The Democratic Party of Wisconsin elected a new chair, Martha Laning and we have high hopes for the party moving forward. If you want to become acquainted with her, you should listen to an interview with her on a Central Time segment aired on WPR on June 11. You'll get a good sense of what she thinks are critical issues for the party, and more importantly for the state.
This picture of Mark and Virginia Gennis with Representative Gwen Moore says it all about the annual convention the Democratic Party of Wisconsin held on June 5 and 6! By wearing their patriot gear (with t-shirts proclaiming "Progressive Patriots from OZ aukee"), they announce that we progressives are proud patriots and will not cede the use of that term to the so-called Tea Party. And they show how much fun a large gathering of like-minded Wisconsin citizens can be.
Now it's time to start the ground work for the next elections, beginning in February, April, and August, and concluding in November 2016. All of these elections are vital if we are going to build a deep bench of new leaders. We need to elect progressives to school boards; city, village, and county governing bodies; state level offices; and federal representatives plus a new(ish) US Senator. And of course a new president and vice president.
Get connected with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and
- Presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee
- US Senate: Russ Feingold
- US Representative: Mark Pocan (CD 2), Ron Kind (CD 3), Gwen Moore (CD 4)
- Your state assembly representatives (all are up for re-election) and state senators (some are up for re-election)
Future blog posts will introduce many other progressives running for offices — local, state, and national. Check back in the weeks and months to come.
Here's how: sign up to offer housing to a delegate to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Annual Convention, Friday and Saturday, June 5 & 6.
Some delegates will be traveling pretty far from other areas of the state and find the price of hotels at and near the convention site (the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino) pretty steep. Let's open our homes to these visitors, support progressives from across the state, and build some alliances to help all of us get Wisconsin back on a progressive track.
Senator Kathleen Vinehout released a memo on April 1 outlining a number of largely unnoticed and under-reported changes to Wisconsin's governance, among them
- removing state funds to pay for the reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota that allows students from across state lines to attend public universities at in-state tuition costs;
- abolishing the Educational Approval Board that sets standards for and examines details of curriculum and facilities of the for-profit colleges operating in Wisconsin;
- moving the information technology functions of the non-partisan Government Accountability Board to the Department of Administration (that is overseen by the governor's political appointee), risking the integrity of the state's voter file as well as the reporting system for disclosing campaign donations, lobbying activity and the financial relationships of elected or appointed officials.
When the convention for the Wisconsin Democratic Party comes to town Friday and Saturday, June 5 and 6, a lot of delegates will be staying at the convention site (the Potawatomi Hotel) and other nearby venues. But the rooms can be very expensive, and may be in short supply. And that's where you come in.
We're looking for people who are willing to provide housing for out-of-town delegates, usually just for a night or two but possibly as many as three. If you have a guest room, or even a couch or floor that could accommodate some of the younger and spryer folks who might be coming, just fill in a form on our Host a Delegate page. In early May and then on May 16, I will send information about accommodations to the chairs of the county parties (none of the info you provide will be published or accessible to anyone else). The chairs and/or their designees will help match up delegates needing lodging with people who have signed up to host.
It's really a simple way to make sure everyone who wants to participate in party governance can do so without huge expense. And it's also a way for Milwaukee area progressives to meet some of their peers from other parts of the state. A true win-win.
So, Host a Delegate.
Below is a summary of the state budget prepared by the Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee.
2015-17 STATE BUDGET AT A GLANCE
Updated March 13, 2015
Gov. Walker’s fiscally irresponsible “Cut and Borrow” policies are preventing economic growth and holding Wisconsin families back. As we work to responsibly balance the state budget, Democrats want to put Wisconsin families first and increase economic opportunities by strengthening our schools, investing in infrastructure and creating quality jobs.
- Reduces state support for education and forces local public schools to reduce per pupil spending by $150 on average in the 2015-16 school year.
- Takes funding directly from local public schools to pay for the statewide expansion of Gov. Walker’s taxpayer-subsidized private school voucher program.
- Removes local control of schools by creating an unaccountable and unelected statewide charter school board.
- Provides $6.7 million in additional funding for rural sparsity and high cost transportation
- Cuts $300 million from UW schools and forces layoffs across the state.
- Converts the UW System to a public authority model and allows the new UW System Authority to increase tuition.
- Fails to fully fund the Wisconsin GI Bill which provides veterans and active duty members of the armed services with an education at UW and Technical College schools.
- Eliminates public oversight and makes Wisconsin the only state without student protections at for-profit colleges.
- Merges the WEDC and WHEDA agencies into a new quasi-private authority, the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority, and removes legislative oversight.
- Removes the requirement that the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority be financially audited by the Legislative Audit Bureau –– the non-partisan agency that uncovered the WEDC’s past fiscal mismanagement.
Voting in Wisconsin has just become more complicated for everyone and may be quite daunting for some otherwise eligible voters.
Our job now is to mobilize as many people as we can
- to find registered voters who lack an acceptable photo ID and help them acquire one;
- to register new voters and help them with obtaining the documents they will need.
Here's what you can do:
Sign up as a volunteer for voter registration. In the comments section, tell us how you would like Grassroots North Shore to organize and support voter registration efforts.
Beginning with an election occurring after April 7, 2015, every Wisconsin voter will be required to show "an acceptable photo ID" at the polling place. The rules for "acceptable" IDs can be somewhat complicated but here's what the Government Accountability Board specifies:
Wisconsin law requires the Department of Transportation to provide free ID cards to any individual who will be at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election and who requests a free ID for the purpose of voting.
Due to the need to provide a birth certificate and other documents to receive a DOT-issued ID, individuals should start the process of obtaining a statutory identification well in advance of an election at which they wish to vote.
The Department of Transportation's website specifies what it takes to get a Wisconsin ID from the Department of Transportation. And thanks to an "administrative tweak" the Wisconsin Supreme Court provided when it ruled on the Voter ID law, DMV offices are supposed to be able to locate verifying documents such as birth certificates for applicants at no cost. But it may take some time for the verification process. That's why it's vital that we begin NOW to work with citizens to ensure that everyone eligible to vote will be able to vote in the next election.
Complicating matters further, DMV offices have limited hours. In Milwaukee, DMV service centers are generally open from 8:30-4:45 on weekdays. The Milwaukee-Southwest service Center, at 5500 W. Grange Avenue in Greendale, has Saturday morning hours from 8:30am - noon. In Ozaukee County, the Saukville service center is closed on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is open from 8:45am - 4:pm; on Wednesdays, it is open from 12:30pm - 6:00pm.