The Debates are Coming!

The Debates are Coming! The Debates are Coming! Something like 24 people have declared that they are running for the Democratic Party nomination for president. Up to 20 of them will be participating in the first debates of the 2020 race on two nights: June 26 & 27. This event is vitally important to the future of the Democratic Party and potentially the future of the county. Grassroots North Shore is sponsoring two Debate Watch parties, one at Bar Louie (5750 Bayshore Dr, Glendale) and one at Art Bar (722 E Burleigh St, Milwaukee). We don't yet know who will participate on which night — candidates will be randomly assigned to a specific night — but in these early days it's important to hear from as many candidates as possible. And it is just as important to hear these candidates in the company of other progressives and members of the party so that the assembled group can discuss what they see and hear. You can find information about these events, including the times, on or website or a Facebook events page.

  • In Glendale, June 26 at Bar Louie on the Web and on Facebook. This event starts early (at 6:30 pm) to include the meeting of Drinking Liberally Glendale. The debate begins at 8 pm CDT.
  • In Glendale, June 27 at Bar Louie on the Web and on Facebook. The event begins at 7:30 pm; the debate begins at 8 pm.

  • In Milwaukee, June 26 at Art Bar on the Web and on Facebook. The event begins at 7:30 pm; the debate begins at 8 pm.
  • In Milwaukee, June 27 at Art Bar on the Web and on Facebook. The event begins at 7:30 pm; the debate begins at 8 pm.

Here are a few links to speeches by a second set of seven candidates. (See last week's newsletter for links to speeches by seven other candidates.)

Equally important is our program on the Future of Healthcare on Sunday, June 23, featuring Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Two years ago, Trump opined "NOBODY KNEW THAT HEALTH CARE COULD BE SO COMPLICATED." Well, a lot of people knew and yet few know that the US House of Representatives recently passed legislation to strengthen the ACA. Nor do they understand how that new legislation compares to Medicare for All proposals. Dr. Kraig will answer questions about the many health care proposals and options offered by presidential candidates. While you are there, Dan Folkman of Folkman Productions has graciously offered to record short health care-related stories (maximum of two-minutes per recording). You can sign up ahead of time by emailing Shirley Horowitz for more details. Results will be linked to our web site, and shared with Citizen Action of WI if you give permission.

And finally, a reminder about calling and writing legislators about the Medicaid expansion and Fair Maps. Before the legislature votes on the next biennal budget, we want to make sure our legislators hear us on these two vital issues. Grassroots North Shore is hosting a series of phoning and postcard-writing get-togethers at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Brown Deer). Please sign up and come by on the following days during the times listed. (You'll be out of there in a hour! Promise.)

Please sign up on our web page or our Facebook event. The doors will open at 2:30 with the program beginning at 3pm. We will be serving light refreshments, which is why we'd like to know how many people plan to attend.

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Here We Go!

There's no time or space to kvetch this week. We have too much to do! So the intro this week, and probably for the next couple, will focus on your engagement with Grassroots North Shore actions and events.

Lobbying legislators

This month we're sponsoring events to call legislators to urge them to support the Medicaid Expansion and write them postcards supporting non-partisan redistricting (Fair Maps). You can drop in the office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116) anytime during the hours listed. It will take you an hour or less to make the calls and fill out the postcards! Please RSVP, though, so we know who to expect.

The Future of Healthcare

The future of the healthcare system in the US, at least according to pundits, was a major issue in the 2018 elections and gave Democrats across the country their strongest winning issue. Fear of losing healthcare and especially the protections built into the ACA (also known as Obamacare) turn out to be a significant motivators for voting. The Democrats running to be the party's nominee for president next year have proposed a variety of plans, the details of which can be overwhelming. To sort it all out for us, and to answer questions about what the US House and Senate are currently doing about the cost and accessibility of healthcare and health insurance, Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, will explain what's going on and what the various Medicare-for-All, Medicare-for-Some, and Medicare as a public option might mean. The event will take place at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church, 5736 W Brown Deer Rd, on Sunday, June 23. Doors open at 2:30 with the program at 3:00pm. The wonderful volunteers at GRNS will serve light refreshments so please RSVP either on our website on our Facebook page.

Debate Watch Parties

The first debates for the Democratic nomination for president will be held on two consecutive nights: Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27. Grassroots North Shore has so far arranged for two watch parties, at Bar Louie in the Bayshore Mall (5750 N Bayshore Dr, Glendale) and the Art Bar (722 E Burleigh St, Milwaukee) in Milwaukee. There may be additional venues so watch this space!

In any case, make sure you put these dates on your calendar! The debates will begin at 8pm CDT. As you may know, the rules for being included in this first debate include either polling above 1% in 3 national polls OR getting donations from a minimum of 65,000 people spread out in many states across the country OR BOTH. Each declared candidate who qualifies will be randomly assigned a slot on one night or the other. In other words, the distribution of contenders across the two nights will NOT separate high polling candidates from lower polling ones. Right now it behooves us to hear from all of them (though there are many, many of them!). And it also behooves us to spend the evening together: both to warm ourselves in the presence of other engaged Democrats and progressives and to be the most informed that we can be at this stage.

If you want to see some of the candidates at other forums and rallies, here (in no particular order) are a few links you can follow to watch these past events online:

I'll cover other candidates the same way in the next few newsletters.

New Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

At the DPW convention over the last weekend, we elected new leadership. We want to send many thanks to Martha Laning for four terrific years of her leadership and extend our congratulations to the incoming team: Chair Ben Wikler, First Vice Chair Felesia Martin and Second Vice Chair Lee Snodgrass. Grassroots North Shore looks forward to continuing help the party recruit and elect progressives to every statewide office in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee and in Ozaukee County.

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Gerrymandering & healthcare are huge issues

There's big news on the gerrymandering/fair elections front: Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Robyn Vining will introduce a nonpartisan redistricting bill, LRB 2062/1, and hold a press conference on Tuesday, June 4, in the Assembly Parlor at 11:30am. If you are going to be in the Madison area, please make time to show your support by attending that event.

And if you're going to be in the Milwaukee area on Tuesday, June 4, drop by our office at 5600 W Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116, between 3pm and 6pm to send a postcard to your own Senator and Assembly representative to urge them to support Fair Maps and the bill that will mandate a nonpartisan process modeled on Iowa's successful plan. We'll look up all the info you need and supply the postcards and stamps. Go to our RSVP or Facebook event pages for more information.

If you bring a cell phone, you can also call their offices and lobby them to support the Medicaid (BadgerCare) expansion. Not only would 82,000 more people in Wisconsin have healthcare coverage, but the state budget would be enhanced by millions of dollars that could be spent on education, infrastructure, environmental protection — you name it. Medicaid expansion is a win-win for our state. We want our Senators and Representatives to back it. You can let us know you're coming on our RSVP or Facebook event pages. Hope to see you there.

In other news on Fair Elections, federal courts in Michigan and Ohio have ruled extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional, as have courts in Wisconsin (in 2017), North Carolina, and Maryland. Both the court in MI and the one in OH ruled that electoral maps must be redrawn before the 2020 elections! As expected, however, the Supreme Court, stayed those orders until the pending cases from NC and MD are decided by the end of June this year. Our own Whitford case, now enhanced with additional plaintifs to address the issue of standing that the Supreme Court used to send the case back to the trial court, will be heard in July.

Meanwhile, as late night host Stephen Colbert often says, Ariel Procaccia has a not-to-be-missed article in the La Crosse Tribune today on the role of statistical analysis in adjudicating extreme partisan gerrymanders. According to this account, math can be used to find problematic cases: "At the heart of [this] approach is the idea of testing whether the map in question is abnormal when compared against random maps that only account for legal and geographical constraints, and are generated in a way that's oblivious to partisan machinations." Although he offers no concrete evidence in support of his claim, Procaccia argues that the Court is more receptive to the so-called outlier-detection method than it appeared to be to the efficiency-gap method the Whitford case in part relied on. The piece is called To beat gerrymandering, do the math. It's worth the read.

This issue is very much in the national news lately (despite all the attention the press pays to His Idiot's tweets and other nonsense pronouncements). In The Hill, Lon Johnson reports that "only 2 percent of Americans say American elections work all of the time. It also found that fighting gerrymandering and corruption has bipartisan support, with 82 percent of Americans saying they are concerned with the corruption of the system, and believe gerrymandering is undemocratic and should be illegal." New Hampshire's Senate has just passed a bill to create a commission to redraw its legislative maps. And according to NBC news, half of the states have considered what's known as "prison gerrymandering" in the last few years. Six states have now passed laws "to require that prisoners be counted at their pre-incarceration addresses — instead of where they're serving time...." The change matters because "[w]hile a significant number of correctional facilities are located in comparatively rural areas that are largely Republican and predominantly white, prisoners tend to hail from urban, often Democratic communities...." We have the moral high ground on this issue. Help Grassroots North Shore, the Fair Maps Coalition, and fair-minded people everywhere win this campaign, all over the nation and right here in Wisconsin!

And finally, a heads-up on another issue Grassroots North Shore has singled out for attention as we head into the Democratic primary season: reforming healthcare, again. Confused by all the different healthcare proposals the Democratic Party's candidates for president are supporting? Then don't miss Robert Kraig's discussion, The Future of Healthcare in the US. He will explain what's at stake and what the various proposals set out to do. This will be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of a healthcare expert! Grassroots North Shore is hosting the event on Sunday, June 23, at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee). Doors will open at 2:30pm and the program will begin at 3:00pm (with lots of easy parking behind the church). As usual, we are asking that people RSVP on our website or our Facebook event page so we will have enough goodies for everyone.

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good and bad news

It is the best of times and the worst of times, maybe. In a national poll released by Quinnipiac on May 21, Trump's approval-disapproval numbers were 38% approve and a whopping 57% disapprove. Voters apparently are not impressed with his handling of foreign affairs or trade. Meanwhile, "54 percent of American voters say they 'definitely' will not vote for him, compared to 52 percent in an April 30 Quinnipiac University National Poll. Today, 31 percent say they 'definitely' will vote for Trump and 12 percent say they will 'consider voting for him.' ... Definitely not voting for Trump are 10 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independent voters." Our job is to make sure we turn out everyone who claims they will definitely not vote for our Liar in Chief! And that's the good news.

The bad is more diffuse. It's good that at least some documents from the intelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election will be supplied to the House Judiciary Committee, but we're a long way from doing whatever needs to be done to protect our elections from intrusion and manipulation. And the testimony of Bob Mueller, Don McGahn, and others remains uncertain and unscheduled, either in the House Judiciary Committee or the Intelligence Committee. The whole national scene — including the performance of HUD Secretary Ben Carson yesterday, the ongoing tragedies at our southern border, the policies of our Secretary of Education, and the drum beat for war in Iran — depresses me. The nightmare we are living through never lets up, never ends.

Here in Wisconsin, there is apparently no progress in negotiations between the GOP dominated legislature and Democratic Governor Tony Evers. At stake — school funding, the future of voucher schools, Medicaid expansion, nonpartisan redistricting, and the ever contentious but ever needy infrastructure enhancement. What we have learned, of course, is that it's not enough to vote, to win elections. We need to keep up the pressure, especially on the legislature, to compromise, at the very least. Voting for the federal dollars that come with the Medicaid expansion — never mind providing affordable health coverage for 82,000 of our neighbors — would be the right thing to do. If we call, write, and demonstrate in large enough numbers, wobbly Republicans might get the message. So do your part and call or write you legislators TODAY. You can find contact info for your Senator and Assembly Representative here: legis.wisconsin.gov.

Our local Democratic organizer, Davette Baker, has two announcements to pass along:

We are going to be having a DPW Grassroots Call with Special Guest, Representative Jimmy Anderson on Tuesday, May 28th at 6:00 pm to strategize about actions surrounding Medicaid Expansion over the summer. Please dial-in using your phone: 605-562-0400 Access code: 428 0380#.

Our hope is to show the grassroots support for Medicaid Expansion in key legislative districts where Republicans may feel pressured to vote our way. We need all the help we can get to make sure our Representatives hear our voices. We will be having a Weekend of Action on June 29th - 30th to knock on doors, make phone calls, write letters to the editor & more. Please stay tuned for events forthcoming next week.

Grassroots North Shore will be holding at least one phone bank to call our supporters and urge them to call Senator Darling, and Representatives Knodl and Ott. We'll get that organized as soon as we can and will send out an action alert to call for volunteers. Stay tuned.

Finally, make sure you save the date for an educational program on the healthcare proposals national candidates are providing. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, will discuss The Future of Healthcare in the US. This will be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of a healthcare expert! Grassroots North Shore is hosting the event on Sunday, June 23, at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church (5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee). Doors will open at 2:30pm and the program will begin at 3:00pm. As usual, we are asking that people RSVP on our website or our Facebook event page so we will have enough goodies for everyone.

 

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as we head into a Constitutional Crisis...

The nation's capital is undergoing unfathomable turmoil and the rest of America is rattled to the core, it seems. Either you turn on the news every day to see what the newest challenge to our Constitution and the rule of law is, as I do, or you avert your eyes because it is all just too much to bear. It is hard to be a helpless witness to history! So perhaps the best thing to do is to turn your attention to areas where your voice and your activism can still make a difference. Although the Republicans have voted to remove pretty much every one of Governor Evers's initiatives from his proposed budget, we're still fighting the good fight on a number of crucial fronts.

On the BadgerCare expansion, the League of Progressive Seniors is spearheading a move to have a massive state-wide demo in an effort to get attention for the Medicaid Expansion. We can win this fight, just as we won the effort to prevent the complete repeal of Obamacare. So stay tuned and plan to participate. I will let you know once a date, time and place have been firmed up for this event. And in case you've momentarily forgotten just how central this issue is, I want to remind you that the health insurance for thousands of Wisconsin citizens is not the only thing at stake. If the state takes the Federal dollars that come with the expansion, we can fund the Evers proposals for schools, roads, and more. It's that important.

On the Fair Maps front, the Coalition has begun a new initiative to get yard signs posted all around the state in noticeable numbers. The Fair Elections Project is taking orders for bundles of 25 signs at $4 per sign ($100 for 25 signs, $200 for 50 signs, etc.) Once an order is placed, the organization will get in touch with instructions about how to pick them up either in Milwaukee on June 1 or in Madison on June 2. You or the organization distributing them are free to sell them at cost or for a profit (which you can keep!). If you'd like to participate and either want to order signs in bulk yourself or have access to an organization that might purchase and sell or distribute them, you'll find all the information you need at fairelectionsproject.org/yardsigns. For more information, email info@fairelectionsproject.org. And while you're visiting the Fair Elections Project website, be sure to sign the petition.

Sunday, May 5, was a beautiful spring day. So a lot of people opted for outdoor activities that day and missed Reggie Jackson's wonderful presentation on the history of racial segregation in Milwaukee. If you are one of those people, here's a very brief recap. You'll find a longer and more interesting account on our website, including information about local organizations who are working to address the issues.

What Did Reggie Jackson Tell Us about the Hidden Impact of Segregation in his May 5th Presentation?
by Chistine Kuramoto

Milwaukee ranks as the "most segregated" metropolitan area in the U.S., and Wisconsin is the second most segregated state in the nation, said Jackson. Jackson reviewed the history of Wisconsin housing segregation progression, citing policy specifics at both local and national levels. He noted effects of contracts for individual sales restricted sales to "Caucasian" buyers; the contracts were legally enforced until 1948. On the Federal level, an agency called the Home Owners' Loan Corporation shaped real estate reality, and gave realtors and lenders resources to implement color-coded maps for discriminatory purposes.

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let's engage and act!

The Joint Finance Committee has just announced that it will meet on Wednesday, May 9, at 11:00 a.m. in Executive Session (Room 412 East, State Capitol) to consider stripping everything not to the GOP's liking from Governor Evers's proposed bienniel budget. Most people cannot drop everything to go to Madison on Thursday but I'll let you know if there is an organized response you can join.

The list of items the GOP has targeted is too long to reproduce here but the issues on the chopping block include the Medicaid expansion and nonpartisan redistricting. Eliminating the Medicaid expansion will COST the state almost $325 million (money the Evers proposal would allocate to other worthy projects like education funding) while eliminating the proposal for funding nonpartisan redistricting will SAVE the state a pittance ($10,000). Clearly fiscal rectitude has nothing whatsoever to do with Republicans' concerns. If you are upset about these developments, as you should be, call your state legislators. You can look them up using your address at the legislature's website.

As part of our commitment to the Fair Maps Coalition, Grassroots North Shore has been holding some postcard writing parties to let the Joint Finance Committee know how we feel about the issue. (To date, we have sent hundreds of cards with more to come.) We will keep up our efforts despite the committee's rejection. So if you are able to join Martha Pincus at her house (7045 N Belmont Ln, Fox Point, WI 53217 ) at 5pm on Thursday, May 9, please RSVP so she will know to expect you.

We are also supporting the Great Lakes Compact in an effort to raise public awareness about the issue and stop the unlawful diversions of our water. Please take a moment to take the pledge. We've already taken the pledge as an organization. So now we just need our supporters to sign as individuals. This is yet another way to make the voices of the citizens of Wisconsin heard and felt in the halls of power.

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opportunities galore

Grassroots North Shore is dedicated to education around vital issues and engagement to help make the changes we all want to see. In years like this one when there are either no or very few elections, we like to focus on a few key issues. High on our list this year (and pretty much every year) are race relations, voting rights, the environment, gun safety, public education, criminal justice reform, immigration, and healthcare. We will undoubtedly sponsor programs and activities around most if not all of these issues over the next eight months. Our Facebook page, our website, and this newsletter are the surest ways to keep track of our activities and to RSVP for the ones of most interest to you. So LIKE us on Facebook, VISIT our website, and of course READ this newsletter!

Apropos of our interest in voting rights, there's been big news about gerrymandering this past week. While the US Supreme Court is still deciding whether to declare extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional in the two cases before it (one from Maryland and one from North Carolina), a three-judge district court in Michigan unanimously ruled that state's maps for state and federal offices unconstitutional. Moreover, it has mandated that the state redraw the districts before the 2020 election. (See the Washington Post article, April 25, 2019.) If this outcome sounds familiar, it should. As Nicholas Stephanopoulos points out in his electionlawblog post, The Emerging Consensus of the Lower Courts, "The decision is ... further proof that, while the Supreme Court continues to debate the issue, the lower courts have found a way to identify—and invalidate—extreme gerrymanders."

Lest you think that this issue is too esoteric or too minor for your attention, let me explain why it is foundational — to our democracy and to the hopes we have for our beloved state of Wisconsin. You see, unless we achieve fair maps, we cannot change who sits in our Assembly or our Senate. The election last November showed that the Assembly district maps (on which the state Senate district maps are dependent) are so partisan in their makeup that even the sort of wave election we saw last fall cannot make a dent in the grip the GOP has on legislative power. Although the statewide vote for Assembly went heavily for Democrats (roughly 54%), Republicans "won" 63 of the 99 seats!

None of the issues we care deeply about — the state of our environment, criminal justice reform, the funding of public education and rethinking the role of tax dollars in voucher schools and so on — can be successfully addressed with the GOP so firmly in control. In truth, the legislators do not need to listen to their constituents when elections are forgone conclusions. Even if a huge majority of WI counties (46 of 72 and counting) and huge support among voters back nonpartisan redistricting (the January Marquette Law School poll measured support at 72% statewide), our current legislators will not pay any attention. Unless we raise our voices so that they can no longer ignore us.

That's why we're asking you to take an hour or so to send postcards to the members of the Joint Finance Committee to "flood the zone" and let them know that we really care about this issue! We've organized some postcard parties to get the job done but we need your help. We have everything you will need — including postcards with a simple message already printed on them, pens, stamps, and names and addresses. Really, all we need is YOU. Please take a little of your time to make this postcard campaign a success! You can sign up for one of the three currently scheduled events right here.

  • Tuesday, April 30 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116),1:30-3:30pm

  • Friday, May 3 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116), 3:00-4:30pm

  • Thursday, May 9 at at Martha Pincus's house (7045 N Belmont Ln, Fox Point, 53217), from 5:00-6:30pm

As we move deeper into May, we're holding a public presentation on why Milwaukee is and remains such a segregated city. On Sunday, May 5, Reggie Jackson, Head Griot for America's Black Holocaust Museum, will speak to us about this issue and will offer some ideas about how we address the problems. The event will take place at Plymouth Church (2717 N Hampshire St, Milwaukee) from 3:00-5:00pm (doors open at 2:30). Please RSVP so our team of hearty volunteers will know how to gauge the amount of light refreshments they plan to serve.

Finally, recruiting good candidates and giving them the support they need to be successful in our Assembly districts are vital to our success. Fortunately, Emily Siegrist has declared that she will run again for the 24th Assembly District. To that end, Kath Michel and I — plus a distinguished list of co-hosts — will be holding a pre-campaign kickoff and fundraiser for her. Even if you don't live in the 24th Assembly District, you can help her win by giving what you can and by coming to the event at 4:00-6:00pm at my house (7759 N River Edge Dr, Glendale). You can RSVP by email or by phone (612-590-9112) and you can donate online. You can also learn more about the event on Facebook.

 

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Looking Ahead

The election on April 2 was the last one in Wisconsin until 2020 (when we will again have FOUR!). But as always, Grassroots North Shore is looking ahead to bringing you great educational programs plus advance planning for what is sure to be a hectic 2020 what with the Democratic Convention being held here in July, right between the two spring elections and the two fall ones. We may think that the rest of this year is a time to slow down and live a politically care-free life. But we'd be wrong! Now is the time to plan ahead — to understand key issues and to win back our state!

The last of the Joint Finance public hearings is tomorrow in Green Bay. I'm going and will probably offer more testimony on the issue of Fair Maps (I testified, along with 6 other people, at the hearing in Oak Creek on April 10. But just because the hearings are winding down, we won't stop sending word to the members of the Committee! So please sign up to fill out some pre-printed postcards at one of our postcard parties in the next few weeks. Here's the first batch of them (we'll keep sending cards until the mid-to-end of May, after which we will send cards to our own representatives and senators).

  • Thursday, April 25 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116), 1:30-3:30pm

  • Tuesday, April 30 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116),1:30-3:30pm

  • Friday, May 3 at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Road, Suite 116), 3:00-4:30pm

  • Thursday, May 9 at at Martha Pincus's house (7045 N Belmont Ln, Fox Point, 53217), from 5:00-6:30pm

The goal of this activity is to show the committee members that the voters of Wisconsin have a deep sense of fairness and want a nonpartisan process for drawing the electoral maps the state will adopt after the 2020 census. The volume of cards will help us do that. So even if you have already done some, you can do another set. We will have everything you need — cards, pens, stamps, and a message already printed on the cards. Plus you'll have the comradery you crave!

Our forum on why Milwaukee has the most segregated housing of any city in the nation features the inimitable Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of America's Black Holocaust Museum. His presentation will cover how we got to this ignominious place and what YOU can do to address it. Reggie is a great speaker, so you won't want to miss this program. We would appreciate it if you would RSVP so our team of hearty volunteers will know how to gauge the amount of light refreshments they plan to serve.

Finally, I want to draw the attention of our northern readers to the fact that we are beginning to include Ozaukee County events in our newsletter. I've heard that left-leaning folks don't know that there are a lot of other left-leaning folks to get to know. One way is through the newly created Drinking Liberally events. There will be an inaugural event in Port Washington at the Schooner Pub (114 N Franklin St, Port Washington) tomorrow evening (Wednesday, April 24) at 6:30pm. And the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County meets monthly on the second Wednesday of each month. You can find full information on Facebook. If you're a shy or lonely leftie in Ozaukee County, please get together with others of your persuasion and help turn Ozaukee blue (or at least purple)!

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GRNS newsletter: we have lots to do!

Even though we had a bunch of snow Sunday (April 14 and this is the weather we get?), spring is really going to be here soon. The trees in my backyard are counting on it. And so should you!

Ah spring. That means outdoor actions are going to be pleasant again. So dress for the weather but plan to join Voces de la Frontera for a "Day Without Latinx and Immigrants" in Madison on Wednesday, May 1.

This year the organization is focusing on restoring the opportunity for undocumented immigrants and many poor citizens to obtain a Wisconsin drivers license. The Executive Director of Voces, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, has written a compelling argument supporting the ability of those populations to obtain licenses. According to Neumann-Ortiz, those who are unable to obtain a license risk "los[ing] the ability to get to jobs located far from segregated neighborhoods, locking them into poverty, unemployment and the stigma of a criminal record. This problem affects around 300,000 people, disproportionately Black and Latinx." If an undocumented immigrant is caught driving without a license, he/she risks deportation. Governor Evers's budget proposal includes "measures to restore driver licenses for immigrant Wisconsinites." In a call to action, Christine Neumann-Ortiz asks you to help in two ways:

  • Call Senator Alberta Darling, Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, representing much of the North Shore, tell her that you support restoring access to driver licenses for undocumented people and low-income U.S. citizens at (608) 266-5830.
  • March with us on a "Day Without Latinxs & Immigrants" on May 1st, 11am at the State Capitol in Madison.

You might also donate something to help the cause.

Read the full article on our webiste.

You should also sign up for our terrific program on housing segregation in Milwaukee, featuring Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of America's Black Holocaust Museum. Reggie will describe how we got to be so segregated and how we can work to change it. The event will take place on Sunday, May 5, at Plymouth Church (2717 N Hampshire St, Milwaukee) with the doors opening at 2:30 and the program beginning at 3:00. As is our custom, we will serve light refreshments so please RSVP. Reggie's presentations are not to be missed!

And though it's a bit of a haul and a whole day of interesting yet tedious testimony, I urge you to go to the Joint Finance Committee hearing in Green Bay on Wednesday, April 24. The hearing begins at 10am but if you want to testify — AND YOU DO — you need to get there early so that you can get a speaking slot at a reasonable time. Although there are many, many worthy issues to address to the committee, Grassroots North Shore is particularly focused on Fair Maps. You can learn more about the coalition of Wisconsin organizations that support this issue on the Fair Elections Project website. Also, it will pay to carpool. To make that easier for people, we ask that you sign up on our website so we can help coordinate. As a bonus, I will send you some ideas for your testimony and some tips for making the day as pleasant as possible.

We will also be hosting some really easy postcard writing events at our office over the next few weeks. I will post dates and times in the near future and announce them in a special email for that purpose or in the next iteration of the GRNS newsletter, whichever comes first. The postcards already have the Fair Maps message printed on them. All you need to do is add the name and addresses of the recipients. We are asking people to fill out cards to the 16 members of the Joint Finance Committee plus their own Assembly and Senate members, a total of 18 cards. We will have everything you need for this action: postcards, pens, stamps, and names and addresses. Anyway, stay tuned for specifics!

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What happened and what we do next

The statewide election for Supreme Court Justice was a blow to Democrats and progressives who thought the election of Dems to all five constitutional offices last November meant WI had turned a corner. But what we should learn from our defeat is rather uplifting. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin reported that there were 40,000 more votes for Lisa Neubauer this year than for Rebecca Dallet last year. And that means that we did well at turning out our base. A picture of the turnout in Milwaukee County shows that our North Shore communities also performed strongly as far as turnout went. Grassroots North Shore sent more than 1100 postcards reminding our supporters to vote for Lisa Neubauer and we supported both canvassing and phone calls in Brown Deer and Whitefish Bay. Our efforts clearly paid off.

But turnout doesn't tell all we need to know about how the election went. It appears that the split between Neubauer and Hagedorn mattered a lot. Although turnout was higher in this election than in last year's, voters in Milwaukee County voted more heavily for Hagedorn in 2019 than they had for Screnock in 2018. And that difference in percent of the vote "effectively doomed [Neubauer's] statewide chances." Apparently, the ads attacking Hagedorn's homophobia were taken as attacks on his Christian faith. And that brought religious voters out in droves. Let that be a lesson to us!

Our loss should renew our determination to win elsewhere, on other issues we care deeply about. Yet the truth is we will never win on more humane issues like reducing rates of incarceration or restoring access to drivers licenses for immigrants and low income populations unless we capture more of the legislature. A valuable first step in doing that is showing up in large numbers at the Joint Finance Committee hearings in Oak Creek on April 10 and in Green Bay on April 24 to support Governor Evers' inclusion of funds for Fair Maps. The links will take you to our RSVP pages. We can help with ideas for testimony if you want to speak at one or both hearings. But you can also serve by simply standing to support those who are testifying on the subject of Fair Maps. You can also take these steps:

In other noteworthy events held by Grassroots North Shore supporters, Shirley Horowitz and Martha Pincus are holding a house party from 4-5:30pm on Sunday, April 14, to benefit Voces de la Frontera and the organization's effort to restore drivers licenses to those who cannot now obtain them. You can find more information in our events list below.

Meanwhile, save the date for the next Grassroots North Shore forum on why Milwaukee has the most segregated housing in the country. Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of the Black Holocaust Museum, will talk about who perpetuates this segregation and what we can do to change it. The forum will take place on Sunday, May 5, at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St., Milwaukee. The event is free and open to the public. GRNS volunteers will serve light refreshments so please RSVP so they know how many to plan for.

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