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UW-Madison Efforts to Improve Racial Climate Commendable PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning   
Monday, 05 September 2016 12:58

buckyMADISON - I applaud the efforts by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to make their campus more inclusive. They are taking the appropriate steps to ensure every student, regardless of the color of their skin, is treated fairly at UW-Madison.

martha-laningAs our flagship university, it speaks volumes that UW-Madison's leadership is listening to the student body's call to create an environment that reflects and respects the backgrounds of everyone. I applaud the university leadership, the student leadership, and activists for working together to improve and strengthen UW-Madison.

We live in a world made of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. It is important that students' educational climate reflects the multicultural and diverse world they will join after leaving collegiate life. The investment UW-Madison is making better prepares our young students for this transition.

As a mother who has a child attending UW-Madison, I am grateful the school is taking the appropriate steps to ensure she receives an education in the most inclusive environment possible.

 
Blue Jean Nation "How Democrats might escape from exile" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Sunday, 04 September 2016 13:51

trump-rncToday’s Republican Party seems bound and determined to implode. For you Democrats, there is no shortage of opportunity. Are you up for it?


ALTOONA, WI - Now here’s a telling measure of how weird our political system has gotten. The Republican Party is more unpopular than it’s been in nearly 25 years and is turning more people off with each passing day, yet the GOP is undeniably the majority party in this country.

Republicans control Congress. They control two-thirds of statehouses across America. Here in Wisconsin, they control a majority of congressional seats, both houses of the state legislature, the governor’s office and the state Supreme Court.

Elections don’t lie. As much as voters dislike the Republicans, they’ve repeatedly shown they’d rather have Republicans running the government than Democrats.

The Democratic establishment shows little willingness to change and little openness to outside advice. In all likelihood this will fall on deaf ears, but here goes anyway. Democrats, you won’t likely find your way out of the political wilderness unless you:

  • Stop trying to shame voters into backing candidates that wide swaths of the population find unappealing with scare tactics about what disaster will befall us if the latest ever-more-extreme Republican wins and how the catastrophe will be all their fault if they don’t vote Democratic. Only saying the other side is worse is an admission that your side is bad. Aspire to thrill voters instead.
  • Stop blaming voters for your defeats with the lame excuse that they are voting against their own best interests. Figure out how they see their interests and make them a better offer. Voters can be persuaded to realign. FDR turned a whole bunch of Republicans into Democrats, and Reagan turned a bunch of Democrats into Republicans. If you are consistently falling short of 50% in elections, that’s not the voters’ fault. It’s on the losing party to do something different to become more appealing to more people.
  • Stop using the vast Republican spin machine as an excuse for repeated losses. Of course opponents go to great lengths to badmouth you. Always have and always will. You can’t control that. Focus on what you can control.
  • Focus less on policies that benefit a particular constituency and more on programs with universal reach where everyone pays and everyone benefits. Wisconsin Democrats staked the last several elections on bargaining rights for a small minority of the state’s workers in just one sector of the economy, and lost decisively. This kind of strategy reinforces the image of a party devoted to benefiting favored interests and also makes the party vulnerable to divide-and-conquer tactics that were indeed successfully employed by Republican opponents.
  • Think long and hard about the fact that lower-income white working-class voters, especially those living in small towns and rural areas, used to support Democrats but most no longer do. There’s no shortage of clues about why they now prefer the Republicans. In those clues is a call to think bigger, to start doing things for blue-collar workers the Republicans won’t. Rebuilding governing majorities depends on it.
  • Try to become more than a confederation of interest groups, confined to their own issue silos, operating largely in isolation and sometimes even working at cross purposes. Doing this requires agreeing on and then expressing overarching values that knit these interests together. Republicans do a far better job staying focused on bedrock values while Democrats concentrate on issues and try to persuade people with a torrent of facts while not being willing or able to confidently describe a coherent underlying world view.

And then if and when voters decide to trust Democrats with power, you need to actually do what you say you believe in. No more hand-wringing about how acting boldly could cost you the next election. Doing little or nothing when given the opportunity to steer the ship of state has cost you way more elections than decisive action ever has.

Today’s Republican Party seems bound and determined to implode. Democrats, there is no shortage of opportunity for your party. There also is no shortage of doubt that you will take advantage of the opening.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2016 11:59
 
Drinking Water in Madison Tainted PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by John N. Powers, Wittenberg   
Thursday, 01 September 2016 10:52

clean-drinking-waterWe have problems with our drinking water around the State and muddled thinking with our legislators in Madison. What can be done?


WITTENBERG, WI - You have seen the newspaper articles about Wisconsin’s water problems. How in 2009 high level of viruses were found in city water around the state and our legislators required testing and treatment of those water supplies. In 2011 legislators repealed that requirement.

In 2010 regulations were designed to reduce phosphorus in our waters. In 2011 legislators began fighting those regulations and eventually allowed compliance to be pushed back twenty years.

In 2014 molybdenum was found in twenty percent of private wells tested in the south east part of the state. The closer the wells were to recycled coal ash sites the higher the concentration. The DNR said the evidence was not strong enough to make any link.

Unsafe nitrate levels have been found in the drinking water of 94,000 homes in Wisconsin. Legislators created a compensation fund for those contaminated wells-but only if the well supplied drinking water for cattle, not children. The EPA says two thirds of the municipal and wastewater treatment plants and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Wisconsin operate with expired discharge permits. One third of the wells in Kewaunee County have tested unsafe for drinking water. And while all this has been happening our DNR has issued citations in only four percent of the water pollution cases considered serious enough to warrant such citations. These problems have been making headlines in our newspapers on a regular basis.

What is not being discussed is the problem with contaminated drinking water in Madison, especially in the capitol building. That contamination seems to have started about the time our legislators repealed the requirement for testing and treatment of city water supplies. First it was decided our teachers were responsible for all of the state’s economic woes and had to be punished. Then hundreds of millions were cut from state aid to public schools and the university system. At the same a tax credit was created that reduced business owners state income tax to zero, a credit that required no job creation and will reduce state income by about $2 billion over the next ten years. Another law as passed that prohibited local school districts from making up their losses by raising their property taxes. Finally, the school voucher program was expanded and the decision made to completely remove the cap on the program in ten years. It was also decided to give more tax dollars per pupil to private schools than to public schools and to give parents of those private school students a $10,000 tax credit.

No logical thinking person would deliberately harm one of the nation’s finest public school systems this way on purpose. No one elected to represent the people of this state would deliberately turn against them this way. Wisconsin’s most important resource is her children and the future they represent. No one would deliberately take steps to harm that future. There can only be one explanation for the decisions coming from the capitol building that are destroying our schools. The drinking water is contaminated.

What can be done? Our attorney general and our Department of Natural Resources say they have no authority to protect our state’s water. No help there. After hours of research I have found an old remedy that was first used in 1845. Folk wisdom says not only can this remedy solve water contamination problems but many others as well. The steps involved are almost like an exorcism. On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November people around the state must gather together in specific locations during specific hours of the day and mark pieces of paper with an X. If enough of those people do this correctly the water in Madison will be clean once again.

***

John N. Powers has his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from UW-Stevens Point and 31 years teaching experience in Shawano county schools. He is a Candidate for Wisconsin's 2nd Senate seat. You can find out more about John Powers for State Senate on FaceBook or at www.voterpowers.com

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:25
 
Veteran’s Nursing Homes Should Not Be Shortchanged PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by State Senate Democrats   
Monday, 29 August 2016 19:25

veteranflagNo veteran should feel under-served at King or anywhere else in Wisconsin. We need to be concerned about the banking and raiding of surplus nursing home funds during the budget debate.


MADISON - Senator Jon Erpenbach says it is alarming to read how the Republican policies that have allowed, even encouraged, the building of surplus funds at the King Veterans Home near Waupaca have affected resident care. But, he goes on to say Democrats have been raising alarms.

jon-erpenbach“Senate Democrats have been concerned about the banking and raiding of surplus nursing home funds and moved to require Legislative approval of those transfers during the 2015-2017 budget debate. We also moved for a GPR allocation to the Veterans Fund rather than raiding the nursing home surplus that should be used first for resident care. DVA has moved $12 million just this summer and has said they plan to move another $18.6 million in the next two years,” said Erpenbach. “At the same time Senator Lassa has been leading our caucus, asking for an audit of the King facility in October of 2015 because of concerns brought to her office.”

In March of 2015 Joint Committee on Finance Democrats wrote Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Scocos concerned for the long term stability of the Veterans Fund and specifically addressed excess funds from nursing homes, “These revenues are derived from an exemption from the Nursing Home Bed tax, the Federal “per diem” paid to facilities that care for Veterans, the higher “state rate” for reimbursement for Medicaid and private pay from Veterans and their families. If your department is taking all of this money from patient care funds is our patient care truly meeting the needs of the veterans we serve?”

“No veteran should feel underserved at King or anywhere else in Wisconsin. To read that facilities could be suffering, food quality has declined and that residents are not having the same opportunities they used to is alarming and should prompt a Legislative Audit in the least. I hope that Republicans finally see that Legislative oversight is needed. From here, it looks like decisions have been made to cut costs that are sacrificing resident care and comfort, perhaps just to bank money for other uses,” said Erpenbach.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 11:28
 
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