In literature Science Fiction takes current trends and shows through exaggeration where, if left unchecked, they may lead us. George Orwell's novel, 1984 was published in 1949 but returned to the best-seller lists in 2017. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, published in 1985 is not only back on the best-seller list but is also a successful television show. They both speak to today's conflicts and the decimation of societal norms.
I mention this because I recently saw Boots Riley new film, Sorry to Bother You. Yes, it is a comedy but it has the same power as 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. Here in Wisconsin, we see state Republicans extolling our low unemployment but hear nothing about the stagnant salaries, shrinking middle class, and safety nets under attack. Much like Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, Riley presents a chilling solution, the return of slavery albeit marketed as a safe existence free from the worries of providing for oneself and one's family.
Orwell and Atwood did not provide a roadmap for averting potential catastrophic outcomes but we have one -- VOTE.
Have you ever noticed our mission statement, WE ARE A GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS WHO WORK TO ADVOCATE, EDUCATE AND INFORM FOR PROGRESSIVE CHANGE AND SOLUTIONS? Sometimes that is not easy. We have a policy not to endorse in primaries where two or more Progressives are running for the same office. We want to support the candidate who is running in November against the Republican. There is one exception to the rule. Sometimes there is no Republican running for a seat making the winner of the primary the defacto winner of the election as in the Milwaukee Co. Sheriff's race. (More on that in a few weeks).
So, how can we fulfill our mission statement to inform? We are asking candidates in contested primaries the opportunity to write op-eds for our newsletter and website. We only make one stipulation -- no opponent bashing. Tell our readers what is right about you, not what is wrong with your opponent.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear from candidates.Read more
Last weeks Governors Forum was our biggest event to date with close to 200 in attendance. You can view a copy of the live stream here. The candidates were all class preferring to talk about their individual strengths rather than bash each other. The one thing they all agreed on, however, is that Foxconn is bad for Wisconsin which leads to the first of this week's two major actions.
A new group, the Gaia Coalition, Is organizing a protest for the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Foxconn debacle. The Republican bigwigs will be there in mass. So will we. The event will start at Smolenski Park, 438 S Stuart Rd, Mt Pleasant, WI 53406 at noon. If you are attending the organizers ask for two things: 1) Carpool if possible and 2) Protest signs should highlight issues, not people.
The second opportunity this week to demonstrate is around immigration. Saturday is the Day of Action, Keeping Families Together. Again, carpools are recommended (check details below).
Today's Supreme Court decisions were disappointing. They ruled against a California law that would require "crisis pregnancy centers" to share information about abortion with clients.
They also upheld the Administration's Muslim Ban. "In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservatives said the president’s statutory power over immigration was not undermined by his history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to Americans."
We knew in November of 2016 that this would be a marathon, not a sprint. At least we will not endure The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. We will be running this marathon together, holding each other up until we cross the finish line.Read more
I would love to start a caravan of Grandmothers to our southern border so that we could hold and nurture the children being used as pawns. That action, however, may be a bit more than I can personally accomplish. That does not mean that I can't show my disgust with the administration that is making it happen. There is a new group in town, The Gaia Coalition. They have created Operation Shake the Ground and enlisted the support of 21 local organizations, GRNS among them. It appears that Trump will be there. Let's give him the welcome that he deserves. There is no address for the event, just a map to Mt. Pleasant. Afterward, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal business executive, Ted Kellner will host a luncheon fundraiser.
By now you have no doubt heard about the Supreme Courts non-decision about Wisconsin's suit for Fair Maps. The issue is not dead. It is not even on life support. We just need to keep working. The Washington Post provides a good explanation of what we must do going forward. Of course, we could flip the Legislature and Governor to Democrat.
With that in mind:
What Would You Ask the Next Governor of Wisconsin?
During the last two weeks, our newsletter previewed responses to two questions for candidates speaking at our Governor Candidates’ Forum, which you can attend the afternoon of Sunday, June 24th at Ovation Sarah Chudnow Campus in Mequon. Those responses were from Matt Flynn, Paul Soglin, and Kelda Helen Roys, Mahlon Mitchell, and Tony Evers. Today you will find out how Mike McCabe and Kathleen Vinehout answered our questions.
Question 1- What is the role and responsibility of the state regarding protection of immigrants?
Wisconsin should set an example for the nation to follow by swimming against the political current and resisting the backward anti-immigration agenda of the current federal administration.
Once elected, my administration will set a new tone for Wisconsin that acknowledges and honors the contributions to our society made by immigrants, opposes xenophobic federal policies on immigration (including current ICE enforcement practices), stands in favor of creating pathways to citizenship, and works to establish a new mindset that is welcoming and hospitable toward immigrants rather suspicious and hostile.
There also is a great deal that needs to be done to change policing and stop racial profiling, but no step is more important than reversing the philosophical shift that has moved policing away from a “protect and serve” mission to one that can best be described as “intimidate and control.” In addition, Wisconsin should be a safe harbor for Dreamers. DACA has allowed more than 7,500 young people to live and work legally in the state and has undeniably benefited the state’s economy. I have seen estimates that ending DACA would take substantially more than $400 million out of Wisconsin’s economy annually. Ending DACA is not only unjust immigration policy, it is counterproductive economic policy.
As Governor, I will direct my cabinet to use the powers and resources of the state to help those who are suffering from discrimination, racial profiling, fear of harassment and separation from their families. This includes working with nonprofit organizations that provide support including legal aid to protect families from separation.
I will set a tone that welcomes all people regardless of immigrant status. Words and symbols are powerful means of changing attitudes.
I joined with Representative Zamarripa as the Senate sponsor of SB 210 which prohibited the State of Wisconsin Investment Board from investing in securities from companies that plan, construct, or design the proposed wall along the U.S. Mexican border.
I would work with the Legislature to pass a drivers’ card for immigrants in Wisconsin. Under the federal REAL ID law, states can provide a drivers’ card option for those who do not have a social security number. AB 727, which I co-sponsored, provided that option.
I would work to restore the eligibility for in-state tuition rates at public universities and colleges for undocumented students in Wisconsin that was repealed in 2011.
Many communities have experienced a dramatic increase in immigrant children who are English Learners. Two examples: Green Bay has 600 Somali students; in Arcadia 84% of primary grade children are Latino. In our Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding Reform we heard testimony that in 1990, the state paid 63% of the cost of the bilingual/bicultural program. The current rate is about 8%. In my first budget, as Governor, I would fully fund Bilingual-Bicultural education.
I would veto any bill like Senate Bill 275 that commandeers local law enforcement in the service of the federal immigration authorities or punishes local governments that do not want to take on this role.
Question 2 - Would you leave as is the current public versus voucher structure? If not, how would you propose changing and funding that relationship?
Wisconsin has been trying to fund two separate and parallel systems of education and can’t do justice by one. There should be a basic rule for government. If a program works, keep it and fund it. If it doesn’t work, get rid of it. By that standard, taxpayer-subsidized private schooling should be ended. Handing out state-funded subsidies that make taxpayers pick up the tab for more than 33,000 Wisconsin students to attend private schools will cost the state in the neighborhood of $580 million over the next two years.
Nearly 900,000 students attend public schools in Wisconsin. When the voucher program was started in 1990, it was pitched as a way to boost student achievement, improve school quality and give families more educational choices. Test scores and other indicators show voucher students are not doing any better than those attending public schools and by some measures are actually doing worse. Overall school quality in Wisconsin has slipped. Most families receiving vouchers already were privately schooling their children before receiving vouchers, shooting a hole in the argument that the program provides choices that didn’t previously exist. The state’s private school subsidy program has been around for 27 years and has failed to deliver the promised results.
Student achievement hasn’t increased. Wisconsin’s education system has not been made better, it’s been made worse. Families aren’t getting more choices, taxpayers are mostly just subsidizing the decisions some families already were making and previously were paying for themselves. Resources are being siphoned away from community schools, weakening them badly. After all these years, it’s clear the voucher experiment hasn’t worked. We shouldn’t throw good money after bad. We should pull the plug on this failed subsidy.
Public dollars should be spent on public programs that are accountable to the public. Public tax dollars should not be spent on private programs that are not accountable to the public.
I would stop the statewide voucher expansion and the statewide special needs voucher system passed by Republicans a few years ago. In my alternative budgets, I took this money to more fully fund public schools. And, I would do this in my first budget as Governor. I would veto any law that, in any way, expanded public dollars going to private school subsidies.
I would work to change the laws that now exist that treat public schools unfairly. I would make sure public schools are paid at least what private schools are paid to take care of the same kids. Further, existing private schools should follow all the same rules, the same tests, the same accountability, and the same standards as public schools. I would eliminate the expensive tax credit that allows parents to deduct private school tuition from their income taxes.
Further, I would fully fund our public schools. This means making dramatic changes to the way we pay for schools. Recognizing that some students costs more to educate and students needs have changed in a way our present funding formula does not take into account. Reliance on the property tax to fund schools should be reduced. State aid should cover a larger percentage of the costs.
Every student deserves a great public school. For those parents that want to go to private school, I say, “Great – that is your choice – but you need to pay for that private education.”
Many important questions will be asked and answered on June 24th-- sign up to come and then bring your friends, family, and colleagues along. Free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.
Sunday, June 24, Ovation, Sarah Chudnow Campus, 10995 N. Market St., Mequon. RSVP TodayRead more
This past weekend was the Wisconsin Democratic Party Convention. Keynote Speaker was Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana and, so help me, I saw a star rising. There was also no shortage of home-grown stars who are running for offices all across our state. Most notably is the Gubernatorial Field.
On Sunday, June 24th, we will be hosting our own forum at Sarah Chudnow Campus in Mequon, WI. In preparation, we asked the candidates to submit answers to two questions which we will share with you over the next three weeks as we lead up to the Forum. First, however, a bit of a disclaimer/explanation. Our events usually require 3-4 months of planning. When we started we used the Marquette Poll to invite the six highest polling candidates. We request your patience while we attempt to remain responsive to the ever-changing numbers. Our goal is to provide enough time for each of the candidates to speak and for there to also be time for questions. We may be having some changes to the line-up. For now, we will share the answers that have been submitted.
Question 1- What is the role and responsibility of the state regarding protection of immigrants?
Respect. Tolerance. Inclusivity.
It is time for Wisconsin to turn a new page. Open lines of communication are critical – with both immigrant communities and local law enforcement. Miscommunication is all too often the root of problems and frankly a goal for those seeking to divide us. Combating false information, building trust and providing adequate community resources are important pieces of the solution if we are going to build our communities up instead of giving in to federal fear.
I support in-state tuition for undocumented students and would support driver’s cards for undocumented workers. As Governor, I would direct the Attorney General to join the lawsuit challenging President Trump’s termination of the DACA program. Furthermore, I would veto abhorrent legislation (like AB 190) meant to intimidate, scare and punish families in Wisconsin. While immigration generally is a federal issue – we have the ability to set the tone as a state about how we treat our friends, neighbors and fellow Wisconsinites.
Save our sacred Native American communities, we are a nation of immigrants. The state of Wisconsin should do everything within its legal power to defend all Wisconsinites, regardless of where they come from. Our immigrant populations will make or break our economic future. If we continue on our current path, immigrants will no longer look at our state or country as a land of economic opportunity and freedom.
We will lose out on an entire generation of people who want something better and can add to our economy. As Governor, I will champion our immigrants and the positive contributions they provide to our country.
Question 2 - Would you leave as is the current public versus voucher structure? If not, how would you propose changing and funding that relationship?
As a former educator, principal, district administrator and now as Wisconsin’s State Superintendent of Schools, I have dedicated my life to helping our kids and for 20 years, fighting the privatization of our schools. Our public schools are the heart and soul of so many Wisconsin communities but they also are essential to sustainable, innovative and long-term economic growth and workforce development.
From “Divide and Conquer” with our educators to cutting over $1 billion from our schools, Scott Walker has not been a friend of public education. Since 2011, over 1 million Wisconsinites have voted to raise their own property taxes because Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have not adequately funded our public schools. This problem has only been compounded by the financing of a second school system via Wisconsin’s private school voucher program.
Given inaction by both Republican and Democratic majorities to eliminate this program, I’ve worked across the aisle to increase transparency and accountability within our voucher schools. As Governor, I won’t kick 30,000 kids out of their school, but I do believe we can work to phase out the statewide voucher program. If the legislature passes a bill, I will sign it.
Throughout Wisconsin – rural, urban, small cities – school districts have cut art, band, physical education, libraries are un-staffed, and students use decades-old textbooks. This is Scott Walker’s legacy for K-12 education in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s taxpayers cannot afford two separate and unequal school systems. We must remain committed to ensuring that all youth receive a globally competitive education, but the reality for Wisconsin and our nation is that quality of education is dependent on zip code. Because
of this, alternative schools have become a popular option - but they shouldn’t become the norm. I have long said, public dollars should go to public education to ensure that no matter age, race, socioeconomic status or neighborhood our children have abundant resources and their educators are adequately supported. Absent that, communities
across Wisconsin have had to consider alternative options.
As Governor, I'll do everything I can to reverse the damage that 8 years of Scott Walker have done to our schools and, simultaneously, the future of our state. I will fully invest in Wisconsin’s public schools and continue to stand up for the needs of our educators.
Next week we will publish two more responses, so stay tuned. If you haven't yet sent your rsvp for the event, you can do so here.Read more
You may notice the same wording used several times in this week's events:
Orange is a color associated with safety. Everything from life vests to traffic cones is orange, and orange is the color hunters wear to protect themselves and others. Orange also was the favorite color of Hadiya Pendleton, whose friends organized the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day in 2015 to honor the talented young woman who was shot and killed at the age of 15, just one week after performing at President Obama’s second inauguration. The vision of these young friends has become a national movement–June 2 is now Wear Orange Day across America.
We wish we could say that this is a new issue that we have nip quickly. It has happened so often that we fear people are getting used to it. DON'T. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. We have highlighted the issue in previous newsletters here and pieces on our blog here and here. So, why has nothing changed?
I learned something when I saw RBG this weekend. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's lifetime of work is predicated on the belief that lasting change comes in small steps. When Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School she was one of two women. The class of 2020 is 48% female. It did not happen quickly, but the change is permanent (as long as we don't end up in a Dystopian future like The Handmaid's Tale).
What can you do to help facilitate change? A lot. You can attend one of the events on Thursday and Friday. You can also ask questions. Let your current and future legislators know that you will be voting based on their stances about background checks and other sane legislation to control the epidemic of gun violence. Look below at the items in orange. They are all opportunities to ask candidates and public officials if they support gun legislation and what their plans are to accomplish that goal.
We will most certainly be asking those questions at our own Governor's Forum.
Help Us Interview the Next Governor of Wisconsin
On the afternoon of Sunday, June 24th at Ovation Sarah Chudnow Campus in Mequon, the six top-polling candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor will respond to a wide array of questions and issues at a Grassroots North Shore forum.
Candidates have already sent in their views on two important questions:
1) What is the role and responsibility of the state regarding protection of immigrants?
2) Would you leave in place the current public versus voucher structure? If not, how would you propose changing and funding that relationship?
Their responses will be presented in next week’s newsletter. Tune in next week and check out what they have to say.
Then rsvp (or do it now) to find out what else they believe in and stand for. We need more information to make a good choice, and this is our chance.
Many more questions will be asked and answered on June 24th-- sign up to come and then bring your friends, family, and colleagues along.
Matt Flynn, Paul Soglin, Mahlon Mitchell, Tony Evers, Mike McCabe, Kathleen Vinehout
Doors open 3:00, presentation begins at 3:30; light refreshments served; free and open to the public.Read more
I spent the summer of 1965 in Berkeley, CA as part of The Encampment for Citizenship, a program for teens to teach and encourage social engagement. The Encampment prepares young people to be informed, responsible and effective global citizens through experiential learning and through living in a diverse, democratic community. It was most certainly an amazing time to be in Berkeley and yes, I am that old.
One evening a group of us went into San Fransisco to the Hungry i, to hear a set performed by Tom Lehrer, a math Professor from MIT. It was, to say the least, a memorable experience. It occurs to me now, how many of those subjects Lehrer satirized have returned to again bite us in our collective derrieres.
So please join me in a trip down memory alley to look at some of the things that scared us then and have returned today in all new proportions.
- The Environment in his song Pollution, where he indicates that ours is becoming a country where you can't drink the water or breathe the air.
- Drug Addiction where he discussed the role of the dealer in The Old Dope Peddler.
- Inclusion where he predicts that National Brotherhood Week will only be for show and that hate will win out.
- Racism as an entrenched reality in I Want to Go Back to Dixie.
- The Military in It Makes a Fellow Proud to be a Soldier and Send the Marines
- Nuclear War, which by 1965 seemed to have been averted. Leher commented on the possibility in several pieces:
This was some of the satire from the 60's that got us through. I wish it were not so relevant today and wonder what Tom Lehrer would do with today's list of new horrors. EVENTSRead more
On August 14, 2018, we will hold a Primary Election to decide who will run to replace the current governor. After that will come a blitz of fundraising and advertising -- at least for the Democratic Candidate. The Republican is not waiting until then. Scott Walker's campaign started with an ad in October 2017. Since then we have seen a lot of shenanigans in these ads and in what he purports to have done for the state.
- Education - Walker claims that his budget will give more to public education than ever. "We are investing more money into education than ever before in the history of Wisconsin." One problem. He does not account for inflation in that claim. When adjusted for inflation 2011 per student spending was $13,112, considerably higher than $12,329 spent in 2017.
- Welfare "Reform" - What the current administration calls "reform" is a continuation of race-baiting and innuendo. The Progressive's analysis is spot on. Walker's ad cuts to a black woman for his example. In reality, 56-68 percent of the welfare recipients in Wisconsin are white. Additionally, the largest chunk of money goes to children who receive 43 percent of the total allotment.
- Jobs - Walker claimed that if Democrats get control of the Executive Branch the Foxconn deal would be over. He based this on Dana Wachs' statement that he would hold Foxconn accountable for the terms of the contract and if the company violates those terms, he would push to extricate the state from the agreement. When interviewed this past Sunday by Mike Gousha on his show "UpFront" Walker said, “What other company in the world would consider coming to this state if that’s the kind of leadership that’s going to be in place?” When did holding to the terms of a contract become a demonstration of poor leadership?
- Taxes - In a blatant attempt to buy votes Walker instituted a $100 child tax credit. "Parents will have from May 15 to July 2 to sign up for the tax rebate on a state Department of Revenue website that has yet to be launched.[As of this newsletter, the site has launched] They'll then receive the rebate checks later in the summer — just a few months before the November election. " (MJS)
Bottom line: Don't be duped by ads and phony rhetoric.
IMMIGRATION EVENT RECAP from Shirley Horowitz
Q: WHAT HAPPENED in Shorewood on the evening of April 29th?
A: More than 70 people attended the Focus on Immigration evening at North Shore Presbyterian Church. They enjoyed delicious ethnic treats, shared stories about how their families originally came to the United States and learned how the current legal landscape today compares with immigration of the past.
Speakers detailed immigration’s past rules and their effects. Grassroots North Shore extends a hearty thank you to Professor Rachel Buff for her illuminating tour through immigration history, and to Kelly Fortier for her fascinating and funny but sometimes horrifying rendition of current immigration requirements, and to Nancy Flores and Miguel Lopez of Voces de la Frontera for the heartfelt and riveting story they recounted of coming to the United States as an undocumented immigrant.
The audience learned that long wait times for green cards, sometimes spanning decades, have contributed to people coming to the United States by unorthodox means. For example, a married son or daughter sponsored by a US citizen parent will usually wait 13 years to be reunited with child; for a U.S. citizen parent from Mexico, it would be 23 years before the child could enter.
Speakers’ presentations were followed by a 30-minute Q&A from the audience. The questions regarding immigration and its past effects on the United States were sometimes surprising and always informative; the questions regarding the future of immigration remain and can only be answered by how we respond to its challenges.
Maybe this will be the “Year of the Woman”, maybe not, but it is the year of the women candidates I am happy to say! We know that women have a different and needed understanding and perspective in policy areas such as healthcare, transportation, education, jobs and the environment. And we know that, of course, women should be equally represented in all levels of government, right? We also agree that women make up 50% of the population in Wisconsin. Those are facts, as are the following:
22% of City Council positions are held by women
20.4% of County Board positions are held by women
19% of Circuit Court judges are women
22% of WI Assembly members are women
27% of WI Senate members are women
For 3 decades the percentage of women in the WI Legislature has hovered at 25%.
Organizations are working hard to change this. Emerge Wisconsin trains Democratic women to run for public office. This round of training has 32 women from rural and urban areas. As an Emerge alum says, “Women need to step up if they want to see change.”
Women Lead’s mission is to support and promote viable pro-choice progressive women running for office in Wisconsin and seeks to make a direct and immediate impact on legislative policy affecting women’s rights and reproductive health while building a pipeline of seasoned candidates to run in future races.
Here is a sampling of the fantastic legislative candidates running in the southeastern part of Wisconsin:
Marisabel Cabrera- AD 9 www.votemarisabel.com
Lillian Cheeseman- AD 15 www.wisconsinlikescheese.com
Charisse Daniels- AD 37 www.charisseforwisconsin.com
Erica Flynn AD 84- www.flynnforassembly.com
Julie Henszey SD 5- www.julieforwi.com
Christine Rahlf- AD 60 www.chrisrahlfforassembly.com
Emily Siegrist- AD 24 www.emilysiegristforwi.com
Liz Sumner- AD 23 www.lizforwisconsin.com
Gina Walkington- AD 61 www.walkingtonforwi.com
Come and meet some of them on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, at 1122 N. Astor St., 5 to 7:30 PM.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* We at Grassroots North Shore urge our members to judge all candidates based on individual strengths.
DoYou Want to Help the Blue Wave? Are you a great phonebanker? Here is your chance to help.
Caleb Frostman is running in a special election for State Senate to represent the 1st District. His campaign set up a virtual phone bank so that we can help. If you have never participated in a Virtual Phone Bank, it is quite easy. You will always be calling someone who has not been contacted by anyone else. Check out the directions and links here.Read more
From 1998 until 2012 I taught high school English in highly conservative Washington County. In addition to teaching I learned. I discovered that Republican is not a synonym for racist. I learned that we do not own social justice. I discovered that we all want the best for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. How was it possible for us both to be good people while agreeing on almost nothing. It all comes down to our definitions. We all agree on the definition of self; we have some differences on the meaning of family; we completely differ in our definition of community. For some, community extends only as far their city limits, for others, it extends only as far as their block and for yet others, their community ends at their front door. For those of us who identify as Liberal, our sense of community extends to all who live and breathe.
Short of spending a decade working in a conservative community, how do we discover our similarities, our shared humanity? More important, how do we all become part of the same community? We must build bridges and that begins with talking and listening. Grassroots North Shore has two upcoming events that address that precise need. On Wednesday, Jan 31, we are hosting WAVE for How to Talk About Guns and Protection. The talk will be at our office, 5600 W. Brown Deer Rd. #116, from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. The second event is broader, focusing on knocking on doors and building relationships based on shared values and we need to do this before we start asking people to vote for specific candidates. To that end, please join us on Feb. 24, in our Bridge Building initiative. You can read more about it and sign up to participate on our website.