Last month the Wisconsin State Senate heard bills that would help stem the burgeoning problem of heroin and prescription drug abuse. The sponsor of the new legislation, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), has used the story of his daughter Cassie’s struggle with heroin addiction as the basis for action. His specific target is the abuse of prescription opioids, which many feel are the ‘gateway’ to heroin use and addiction: when persons addicted to opioids can no longer obtain the prescription drug, they turn to the street-drug heroin, a cheaper and more accessible substance. Some believe that if opioids are not available, the person will not start down the path to addiction. And while this might be true in some cases, many suspect that another drug would then fill the role of gateway drug. Back at the beginning of the war on drugs, many people asserted that marijuana was a gateway drug to heroin. The assumption that because some people who used marijuana went on to heroin, all people who used marijuana would use heroin.
The following chart shows the growth in opioid addiction since 2001. Indeed it is a growing problem that should be addressed. The gut and heart-wrenching agony of families affected by addiction should not be understated. But, sadly, the problem has existed for a while, and only when the scourge of addiction moved from the city to the suburbs and non-urban areas has it seemingly become worthy of action.
Grassroots North Shore has endorsed Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive.
The primary election is Tuesday, February 16, and the spring election is Tuesday, April 5.
We view this election as critical for the future of Milwaukee County and Wauwatosa in particular. This is why we feel so strongly:
1) Since Chris Abele took office, he has worked to concentrate unprecedented authority in his own hands and to eliminate checks and balances on his arbitrary power. Abele worked with Scott Walker to change state law so that he has near-unilateral power to carry out the following:
- Sell off County property such as the Mitchell airport, the zoo, public lakefront property, the Public Museum or the Historical Society. We expect he will likely escalate the privatization of the County Grounds in Tosa, and eliminate the remaining green space we have left. Chris Larson, as State Senator, led the fight in Madison to oppose the Republican led legislature’s change to state law which gives Abele this authority. Chris Larson has vowed to work to reverse this power grab.
- Take over Milwaukee Public Schools, despite Abele having no background in education. Chris Larson opposed this change in state law that Abele worked to pass. Larson believes in local control of education and has fought relentlessly to reinstate public education funding that was cut in Madison. He is a supporter of the Save Our Schools (SOS) efforts in Tosa and similar efforts in other local communities.
2) Abele privatized jobs at the zoo and the Courthouse, outsourcing them to companies with low wages and meager benefits. He even vetoed the Mobile Food Market designed to bring healthy food to central city food deserts. When Chris Larson was on the County Board, he opposed the privatization of public services off the backs of the lowest paid employees in the County.
3) Abele vetoed a Living Wage ordinance despite the fact that Milwaukee is the 9th poorest city in the nation. Chris Larson has been a strong supporter of a Living Wage ordinance, similar to ones that have been so successful in other major cities.
4) Abele is chauffeured by his private guards in a Hollywood style limousine as part of a taxpayer-funded $100,000 contract, but vehemently opposed the Go-pass card that allows the elderly, the disabled and vets to ride the bus for free. Chris Larson is a strong supporter of public transit and a supporter of the Go-Pass.
5) Chris Abele supports and has contributed to anti-Milwaukee conservative state Reps. Dale Kooyenga and Joe San Felippo, cementing an alliance with state Republicans who support his efforts to privatize County functions and undermine family supporting jobs. Chris Larson, as a state Senator, has been a leader in Madison in opposing the Walker agenda, rather than financing the campaigns of Republican politicians who have devastated Milwaukee County with their agenda.
6) As the chair of the MATC board appointment committee, Abele has played a key role in rejecting qualified applicants from Milwaukee County and appointing less qualified applicants from Ozaukee County, even though Ozaukee County represents a very small percentage of the MATC District. Several of his appointees are anti-employee and anti-public education. The result has been a dramatic decline in minority representation on the MATC Board in a college that is the state’s only majority minority college. Chris Larson is committed to an MATC Board that is diverse and not tied to special interests.
7) While cutting wages and benefits for front line County employees, Abele has increased the salaries of his hand-picked cabinet members. Chris Larson has pledged that there will be no more favoritism and cronyism when he takes office.
8) Abele vetoed funding for transit and parks and fired the award winning parks director, Sue Black. Chris Larson has been a strong environmental advocate throughout his life.
9) Abele forced the bus drivers to strike by trying to turn full-time driver jobs into part-time employment at the very time Milwaukee is experiencing a crisis of good jobs. Chris Larson understands that you can’t build a vibrant Milwaukee County when the families who live here can’t even afford basic services.
10) Now Chris Abele is trying to reinvent himself by using the vast wealth he inherited from his billionaire father to buy this election. He has spent unprecedented amounts of money on television ads and multiple numerous slick mailings. In his ads, he is taking credit for things he did not do and even for efforts he actually opposed. Chris Larson has been a champion of working people and the middle class for his entire career. He was a leader in opposing Act 10 and the other attacks on our way of life emanating from the state capitol. Chris Larson does not have great wealth but he does have integrity.
For all these reasons, Grassroots Tosa strongly endorses the election of Senator Chris Larson as Milwaukee County Executive.
Nor any drop to drink.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798
In early spring 1993 hundreds, then thousands, of Milwaukee residents became ill. On April 5th, a state health agency joined the city health department to help identify what might be causing this incipient epidemic. Two days later they identified the culprit - the parasite Cryptosporidium. That evening, Mayor Nordquist went on television to let people know that they must boil their water to make it safe to drink. As you might guess, bottled water soon disappeared from store shelves.
Over 400,000 people became ill, and, sadly, 69 died. One week later, on April 14th, the public was advised that it was now safe to drink tap water. Imagine that: the problem was fixed in one week! How long do you suppose it might have taken if the municipal water delivery system had been privately owned? It is only too clear that when the focus is on the bottom line, ala Flint, what matters is profit, not people.
In the past week, there seems to have been a rush to equate Milwaukee’s water to that of Flint. Granted there are some similarities: both are old cities with aging water delivery infrastructure. But there are also some key differences. Milwaukee has pipes that contain lead, but the treated water we receive from Lake Michigan contains calcium carbonate, which provides a barrier that keeps the lead from being leached out as water flows through. Remember, Flint did not have lead problems when it was receiving water from Lake Huron via Detroit. Their problems started when the water source was switched to the Flint River which, being more acidic, began to extract lead from those old pipes immediately. Certainly, lead pipes in delivery systems in Milwaukee, its suburbs, and throughout Wisconsin should be replaced. However, we need to do this based on a well thought-out plan, not in the face of an emergency.
Late last summer, in conjunction with the release of his Clean Power Plan, President Obama proclaimed in a speech to an audience in Arkansas:
We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. By taking action now to combat climate change, including developing homegrown clean energy and cutting energy waste, we can help protect our kids’ health, cut carbon pollution, and begin to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, safer environment for future generations.
We are already feeling the dangerous and costly effects of a changing climate across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. And extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires in the west to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves – are affecting communities across the country. Now is the time to act. We have already made progress by moving to cleaner sources of energy and improving the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks, and buildings.
Released on Monday, August 3, 2015, the Plan addresses cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2030. The Federal Government will establish standards for each state; and then each state will develop its own plan for implementation. Initial versions of the Plan are due in September 2016, with final versions due in 2018. For more detail on the Plan and subsequent activity, click here.Read more
With the Iowa Caucuses just a week away now, the attention of the nation is riveted on the contenders and their every move in both parties. But a much more consequential election in Wisconsin is a mere three weeks away.
What could be more consequential than the first votes in the presidential contests? The first votes for Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice.
The February 16 primary in Wisconsin will pit three candidates for that crucial office against each other. Two of the three — Judge Joe Donald and Judge Rebecca Kloppenburg — represent sound judicial temperaments and years of relevant experience. One of the three — Rebecca Bradley — has little judicial experience and believes that the role of the State Supreme Court is to show great deference to the legislature and the governor.
Because the spring primary is a very low turnout affair, a few thousand votes could make a huge difference. If we can muster enough support for Judge Kloppenburg AND Judge Donald, Rebecca Bradley could be eliminated from the election on April 5, the one that will determine who sits on our Supreme Court for the next several decades.
And that's why I VOTE EVERY TIME IN EVERY ELECTION. What happens in February determines what can happen in April. My vote counts the most when few other voters bother to turn out. If progressives want to start winning again, every one of us must VOTE EVERY TIME IN EVERY ELECTION.
The nominating papers have been submitted and at Grassroots North Shore, we are ready with our first two endorsements of this election season.
US Senator Representing Wisconsin
This is an easy choice. Russ Feingold deserves to return to the US Senate to represent Wisconsin ideals of a government that serves the interests of everyone and that looks to the future. Russ has courageously stood up for an open government, one that is not owned by the select few for the interests of a select few.
Needless to say, his opponent has held this office only to advance the interests of people like himself and has only been in place to obstruct the efforts of our president in areas such as advancing the economy, building a green future and economic inclusion.
Grassroots North Shore is looking forward to working with the Feingold campaign to push America into the 21st century and enable this state to take pride in who represents us in Washington. Visit the Feingold campaign website to sign up for news updates and to volunteer: http://russfeingold.com/.
Milwaukee County Executive
Following a vote by our members last month, Grassroots North Shore is proud to endorse Chris Larson.
A long-time friend of this organization, Chris has been a proven fighter for progressive causes and has shown the ability to promote ideas that are beneficial to our economy, especially raising the minimum wage. He has been a champion of issues essential for making Milwaukee county a great place to live, including his support for public education and for our county parks. Chris Larson will not be a business as usual official, but will bring to county government management the skills and viewpoints of a diverse number of experts and activists from the area.
Grassroots North Shore will be working with the Larson campaign to organize volunteers to cover the North Shore. More information on Chris is at http://www.voteforlarson.com.
image by larryhw
Some extol the language of the Second Amendment as the epitome of clarity. Some find it far more ambiguous. Some use it as an advertising slogan to sell more weapons in an insatiable quest for profit. But how many are aware of how it became part of the Bill of Rights and its history since that time?
The concept of right to bear arms came from English history. From the middle ages through the 17th century, an Englishman was expected, even required, to have a gun. Unlike the standing armies of today, every Englishman was responsible for protecting the kingdom and was considered to be a soldier in the king's army. Despite the fact that early colonial families were often very isolated, the existence of standing armies was a threat for them because Europe had seen many armies come to power that ended up ruling over the people. And even given the existence of a standing army, it would have taken too long for them to reach a trouble spot.
So, instead of having standing armies, the colonists would train together and, when danger seemed imminent, would gather their arms to defend themselves. These local groups were called "militias" and are somewhat equivalent to our National Guard today. Early colonial constitutions included a mention of the right to bear arms for defensive purposes for this very reason.Read more