Can we reclaim our voices?

On Sunday, Oct. 1, Grassroots North Shore was a key part of a coalition of WI organizations sponsoring a rally for the plaintiffs in the Whitford case that was argued this morning at the US Supreme Court. The turnout was terrific — more than 150 people, some from far away, attended to hear local leaders and two of the plaintiffs talk about the case and what it could mean for all voters, regardless of party, going forward. If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube.

No doubt there will be plenty of press accounts of this morning's proceedings at the Supreme Court and some pundits may try to predict an outcome based on the questions justices asked. Just take them with the usual dollop of skepticism. The lawyers arguing that our current electoral maps are unconstitutional made a strong case and the justices were listening. It may be months now before we know the outcome but we are hopeful.

Still, hope is not a plan. And we still have work to do on this issue. Right now, there is a bill to take the process of drawing electoral maps out of the hands of the politicians and turn the responsibility over to a nonpartisan body. But the bill (SB13 and AB44) is bottled up because the chairs of the committees in each chamber have refused to hold public hearings. So, if you have a little energy left from grieving for those who have died or been injured in the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas or from extending whatever help you can to those people and areas devasted by terrifying hurricanes, pick up the phone and call Sen. LeMahieu (608-266-2056) and Rep. Bernier (608-266-9172 or 888-534-0068) to tell them that you want them to hold hearings and vote the bill out of committee.

I've been so deeply concerned about the role gerrymandering is playing in our state and national politics because I see it as one part of a pair of existential threats to democracy: the tsunami of money from the super-rich and the rigging of electoral maps join together to make the will of the people irrelevant. We see it in issue after issue: environmental policy, tax policy, and most vitally at this moment gun safety policy. In 2014, social scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page published an important study showing that "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence." In an accessible article in the Washington Post online, the two researchers discussed their conclusions and rebutted critiques. I highly recommend it.

Although American's attitudes towards gun safety are pretty complex, it's clear that a large majority of us believe in universal background checks and restrictions on assault weapons of the sort used in the latest carnage. Just one year ago, the Gallop organization summed up public opinion research this way:

Almost any proposal we put in front of the American people relating to background checks gets overwhelming support. A majority of Americans favor stricter laws on gun sales in general. Americans who are dissatisfied with gun laws favor more restrictions. Most recently, new Gallup research conducted since the mass shooting in Orlando underscores these attitudes. Americans overwhelmingly say that banning gun sales to individuals on terrorist watch lists would be effective in preventing incidents such as Orlando. A majority, albeit a smaller percentage, also say that restricting the sale of assault weapons would be effective in preventing mass shootings.

So why do state legislatures and the US Congress pay no attention to the majority's views and instead continually loosen regulations on fire arms? You just have to ask "qui bono" (who benefits). The NRA's power flows from its donations to political parties and candidates. The NRA, which is effectively a front not for individual gun owners but for gun industries, supports partisan gerrymandering when it advantages Republicans who will vote for deregulating access to increasingly potent fire arms. When that's where the money is, that's where the power lies. But it's hard to see how we can loosen the grip of money in politics unless we can unrig the maps both through legal challenges like the one citizens of Wisconsin brought to the Supreme Court this morning and through enormous public pressure to persuade legislators to change redistricting laws. If we fail to regain even a semblance of majority rule, we the people will simply be shouting in the wind.

EVENTS

Tue Oct 3, 2017

Legal Observer Workshop, 6pm - 8pm 
UWM Union, Room 250, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee
 
This is a free workshop for anyone who wants to defend free speech and assembly by becoming a volunteer legal observer for the ACLU of Wisconsin. Bilingual volunteers are especially encouraged to get involved. Legal Observers are trained volunteers who are legal witnesses to political demonstrations and who document the events of public protests, including any incidents of police misconduct or violations of the rights of protesters. Legal Observers are committed to defending free speech in a way that is as objective as possible so that their documentation of public protests can be used as evidence if police misconduct or obstructions to Constitutionally-protected free speech are challenged in court. More information.

"Democracy in Chains" Author Event, 6:30 - 8pm 
Central Library, Centennial Hall, 814 W. Wiscosin Ave., Milwaukee
 
Author Nancy MacLean will talk about her book "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America," a plot designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority. Sponsored by Milwaukee Public Library and Boswell Book Co. Register.

Wed Oct 4, 2017

Wave's Rapid Response Letter Writing, 12pm - 1pm 
WAVE office, 4100 W. River Ln., Brown Deer, WI 53223
 
Last week the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee passed the dangerous "permitless gun carry" bill out of committee. The good news is the committee vote was just step one; with your help, we still have time to stop this bill. What: Rapid response letter writing and strategy session -- join us and we will provide everything you need.

Unlearning Racism: Tools for Change, 1pm - 5pm 
1915 N Dr Martin Luther King Dr., Milwaukee
 
YWCA offers in-depth 6-session class (Wednesdays: 9/20, 10/4, 10/18, 11/1, 11/15, 11/29). Join the YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin for an opportunity to learn about the history and impact of racism and what you can do about it. Facilitated dialogue, activities, documentaries, and listening pairs will move you forward in addressing racism where and when you can. This is one of the most comprehensive local training programs on this topic. More information.

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee
 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of your civic resistance from the last week to get a beverage (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. More information.

Housing in Milwaukee, 
UWM Union, Room 191, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee
 
Public Meeting on Housing in Milwaukee: Evictions, Race Relations & Policy. A panel of speakers will discuss the history of housing in Milwaukee, how it was affected by policy and race relations, and what is needed for true fair housing. The presentation is part of “200 Nights of Freedom,” a series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee civil rights marches for school desegregation and fair housing. Sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County, the Black Culture Center - UW-Milwaukee and The Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council. More information.

Grass Roots South Shore Meeting, 6pm - 6pm 
Cudahy Library, 3500 Library Dr., Cudahy
 
Grass Roots South Shore will hold its monthly meeting. Grass Roots South Shore meets on the first Wednesday of each month. For more information call Jim Balk, 414-218-5944.

Thu Oct 5, 2017

Mike McCabe Rally, 6pm - 9pm 
African American Women's Center, 3020 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee
 
Rally with Mike McCabe, candidate for Wisconsin governor running as a Democrat.

Fri Oct 6, 2017

Fatherhood Summit / Job Fair, 7:30am - 4:30pm 
Greater New Birth Church, 8237 W. Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee
 
The Summit's goal is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of fathers and caregivers in all communities to build strong pathways, leading to healthy father development and engagement in the lives of their children and families. Free and Open to the Public - Register for Employment opportunities within the city and outlying areas. Driver's license recovery assessments - Child support case reviews - Job training opportunities - skilled trades - Education - GED, HSED, Trades, CDL, etc - Health information and screenings - Expungement supportive services - Family court services - bankruptcies, child placement, etc. More information and registration (registration deadline is Wed, October 4 at noon).

NAAAHR 2nd Biennial Diversity & Inclusion Conference, 7:30am - 5pm 
Crowne Plaza, 6401 South 13th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53221, USA
 
NAAAHR 2nd Biennial Diversity & Inclusion Conference The Power of Diversity and Inclusion: Energizing the Workforce of the Future. Our goal is to help you, as HR-professionals and those passionate about D&I, discover more about how you can impact your organization's efforts related to diversity and inclusion. Register.

Join Senator Tammy Baldwin and Special Guest Senator Cory Booker, 8:30am - 10am 
Home of Thelma A. Sias &Stephen P. Adams 1733 N 17th Street, Milwaukee
 
Join Senator Tammy Baldwin and Special Guest Senator Cory Booker. RSVP.

Panel on Latin@ Identity, Inspiratin and Immigration, 9am - 12pm 
The Cosecha Creative Space, 1308 S. Chavez Drive, Milwaukee
 
Panel on Latin@ Identity, Inspiratin and Immigration Neither a racial group, nor simply an individual cultural group, Latin@s in Milwaukee are as diverse and inspiring as Milwaukee itself. Come dialogue with a panel of diverse Latin@s regarding identity, inspiring cultural manifestations, and how immigration policy affects the many segments of our fellow Latin@ Milwaukeeans. Register.

Sat Oct 7, 2017

Fatherhood Summit / Job Fair, 7:30am - 4:30pm 
Greater New Birth Church, 8237 W. Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee
 
The Summit's goal is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of fathers and caregivers in all communities to build strong pathways, leading to healthy father development and engagement in the lives of their children and families. Free and Open to the Public - Register for Employment opportunities within the city and outlying areas. Driver's license recovery assessments - Child support case reviews - Job training opportunities - skilled trades - Education - GED, HSED, Trades, CDL, etc - Health information and screenings - Expungement supportive services - Family court services - bankruptcies, child placement, etc. More information and registration (registration deadline is Wed, October 4 at noon).

Cory Mason Mayoral Canvass / Phone Bank, 10am - 1pm 
Mason for Racine Office, 3201 Washington Ave., Racine
 
Rep. Cory Mason, a champion for working families and a proud Democrat, is running for mayor of Racine. Election day is October 17. His opponent has taken nearly half her donations from Scott Walker Republicans and Tea Party donors. She voted against raising wages for workers, and against a resolution demanding expanded access to Obamacare for Racine families. Canvassing and phone banking shifts are held at the office each weekend. If you would like to volunteer, you can contact the campaign, (262) 221- 8446. More information.

Sun Oct 8, 2017

Cory Mason Mayoral Canvass / Phone Bank, 10am - 1pm 
Mason for Racine Office, 3201 Washington Ave., Racine
 
Rep. Cory Mason, a champion for working families and a proud Democrat, is running for mayor of Racine. Election day is October 17. His opponent has taken nearly half her donations from Scott Walker Republicans and Tea Party donors. She voted against raising wages for workers, and against a resolution demanding expanded access to Obamacare for Racine families. Canvassing and phone banking shifts are held at the office each weekend. If you would like to volunteer, you can contact the campaign, (262) 221- 8446. More information.

Empty Bowls Fundraiser, 11am - 2pm 
MSOE, Kern Center, 1245 N. Broadway, Milwaukee
 
Fundraiser for Empty Bowls Milwaukee, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that uses art to heighten hunger awareness and raise funds to help food pantries and meal programs in Milwaukee. Guests have their choice from a collection of more than 2,000 ceramic bowls hand crafted and donated by local artists, teachers and students. Soups prepared by local chefs are served with bread and other refreshments. Some of the area’s top musicians entertain guests throughout the day. Bowls: $25 each - includes 2 soup tickets. Kid-made Bowls: $10 each - includes 2 soup tickets. More Information.

Benefit Concert for Cuba, 7pm - 9pm 
The Coffee House, Milwaukee, 1905 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
 
Much of Cuba has been devastated by Hurricane Irma, the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba's history. Thousands of homes, agriculture, electrical plants, the infrastructure, have been seriously damaged. Please support this fundraiser featuring Latin music and culture. Entertainers will include guitarist & vocalist Darele Bisquera, and Troubadour Tony Baez performing songs of love and struggle from the Hispanic world, plus New Orleans jazz and a special music performance from Havana. More information.

Tue Oct 10, 2017

Conversations on Race, 6:30pm - 9pm 
Brown Deer United Methodist, 5736 W. Brown Deer Rd., Brown Deer
 
Conversations on Race is for people who are ready to discuss how we are approaching racial issues both personally and systemically. It is a time to learn about the fears, angers, prejudices, systemic privileges and spiritual power that we each hold. With the events in Charlottesville we will continue our discussion of White Supremacy and the impact everyday in American culture and life led by Lisa Jones and Joe Masterson. This event is open to the public and is handicap accessible.

Drinking Liberally MKE, 
Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St., Milwaukee
 
NOTE: New location. Now, more than ever, Drinking Liberally is a space to gather, support each other, and form the progressive community we're going to need to get through the next four years. Come share a pint with your fellow progressives! Drinking Liberally MKE meets on the second Tuesday of every month, hosted by Matt Filipowicz.

350 Milwaukee Meeting, 7pm - 8:30pm 
Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Pl., Milwaukee
 
350.ORG is the global organization building a grassroots movement in 188 countries to address global warming and solve the climate crisis. 350 Milwaukee meets every month on the second Tuesday. More information.

Wed Oct 11, 2017

Citizen Action Brew Fest Fundraiser, 5pm - 8pm 
Pabst Brewery Great Hall, 901 W. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee
 
Citizen Action 9th Annual Brew Fest Fundraiser. Come try a wide selection of union and locally sourced beer. Complimentary beer, appetizers, and silent auction. Suggested donation of $50; Citizen Action Co-op members pay half. RSVP. Contact: Brian Wooldridge, 414-476-4501.

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee
 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of your civic resistance from the last week to get a beverage (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. More information.

Southwest Region Dems Meeting, 6pm - 6pm 
Greendale Public Library, 5647 Broad St., Greendale
 
Region 5 Democrats will hold their monthly meeting at the Greendale Public Library (enter through rear at 5600 Parking St.). Region 5 covers Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee (Southwest), West Allis, West Milwaukee. For more information contact southwestdems@gmail.com.

Stronger Recusal Rules Needed for Wisconsin's Judiciary, 8pm 
Marquette University Law School Appellate Courtroom (Main Level) 1215 W Michigan Street, Milwaukee
 
Panelists will include former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, former Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Michael Skwierawski, and Marquette Law Professor Edward Fallone, who was also a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2013.

Thu Oct 12, 2017

On the Issues: Vincent Lyles, 12:15pm - 1:15pm 
Marquette University, Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee
 
Vincent Lyles, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, will speak. With 800 employees and 1,200 volunteers, the Clubs carry out an important mission; every day, they provide safety, support, and meals, along with academic and recreational programming, for thousands of Milwaukee kids. RSVP required.

Drinking Liberally West Allis, 9pm 
Studz Pub Sports Bar & Grill, 6833 W. National Ave., West Allis
 
Drinking Liberally West Allis meets on the second Thursday of the month. Free discussions and fellowship. Good food and specials available.

Waukesha Writers Club, 6:30pm - 8pm 
336 Wisconsin Ave, Waukesha
 
The "Letter to the Editor" section is one of the most widely read parts of the newspaper, offering a chance to reach a broad audience. Letters to our legislators are also an effective way to let them know what we expect of them. Working together gives us the opportunity to discuss the current issues, improve writing skills, develop persuasive techniques that target intended readers, and help each other with ideas and suggestions. Sponsored by Grassroots Waukesha (carlwauk@gmail.com).

Sat Oct 14, 2017

Cory Mason Mayoral Canvass / Phone Bank, 10am - 1pm 
Mason for Racine Office, 3201 Washington Ave., Racine
 
Rep. Cory Mason, a champion for working families and a proud Democrat, is running for mayor of Racine. Election day is October 17. His opponent has taken nearly half her donations from Scott Walker Republicans and Tea Party donors. She voted against raising wages for workers, and against a resolution demanding expanded access to Obamacare for Racine families. Canvassing and phone banking shifts are held at the office each weekend. If you would like to volunteer, you can contact the campaign, (262) 221- 8446. More information.

Sun Oct 15, 2017

Cory Mason Mayoral Canvass / Phone Bank, 10am - 1pm 
Mason for Racine Office, 3201 Washington Ave., Racine
 
Rep. Cory Mason, a champion for working families and a proud Democrat, is running for mayor of Racine. Election day is October 17. His opponent has taken nearly half her donations from Scott Walker Republicans and Tea Party donors. She voted against raising wages for workers, and against a resolution demanding expanded access to Obamacare for Racine families. Canvassing and phone banking shifts are held at the office each weekend. If you would like to volunteer, you can contact the campaign, (262) 221- 8446. More information.

Mon Oct 16, 2017

Milwaukee Dems Meeting, 6pm - 8pm 
Amalgamated Transit Union, 734 N. 26th St., Milwaukee
 
Milwaukee County Democrats meet monthly to discuss party business, hear speakers on current topics, pass resolutions, and network with other progressives. This month our feature presentation will be about eradicating human trafficking. Our special guest will be Dana World-Patterson, founder and CEO of Foundations For Freedom. All interested Democrats are invited.

Grassroots Waukesha Member Meeting, 6:30 - 8pm 
336 Wisconsin Ave, Waukesha
 
Monthly membership/planning meeting. Everyone Welcome.

Tue Oct 17, 2017

Protect Senior Centers, 9am - 11am Clinton Rose Senior Center, 3045 N. Martin Luther King Dr., Milwaukee 
The proposed Milwaukee County Budget is likely to contain funding cuts for Milwaukee senior centers while providing for a $25 million international airport terminal for Foxconn. The staff of the Department on Aging has already seen major cutbacks. Research has shown that one of the biggest issues for seniors is loneliness, especially among lower income seniors. Please attend one of the meetings scheduled to consider funding of senior centers and help to prevent these cuts by the County Board. Another meeting will be held on October 24.


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