Fighting for affordable health insurance and fair electoral maps

There's a bit of news about Gill v. Whitford to share with you. On May 8, The "appellees" — those individuals who filed the orignal suit and won the ruling from the federal district court — have filed what's called a "petition to affirm." Essentially, this petition asks the Supreme Court to simply affirm the lower court's ruling without the need for oral arguments before the Supreme Court. You can see the complete filing on the SCOTUSblog site. On May 18, the state countered with its opposition to the motion to affirm the earlier ruling.

On May 22, Attorney General Brad Schimel petitioned the US Supreme Court to issue a stay of the trial court's ruling. This move is a pretty standard practice whenever a litigant doesn't like a court's ruling and thus appeals to a higher court. Amy Howe, a reporter for SCOTUSblog, explains what the petition for a stay means:

Wisconsin officials argued that the lower court’s decision striking down the redistricting plan was so “fundamentally flawed” that the justices should consider reversing it without even asking for additional briefing or oral argument. If the court were take that route by the end of June, the state explained, there would be no need for the justices to put the lower court’s order on hold. 

But if the Supreme Court instead opts to review the case on the merits, with oral argument in the fall, the state continued, then it should spare the state from having to comply with the lower court’s deadline. Blocking the order would save the state the trouble of creating a new map until the Supreme Court can rule on the validity of the old plan, the state claims. And if the state ultimately prevails – as it believes it will – it can simply continue to use the old plan. Moreover, even if the Supreme Court were to agree with the challengers that the plan must go, the court’s eventual opinion will provide “significant guidance” for the state to use in drafting a new redistricting plan. “It would be a serious intrusion,” the state concludes, on the state’s “sovereign resources to force it to redraw a map half-blind, guided by only an indisputably-flawed district court opinion.” 
Wisconsin seeks stay as back-up plan in partisan gerrymandering case [UPDATED], SCOTUSblog (May. 24, 2017, 11:03 AM).

Conventional wisdom — often wrong, we should remember — has it that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case in the October term.

Today the New York Times editorial board argues that partisan gerrymandering needs to be reined in.

Partisan gerrymandering — the dark art of drawing legislative district lines to specifically favor Republicans or Democrats — is as old as it is corrosive to a representative democracy. Self-interested politicians have no business making maps with the sole purpose of keeping themselves and their party in power....
The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules.

We may know after June 8 which way this case is heading. The justices have scheduled a discussion of the case for its regularly scheduled conference then. But whatever the outcome, Wisconsin will make history. Stay tuned.


The Problem with Insuring Health
by Virginia Gennis

Insurance is a system in which premiums are paid by subscribers into a pool of funds used to compensate losses from future events. Because insured events are usually infrequent, are not recurrent, and are of limited duration, most enrollees pay premiums but do not receive money for claims, so that the pool of premiums exceeds the cost of claims. Think of your homeowners policy or your car insurance. The surplus money becomes profit for the insurance company. Typical insured risks include car accidents, home damage and theft. Skillful estimation of risks allows premiums to be set that are both competitive and profitable. According to Warren Buffet, an important source of income for insurance companies comes from the gap between the time premiums are paid in and the time claims are reimbursed. During this gap substantial free money is available to be invested profitably.

Insurance has existed since ancient times. The Babylonians and Romans paid a ’Bottomry fee’ to receive compensation if one of their ships sank in the Mediterranean Sea. The first written insurance contract was made in Genoa in 1347. In 1777 Benjamin Franklin started a company to insure Philadelphians against fire. Today many additional risks are insured.

However, insurance for health care costs was uncommon before the 1940’s when World War II forced the United States to impose wage controls. Employers could no longer compete for scarce workers by offering more money, and stagnant income made employees unhappy. Adding health benefits attracted workers and made up for frozen wages.

After the war publicly supported health insurance was considered, but in the end a system funded by employers and administered through commercial companies was instituted. Donated care and public hospitals provided care for the poor and uninsured. In the 1960’s Medicare and Medicaid were enacted to cover medical costs for the elderly, the disabled and the indigent. But some people still remained uncovered and had to pay medical bills out of pocket or rely on charity.

Health problems are substantially different from other insured risks. Unlike ship wrecks and car accidents, medical needs are common, recurrent, and often chronic. Pre-existing conditions have nearly a 100% probability of ongoing medical expenses. Only a minority of people do not have significant health care needs at some time in their lives.

Read the rest of this excellent explanation of how health insurance works and how the US can continue to use private insurance companies but still reach universal coverage at affordable rates.


Tue May 30, 2017

Milwaukee 53206 Film, 5:30pm - 7pm 
Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd., Milwaukee 
MILWAUKEE 53206 tells the story of those affected by mass incarcerationin America's most incarcerated ZIP code. Through the powerful journeysof Beverly Walker, Dennis Walton and Chad Wilson we witness howincarceration shapes their lives, families and community. Theseintimate stories reveal how a community fights to move forward even asa majority of its young men end up in prison. The film examines howdecades of poverty, unemployment and a lack of opportunity havecontributed to the crisis of mass incarceration communities across thenation. Discussion will follow. Seating is limited! Please register online or call 414-286-3011.

Wed May 31, 2017

Conversations with Policy Leaders, 4pm - 5:30pm 
728 N. James Lovell Street, 2nd Floor Gathering Room 
Join us for a discussion with Charles Franklin Director, Marquette Law School Poll. Franklin will speak on concerns about the 2016 polling results, as well as data that can provide insights on issues central to the Public Policy Institute's mission to reduce and prevent poverty, including health care policy, incarceration, and prisoner re-entry. RSVP by Friday, May 26, 2017, to Lisa Kaiser. Light refreshments will be served. Please bring a guest! Sponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of your civic action from the last week to get a beverage (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. More information.

School Choice Politics and Money, 6pm - 8pm 
NAACP Office, 2745 N. Martin Luther King Dr., Milwaukee 
Parents, concerned citizens, and elected officials are invited to discuss the massive issues of school closings and the money involved in school choice. Share ideas on how to change this destructive problem in our community. Doors open at 5:30. Sponsored by Women Informed, NAACP, Radio host Earl Ingram, Schools & Communities United.

State of Black America Town Hall, 6:30pm - 9:30pm 
Chic Underground Lounge, lower level, 770 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee 
Please join the Urban League Guild and Young Professionals at the Milwaukee Urban League's "State of Black America" Community Watch Party. News One's Roland Martin is moderator of the event, which features nationally known experts commenting about the National Urban League's findings on the quality of life for African Americans. 6:15 pm - Registration and Networking (light snacks to be served) 6:45 pm - Greetings and Introductions 7: 00 pm - Town Hall Broadcast Begins 9:00 pm - Audience Talk Back.

Thu Jun 1, 2017

Urban Revitalization Committee Hearing, 2pm - 6pm 
COA Goldin Center Arts Room, 2320 W. Burleigh St., Milwaukee 
Last week during a Corrections Committee hearing, a Republican Representative suggested that we should build a prison in Milwaukee.The reactionary Republican method of increasing failed punitive measures and putting more of our neighbors in prison is not an effective way to assert long-term safety in our communities. Instead,we should make smart investments in proven prevention-first measures that attack the root causes of crime before they occur. Please join State Rep. David Bowen at the Assembly Urban Revitalization Committee Public Hearing and tell legislative Republicans that Wisconsin doesn't need more prisons or more failed, expensive Republican correction ideas– we need fact-based, solution-focused policy that actually helps our society.

DPMC Issues Committee Meeting, 6:30pm - 8pm 
Amalgamated Transit Union, 734 N. 26th St., Milwaukee 
The Democratic Party's Issues Committee will hold its monthly meeting.All Democrats are welcome to participate. Enter from the parking lot.

Fri Jun 2, 2017

Democratic State Convention, 2pm - 10pm 
Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q Hammons Dr., Middleton 
More information on the convention.

Sat Jun 3, 2017

March for Truth, 11am - 1pm 
4900 W Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53208-3032 
We will be gathering at Doyne Park on 49th and Wells. Our march route will take us up Blue Mound Road to 68th Street, then down 68th Street to State Street in Wauwatosa, and finish up at Hart Park. There is more than sufficient cause for alarm about the role Russian state-led hacking and information warfare played in the 2016 election, and there are crucial unanswered questions about the relationship between the Russian state and Donald Trump, his associates and his campaign. The legitimacy of the United States government may hinge on the answers to these questions. If the President was elected even in part due to collusion with a foreign effort to interfere in our democratic process, then the will of the people has been subverted. There is an active FBI investigation into these matters, and revelations may emerge any moment. But Congressional investigations in the House and Senate have been slow, under-resourced, and mired in partisan politics. Many Congressional leaders have called for an independent investigation, a special prosecutor or a commission to fairly investigate these concerns. Despite the clear will of the people, their calls have not been answered. Therefore, we call for a #MarchForTruth to raise our voices and let our elected leaders know that American citizens want answers. The legitimacy of our democracy is more important than the interests of any party, or any President. So, we will rise together to call for a fair and impartial investigation, for the pursuit of truth, and for the restoration of faith in our electoral system and the Office of the Presidency. Across the country, peaceful demonstrations will be arranged on Saturday, June 3rd. Our goals are simple: Congressional investigations should be properly resourced and pursued free of partisan interests, or an independent investigation must be established; As much information should be made available to the public as possible, and as soon as possible; Congress should require Donald Trump to release his tax returns to clarify his business interests and obligations to any foreign entity; If crimes were committed or if collusion is discovered, it must be prosecuted.

Mon Jun 5, 2017

Earnell Lucas Fundraiser, 5pm - 7pm 
Best Place, 901 W. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee 
Reception to support Earnell Lucas for Milwaukee County Sheriff. Host $1000 | Sponsor $500 | Friend $250 | Supporter $100 | Suggested contribution $50, All contributions gratefully accepted. More information or questions or 414-215-9665

Drinking Liberally Waukesha, 6:30pm - 9pm 
Clarke Irish Pub, 314 W. Main St., Waukesha 
Susan Gartell and Matt Dannenberg of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters will join us to discuss the issues facing Wisconsin. They'll focus mainly on drinking water and issues with lead and manure contamination, but will also cover national concerns as well. You won't want to miss it! More information.

Tue Jun 6, 2017

Protecting Civil Liberties, 6pm 
Milwaukee Public Library, East Branch, 2320 N. Cramer St., Milwaukee 
Kristin Hansen of ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation will speak on the hottest issue of the moment. Whether it's voting rights, freedom of religion, reproductive rights, racial justice, or criminal law reform, you won't want to miss the discussion! Come learn a lot and leave better prepared to talk to your members of Congress. RSVP.

Hidden Impact of Segregation, 6:30pm - 8pm 
Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N. Murray Ave., Shorewood 
Reggie Jackson of America's Black Holocaust Museum will discuss how Milwaukee became the most segregated metropolitan area in the nation and the wide ranging impacts of segregation on the community at large.

Wed Jun 7, 2017

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of your civic action from the last week to get a beverage (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. The guest bartender will be Rep. Jonathan Brostoff. More information.

Grass Roots South Shore Meeting, 6pm 
Humboldt Park Pavilion, 3000 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee 
Grass Roots South Shore will hold its monthly meeting at Humboldt Park Pavilion for a screening of Life in Osborn, a story of hope for one of Detroit's most-blighted neighborhoods. It chronicles the efforts of the Detroit-based nonprofit Life Remodeled to make a sustainable difference in the northeast Detroit community that once was the most violent ZIP Code in the United States. Three-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Walter V. Marshall, who grew upin Detroit, directs and narrates the story. Grass Roots South Shore meets on the first Wednesday of each month. For more information call Jim Balk,414-218-5944.

Thu Jun 8, 2017

Mental Health Board Meeting, 8:30am 
American Serb Hall, 5101 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee 
Milwaukee County Mental Health Board Meeting. More information..

Drinking Liberally West Allis, 6:30pm - 9pm 
Studz Pub Sports Bar & Grill, 6833 W. National Ave., West Allis 
Drinking Liberally West Allis meets on the second Thursday of the month. Free discussions and fellowship. Good food and specials available.

Waukesha Writers Club, 6:30pm - 8pm 
336 Wisconsin Ave., Waukesha 
The "Letter to the Editor" section is one of the most widely read parts of the newspaper, offering a chance to reach a broad audience. Letters to our legislators are also an effective way to let them know what we expect of them. Working together gives us the opportunity to discuss the current issues, improve writing skills, develop persuasive techniques that target intended readers, and help each other with ideas and suggestions. Sponsored by Grassroots Waukesha ( [email protected]).

Fri Jun 9, 2017 - Sun Jun 11, 2017

The People's Summit / Chicago, All day 
McCormick Place, Chicago 
A historic convening of organizations and individuals committed to social, racial and economic justice. The Summit will include plenary and workshop sessions devoted to key progressive issues. More information, including speaker list and application.


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