Saturday February 27, 2021

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Honoring Hank Aaron’s Legacy during Black History Month

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 10 February 2021
in Wisconsin

hank-aaron-wavesHank Aaron had a far-reaching impact on the Eau Claire community, where he first started his baseball career. Our entire nation will remember him for the opportunities he created for more people of color to follow their dreams.


MADISON - Our country has been shaped by remarkable, outspoken leaders. Historical figures called for action when they observed widespread hardship or were confronted with inequality. America truly would not be the country it is today without the courageous leaders of our past. During Black History Month and beyond it’s important that we honor and celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Black leaders from our country’s history.

hank-aaron-bravesThe passing of Hank Aaron, the baseball legend and civil rights advocate, made me think about this a lot. Hammerin’ Hank made an impact on my own hometown, Eau Claire, a few years before I entered this world and long after. After he signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1952 as a shy 18-year-old from the Deep South, he was assigned to play his first professional season with their Class C affiliate, the Eau Claire Bears. The rest is history as he went on to become the most prolific home run hitter by the time he retired in 1976.

Hank Aarons’ impact on the small northern city in Wisconsin was not only tied to his athletic skills. He faced racial prejudice and heard racial slurs while growing up and starting his career. Although experiencing some discrimination in Eau Claire, Hank Aaron never forgot how the Eau Claire community “opened up their arms” and accepted him. A number of families, who looked much different than him, invited him to dinner and welcomed him into their homes over the course of the summer. Aaron changed a lot of perceptions for residents living in a predominately white community and made people see someone for who they were, rather than what they looked like.

Hank Aaron experienced racism throughout his career and it didn’t disappear even after he helped the Braves win a championship. He even received death threats as he approached the revered home run record of Babe Ruth in 1974. Hank Aaron continued to persevere both on and off the field; his achievements helped push for racial equality in America.

When he played for the Braves, he requested a public moment of silence before a game to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. They never honored this request, but he remained unapologetic in his push for equality. Hank Aaron remained a civil rights activist into his retirement, while involved with the NAACP. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for promoting civil rights.

Of course, Hank Aaron wasn’t the first Black athlete to break racial barriers and become a civil rights activist. Jackie Robinson opened many doors when he began as first baseman on April 15, 1947 – five years before Hank Aaron came to Eau Claire. Jackie Robinson’s career is well documented; fans cursed him, other teams threatened to not take the field and even some of his own teammates threatened to sit out.

As much as we know about Robinson’s baseball career, his passion for social justice started well before that. In fact, Jackie Robinson, was court-martialed as a member of the Army in 1944 because he refused to sit in the back of a bus because of his skin color. Robinson’s legacy in breaking down the “color barrier” signified broader acceptance and inspired many other Black Americans during the Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century.

jeff-smithThere have been people and events driven by hatred and division over the course of our country’s history.  Fortunately, leaders like Hank Aaron emerged to bridge divides and work toward a more equitable America, despite overwhelming adversity. Black History Month calls on us to remember the legacies of these leaders who devoted their careers and lives to improving the lives of people of color.

We owe a lot to Black leaders who made great strides to get our country where it is today. But, we still have a lot of work to do. The stories of Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson remind us a better world is possible through shared goals and a commitment to uplifting the voices of those who are too often silenced.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - COVID, Campaign Finance, and Unfair Maps

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 06 February 2021
in Wisconsin

covid-19-vaccinationMADISON - The appalling response to the COVID calamity by the Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature illustrates the crisis of representation that we face in this state. This crisis stems from two roots: our corrupt campaign finance system and from gerrymandering. I dig into this here:        

COVID, Campaign Finance, and Unfair Maps

wdc020521Speaking of campaign finance, new records were set last year by Wisconsin’s legislative campaign committees. We show you the numbers and explain why in this posting:

Wisconsin Legislative Campaign Committees Spent Record $12.11M in 2020

We also broke down the numbers on Gov. Evers’s own fundraising, which is getting a huge boost from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin:

Evers Raises More Than $3.8M, Over Half From State Party in 2020

The problem of big money in our politics is a bipartisan one!

matthew_rothschildI hope you like this week’s offering.

Stay warm this weekend!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

****

P.S. I hope you’ll support the urgent work we do here for a full democracy, where everyone has an equal voice. Donating is easy. Just click here.
Or donate the old-fashioned way by sending a check to us at 203 S. Paterson St, Suite 100, Madison WI 53703. We really appreciate it!

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Correct a Cheating System with Fair Maps

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 February 2021
in Wisconsin

vote-47-mbWhy must Wisconsin establish a nonpartisan redistricting process? Right now, the Majority Party faces no consequences for their inaction during a pandemic. Fair maps are needed to correct a system that’s been cheating the people of our state for far too long.


MADISON - I can always appreciate a good game of cribbage; sure, there’s some friendly competition, but more importantly, it’s a chance to catch up with someone and make some memories. But, imagine someone beat you to the end of the board just to find out they cheated the whole game, maybe by moving their pegs a couple extra spots each round or slyly taking a look at your cards. You’d probably be frustrated and distrusting if you play them again, right?

Sorry to say, but you’ve been cheated, and not just in a game of cards. At a time when every Wisconsinite needs leaders working for them, they have legislators abdicating their responsibilities while COVID-19 wreaks havoc on Wisconsin.

I know some people may always feel cheated by their legislators, but when the state is faced with a health crisis and an economic disaster, it’s more important than ever for partisanship to be set aside. Wisconsinites want the Legislature to work together and get things done. Yet, when push came to shove, the same legislators who ignore these pleas don’t face any consequences and can keep their jobs.

The Majority Party hasn’t been playing fairly for a while now and it shows. Partisan gerrymandering allows their absence and inaction to go unpunished. Non-partisan redistricting reform will be the tactic to correct these wrongs. It will ensure all Wisconsinites are represented and have equal access to succeed.

Just three weeks ago, the State Senate passed a compromise COVID-19 response bill with near unanimity. The newly appointed Senate Majority Leader actually worked with Governor Evers to deliver a bill that Republicans and Democrats could both agree on. Although some individuals on both ends of the spectrum would say it didn’t go far enough, it was considered a ray of hope and something to build on. This compromise showed we really could work together, or so it seemed. Then we saw the bait and switch.

covid-19-protest-madisonLast week, Assembly Republicans chose to add poison pills to this bipartisan legislation, essentially killing the bill. These provisions were not part of the COVID-19 response legislation that was mutually agreed upon by Democrat Governor Evers and the Republican State Senate. Assembly Republicans’ endgame was politically motivated, without any consideration of the fact that we are still in a dire public health and economic crisis.

Last Thursday, Senate Republicans caved into Assembly Speaker Vos’ demands and passed this legislation again, but unfortunately included hyper-partisan provisions. After eight months of inaction, Republicans have wasted another four weeks arguing between themselves about how to make this more political.

Politics have also stopped the Majority Party from accepting commonsense health recommendations, like wearing a mask to slow the spread of the virus. Last Tuesday, Senate Republicans passed a resolution to end Wisconsin’s emergency health orders and the mask protective order. Assembly Republicans delayed their decision for now, once it became known Wisconsin would lose nearly $50 million per month in food assistance if the emergency order was struck down.

jeff-smithWhen I talk with constituents about Wisconsin’s political gridlock, many believe the solution to the problem is to institute term limits. They’re sure that placing limits on how long someone serves will solve these problems. My response is always the same: if you truly believe in political compromise, then you must support non-partisan redistricting reform. If you really think term limits are the answer, you must support non-partisan redistricting. Term limits come naturally when voters have real choices.

When we have an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process, your needs are prioritized over the ambitions of political leaders. Fair maps will require legislators to listen to you, rather than their Party leader. Compromise happens when the people matter more than political insiders. Your family matters when politicians collaborate and actually get things done for you.

Nonpartisan redistricting reform will direct our Legislature to work fairly and for the people. No one likes to be cheated and this is the only way we can go to make sure we’re not distrustful of Wisconsin’s leaders for another decade.

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Biden Must Expand COVID Healthcare Emergency

Posted by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist
Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist
Buzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton, WI now of Tucson, is a long time progressive
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 27 January 2021
in Wisconsin

covid-19-vaccine-drivethru-latimesAll federal power must be used to fight pandemic, says former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, city & county elected official, and union organizer.


TUCSON, AZ - Trump botched the COVID-19 (C-19) virus healthcare emergency, turning it into a conservative versus liberal political football. Biden’s now organizing to beat the virus with 3 minutes left in the last quarter of the game with the virus ahead 50 to 0. It may be too little too late.

Here’s why. The first wave of illnesses and death were mostly from the original virus.

The second wave was likely a combo of the original plus a bit of the new mutant virus B.1.1.7 from the United Kingdom. That mutant virus is now estimated by experts to be 70% better at transferring itself from a sick person to infect a well person. Worse, the UK experts now estimate it is 30% MORE deadly than the first virus.

The third wave may be dominated by the U.K. virus. Therefore more will be sick and die.

Why we have a mess: Trump’s idea of letting 50 state legislatures/governors, tens of thousands of health departments, businesses, school districts, hospitals and nursing homes each make their own decisions on what to do quickly turned into a deadly farce.

We have many Republicans leaders who believe wearing a mask is a matter of freedom of choice. Should wearing a safety belt or motorcycle helmet be a matter of personal choice -- when we the public pay for the Social Security disability payments for the rest of their lives after serious accidents?

How foolish. There is the general good and individual good. Individual freedom must be limited. Unlimited freedom produces chaos - the general good is destroyed.

We have 61 million children under 15 for whom there is NO approved vaccination. Experts say vaccines may not be ready for kids until fall or early 2022. Biden’s goal of having students in classroom within 100 days is unrealistic and dangerous. Kids may not die as often as seniors but they are transmitters of the viruses. We must continue on-line education until the kids are vaccinated and schools are safe.

Dr. A. Fauci says 80% to 90% of adults, about 216 million to 243 million, need to get two doses of a vaccine within a month. To achieve herd immunity we need to give 432 million to 486 million shots within a few months. Biden’s plan of 100 million doses within 100 days is inadequate.

Biden must expand his national healthcare emergency by using his authority to require masks, social distancing, mandate which businesses can stay open, which close, hours of operation, curfews, nationalize C-19 production/distribution/vaccinations, implement a national virus testing system, requiring reporting of all matters related to C-19 to the feds, expand transparency, etc.

He must immediately mobilize the estimated 600,000 federal military Reserve members and 440,000 National Guard members (using U.S. Code Title 32 under which the feds pay the Guard’s cost) and place all personnel in each state under the state Dual Status Commander with that general in command of all federal, Reserve and Guard troops in that state. The DSC reports to both that state’s governor and the Secretary of Defense.

These Guard/Reserve members know their communities and can do just about anything required to contain/suppress the virus working under a coordinated national plan. The Latino, Native American and Black communities in America are being worst hit by the virus. Those communities should get help first.

We have no other choice but to go BIG? Why?

When a person becomes infected, the virus replicates itself exponentially to defeat the person’s immune system. That replication process is where mutant viruses are born which may be more contagious and/or deadly than the virus the person was infected with. At any time a new mutant can occur that will NOT be defeated by the present vaccinations (Moderna and Pfizer). There are two new mutant viruses in S. Africa which possibly will not be controlled by present vaccines. If this proves accurate, we’re back to square one.

80% to 90% of persons need to be vaccinated NOW to suppress the present set of viruses which experts think will probably work after people get two shots. But if new mutations, significantly different from the present set of viruses, occur then present vaccinations may NOT work, many will be re-infected, become ill and die.

Biden must use all federal power to suppress and stop the virus in America -- before it defeats us. If he’s unable to do this, he will be a one term president and we will be a diminished nation.

***

buzz-davisBuzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton, WI now of Tucson, has a masters in public administration and a masters in urban affairs, is a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer (infantry & communications) Vietnam Era, city & county elected official, union organizer/leader, Bush impeachment organizer, Recall Walker organizer, former Exec. VP of WI Alliance for Retired Americans, Democratic Party leader, a retired WI state government planner & recently led a 5 yr. effort to Stop VA Privatization with Veterans for Peace & unions.

Sources:

“A new COVID-19 challenge: Mutations rise along with cases” https://www.aol.com/news/covid-19-challenge-mutations-rise-060100868-171633028.html “The Right Way to Activate the National Guard,” 3-21-20, retired generals Craig R. McKinley and James Winnefeld https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/21/joe-biden-sign-executive-orders-and-directives-aimed-covid-19/4219616001/ https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf “Why scientists are more worried about the Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa - The variant carries mutations that may weaken the effect of vaccines, and Moderna is now exploring changes to its vaccine” https://www.vox.com/2021/1/21/22240475/covid-new-variant-south-africa-uk-brazil-vaccine-coronavirus “When will kids be able to get the Covid-19 vaccines? It may be a while” https://www.vox.com/22225218/kids-covid-vaccine-safe-moderna-pfizer-school-reopening “Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine goal isn’t ambitious enough It barely improves on current vaccination rates” https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22243713/biden-covid-19-coronavirus-vaccine-goal-100-million-100-days

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What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 27 January 2021
in Wisconsin

covid-19-vaccinationSen. Smith writes about the progress of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and shares information from the Department of Health Services on vaccine distribution.


MADISON - It’s been so long since most of us have been in a crowd, but I’m sure we’re all eager for the chance to once again go to a theater, shake hands when meeting someone or dine at our favorite restaurant. My wife and I miss heading down to our local restaurant, which would normally be packed with so many of our neighbors and friends on a Friday night.

The road to returning to our normal routines may seem far off, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve gained more information and collected tools to help us in our COVID-19 recovery. We learned to slow the spread by staying home, social distancing and wearing masks. Now we have the COVID-19 vaccine, another tool at our disposal in our fight against COVID-19. We can thank scientists, researchers and frontline workers for allowing us to start visualizing an end to this pandemic.

Governor Tony Evers continues to work with the federal government and private partners to get more Wisconsinites vaccinated as quickly as possible. It’s important to know the vaccine roll-out will take time while the vaccine supply increases. This explains why certain populations, like healthcare workers or elderly residents, are prioritized before the general public. While we wait patiently, it’s up to us to remain vigilant and follow safety precautions to keep our communities safe.

On December 14th, Wisconsin received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Wisconsin began receiving the Moderna vaccine one week later. Since then, Wisconsin has vaccinated groups most vulnerable to infection. Phase 1A includes frontline medical personnel and residents of the 57,000 nursing homes and 147,000 long term care facilities in Wisconsin. Phase 1B includes police and fire personnel. Beginning Monday, January 25th Wisconsin began vaccinating more residents aged 65 and older. The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee is currently making recommendations for other priority populations as vaccine production and distribution continues.

The federal government is responsible for allocating vaccines to each state; the number of vaccines allocated to each state differs depending on the state’s population. In recent weeks, Governor Evers publicly requested more vaccines be sent to Wisconsin.

The Department of Health Services provides a transparent overview of our state’s vaccine distribution process. The agency continues to update the number of vaccines Wisconsin has allocated, ordered, shipped and administered throughout the state.

The pandemic has been challenging for individuals in many ways, but perhaps the biggest hardship has been our inability to spend time with our family. My wife’s parents are over 90 years old and still do quite well in their own home. They’ve kept up with technology, but we help them when needed. Last Wednesday, they called my wife to say they received a message from their healthcare provider informing them they were eligible for a vaccine. My wife helped her parents make an appointment for the very next morning. She picked them up at 6:30 the next day and they received their first dose.

jeff-smithLike so many others, our parents were anxiously wondering how they’d know when they could get vaccinated. Once more vaccine doses become available, more information will be released to explain where someone can get vaccinated among the 1,200 eligible vaccinators in Wisconsin. These vaccinators include healthcare providers, pharmacies, local health departments, places of employment, and mass vaccination clinics.

There isn’t a conspiracy to block or delay the release of the vaccine. Legislators cannot produce more vaccine doses or expedite the process just by demanding it to happen.

A public health crisis shouldn’t be used to advance political agendas; we’ve seen this happen too much during the past year and we’re seeing it play out again with the vaccine roll-out. Don’t let legislative leaders play the blame game and pretend they have the answers to get you vaccinated. We won’t get anywhere if these leaders are more focused on making headlines with disingenuous proposals or raising doubts about the vaccine itself.

While more Wisconsinites get vaccinated, remember to continue following public health precautions to do your part to stop the spread. Our collective efforts will help us overcome the pandemic sooner and safer.

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