Eilene Stevens published Gerrymandering & healthcare are huge issues in Newsletter Archive 2019-05-29 14:11:38 -0500
There's big news on the gerrymandering/fair elections front: Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Robyn Vining will introduce a nonpartisan redistricting bill, LRB 2062/1, and hold a press conference on Tuesday, June 4, in the Assembly Parlor at 11:30am. If you are going to be in the Madison area, please make time to show your support by attending that event.
And if you're going to be in the Milwaukee area on Tuesday, June 4, drop by our office at 5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116, between 3pm and 6pm to send a postcard to your own Senator and Assembly representative to urge them to support Fair Maps and the bill that will mandate a nonpartisan process modeled on Iowa's successful plan. We'll look up all the info you need and supply the postcards and stamps. Go to our RSVP or Facebook event pages for more information.
If you bring a cell phone, you can also call their offices and lobby them to support the Medicaid (BadgerCare) expansion. Not only would 82,000 more people in Wisconsin have healthcare coverage, but the state budget would be enhanced by millions of dollars that could be spent on education, infrastructure, environmental protection — you name it. Medicaid expansion is a win-win for our state. We want our Senators and Representatives to back it. You can let us know you're coming on our RSVP or Facebook event pages. Hope to see you there.
In other news on Fair Elections, federal courts in Michigan and Ohio have ruled extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional, as have courts in Wisconsin (in 2017), North Carolina, and Maryland. Both the court in MI and the one in OH ruled that electoral maps must be redrawn before the 2020 elections! As expected, however, the Supreme Court, stayed those orders until the pending cases from NC and MD are decided by the end of June this year. Our own Whitford case, now enhanced with additional plaintifs to address the issue of standing that the Supreme Court used to send the case back to the trial court, will be heard in July.
Meanwhile, as late night host Stephen Colbert often says, Ariel Procaccia has a not-to-be-missed article in the La Crosse Tribune today on the role of statistical analysis in adjudicating extreme partisan gerrymanders. According to this account, math can be used to find problematic cases: "At the heart of [this] approach is the idea of testing whether the map in question is abnormal when compared against random maps that only account for legal and geographical constraints, and are generated in a way that's oblivious to partisan machinations." Although he offers no concrete evidence in support of his claim, Procaccia argues that the Court is more receptive to the so-called outlier-detection method than it appeared to be to the efficiency-gap method the Whitford case in part relied on. The piece is called To beat gerrymandering, do the math. It's worth the read.
This issue is very much in the national news lately (despite all the attention the press pays to His Idiot's tweets and other nonsense pronouncements). In The Hill, Lon Johnson reports that "only 2 percent of Americans say American elections work all of the time. It also found that fighting gerrymandering and corruption has bipartisan support, with 82 percent of Americans saying they are concerned with the corruption of the system, and believe gerrymandering is undemocratic and should be illegal." New Hampshire's Senate has just passed a bill to create a commission to redraw its legislative maps. And according to NBC news, half of the states have considered what's known as "prison gerrymandering" in the last few years. Six states have now passed laws "to require that prisoners be counted at their pre-incarceration addresses — instead of where they're serving time...." The change matters because "[w]hile a significant number of correctional facilities are located in comparatively rural areas that are largely Republican and predominantly white, prisoners tend to hail from urban, often Democratic communities...." We have the moral high ground on this issue. Help Grassroots North Shore, the Fair Maps Coalition, and fair-minded people everywhere win this campaign, all over the nation and right here in Wisconsin!
And finally, a heads-up on another issue Grassroots North Shore has singled out for attention as we head into the Democratic primary season: reforming healthcare, again. Confused by all the different healthcare proposals the Democratic Party's candidates for president are supporting? Then don't miss Robert Kraig's discussion, The Future of Healthcare in the US. He will explain what's at stake and what the various proposals set out to do. This will be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of a healthcare expert! Grassroots North Shore is hosting the event on Sunday, June 23, at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee). Doors will open at 2:30pm and the program will begin at 3:00pm (with lots of easy parking behind the church). As usual, we are asking that people RSVP on our website or our Facebook event page so we will have enough goodies for everyone.Read more
It is the best of times and the worst of times, maybe. In a national poll released by Quinnipiac on May 21, Trump's approval-disapproval numbers were 38% approve and a whopping 57% disapprove. Voters apparently are not impressed with his handling of foreign affairs or trade. Meanwhile, "54 percent of American voters say they 'definitely' will not vote for him, compared to 52 percent in an April 30 Quinnipiac University National Poll. Today, 31 percent say they 'definitely' will vote for Trump and 12 percent say they will 'consider voting for him.' ... Definitely not voting for Trump are 10 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independent voters." Our job is to make sure we turn out everyone who claims they will definitely not vote for our Liar in Chief! And that's the good news.
The bad is more diffuse. It's good that at least some documents from the intelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election will be supplied to the House Judiciary Committee, but we're a long way from doing whatever needs to be done to protect our elections from intrusion and manipulation. And the testimony of Bob Mueller, Don McGahn, and others remains uncertain and unscheduled, either in the House Judiciary Committee or the Intelligence Committee. The whole national scene — including the performance of HUD Secretary Ben Carson yesterday, the ongoing tragedies at our southern border, the policies of our Secretary of Education, and the drum beat for war in Iran — depresses me. The nightmare we are living through never lets up, never ends.
Here in Wisconsin, there is apparently no progress in negotiations between the GOP dominated legislature and Democratic Governor Tony Evers. At stake — school funding, the future of voucher schools, Medicaid expansion, nonpartisan redistricting, and the ever contentious but ever needy infrastructure enhancement. What we have learned, of course, is that it's not enough to vote, to win elections. We need to keep up the pressure, especially on the legislature, to compromise, at the very least. Voting for the federal dollars that come with the Medicaid expansion — never mind providing affordable health coverage for 82,000 of our neighbors — would be the right thing to do. If we call, write, and demonstrate in large enough numbers, wobbly Republicans might get the message. So do your part and call or write you legislators TODAY. You can find contact info for your Senator and Assembly Representative here: legis.wisconsin.gov.
Our local Democratic organizer, Davette Baker, has two announcements to pass along:We are going to be having a DPW Grassroots Call with Special Guest, Representative Jimmy Anderson on Tuesday, May 28th at 6:00 pm to strategize about actions surrounding Medicaid Expansion over the summer. Please dial-in using your phone: 605-562-0400 Access code: 428 0380#.
Our hope is to show the grassroots support for Medicaid Expansion in key legislative districts where Republicans may feel pressured to vote our way. We need all the help we can get to make sure our Representatives hear our voices. We will be having a Weekend of Action on June 29th - 30th to knock on doors, make phone calls, write letters to the editor & more. Please stay tuned for events forthcoming next week.
Grassroots North Shore will be holding at least one phone bank to call our supporters and urge them to call Senator Darling, and Representatives Knodl and Ott. We'll get that organized as soon as we can and will send out an action alert to call for volunteers. Stay tuned.
Finally, make sure you save the date for an educational program on the healthcare proposals national candidates are providing. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, will discuss The Future of Healthcare in the US. This will be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of a healthcare expert! Grassroots North Shore is hosting the event on Sunday, June 23, at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee). Doors will open at 2:30pm and the program will begin at 3:00pm. As usual, we are asking that people RSVP on our website or our Facebook event page so we will have enough goodies for everyone.
Eilene Stevens published as we head into a Constitutional Crisis... in Newsletter Archive 2019-05-15 12:31:48 -0500
The nation's capital is undergoing unfathomable turmoil and the rest of America is rattled to the core, it seems. Either you turn on the news every day to see what the newest challenge to our Constitution and the rule of law is, as I do, or you avert your eyes because it is all just too much to bear. It is hard to be a helpless witness to history! So perhaps the best thing to do is to turn your attention to areas where your voice and your activism can still make a difference. Although the Republicans have voted to remove pretty much every one of Governor Evers's initiatives from his proposed budget, we're still fighting the good fight on a number of crucial fronts.
On the BadgerCare expansion, the League of Progressive Seniors is spearheading a move to have a massive state-wide demo in an effort to get attention for the Medicaid Expansion. We can win this fight, just as we won the effort to prevent the complete repeal of Obamacare. So stay tuned and plan to participate. I will let you know once a date, time and place have been firmed up for this event. And in case you've momentarily forgotten just how central this issue is, I want to remind you that the health insurance for thousands of Wisconsin citizens is not the only thing at stake. If the state takes the Federal dollars that come with the expansion, we can fund the Evers proposals for schools, roads, and more. It's that important.
On the Fair Maps front, the Coalition has begun a new initiative to get yard signs posted all around the state in noticeable numbers. The Fair Elections Project is taking orders for bundles of 25 signs at $4 per sign ($100 for 25 signs, $200 for 50 signs, etc.) Once an order is placed, the organization will get in touch with instructions about how to pick them up either in Milwaukee on June 1 or in Madison on June 2. You or the organization distributing them are free to sell them at cost or for a profit (which you can keep!). If you'd like to participate and either want to order signs in bulk yourself or have access to an organization that might purchase and sell or distribute them, you'll find all the information you need at fairelectionsproject.org/yardsigns. For more information, email email@example.com. And while you're visiting the Fair Elections Project website, be sure to sign the petition.
Sunday, May 5, was a beautiful spring day. So a lot of people opted for outdoor activities that day and missed Reggie Jackson's wonderful presentation on the history of racial segregation in Milwaukee. If you are one of those people, here's a very brief recap. You'll find a longer and more interesting account on our website, including information about local organizations who are working to address the issues.
What Did Reggie Jackson Tell Us about the Hidden Impact of Segregation in his May 5th Presentation?
by Chistine Kuramoto
Milwaukee ranks as the "most segregated" metropolitan area in the U.S., and Wisconsin is the second most segregated state in the nation, said Jackson. Jackson reviewed the history of Wisconsin housing segregation progression, citing policy specifics at both local and national levels. He noted effects of contracts for individual sales restricted sales to "Caucasian" buyers; the contracts were legally enforced until 1948. On the Federal level, an agency called the Home Owners' Loan Corporation shaped real estate reality, and gave realtors and lenders resources to implement color-coded maps for discriminatory purposes.
Grassroots North Shore is dedicated to education around vital issues and engagement to help make the changes we all want to see. In years like this one when there are either no or very few elections, we like to focus on a few key issues. High on our list this year (and pretty much every year) are race relations, voting rights, the environment, gun safety, public education, criminal justice reform, immigration, and healthcare. We will undoubtedly sponsor programs and activities around most if not all of these issues over the next eight months. Our Facebook page, our website, and this newsletter are the surest ways to keep track of our activities and to RSVP for the ones of most interest to you. So LIKE us on Facebook, VISIT our website, and of course READ this newsletter!
Apropos of our interest in voting rights, there's been big news about gerrymandering this past week. While the US Supreme Court is still deciding whether to declare extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional in the two cases before it (one from Maryland and one from North Carolina), a three-judge district court in Michigan unanimously ruled that state's maps for state and federal offices unconstitutional. Moreover, it has mandated that the state redraw the districts before the 2020 election. (See the Washington Post article, April 25, 2019.) If this outcome sounds familiar, it should. As Nicholas Stephanopoulos points out in his electionlawblog post, The Emerging Consensus of the Lower Courts, "The decision is ... further proof that, while the Supreme Court continues to debate the issue, the lower courts have found a way to identify—and invalidate—extreme gerrymanders."
Lest you think that this issue is too esoteric or too minor for your attention, let me explain why it is foundational — to our democracy and to the hopes we have for our beloved state of Wisconsin. You see, unless we achieve fair maps, we cannot change who sits in our Assembly or our Senate. The election last November showed that the Assembly district maps (on which the state Senate district maps are dependent) are so partisan in their makeup that even the sort of wave election we saw last fall cannot make a dent in the grip the GOP has on legislative power. Although the statewide vote for Assembly went heavily for Democrats (roughly 54%), Republicans "won" 63 of the 99 seats!
None of the issues we care deeply about — the state of our environment, criminal justice reform, the funding of public education and rethinking the role of tax dollars in voucher schools and so on — can be successfully addressed with the GOP so firmly in control. In truth, the legislators do not need to listen to their constituents when elections are forgone conclusions. Even if a huge majority of WI counties (46 of 72 and counting) and huge support among voters back nonpartisan redistricting (the January Marquette Law School poll measured support at 72% statewide), our current legislators will not pay any attention. Unless we raise our voices so that they can no longer ignore us.
That's why we're asking you to take an hour or so to send postcards to the members of the Joint Finance Committee to "flood the zone" and let them know that we really care about this issue! We've organized some postcard parties to get the job done but we need your help. We have everything you will need — including postcards with a simple message already printed on them, pens, stamps, and names and addresses. Really, all we need is YOU. Please take a little of your time to make this postcard campaign a success! You can sign up for one of the three currently scheduled events right here.
Tuesday, April 30 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116),1:30-3:30pm
Friday, May 3 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116), 3:00-4:30pm
- Thursday, May 9 at at Martha Pincus's house (7045 N Belmont Ln, Fox Point, 53217), from 5:00-6:30pm
As we move deeper into May, we're holding a public presentation on why Milwaukee is and remains such a segregated city. On Sunday, May 5, Reggie Jackson, Head Griot for America's Black Holocaust Museum, will speak to us about this issue and will offer some ideas about how we address the problems. The event will take place at Plymouth Church (2717 N Hampshire St, Milwaukee) from 3:00-5:00pm (doors open at 2:30). Please RSVP so our team of hearty volunteers will know how to gauge the amount of light refreshments they plan to serve.
Finally, recruiting good candidates and giving them the support they need to be successful in our Assembly districts are vital to our success. Fortunately, Emily Siegrist has declared that she will run again for the 24th Assembly District. To that end, Kath Michel and I — plus a distinguished list of co-hosts — will be holding a pre-campaign kickoff and fundraiser for her. Even if you don't live in the 24th Assembly District, you can help her win by giving what you can and by coming to the event at 4:00-6:00pm at my house (7759 N River Edge Dr, Glendale). You can RSVP by email or by phone (612-590-9112) and you can donate online. You can also learn more about the event on Facebook.
- Tuesday, April 30 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116),1:30-3:30pm
Eilene Stevens published yet more shock and awe :-( ,May 16, 2017 in Newsletter Archive 2017-05-20 13:56:09 -0500
Every week is a stunner, isn't it? So much sturm und drang, so little time or energy to try to respond in a meaningful way to all of it. The key, I think, is to focus: one or two national issues/opportunities and one or two state issues/opportunities. Everyone will have her own set — I certainly have mine — so this week, instead of including a piece on a specific issue, I am offering a range of political actions individuals can take on a variety of issues.
Let's start with local issues. As the budget battles loom, there is no end of issues to address. So here are three that have been in the news lately: gas tax v. wheel tax v. bond issues; funding university scholarships with money diverted from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program; eliminating the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit and taxing investment income just like other income to free up funds for important investments.
Your job? Call your legislators, write letters to the editors, talk about these issues with family, friends, and on your social media outlets. You could also speak up at town hall and listening sessions in the area. As it happens, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is holding some "office hours" in locations that aren't too far from the North Shore! On Thursday, May 18, he'll be at the Horicon Marsh Visitors Center, N7725 St Road 28, Horicon, at 11:30 AM. On Monday, May 22, he'll be at the Johnson Creek Village Hall (Johnson Creek Village Hall, 125 Depot St, Johnson Creek) at 10:00 AM and at the Public Library in Oconomowoc (200 W South St., Oconomowoc) at 12 noon. Road trip anyone?
Even closer to home, Represenative Joe Sanfelippo will be at the New Berlin Public Library (15105 West Library Lane, New Berlin) at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 23, and at the West Allis City Hall (7525 West Greenfield Avenue, West Allis) on Wednesday, May 24 at 7:00 PM.
National issues take up a lot of the oxygen these days. We have a completely dysfunctional (and terrifying) executive branch coupled with a crassly self-serving Republican Congress. Just keeping up with the daily events is exhausting, so FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. Indivisible offers help. It's promoting some top priorities for this week:
- Call for an independent prosecutor to investigate Trump's ties to Russia. Last week, Trump not only fired FBI Director James Comey, he then went on national television and admitted that the Russia investigation was part of his reason for doing so. The American people deserve to know just how serious this administration's ties to Russia are, but it's clear that Republican Members of Congress aren't in a hurry to find the answers. And we can't trust whoever Trump nominates as the next FBI Director to take this seriously either.
- Keep defending the ACA. From Virginia to California, you made the most of Payback Recess at town halls and die-ins across the country to hold the House accountable for the shameful vote to pass TrumpCare. Now it's time to start making sure your Senators know that if they pass this bill, they can expect the same constituent outrage the House saw this recess. Need a refresher on the rest of the AHCA's path to becoming law? Read up on TrumpCare Passed the House: Now What?
- If you want to prevent the next financial crisis, this week could be your chance. Once they are back from recess, the House is planning to vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), a bill that will deregulate Wall Street. Here's your script for making calls.
A "feature" of the American Health Care Act proposes to "help" people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to set up so-called high-risk pools. Wisconsin had one of those before the ACA (Obamacare) made it unnecessary and Speaker Ryan is touting it as an example of the concept's success. The Journal Sentinel did a good job of explaining the issue (and hinting at its inadequacy) yesterday. So, if you applied for coverage under the high-risk program that preceded Obamacare and were denied or found the premiums to be way out of reach, write a letter to the editor or send me your story. I will use what you send me without attribution so that we can get these stories out to push back against the idea that high-risk pools are an adequate substitute for mandated coverage of people with pre-existing conditions without higher premiums. That's what Obamacare provides now and we must insist that these protections remain in any "replacement" the GOP enacts into law!
Finally, get beyond marching, calling, writing, and wringing your hands! Apply for an Organizing Fellowship with the Wisconsin Coordinated Campaign. The volunteer positions begin June 10th and run through August 25. Full-time fellows will commit to a minimum of 40 hours/week. Part-time fellows will commit to at least 20 hours per week. Deadline for application is Friday, May 26. This is a great opportunity for people who want to become a critical member of the next generation of community organizers. You will help our movement expand its outreach in neighborhoods across Wisconsin, and learn the skills and tools necessary to become a campaign operative.Read more
Eilene Stevens commented on LET'S TALK ABOUT GUN SENSE 2017-05-02 13:28:46 -0500Wow.Time to pick up my phone and call my legislator.
The DD:FF 2017 Challenge
You will need:
A jar Slips of paper Dedication and energy
How it works:
At the end of every week, jot down what you did to defend democracy that week and put that slip of paper into the jar. Place your jar where friends & family will see it. At the end of the year, tally it up!
The rules are simple: Not everything counts.
These actions count:
- Attended a meeting that concluded with an action plan, specific assignments, and a way to measure and report the effectiveness of each planned action.
- Wrote a letter or email to an elected official about a specific bill.
- Attended and spoke up at an elected official's town hall or mad. an appointment and presented your views/concerns to an electe. official at his/her office.
- Reached out to a member of a marginalized group and asked the. what you can do to help.
- Volunteered with a group, school, or religious organization that aids marginalized groups.
- Did voter registration or voter education.
- Helped develop, produce, or distribute voter education materials.
- Helped with a local, county, or state campaign.
- Ran for office.
- Researched and donated to an organization that is pro-democracy.
- Subscribed to a newspaper.
- Participated in, or enabled, a protest relevant to DD:FF. (‘Enabled. means you provided food, transportation, legal observing, etc..
- Attended and spoke at a public meeting of your municipal, county. school, or state government.
- Worked or volunteered at a polling place.
- Helped with a ‘sanctuary’ activity, such as providing housing or legal aid to an undocumented immigrant.
- Joined or rejoined a union.
- Bought local. Ate, shopped, or used personal services only a locally owned businesses, not big chains.
- Recruited someone for a DD:FF action.
- Researched an issue and submitted a letter to the editor about it.
- Learned how to intervene when a stranger is being harassed or taught someone else what to do.
- Made a plan to reduce your use of fossil fuels: installed sola. panels, cut back on driving, used the bus or biked instead or driving, turned down the thermostat.
- Organized an alternative activity to draw attention away from hate groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “10 Ways to Fight Hate” has many examples you can follow or adapt. Turn a negative event into a positive counter-event to raise awareness and money for community-building efforts.
- Moved money from a corporate bank to a local credit union or into a social-good investment fund.
These do not count:
- Attended a meeting that was just talk, no action plan.
- Posted something on Facebook or posted a comment on a web site.
- Signed an online petition. (Most of these exist to mine your data, and they are not very effective. See www.indivisibleguide.com.)
Eilene Stevens wants to volunteer 2014-05-13 18:57:39 -0500
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Choose to become one of those committed citizens and work with us at Grassroots North Shore. Let us know, below, what activities you will be participating in.Become a volunteer
Eilene Stevens published Building a Strong Economy in Strong Economy Articles 2013-08-13 14:05:51 -0500
Wisconsin has a proud history of prosperity through hard work and innovation. Wisconsinites are ready and willing to learn skills and put them to work. Our state also has a proud tradition of leadership in manufacturing, food production, and innovation in turning the results of medical, biological, and environmental research into valuable products. As our economy shifts from resource extraction and heavy industry to a high-tech future, Wisconsin can again take the lead in building an economy that benefits all workers and their families.Read more
I get it. The difference, I get it. We are all good people who care about others, our families, friends, neighbors, community. It’s just our sense of community goes so much further than theirs.