it's the legislature, stupid

In case you missed it, last week the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) held oral arguments in a case seeking to overturn a previous ruling that prohibited the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots. You can watch the oral arguments on May 13. At issue really is the degree to which the Wisconsin Elections Commission or municipal clerks who actually run elections can exercise some discretion over the details of how elections are conducted. In Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission — the 2022 case that prohibited the use of drop boxes — the Court ruled that because state law didn’t explicitly permit drop boxes, they’re not allowed. SCOWIS's ruling implies that every detail of election administration has to be included in the statute, even though drop boxes had been used in Wisconsin elections for decades.

I bring this up because the two Ballot Questions on all Wisconsin ballots in the August 13 partisan primary also hinge on when executive branch agencies and the state's governor can exercise discretion over the allocation of federal funds. The MAGA-infested legislature is bringing these ballot questions to a vote because Governor Evers vetoed the bill that would have taken discretionary authority away from the executive branch and given it to the legislature. Grassroots North Shore, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, and many other organizations strenuously oppose these measures. Here's what will be on your ballot:

Question 1: Delegation of appropriation power. Shall section 35 (1) of article IV of the constitution be created to provide that the legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how moneys shall be appropriated?

Question 2: Allocation of federal moneys. Shall section 35 (2) of article IV of the constitution be created to prohibit the governor from allocating any federal moneys the governor accepts on behalf of the state without the approval of the legislature by joint resolution or as provided by legislative rule?

Lodging such power in a legislature dominated by one political party when the governor belongs to a different political party is simply a recipe for gridlock, especially in times of emergencies or crisis. We can see this sort of intransigence playing out right now with state funds. The current budget — passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Evers — included $125 million dollars to remediate PFAS contamination. "The Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers agreed to provide funding under the current two-year budget to address pollution from the harmful forever chemicals, but they’ve been at odds over how to spend the money. Last week, Evers vetoed a GOP bill that would have used the funds to provide grants to communities, landowners and others to address PFAS," citing limits the bill would have placed on regulators’ authority to address the chemicals (Wisconsin Public Radio, April 16, 2024). In Evers's view, the bill the Republicans passed would let polluters off the hook, giving them too much leeway to continue to pollute.

So why are we facing a record number of ballot questions this year? Simply put, the legislature resorts to these ballot questions to thwart the governor's veto power. Constitutional amendments require that the legislature pass the proposed measures in two successive legislative sessions and then put the measure to the voters. The governor has no role in amending the Constitution. It's possible that the MAGA GOP cannot imagine a day when there's a Republican governor but a legislature dominated by Democrats. So they cannot imagine being hoist on their own petard. But it does not take a lot of high level reasoning to see that what's bad for the goose would also be bad for the gander, to mangle the cliché. It may be very difficult to undo an amendment to the Constitution that strips the power of the executive branch and hands it to the legislature.

In other Wisconsin election news, the residents of Assembly Districts 10, 11, and 12 get to have two additional elections this summer! Whoopee! (If you're not sure whether you're in Senate District 4 which is comprised of those three assembly districts, you can check here: find your district.) Senate District 4 has been a vacant seat since Governor Evers appointed Lena Taylor to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, beginning January 30, 2024. The election to fill the vacant seat will be held on July 30. "State Reps. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, and Dora Drake, D-Milwaukee, have announced plans to run for the Senate seat, which would set up a primary election for July 2" (Wisconsin Public Radio, May 15, 2024). The winner of the July 30 special election would occupy the seat until January 2025, when former senator Taylor's term expires.

A second election for that same senate seat will be held on November 5 with all the other partisan offices up for election. The primary for that election will be held on August 13. The winner of this second election will be the Senator for the 4th Senate District for four years, beginning in January 2025. The same two candidates — Dora Drake and LaKeshia Myers — will likely compete in the August 13 primary. If people in Senate District 4 are feeling a bit frisky, they can vote for one of the pair on July 2 and the other one on August 13. Special indeed.

In this week's ACTION ITEMS there are a number of volunteer opportunities with your local Democratic Party plus some national ones as well.

  • Let's start with the Ozaukee County Dems:
    1. The party seeks people to walk in two upcoming parades, Saturday Fun before the Fourth in Thiensville and Fourth of July in Cedarburg. Sign up to march in one or both parades.
    2. Oz Dems are looking for day captains at the Ozaukee County Fair: 7/31 Wednesday, 8/1 Thursday, 8/2 Friday, 8/3 Saturday and 8/4 Sunday. Please consider being a day captain. We can't do it without you! Sign up to work the fair here.
    3. We are looking for Oz Dem office volunteers leading up to the November 2024 Election. Sign up to volunteer in the office here.
  • Milwaukee County Dems are rapidly ramping up staffing and need to build up a supporter housing network so that they can get new hires on the ground as soon as possible. To volunteer to house a campaign worker, fill out the Supporter Housing Form.
  • If you're interested in helping voters get to the polls during early voting periods and on election days, all you have to do is contact Ride2Vote. The organization is seeking two kinds of volunteers: those who want to be drivers and those who want to be dispatchers. Volunteer with the Drive2Vote Program or to Dispatch drivers or to Provide Voter Outreach.
  • If you would like to join Postcards to Swing States' efforts to reach voters in swing states during the Get Out the Vote period for the November 5 Election Day, sign up now to write postcards to rally Democrats to vote in 11 key states! Writing postcards with us is the most effective action you can take from home to help re-elect President Biden and ensure that Democrats maintain a Senate majority. You can pick the state when you sign up, and we'll mail you free postcards along with voter lists and instructions with proven message options. You'll provide the postcard stamps and mail the postcards in October on the instructed date.
  • If you like to post to social media, you can use the Amplify Toolkit to post ads and videos to help spread messages that have been tested and designed to disrupt despair, inspire defiance and encourage engagement ahead of November. Brought to us by ASO Communications, The Way to Win Action Fund, We Make the Future Action, and Gutsy Media. These organizations do excellent work. So you can rely on their products.

Also in case you missed the Forum on White Christian Nationalism brought to you by Souls to the Polls and League of Progressive Seniors, you can watch the video.

Now about that inverted flag that flew for several days in front of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's house: here's Steve Schmidt in his daily Substack publication The Warning.

Justice Samuel Alito is a liar. His excuse for the inverted flag begins with a concocted story about a neighbor who wrote “F@#% Trump” on a lawn sign near a school bus stop. Mrs. Alito was so alarmed by the degradations and profane, yet protected speech that she went immediately home, and inverted the American flag signaling distress. Here’s the problem: there were no school buses and no school children on them in January 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. Schools in the city were closed for a full year as a result of the pandemic, and didn’t re-open until March 2021.

Needless to say, the upside-down flag has been a much-used symbol for the "Stop the Steal" crowd and was prominently used in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. It's now become a symbol of Alito's partisanship and allies him with those who espouse the Big Lie. I'll have more to say about the US Supreme Court in future newsletters.


Wednesday, May 22

Feminist Night School, 6:30pm

This Wednesday's Feminist Night School session, we're talking about the State of Justice. We'll be joined by court accountability experts who will help us understand the situation we're in and learn what we can and must do about it. Two years after Roe v Wade was overturned, it’s clear our courts are in a state of crisis. Judges are blatantly disregarding the law, science, and the limits of their own authority to dismantle our freedoms and roll back progress on human rights. Once-respected institutions have become kangaroo courts presided over by politicians in robes. We can't sit on our hands as the third branch of our government is overtaken by extremist ideologues. Join us to take a hard look, and prepare to take action.

Healthcare for All, 7:00pm

Join Citizen Action for our monthly Healthcare for All meeting. We have updates for you on the hospital closing crisis hitting Wisconsin and so much more. Sign up.

Thursday, May 23

John Lewis National Day of Action Launch Event, 3:00 - 4:00pm

Join us to learn about how you can participate in the John Lewis National Day of Action to be held on July 17th - the 4th Anniversary of the passing of our voting rights champion. Our plan is to work with you to host events everywhere throughout the nation on July 17th which will highlight the urgency of this moment. At our meeting on May 23, 2024, you will hear from leaders of the convening organizations, Transformative Justice Coalition, Declaration for American Democracy, Public Citizen, Black Voters Matter and more about making July 17th a powerful Day of Action! Sign up.

League of Women Voters of Milwaukee Annual Meeting, 5:00 - 10:00pm
Alioto's, 3401 N Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa

At our Annual meeting, Active Members will elect the new Board of Directors for 2024/2025, discuss important topics and approve any bylaw changes. There is an optional social gathering before the Business Meeting: a showing of the film, "Dangerous Women: Women of the West," (33 min), a dinner ($35 per person with a choice of entree and cash bar) and a silent auction. Guests are welcome. When registering for this event, unclick the dinner option if you only wish to attend the Business Meeting. The dinner cost can be paid in advance with a credit card or you can choose "Pay Later," and send in a personal check. Rather than bringing a personal check to the event, kindly send personal checks in advance. The deadline to pay by card or check is Friday, May 17. If you would like to attend the Annual Meeting dinner, but the registration fee presents a hardship, please do not hesitate to contact Nancy Maloney at [email protected]. Members can log in to register.

Saturday, May 25

Oz Dems Serve A Meal - Ozaukee Food Alliance, 10:30am - 2:00pm
Ozaukee Food Alliance, 100 E. Green Bay Avenue, Saukville

oin our community outreach as we serve a brat fry meal at Ozaukee Food Alliance. We’ll prep, serve, and provide a meal for community members. Interested? Email [email protected] or [email protected]. See you there!

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Lincoln Memorial and La Fayette Hill, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.

Saturday, May 25

Linneman’s Peace Through Music Concert, 6:00 - 9:00pm
Linneman's, 1001 E Locust, Milwaukee

"The music of John Lennon comes to life with many of Milwaukee’s finest musical acts taking part to help raise awareness for sensible gun laws. Benefit for Wisconsin’s Anti Violence Effort (WAVE) & The National Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence! Join us for this always fun night of great music by one of the masters! Doors @ 6pm, show @ 7pm. $15 donation goes to WAVE & The Brady Campaign! The event will include a fundraising raffle by Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort (WAVE) that will include some fantastic items!

Wednesday, May 29

Not Above the Law: Movement Call on Trump NYC Trial, 2:30 - 3:30pm

Join Norm Eisen; former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman - one of the House Judiciary Committee members to support starting impeachment proceedings against Nixon; Christian F. Nunes - President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and more TBA to receive insider updates on the New York City trial of Donald Trump for his interference in the 2016 election and other criminal cases that Trump is facing and learn ways to take action. Register.

Saturday, June 1

Neighborhood Canvasses, 9:00am - 12:00pm & 12:00 - 3:00pm

Fox Point, 7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point
Mequon, North Shore Country Club, Mequon
Shorewood, 9:00am - 12:00 & 12:00 - 3:00pm. 4516 N Newhall St, Shorewood

Sunday, June 2

Lakefront Canvass, 9:00am - 12:00pm & 12:00 - 3:00pm
3271 N Newhall St, Milwaukee

Come help us recruit new volunteers! Every person counts and we win the election by getting out early to build our network of supporters. We will also engage undecided voters to help persuade them. We need you! 2 hours can make the difference in this election. Sign up.


Friday, June 7

Dancing for Democracy, Doors at 6:00pm, Music at 7:00pm
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County presents Dancing for Democracy with the music of Milwaukee's own Superfly. Enjoy the music and help support the Milwaukee Dems. Tickets are $25. Buy them here.

Wear Orange Milwaukee/National Gun Violence Prevention Weekend: Candlelight Vigil, 6:00pm
Safe and Sound, 4422 W Leon Terrace, Milwuakee

Join with WAVE, Safe and Sound, Brady, Moms Demand Action, Milwaukee’s Office of Community Wellness and Safety, and others to support survivors and speak out against gun violence. This year’s events will include a candlelight vigil to honor and remember loved ones taken by gun violence, and a press conference and peace walk to raise awareness and build our community of survivors and advocates.

Saturday, June 8

Wear Orange Milwaukee/National Gun Violence Prevention Weekend: Peace Walk and Press Conference, 10:00am
Safe and Sound, 4422 W Leon Terrace, Milwuakee

Press conference at 10:00 a.m. — Safe Summer pledge signing at 11:00 a.m. — Peace walk at noon.

Wednesday, June 12

Fundraiser for Jodi Habush Sinykin, 5:00 - 7:00pm
Whitefish Bay

Please join us for a fundraiser in support of Jodi Habush Sinykin. The event is hosted by Kathie Spencer, Mike Fabishak, Jackie Boynton, and Peter McAvoy. Sponsorship levels: Champion - $2000 | Advocate - $1000 | Sponsor - $500 | Friend - $250 | Supporter - $100 | Guest - $50. All contributions appreciated. Please make checks payable to Jodi for State Senate, PO Box 170843, Miwaukee, WI 53217. Or donate online.

Thursday, June 20

Discussion with Author Dominic Erdozain,, 12:00pm

Join WAVE Educational Fund for an author discussion with Dominic Erdozain about his new book, One Nation Under Guns. Erdozain is a writer and historian with a passion for bringing the past into dialogue with the present. Erdozain has written widely on the intellectual origins of democracy and has published opinion pieces for CNN, placing America’s gun problem in a broader philosophical context. A graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, he is currently a visiting professor at Emory University. Register for free in advance to receive a link the day of the event.

Sunday, June 23

Stand for Women's Rights, noon - 1:30pm
Mequon & Port Washington Roads, Mequon

The 2nd Pro-Women's Rights Demonstration is June 23. Join "We Stand for Women's Rights," a grassroots group of people who want to amplify the message that women's rights are on the ballot this fall. Meet at Einstein Bagels in Mequon and walk to the corner of Mequon and Port Washington Roads. The first rally was a great success. We invite you to participate in the action. Sign up here.

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