Saturday February 27, 2021

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Fitzgerald Decision to Overturn Governor’s Mask Order Just More Politics

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 01 August 2020
in Wisconsin

covid-19-protest-madisonSenate Republican move to overturn Governor’s order requiring people to wear masks in public is simply pandering for votes and power, ignores public health.


GREEN BAY, WI - In what is no surprise, Senate Republicans wasted no time announcing their intent to overturn Governor Ever’s Executive order requiring people to wear masks in public along with his earlier order that could result in the National Guard no longer being able to help with virus testing or assisting poll workers in providing safety at the polls for voters this fall.

dave-hansen-gbSince the Republicans came to power under Scott Walker their only concern has been protecting their own hold on power. This has come to include attacking Governor Evers at all costs even if it costs the lives of their own constituents.

Since we met in March the Republicans ignored doing anything to protect the people from this deadly virus or to remove the barriers that have led to delays in processing unemployment claims. Apparently the only thing that can get them to bring the Senate back into session is an opportunity to take another partisan shot at Governor Evers.

This is just one in a continuing list of examples for why non-partisan redistricting is so badly needed.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Trump’s Move Backfires

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
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on Saturday, 01 August 2020
in Wisconsin

portland-fed-force-2020MADISON - You might have thought I was being a bit on the hysterical side last week when I wrote to you about the risk of Donald Trump imposing martial law. But there he was this week tweeting about postponing the election!

Fortunately, this move backfired, as he was met with near universal condemnation, including from Republican elected officials (even in Wisconsin!).

We at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign signed on to a letter denouncing this reckless move, which you can read here.

Meanwhile, this week we kept doing what we do, day in and day out: Exposing money in Wisconsin politics.

matt-rothschildBefore I came to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, I didn’t even know what Legislative Campaign Committees are. But I soon found out: They’re the treasure chests that the Speaker, the Senate Majority Leader, and the two minority leaders have at their disposal for elections.

This year, these campaign committees raised record amounts, with the Republicans way ahead, as you’ll see here:

Legislative Fundraising Committees Raise Record Cash

In a related post, we discussed another record that was broken: fundraising by all the legislative candidates. Speaker Vos, for his personal campaign, led the way with $355,000 on hand. Add that to the $2,371,000 he controls as head of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, and you can see why he’s so powerful. You can find all the details here:

Legislative Donors Undaunted by Pandemic

And here’s some good news! The Marathon County Board this week passed a resolution in favor of independent, nonpartisan redistricting. That makes 52 counties out of the 72 in Wisconsin that have passed board resolutions to ban gerrymandering. Also this week, the Bayfield County Board voted to let the citizenry weigh in on this issue on November 3 with an advisory referendum. That makes 10 county referendums coming up: Adams, Bayfield, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, and Rusk.

Thanks to all the amazing grassroots activists who are making this happen!

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Best,

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

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Questions Remain Unanswered for Schools

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 29 July 2020
in Wisconsin

schools-reopening-2020-cnnWith the COVID-19 pandemic spreading, school districts are wrestling with questions to safely bring students back this fall. Schools need answers fast for educating students, supporting teachers and helping parents stay employed.


MADISON - The first day of school has always been an exciting time for children. About this time of year, heading into August, families begin to plan their schedule and stock up on school supplies. For some it might mean new supplies or even new clothes. Kids want to make a good impression that first day and parents want a routine in their busy life.

That was then, and this is now.

Since school buildings closed last spring to protect families from the spread of COVID-19, schools districts have been figuring out the best way to educate our children while keeping them safe. Of course, that was always the objective, but now we’re facing new challenges and school districts are forced to look at this school year through a different lens.

In March, school buildings closed because the COVID-19 epidemic was just beginning in Wisconsin. Now, at a time when many districts are preparing for the students’ return, the crisis only seems to be getting worse in the state. Balancing physical and mental health concerns can always be tricky, but now the public health pandemic presents a difficult element for balancing mental and physical health needs for children.

We also have to consider an economy that has taken a severe hit. Parents are struggling to make ends meet and they are concerned their kids’ education may fall behind. Families want normalcy; parents want to go back to work and kids want to go back to school, but many questions have to be answered before we can get there.

reading-bookDuring these past several months, we’ve been encouraged to stay safer at home so we don’t inadvertently contract the virus and spread it to others. Now, many are demanding children return back to the classroom. What will a classroom look like this fall? It’s clear that schools have a responsibility to keep children at least 6 feet apart whenever possible, which means smaller class sizes spread out in the room. Public health experts have also made it exceedingly clear that the best weapon we have to slow the spread is wearing a mask, but I think many parents know all too well how difficult this will be for young children.

Starting this new school year, how do we transport kids to school in buses that are typically packed shoulder to shoulder? School districts will have to get creative in spreading kids out in buses and covering the additional costs, or leave it to the parents to drive their kids to school themselves.

There’s no doubt in my mind that our teachers love what they do and love their students. They always put their best foot forward and place the students’ interests above their own. But, this decision whether to open schools has caused quite a dilemma for teachers who will soon be in classrooms with multiple children who may very well bring the virus without realizing it. What happens if a teacher becomes sick? What does that mean for their family?

jeff-smithDo we test each child and teacher every day? What happens when (not if) the first case of COVID-19 shows up in the school? Will everyone be placed in quarantine? Does this mean the end of in-person learning? What does this mean for parents who are trying to go to work with a COVID-19 positive child? Who would be held responsible for spreading the virus at the school?

There are so many questions to consider when thinking of children returning to school.

More than 100 days have passed since we passed the COVID-19 relief bill. Unfortunately, the Majority Party has been silent on meeting again to take up legislation to fix the unemployment crisis and any bills aimed at helping our public schools educate our children during this difficult time.

Our public schools have always been the center of our communities, something our communities take a lot of pride in. If we as a community want our schools open again, then we all need to step up. We must take responsibility and take care of each other through this. That means caring enough to wear a mask, social distance and look out for our neighbors and our children.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Trump’s March to Martial Law

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, 25 July 2020
in Wisconsin

portland-fed-force-2020With Trump's placement of federal forces in Portland and his vow to send them to other cities, Matt Rothschild fears democracy may be lost.


MADISON - For many years, first while I was at The Progressive magazine and for the last five and a half years at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, I’ve been worried about our little experiment in democracy in this country ending at the hands of an authoritarian.

Well, now we have an authoritarian as President, and with his placement of federal forces in Portland – and his vow to send them to other cities, including Milwaukee! – my fears are growing stronger by the day. I write about how Trump might overturn our cherished system here:

Trump’s Troops in Portland and the March to Martial Law

Focusing back on Wisconsin, we looked at the recent campaign finance filings and noticed that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is way ahead in the money chase. If you’re a Democrat, you may be cheering this news. But I’m not because I think it’s obscene that anyone can give unlimited amounts of money to the political parties now. Until 2015, when the Republicans disastrously rewrote our campaign finance law, the ceiling on gifts to political parties was $10,000. Now there is no ceiling. The sky is the limit. And so out-of-state billionaires are throwing their money into Wisconsin to influence the outcome of political races here. Find out who they are by clicking here:

State Dems Raised 10X More Than Republicans in Recent Months

Ok, let’s end with some good news! The Public Service Commission, under pressure from the Sierra Club, Citizen Action, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and other public interest advocates and activists like you, reversed course this week and decided not to let the utilities start cutting people off, which they were going to do as of tomorrow. Instead, the PSC extended the moratorium on shut-offs until at least Sept. 1.

Activism pays off!

Best,

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

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The People’s Maps Commission: By the People and For the People

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 22 July 2020
in Wisconsin

voting-2020-538The People’s Maps Commission has an important role in re-drawing Wisconsin’s electoral maps and fixing our broken partisan gerrymandering system. State residents have until July 31st to apply to be a member.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - When representatives of the original colonies gathered to determine the formation of the United States they took the bold step of putting the trust in the hands of its citizens, establishing the United States as a Democratic Republic.

From an early age, we learn the importance of the right to vote and our responsibility to participate in democracy as American citizens. After all, democracy can only happen when people choose their elected officials at every governing level, from the town hall to the U.S. Capitol.

Yet, as with all nations throughout history, the thirst for power overcomes the core belief behind the original intent. Once elected into office to serve the people, many politicians want all the power they can grab and do all they can to protect their power. This is why we must have the People’s Maps Commission to uphold the principles of a Democratic Republic, in which our country was founded on.

scott-walker-signs-voteridThroughout our country’s history, people in power have politically disenfranchised marginalized communities in obvious ways, such as misleading voters on issues or passing laws that make it difficult or impossible for some citizens to vote.  People who have historically been deprived this right have the greatest understanding how valuable the vote is.

Partisan gerrymandering is one of the greatest detriments to truly having a democracy that works. States are obligated to redraw electoral districts after every census. Population shifts over a decade make it logical to adjust lines so districts are evenly represented. In the past, self-serving politicians learned, through trial and error, how to manipulate the district maps in such ways that people of color would be disenfranchised. Eventually, the courts ruled, that drawing district lines to disenfranchise people of color was unconstitutional. This ruling didn’t completely stop partisan gerrymandering, though; it’s just become much more sophisticated and diabolical.

Partisan gerrymandering has become easier for politicians and data experts to determine how people lean politically and draw district lines in such a way that makes the incumbent unbeatable.  This practice diminishes your voice in government and completely defeats the purpose of a representative democracy if politicians can count on winning no matter how poorly they represent us.

In 2009, I co-authored legislation and held a public hearing as Chair of the Assembly Elections and Campaign Reform Committee to fix this manipulative practice, but unfortunately it didn’t pass. In this legislative session, I supported legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting process, and also introduced legislation to establish a constitutional amendment for non-partisan redistricting reform.

Most recently, during the State of the State address, Governor Evers announced the creation of the People’s Maps Commission, which will consist of 9 people in Wisconsin, excluding politicians or lobbyists, to draw the next legislative maps in 2021. Just last week, the Governor released the official details for the People’s Map Commission application and the selection process. The members of the Commission will be chosen by the Selection Panel, which includes 3 retired judges.

jeff-smithThe Commission will hold 8 hearings, one in each congressional district, to hear directly from experts, stakeholders, elected officials and the general public. Following the hearings, the Commission will apply the U.S. Census data to draw the maps. Once these maps are created, the Legislature will then decide to accept the non-partisan Commission’s maps or draw their own. The People’s Maps Commission will help fix our broken partisan gerrymandering system and put an end to politicians picking their voters.

The Majority Party, blinded by the power they hold, hired a bunch of slick lawyers to draw electoral maps for them instead of using a nonpartisan commission. They even signed secrecy pledges to prevent the public from seeing the maps! We need an open process to create fair maps and end map manipulation for good.

Non-partisan redistricting reform is not a partisan issue – it’s a people issue. We all deserve a government that works for us and represents the values of its citizens.

The deadline to apply for the People’s Maps Commission is July 31st. If you’re interested in applying, you can do so by visiting govstatus.egov.com/peoplesmaps.

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