What are you planning to do today?

How about a little socializing? We're calling people who have already requested an absentee ballot to remind them to get it back to their municipal clerks as quickly as they can. That might mean putting the postage prepaid certificate envelop in the mail box. Or it might mean a little excursion to put it into a drop box or mail slot at the village or city hall. Please help make these fun and easy calls by using this link: https://www.openvpb.com/vpb_bycode/8788B3J-738557.

If you don't already have a log in through ActionID, you'll be asked to make an account — it's simple and easy to to so. Just follow the prompts. Once you have made the account, you will be directed to the phone bank. The screen will show you who you are calling and the phone number. The script with the prompts to record responses is also visible. Once you save a call, you'll be directed to the next one. This election is vital. We need your help. And besides, what else is so urgent in your stay-at-home life? So do some good while you're doing some good! https://www.openvpb.com/vpb_bycode/8788B3J-738557.

Here's a list of where to go to turn in an absentee ballot as of March 31 at 11am.

  • Bayside: mail slot in front door of Village Hall

  • Brown Deer: a cream colored mailbox in front of Village Hall

  • Fox Point: mail slot in front door of Village Hall

  • Glendale: mail slot in front door of City Hall

  • River Hills: mail slot in front door of Village Hall

  • Shorewood: drop box in the parking lot

  • Whitefish Bay: 24-Hour Night Depository located in the entrance of the Village Hall

  • Cedarburg: on the south side of the building next to the doors

  • Grafton: in the parking lot

  • Mequon: next to the doors in the parking lot on the right

Ballots must be received in the clerk's office by 8pm on April 7 (Election Day). Because of uncertainty about the speed of the US Mails, it might be best to put absentee ballots directly into these depositories if possible. Absentee ballots can be requested at late as 5pm on Thursday, April 2. But after tomorrow, any absentee ballot that has not already been mailed to a municipal clerk should be dropped into a depository to ensure that it arrives at the clerk's office on time. (If you still need an absentee ballot but have trouble with completing the request because you can't upload a picture of your photoID, you can mark the box that says you are "indefinitely confined" in box 6 of the form. Then call the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Voter Protection Hotline at 608-336-3232 for additional help).

There are a few signs of progress in our collective struggle to contain the pandemic of COVID-19 infections. Although Wisconsin is now reporting 1200+ confirmed cases and 20+ deaths, a company that tracks fever data through its technology-enhanced thermometers sees what may be a nationwide flattening of the curve, as a slow-down in the rate of new infections is often called. Today's NYTimes has the story. The account suggests that the ~30 states that have issued "stay-at-home" orders (aka "safer at home" as we know it here) are being successful at slowing the rate of infection. So keep up the good work, people!

For up-to-date and granular information about where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area, the NYTimes also has really helpful information that is easy to find and to use.

Some of the useful data from that NYTimes interactive: the number of cases in Wisconsin = 1267. Most cases are in Dane County (183 cases, 2 deaths) and Milwaukee County (633 cases, 10 deaths). Ozaukee has 36 cases and 3 deaths so far. Washington County has 34 and Waukesha County 93. Neither of those counties has reported any deaths. Most Wisconsin counties have reported at least 1 case. Remember: these numbers reflect confirmed cases. And where there is a single confirmed case, there are surely many, many more cases that have not been confirmed, either because those who are ill are just toughing it out at home or because testing is still not widespread and is generally reserved for those who need hospitalization.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online has a stream of updates on news about the coronavirus in our area, but because it is updated every few hours, it is difficult to aggregate the data and to figure out where we are at any given time. However, this morning there was one piece of good news that did not appear in the NYTimes: "Milwaukee County reported just 10 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday morning, the smallest batch of new cases the county has reported in more than two weeks" Live coronavirus updates, 7:40am posting, March 31, 2020). One data point, or even two, cannot make a trend. But it's a start!

There's some discussion about whether people should use masks (NOT the medical masks that should be reserved for essential personnel and health care providers) like those made at home whenever they must go somewhere where there are likely to be a lot of other people (see C.D.C. Weighs Advising Everyone to Wear a Mask). You can make your own at home. And you can make some to give to hospitals and other essential personnel who are not engaged in the most intensive care of COVID 19 patients. You can download a printable pattern from the NYTimes. With a sewing machine and a few other supplies, you can also make masks at home to contribute to Froedtert by contacting Norma Gilson. She is willing to pick up the masks you make and deliver them to the hospital. Or you can mail them to her. In any case, all you need to do to get started is to contact her.

Besides staying home as much as possible, hand washing the proper way remains the best defense against this illness (indeed any communicable illness). The internet abounds with videos of how to do a proper job of it. Here's one from Johns Hopkins Medicine. And here's a "purple paint" demo that uses a slightly different method.

Finally, although there's a lot of "wash your hands" advice out there, there's not as much information on just how soap does the job. So for your delight and edification, here's an explanation from Vox.

I didn't even bother to look at the events lists in the online calendar I consult for this weekly newsletter because I want to encourage everyone to STAY HOME. But there may be some virtual events you might want to participate in. You can consult the calendars on our website.

 

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Information You Can Use

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} — 

Events seem to be accelerating. So I feel it's necessary to send important information to our Grassroots North Shore email list. I hope it is useful to you. And feel free to pass it along to others who could use it.

First, everyone needs to "shelter in place" until the Governor and the Wisconsin Department of Health say otherwise. The full "Safer at Home" declaration is available online if you want to read it.

Absentee ballots: you should request yours and ask everyone you know to request theirs by visiting https://myvote.wi.gov. If you use a smartphone, uploading a picture of your photo ID is pretty easy. If you don't have a smartphone or if you run into trouble, just click the box on the request form to declare yourself "indefinitely confined." Then you will not be required to furnish a photo ID with your request.

If you need to register to vote or to update your name or address on your voter registration file, you can still do so online at https://myvote.wi.gov until March 30. After you update your record, you can then use the same site to request an absentee ballot.

Please vote the whole ballot. Grassroots North Shore has endorsed Judge Jill Karofsky for Wisconsin Supreme Court. You can see our endorsement online. We also recommend that you vote "YES" on the Milwaukee County referendum urging the legislature to approve a nonpartisan process for drawing the next round of electoral maps. Although we are not endorsing anyone for Milwaukee County Executive, we do have statements from Senator Chris Larson and Representative David Crowley on our site so you can find out something about how they would govern before you cast your ballot.

Once you receive your ballot and fill it out, you will need a witness's signature on the envelope you will use to return the ballot by mail. If you live alone, this step can be challenging. Here's a suggestion: Work out a system with a neighbor to get a signature without exposing yourself or anyone else to much risk if you can. To keep the recommended 6 feet of distance between the two of you, you might arrange to meet outside, place the filled and sealed envelope on the ground or a table between you, and back up until you're 6 feet away from the envelope. Then your neighbor can approach the envelope, sign it, and back away from it so you can retrive it and put it in the mail.

You might also want to call the Voter Protection Hotline the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has now set up. The number is 608-DEM-3232 (608-336-3232). The hours are 8:30am to 5pm. Please pass this information along to everyone who might need it.

Green Bay has filed a lawsuit to delay the election and move it to an all mail process. Several mayors have also been working on this issue. Grassroots North Shore has joined with a number of groups in the area to push for the election to be postponed also. But while we await the outcome of these efforts, everyone should try to vote by absentee ballot and everyone should urge everyone they know anywhere in the state to do the same.

Finally, here is a list of agencies that people might need to help solve a range of problems during the period when we are all staying home.

Organization Contact Information
Wisconsin Unemployment 201 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 266-3131
Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) PO Box 7970, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7970, 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947); email
Wisconsin 20/20 (WEDC) 201 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703; 608-210-6700
Job Center Business Services 888-258-9966, email
Feeding America - Milwaukee 1700 W. Fond du Lac Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53205; 414-931-7400 or 800-236-1208
Medicaid Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, WI 53703; 608-266-1865, email
Wisconsin Health Fund 6200 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53213-4145; 414-771-5600
Milwaukee Health Department email

Be in touch with friends, family, neighbors. And be safe.

 

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stay at home but vote!

Again this week, I am not including any events in the newsletter. Governor Evers has announced a "Safer at Home" policy today that effectively means that all but essential businesses and services will be closed from 8am on Wednesday, March 25, until Friday, April 24 at 8am. The order spells out a fairly generous definition of what is considered "essential" (see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article for a partial list of exempted types of stores), but we should all be staying home unless we need groceries, pharmacy items, or health care or we are taking care of someone else. Think of it this way: any other outing is a threat to your health and life or someone else's.

And that means voting by mail! So far, Governor Evers is not considering postponing the election. He is considering canceling all in-person voting, both in the weeks ahead of the election (early voting) and on election day itself. So only absentee ballots would count. This is a terrible idea and should be resisted unless the Governor significantly improves how absentee ballots are distributed. A group of voting rights organizations — Voces de la Frontera, Souls to the Polls, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin among them — are urging people to call (at 608-266-1212) or email the Governor's office to demand that he postpone the election, as many other states have already done. Alternatively, you could urge him to send an absentee ballot to every registered voter and waive the photo ID requirement so that everyone who receives a ballot can vote. People who have moved and have not re-registered, people who are not registered at all, and students leaving universities might still be unable to vote, though.

Meanwhile, request an absentee ballot yourself by going online to myvote.wi.gov and following the prompts to "Vote Absentee." The easiest way to complete this process is to use your smartphone (a cell phone that has internet connections and a camera). Before you begin the process, you might want to watch a video that Citizen Action has produced. The clip walks through the entire process, including the step that most people find most challenging: taking and uploading a picture of your photo ID. If you don't have a smartphone or can't complete the online process for some other reason, you can print one and mail it. If you're ambitious and can reach people who may not be able to complete the online process easily, you could print several and put them on a porch or somewhere safe outside and let people know they can pick one up from you. If you are a participant in the online service Next Door, that might be a reasonable place to post. In most cases, people can drop the request off at their municipal office but call ahead to make sure. All the municipal buildings in the seven North Shore communities in Milwaukee County are closed to the public now, though government operations continue.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit on March 18, 2020, that called for a new deadline of April 3 for electronic and by-mail voter registration. On Friday, March 20, Judge William M. Conley issued an order that online registration remain open until March 30. The lawsuit "is also seeking to drop a requirement that voters provide photo identification when requesting absentee ballots, and to allow any absentee or vote by mail ballot postmarked by April 7 to be valid for the election." For now, Judge Conley denied the other requests, "leaving open the possibility that they could be dealt with down the road with additional briefing" (CNN.com, Friday, March 20. 2020). Keep an eye open for further rulings.

Although the extended deadline for registering to vote will potentially enable thousands of Wisconsites to participate in the April 7 election and those that follow, many voters — whether already registered or not — continue to encounter a range of problems with access to the ballot. In response to that issue, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will shortly be launching its Voter Assistance Hotline. Trainings for staffing the hotline are happening today, Wednesday, and Thursday with shifts beginning Wednesday, March 25, at 8:30am - 1pm and 1pm - 5pm. Please sign up for trainings and shifts! Now is the time to do something to help your state while you are required to be at home. And if you or someone you know has had trouble completing the request for an absentee ballot, encourage them to call the Voter Assistance Hotline. Unfortunately, I do not yet have the number, so I will be sending out an additional email again this week when I do get the information.

Grassroots North Shore also needs your help to phone voters in our North Shore communities. We cannot canvass but we can contact voters to support Judge Jill Karofsky and to help voters request absentee ballots. Whitefish Bay and Bayside are automatically sending request forms to all registered voters in their communities. If you know of other communities doing this, please let me know (nancyannkaplan@gmail.com. Most important: sign up to make calls at our Weekend of Action (3/28-29) page. Time is of the essence, so please sign up today. I will email you a script, instructions and a set of links to get you started. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is technically April 2. But the ballot must be received at the municipal clerk's office by 8pm on April 7. So absentee ballot requests may not be practical if people don't know about the process in the next few days or put off making the request until quite late. You can begin phoning as soon as you receive the link to the virtual phone bank!

In this kind of medical crisis, hospitals and health care workers need the support of their communities. Froedert is asking for donations of Personal Protective Equipment (aka PPE). PPE includes surgical and N95 masks, goggles, disposable gloves, and paper gowns. Donations of new, unused PPE can be directed to 262-532-5000 or purchasingassistant@froedtert.com or dropped off in the donation box at the Integrated Service Center, N86 W12999 Nightingale Way, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051.

Those of you who can sew may want to help make masks, which continue to be in short supply. You can find one such pattern online. This pattern will set you back $8 but there are surely others you can find that are free. Happy searching. Although these kinds of masks are not as protective as N95s, they may still be useful for the general public. At the very least, wearing one discourages people from touching their faces! Another strategy for that difficult-to-perform practice — since we touch our faces constantly and unconsciously, apparently — is to wear a halloween mask. So be a super hero: wear a mask and wash your hands!

You should keep up to date on what is happening in Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties by consulting reputable sources like the North Shore Health Department and the Washington/Ozaukee County Health Department. Other good sources of information are the Wisconsin Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

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NOW is the time to pull together by staying apart

Like many others, I am taking the news about the spread of coronavirus illness both literally and seriously. We know there is community transmission in our North Shore communities. One of our members was notified by the North Shore Health Department that she needs to quarantine herself because she was in contact with someone who tested positive and who was symptomatic at the time of contact. The moral of the story is to STAY HOME. We cannot stress enough that you owe it to yourself, to your friends and family, to your community, and to your nation not to contract the disease and not to become a vector or agent of its spread.

That said, we are proceeding as if the April 7 election will take place as planned. So here's what needs to happen. All canvassing and group phone banking events have been cancelled. Instead we are hosting virtual phone banks to reach voters with a few simple messages:

  • vote for Jill Karofsky for the Wisconsin Supreme Court;
  • vote the whole ballot;
  • vote "yes" on the criminal justice reform referendum (Marsy's Law);
  • vote "yes" on the fair maps referendum on Milwaukee County ballots.

early_mail_voting3.pngWe are also encouraging people to request mail-in ballots, which they can do from home by going to myvote.wi.gov. Choose "Vote Absentee" from the items at the top of the page. Making the request is simple at least until the site asks you to upload a picture of an approved photo ID. Some people have trouble with this step. So we recommend that you use a mobile phone to take a picture of your driver's license or other approved photo ID. Then email the picture to yourself. From the email, save the picture to your desktop. You will then need to click on the website's button for uploading the photo, navigate to the picture on your desktop, and select it. Thereafter, you can track the progress of your request by returning to myvote.wi.gov and again choosing "Vote Absentee" on the home page. By the way, the last day to request a mail-in ballot is technically April 2. But because ballots have to be received by 8pm on April 7, it is not wise to wait that long. So, do it NOW.

You can also request a mail-in ballot by going in person to your city or village clerk's office and showing your photo ID at that time. Or you can vote in-person absentee (aka early voting) in most areas beginning at least by March 23. For information contacting your city or village, visit our Elections 2020/Early Voting page. Every vote cast early, either by mail or in person, represents a voter who will not be showing up at the polls on election day. And that will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus to poll workers and other voters! Voting by mail is obviously the best way to protect yourself and others, but early voting in person is next best because you are unlikely to encounter significant numbers of others voting at the same time.

In the city, I should mention, early voting is already under way at three locations: Zeidler Municipal Building (841 N. Broadway, Room 102), Midtown Center (5700 W. Capitol Drive), and Zablocki Library (3501 W. Oklahoma Ave). These sites are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two weekends before the election — March 28 and 29 and April 4 and 5. Feel free to share that information and the information about requesting a mail-in ballot.

Needless to say, your help with virtual phone banks is more necessary than ever. So join us on March 21-22 and March 28-29. It's easy to do. Once you sign up, we'll email you with some really simple directions telling you how to access the phone bank and we'll send you a script you can use to leave messages or to talk to people. If you're being prudent and staying home (as I hope), phone banking is a way to have social interactions without giving up social distancing! You will need a computer, internet connections, and a smart phone (just to establish your log in — you can make the calls from your home phone if you like). Once you are connected to the phone bank, the name and number of the person you are to call will be displayed and you can enter information about the call on that screen. Once a call is completed, you will be directed to the next person on the list.

Now, in lieu of the usual list of events, I am instead referring those of you who continue to go out to the calendar kept by the Milwaukee County Democratic Party. In Ozaukee County, refer to the calendar the Democratic Party in that county produces. Bars and restaurants in Milwaukee County have been ordered to close "except for carryout, delivery and curbside service — an effort of elected and health officials to head off a growing number of coronavirus cases" (jsonline.com, March 17, 2020). So some of the events listed on the DPMC calendar will also be canceled. Call ahead.

Finally, some safe, stay-at-home fun for kids of all ages: a Washington Post story with videos of penguins exploring the Shedd Acquarium and links to other sites with videos of similar animal excursions. The keepers are of course supervising the outings which are possible only because the sites are now closed to the public.

Until the public health emergency has passed, Grassroots North Shore is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing. In effect, this means avoiding anywhere other people are. In short, stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands as if you had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! If possible, use mail order for prescription medications. Food delivery services from local supermarkets, Instacart, Amazon and others may also be a good option. Don't panic but do prepare yourselves for a period of social isolation. And check in with people you know who live alone. Using Skype, Facebook Messenger, Facebook and other video tools can help you socialize without risk. With social distancing, you are both self-protective and altruistic at the same time!

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It's Tues. and it's SUPER!

The Democratic presidential primary picture became a lot clearer this week, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and billionaire Tom Steyer bowing out. According to the pundits, Super Tuesday is going to tell us a great deal about the future. But here in Wisconsin, where our turn to vote does not arrive for a month, we have work to do to win that election for the future of our state. We especially need to work super hard to elect a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who will rule impartially and according to the law. That's why we're asking people to give us a little of their time on the weekends of March 21-22 and March 28-29. The weather is improving and we'll have later daylight by then! And we'll be talking to people who are more likely than not to share our values and our views — if they vote! So that's our job: to increase turnout on the North Shore. Here's where you sign up:

  • Saturday, March 21, Canvass from the Grassroots North Shore office, 3 shifts

  • Saturday, March 21, Canvass from Shorewood

  • Saturday, March 21, Phone from the Grassroots North Shore office, 3 shifts
  • Sunday, March 22, Canvass from Whitefish Bay, 2 shifts

  • Sunday, March 22, Canvass from from Glendale, 1 shift

  • Sunday, March 22, Phone from from Whitefish Bay, 2 shifts
  • Saturday, March 28, Canvass from the Grassroots North Shore office, 3 shifts

  • Saturday, March 28, Phone from the Grassroots North Shore office, 3 shifts
  • Sunday, March 29, Canvass from Whitefish Bay, 2 shifts

  • Sunday, March 29, Canvass from from Glendale, 1 shift

  • Sunday, March 29, Phone from from Whitefish Bay, 2 shifts

In addition to the canvasses and phone banks, we're continuing to send postcards to urge people to vote. You can help with this activity, too. We're working on this project on Monday, March 9, Monday, March 16, and Monday, March 23. All of these postcard parties take place in our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116), from 10am to noon. If you can't join us, consider donating some money to help us purchase the necessary postcard stamps. You can donate to this cause at Act Blue.

We're also continuing to host educational events, with two in the immediate future. On Wednesday, March 4, we're holding Tipping Point Wisconsin, a reprise. We'll share some of the ideas and data we learned from Celinda Lake at our annual fundraiser in December with anyone who missed that wonderful and enlightening event. Lake's research forms the foundation of the electoral work Grassroots North Shore is undertaking this year. Only a few openings for this event remain, so sign up now. On Sunday, March 15, we're holding a town hall on Sensible Gun Legislation with speakers who will help us understand how to help get legislation passed. We'll be at the United Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Rd). Doors open at 3:30, and the program runs from 4-6pm.

There are a few other things you should know about. On March 15, starting at 7pm, the 11th Democratic Presidential Primary Debate will take place. I don't yet know who will be participating or whether GRNS will be hosting debate watch parties. Stay tuned. Many of our plans may be affected if there's a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus that produces CoVid-19. We're developing contingency plans this week, though right now there is no cause for alarm. But there is cause for laughter. According to some news reports, sales of Corona beer decreased substantially — presumably because the usual customer base thinks the beverage is linked somehow to the coronavirus. Really. Snopes debunks the story but goes on to say beer sales of ALL brands are suffering because of depressed economic activity, especially in China. Now on to the list of progressive events in the area in the coming two weeks.

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it's time for action

There's so much to write about and so much to do. So this week I'm going to focus on the actions and events we are hosting before the April 7 elections.

First up, we have scheduled four more postcard parties, all of them on Mondays from 10-noon at our office. We're limiting participation in the actual writing to 15 people at a time, but you don't have to write cards to contribute. These actions are among our most expensive — because of the cost of stamps. So if you can't come during Monday mornings, how about contributing to our elections budget and help us buy enough stamps? You can use this Act Blue page for that purpose, or you can send a contribution by check to Grassroots North Shore, 5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Brown Deer, WI 53223. If you can come, please sign up using these links:

We are also holding two spectacular events:

  1. Tipping Point Wisconsin, a reprise will be held on Wednesday, March 4, in our office at 6pm. We will share highlights of our December program that featured nationally renowned Democratic strategist Celinda Lake. If you missed that event, sign up for this reprise and learn more about what it will take to win in Wisconsin and nationally! Seating is limited to the first 25 to RSVP!

  2. Wisconsin — It's Time for Sensible Gun Laws, will take place on Sunday, March 15, at the Brown Deer Methodist Church, 5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Brown Deer, from 4pm-6pm. The town hall will feature four speakers: Anneliese Dickman (Brady Foundation), Deb Andraca (formerly with Moms Demand Action), Khary Pennebaker (DNC committee on suicide prevention), and Jeri Bonavia (WAVE).

And now we come to the most important of our activities: CANVASSING, PHONING, and TEXTING to boost turnout for the April 7 election. So far, we have two Weekends of Action on the horizon.

  • Make plans to join us at the Grassroots North Shore Office (5600 Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116) for our first Weekend of Action on Saturday, March 21, to canvass or to phone and text. We're working in three shifts for canvassing: shift 1 from 9:30am-noon; shift 2 from 12:30pm-3:00pm, and shift 3 from 3:00pm-5:30pm. Our phone banking shifts are as follows: 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-3:00pm; and 3:00pm-5:00pm.

  • The second Weekend of Action at our office will begin on Saturday, March 28, both to canvass and to reach voters by phone and text message.

  • On Sunday, March 23, and again on Sunday, March 29, our canvassing efforts will run out of a house in Whitefish Bay, at 10:00am and noon.

  • Also on Sunday, March 23, and again on Sunday, March 29, we will be running canvasses from a house in Glendale at 3:00pm.

  • And for Shorewood residents, Blue Wave Shorewood is hosting a canvass there on Saturday, March 21, beginning at 9:00am, at The Oaks of Shorewood, 3900 Eastabrook Pkwy, Shorewood. For more information contact Paul Geenen.

You can find all these events and actions on our website. Please sign up now and mark your calendars!

Maybe this all seems a little overwhelming. Plus Easter and Passover arrive just as this election ends. But I can't stress enough how important it will be to turn out our voters in the biggest numbers possible. The April 7 election may be nonpartisan, but the offices we fill that day are vital to the everyday lives of Wisconsin residents. And the race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is especially important. I'll have more to say about that race and its implications in future newsletters. Suffice it to say here, many critical issues — including what will happen when Wisconsin has to draw new election maps in 2021 — are at stake.

We need your help now, both to fund our election efforts and to contact potential voters. And while you're deciding on which days you can give a couple of hours to this effort, be sure to check your own registration, polling place, and sample ballot at myvote.wi.gov.

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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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