, we introduced the Resist Hate Joint Resolution. Over a hundred community members showed up at the press conference unveiling the legislative resolution to show solidarity with our Muslim neighbors. Hundreds more signed the Resist Hate petition. To date, Senate Republicans have failed to schedule this joint resolution (SJR 9/AJR 9) for a vote.

“We can wait no longer. We must, as a state, send a message that hate and violence will not be tolerated.”

****

The Resist Hate Joint Resolution has the support of ISM Milwaukee, Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition Voces de la Frontera, Milwaukee Turners, Inc., the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Interfaith Conference of Prayer Milwaukee.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 April 2017 15:59
 
Voters Deserve Say On Voucher Spending PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley Press, State Senator Dist 25   
Saturday, 15 April 2017 10:09

kids-milwBill proposes same oversight voters have over public school revenue.


MADISON - The recent spring ballot gave Wisconsin voters sixty-five opportunities to cast votes on public school funding requests ranging from new facilities to basic operations. In Northern Wisconsin communities voters were able to approve an increase for classroom education and deferred maintenance in one district and decide against spending on a new facility in another.

Unfortunately -- when it comes to state-mandated spending on voucher schools -- voters didn’t have the same chance. State law mandates payouts to the statewide voucher program, which are significantly higher than the average state aid per student to public schools. And a change in the 2015 GOP state budget takes that higher payment directly out of public schools, leaving property taxpayers to make up the difference if it’s made up at all.

That’s why I worked with three of my colleagues to draft a bill that will give school district voters the same oversight of voucher spending that they currently have over public school revenue limits. Our legislation is simple and straightforward: No funds can be taken from a school district to pay voucher schools unless voters in that district approve in a referendum.

This legislation would not end taxpayer-funded voucher schools. It would simply give voucher school operators and their lobbyists the responsibility to make the case for the quality and value of their schools directly to the hard-working taxpayers and local voters who pay for them under current law.

janet-bewleyWisconsin’s public schools have long been national leaders and are the cornerstones of our communities, especially in rural and northern Wisconsin. These public schools have gone to referendum 334 times for operating costs and another 324 times for debt or new facilities since 2011. Even including modest increases the Governor proposed in his budget, state aid that supports public schools and reduces property taxes will not even keep pace with inflation over that period.

At the same time, and with no taxpayer oversight or control, spending on voucher programs in Wisconsin has more than doubled since the first Republican budget in 2011. Untold amounts are funneled from taxpayer-financed voucher schools to organizations that pay lobbyists to demand ever more from taxpayers. And local property taxpayers lose more to the voucher program than state aid would have brought in.

Voucher lobbyists themselves said recently that property taxpayers make up the difference, and then some, between state aid to public schools and state payments to voucher schools that are $1000-$1700 higher per student in the Governor’s budget. (Imagine how much lower your property taxes could be if the state’s commitment to public school students matched the amount my Republican colleagues pay out per student to voucher schools.)

It’s time for taxpayers to have a say in whether they want their dollars taken out of the schools that have served generations of Wisconsinites very well to fund the voucher industry. As long as voucher schools are being paid for by local taxpayers and districts are forced to face the voters to keep the lights on, local voters should have the same say on voucher spending they have on public schools.

And as long as voucher schools are being paid for by state tax dollars at all, students in public schools should be treated at least as well by their state government. It’s time for the state to step up to the plate the way voters have 441 times for our public schools since 2011. It’s time for the state to stop returning fewer of your state tax dollars per student to your public schools than we pay voucher schools.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 10:19
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign 'Koch Brothers Strike Again!' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 14 April 2017 10:33

koch-brothersKoch Brothers want to wipe out Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law, GOP making it harder to demand a recount in Wisconsin, and more...


MADISON - The Koch Brothers continue their assault on good government and decent wages in Wisconsin.

This time, they’re going after what’s left of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law:

Koch brothers behind the GOP bill to wipe out prevailing wage

They’re using not one, not two, but three of their funded groups – including a phony veterans’ group! – to try to hoodwink the people of Wisconsin into letting their legislators gut the wages of construction workers on state contracts.

With seemingly nothing better to do, some GOP legislators are also trying to make it harder for candidates to demand a recount in Wisconsin, as we explain here:

Why the “We Hate Jill Stein” bill is bad

I’m off to give a talk tonight at the Jefferson Public Library to a new group called “Indivisible Jefferson County.”

As I travel around the state, I’m constantly reminded of the great organizing that’s going on everywhere.

This bolsters my spirits – and yours too, I hope.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
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P.S. If you appreciate our work, please send us a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here or by making your check and mailing to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at the address below. We really appreciate it!

 
WI Democracy Campaign "Good News, Bad News" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 07 April 2017 14:15

money-behind-politics8 Wisconsin referendums show voters oppose Citizens United, Walker crushes Iowa workers, insurance company gave $44K to Walker, and more...


MADISON - First, the good news: The popular grassroots movement in Wisconsin to overturn Citizens United keeps on chalking up the victories:

Eight Wisconsin referendums all pass opposing corporate personhood

Now, the bad news: Scott Walker has been advising Republicans in Iowa about how to go after working people, with disastrous results:

Iowa takes Walker’s advice, crushes workers

We’re starting to take a closer look at where Walker is giving talks around Wisconsin. For instance, earlier this week, he talked about health care at Gundersen Lutheran, and here’s what we found:

Gundersen Lutheran bigwigs gave $44K to Walker

We also noted that an insurance company, United HealthCare, that is being sued for fraud by the U.S. government has also been pouring money into Wisconsin political races:

Accused insurer contributed nearly $42k to Wisconsin candidates

And when we saw that the Wisconsin legislature was meddling again in the affairs of Dane County, we registered our objections: 

WDC opposes Assembly Bill 109 on Dane County zoning

I hope you enjoy these offerings—and the nice weather this weekend, finally!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
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P.S. Please send us a tax-deductible donation so we can continue our urgent work. Just click here or send your check, payable to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, to us at WDC, 203 S. Paterson St., Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703.

 
Blue Jean Nation "Spreading it thick" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 07 April 2017 09:46

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

— Mike McCabe

***

Learn more about the author at www.bluejeannation.com

Last Updated on Friday, 07 April 2017 10:05
 
Rep. Barca - 'Opioid Treatment Bills Don’t Go Far Enough' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:06

drugaddicts-youngAssembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca speaks out on the bills debated Tuesday aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic.


MADISON - I applaud the bipartisan effort that led to the acknowledgment of this serious epidemic, but these bills could have a much greater impact to positively affect so many lives. In order to help Wisconsinites struggling with opioid addiction, we need to increase funding for treatment programs and expand BadgerCare.

peter_barcaInstead of working with Assembly Democrats, Republicans tried to shut down the debate. It’s time to put people over politics. We need to follow the example of 31 other states and accept the BadgerCare expansion. We need a more complete and aggressive approach to this devastating epidemic.

Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, is the most significant source of coverage and funding for critical substance abuse and prevention treatment. In the 31 states that have chosen to expand Medicaid, 1.2 million individuals with substance abuse disorders have gained access to coverage. By failing to expand BadgerCare, Wisconsin taxpayers are losing out on access to opioid treatment and resources paid for with federal money.

By June 30, 2019, Wisconsin taxpayers will have lost more than $1 billion. We need to follow the example of every one of our neighboring states— Republican and Democrat—and expand Medicaid. Just this past week, we saw the legislature of Kansas vote on a bipartisan basis to accept the federal Medicaid fund—we’d like Wisconsin Republicans to do the same.

****

Olivia Hwang contributed this story. Rep. Barca spoke about legislation aimed at the opioid epidemic on Facebook Live; the video is available here: https://www.facebook.com/RepPeterBarca/videos/1514005181956851/.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 April 2017 11:25
 
'Don’t Grant “Forever” Access to Wisconsin Groundwater' - Sen. Larson PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Tuesday, 04 April 2017 16:35

ruralSen. Chris Larson responds to SB 76 relating to the replacement, reconstruction, and transfer of high capacity wells in Wisconsin and the decision by Senate Democrats to reject a third reading on the bill.


MADISON – The GOP is jamming through a bill that creates an oasis for the wealthy, and a desert for the rest of us. SB 76 creates high-capacity well permits with no consideration of future negative impacts. It will result in environmental damage, such as lakes, streams, and rivers running dry due to over pumping. It will let corporate factory farms suck dry the livelihood of neighboring family farmers, destroying our Wisconsin tradition of fairness and opportunity while decimating a key part of Wisconsin’s identity.

chris-larsonTechnology, along with modern pumps, allow bad actors to steal the water right from under our neighbor's feet. Looking at cumulative impacts is not only smart conservation science but protects the Wisconsin tradition of being a good neighbor. Unfortunately, SB 74 ignores the science, threatening the quality and supply of our water in Wisconsin. Over- pumping is already draining our groundwater faster than it can safely be recharged. The state has a critical role in protecting our water future; this bill utterly fails to do so.

For the past six years, corporate interests have bought better laws for themselves at our expense. Over and over they have tilted the playing field and even changed the rules to win their political games. This bill is too dangerous to rush through. My Democratic colleagues and I stood up for our neighbors by using a procedural move to delay a vote on its passage. Considering that passing SB 76 will haunt our rural communities for generations to come. I hope my Republican colleagues will use this time to weigh the serious ramifications their actions will have on our communities.

This proposal attacks a founding principle outlined in Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine, that our state waters are shared by all, and owned by no one. Should Republicans decide move forward with this bill and turn their backs on our heritage, this bill will be found unconstitutional and create wild uncertainty for responsible businesses.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 April 2017 15:17
 
Blue Jean Nation "Dismal is as dismal does" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Saturday, 01 April 2017 14:50

politically-homelessPeople are starving for elections that are more empowering, but today's politicians and the journalists who report on them do not live up.


ALTOONA, WI - Read any run-of-the-mill news story about an upcoming election and you get a good idea why so many people find media coverage of politics unbearably exasperating. You also can see why fewer and fewer people see any reason to read what the reporters write and yet another reason why the companies employing them are slowly but surely going out of business.

The story treats the election like a horse race. It handicaps the race. It tells readers who is likely to win the election, but gives readers no useful information that would help them decide for themselves who should win the election.

The story quotes an “expert” or two — some campaign operative or other political industry insider — repeating for the umpteenth time the conventional wisdom that elections are all about money. They go on to say which candidates will have the most of it and are therefore worth paying attention to. Neither the reporters nor their sources seem to have learned a single thing from what just happened in the 2016 election. Their stock in trade is conventional wisdom, and they are sticking to it.

Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi followed the pack for the duration of the 2016 presidential race, watching how the candidates campaigned and how the media covered the circus. He came away amazed by how the whole process “was dysfunctional and that people were turned off by it. The people who did campaigning for a living, both politicians and the press, were wrapped up in their own little world.”

Maybe those wrapped up in that little world are right about money being the only thing that matters in elections. Maybe they’re wrong. I happen to believe they are wrong. But here’s one thing I know for sure: If they’re right and elections are all about money, then the people can’t win. Some politician with the most money will win, but you won’t. Your own elected representatives will have no choice but to ignore your wishes because they will be busy catering to the wishes of their biggest donors.

Elections should be about what kind of society we want to live in and how we could create such a place together. Instead, we’re told by manipulative politicians that somebody living somewhere else is to blame for all our problems. We’re told somebody somewhere is getting something we’re not. We’re put at each other’s throats. And we’re told by cynical journalists that those politicians are all we’ve got to choose from because the odds are hopelessly stacked against any alternative no matter how inspiring that alternative might be.

To hell with that. People are starving for elections that are more empowering and for election coverage that is more nourishing. Satisfying these cravings will require a new politics. And a new journalism.

****

Find out more about the author and Blue Jean Nation at www.bluejeannation.com

 
“From Healthcare to Climate to Constitutional Crisis” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Matt Brusky   
Friday, 31 March 2017 10:31

climate_crisisWe discuss the demise of RyanCare, Trump’s dangerous executive order on climate change, LWV & the conservative campaign to call a Constitutional Convention, GOTV for Spring elections on Tuesday, April 4th, and more...


STATEWIDE - We conduct an autopsy of RyanCare while looking ahead to emerging threats and opportunities in the battle for the future of health care in America. The panel speculates on the future of Paul Ryan in the aftermath of his healthcare debacle.

We discuss Trump’s dangerous executive order reneging on our international obligations to fight climate change.

We welcome the executive director of Wisconsin League of Women Voters, Andrea Kaminski, to unpack the conservative campaign to call a Constitutional Convention.

We encourage listeners to participate in the upcoming public hearings on the state budget that start on Monday (see list of JFC public hearings below). This is GOTV (Get Out The Vote) weekend for Spring elections on Tuesday, April 4th. Citizen Action reminds you to vote for Tony Evers on Tuesday and get out and volunteer this weekend.

We close the podcast celebrating the arrival of an election opponent for controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke in 2018.

LISTEN NOW - EPISODE #287
MP3 Download
Citizen Action Press Clips

Citizen Action of Wisconsin · 221 S 2nd St, suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53204, United States

You can also keep up with Citizen Action of Wisconsin on Twitter or Facebook.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 April 2017 14:46
 
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