One of These Things is not like the Others

From 1998 until 2012 I taught high school English in highly conservative Washington County. In addition to teaching I learned. I discovered that Republican is not a synonym for racist.  I learned that we do not own social justice. I discovered that we all want the best for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. How was it possible for us both to be good people while agreeing on almost nothing. It all comes down to our definitions. We all agree on the definition of self; we have some differences on the meaning of family; we completely differ in our definition of community. For some, community extends only as far their city limits, for others, it extends only as far as their block and for yet others, their community ends at their front door. For those of us who identify as Liberal, our sense of community extends to all who live and breathe. 

Short of spending a decade working in a conservative community, how do we discover our similarities, our shared humanity? More important, how do we all become part of the same community?  We must build bridges and that begins with talking and listening. Grassroots North Shore has two upcoming events that address that precise need.  On Wednesday, Jan 31, we are hosting WAVE for How to Talk About Guns and ProtectionThe talk will be at our office, 5600 W. Brown Deer Rd. #116, from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. The second event is broader, focusing on knocking on doors and building relationships based on shared values and we need to do this before we start asking people to vote for specific candidates. To that end, please join us on Feb. 24, in our Bridge Building initiative.  You can read more about it and sign up to participate on our website.

"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something." -Barack Obama

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Worry Globally; Achieve Locally

"I abhor _________________, but what can I do?" There is no shortage of issues to fill the blank. When a friend recently filled the blank with racism I signed him up for Rid Racism Milwaukee's newsletter. When it comes to gun violence, WAVE is the group to follow and emulate.  Last week WAVE had a letter-writing session that we can all take part in.

Recently the Wauwatosa School Board passed a resolution to amplify the voices of students demanding action. "Among a slate of proposals, the School Board also is calling for more mental health funding for schools, universal background checks for gun purchases, an assault weapons ban and waiting periods for gun purchases." (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinal, April 20, 2018)

We can all write letters to our school boards, asking them to pass local resolutions calling on the legislature to enact the following policies, as identified by the students: universal background checks on all gun sales, limits on magazine capacity, an assault weapons ban, and raising the minimum age for firearms purchases from 18 to 21.

When we act locally, we see change.


Event Reminder

On Sunday, April 29, 2018, Grassroots North Shore will be presenting Focus on Immigration:

If you have not submitted your RSVP, do it now!

Don’t ignore the fun part of the event, FOOD. Heritage Foods:  You are invited to contribute a savory or sweet finger food representing your heritage or ethnic background.  Small plates only, no entrees.

Suggestions include fruit, vegetable, dairy, or sweets.  Items are to be plated and ready to serve.  If interested, please email Kathy Golden at kgolden@wi.rr.com

Hope to see you there.

 

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Work Rewarded: More Work to Come

Rebecca Dallet was not our only win last week. The voters of Wisconsin rejected a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate the State Treasurer that would further weaken our checks and balances on the State Budget. On a local level, we sent a message to Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Exec., about using his money to pack the County Board with hand-picked, rubber stamps.

None of this happened without hard work.  At GRNS we made calls, knocked doors, and wrote postcards.  We were not alone in our efforts. New groups are popping up and sharing the effort. Among those that added their voices and resources to the cause were The League of Progressive Seniors, River West Team, East Side Action, Southside Freedom League,  Grassroots South Shore, Greendale Grassroots SW, and Midtown Action all joined the effort.

Campaign work is, however, expensive. We bought two cell phones, printed, stamped, and sent over 1000 postcards. If you are able, we could use some financial help to keep it all going.  A Blue Wave will not happen without boots on the ground, lawn signs, phone calls, and events to meet the candidates.  Please, if you can, offer your financial support at Act Blue.

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Election Edition

First, before anything else, get ready to vote on Wednesday, April 3. 

  • Check for your polling location and confirm your registration status. You can even check out what is on your ballot.
  • Decide when you will vote and how you will get there.
  • Have a backup plan.  This is, after all, Wisconsin. We could have a snow storm or sweltering heat.  Be prepared.
  • Make note of these numbers in case you experience any problems:  If you need help voting or see problems at the polls, call one of these free, nonpartisan hotlines to get the assistance you need:
    • 866-OUR-VOTE - English
    • 888-VE-Y-VOTA - Spanish
    • 1-844-418-1682 - Arabic
    • 888-API-VOTE - Asian/Pacific Islander languages

Know for whom you will vote. We have two recommendations:

Rebecca Dallet for State Supreme Court. If you want a judge who is fair, experienced, and independent, Rebecca Dallet is the only choice.   Read our full endorsement. 

If you live in Milwaukee County's first District, we recommend Theo Lipscomb.  Even without the controversy about Chris Abele's Super PAC and the $500,000 he spending on some very expensive rubber stamps, Lipscomb would still be our choice. He has served his constituents well.  Read our full endorsement.

Finally, please remember to vote no on the Statewide Referendum to eliminate the position of State Treasurer.  Do not allow another watchdog to be silenced!

See you at the polls.

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Beware the Plutocrat

Spring elections, for the most part, are low-keyed events and they should be. These races are largely local and should come down to shoe leather campaigning and not floods of expensive direct mail. But now, thanks to Citizens United, money is flowing into several of these races in Milwaukee form a single source and a bad precedent is being set. We firmly believe that these municipal and county races should be very much about issues around filling potholes, keeping up the quality of our schools and maintaining fair and efficient courts. This is why we are taking a stand against County Executive Chris Abele’s massive infusion of cash into selected races.
First, we do not want to impune any legitimate candidates who may have inadvertently gotten caught up in this. To the best of our knowledge, however, none of them has spoken out against Leadership Mke, Abele's PAC that is spending more than $500,0000 in their support. Here is what we do know:
  • Chris Abele asked someone to run against Theo Lipscomb.  He told the woman that she would not have to worry about finances. She shared these details the day after she received the call.  She turned him down.
  • Another person shared that she has received two calls where the caller claimed to be conducting a survey funded by and on behalf of the County Board of Supervisors. "When I told him that I intend to vote for Lipscomb he launched into a long list of Lipscomb's faults.  According to this guy, Lipscomb is self-serving, costing us money, cutting care and services, etc.  His opponent, of course, he described as stellar."

If these kinds of tactics scare you as much as they scare us, join us tomorrow, March 28, 2018, to let Leadership Mke and Chris Abele know that we stand against his attempt to buy himself a County Board that will be his rubber stamp.  In a Democracy, dissent is vital.  We have seen all too graphically what happens when one party buys itself both the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government.  Don't let Milwaukee County go the way of Madison and Washington. Let's show them what Democracy Looks Likes.

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We're Making Waves

Before anything else we must apologize to The League of Women Voters for misrepresenting their position.  Please read the full statement here.


Last week saw another red district turn blue with Connor Lamb's election in Pennsylvania. His win would not have happened if a lot of people had not worked very hard. We can only do this if everyone out there works. We have momentum but that alone is not enough. There is a rule of thumb in campaigning that it takes five touches to be certain someone will vote and touches are interactive, not static.  An ad doesn't count. A Facebook post does not count. A touch is a conversation, a personal connection.  If we want to make sure that Rebecca Dallet wins on April 3, we have to put in some time. Please, help us make sure that Rebecca Dallet is elected to the State Supreme Court.  Here are the things that you can do:

  • Call five friends.  Talk to them about Dallet and ask them to call five more people. If you don't feel like you know enough, that is easily remedied. 
  • We are making calls and writing postcards. Sign up to help with that effort.
  • Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote.  If someone isn't, help them register here.
  • On April 3, become really obnoxious about making sure that everyone votes. We Dems have a horrible voting record for anything other than the Presidential election. We must change that.

Save the Date for Our Next Event, Sunday, April 29

Focus on Immigration

“What then is the American, this new man? I could point out to you a man whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations….The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles…. This is an American.”  Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur (1770, approx.)

Find out how to affect the national conversation about immigration and immigrants who depend on receiving the same opportunities offered to our forefathers. Join us on Sunday, April 29th at 4:30 for a night focusing on the past and present of immigration in the United States.

  • Hear knowledgeable speakers – Professor Rachel Duff (History Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee); Ms. Kelly Fortier (Immigration Lawyer), and a representative from Voces de la Frontera.
  • Bring and share an ethnic finger food (savory or sweet) as we contemplate how much poorer life would be without the different cultures that comprise the United States.
  • Connect your personal immigration story with the national crisis to see where we have been, where we might go, and how immigration affects us all.
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We Apologize to League of Women Voters

The March 13th edition of the Grassroots North Shore (GRNS) Newsletter included an item titled DID YOU KNOW? The material was to inform readers about the referendum question on the April 3rd ballot that seeks the removal of the State Treasurer position. The article used educational material regarding the Referendum that was developed by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (LWV WI) that was intended for use in the voter and candidate guides prepared by local Leagues. It was not clear to us that this information was meant for limited use.   Also, the article was structured in such a way that the distinction between the LWV WI's language and that of GRNS was not clear and easily could have led readers to misinterpret the position of LWV WI. On Saturday, January 20, 2018, The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors voted to not take a position: LWV WI is not advocating for or against this referendum. The writer apologizes to the League for the inappropriate use of their material and any confusion the article may have caused regarding their stance on the referendum. An apology is also extended to the Newsletter's readers and to the membership of GRNS. Pat Slutske

 

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Did you know?

DID YOU KNOW?

Over the past several years our current state administration has quietly been stripping away the duties of the State Treasurer. Now, following a familiar playbook, they are saying that the position of Treasurer no longer has enough official duties to warrant its existence, and, therefore, should be eliminated. The end result would be to further concentrate power and give top members of the Walker administration even more control. To that end, they have put a Referendum Question on the April 3rd ballot.

 The League of Women Voters provides the following information regarding that referendum.

Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment - Elimination of state treasurer

What it will say on the ballot

At the April 3 Spring Election, all Wisconsin voters will be asked to vote on the question:

Elimination of state treasurer. Shall sections 1 and 3 of article VI and sections 7 and 8 of article X of the constitution be amended, and section 17 of article XIV of the constitution be created, to eliminate the office of state treasurer from the constitution and to replace the state treasurer with lieutenant governor as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands?

What the state treasurer does

The state treasurer is a partisan office. The current duties prescribed by WI law include signing certain checks and financial instruments and helping publicize the state's unclaimed property program (the program is managed and advertised by the Department of Revenue). Per the constitution, the treasurer serves along with the attorney general and secretary of state on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

The Board manages the state's remaining trust lands (more than 77,000 acres of forest), manages trust funds (more than $1 billion) primarily for the benefit of public education, and maintains the state's archive of 19th-century land survey and land sales records.

What this referendum vote would do

This amendment would complete the transfer of financial duties from an independent elected official to agencies under the control of the governor. Supporters of the amendment contend that there are no remaining responsibilities that justify a separate office. Opponents are concerned about the consolidation of power in the executive branch.

Two successive legislatures voted to put this question to voters (as required by the Wisconsin Constitution). The decision made by voters on April 3rd is binding.

What a Yes or No vote means

"Yes" vote means the voter agrees that the constitutional position of state treasurer should be abolished.

"No" vote means the voter wants to retain the constitutional position of state treasurer.

Show the administration we know what they are up to: vote NO.


On March 24, 2018, the students from the Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland Florida are staging a march in Washington, D.C.:  they call it a March for Our Lives.  Students from across the country will be massing to stage similar events in support of that effort.  Here in Wisconsin, they will be gathering in Madison, and then marching fifty (50) miles to Paul Ryans home in Janesville.  To learn more, go to their website50milesmore.org

 

Many thanks to Pat Slutske for this week's content

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What you can do to get ready for the upcoming election

On April 3, we will go to the polls again.  There seems to a fly in the election ointment.  I was speaking to a friend who regularly works the polls at Webster Middle School. He noted that when working the February Primary there were around 200 fewer names on the roster than during the previous election. Yes, people move and people die, but 200 from a single location? Before we do anything else we must protect our access to the ballot.  To do that go to MyVote.com.  Make sure you are listed.  You can also get an absentee ballot if you want.  Let's be honest, though, our readership may not be the demographic that is targeted. So, share this information with your friends and on social media. We cannot allow our Democracy to be hacked.

Next, you can help elect Judges who respect the people of our community. Others prefer to protect the NRA and we have seen all too graphically where that leads.

This coming Sunday Grassroots North Shore will be holding an event, Rescuing Wisconsin. 

Five “knights in shining armor,” willing to take the time, money, and effort required to run for office will be at the Grassroots North Shore Candidate Forum on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:15, on March 11th (at North Shore Presbyterian Church in Shorewood).

* Rebecca Dallet, Candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court

* Andy Lamb, running against Jim Ott, Assembly District 23

* Chris Rahlf, taking on Rob Brooks, Assembly District 60

* Emily Siegrest, challenging Daniel Knodl, Assembly District 24 and

* Josh Kaul, running against Brad Schimel, Attorney General

Of these only Rebecca Dallet will be on the April 3 ballot.  Come meet Judge Dallet and, if you like what you hear as much as we do, help get her elected. We have three actions planned in her support:

  • We will be making calls from both the GRNS office on five separate dates.  You can also sign up to make calls from a member's home in Whitefish Bay.
  • Sign up for one of Ozaukee County's days of action and talk to voters.
  • We will have postcards (stamp included) for you to send to friends in support of Judge Dallet.

In addition, we will have three stellar candidates who are running for the State Assembly and Josh Kaul for Attorney General. 

So, if you haven't RSVPed yet, do so NOW.

See you all this Sunday.

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IS DEMOCRACY ON THE ROPES?

Thank you to Pat Slutske for today's opener:

In his book, On Democracy, political theorist Robert A Dahl provides a great deal of information about the prerequisites, characteristics, and benefits of democracy. Among his five prerequisites for a democratic process are voters with enlightened understanding. Recent elections have revealed, if not produced, a phenomenon referred to as the low information voter. A person who may vote, but who is generally poorly informed and/or misinformed about politics; who has little interest or understanding of political affairs; who rarely watches the news; and who can't name major political figures or national events yet vote anyway on this limited knowledge basis. (Dahl, Robert A., On Democracy, Yale University Press, 1998.)

Despite their glaring lack of knowledge or interest, they are the people who could be heavily tapped into in coming elections. Making them into voters committed to a candidate can be accomplished in several ways: wow them, woo them, manipulate them, or educate (enlighten) them. To wow a low information voter, simply provide them with a charismatic, cool or celebrity candidate - they will be drawn to these superficial characteristics and become loyal adherents. To woo them, drop them some crumbs about how the candidate is in support of what they hold dear – like, let’s say, social issues. And while wooing is to an extent a form of manipulation, it is subtle. Overt manipulation involves using catch words and phrases, symbols, or, if you will, dog whistles, to capture their attention so that the rest of the message is internalized without being given any thought. This is how information not based in fact becomes gospel.

But note that Dahl considers enlightened voters as a requirement for democracy. People who have been able to access factual information from a myriad of sources and through the use of their own rational and logical thought processes are able to make an enlightened decision. However, when government is conducted behind closed doors and the only information available comes from wowing, wooing, and manipulation, along with sound bites and campaign rhetoric, the education and enlightenment of a voter can be difficult. And, for the record, this is not by accident.

On close inspection, many of the changes that have transpired over the past several decades put the foundations of democracy at risk. And when these changes are organized along a time-line, the chronology and sequencing appear to indicate that they are not random occurrences, but rather a methodical, strategic plan to erode, degrade, and eliminate democracy. Current examples of efforts to eliminate enlightened voters are the WI Legislative assaults on the WI Government Accountability Bureau, The WI Legislative Audit Bureau and WI Open Records laws. These aggressive actions against agencies and laws that help the cause of enlightenment, can be categorized as brazen and destructive attacks on democracy.

Is democracy on the ropes? Not yet! But it is being pummeled from many directions. It is our duty, as enlightened citizens who do see and understand the insidious objectives behind these actions, to stand up and be heard. Tell our legislators we know what they are doing. Write letters to editors of publications, both local and national, decrying these moves to take away our democracy. Share this information with others to help them become enlightened.


Please keep an eye out for doings at Grassroots North Shore:

  • On Feb. 28th we will be hosting Rep. Jonathan Brostoff who will be presenting  MythBusting FoxconnThe Foxconn plant is coming to Racine County? Our governor is promising thousands of jobs and a major boost to our state's economy. 
    Or will it? Join State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff as he covers these promises and the reality of this deal, and what if could mean to our future. You will come away from this event able to discuss the impact of this deal.

  • Starting on March 10, we will be hosting phone banking and postcard writing events in support of  Rebecca Dallet.  Please sign up. This is what we do. This is what we are good at. She will go after criminals even when those committing the crimes are big business or our own elected officials.
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