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Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive. Before moving to Green Bay in 2008, he was the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Milwaukee County. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, he spent 18 years in Madison, where he was an Executive Personnel Officer and the Technology Manager for the State Department of Employment Relations. He is a former Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, Director of the Human Resources Management Association of S.E. Wisconsin (now SHRM), and Technology Chair for the City of Franklin, Wisconsin. Bob is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1965-1971).

Court Decision Calls For Special Election in NE WI Senate District

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Friday, 23 March 2018
in Wisconsin

kewaunee-harbor-familyJudge in Madison orders Governor to hold special elections to fill seats vacated in December. Sen. Dave Hansen and fellow Democrats had pushed for the elections.


GREEN BAY - For months, Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay has been calling on the Governor to hold special elections to fill seats vacated in December by Republicans Frank Lasee of De Pere in the 1st Senate District and Rep. Keith Ripp, of Lodi. On Thursday, Hansen and fellow Democrats who have pushed for the elections saw their efforts rewarded.

A judge in Madison Thursday ordered Gov. Scott Walker to call special elections to fill both of legislative seats.

Both Lasee and Ripp had resigned to take jobs in Gov. Walker’s administration. The Senate seat, which covers the Door County peninsula northeast of Green Bay, had been under Republican control for nearly 40 years.

eric-holderA national Democratic group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder filed the lawsuit on behalf of voters who argued they were disenfranchised by Walker’s decision not to call elections to fill the vacancies.

dave-hansen“The decision by Judge Reynolds that Governor Walker should immediately call special elections in the 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District is a victory for anyone who still believe in democracy and that the people deserve to have their concerns represented in the Legislature," said Hansen in a statement released Thursday. “Unfortunately, for the parents of the approximately 26,000 students that go to school in the 1st Senate District, Governor Walker and Senate Republicans successfully denied them their voice in the school safety debate on Tuesday."

“It is clear, now more than ever, that in the case of Governor Walker and the Republican politicians in Madison absolute power corrupts absolutely as they chose to put their own political interests ahead of the concerns of the people in the 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly district," Hansen concluded. “Fortunately, Judge Reynolds, appointed by Governor Walker himself no less, cried foul and ordered that special elections be held.”

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Eric Genrich to Run for Green Bay Mayor

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 13 March 2018
in Wisconsin

eric-genrich-wbay-announcAnnounces he will not seek a fourth term in the State Assembly to promote the future development of Green Bay and restore civility at City Hall.


GREEN BAY - Local progressive leader and current State Representative Eric Genrich (D - Green Bay) announced in a statement released Monday that he will run to replace Jim Schmitt as City of Green Bay Mayor.

Schmitt announced last fall that he would not seek re-election. He has been mayor since 2003 and has sought to improve and modernize Wisconsin's third largest city, most notably downtown. He has come under fire recently by several aldermen, including Guy Zima, and has said he would consider re-entering the race if he wasn't happy with the candidates.

eric-genrich-family"These last few months I have spent a lot of time talking with family, friends, and community members about the prospect of my run for mayor," Eric said in his statement. "As a result of those encouraging conversations, and because of my continued commitment to public service and my love for this city, I am announcing my candidacy today."

Genrich has served the people of the Green Bay area in the State Assembly for the last six years, having won three straight elections in District 90. He announced Monday that he is stepping down for that post in Madison to come home to take on the challenge here.

"I am simultaneously announcing my decision not to seek reelection to the state Assembly. I make that decision with mixed emotions, recognizing how much work remains to be done," Genrich said. "But I also never intended to make a lifelong career of legislative service. At the end of my term, I will have served the people of Green Bay for six years in the legislature, which has been the honor of my professional life. I am proud of my record of advocacy and bipartisan accomplishment, and I plan to carry forward with that spirit into the future."

Genrich is the first announced candidate to replace Schmitt, but several current aldermen have been rumored to be interested in a run. Prospective candidates for the District 90 seat are also beginning to surface, including Brown County Supervisor Patrick Buckley. Buckley is a retired Green Bay police officer and businessman who franchises Subway restaurants in northeastern Wisconsin.

Schmitt's current term will end in 2019, and Genrich is taking on a year long challenge to replace him.

"As I begin this campaign, I want to make it clear that this race will not be about one person or a collection of candidates," Eric says in his statement. "Instead this effort must be about the people of Green Bay - people in every corner of the city and from all walks of life. During these next twelve months, I will talk to my fellow citizens in every neighborhood, listen to the hopes and dreams they have for our community, and give voice to those ideas as best I can."

"I am a proud son of Green Bay who deeply loves our community’s story," Genrich concludes. "I’m ready to help write the next chapter, and I ask my fellow citizens to join me."

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Green Bay Sen. Dave Hansen Responds to Republican Criticism of Foxconn Statement

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Friday, 28 July 2017
in Wisconsin

foxconn-wisconsin-plantState Republican cheerleaders for $3 billion payoff to Foxconn for new plant call Hansen's caution “beyond appalling” and “insane.” Anyone concerned about Wisconsin taxpayers should be urging caution says Hansen.


GREEN BAY - Yesterday, on these pages, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said that Wisconsin should be extremely cautious in any use of taxpayer dollars to lure Foxxconn to the state citing concerns that new technologies could eliminate any promised jobs.

Hansen was referring, of course, to the much ballyhooed announcement in Washington that Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, maker of the LCD displays on iPhones among other things, planned to build a factory in southeastern Wisconsin creating something like 3,000 to 13,000 jobs. On top of that, the average pay for jobs would be around $54,000 a year.

Republicans from President Donald Trump to Governor Scott Walker were quick to claim it as one of the greatest deals of the century and one that would put "rust belt" Wisconsin back on the manufacturing map. Walker especially wanted the glory of landing a big one to justify his rather lackluster record on job creation. He has still not reached, well into his second term, his campaign promise to create 250,000 new jobs by the end of his first.

Industry observers were more skeptical of the Taiwanese company, highlighting Foxconn's poor record on worker rights, its goal of replacing workers with robots, and a history of grand promises that don't always play out.

Another bump in the road was that Foxconn wants a massive $3 billion in state tax breaks to build it's new plant here. The Washington Post was quick to report that the "Foxconn deal to build massive factory in Wisconsin could cost the state $230,700 per worker".

In this environment, any "legislator thinking of supporting what could be a $3 billion incentive package should be very wary,” said Hansen. “To do otherwise would be a serious case of legislative malpractice."

Simple good sense in stewardship of our tax dollars one would think. But not so for four Republican lawmakers from northeast Wisconsin who called Hansen’s concerns that Foxconn could replace jobs at the plant with robots after taking the money “beyond appalling” and “insane.”

david-steffenAs reported by the Post, “One need look no further than the shipyards and foundries in Marinette or the paper manufacturers scattered throughout the area to see that our area’s economy thrives on manufacturing,” said state Rep. John Nygren, co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee. Rep. David Steffen, of Green Bay, said there will be countless economic benefits across the state. “To think that someone would actively cheer against this type of economic growth is insane,” Steffen said.

dave-hansenSenator Hansen had this response late today on the comments by the Republican Foxconn deal cheerleaders:

“As someone who worked successfully with Senator Herb Kohl and Governor Doyle to bring over a 1,000 new jobs to Marinette Marine, efforts to paint me as anything but supportive of manufacturing and new jobs are disingenuous at best and a deliberate distortion of my comments at worst.

“Nowhere in my statement did I say I am opposed to what could be a great opportunity for our state. But pardon my skepticism when the comments made in regard to my call for caution are from the very people who still have not been able to produce a budget and who created WEDC with its long history of failing to hold companies that receive state tax dollars accountable when they fail to create jobs.

“Anyone concerned about Wisconsin taxpayers should be urging caution when it comes to offering a foreign corporation $3 billion of our precious state tax dollars. Especially when it involves a corporation which recently replaced 60,000 low-paid workers with lower cost technology and has stated that its goal is to automate its manufacturing facilities to the fullest extent possible.”

Wisconsin has been burned before by Walker's blind faith in big business and trickle down economics. Hansen's cautions should be taken seriously.

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Gallagher Misses Out on Green Bay Town Hall

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Wednesday, 31 May 2017
in Wisconsin

mike-gallagherConstituents show up to talk about health care and other issues with the person elected to represent them. He didn't show up to listen.


GREEN BAY - About a hundred constituents showed up last night at the Brown County Central Library last night to share their concerns with their new Congressman Mike Gallagher. He didn't show up to listen.

Granted, the "Town Hall" listening session had been organized by local liberal and Democratic advocacy groups, but did that make them any less his constituents? Gallagher had been elected last fall to represent the 8th Congressional District and all the people who live in it.

I had the "good fortune" to be on a stage in 2009 with then Congressman Steve Kagen as he fielded questions from Tea Party advocates about the bill that would become ObamaCare. It was not very pleasant. But he hung in there, and answered every question as best he could. He was elected to represent them too.

Many Republican elected officials today seem to prefer hiding out from their constituents, "speaking" only to them on FaceBook, on telephone conference calls, or at pre-arranged campaign stops at friendly venues. They screen all questions, and answer only those they select. They certainly don't dare to meet all the people they represent face to face.

According to news reports, health care coverage and the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, was the topic most wanted to discuss. Gallagher had supported the bill during a House vote earlier this month. A line of area residents presented their personal concerns, told stories about children with pre-existing conditions, told their fears about losing their health care, and fears about rising costs. An empty chair sat on the stage where their "representative" was supposed to listen.

Some critics called it political theatre. But that's the easy political cop out. So was Gallagher's "out of town on business" excuse. If people cannot talk to their representatives, who do they represent?

It appears many in Washington today, and not just Republicans, represent only the industries and businesses who pay their bills. Gallagher is just joining the long line.

That's not what our "representative form of government" was supposed to be about.

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Wisconsinites Draft Mike McCabe for Governor

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Thursday, 04 May 2017
in Wisconsin

mike-mccabePeople from all walks of life call on Blue Jean Nation's Mike McCabe, a non-partisan author and true independent, to step into the political arena and run for Governor in 2018.


GREEN BAY - Looking for a new type of candidate to challenge Scott Walker for governor? That's what a grassroots group of 190 concerned citizens from all parts of Wisconsin and many different walks of life all say we need.

On Wednesday, the group delivered a letter to Blue Jean Nation founder and president Mike McCabe, of rural Altoona, who they believe would be the ideal Candidate for Governor in the 2018 election.

McCabe, 56, is the author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics and for 15 years was the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan watchdog group that specializes in tracking the money in state elections and works for reforms aimed at making people matter more than money in politics. He has been a frequent contributor and blogger on these pages.

These citizens are tired of the procession of traditional Republican and Democratic politicians who they say have seized the levers of government in Wisconsin and are now being manipulated by those interested primarily in self-enrichment and personal power.

"We need you to run because of who you are and where you are from," they say to McCabe in their letter. "Rural Wisconsin is in crisis, and the rural-urban divide is growing disturbingly wide. You are farm raised and have deep rural roots, so you have what so few of today’s politicians have, namely an understanding of rural life and the challenges small-town residents face and an ability to speak their language."

The citizens believe Mike is "a public servant in the truest sense" and are asking him to run because "Wisconsin politics has grown corrupt and there is no one in our state who has worked harder for a longer time and done more to fight political corruption than you."

Before joining the Democracy Campaign’s staff in 1999 and becoming its director in 2000, Mike worked for six years as communications director and legislative liaison for the Madison Metropolitan School District. He has run a statewide civic education program for the nonprofit Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. He also formerly worked as a newspaper reporter and as a legislative aide for three Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

In his early years, Mike served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African country of Mali. While at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Mike co-authored Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America’s Heartland for the Midwest Democracy Network and while at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance co-wrote The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government as well as a curriculum guide on state and local government for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

McCabe is a true independent and has shined light on the misdeeds of Republicans and Democrats alike. He has been speaking truth to power for decades as a nonpartisan government watchdog.

When contacted for comment by the Green Bay Progressive on Wednesday, Mike told us that he "is interested" in a possible run for Governor and may try to put together a "campaign after Labor Day" should interest continue to grow. As of now, no money has been raised for the campaign, but Mike hopes to follow the "small individual donor" model used by Bernie Sanders when and if the campaign begins.

****

A copy of the letter including a complete list of the signers is presented here.

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