We're back, baby!

We did it! Democrats won all of the executive branch offices in WI: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer. So congratulations are due both to the great candidates we fielded (Tony Evers, Mandela Barnes, Josh Kaul, Doug La Follette, and Sarah Godlewski) and to the Grassroots North Shore participants who worked hard all fall with our canvasses, phone banks, and postcard writing. Congratulations too to Senator Tammy Baldwin who handily defeated Leah Vukmir. Early in this cycle she was considered to be quite vulnerable, but it certainly did not turn out that way. We also made important inroads in Waukesha county! We need to build on our successes and to go at it again in the spring when we support a candidate for Justice Shirley Abrahamson's seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. But that is a subject for another day and another newsletter!

What our decisive vote at the executive level means: Evers intends to accept the Medicaid expansion, make sure public schools are fully funded, create new measures of accountability for voucher schools, and try to reinstate collective bargaining for public employees. How much he can do on his own remans to be seen. He's unlikely to get much cooperation from a legislature that is at least as dominated by Republicans as it has been under Walker. Meanwhile, Josh Kaul has promised to withdraw Wisconsin from the lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act (also known at Obamacare).

Because there is a limit to what the executive officers can do on their own, that brings us to the pernicious effects of gerrymandering. Getting rid of political gerrymandering has wide, bipartisan support across the country. Nonpartisan commissions of various types were approved by referenda in Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado (also possibly Utah). Ohio had passed such an initiative earlier this year. A few days ago, a panel of three judges ruled unanimously that Maryland must redraw its congressional district maps before the 2020 election. In Pennsylvania, the state supreme court ordered a new congressional map for the 2018 elections, resulting in gains for Democrats. Democrats in North Carolina hope that their own state supreme court will follow Pennsylvania's example.

Here in Wisconsin we do not have recourse to a ballot initiative that can itself alter the way both state and federal districts are drawn. Nevertheless, ballot initiatives were passed by huge margins in five Wisconsin counties: Eau Claire (74%), Sauk (72%), Outgamie (72%), Winnebago (69%), and Lincoln (65%). Of the 72 counties in Wisconsin, 41 have passed a county resolution supporting nonpartisan legislative and congressional redistricting.

But the results of the last election show how unbeatable the GOP gerrymander in this state is. According to the Fair Elections Project and Wisconsin Voices, although only 45% of the votes cast for state Assembly went to Republicans, they held onto 63% of the seats in the Assembly. As the press release from those two organizations makes clear, the state Assembly make-up seriously misrepresents the preferences of Wisconsin voters.

But we do have two potential avenues of change. On April 2, a new challenge to the Republican-drawn legislative boundaries will be heard by the same 3-judge panel that ruled the state's maps unconstitutional when it last heard the case. (It was returned to Wisconsin for a new trial by the US Supreme Court on a technical issue involving the standing of those who filed the original suit.) A second lawsuit from the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee has also been filed and may be consolidated with the Democratic voters' case (Wisconsin State Journal, 11/8/2018).

Our second avenue relies on our new governor. The legislature can send Governor Evers its preferred new map in 2021, but Governor Evers can veto it if he finds it as politically gerrymandered as the current map. If the governor and the legislature are at an impasse, judges will have to draw fair maps, as they did in 1981, 1991, and 2001.

The bottom line is this: the struggle for fairness continues in Wisconsin just as it more publicly continues in Georgia and Florida. Democrats had a very good night on November 6, 2018 — taking back the majority in the US House of Representatives, taking at leaset 7 governorships and several state legislatures — but voter suppression remains rampant across the country. Labor rights and human rights remain under attack. Immigrants, LBGTQ communities, Jews, and Muslims (to name only a few of the biggest "out" groups) remain threatened everywhere. We can heave a sigh of relief about the elections we just won, but we cannot rest on those laurels. Once we have had a few days of respite, we need to take up our tasks again.

The events list is quite short this week and probably will stay relatively calm through the holidays, but I urge you to take this moment to support Grassroots North Shore, and the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County, and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. All of these organizations need new blood and more treasure!

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How We Win? It's all up to YOU

We had a great turnout for John Nichols on Sunday as he gave a rousing talk on How We Win. (If you missed it, we should be able to link to it in a few days. I'll include it in next week's newsletter.) And the polls in general, both nationwide and in Wisconsin, are looking pretty hopeful (here are the polls from Real Clear Politics, generally right-leaning in my experience, and a complicated look at where the US House of Representatives elections nationwide stand from FiveThirtyEight's point of view). But hope is not a plan! And we need a plan if we want to win.

So here's HOW WE WIN. Grassroots North Shore has provided the Democratic Coordinated Campaign with an in-kind donation of its office space and communications. So we are hosting a variety of campaign activities on our website under the link "Coordinated Campaign Events." All we need is your participation.

What the events pages will NOT tell you is that we also host postcard writing parties and phone banks both for additional volunteers and for getting out our voters whenever we are hosting a canvass or other activity. So you can RSVP for a canvass and then give us a call (414-236-4259) and let us know that you will be coming to our office, not to canvass (we realize that knocking on doors is not something everyone can do) but to participate in one of the other activities we support.

We will provide you with everything you need to be effective — including walk or phone lists, scripts, pens for recording data, water, snacks, and for those canvassing, a partner or a driver if you would like. We have postcards, stamps, and names and addresses plus sample messages for those of you who feel most comfortable working on that project.

I promise not to nag every week but I want to reiterate just how important it is for real human beings like yourselves to talk directly to others — either face-to-face at their doors or on the phone — and share your vision, your passion for our candidates. We want everyone who is eligible to be a voter. And the only way we know how to do that is to ask them.

To make it easy for you to sign up, here is a long list of links to the phone banks and canvasses we have scheduled:

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are you a cynic?

In Lady Windemere's Fan, Oscar Wilde has one of his characters define a cynic as someone "who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Well the price of a ticket to hear John Nichols tell us "How We Win" is only $20. But its value? Priceless! That's the value of Grassroots North Shore to Dems, liberals, progressives, and anyone who worries about the direction Wisconsin is taking. Our annual fundraiser — Democracy: Assembly Required — has to raise enough money to keep our rent paid and our communications with you flowing.

As an all-volunteer organization, we bring you important information at election time, information like early voting dates and times in your village, town, or city plus the list of candidates the group has endorsed (see the web page devoted to 2018 endorsements). In years when Wisconsin doesn't hold four elections (sheesh!), we bring you vital informational programming like last spring's Focus on Immigration.

Please be as generous as you can.

In addition to our fundraiser (which, by the way, we hold only once a year), we need your help if we are to change Wisconsin's direction in the near future. Our healthcare dollars, our roads, our public education, and much more are at stake. Gerrymandering will remain a problem in this state unless we elect a Democratic Governor and Lieutenant Governor this fall. And it would help if we loosened the GOP stranglehold on our state assembly. We need to withdraw our state's participation in a lawsuit designed to destroy the Affordable Care Act and the only way to do that is to elect Josh Kaul as our next Attorney General. Elections have consequences. With your help, we will make the consequences positive for a change!

Grassroots North Shore, as a contributor to the state's Coordinated Campaign, is hosting canvasses every Saturday morning and every Sunday afternoon (after the Packers game!) from now until the election. We are also hosting phone banks, both to recruit volunteers for our canvasses and to reach out to potential voters in our area. In both cases, we will have all the information you need to be effective and we will go over the scripts for each canvass or phone bank so that you are comfortable with what we are saying. You can find dates and times for these events on our Coordinated Campaign Events page. The site lists the next three canvass dates and the next three phoning dates. If you can't volunteer until later, please call 414-236-4259 and leave a message.

Give us a few hours of your time, and together we will transform the world!

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Voting Rights and Your Civic Duty

A day late but here's the rest of this week's Grassroots North Shore newsletter. And let me start with an event that was just announced but has voting as its mission:

When We All Vote North Shore, Tuesday, September 25, 6pm
Whitefish Bay Library, 5420 N. Marlborough Drive, Whitefish Bay

Grassroots North Shore member Charles Trimberger is sponsoring a When We All Vote event. That entire week is reserved for the national kickoff of When We All Vote, the nonpartisan voter registration initiative launched by Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend, even those who are not eligible to vote because of age or citizenship. Volunteers who are interested in recruiting and registering younger voters are especially invited. For additional information, email Charles or call (414) 315-4400. You can find the event on the When We All Vote Facebook events page.

Voting rights are NOT spelled out in the US Constitution, though they are often included in state constitutions and statutes. In all cases, they are a tangle of regulations governing how and where citizens can register to vote, what times polls open and close, who is eligible to access an absentee ballot, who is eligible to vote early (plus when and where early voting will take place), what rules govern provisional ballots, and more. In other words, voting is a complicated weave of laws, court decisions and behaviors that are often difficult to understand and largely invisible to the average citizen.

In Wisconsin, as in other states where Republicans have complete control of the governorship and the legislature, the last eight years have seen a substantial number of changes to voting laws generally making it harder for some populations to vote accompanied by a number of legal challenges to them. Chief among these are early voting regulations and redistricting (gerrymandering).

Shortly after the Republican party gained control of Wisconsin's government, early voting was, by statute, limited to 10 days, always ending at the close of business on the Friday before election day, and could not include any evening or weekend hours. That meant the end of a revered tradition called Souls to the Polls that took place in largely African-American churches on the Sunday immediately preceding the election. Moreover, each city, village, and town was limited to a single early voting location. So the roughly 1500 residents of River Hills could vote early but only at the Village Hall and the roughly 600,000 residents of the city of Milwaukee also could vote early during business hours but again only at City Hall. Fortunately, federal courts have weighed in so that early voting dates and places are now more responsive to voters' needs. In fact, early voting in the city of Milwaukee will begin in September.

Here is a preliminary account of early voting places and dates in the North Shore:

Shorewood: Oct. 1 Nov. 1, M-F, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Friday, Nov. 2, 8:00 am -5:00 pm, Shorewood Village Hall (25 days)
Whitefish Bay: Oct. 22 – Nov. 1, Monday – Thursday, 8:00-4:30. Friday, Nov. 2, 8:00-5:00. Whitefish Bay Village Hall (10 days)
Fox Point: Thursday, October 25, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Friday, November 2, 8:00 am -5:00 pm, Fox Point Village Hall (2 days)
Bayside: October 22 - 31, 8:00 am - 6:00 pm, Monday – Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 2, 8:00 am -5:00 pm, Bayside Village Hall (10 days)
Glendale: Oct. 1 – Nov. 2, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm , M-F, plus Wednesday, Oct. 17, 7:00 am - 7:00 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7:00 am -7:00 pm, Friday, Nov. 2, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, and Saturday, Oct. 20, 8:00 am 12:00 pm, Glendale City Hall (26 days)
River Hills: October 22- November 2, M-F, 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, River Hills Village Hall (10 days)
Brown Deer: October 22-November 1, M-F, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Friday November 2, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Brown Deer Village Hall. (10 days)
Mequon: Oct.15 – 19, 8am - 4:30pm, at Clerk’s Office in City Hall. Monday, Oct.22 – Nov. 1 early voting moves to the Common Council Chambers at City Hall, 8 am – 4pm, Friday, November 2, 8:00 am - 5:00pm. (15 days)
Town of Cedarburg: Oct. 15 – Nov. 2, M-F, 8:30 am until 4:30 pm, Town Hall, (15 days)
City of Cedarburg: Oct. 15 – October 31, M-F, 8:30 am -4:30 pm., Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1 and 2, 8:30 am until 5 pm (15 days)
Town of Grafton: Oct. 22 - Nov. 1, M-Thurs., 8:30 - 4:30 pm, Fridays, open from 8:30 am – Noon (10 days)
Village of Grafton: not confirmed but usually Monday – Friday, Oct. 15 -Nov. 2, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Village Hall (15 days)

Gerrymandering — the practice of drawing district lines for Congress, State Senate, and State Assembly to favor the candidates from a particular political party — is a national problem and a disgrace. In Wisconsin, the practice was challenged in federal court, all the way up to the Supreme Court, in a case known as Whitford. That case was ultimately sent back to the trial court on the technical issue of "standing" (whether Professor Whitford and his fellow plaintiffs had the right to a hearing on their challenge to a statewide election map). Last week, Whitford was refiled, with some additional plaintiffs and some additional information about the harms to voters. And the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee filed yet another lawsuit, following the road map Justice Elena Kagen laid out in her concurring opinion on the original Whitford case. You can read a detailed explanation of these legal actions at Election Law Blog in a post by Nicholas Stephanopoulos.

Neither of these cases will be decided in time for relief in the upcoming November elections, but their impact could be enormous, for good or for ill, once they are decided. Meanwhile, several states &mdsah; including Michigan, Missouri, and Utah — are hoping to pass ballot initiatives to take redistricting out of partisan hands and return more fairness to national and state elected bodies. Pennsylvania's State Supreme Court has put new, nonpartisan district maps in place for the 2018 election cycle. And there are a number of states, including Wisconsin, where legislative solutions are being proposed by grassroots groups such as the Fair Maps Coalition (Grassroots North Shore is a member) and legislative bodies (41 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin have passed resolutions calling for fair maps for our state).

In addition, cases in Maryland and North Carolina continue to wend their way through the court system.

So, what's all this got to do with you? Progressives, liberals, Democrats, and yes small-d democrats need you to vote this November. You can vote on election day — Tuesday, November 6, from 7am to 8pm — or you can vote early (see the chart above for more information). You, your family, your friends, and your neighbors: everyone should check their own voter registration by going to https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ and clicking on "My Voter Info." You will also be able to find out when you last voted, who your elected officials are, what your polling place is, and what will be on your ballot.

Voting is a right you have to exercise to maintain and it is the ONLY obligation of citizenship that guarantees that you will wake up in a representative democracy on November 7, 2018. Urge everyone you know, regardless of their political leanings, to use their right to vote every time an election rolls around!

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Hurry Up, Please. It's Time!

With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, it's time for Grassroots North Shore to take action. And we have a plan! Beginning on Wednesday, September 19, we will be holding weekly phone banks, first to recruit canvassers from a list of volunteers in earlier campaigns and then to talk directly to voters to remind them to vote – early if possible.

We will begin door-knocking and talking face-to-face with voters on September 29, just as Micelle Obama's When We All Vote week of voter registration activities is winding up (September 22-29) and some communities — including the City of Milwaukee — will have just begun early voting or soon will. (Grassroots North Shore's website will have a complete listing of each communities' early voting times and places within the next 10 days or so.)

So please sign up! In general you will find our sign-up pages for election activities under the tab Elections 2018 —> Coordinated Campaign Events. Below are links to the first five phone banking opportunities (all taking place at our office at 5600 Brown Deer Rd, Suite 16) and the first five canvass shifts. We will provide everything you need so you don't have to call from your own cell phone for the phone banks! For the canvasses, you can use a smart phone to access minivan for your walk list if you download the app and then let Eilene Stevens know.

Phone Banks
Wednesday, September 19, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm
Tuesday, September 25, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm
Wednesday, October 3, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm
Tuesday, October 9, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm
Wednesday, October 17, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm

Canvass Shifts
Saturday, September 29, from 10 am to 2 pm (two shifts)
Sunday, September 30, from 3:30 pm am to 5:30 pm
Saturday, October 6, from 10 am to 2 pm (two shifts)
Sunday, October 7, from 3:30 pm am to 5:30 pm
Saturday, October 13, from 10 am to 2 pm (two shifts)

Additional phone banks and canvasses are scheduled throughout the remainder of the campaign season. See our Elections 2018 for dates and times.

While you're signing up to pitch in for the campaigns, don't forget Grassroots North Shore's Annual Picnic, a special evening lecture by the renowned Reggie Jackson on Do Black Votes Matter? and our fall fundraiser with John Nichols. You will find all three listed on the GRNS Events page and on our Facebook events page.

And if you want to know the campaign contribution limits for statewide offices, we have you covered. The Wisconsin Ethics Board has posted a handy chart.

On a final note before we head into the Events listing: I was hospitalized with endocarditis followed by a stroke in January 2018, which explains why I've been absent from Grassroots North Shore events and this newsletter for 8 long months. But now I'm back, baby! And very glad to be able to walk and talk like an almost normal human being. But typos remain a problem. If you see some, please excuse them.

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Give Mike Pence a real Wisconsin Welcome

For as long as I can remember, Citizen Action has been the leading advocate for health care reform. As such, they are the perfect group to organize Thursday's action when Mike Pence hits town to fundraise for Leah Vukmir.  Below are the details from their Facebook post:

(Exact time TBA asap, likely between 5 pm & 7 pm)
VP Mike Pence Is coming to a fundraiser for Leah Vukmir in her bid to unseat Senator Tammy Baldwin and attack our healthcare. Leah Vukmir has NOT pledged to protect people with preexisting conditions and have made it clear she would repeal our healthcare! Join Citizen Action & allies (let us know if you want to be added!) to say NO to repealing health care, NO to Pence, YES to Medicare for All that protects people with pre-existing conditions!

We will be joined by State Legislative leaders, people with preexisting conditions and YOU!

We ask that co-op members or those interested in being Citizen Action co-op members please bring a voided check to show Pence we can mobilize many small checks to take on his giant checks!

Hope to see GRNS well represented.

The other big protest event is Saturday, September 8, 2018, MARCH FOR ECONOMIC AND CLIMATE JUSTICE

 

 


Don't forget to rsvp for our annual picnic. In addition to great food, and motivating speakers, we will have Bluegrass from Linda and Poul Sandersen. It is impossible not to feel happy when listening to them and we need all of the happiness that we can find as commit to making a Blue Wave reality in Wisconsin and in D.C.

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There is an alternative to sadness

I googled "depression in the age of" and the top completion should come as no surprise: Trump.  Looking at the list that followed I realized that none of us is alone in this feeling. The old adage "misery loves company" is the most worthless saying I've ever heard. It accepts misery as inevitable and I refuse to do that. It is time shake off any passive acceptance that plagues us. It is time to empower ourselves. It is also time for a little old-fashioned self-care, too. 

In an article from Psychology Today last year, How to Cope With Trump Anxiety, offers a productive list of actions:

  1. Empower Yourself
  2. Connect
  3. Appreciate Your Ability to Cope
  4. Get Physical
  5. Write
  6. Assign Probability and Plan
  7. Retain Hope

At Grassroots North Shore, you can work on four of the seven actions.  We have spent the last 14 years helping people empower themselves to work for progressive change and solutions. If you feel alone, come to our annual picnic and connect with others. If you want to get physical, sign up to knock on doors. Doing something will help you to retain hope. And, always remember the word of Margaret Mead, " Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."


With the primaries over it is time to get to work.  We love this statement from UW-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee talking about grassroots political groups and how they could help counter money in politicals.  "They don’t particularly have a lot of money but they have volunteers, they have campaign energy, they have a kind of cohesive perspective on who they would like to see elected, who not elected and they give endorsement."  That is, indeed, Grassroots North Shore.

Therefore, this is the first  second of many requests for volunteers. We need first and foremost, people to knock on doors and talk face-to-face with voters. We know that these conversations are the most effective way to motivate voters.  We also need people to make calls and work in the office.  Please sign up and a member of the Campaign Committee will contact you.


Don't forget to rsvp for our annual picnic. In addition to great food, and motivating speakers, we will have Bluegrass from Linda and Poul Sandersen. It is impossible not to feel happy when listening to them and we need all of the happiness that we can find as commit to making a Blue Wave reality in Wisconsin and in D.C.

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Now We Get to Work

With the primaries over it is time to get to work.  We love this statement from UW-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee talking about grassroots political groups and how they could help counter money in politicals.  "They don’t particularly have a lot of money but they have volunteers, they have campaign energy, they have a kind of cohesive perspective on who they would like to see elected, who not elected and they give endorsement."  That is, indeed, Grassroots North Shore.

Therefore, this is the first of many requests for volunteers. We need first and foremost, people to knock on doors and talk face-to-face with voters. We know that these conversations are the most effective way to motivate voters.  We also need people to make calls and work in the office.  Please sign up and a member of the Campaign Committee will contact you.


Now, some fun: September 16, 2018 - Our Annual Picnic, Served hot or cold, politics is on the menu at our picnic... Once more we will feature Keith Schmitz's famous pulled pork and pulled chicken at Cahill Park Square in Whitefish Bay.

RSVP now! 


 

 

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Election Countdown

This past March, leading up to the April Elections, we looked at Leadership MKE.  The group worked to unseat supervisors who had opposed Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Exec, in the past. It should come as no surprise that Abele also used his seemingly limitless personal wealth to finance the group. Between January and March of 2018, he donated $740,000 to the group. According to the finance report, he was not the only person funding the group.  Five other people donated a total of $65.00

Leadership MKE is at it again trying to buy an office. In the race for Milwaukee County Sheriff, we are not alone in endorsing Earnell Lucas. Leadership MKE has endorsed his opponent. So, as your mailboxes fill with glossy ads, make sure to look and see who paid for them. Please, if you see this at the bottom, ask yourself if there is an ulterior motive behind the expense.

We, however, do not have to go along with it.  UWM professor Mordachai Lee says that groups like Grassroots North Shore can counter the effect of big money: "They don’t particularly have a lot of money but they have volunteers, they have campaign energy, they have a kind of cohesive perspective on who they would like to see elected, who not elected and they give endorsement," he said

Don't forget to do some election homework. 
  1. Make sure that your voter registration is correct.  You can check it here.
  2. Mark your calendar and make a plan to vote on August 14, 2018.
  3. Remind your friends and contacts to vote.  Don't stop there.  Ask them to remind their friends and contacts to do the same.

A few dates to add to your calendar:

  • September 16, 2018 - Our Annual Picnic, Served hot or cold, politics is on the menu at our picnic... Once more we will feature Keith Schmidt's famous pulled pork and pulled chicken at Cahill Park Square in Whitefish Bay.
  • October 14, 2018 - Our Annual Fundraiser with featured speaker, John Nichols. 
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Primary Candidates and More

The primaries are almost here and here is your list of things you should be doing to get ready:
  1. Make sure that your voter registration is correct.  You can check it here.
  2. Mark your calendar and make a plan to vote on August 14, 2018.
  3. Remind your friends and contacts to vote.  Don't stop there.  Ask them to remind their friends and contacts to do the same.
  4. Read the op-ed from Earnell Lucas for Milwaukee County Sheriff and see one of the reasons GRNS has endorsed.
  5. If you live in the 23rd Aldermanic District read from Andy Lamb and Liz Sumner in this highly competitive race.
  6. Even though they are running unopposed in the Primary, remember to vote for our much needed Dems who will be running in November.

A few dates to add to your calendar:

  • September 16, 2018 - Our Annual Picnic, Served hot or cold, politics is on the menu at our picnic... Once more we will feature Keith Schmidt's famous pulled pork and pulled chicken at Cahill Park Square in Whitefish Bay.
  • October 14, 2018 - Our Annual Fundraiser with featured speaker, John Nichols. 

Ongoing Projects


Finally, I am happy to report that Nancy Kaplan (whom I often describe as our own Rachel Maddow) is almost back to normal after her stroke six months ago.  The doctors said that it would take a full year for her to return to full recovery.  Any of you who know Nancy also know that she achieves her goals far more quickly than the average person.  She indicates that she will resume the newsletter after Labor Day.  Thank you for your patience while I have covered for Nancy but let's face it, if Nancy is the Rachel Maddow of Northshore politics then I am the Erma Bombeck.  We need facts and analysis; we will save entertainment for after we win.

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