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Citizen Groups Form Alliance To Fight Corruption And Rescue Democracy PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 15:46

capitol-domeMADISON - Three Wisconsin-based democracy reform groups – the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, Wisconsin United to Amend and Blue Jean Nation – announced the establishment of a partnership to maximize their collective impact.

“Separately, each of our groups possesses valuable assets and makes a difference,” said Mike McCabe, founder and president of Blue Jean Nation. “Together, our strength can be greater than the sum of its parts.”

All three groups share a mission of enabling Wisconsin citizens to work together to advance their ability to exercise the right to self-government against the corrupting influence of money in politics.

“There are many critical issues we face at this time in history,” said Jim Crist, from Wisconsin United To Amend, “but little can be done until we eliminate the institutionalized government corruption which is in our electoral process today. We look forward to working with Blue Jean Nation and Wisconsin Grassroots Network in this joint effort to build a stronger state network of community activists.”

McCabe, former director of the nonpartisan government watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, organized Blue Jean Nation last April to “house the politically homeless and transform parties that are failing America.” The group pursues its aims through community outreach, civic education and engagement, grassroots organizing, and public policy advocacy and social action.

Wisconsin United to Amend, formerly known as Wisconsin Move to Amend, is a nonpartisan state network working for a constitutional amendment that will overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions relating to corporations’ rights and money in politics, including Citizens United vs. FEC. The group has organized citizens’ groups in more than 60 communities throughout the state in support of referenda and resolutions that money is not speech, and that constitutional rights are reserved for natural persons, not corporations.

“United to Amend has done amazing work organizing communities, cultivating broad bipartisan support, and winning votes to rein in big money in politics by near-unanimous margins in community after community. We want to help find ways to keep those neighborhood activists engaged after their local vote is won. We want to knit them together with the activists in the other communities that have done the same thing,” McCabe said.

“Wisconsin Grassroots Network is ideally suited to help us make this happen,” he added, “since it has been acting as the connective tissue for a wide range of different organizations and causes, and specializes in pulling together diverse interests into multifaceted local grassroots groups.”

Wisconsin Grassroots Network facilitates and sustains the development and growth of community-based grassroots groups that are devoted to enhancing democracy, justice and equity for all. WGN provides communication platforms, training, issue education, resources, organizing examples and networking opportunities for urban and rural grassroots organizations, their leadership and members.

“Strategic alliances are key to this effort. We must stand united in our resolve to change our society’s course, community by community,” said Nate Timm of the Wisconsin Grassroots Network. “We are inspired to be working with United to Amend as they mobilize communities to say unequivocally that corporations are not people and money is not free speech and Blue Jean Nation as they educate communities on the divisive tactics of the two political parties when the real issue is the undemocratic concentration of wealth in a few people. We look forward to playing our role in our partnership as a resource for developing community centered grassroots groups.”

Through the new alliance, the three groups intend to provide mutual support, avoid duplication of effort, and accentuate the respective strengths of each group.

Republicans’ Brazen Attack on Open Government Continues PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Assembly Democrats, Laura Smith   
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 10:41

capitol-takekidsNewest Speaker Vos Proposal Will Severely Restrict Records Access

MADISON – Today, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released the following statement on the latest brazen Republican attack on open government. Records show that Speaker Robin Vos sought to weaken open records laws so they are only subject to legislative rules:

“Here they go again! When it comes to hiding government business from the people of Wisconsin, Republicans can’t seem to get enough.

“This Republican assault on democracy is outrageous and cannot stand.

“Democrats believe we should be going in the exact opposite direction and that’s why I have proposed efforts to enshrine our open records laws into the state constitution."

Last week, Rep. Barca and Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) introduced three legislative proposals to formalize the legislature’s open records laws into state rules and the constitution. The Barca and Vinehout proposals would:

  • Add Open Meetings Law to Legislative Rules (Legislative Resolutions) - LRB 3039, 2935, and 3040
  • Permanently Apply Open Records Law (Constitutional Amendment) - LRB 2930 (Rep. Chris Taylor - lead author)
  • Permanently Apply Open Meetings Law to the Legislature (Constitutional Amendment) - LRB 2944

The open records amendment would be the first consideration to make open records access a right for citizens under the Wisconsin State Constitution. The proposal recognizes that Wisconsin’s commitment to open records should be nothing short of a constitutional guarantee.

The open meetings constitutional amendment would close a loophole and hold the legislature to the same standards of openness and transparency as city councils, school boards and all other government agencies. Specifically, the amendment would require the legislature to enact laws requiring reasonable notice of and public access to meetings of the legislature and other government bodies. It also makes it possible for legislators to be subject to citations and civil penalties for violating the law. 

In addition to legislation that would amend the state constitution to permanently close the legislature's loophole in the open meetings law, the Legislature can act to apply the open meetings law to itself right now by adding the open meetings law to its legislative rules.

In recent years, open records requests have helped shed light on everything from potential corruption at Governor Walker’s jobs agency to criminal activity that led to the convictions of six of the governor’s former aides, as well as the revelation that major mining company donors essentially re-wrote large sections of Wisconsin’s environmental laws. In addition, almost all Republican legislators signed a secrecy oath to not inform the public during the last redistricting process.

Riders of State’s Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program Received Poor Services PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 07:11

elderlySitting by the window and waiting. Elderly and disabled stranded when company did not deliver rides.

NRA Spending Shoots Up in Wisconsin! PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 04 September 2015 12:24

wis-democracy-campaignMADISON - Our “Influence Peddler of the Month” for September is none other than the National Rifle Association, which has been muscling its way into Wisconsin politics as never before. See how its spending has gone up 10-fold over the last five years:

Influence peddler of the month - National Rifle Association

This week, there was more news about how the Eaton Corporation is exporting jobs to Mexico, despite tax credits from WEDC for it to expand jobs here in Wisconsin. We tracked the money trail:

Eaton's gifts to and from Walker

With Labor Day coming up, we thought we’d take a look at the spending by labor unions in the first half of 2015. What we found might surprise you:

Labor PACs contributed $64K to Republican gov, AG, legislators

And mark your calendars: Fighting Bob Fest is in two weeks – Saturday, September 19! It’s in Madison this year, at Breese Stevens Field stadium on E. Washington Ave at Paterson Street. We’ll have a booth, so come by and say hello and get a complimentary flashlight while quantities last -- help us shine light in dark places! We’ll be there all day, and I’ll be there in the afternoon.

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