We Endorse Justice Bradley

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Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has served Wisconsin well during her 19 years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She is currently running for a third 10-year term. Grassroots North Shore is endorsing her because she has proven to be an outstanding jurist, one who refuses to take contributions from lawyers and law firms with business before the court. Her rulings demonstrate her commitment to protecting Wisconsin citizens from corporations seeking to sell harmful products to children. She believes that to maintain the trust of citizens, the judiciary must be free of partisanship and of influence from special interest groups, especially from out-of-state groups.

Learn more about Justice Bradley at her website and Facebook page.

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Selling Wisconsin’s Future for a Mess of Pottage: Higher Education and the Fate of the State

contactReps.jpgGovernor Walker’s budget for 2015-17 proposes to decrease funding for the University of Wisconsin system by $300 million, a 13% decrease on top of the 17.5% cut already implemented in previous budgets.  In return, property owners in Wisconsin may see their property taxes decline by $5 in each of the two years of the biennial budget or a total of $10. This property tax “relief” is not only smaller than a pittance; it will also return the greatest “relief” to the owners of the most expensive properties. So the benefit calculations, such as they are, are clear. But what the proposed budget does not explain is how these draconian cuts will play out in the years to come. Before this budget plan is enacted, we need to ask what happens when states cut deeply into the funding for public colleges and universities. Fortunately, we now have empirical answers to this question. 

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Wisconsin ACLU Files Photo ID Case for Supreme Court Review

voterID_demo.jpegBecause Wisconsin will hold elections on February 17 (primaries) and April 7, many people want to know whether voters will be required to show a valid photo ID at the polls. The answer to that question depends on the procedures of the Supreme Court of the United States and their timing. Here's what's happening and how it is likely to play out.

On January 7, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU), along with Arnold & Porter and the Advancement Project, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.  The State has until February 9, 2015, to file a response. The petition and opposition will then be distributed to the Court for consideration 14 days after the response. The ACLU can file a reply brief in that 14-day window, but the reply does not affect the date of distribution. The case will likely be distributed on February 23, 2015.  Once the case is distributed, it is reviewed by a pool of the Justices' law clerks, one of whom drafts a pool memorandum (with brief analysis and a recommendation to grant or deny) that is distributed to the Justices’ individual chambers for further review by law clerks and the Justices. Most petitions are effectively denied at this point without further review or discussion. 

Potentially “cert-worthy” petitions are scheduled for discussion and a vote at one of the Court’s Friday conferences, usually two or three weeks after the case is distributed.  (Unless the briefing schedule changes, the ACLU’s case likely will be listed for the conference on March 20, 2015.) At least four of the nine Justices must vote in favor for certiorari to be granted.  Decisions to grant or deny certiorari are often announced in orders issued the following Monday.  (So this case could be granted or denied as soon as March 23, 2015.) However, some cases discussed at a conference are “relisted” for a subsequent conference to allow further review and/or discussion.  For the past two terms, it seems that most of the petitions that are granted review are relisted at least once, possibly to ensure that there are no undetected jurisdictional problems that would require dismissal later. 

Given this schedule, it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court would take any action prior to the February primary elections, meaning the ID requirement will not be in effect for that election.  If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, argument will probably not be scheduled until the next term, starting in October 2015, and the ID requirement will be enjoined during the entire process of making a final decision on the case. However, if the Court denies certiorari, it is possible that the denial will come before the April elections. If that were to happen, it is possible that ID will be required for the April election.  So people should be encouraged to try to get an acceptable ID (drivers license and state ID cards are the most common) as soon as they can and let the ACLU know if they have problems getting one.

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Everything You Need to Know About Wealth Distribution

Here it is, in one easy-to-read chart, compliments of the Wall Street Journal

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It's pretty astonishing, when you think about it. When asked, people in the top 10% of the wealth distribution mostly think they're in the "upper middle class." Those are the folks whose wealth equals 35% of all the wealth in the country. Only those in the top 1% think of themselves as wealthy. And they do own a lot: nearly 42% of all the wealth in the country.

Notice, too, that the share of the country's wealth owned by the tippy top .01% -- that's one person in 10,000 by the way -- began to grow rapidly while the wealth of the bottom 90% started its steep decline in the 1980s, under President Reagan and his "trickle down" economic policies. Wealth, it seems, doesn't trickle down.  It defies gravity and flows up!

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Why "Right to Work" Is Wrong

Many people are confused about what so-called “Right to Work” laws really do. An article by Jennifer Schaubach, Minnesota AFL-CIO Legislative Director, really clarifies the issues surrounding Right to Work. Some of the highlights of her piece are listed below. 

What is a "right to work" law?

“A ‘right to work’ law is a state law that stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement – also known as a union security clause – that requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them.  Right to Work laws say that unions must represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not.  In other words, ‘Right to Work’ laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership.”

RTW.gifHere are some of the "benefits" people who live in states with RTW laws enjoy:

  • Working families in states with ‘Right to Work” laws earn lower wages.
  • “Right to Work” states spend less on education.
  • “Right to Work” states have higher workplace fatality rates.
  • Nobody benefits from “Right to Work” laws.  While such a law might appear to be an advantage to employers, in truth it is not.
  • Even without a “Right to Work” law, a worker cannot be forced to join a union.
  • A “Right to Work” law does not protect a worker’s right to a job.

In short, “workers in states with so-called Right-to-Work (RTW) laws have a consistently lower quality of life than in other states - lower wages, higher poverty, less access to health care, poorer education for children - according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau.” 

So is a RTW law the right way to go for Wisconsin? Hell no!

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By the Numbers: Why We Lost

Craig Gilbert at the Journal Sentinel believes that Burke lost because white, rural men voted overwhelmingly for Walker. "Walker won men by his largest margin ever (21 points). He also lost women by his largest margin ever (9 points)" [http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/282036481.html].

Higher turnout in Milwaukee would have helped some but wasn't a decisive factor. We lost so-called independents and the drop-off of younger voters did hurt. 

We don't yet know a lot about how the work undertaken by North Shore for Mary Burke fared in our North Shore communities but I hope we'll have a chance to look at our numbers in some detail in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, what's your take on the way the electorate played out in this last election? The comment area is open below. Have at it.

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They Are Counting on Us to Lose

WISVOTER06G2.jpgSometimes the polling headlines are discouraging when the poll's results really should be good news. If the latest Marquette poll leads you to believe that Burke is losing, you're mistaken. Walker and his cronies are counting on us making that mistake. They are counting on us to lose this election.

You can read all about it in the JSOnline for Monday, October 6. And you can do something about it by getting involved. All we need to do is increase our turnout rates in midterm elections, and we'll win. 

So which side are you on, folks, which side are you on?

Here are some places to visit to make a difference and win this election:

 

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The Progressive Voice of Milwaukee's North Shore Communities

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