It's Election Day!

If you hunt hard enough in the online version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, you will see that the Federal judges' association has called an emergency meeting "to address growing concerns about the intervention of Justice Department officials and President Donald Trump in politically sensitive cases..." (jsonline, Feb 18, 2020). What you won't see is that Judge Jackson, who presides over the Stone case, has scheduled a conference call with the attorneys in the case, including the prosecutors who resigned last week, whoever is now representing the Department of Justice, and the defense attorneys. According to ploliticususa, "One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist or Matlock to figure out why this meeting is taking place. The judge is going to want to investigate the four prosecutors in the Stone case [who] quit... It is not a good sign for Trump that the judge is likely very angry and wanting answers."

Here in Wisconsin, of course, we have a primary election today. On everyone's ballot is the office of Justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If you have not voted yet, check your registration, see a sample ballot for your location, and find your polling location at myvote.wi.gov. And then go vote!

Grassroots North Shore does not generally endorse candidates in primary elections but we are supporting either Ed Fallone or Jill Karofsky for the court. You can read Karofsky's response and Fallone's response to a questionnaire from us. Whichever of these two has the most votes will undoubtedly face the incumbent, Dan Kelly, in the April 7 general election. Kelly is a Walker appointee and is a favorite of right-wing businesses in the state. The Webzine Middle Wisconsin has a great article, Buying a Judge, on the race. You might want to read it before you vote.

In other news, there's another Democratic presidential candidate debate tomorrow night (Wednesday, Feb 19, 2020). Grassroots North Shore is sponsoring a Debate Watch Party at the home of Eric Taylor but you can't sign up for it anymore! It's full. But you can watch at home (and maybe invite some friends to watch with you!) on NBC and MSNBC. It starts at 9 ET (that's 8 pm CT). In addition to those we have seen before on the debate stage, this one will feature former mayor Mike Bloomberg, who qualified at 5am ET today when NPR released a poll showing that his nationwide support stands at 19% (in second place behind Senator Bernie Sanders at 31%). Bloomberg's not on the Nevada ballot — or the South Carolina one either — but he is saturating the airwaves and social media in the Super Tuesday states. They'll vote on March 3 and will determine about 1/3 of the pledged delegates to the national convention. The debate is likely to feature some sharp elbows and may be the liveliest one yet.

Finally, you won't want to miss two upcoming events: a synopsis of our evening with national pollster and strategist Celinda Lake (Tipping Point Wisconsin, a reprise) on Wednesday, March 4, and our town hall titled Wisconsin -- It's Time for Sensible Gun Laws on Sunday, March 15. Both will offer food for thought and suggestions for what you can do to get engaged in the fight to turn Wisconsin BLUE.

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After Iowa

This week my rumination on the state of the union will either put you into a fetal crouch or make you want to work harder to turn Wisconsin BLUE in 2020. The New York Times had a story on Monday, February 10, about our own Waukesha County. Anecdotally (as usual), the piece asserted that Republicans in Waukesha are more fervent about IMPOTUS now than they were in 2016 when, according to this account, they voted for him, but somewhat reluctantly. You can either use this sort of story to give up, as Greg Sargent so cogently explains in today's Washington Post. Or you can use the NYTimes story to inspire you to engage in whatever actions you can — if not to make inroads into Waukesha County votes then to overwhelm those votes with ones from the North Shore and the northern part of Milwaukee. I hope you'll choose the latter course.

Grassroots North Shore needs your help to turn out every vote we can for the April 7 nonpartisan election. We have one more postcard party scheduled before the primary — Wednesday, February 12, from 12:30 to 2:30 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116). We're sending cards to suburban women who do not always vote in spring primaries to encourage turnout. And we'll be sending more postcards ahead of the April 7 election. We consider the postcard effort a way to reach potential voters during the winter when it is too cold and sometimes too hazardous to knock on doors. We've sent out more than 1000 cards so far — far more than we could have reached by canvassing. Please join us.

Still, canvassing remains the single most effective way to turn a prospective voter into an actual one. Although we do not have RSVP pages set up for these events yet, please mark your calendars so that you reserve time to participate. I anticipate that we will stage canvassing on Saturday, March 21, with 3-hour shifts beginning at 9am, noon, and 3pm from our Brown Deer office. Phone shifts will be organized at the same times. On Sunday, March 22, the canvassing and phone banking will be staged at Shirley Horowitz's house. The shifts will also be about 3 hours and will probably begin at noon and 2pm. Note that we "spring forward" on March 8, so it will be light until after the March 21 & 22 shifts end! Basically, the same set-up will take place the following weekend, March 28th and 29th. And we will have canvass and phone shifts set up for the four days leading up to the April 7 general election. That's April 4, 5, 6, and 7. Plan to take a shift each weekend if you can.

If you are unable to canvass, there are other ways you can participate. 1) You can offer to be a driver for a canvasser. 2) You can offer to amuse a friend's children so he or she can canvass. 3) You can phone bank. (If we manage to get the technology to work, we're also going to send texts! You can try it with us on your smart phone!) 4) You can form your own telephone tree and/or email tree and/or social media campaign to urge people to vote early (from March 23 to April 3 at least) and/or to vote on April 7. The important part is pitching in, not cowering in fear, and not relying on others to do the work necessary to win Wisconsin. You see, every vote we turn out in the spring is a vote we can more easily turn out in November. As martyred labor organizer Joe Hill once said, "Don't waste any time mourning. Organize!"

We have a three other events on the horizon you might want to attend.

  • The ninth presidential candidate debate, being held in Nevada ahead of the caucuses there, is on Wednesday, February 19th. Grassroots North Shore is hosting a Debate Watch Party at the home of Eric Taylor, 6330 N Lake Dr. Please RSVP and plan to attend. Eric has been a wonderful host for these events and it's a chance to meet and talk about the shape of the Democratic primary with fellow progressives after the Iowa disaster and the results we expect tonight from New Hampshire. It's also the first debate with rules that make it possible for former mayor Mike Bloomberg to participate. It's not clear yet whether he will. Is the suspense getting to you?

  • Retired economics professor William Holahan will discuss the actual state of the US economy (as opposed to the mythic view of it touted by the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his supporters. The event is the first of a Mythbusters series we expect to offer through the spring and summer. Professor Holahan will present The REAL US Economy on Thursday, February 20, at 7:30pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116). Seating is limited, so RSVP today.

  • And on March 15, we will present a town hall on gun violence called Wisconsin — It's Time for Sensible Gun Laws. The featured speakers are Anneliese Dickman, Brady Campaign; Khary Pennebaker, Democratic National Committee; Deb Andraca, former volunteer with Moms Demand Action and current candidate for Assembly District 23; and Jeri Bonavia, WAVE. We're holding the town hall at the Brown Deer Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Road, Brown Deer) from 4pm to 6pm (doors open at 3:30pm). There's plenty of parking and we will serve light refreshments. So RSVP and join us.
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faster than a speeding bullet

The Iowa caucuses (Februaury 3) are coming faster than a speeding bullet! Early voting in the nonpartisan primary in Wisconsin is also coming faster than a speeding bullet (in most communities, weekdays from Feb 3 - Feb 14). Election Day is coming pretty swiftly too — mark your calendars for February 18! And do you have a plan to vote? If not, make one. Also make sure you check your registration, polling place, and sample ballot! We've already heard of people who think they are registered to vote but find that their information is NOT IN THE VOTER FILE!

We'll be watching the results of the Iowa caucuses, of course. And the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate (on Friday, February 7, at 7pm on ABC and Apple News). Candidates have until 11:59pm EST on February 6 to qualify. So far, seven have: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer, Warren, and Yang. These candidates have all qualified through the criteria for polling (5% support in four national or state polls out of New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada, or 7% polling in two state polls from the list of qualified polls) and numbers of donors (225,000 unique donors, including 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 states, U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia). But there is one more way to qualify: any candidate allocated at least one pledged delegate to the Democratic National Convention based on the results of the Iowa caucuses. This last criterion can only be satisfied once the caucuses in Iowa are complete and all the counting is done.

We're also working hard to increase the turnout in our elections. We only need to produce an extra two or three votes per ward to have success! So participate in amping up the vote. GRNS is holding postcard parties in our office on Wednesday, January 29 at 1pm; Tuesday, February 4 at 11am; Thursday, February 6 at 10am; Monday, February 10 at 10am; and Wednesday, February 12 at 12:30pm. Sign up for one and bring a friend. Postcard parties are a low-stress way to contact voters.

We are also participating in a Day of Action on February 8. Blue Wave Shorewood is holding phone banks at 3900 N. Estabrook Parkway, Apt 449, Shorewood with shifts starting at 10am and 12pm. At the Grassroots North Shore office, we are doing phone banks, canvassing (weather permitting), and texting (we hope) in two shifts: 11am and 1pm. Sign up for phone banking shift with Blue Wave Shorewood or for a specific activity and shift with Grassroots North Shore.

As for impeachment news, the John Bolton thunderbolt has hit. And now, the national press opines, the pressure is on the GOP senators to hear sworn testimony from him. And boy do they seem to be mad because the White House has had a copy of the manuscript with Bolton's story of the quid pro quo coming directly from the horse's ass for nearly a month and simply forgot (?) to tell the GOP senators. Break out the popcorn! We will probably know the outcome of this little drama by the weekend.

But let me end the newsy part of the newsletter with some great progress on the gerrymandering front. First, 19 jurisdictions around the state — municipalities or counties — will have a referendum on their April 7 ballot asking whether voters want the legislature to establish a nonpartisan process for drawing the next election maps in 2021. So far, 50 counties (most of them having voted for Trump in 2016) have already passed such a resolution at the county board level — these counties account for 78% of the population of Wisconsin. And last week, in his state-of-the-state address, Governor Evers announced that he will create a “People’s Maps Commission” to transparently and openly draw fair maps in 2021. The nonpartisan People's Maps Commission will be charged with holding public hearings around the state and with producing election maps in a fair and transparent way. The outcome will be presented to the legislature so that the public will be able to compare it to the rigged maps the GOP will again draw in secret, and at great expense.

 

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Ring in the New Year

It's hard to know where to focus right now. This new year promises so much — and awakens so much anxiety: will 2020 add to the progressive success of 2018, or will it revert to the horror show that was the 2016 election and its aftermath? We simply don't know. Impeachment, Iran and the Middle East chaos IMPOTUS has unleashed, an exciting but also worrisome presidential nominating contest among Democrats (not to mention climate crises, income and wealth inequality, racism and anti-semitic violence, and a myriad of other vital concerns) — these are only some of the most prominent imponderables: what a former defense secretary would call the known unknowns. And of course there are also the unknown unknowns to worry about.

So there's plenty to keep us all tossing and turning at night. What's the cure for all this angst? Working to make our world a better place! And Grassroots North Shore is doing its part to set up opportunities for you. To begin, we have a Debate Watch Party for the January 14 Democratic debate at Martha Pincus's house. Get yourself up to speed on what our top five candidates are saying, and share your thoughts with fellow North Shore progressives. (For more information and to sign up, see our website.) Wisconsin's turn to weigh in (on April 7) will be here before you know it!

Plus, February will bring THREE more debates: on February 7, February 19, and February 25. We'll have specific information about Debate Watch Parties for each of them in future newsletters.

Our next election, on February 18, is a primary for nonpartisan offices, like mayors, county executives, and other local officials. Because the weather in this area tends to be frightful this time of year, we're asking people to write postcards to prospective voters instead of canvassing in the cold. So one thing you could do is give us an hour or two of your time to help out. We'll supply everything you need — cards, names and addresses, stamps, and sample scripts. And we have a number of days and times in January set up for Postcard Parties. We'll be adding more in February. So sign up:

  • Monday, Jan 13, from 1-3 pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

  • Wednesday, Jan 15, from 1-3 pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

  • Tuesday, Jan 21, from 9:30-11 am at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

  • Thursday, Jan 23, from 5-7 pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

  • Monday, Jan 27, from 5-7 pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

  • Wednesday, Jan 29, from 1-3 pm at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116)

And as is our wont, Grassroots North Shore is holding its Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 26, at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4044 N. Bartlett Ave., Shorewood). This year the meeting is doubly important: GRNS members will elect their leadership for the coming year AND we will hear from the two progressive candidates, Ed Fallone and Jill Karofsky, vying for a spot on the ballot for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We've asked the candidates to respond to a questionnaire and have put their answers online. You'll find Fallone's and Karofsky's responses useful as you decide how you're going to vote in the February 18 primary. But you should also hear them in person at our annual gathering. As usual, volunteers at Grassroots North Shore will supply lots of yummy food. So RSVP to let them know you're coming.

Finally, if you live in Milwaukee County, you will probably be aware that there is an electoral contest for Milwaukee County Executive on the February 18 ballot. Grassroots North Shore will not be holding its own forum with all the candidates this winter. Instead, we are urging you to attend one of the many others in the area. In the events listing below, you will find two. One, put on by the League of Progressive Seniors, is on Friday, January 10, at the Mitchell Street Public Library (906 W. Historic Mitchell St., Milwaukee) from 11:30 am - 1 pm. Please let Jackie Boynton know if you plan to attend. The second, staged by our sister organization Grassroots South Shore, is on Wednesday, January 15, from 6-8:30 pm at Hawthorne Coffee Roasters (4177 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee).

What with the Democratic National Convention here in July and a consequential election in November 2020 is shaping up to be a wild and a wildly busy year. So Happy New Year! Make fomenting change one of your New Year's Resolutions — and let's get to work!

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GRNS responds to both local and national events!

As you probably know, Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy ruled that the Wisconsin Election Commission must purge about 234,000 registered voters from the rolls before the 2020 presidential election and he refused the Commission's request that he issue a temporary injunction to stay the ruling while the case is being appealed. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had the story on Friday. The item was then picked up nationally by the New York Times and the Washington Post on Saturday. In a follow up story on Dec. 16, the Post quotes Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler: "This is an organizing challenge, not a crisis" and it "just adds to our to-do list. It’s a reason to work, not to freak out." The story notes that "the party plans to use the state’s open records law to obtain the names of everyone who would be purged" and "contact those most likely to be Democrats so they can re-register" (Wisconsin Democrats vow to register voters who may be purged).

The December 14 story in the Washington Post noted that "Some of the highest percentages of voters whose registrations were on the line were in Milwaukee, Madison and areas with college campuses, where residents tend to vote Democratic, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found. More than half of the Elections Commission’s letters went to municipalities where Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Trump in 2016, the newspaper reported" (A judge ordered up to 234,000 people to be tossed from the registered voter list in a swing state).

The challenge Wikler identifies will be part of Grassroots North Shore's efforts to reach voters ahead of all four elections in 2020: February 18, April 7, August 11, and November 3. We're starting with Postcard Parties at our office on Monday January 13 from 1-3pm; Wednesday January 15 from 1-3pm; Tuesday January 21 from 9:30-11:30am; Thursday January 23 from 5-7pm; Monday January 27 from 5-7pm; and Wednesday January 29 from 5-7pm. Considering how important the upcoming elections are, GRNS leadership certainly hopes to see a robust response to these first opportunities to engage in vital election work! So please sign up for one or more of these efforts to reach out to potential voters.

And as if there weren't already enough news to cause everyone agita, there's also the impending House vote on impeachment. Across the country there will be Tuesday evening rallies in support of the effort to remove our current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. The rally in Milwaukee will be at the Federal Courthouse, 517 E. Wisconsin Ave. Milwaukee — where Senator Ron Johnson has his office. The organizers are looking for a few volunteers: 1) to act as marshals and keep the peace in the event MAGAs come to start trouble, and 2) some people who might like to lead chants. To volunteer, email Joseph K.You can RSVP and find more information about the event. Grassroots North Shore encourages your participation.

Two upcoming events you should know about: In January, Grassroots North Shore is planning a candidate forum with those who have declared for the office of MKE County Executive. The forum will take place at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood) either on Wednesday, January 22, or Wednesday, January 29 with the time TBA. Future newsletters will have complete information. And on Sunday, Jan 26, we're holding our Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner. This year, we will feature presentations by Attorney Ed Fallone and Judge Jill Karofsky, two of the candidates running for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This event will also be held at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood) from 5-7pm (doors open at 4:30, free food starting at 5:15).

A note of caution about the events list. There are events listed for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Please check with the event and/or the venue to make sure they're really happening!

And I hope everyone has a Happy or Merry Holiday season, whatever occasions you observe. I'm taking the next two weeks for a trip to see family. So no GRNS newsletter on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. The regular schedule will resume in 2020.

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kaboom!

What a start to the week: on Monday we saw the last impeachment inquiry hearing and the Department of Justice Inspector General's report concluding that the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election was properly and legally founded on appropriate suspicions. And then this morning, two Articles of Impeachment — Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress — were announced by the House leadership and the chairs of the six committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry. Meanwhile on Sunday, our Cheeto-in-Chief tweeted or retweeted others 102 times! To be sure 75% of them were others' tweets. So he didn't have to write a thing. But even if each took only one minute to process, it's clear that he spent a considerable amount of time on this activity. Maybe a sign that he's stressed and angry?

To top off the news-filled week that has barely begun, the Washington Post has published the Afganistan Papers — or what might be called the Pentagon Papers, part two. It's a six-part series detailing the lies three successive administrations have told about the war in Afganistan. Based on 2000 pages of interview records obtained after three years of litigation, the investigation apparently began in 2016 with a tip about Michael Flynn.

Here at home, Grassroots North Shore's Annual Fundraiser featured a fascinating talk by nationally renowned Democratic pollster and strategist Celinda Lake. She had sobering information for us — which will be shared through a video recording and her Powerpoint presentation slides soon. (If you couldn't attend but still want to support our financial needs, you can make a contribution at Act Blue.) The upshot of her talk is that we have our work cut out for us as we head into the coming election year. Our plans are still fluid, but we already know that because Milwaukee weather is so treacherous in January, we will be conducting our campaigning for the February 18 nonpartisan primary through a postcard-writing blitz. We've set up six dates and times for gatherings to write and mail these cards:

We'll supply the postcards, stamps, names and addresses, and sample scripts for you to use. All you have to do is Sign Up and come!

Finally, a Save-the-Date announcement: our annual meeting will be held on Sunday, January 26, at the North Shore Presbyterian Church. Full details coming soon. So mark your calendars now.

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Three or more cheers!

So the Packers are in first place in the NFC North division heading down the stretch.The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denies Trump and the Justice Department's request for a stay of the District Court opinion saying that Deutsche Bank and Bank One must give Congress 10 years of financial documents from Trump, his three oldest children, and his businesses. A Federal District Judge denies former White House Counsel Don McGahn's stay of his testimony to Congress. The House Intelligence Committee will release its report on the Ukraine scandal both to the public and to the House Judiciary Committee later today. Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee will begin its impeachment hearings tomorrow with four academic lawyers opining on impeachable offenses. And it's still morning!

But the Best New Thing in the World Today, to borrow a trope from Rachel Maddow, is the Washington Post's Illustrated Mueller Report. It has a few formatting issues, at least if viewed on an ancient iPad, but is well worth a visit — especially if you did not have the time to read the whole 450 page saga. Go have a look.

And the goodies keep coming. In case you have not already RSVP'd, make sure you don't miss Tipping Point Wisconsin: An Evening with Celinda Lake. Who is Celinda Lake? She's one of the nation's renowned political strategist and pollsters. She'll be here to give what's bound to be a fabulous and insightful talk on the 2020 elections. All eyes will be on Wisconsin much of the coming year. In fact, in the two weeks leading up to the April 7 Non-Partisan Election and Presidential Preference Primary, there are no other primaries in the nation. So Wisconsin will be flooded with Democratic presidential candidates for two whole weeks. You'll be able to hear from some or all of them at the Milwaukee County Democratic Party's Annual Gala dinner scheduled for March 26. (Seating will be limited to 1000 lucky ticket buyers. So snap one up as soon as they become available!)

As for the upcoming elections, Grassroots North Shore is organizing a postcard campaign and I hope a texting campaign to encourage people to vote in the spring primary on February 18, 2020. We're planning the postcard parties now. While we do not yet have specific times, the dates we have chosen are January 13, 15, 21, 23, 27, and 29. There will undoubtedly be dates in early February as well. More information will be coming in the next two weeks. So mark your calendars now and plan to attend one or more of these events next month.

Statewide, the primary will include the Wisconsin State Supreme Court seat. In Milwaukee, there will be a primary for Milwaukee County Executive and Milwaukee City Mayor, as well as a host of judicial races. We will have lots of election information on our site — early voting information for each North Shore community, information about voter registration and how to find out what's on your own ballot — as soon as we get all that data in.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and is looking forward to a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, or whatever holiday you celebrate during the darkest days of the year. I'm personally looking forward to the return of light next year when we will be extremely busy with elections, with selecting delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and with the convention itself right here in Milwaukee in July 2020. Let's make our future brighter than our past!

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Happy Thanksgiving from GRNS

The latest Marquette Law School poll, conducted Nov. 13-17, has some discouraging news for us: "Even as hearings that could lead to President Donald Trump’s impeachment heat up, a new Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds consistent, if sometimes modest, shifts in public opinion away from support of impeachment and toward supporting Trump in next year’s presidential election." But it is worth pointing out that the first witnesses to testify in open hearings appeared on Nov. 13 and the last hearing, with Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes, occurred on Nov. 21. In other words, the poll was in the field even as the impeachment inquiry got under way: so not a good snapshot of the impact of the inquiry on Wisconsin voters.

But even if the results of the poll are accurate enough, the takeaway should be to work harder to win in Wisconsin next year. Right now there is not that much going on (see the short list of events for the next two weeks below). On Sunday December 8, however, Grassroots North Shore is having a special event that will take a clear-eyed look at our state's electoral prospects. Celinda Lake, founder and CEO of Lake Research, will talk to us about Tipping Point Wisconsin. Our state is likely to provide the Electoral College votes that determine who the president will be in 2021. A nationally renowned strategist and pollster, Ms. Lake brings insights both at the national level and for Wisconsin to bear on how we win this crucial election next year. So you'll not want to miss it. Please RSVP today and make a generous donation if you can.

New this year, we will be featuring a limited silent auction and craft show on the Church lower level. So come early to check it out and be sure to join us for the reception following the program. Cash or check is preferred.

Why does Grassroots North Shore hold a fundraiser each year? As one of the largest all-volunteer political organizations in the state, we need funds not to pay staff but to pay rent, maintain insurance, purchase office supplies, and run our internet operations (like this newsletter). We NEVER give money to candidates (though we do endorse once the general election candidates have been chosen). We work with others to run canvasses in our areas, to mount postcard campaigns, to host phone banks, to support house parties — in short all the activities that go into vigorous campaigning for progressive candidates. AND we provide educational and informative programs on crucial issues like climate change, gun safety, the state budget, gerrymandering, healthcare, and much more. We run a tight ship, on a budget of approximately $20,000 a year. And that's why we need your financial support as well as your help with various election tasks. In other words, we wouldn't ask if it weren't important! You can donate online or bring a check, credit card, or cash to the event.

It's a busy time of year. No doubt that's why the events list for the next two weeks is rather slim. But nomination papers for the spring 2020 elections should be out soon and are due in Madison on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. The primary will be held on Tuesday, February 18. The nonpartisan election and the presidential primary is scheduled for April 7. For nonpartisan elections, early voting usually takes place for the two weeks prior to the primary or the election, ending on the Friday before the election at 5pm. Most of the cities, villages, and non-incorporated areas hold early voting at the primary administrative site for that entity. As usual, our website will have specific information for each area. In the meantime, however, mark your calendars with the important dates: Tuesday, February 18, for the primary and Tuesday, April 7, for the nonpartisan election and the presidential primary.

In addition to other important municipal and judicial elections, the spring elections will determine the make-up of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And that election could not be more important for restoring balance, and dare I say sanity, to Wisconsin's politics. HUGE turnouts are our best weapons in both the February primary and the April election. Grassroots North Shore plans robust campaign activities ahead of those dates — more on the specifics as we move into January — and we hope you'll come work with us throughout the electoral season. At the very least, you need to plan to be informed about the candidates in your area and to make a plan to vote. You can vote by mail, you can vote early, or you can vote on election day itself. You can check your registration, ballot, and polling location at MyVote Wisconsin.

And here endeth the lesson!

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time is scarce

The impeachment hearings continue today and tomorrow. But there is little time to watch them. There's a lot going on that gets in the way. For one thing, there's the Democratic Candidate Debate on Wednesday, November 20. Grassroots North Shore is sponsoring three watch parties, two of which are still available and one of which is now full. The open ones are at Camp Bar, 4044 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood (RSVP here) and at Ferrante's Restaurant, 10404 N PortWashington Rd., Mequon (RSVP here).

And for our Ozaukee County residents, we are holding three Fair Maps postcard writing parties: on Thursday, November 21 from noon to 3pm; on Saturday, November 23 from noon to 3pm; and on Monday, November 25 from 5pm to 7pm. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 48 counties have passed resolutions supporting nonpartisan redistricting. Most of those counties generally prefer Republican candidates for state and national offices. Three counties surrounding Milwaukee County — including Ozaukee County — have yet to pass such a resolution. The postcards we are writing urge the county supervisors to join the majority of the other counties in Wisconsin in passing a resolution urging that the state legislature adopt a nonpartisan redistricting process. Please sign up to come in to our office to fill out these postcards to show county supervisors that their constituents care about this issue.

And then there is Thanksgiving. There will not be a newsletter next week so I want to remind our supporters to plan to attend our Tipping Point Wisconsin event on Sunday, December 8, at Plymouth Church (2717 E Hampshire St, Milwaukee) from 4pm to 6pm. The doors will open at 3:30pm. Our state is likely to "tip" the election one way or another. Celinda Lake, our speaker for the evening, is especially well informed about the politcal landscape. She is the president of a renowned national consulting and polling business, Lake Research Partners.

Tipping Point Wisconsin is our annual fundraising event. Although we are an all-volunteer, grassroots organization — we have NO paid staff and we DO NOT contribute funds to any candidate or cause, we do still have expenses: rent, insurance, supplies, and internet connections including our ability to stay in touch with our more than 2500 supporters. If you are able to make a contribution, even if you cannot attend our evening with Celinda Lake, please visit our Act Blue page. And please be generous. The work Grassroots North Shore has done in its 15 years of life has informed the communities we serve of vital issues and has helped increase the progressive share of the vote in the North Shore. In the coming year, we will be deeply involved in the four regular elections in our state. And we cannot do that crucial work without your support.

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2020 vision

Grassroots North Shore has two important events coming up that I want to make sure you know about. We're again hosting debate watch parties on Wednesday, November 20, in three locations:

  • In Shorewood, people are gathering at Camp Bar, 4044 N Oakland Ave, from 7:30-10pm. Sign up.

  • In Whitefish Bay, we are meeting at Eric Taylor's house, 6330 N Lake Dr, from 7:30-10pm. Sign up.

  • In Ozaukee County, meet at Ferrante's Restaurant, 10404 N Port Washington Rd., from 7:30-10pm. Sign up.

And for this year's annual fundraising event, Celinda Lake, renowned Democratic strategist and pollster, will be our keynote speaker at our Tipping Point Wisconsin event on Sunday, December 8. We'll have more details about this event soon. But it's going to be a fascinating evening. Wisconsin may well determine the outcome of the November 3 elections! Mark your calendars now — you won't want to miss this event. And while I'm on the subject, I want to say a few words about why we raise funds — and why we don't. Grassroots North Shore, as you know, is an all-volunteer organization. So we don't pay any staff AND we don't contribute funds to any candidates! We use the funds we raise

  1. to pay the rent for our office and to equip it with printers, supplies and a few old computers;

  2. to keep you informed, through our events and our weekly newsletter;

  3. to support our internet habits!

A donation page is coming soon. Meanwhile, you can reserve your spot.

Wisconsin continues to find itself discussed on the NY Times website, and not in a good way. In an article published on Nov. 11 (New Normal in Key State for 2020 Race: Political Deadlock), Mitch Smith writes, "Acrimonious deadlocks have become the new normal in Wisconsin, one of three Midwestern states where Democrats ended full Republican control last year by flipping governorships. Gov. Tony Evers’s defeat of Scott Walker, whose success at pushing Wisconsin sharply to the right prompted a brief presidential bid, has given Democrats a new foothold this year in a region where they had been mostly sidelined. Yet with attention turning to the presidential election, in which Wisconsin voters are seen as playing a decisive role, divided power has given way to frustrated impasse, with little chance for either party to hold up state policymaking as the showcase it once was here."

In other words, we may be in for four years of deadlock with a GOP controlled legislature and a Democratic governor. The ONLY way to change this future is to defeat the gerrymander that holds Wisconsin hostage to a GOP legislature no matter how the state votes. In several state elections using the current maps, votes for Democratic candidates for the Assembly far outnumbered votes for GOP candidates. In the most recent election, Republicans earned about 45% of the statewide vote and still "won" almost 2/3 of the seats in the Assembly. Since 2011, the proportion of seats held by each party remained roughly the same. So any other issues you care about — climate change, healthcare, education, gun violence, criminal justice reform, racism, and so on — are will remain unaddressed until our state representatives are once again responsive to the voters.

The good news is that 48 counties have already passed resolutions calling on the state to implement a nonpartisan process, modeled on Iowa's, to draw fair electoral maps after the next census in 2020. Together with seven other counties, Milwaukee County has agreed to put a resolution of the April 7 ballot so voters can weigh in. And the bills that have been introduced to address this issue are being co-sponsored by FIVE Republicans — four more than we've ever had before. Even conservatives in this state support nonpartisan redistricting! A Marquette poll last January put the outcome this way: "Seventy-two percent of voters say they prefer redistricting of legislative and congressional districts to be done by a nonpartisan commission, while 18 percent prefer redistricting be done by the legislature and governor. Majorities in each partisan group favor a nonpartisan commission for redistricting, with 63 percent of Republicans including leaners, 83 percent of Democrats including leaners, and 76 percent of independents favoring a nonpartisan commission.)

To learn more about what you can do to help end gerrymandering in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has a wonderful web page devoted to Five Things You Can Do. The efforts are national, state and local. Choose your own adventure!

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