Milwaukee & WI win!

Have you heard? The Democratic National Convention in 2020 will be held in Milwaukee! I'm so excited that the 46th President will be chosen here. In our fair city. There will no doubt be oodles of opportunity for volunteers to help with the convention. So keep summer 2020 open!

Meanwhile, we have a state to run. So you'll want to come to our St. Patrick's Day program at the Ovation Sarah Chudnow facilty (10995 Market St, Mequon): Beyond the Budget: Our Wisconsin Priorites. We'll hear from Representatives Bowen, Brostoff, and Goyke. Plus Judge Lisa Neubauer, our endorsed candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, will speak and give us a chance to talk to her.

And a final reminder about the 2019 election. Early voting in most communities begins March 18. You can find more information about your community's early voting schedule on our website page. We have posted hours and locations for most of our North Shore cities, villages, and towns. Plus there's a link to each one's website so you can follow up if our information is incomplete.

Election day is Tuesday, April 2. This will be a low turnout affair. So your progressive vote can really make a difference! Lots of communities have races for school boards. Grassroots North Shore does not track all of these races (there are just too many), but YOU should. And you should vote. Every time, in every election!

For that upcoming election, Grassroots North Shore has chosen not to endorse either candidate in the race for Milwaukee Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 40. Instead the Endorsements Committe has issued the following statement.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Race, Branch 40, April 2nd election

Candidates sometimes request that we consider them for an endorsement. In some cases, the selection is obvious, because one of the candidates may espouse Progressive tenets while the other clearly does not.

In the upcoming Milwaukee County Circuit Court election, Branch 40, the Endorsements Committee reviewed the two candidates, Judge Andrew Jones and Assistant State Public Defender Danielle Shelton.

No consensus was reached by the Endorsements Committee. Instead, the committee decided to offer our membership information and materials that would allow people to reach their own conclusions. Each candidate submitted a short statement and responded to a set of five questions. Their statements and responses can be found on our Endorsements page. We hope you will find them helpful.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

we persist!

Grassroots North Shore is making great headway on informing voters about the importance of the upcoming April 2 election for Wisconsin Supreme Court. By the time the election rolls around, we will have sent out more than 1100 postcards and made hundreds of phone calls. We're gearing up to do some canvassing, too, both for this election (the weather will break sometime soon, won't it?) and to get a running start on the madness that will be the 2020 cycle of elections — when there will once again be FOUR elections! But we will need everyone's help to reach our lofty goals.

Here's what we have lined up right now:

Saturday, March 9, from 2-4, at our office (5600 W Brown Deer Rd, suite 116). Please RSVP.

Tuesday, March 12, from 6:30-8pm, at Martha Pincus's house (7045 N Belmont Ln, Fox Point, WI 53217). Please RSVP.


We wil provide additional opportunities soon. So stay tuned.

You can find some (still incomplete!) early voting info on our web page devoted to that topic and our endorsement of Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on our Endorsements page. You can find some information about her and her approach to the job of judge there. But you'll find more information on her web page and from this wonderful video introduction to her. I hope you'll take the time to read about her and watch her intro.

We are also hosting a not-to-be-missed program — featuring Representatives David Bowen, Jonathan Brostoff, and Evan Goyke — "Beyond the Budget: Our Wisconsin Priorities" on Sunday, March 17 from 3-5pm (doors open at 2:30) at Ovation Sarah Chudnow (10995 Market St, Mequon, WI 53092). Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer will also be on hand to say a few words and take questions about her candidacy. We hope you will come. Please RSVP.

And in our weekly peek at some national news you may have missed with all the hoopla around the Michael Cohen bombshells and the failed summit with North Korea, Pat Slutske has written up an important US Supreme Court decision for us:

On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Timbs v. Indiana, that considered whether state governments must comply with the Eighth Amendment: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." This freedom dates back to the Magna Carta!

Historically, the 14th Amendment was ratified to ensure that the individual liberties in the Bill of Rights would be protected against state governments' infringement. SCOTUS had already held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights do apply to the states, but it had not specifically ruled on the Excessive Fines Clause. Noting this exception, the Indiana Supreme Court announced that it would "decline" to impose "a federal test" on Indiana.

At the heart of this controversy is the process called "civil asset forfeiture," often derided as legalized theft. If an individual is simply accused of a crime, and not necessarily charged or convicted, their assets may be seized through a civil proceeding. It is not necessary to prove these assets have a direct connection to the crime in question: dubious allegations seem to suffice. And there is this: civil proceedings do not afford the accused the due process safeguards found in criminal law. For too many years, this process has been used by various governmental and law enforcement agencies to guarantee a profitable revenue stream.

But in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court for the first time held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "excessive fines" applied to all 50 states under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. While the decision will no doubt generate a myriad of questions, and likely be the basis for other court filings, there is much to celebrate.

You can read the court's full opinion here.
You can find the sources for this article on the GRNS website.
Read more
Add your reaction Share

GRNS newsletter: what a winter!

Is this the winter of our discontent, or what? I don't know about your place, but ours is piled high with frozen snow wherever you look and I hear more is on the way. But bad weather doesn't stop intrepid North Shore progressives from taking action! Below you'll find a healthy list of things you can do over the next couple of weeks.

On the Grassroots North Shore agenda, we have a number of opportunities coming up. We should have Senate and Assembly bill numbers by the time Governor Evers holds his budget address (Thursday, February 28, at 6pm). That means it's time to start lobbying your representatives in Madison to hold hearings and to pass these bills. We're holding a postcard and phone banking party for just that purpose on Saturday, March 2, from 2-4 pm. Bring your cell phone and join the fun. All you need to do is RSVP and show up. We'll have everything you need: stamped postcards, a way to look up contact info for your reps, and addresses to remind left-minded North Shore voters that there's a vital election coming up on April 2 (with early voting generally starting two weeks ahead of that date — see our Early Voting Info page for more detail).

There will be more opportunities to write postcards, phone voters (and Wisconsin legislators) and canvass for Lisa Neubauer all during March. I'll have pages to RSVP for those events on our calendar.

We have also rescheduled the informational event we had to cancel on account of this crazy weather in January. We're holding our Beyond the Budget meeting with Representatives Jonathan Brostoff, David Bowen, and Evan Goyke on Sunday, March 17, from 2:30-5pm, at the Ovation Sarah Chudnow community. You can RSVP online or on our Facebook page.

Judge Lisa Neubauer will also be at this event to speak about why she is running to replace Justice Shirley Abrahamson on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Now that we have progressive Democrats in all five constitutional offices, we need a Supreme Court that will cease rubber-stamping the radical conservative agenda the Walker administration promoted. Judge Neubauer's opponent in this race is not just a hard-right judge. He has founded a school that allows the firing of teachers for being gay and the expulsion of students if they or their parents are gay. In recent years, he has received more than $3,000 for speeches to the Alliance Defending Freedom — which the Southern Poverty Law Center labels a hate group — that has supported criminalizing sodomy and sterilizing transgender people. Unlike her opponent, Judge Neubauer has a long and distinguished career as a thoughtful, fair, and impartial jurist. She has earned the endorsement of a wide range of law enforcement and legal professionals as well as an endorsement from Grassroots North Shore. I hope you will join us on March 17 to meet Judge Neubauer and hear her views.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

spring elections are on the way!

Grassroots North Shore has endorsed Lisa Neubauer, Chief Judge of the Appeals Court, for a seat on the WI Supreme Court. She will be a fair, independent jurist with the kind of temperament we need on our highest state court. To learn more about her qualifications, visit our Endorsement page. The election will be held on Tuesday, April 2, and we need every supporter of Grassroots North Shore to vote! (That means YOU, dear reader.) You can vote early in person in your community. See our Early Voting page for more information.

GRNS will be having a number of canvassing, phoning, and postcard-writing events ahead of the April 2 election to help get out the vote for Neubauer. And we could use your help. Here are the dates with links for you to sign up (just tell us what you want to do when you come):

We will have additional canvassing, phoning, and postcard writing events posted soon. Stay tuned.

And on a final note, I want to bring to your attention a notice being circulated by the Progressive Caucus of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. A party stalwart and state legislator has suffered a devastating blow and needs everyone's help to rebuild. Please read the call for action and give what you can.

Early morning Sunday February 17th, A fire broke out and engulfed Senator Kathleen Vinehout and her husband Doug's home. Kathleen has always been there, to help people in Wisconsin. She tried to save us from Scott Walker. Kathleen was one of the supper 14, who left this state for Illinois, to try and stop the fiasco that the republicans maliciously and infamously, passed through the legislature.

Losing everything, is hard enough, when the weather is warm and the sun is shinning, but it is cold and Kathleen and Doug lost everything, including their IDs. They made it out with the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their back. Our DNC Rep. Andrew Werthmann, has started a fund for our Senator, to help her through this horrible ordeal. Pleas find compassion and help by donating and/or passing the word on. If you are able, I implore you to give a small dollar amount to help Kathleen, because she has always been there for us!

DONATE TO HELP KATHLEEN

YOU CAN ALSO MAIL A DONATION TO:
Andrew Werthmann
1012 Chauncey St.
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Read more
Add your reaction Share

the CON in Foxconn

Just in case you hadn't heard: The Foxconn deal is expensive (about $4 billion), constantly changing, and a scam. A real con. How do we know? Just look at the news from late June 2018, when the company announced it was reneging on a plan to build a HUGE factory (fab10) to build HUGE flat screens and would instead build a less cutting-edge plant (fab6) that would manufacture much smaller flat screens for tvs and hand-held devices (see (see jsonline.com). That was the operative word for a few months. At which point the company acknowledged that "the project was being 'adjusted' in response to changing global economics" (Wisconsin State Journal). That instead of a factory, it would largely be creating an "R & D hub" that would employ mostly engineers and researchers rather than the blue-collar workers it had originally promised.

The changing stories garnered national news largely, I think, because our *resident got involved and appeared at the groundbreaking ceremony (see USA Today on June 28, 2018). But there was so much blowback that tRump had to cajole the company into reversing itself. So on February 1, Foxconn announced that "it is returning to its plan to make flat screen panels at a new plant in Wisconsin following an appeal from President Donald Trump" (CNN.com). Still a spokeswoman for the company would not or could not say whether the company was offered any additional incentives or inducements to change its mind, "how the decision affects the mix of work to be done on the site, or how many of the hired workers would be involved in manufacturing. She also could not say how many employees would be tech workers and engineers doing research and development" (CNN.com).

The whole saga is a sad tale of the sort that Foxconn has engaged in with other entities, including another US state: a prescient June 2017 article in Market Watch is headlined "Foxconn’s history of broken promises casts a shadow on Wisconsin news". An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders "Wisconsin gave Foxconn a rich subsidy package. Did we overpay? Some experts say we did" (Februaury 2, 2019). Although much of the $4 billion has yet to be "earned" by the company, Racine County has already spent large amonts of largely borrowed moner acquiring property, building roads, and providing sewers ("Fact check: Taxpayers have already spent money on Foxconn"). The AP story also notes that state taxpayers could be on the hook for a major portion of the funds localities spend.

It's hard to see how Wisconsin wins through this deal and even harder, after the GOP rammed through its bills hamstringing Governor Evers in the lame-duck session, how the state extricates itself from this con.

Nevertheless Grassroots North Shore will carry on with its Mid-Winter Warmup on Sunday, February 10! Hot sandwiches will be served. You are invited to bring a side, salad or dessert. Suggestions: your Specialty Side or Salad (complementary to hot sandwiches. Please limit to servings of 8 - 12) OR Home Baked Cookies or Bars (1 - 2 dozen). (All items are to be plated and ready to serve. (If you have questions, please email kgolden@wi.rr.com). The event is free and open to the public (though only GRNS members can vote on the slate of candidates to sit on the steering committee for the next two years). We have a lot to celebrate and a lot to do to get ready for the 2020 election. Join us. Please RSVP.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Weekly Newsletter_1.29.19

I'm sending the newsletter a bit earlier than usual because of the weather — so you'll have time to check whether events you may be interested in this week will be cancelled for either snow conditions or the extreme cold. I recommend that you check with the event sponsors if there is no web page or Facebook event page. The events included in this email were posted on the Milwaukee County Dems' calendar or the shared calendar of a group of southeast WI grassroots organizations as of noon on Monday, January 28.

The event Grassroots North Shore had scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30, HAS BEEN CANCELLED and will be rescheduled at a later date. Stay tuned.

Baring more bad weather, our Mid-Winter Warmup will take place as scheduled on Sunday, Feb. 10, at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett Ave, Shorewood). Please RSVP for more information.

In spite of the awful winter weather, though, activists should use the snow and cold cancelations to get busy with other projects. So What To Do Right Now: phone the Governor's office reminding him to include money in the current budget for the Legislative Reference Bureau to plan to draw new electoral maps in 2021. You can reach his office by phone at (608) 267-2560. You can email your request to EversInfo@wisconsin.gov. The latest Marquette poll shows that a whopping 72% of Wisconsin voters want a nonpartisan process for creating both state legislative districts and congressional districts. Well over half the counties in Wisconsin have passed resolutions calling on state government to draw fair maps for our elections. Add your voice.

If you are at a loss for words, keep your message to the Governor simple, but you can include the following points:

  • Despite the fact that 54 percent of Wisconsin voters voted for Democratic candidates for the State Assembly, Democrats now hold only 36 of 99 seats. That disparity between votes cast and seats won may be the largest in the nation.

  • We have the most partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts by any state in the country.

  • The $850,000 Robin Vos wants to defend his indefensible, partisan 2011 voter maps would be a good initial source for this funding.

After you call Governor Evers, phone your state Assembly representative and state Senator, even if he/she is a Democrat, to talk about the process, to co-sponsor the bill Senator Hanson will shortly introduce to the Senate and Representative Robyn Vining will introduce in the Assembly, and to urge hearings and passage of these bills. To find who represents you and their phone numbers, start at the legislative directory and type your address into the form labeled "Find Your Legislator." You can talk about transparency, voting rights, fairness and democracy in your discussions with legislators and with the governor.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

GRNS newsletter for January 22

At our Mid-Winter Warmup and Annual Meeting, on Sunday February 10 at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood, 53211), we will be hearing from Judge Lisa Neubauer, a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice in the April election. In addition, we will outline two areas of intense interest and activity for the coming year — the environment and nonpartisan redistricting — and soliciting other areas of work from you, the supporters of Grassroots North Shore. So please don't miss it! (We'll be serving up sloppy joes, a variety of side dishes, and a selection of desserts — all prepared by a dedicated group of volunteers.) The doors open at 4:30pm; the business meeting will begin around 5:15; food will be served at about 5:30pm; and Judge Neubauer will speak at approximately 6pm. Please RSVP.

I will be bringing everyone up to date on the nonpartisan redistricting issue at the meeting but as part of the Fair Maps Coalition we want our supporters to engage right now in a lobbying campaign to encourage Governor Evers to include funds in his proposed bienniel budget for a fairer redistricting process when the state is required to draw a new electoral map both for state legislators and for US representatives in 2021. The process we want to establish would ensure full public transparency, protect everyone's civil and voting rights, and make sure the maps are fair. To that end, a new bill will be introduced in both houses of the legislature in the next 10 days or two weeks.

What We Want You To Do Now: phone the Governor's office and ask him to include money in the current budget for planning a process for drawing fair maps in 2021. You can reach his office by phone at (608) 267-2560. Although it seems to be less effective than a phone call, you can also email your request to EversInfo@wisconsin.gov.

When you have taken care of that ask, phone your state Assembly representative and state Senator, even if he/she is a Democrat, to talk about the process and to urge hearings and passage of the bills that will be introduced in both chambers. To find who represents you and their phone numbers, start at the legislative directory and type your address into the form labeled "Find Your Legislator." You can talk about transparency, voting rights, fairness and democracy in your discussions with legislators and with the governor.

Also, please sign up to attend "Beyond the Budget: Our Wisconsin Priorities" to hear from Representatives Jonathan Brostoff, David Bowen, and Evan Goyke. They will let us know what the Dems have planned for the current legislative session and will answer questions about topics of interest to you. The event will take place at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church, 5736 W. Brown Deer Road. Doors open at 5:45pm and we aim to wrap up by 8pm. Grassroots is a co-sponsor of this event — it's free and open to the public.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

We won but there's still a lot to do

This week I want to call your attention to two important programs sponsored or co-sponsored by Grassroots North Shore; an update on where we stand with gerrymandering (the practice of drawing voting districts to favor a specific outcome); and the effects of the partial government shutdown. In all three areas, I urge you to take some action.

Upcoming Grassroots North Shore Events

On Wednesday, January 30, we are co-sponsoring a forum entitled "Beyond the Budget: Our Wisconsin Priorities." Chris Rahlf, who ran against GOP incumbent Robert Brooks for the 60th Assembly seat, has organized a program with Representatives Jonathan Brostoff, David Bowen, and Evan Goyke that will give us a preview of what to expect now that the five constitutional offices are occupied by Democrats but the legislature remains controlled by the GOP. We will meet at the Brown Deer United Methodist Church, 5736 W Brown Deer Rd, Brown Deer WI 53223. Please RSVP. Doors open at 5:45pm with the program from 6-8pm. There is ample parking behind the church.

We are also holding our "Winter Warmup and Annual Meeting" on Sunday, February 10, at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett Ave, Shorewood WI 53211). We'll be serving a sloppy joe dinner with all the trimmings. Plus we'll hold our annual meeting, bringing you up to date on what the organization will be doing as we get ready for the elections in 2020, and electing a slate of officers each of whom will serve for a two-year term. Please RSVP so we will know how many sloppy joes and other treats to serve.

Gerrymandering as a National and a State Issue

The revised Whitford case is due to be argued in April 2019 in front of the same three judges who ruled the Wisconsin maps an unconstitutional gerrymander in November 2017. From there it will be appealed, no doubt, back to the US Supreme Court, though that step might depend on how SCOTUS rules on the cases from North Carolina and Maryland that it has agreed to hear during this term. Stay tuned for more updates on this issue.

Meanwhile here are two great articles on the state of the issue nationally. Nicholas Stephanopoulos has posted a great piece about H.R. 1 and Redistricting Commissions. (H.R.1 is the first piece of legislation a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats passed.) And here's a sobering look at the issue now that we have a truly conservative US Supreme Court: Will 2019 bring an end to partisan gerrymandering?

Locally, this issue is included in the lawsuits a collection of groups have filed to challenge the laws the GOP legislature passed and ex-governor Walker signed in December 2018. See the Journal Sentinel article "Groups file lawsuit seeking to void laws passed during Wisconsin's lame-duck session."

The Fair Maps coalition, of which we are a member, will be asking supporters to contact Governor Evers to urge him (politely and gently) to include money in the bienniel budget he will propose in February to begin planning for the redistricting that will take place in 2021. Nothing is more important to the health of democracy in WI than fair electoral maps so that voters can choose their legislators rather than legislators choosing their voters. Wisconsin does not provide citizens with the ability to pass binding resolutions to accomplish this goal. But there is good reason to believe that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike support nonpartisan redistricting. Forty-one of our 72 counties have passed such resolutions, most of them supporting our current *president. So write or call Governor Evers:

Partial Federal Government Shutdown

The Trump Shutdown is now the longest government shutdown in history. Trump has repeatedly refused to accept a bipartisan deal to reopen the government, and McConnell refuses to bring legislation to the floor, which would easily pass the Senate.

Despite strong bipartisan support, Trump continues to hold workers’ paychecks hostage. Trump said that he was “very proud” of what he’s doing and that he could keep the government shut down for years.

Here is an article from CNN that catalogues some of the ill effects: "Federal Shutdown Effects: 81 and Counting." And an article from NBC News that featured a woman in WI who has rationed her (necessary) insulin to try to manage the financial effects of the furlough: "Federal Worker Forced to Ration Insulin because of Government Shutdown."

Perhaps our Republican Senator, Ron Johnson, needs to know how we feel about the shutdown in general and Mallory Lorge's dilemma in particular. Senator Johnson has three offices in Wisconsin and one in D.C. Let him know by phone that we expect him to pressure Majority Leader McConnell to bring the House bills up for a vote and that we expect Senator Johnson to vote for opening the government and restoring back pay for all those furloughed (including contract workers, assuming some system for identifying them can be devised).

Ron Johnson's offices:
phone: (202) 224-5323 (DC); (414) 276-7282 (Milwaukee); (920) 230-7250 (Oshkosh); (608) 240-9629 (Madison)
email form: https://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator
Read more
Add your reaction Share

Even when we win, we have to fight on

The fight for the meaning of Wisconsin's last election on November 6 is not over yet. It's possible — though still not very likely — that our Lame Duck governor will hede our newly elected governor's request to veto the Lame Duck bill our (gerrymandered) Republican legislature just passed in the dead of night. You know, just like Governor Jim Doyle, who stopped the high speed rail project in light of the 2010 election results because the incoming governor was opposed to it and Doyle did not want to tie the new governor's hands. (You can read about Doyle's decision in the Wisconsin State Journal in an article dated November 5, 2010.)

So it is worth contacting Scott Walker's office to let him know how you feel. You can reach it by phone — (608) 266-1212 — or through on online form — walker.wi.gov/contact/contact-form. Tell him elections are supposed to have consequences and that signing the bill — if he chooses to do that — will too. Or tell him he'll be tarnishing his reputation and his legacy. Or just tell him NO. Whatever moves you the most.

Both the local and the national press have worth-the-read articles about the power grab going on in Wisconsin (and in Michigan). The first one covers territory no one else (that I know of) has covered — namely the role of corporate money in the legislature's actions. In the articles linked below, I've included a key quotation to give you a sense of how seriously even organs like USA Today are taking the broader issues involved.

Meanwhile, come celebrate our election victories at the Camp Bar (4044 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood) from 6-8 pm tonight! Grassroots North Shore is hosting an Election Victory Party with free pizza and popcorn (the beer or other libations are on you). Lots of great North Shore progressives will be there. Be sure to RSVP though, so we make sure we have enough pizza and popcorn for everyone. I'll be there and so should you!

Read more
Add your reaction Share

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!

Read more
Add your reaction Share