Some become more conservative as they age. I did not.

I get it. The difference, I get it.  We are all good people who care about others, our families, friends, neighbors, community. It’s just that, as a Progressive, our sense of community goes so much further than that of Conservatives'. For Conservatives that sense of community only extends as far as their own interests. Progressives view our community as global.

Eilene Stevens 4089.20pc

Eilene Stevens

Eilene Stevens's activity stream

  • published let us rejoice! in Newsletter 2024-02-21 17:26:27 -0600

    let us rejoice!

    Ding dong, the Gerrymander is dead! Or maybe in hospice care while we await the Wisconsin Supreme Court's final judgment. Then just like that representative democracy will have a real chance of emerging from years of subordination to the tyranny of the (often) minority. I'm sure you've been treated to lots of celebrations in Wisconsin and in the national media as well as on various online publications. I've collected a few for your celebratory delight:

    But the work to ensure fair election maps forever more is not yet complete. The next step is electing a legislature that will pass a law to make sure the maps are drawn by nonpartisans with political neutrality an explicit measure. After that milestone, the stretch goal should be a constitutional amendment mandating fair maps and a nonpartisan process for achieving them. North Shore Fair Maps and the Fair Maps Coalition are on the case.

    Meanwhile we have a low-key but VITAL ELECTION coming up on April 2. Your ballot may offer few if any competitive races; nevertheless the value of your vote is priceless. Not only does the April 2 election double as the presidential primary in Wisconsin, it presents two so-called "ballot questions" — really two proposed amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution. Grassroots North Shore is hosting a webinar on these proposals on Sunday, March 17, from 5:00 - 6:15pm. Doug Poland, a Madison-based lawyer with a long career fighting for democracy, and State Senator Mark Spreitzer, a Democrat from Beloit, will help us understand what the amendments really say and mean. They'll also explain why they are on the ballot in the first place. You can visit the Grassrooots North Shore web page devoted to the amendments. And of course you should sign up to attend the webinar.

    The League of Women Voters is also holding a forum on the ballot questions on Tuesday, February 27, from 6:00 - 7:30pm. Their speakers are Joan Swartz, a retired civil law attorney, and Michael Haas, the Madison City Attorney with a background working for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. You can sign up for this forum here.

    Now an earnest plea for help: The primary, such as it was this year, is in the rearview mirror. Now the serious work of electing great candidates begins. Please pitch in any way that you can. Grassroots North Shore has distributed 4700+ postcards to be written and mailed between now and the end of the month. So we'll start phoning card recipients to let them know how serious the proposed amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution is and urging them to vote. To make 4700 phone calls, though, we need lots and lots of volunteers. Please let me know that you will help: email me or text me at 443-465-1920.

    For information on the races in your area, visit our Elections 2024 pages. On that index page, you will find links to the election by community, school board elections by community, and judicial races by community. You will also find information about your registration status, requesting absentee ballots for the April election as well as the partisan primary on August 13 and the general election on November 5. And if you are fortunate enough to be able to donate to one or more candidates, we have a page detailing contribution limits for every office — national, state, and local.

    You probably know all there is to know about how to vote in Wisconsin. But it never hurts to refresh your memory or provide information that may be useful to a new voter you might know. So here it is.

    Simple Rules for Voting in Wisconsin

    Voting by absentee ballot is, we think, an effective, sound and secure strategy. For one thing, the ballot typically arrives about three weeks before election day. That means you can take some time to bone up on candidates' qualifications and stands as you chose how you're going to vote for each office. Plus it's an insurance policy in case of unexpected illness or a sudden and unexpected need to travel on election day.

    There are several rules for absentee ballots you must observe.

    1. A witness must sign the ballot certification envelope in which you return your ballot.
    2. The witness must fill in his/her/their complete address, including street number, street name, municipality and zip code. Although municipal clerks can now "cure" absentee ballots with any information that's missing, it's much safer if you make sure your witness completes the form properly.
    3. You must sign the certification envelope.
    4. Finally, you return your ballot to your municipal clerk, either by posting it in the US Mail or by taking it in person to your clerk's office. In either case, YOU MUST MAIL or RETURN the ballot YOURSELF. No one is allowed to return your ballot for you. [Note also: drop boxes cannot be used to return ballots.]
    5. If you receive an absentee ballot in the mail but change your mind and want to vote on election day, all is not lost. As long as you have not already returned the ballot, you can take it to your polling place, surrender the blank ballot to an election worker, and receive a new ballot. At that point you simply use the ordinary process for marking your ballot and passing it through the tabulating machine.

    You can also vote early for the April 2 election. Technically, this option is also called absentee voting! Early in-person absentee voting — that's it's full moniker — takes place on weekdays beginning March 19 and ending March 29 in most communities. You can find more information about days/times/and locations for early voting on Early Voting Information for North Shore and Ozaukee County Communities or for the City of Milwaukee. Voting early in-person is convenient, flexible, and secure. You will need to take an approved photo ID with you — just as you would for voting on election day. If you need to register or reregister — because you have moved or changed your name — you must also bring proof on residence with you. See list of acceptable photo IDs. See a list of acceptable forms of proof of residence.

    Of course, there's always election day. Find your polling location on as well as what you need to bring for photo ID and to register to vote, if necessary.

    The next several weeks are chock full of legal wrangling about various Adolf Twittler's trials and tribulations. We're still waiting for the US Supreme Court to issue a ruling in the challenge to Colorado disqualifying Trump from the ballot because of his role in the January 6, 2021 Insurrection. That opinion could come down any day now. In addition, in the New York DA's Election Interference case (often disparagingly termed a hush-money case), motions to prevent specific evidence or arguments from being introduced at trial — known in legalese as in limine motions, I've learned — are due on Thursday, February 22. On Friday, a case brought by officers on duty at the Capitol Building on January 6, known as Blassingame, will have a status hearing in the DC Courtroom where Judge Amit Mehta presides. Keep track of all the legal events as well as the primaries interspersed throughout at Just Security's Master Calendar of Trump Court Dates: Criminal and Civil Cases.

    Finally, a note of levity: how the idiot-in-chief thinks the fines levied by Judge Engoron as well as the other "persecutions" he has to endure make him a sorta, kinda, almost the victim of an assassination. In short an American Alexey Navalny. I kid you not: the AP reports.

    Read more

  • published so much winning! in Newsletter 2024-02-15 09:43:00 -0600

    so much winning!

    Sorry this newsletter was delayed. Still, I'm glad to be late this time. The news from yesterday's events, both national and here in Wisconsin, was nothing short of fantastic. Also beginning next week, I will be sending the newsletter on Wednesdays to accommodate a change in various meeting schedules. So maybe it's not so much late as it is an unannounced surprise?

    Let's begin with the HUGE win for fair maps for the 2024 partisan election! The Republican-controlled legislature hurriedly passed a new set of maps for legislative districts both for Assembly seats and state Senate seats yesterday — presumably to foreclose the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) decision about which set of maps the justices would choose. After the usual shenanigans, the legislature chose the ones Governor Evers had submitted. The two expert consultants — who reviewed all six sets of remedial maps the court received — judged four of the remedial maps compliant with the criteria the Court had set forth, including the stipulation that the maps could not favor one political party. The maps Governor Evers submitted was one of the four.

    As the Co-Chair of the North Shore Fair Maps group put it, "MAKE NO MISTAKE, WE WON BIGLY YESTERDAY!" She goes on to say "maps drawn by a Democratic governor and accepted by a Republican legislature are a far better reflection of good government than maps imposed by a Court. Governor Evers’s maps represent government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Good government." And that's the main point.

    Almost all Democrats in both the Senate and the Assembly, however, voted against the bill. Many people are wondering why they did that if the maps that passed and that Governor Evers has indicated he will sign are such a big win for those of us who had persistently and vigorously opposed the rigged maps we've had since 2012. Two possible reasons have emerged: first the strength of the Democratic vote in the Assembly suggests that the GOP legislators lack the votes to override a gubernatorial veto should Governor Evers decide to go that route; and second, many Democratic legislators objected to the rushed process that Speaker Vos used.

    This matter is not quite definitively closed. Someone with the requisite means could still to try to take the case to the US Supreme Court. But Doug Poland, one of the lawyers who brought the suit to SCOWIS, all but called this possibility looney: "People really think that if the GOP controlled Legislature and Dem. Governor agree on legislation adopting new districts that a federal court challenge will undo that? On what theory?" See Dan Shafer's account and analysis on The Recombobulation Area publication: The Wisconsin State Legislature passed new maps. It's a bit discombobulating.

    The Washington Post covered the story today (gifted link). And in another, more analytic piece by Phillip Bump, there's a particularly clear graphic showing the difference between the share of the total vote each party won in the last four elections and the share of the seats in the Assembly and Senate each party held. The accompanying analysis confidently states, "It was a [GOP] concession born not of enthusiasm about Evers’s proposal but, instead, out of fear about even less favorable maps that might be created by the court." Bottom Line: Let's allow ourselves to celebrate what Speaker Robin Vos said to reporters: Evers had "a huge win today" because now "the legislature will be up for grabs." Surely an admission that Republicans had in fact rigged the maps.

    Yesterday was also election day for two special elections, one in New York to fill the seat made vacant when the House of Representatives expelled George Santos and the other in a Philadelphia suburb to fill a Pennsylvania House seat. Continuing the successful run they've enjoyed in special elections in 2023, Democrats won both, convincingly. Tom Suozzi was elected to take Santos's place, shrinking the small (and dare I say dysfunctional) GOP majority. This result leaves "the G.O.P. able to afford only two defections from the party line on votes when all members are present." And the early March deadlines for funding the government loom (New York Times gifted link, February 14, 2024).

    In Pennsylvania, Democrat "Jim Prokopiak won the special election and reaffirmed Democrats’ one-seat majority in the state House, according to the Associated Press, which called the race for him at 8:07 p.m., just after polls closed" (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 13, 2024). The article notes that "Democrats have had to defend their majority four times since they took control of the state House in 2023. They have successfully run each on a promise to protect abortion access in Pennsylvania." These latest wins add to the narrative that Democrats have significantly overperformed in a host of 2023 elections. You can see the table, the tally, and the average in "Democrats have been winning big in special elections." The article from ABC News sports a sub-head: "That could bode well for them in the 2024 election."

    Let's turn now to a brief recap of the Cheeto Benito trials.

    • He's appealed the DC Appellate Court's ruling that he is not immune from criminal prosecution once he's magically been returned to being a mere citizen of the United States. The US Supreme Court has given Special Counsel Jack Smith until February 20 to reply to the Cowardly Lyin's brief. Not a super-urgent briefing schedule but not entirely dilatory either. We shall see.
    • The Fulton County judge will be holding an evidentiary hearing tomorrow to determine whether DA Willis and her entire office need to be dismissed from the case. At issue is whether the romantic entanglement with another prosecutor on her staff began BEFORE she hired him, as one of the defendants in the case has alleged, or AFTER, as she and Mr. Wade have both sworn. PBS will carry the televised hearing, beginning at 8:30am CT.
    • Judge Merchan, overseeing the NYC case about hush money and fraudulent business records, has denied Boss Tweet's motion to recuse himself. He'll hold a hearing tomorrow to make some decisions on motions and to consider any scheduling conflicts.
    • In the Mar-a-lago documents case, Judge Aileen Cannon has held separate hearings with the defendants' lawyers and the DOJ lawyers to deal with protective orders for the classified information in the documents found in the search of the Butternut Berlusconi's retirement home. Special Counsel Jack Smith has called her recent ruling that would unmask the names and grand jury testimony of key witnesses "clear error." Smith has filed an additional brief making his case with additional evidence about the harm such unmasking will surely do.
    • Judge Engoron is reportedly going to file his written decision in the NY State case in which he and his company, the Trump Organization, have already been found guilty of fraud. The amount of what's known as disgorgement he will have to pay and whether he and his sons will be barred from doing business in New York State are what followers of this case are waiting to see.

    The website Just Security is producing a "Master Calendar of Trump Court Dates: Criminal and Civil Cases" for your edification. If you're a political and court junky, you might want to bookmark it. And you should not miss the superb investigative journalism taking place at Talking Points Memo: Josh Kovensky began a series of articles with new and interesting details about how the various coup plots intertwined. Called The Chesebro Docs, the series begins with an introductory piece: The Legal Coup.

    If you missed the February 4 presentations by Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat and state Senator Chris Larson, you can watch the Grassroots North Shore event on YouTube. Professor Ben-Ghiat is a world renowned expert on the rise of authoritarianism. Senator Larson provides a riveting history of what's been happening in Wisconsin over the last 14 years or so. You really should take the time to view it.

    Two great organizations — the ACLU and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin — are recruiting people to assist with voter protection issues for the April 2 and November 5 elections.

    WisDems: Signups for our spring hotline trainings are now open! The WisDems Voter Assistance Hotline (608-336-3232) aims to make sure the voting process is as smooth as possible and reduce barriers to access by providing accurate and helpful answers to voters' questions. The hotline is staffed for every election with volunteers and staff who are thoroughly trained on Wisconsin election law. We especially welcome volunteers who are comfortable helping voters in Spanish and Hmong.

    ACLU:We need your help to protect every Wisconsinite's right to vote. For many years, the ACLU of Wisconsin has been engaged in Election Protection efforts alongside a broad coalition of non-partisan organizations across the state. With our partners, we work to ensure easy, fair, and safe access to the ballot box for every single Wisconsin voter. We do this by working with our coalition partners to provide individual assistance through the Election Protection Hotline, by monitoring and addressing systemic issues affecting access to the polls, and, when necessary, seeking relief for voters in the courts. But none of this is possible without the help of hundreds of attorneys and election observer volunteers in every election year, covering every corner of the state. Sign up now to volunteer for the April 2 and November 5 elections.

    I've introduced a new section detailing the canvassing the WisDems are organizing ahead of the April 2 election. That is followed by the usual Events list for the next two weeks. The weather in this area has been astonishingly mild (though there does seem to be a snow storm on the way). So engage!


    Saturday, February 17

    Fox Point Dems Get Out the Primary Vote!, shifts at 12:00 & 3:00pm
    7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point

    Join the Fox Point Dems for our Get Out the Primary Canvass! We'll be knocking doors ahead of the Spring primary to make sure Fox Point residents have plans to vote for Democratically-aligned candidates this February and April. Bring yourself, your smartphone, and your winter gear and join us as we hit the streets! Sign up.

    North Shore Dems Get out the Primary Vote in Shorewood!, shifts at 9:00am & 12:00pm
    4516 N Newhall St, Shorewood

    Join the Shorewood Dems for our Get Out the Primary Canvass! We'll be knocking doors ahead of the Spring primary to make sure Shorewood residents have plans to vote for Democratically-aligned candidates this February and April. Bring yourself, your smartphone, and your winter gear and join us as we hit the streets! Sign up.

    Knock on Doors in Mequon, shifts at 9:00am & 12:00pm
    4516 N Newhall St, Shorewood

    Join us to knock on doors in Mequon!!! Sign up.

    Sunday, February 18

    Fox Point Dems Get Out the Primary Vote!, shifts at 12:00 & 3:00pm
    7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point

    Join the Fox Point Dems for our Get Out the Primary Canvass! We'll be knocking doors ahead of the Spring primary to make sure Fox Point residents have plans to vote for Democratically-aligned candidates this February and April. Bring yourself, your smartphone, and your winter gear and join us as we hit the streets! Sign up.

    Grassroots Glendale Gets Out the Spring Vote!, shifts at 12:00 & 3:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale as we get out the vote for Spring elections. We'll be knocking doors and making sure our likeminded neighbors have plans to vote for Democratically aligned candidates up and down the ballot this April and November! Sign up.

    Grassroots Glendale Texts Out the Vote!, 12:00 - 3:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale for our Text Out the Vote Friendbank! We'll be getting together to learn how to activate and engage our networks using the Reach app for relational organizing. Join us as text our networks to hear what issues matter to them and to make plans to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket in 2024! Sign up.

    North Shore Dems Get Out the Vote in Whitefish Bay, 12:30 - 3:30pm
    4845 N Newhall St, Whitefish Bay

    Join the Whitefish Bay Dems for our Get Out the Primary Canvass! We'll be knocking doors ahead of the Spring primary to make sure Whitefish Bay residents have plans to vote for Democratically-aligned candidates April. Bring yourself, your smartphone, and your winter gear and join us as we hit the streets! Sign up.

    A look ahead to plan canvassing to Get Out The Vote for the April 2 election.

    Fox Point, Glendale, Whitefish Bay and Shorewood Teams, as well as the Dems in Ozaukee County, will be hosting canvasses, texting, and Friendbanking: Mark these events on your calendar and be ready to sign up for one or more shifts!
    • GOT(E)V #1: March 16th/17th
    • GOT(E)V #2: March 23rd/24th
    • GOTV: March 28th, 30th, April 1st, and April 2nd
    Read more

  • rsvped for Preview of April 2nd Election 2024-02-10 10:28:12 -0600

    Know What is on the April 2nd Ballot

    GRNS Guide to April 2nd Ballot: Amendment Explication -- What Do the Amendments Say and Mean? Why are they on the Ballot?

    Madison based attorney Doug Poland with Stafford Rosenbaum LLP has a long career in election litigation and dealing with these issues. Raised in Whitefish Bay, Doug was recently featured as a Superlawyer, under this heading: “Moving Wisconsin Forward: When democracy came under attack, Doug Poland heard the call.”

    State Senator Mark Spreitzer 
    Beloit City Council, 2011–15 (president, 2014–15). Elected to Assembly 2014-2020. Minority Caucus Chair 2021, 2019, 2017. Elected to Senate 2022.
    March 17, 2024 at 5:00pm
    Virtual Event
    98 rsvps rsvp

  • published nothing but good legal news! in Newsletter 2024-02-06 20:15:42 -0600

    nothing but good legal news!

    Before I dive into the bombshell news of the day, there's a must-not-miss event on Monday, February 12, at 7:00pm. The North Shore Fair Maps group is hosting a webinar with some distinguished national gurus on what the data tell us about messaging for this election."Words and Data Matter" will be presented by Anat Shenker-Osorio, perhaps the best message-master in the United States; and Michael Podhorzer, who understands data better than anybody!  Sign up for the monthly NSFM meeting

    As I am writing this newsletter (at about 2:15pm CT), the news arrived that the D.C. Court of Appeals had finally handed down a decision in the complete immunity case TFG filed. The news everywhere (except Fox, maybe) will be chewing on the ruling all day, no doubt. And I'm not a lawyer. But I have read the whole thing. And the bottom line is that TFG loses every argument in a unanimous decision. The New York Times has a clear account of it (gifted to bypass the paywall). The paper of record also provides access to the ruling itself with annotations by Charlie Savage. (The full, unannotated opinion is also available.) Both the article and the annotated opinion call attention to a key paragraph early in the decision:

    Former President Trump moved to dismiss the Indictment and the district court denied his motion. Today, we affirm the denial. For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.

    The ruling takes a methodical tour through the key elements of the indictment: "(1) conspiracy to defraud the United States by overturning the election results; (2 ) conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding i.e., the Congress's certification of the electoral vote; (3) obstruction of and attempt to obstruct, the certification of the electoral vote; and (4) conspiracy against the rights of one or more persons to vote and to have their votes counted." This opening section concludes "At this stage of the prosecution, we assume that the allegations set forth inthe Indictment are true." Although it may seem strange that an appeals court would make such an assertion, the assumption is standard practice in this kind of appeal.

    The rest of the document meticulously addresses each of the former president's four claims of immunity: "(1) presidential immunity; (2) constitutional provisions, including the Impeachment Judgment Clause and principles stemming from the Double JeopardyClause; (3) statutory grounds; and (4) allegations of selective and vindictive prosecution." Before the court rules on each of the claims, though, it devotes nearly 10 pages responding to an amicus brief from American Oversights that had argued the appeal based on a claim of immunity was procedurally premature. At the end of the longish legal argument, the court disagrees and takes up the four motions claiming immunity on different grounds. I leave it to the experts and punditocracy to tease out the meanings of each part of the argument.

    One final note. The account in the Washington Post includes this important nugget: "The court set tight deadlines for that review, saying it would put the ruling on hold until Feb. 12 for Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court but would not wait for the full D.C. Circuit to weigh in."

    Local Legal News

    It's pretty exciting here in Wisconsin too. As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, the MAGA-controlled legislature got its panties in a twist about the remedial maps that were submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS). So in an attempt to beat what they considered an adverse ruling on electoral maps from SCOWIS, they passed a bill that purported to include essentially the map Governor Evers had submitted to SCOWIS. But it was not the same map. Why? Because they "tweaked" the legislative boundary lines to protect GOP incumbents. The Governor promptly vetoed the bill.

    Meanwhile the two expert consultants SCOWIS hired to evaluate the remedial maps were hard at work. In their report, submitted on February 1, they argued that two of the remedial map proposals did not meet the court's requirement that the maps be neutral with respect to political parties. The two sets of maps they disallowed were produced by the Republicans in the legislature and by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (also called the Johnson maps). That leaves four sets of maps still in the running: Clarke petitioners (Law Forward), Governor Evers, Democratic Senators, and the Wright Intervenors. In their conclusions, the consultants write, "From a social science perspective, the Legislature's plan does not deserve further consideration. Of the remaining plans, the Johnson plan appears to have a substantial number of fails on the 'bounded by' constitutional criteria. We also note that both the Legislature's plan and the Johnson plan, from a social science perspective, are partisan gerrymanders. The four other submitted plans are similar on most criteria. From a social science point of view these for [sic] plans are nearly indistinguishable." See the full report. All the parties and accepted amici have until February 8 to respond to the consultants' report. After that, SCOWIS will choose a map.

    Then, on February 2, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin has accepted a lawsuit Governor Evers filed "against Republican lawmakers who blocked pay raises for university employees and funding for conservation projects" (Wisconsin Public Radio). The article goes on to say, "The court’s liberal majority agreed to immediately take up Evers’ claim that the committee blockades amounted to 'legislative vetoes' [that] violate the the separation of powers in the Wisconsin Constitution by allowing the legislative branch to alter 'the scope of the executive branch’s discretion.'"

    Local Election News

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online apparently does not consider the DC Circuit Court's opinion worthy of front page coverage, but you can find it if you hunt under the news section and then choose the sub-link "Elections." It does have coverage of the Shorewood School Board election where three candidates are running for a single seat. That means there will be a primary in Shorewood on February 20. The MJS article includes a candidate questionnaire to help sort out your choice. The Grassroots North Shore website also has some information about school board contests in the North Shore suburbs and for school board elections in Ozaukee County.

    Grassroots North Shore tries to provide comprehensive election news in every cycle. For the election on April 2, we have a guide to early in-person voting, beginning March 19 and ending March 29 in most of our communities. We also have a page devoted to the two constitutional amendments, called Issue Question 1 and Issue Question 2, that will be on every voter's ballot. We are strongly urging a NO vote on both. They sound innocuous enough, but they are a not-so-subtle end run around the governor's veto. The Issue Questions were first presented as bills the legislature passed along party lines. When the governor vetoed them, the legislature turned them into proposed amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution.

    The lawsuit Governor Evers recently filed against several legislative committee chairs also accused the legislature of exercising an unconstitutional nullification of his veto power. You may recall that when Governor Evers was first elected in 2018, the legislature passed and then Governor Walker signed bills restricting the governor's powers. For the MAGAites, taking power away from others and grabbing it for themselves is just the ordinary business of the day.

    And if you have the financial ability to contribute to candidates, make sure you check our page of information about campaign contribution limits. You'll find the index to most of our election coverage and useful information about deadlines for registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, and more at Elections 2024 on our website.

    Lastly, we urge you to request absentee ballots for every election this year. There are many reasons to request an absentee ballot: you can take your time and be thoughtful about your votes, you can do your homework as you choose which candidate you favor; you have an insurance policy in case you get sick — COVID is still dogging us, RSV and the flu are around too, and there's some awful cold virus that seems to last forever — or have an accident or are suddenly called out of town. Even if you request an absentee ballot, you can still vote early in person or vote on election day: just make sure you don't turn in your absentee ballot also! If you do want to vote by absentee ballot, you must either return your ballot by mail or take it in person to your municipal clerk. You CANNOT ask someone else to return your ballot for you.

    The spring elections this year are pretty low key. But it's important that you vote, even if every office on your ballot is uncontested. Your vote to turn down the constitutional amendments (Issue Questions 1 and 2) is vital. So too is your vote in the presidential primary. In Democrats' primary, both President Joe Biden and Representative Dean Phillips will be on your ballot. (On the Republican side, Trump, Haley, and a bunch of folks we've already forgotten about will appear.) Because we do not register an affiliation with a political party in this state, you can vote in any party's primary. BUT ONLY IN ONE. I'll have more on the presidential primary closer to the April 2 election.

    Meanwhile, Make Yourself Useful

    You Can Help Save Our Democracy By Registering Voters in Milwaukee: Everyone! Join The Milwaukee Voter Project registering voters inside three Milwaukee DMV's, 2701 South Chase, Teutonia & Florist and 73rd & Mill. During the months leading up to the Supreme Court Election we produced 3168 paper registrations, thousands of online registrations and made 50,000 voter contacts. We work year around and will give you the simple training and supervision you need. Contact us at our email: [email protected] or phone (414) 218-5944. Much more about on our website.

    Voter Protection Team: Join one of our upcoming VoPro 101 trainings! Interested in learning more about Wisconsin election law and how you can help people exercise their right to vote? Attend one of our upcoming Voter Protection 101 Trainings! We will resumed offering these biweekly trainings and we would love for you to join us. We cover election law basics, voter registration, and available resources, and talk about how you can get involved protecting democracy in your community. Sign up for a VoPro 101 session.

    Phonebank with us! We will have two phonebank time slots a week, on Monday nights from 5-7pm CT and Thursday afternoons from 12-2pm CT. We will offer training at the beginning of each phonebank and there is no experience required; all you need is yourself and your computer! Sign up for a phonebank that works best for you here and invite anyone you know who might be interested.

    Read more

  • Just some of the news that's fit to print

    We're fated to live in newsworthy times, it seems. Just keeping up feels like a full time job! On the national level, we got news in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case II — a whopping great $83.3 million for damages and punishment. She is making sure to rub it in by appearing on TV as much as possible, proclaiming that the presence of TFG wasn't intimidating at all. Indeed, she said, in person and stripped of his larger-than-life stage presence, he's really just "nothing." We're still waiting for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on TFG's "absolute immunity" claim. Meanwhile, Judge Engoron has said he will decide the NY State fraud claims and the amount of disgorgement (the money acquired fraudulently) TFG and his crooked business will have to pay (plus whether he and his two oldest sons will ever be able to do business in the state again) very soon, possibly by the end of this week. Plus, Nikki Haley is burrowing deeper and deeper under Boss Tweet's skin: ""Haley Hits Trump on Border and His ‘Rants,’ Saying ‘He Feels Threatened’." It's a lot just on the Groper-in-Chief front.

    The Wisconsin political news this past week has also been plentiful. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has now acquired remedial maps — that is proposed maps that remedy or fix the flaws the Court found in the current maps — from all the parties to the case plus the amici (friends of the court). You can find the parties' responses to the submissions as well as all the other documents involved in the case here. The responses to the remedial map submissions are all filed on 1-22-2024. So that's the part of the web page to look at.

    Needless to say, GOP legislators were not happy with most of the proposed maps. But they seemed to concede that they were going to have to accept some change. As a result, first the Senate and then the Assembly purported to adopt the remedial map Governor Evers submitted, albeit with just a few little changes. The vote in the Senate came "about a week before two consultants are set to submit a report analyzing several map proposals submitted as part of a redistricting case before the state Supreme Court" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 23, 2024). The "tweaks" legislators proposed were to protect incumbents from having to compete against each other in the revised districts. The article goes on to say that "Republicans passed the map proposal as an amendment to a nonpartisan redistricting bill that the Assembly passed in September. Democrats and the public did not see the amendment before the Senate took it up on the floor." The bill they passed, with four Republican Senators joining all the Democrats voting against it, would establish a new, supposedly non-partisan process for adopting election maps in the future. The Assembly approved the bill and the maps the next day. And Governor Evers promptly promised to veto the bill and its attachment.

    And presto: just as I have been writing this account, "Evers vetoes new legislative maps passed by Wisconsin Legislature." So what happens next? The legislature may try to override the governor's veto, "but they likely lack the numbers. The maps passed the Senate 17-14 and passed the Assembly 63-35. Both margins are short of the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override." The veto message focused on two pertinent aspects of the changes the legislature had made to the maps the governor submitted: the "gerrymandering" revision to protect GOP power and the "rushed process" used to pass them.

    The resulting maps included two Assembly districts that have “non-contiguous territory in violation of our State Constitution.” Bernard Grofman and Jonathan Cervas, the two consultants the Supreme Court hired, will issue a report on February 1 that evaluates the six maps, "laying out how well the map proposals mesh with the court’s order. If Grofman and Cervas find the parties’ maps don’t meet the court’s guidelines, they will be tasked with drawing their own remedial Assembly and Senate maps for justices to consider." As Craig GlIbert notes in his special article to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday, "The court’s ruling will shape the struggle for power between the two parties. It will determine how competitive legislative elections are going to be here. And it will dictate how responsive those elections will be to shifts in public opinion and in turnout from one year to another."

    The maps are one thing, the presidential preference primary is quite another. Who gets on the ballot for that primary is pretty much decided by the "Presidential Preference Selection Committee, which is run by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin" (Wisconsin Public Radio, January 2, 2024). When the committee met, only seven names were approved for ballot access: former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former NJ Governor Chris Christie, and former AR Governor Asa Hutchinson. Only President Biden was selected to appear in the Democratic primary. (See the account in Spectrum News 1, January 2, 2024). All but *rump and Haley have since dropped out of the GOP race.

    Representative Dean Phillips, a congressman from neighboring Minnesota running against President Biden in the Democratic primary, has now asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court "to overrule his exclusion [from the primary ballot] based on a provision of state election law that allows ballot access for candidates who are found to have been recognized as serious contenders by the news media." His campaign has complained that the Presidential Preference Selection Committee's decision will "force him to spend about $300,000 to collect signatures through a separate process to acquire ballot access" (gifted Washington Post article, January 29, 2024). The Court has now "asked a state elections board Monday to respond this week to Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips’s claim that he has been unlawfully left off the state’s April 2 primary ballot." He bases his claim on the fact that he won about "20 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary."

    Even though the state's GOP has not been faring so well this past week, the MAGAts in our Assembly decided it would be a good time to pass a 14-week abortion ban — with an interesting twist: if enacted into law, it would "call for a binding statewide referendum" (APNews, January 25, 2024) that would appear on the April 2 ballot. In my opinion that might just be the underlying reason for passing such a bill right now: to boost MAGAt turnout in deep red parts of the state. After all, the Assembly did not need to use such an arcane process. The AP story explains that "the bill deploys a seldom-used process by which a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor can be enacted only with voters' approval."

    Jesse Opoien notes that "it is unclear whether it will receive a vote in the Senate, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has pledged to veto it." So it seems to be going nowhere. But even if it were enacted, it seems to me, the referendum would kill it. In a June 2023 Marquette University Law School poll, 66% of Wisconsin respondents said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases! Ten Republicans voted against the bill, demonstrating that at least these representatives don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing.

    As you know, Vice President Kamala Harris began her nationwide Reproductive Freedom tour in Big Bend, Wisconsin. (Go watch her stunning speech on YouTube.) That was at the beginning of last week. Then President Biden came to Wisconsin at the end of the week: "President Joe Biden's reelection effort bookended the week with a focus on abortion access in Wisconsin, starting with a visit from Vice President Kamala Harris and ending with a statement rebuking an Assembly Republican bill passed Thursday asking voters whether the state should ban abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 26, 2024). As last year's election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court showed, reproductive freedom is a key issue in Wisconsin politics. Janet Protasiewicz, the candidate who clearly stated that she supports it, won by an astonishing 11%. It remains a hot issue this year. Women's rights are decidedly on the ballot with the U.S. Supreme Court about to hear and decide the mifepristone case. That decision will come out in June 2024. Whichever way it goes, it's bound to keep abortion rights in the thick of the presidential race both here and nationwide. And I say, bring it on!

    In addition to the items in the Events list, please consider volunteering with the WisDems.

    Voter Protection Team

    Join one of our upcoming VoPro 101 trainings! Interested in learning more about Wisconsin election law and how you can help people exercise their right to vote? Attend one of our upcoming Voter Protection 101 Trainings! We will resume offering these biweekly trainings on this upcoming Thursday (1/25) and we would love for you to join us. We will cover election law basics, voter registration, and available resources, and talk about how you can get involved protecting democracy in your community. Sign up for a VoPro 101 session.

    Phonebank with us! We will have two phonebank time slots a week, on Monday nights from 5-7pm CT and Thursday afternoons from 12-2pm CT. We will offer training at the beginning of each phonebank and there is no experience required; all you need is yourself and your computer! Sign up for a phonebank that works best for you here and invite anyone you know who might be interested.

    Read more

  • published the facts and the law in Newsletter 2024-01-24 14:22:47 -0600

    the facts and the law

    While we continue to wait for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a ruling on TFG's claim to total immunity, a whole bunch of other legal maneuvers are also ongoing.

    • There's the E. Jean Carroll 2nd defamation lawsuit, postponed both yesterday and today because of COVID (still with us after all).
    • There's Rudy Giuliani's attempt to use bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying the $148 million the trial court awarded Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
    • The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether Colorado can disqualify Orange Julius from the March 5 primary in that state. Meanwhile, a "Federal District Court Issues Order Explaining Why South Carolina and the SC Democratic Party Did Not Violate Cenk Uygur’s Rights in Keeping Him Off Presidential Primary Ballot." On his Election Law Blog, Richard Hasan writes "This is potentially relevant for the Trump disqualification case as an example of a state keeping an ineligible citizen off the (primary) presidential ballot."
    • In Georgia, where one of the RICO case defendants alleges that DA Fani Willis has been having an affair with Nathan Wade, one of the special prosecutors on her team, the judge ordered the court records of Wade's divorce proceedings unsealed. The AP reports that the "newly unsealed court records, however, didn’t include any references to the affair allegations." This matter feels like the proverbial tempest in a teapot.
    • And Dolt 45 still faces three felony trials (in New York City, in Washington D.C., and in Palm Beach Florida), plus a decision in the New York State fraud trial that wrapped up last week.

    In more local politics, Governor Evers will give the State of the State address tonight to "lay out his priorities in front of the Republican-led Legislature, which then delivers a response." According to today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, PBS and will both carry it live. It's scheduled to begin at 7pm.

    And in a last-minute announcement, the Wisconsin Senate is convening at 3pm this afternoon to consider passing a bill that would alter the process for creating and approving new legislative election maps. Needless to say, the proposed law, based loosely on what's known as the Iowa model, preserves the legislature's power over the maps and includes the possibility that if the Governor and the Legislature fail to agree on the maps, the process continues ad infinitum (and also ad nauseam). Seems like this is an attempt to nullify the case currently under consideration in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    Tonight, of course, the GOP presidential primary is likely to end with a virtual Boss Tweet coronation. All the more reason to make sure you sign up for Grassroots North Shore's annual fundraiser with featured speaker Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a renowned international expert on the rise of authoritarianism. She's a regular presence on MSNBC and other networks as we face rising political violence and a wannabe dictator running to resume his destruction of our democracy. Our own Senator Chris Larson will join her to discuss the authoritarians in our state's government. Also, please contribute to the kitty to help Grassroots North Shore continue to fight the good fight to protect our freedoms.

    We're not helpless. We're not daunted. We're not intimidated. After last Tuesday's elections, our great Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler posted on Daily Kos: The takeaways from Cheato Benito's win in Iowa and the democratic win in a Florida legislative seat currently in MAGA hands: "the GOP candidate will be MAGA. And voters, especially women, remain furious about their freedoms being taken away, and will fight like hell to get them back." He notes that Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off her nationwide Reproductive Freedom tour here in Wisconsin. She gave a rousing speech which you can and should hear on YouTube.

    Reproductive freedom is under attack, again, as our own MAGAites introduce a 14-week abortion ban, as MAGA national Senators and Representatives continue to pursue a nationwide abortion ban, as the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) takes up the case restricting access to Mifepristone, a decision on which will come by the end of June.

    Marriage equality and contraception are also in the crosshairs. In fact, "To the Supreme Court, the 20th Century Was Wrongly Decided" Michael Podhorzer wrote on his substack last year. He argues that the court "has been instrumental in advancing this coalition's agenda, which is to dismantle the New Deal order and reverse the civil and social rights gains made since the postwar period." The country we want to live in, the country we thought we were living in, the country we want our children and grandchildren to inherit from us is under siege from every angle — political, judicial, and economic. We have to RESIST and REFORM in any way we can.

    The Events list, of course, offers you some opportunities to learn what you can do. But here's another. As a response to Republicans attempting to ban books around the state, Swing Left Milwaukee in conjunction with the WisDems and the Milwaukee County Democratic Party are doing a “Books For Kids” drive focusing on the books Republicans are trying to ban, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Once collected books will be distributed through the Next Door Foundation to disadvantaged children. If you do not have books to donate please consider a donation to the Next Door Foundation. You can also order books from Amazon sent directly to the foundation. Just visit the Next Door Foundation website and click on the donate button. Five drop sites are located throughout Milwaukee County:

    • Milwaukee County Dems Office, 2999 S Delaware Ave Bay View, Monday through Wednesday 10am - 2pm
    • WisDems Coordinated Campaign Office, 8405 W Lisbon Ave, Monday through Friday, 12 - 6pm
    • Volunteer Porch with Receptacle, 613 E Oklahoma Ave, Bay View
    • Volunteer Porch With Receptacle, 1411 17 Ave, South Milwaukee
    • Volunteer Porch With Receptacle, 1879 N Cambridge Ave, Milwaukee
      Porch drop off anytime
    Read more

  • published and off to the races they go in Newsletter 2024-01-17 12:03:55 -0600

    and off to the races they go

    I want to begin today with the "news" out of Iowa, but before I get to that I want to highlight the upcoming Grassroots North Shore program: Authoritarian Candidates in the Nation and in Wisconsin, on Sunday, February 4, from 5:00 - 6:30pm on Zoom. This program is our annual fundraiser — we don't have any paid staff but we do need to pay for things like our zooms, stamps, postcards, flyers, snacks and water for in person meetings, a PO Box, etc. — so contribute if you can. But even if you can't, you're welcome to attend. This topic is just that important.

    Our featured speaker, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, is a renowned international expert on the rise of authoritarianism. Her latest book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (2020; paperback with a new epilogue, 2021), examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century. If you watch MSNBC, you have undoubtedly seen her interviews. If you haven't, you should take a look at one at least. She will discuss national and international movements. Joining her will be state Senator Chris Larson who will take a closer look at some of the most authoritarian wannabes in our legislature.

    Now on to the "triumphs" of Adolf Twitler. He won Iowa, of course, with excited headlines all over important media like the New York Times (gifted), the Washington Post (gifted), CNN, and HuffPost. But his big moment doesn't seem all that robust to an astute observer, Mark Sumner, at Daily Kos: "Trump's performance in Iowa is not nearly as good as the media makes it seem."

    Donald Trump barely cleared the hurdle of getting more votes in Iowa than Ted Cruz did in 2016. No one should be proclaiming Trump’s landslide victory for snagging half of those who came out on a bitterly cold night. They should be wondering why Trump isn’t getting far more. They should be wondering why candidates, and Republican backers, are plowing millions into running against him while nothing like that is happening in the Democratic Party.

    Wisconsin is once again making some national news, even as Don the Con's exploits continue to gobble up precious news space and air time. The AP is out with a story today headlined "Wisconsin GOP's large majorities expected to shrink under new legislative maps." The Journal Sentinel also has the story, of course, but the AP is picked up by news outlets all over the country, giving it national coverage. You can read an analysis (by John Johnson, Marquette Law School) of the seven maps that were submitted in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) on January 12. His is not the only analysis taking place. All the parties to the lawsuit have until January 22 to submit response briefs to SCOWIS. The two consultants the court hired will evaluate all the proposed maps and will file a report on each of them by February 1. Parties to the lawsuit can then respond to the consultants' reports by February 8. At that point, the matter is left in the hands of the seven justices on SCOWIS. There's no timeframe for a decision but the schedule of arguments and briefings suggest that the final decision will follow fairly quickly. Maps of legislative districts must be finalized by mid-March so that people who want to run in those districts will have time to gather nomination signatures of potential constituents.

    Voting in this country is and always has been vexed. Who is eligible, how people can register, even sometimes the design of ballots can confuse, confound and effectively disenfranchise. Do you remember the controversial "butterfly ballot" used in the 2000 presidential election in Palm Beach County, Florida? You can see the ballot in question in a 2019 article in The Guardian. This one poorly-designed ballot may have given the election to George W. Bush! Richard Hasan, an expert in election law and professor at UCLA, has an opinion piece in the New York Times today titled The U.S. Lacks What Every Democracy Needs (gifted). It begins "The history of voting in the United States shows the high cost of living with an old Constitution, unevenly enforced by a reluctant Supreme Court."

    The piece looks at the history of Supreme Court decisions on voting rights, noting that in its 235-year history, there was only one period when it was "hospitable to broad constitutional voting rights claims. The court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, saw a broad expansion of voting rights in the 1960s, thanks mainly to its capacious reading of the equal protection clause." Hasan identifies three voting pathologies stemming from the Constitution's lack of an "affirmative right to vote." Understanding the role SCOTUS plays in the battle for universal voting rights over the broad sweep of our nation's history can help us understand some more recent court behaviors, including the Rucho (in which the court ruled that partisan gerrymandering was something the federal judicial system could not address) and the infamous 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down the pre-clearance section of the Voting Rights Act. The Berger, Rehnquist, and Roberts courts have backed away from the Warren court's positions on expanding voting rights. Many scholars, including Hasan, assert that a constitutional amendment affirming the right to vote is not only consonant with other advanced democracies but is the clearest way to address what ails our elections.

    In an effort to make Wisconsin's congressional elections less polarized and partisan, a bill "to establish a final-five runoff voting system" has been introduced in the legislature. A hearing on it was held last week. Here's how the bill envisions the process would work:

    A final-five system is similar to ranked choice voting, however to reach the November election, candidates would still need to run in a primary. The top five vote getters from the primary would move on to the general. Once in the general, when voters cast their ballot, they would rank the candidates by preference from one to five (with the option to include all five or leave off as many candidates as they’d like).

    When the votes are counted, if one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, that candidate wins. However if none of the candidates reaches that threshold, the rankings get used. The candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated and all of the voters who selected that candidate as their top choice have their votes moved to their second choice and the votes are tallied again. If the 50% threshold is still not reached, the process continues, eliminating the lowest vote getter in each round, until a winner is decided.

    The bill is authored by Rep. Ron Tusler, a Republican, and Sen. Jeff Smith, a Democrat. Its goal, according to the bill's authors, "is to change the incentive system in the state’s elections and move the more competitive contest from the primary election to the general" (Wisconsin Examiner, January 10, 2024). If you are so minded, you can sign a petition to show your support to Wisconsin legislators.

    Last week was momentous in Cheeto Benito's efforts to convince the DC Court of Appeals to dismiss the entire election subversion case on the grounds that a former president cannot be prosecuted for any crimes he may have committed while discharging his responsibilities. In short, his lawyer argued, he has complete immunity from prosecution for official acts. All three judges on the panel expressed considerable skepticism about this claim, but none more so that Judge Pan who made sure Trump’s Lawyer Walked Into a Trap, according to George Conway III. The link takes you, not to the article in The Atlantic (which I cannot access even though I have a subscription and am logged in!), but to an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes.

    Now that we have traversed the year end revelries, the Events list is once again robust. Make it part of your New Year's commitment to engage!

    Read more

  • published Extra, extra: the times are a-changing in Newsletter 2024-01-13 15:47:14 -0600

    Extra, extra: the times are a-changing

    I'm sending you this "extra" to bring you up to date on some of the key legal events of the week, including my own summary of the week's blockbuster. Enjoy.

    On Tuesday, Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. There were a number of laudatory speakers, praising her for her judicial temperament and her kind heart. But the remarks that really stood out were those of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who has been on the court for 28 years. She noted that in her early years on the court, it was widely recognized as one of the best state supreme courts in the nation, implying that it has fallen in reputation since. But now it will rise again. She was very excited, I think, at the prospect that she will once again find herself in the majority on the court at least on some issues.

    Earlier on Tuesday, two *rump allies in Michigan were charged with felonies "in connection with an effort to illegally access and tamper with voting machines in the state after the 2020 election." Because one of them was a recently defeated MAGA candidate for Attorney General in Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel cited a conflict of interest and requested a special prosecutor to investigate and potentially indict the perpetrators. DePerno, the defeated AG candidate, was of course endorsed by TFG. The two men indicted Tuesday bring the number of people the Michigan special prosecutor has named to nine. In a separate but related case, Attorney General Dana Nessel and her office have already charged the 16 fake electors with eight felonies each. So in Michigan, the count of the accused for various forms of 2020 election subversion has reached 25.

    Then just moments before Protasiewicz's investiture was to take place, TRE45ON was finally indicted for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election and to maintain his own power. Everyone should read the document, not only to discover what the four felonies he's charged with are, but to see in context some of the most damning evidence special counsel Jack Smith has assembled. A lot of the information has already been aired by the January 6 select committee in the House of Representatives last year. But what is new is newsworthy. For example, it seems that Vice President Pence kept contemporaneous notes of key conversations with TFG, and Jack Smith has them as well as Pence's testimony in front the the Grand Jury.

    Paragraph 7 of the indictment forthrightly states the crux of the matter: "The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the federal government function by which those results are collected, counted, and certified."

    Evidence undergirding the accusation that the conspirators, especially TFG, used "knowingly false claims of election fraud" occupies a big chunk of the indictment. As does the scheme to create slates of fake electors in six states, including Wisconsin. In the account Smith has written, the fake electors scheme serves to create false conflict that the conspirators exploited in several ways. One was to pressure VP Pence to exercise his (fictitious) authority to choose between the two sets of electors — one for Joe Biden and one for *rump — as if there were real uncertainty about which sets of electors were the genuine ones. A second was to persuade the beleaguered VP just to send the matter back to the states. The state legislatures — all of them under GOP control — could then "correct" putatively faulty election results so that the *rump electors could be named the genuine ones. A third was to persuade enough members of Congress to object to counting the electoral votes in "contested states." That would  throw the election into the House of Representatives to decide the winner when neither candidate's electoral vote total could reach the 270 necessary to prevail.

    Tuesday was quite a day!

    What happened on Wednesday, though, has the potential to shake up Wisconsin's political landscape. Within hours of Protasiewicz claiming her seat on the Supreme Court, Law Forward along with a number of other plaintiffs filed a petition "to take jurisdiction of an original action to challenge the gerrymandered state legislative maps." The grounds are these: "the existing maps (1) retaliate against some voters based on their viewpoint and free speech, in violation of Wisconsin’s guarantee of free speech; (2) treats some voters worse than others based on their political views and where they live in violation of Wisconsin’s guarantee of equality; and (3) violate the promise of a free government found in the Wisconsin constitution." You can read about the action on the Law Forward website. You can read the press release and you can watch the press conference they held. On Friday, August 4, Law Forward will hold an online briefing at noon CDT on this new fair maps case.

  • published The many things I forgot in Newsletter 2024-01-13 15:46:54 -0600

    The many things I forgot

    I forgot some really important things, chiefly events, in the GRNS newsletter I sent yesterday. So here's the stuff I missed.

    Wave is looking for volunteers to do some phone banking who want to push for better gun laws in Wisconsin and to advocate for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. WAVE Educational Fund is looking for phone bankers. This volunteer opportunity can be done from your home whenever it's convenient for you, and you can put as much or as little time into it as you want. They’re creating a small, strategic list of Wisconsin legislators who they think can be convinced to sign onto a bill that would make it harder for domestic abusers to get guns. The bill was released late in 2023, so now we just need to build momentum. If you’re interested, email WAVE’s Communications Manager, Heidi Johnson, for more information. She’ll answer all your questions, and provide all the needed resources. Phone banking will be active from late January through late February.


    Monday, January 15

    Truth-Telling as Healing – How We Can Answer Dr. King’s Call? 10:30am - 12:00pm

    In this new year, resolve to deepen your knowledge and commitment to equity, truth-telling and healing. Join Nurturing Diversity Partners founder Dr. Fran Kaplan and dialogue facilitator Darrell Ferguson for a thought-provoking presentation that delves into Dr. King’s complete dream: To heal the world and create a Beloved Community through nonviolence, truth and reconciliation. Registrants will receive the ZOOM link via email prior to the program. Sign up.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 1531 W Vliet St, Milwaukee

    We would like to invite you to the upcoming annual King Day Celebration at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center on Monday, January 15th at 12:00pm. Our vision this year is to highlight the sermons and messages that were just as powerful as King's well-known speeches but seldom heard. We will also acknowledge 3 young ladies who were responsible for saving the lives of two young men who overdosed on opioids while playing basketball in our gymnasium. One gave each young man Narcan while the other two young women administered CPR until emergency personnel arrived. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope to see you there.

    Tuesday, January 16

    LWVWI Community Conversations, 12:00pm

    The LWVWI Voter Services Committee would like to invite any interested member to participate in our upcoming Voter Services Community Conversations. The purpose of this series is to create a space for League members interested in voter services to join together in conversation around a voter services topic each month. This month's topic is High School Voter Registration Best Practices. Join the Zoom call.

    National Day of Racial Healing, 6:30 - 8:00pm

    Join Nurturing Diversity Partners founder Dr. Fran Kaplan and dialogue facilitator Darrell Ferguson for a thought-provoking presentation that delves into Dr. King’s complete dream: To heal the world and create a Beloved Community through nonviolence, truth and reconciliation. Sign up.

    Wednesday, January 17

    January General DPOC Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
    Ozaukee Democrats Office, 1930 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton

    Join us at our Grafton Office as we gather to hear speakers and catch up on the local and state politics influencing Ozaukee County – while spending time with like-minded people. All interested people are encouraged to attend.

    Thursday, January 18

    Brookings: Key Takeaways from the 2024 Iowa Caucuses, 2:00 - 3:00pm

    Historically, the Iowa caucuses have had major political implications for presidential hopefuls. As the first state contest, it is a chance for candidates to make their initial impression on the electorate by demonstrating their ability to build support or floundering in their first major campaign test. In 2024, the Iowa caucuses will help Republicans determine which candidate has the best chance of challenging Donald Trump for the party’s nomination. Join the Governance Studies Program at Brookings for a discussion moderated by Senior Fellows Elaine Kamarck and E.J. Dionne, Jr. along with a panel of experts who will discuss the results of the 2024 Iowa Republican caucuses and determine their likely impact on the race. Viewers can submit questions for speakers via email to [email protected] or on Twitter/X @BrookingsGov using #IowaTakeaways. Sign up.

    Friday, January 19

    League of Progressive Seniors: Milwaukee County Challenges and Opportunities, 9:30am Knickerbocker Hotel, 1028 E Juneau, Milwaukee
    Souls to the Polls and the League of Progressive Seniors invite you to hear from County Executive David Crowley
    and discuss issues that the County faces in 2024. How can we work with the County Executive to protect our most important resources? How can we address the needs for affordable housing, health, transportation, recreation and parks in a time of budget shortfalls in local communities statewide. To let us know that you plan to attend OR if you are interested byt cannot attend, email Tom Callan.

    Saturday, January 20

    Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
    Brady and Farwell, Milwaukee

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

    Grassroots Glendale 2024 Kickoff!, 3:00 - 5:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale for their 2024 Kickoff meeting! We'll be getting together as a team to discuss our strategy for electing Democrats and progressives up and down the ticket in 2024. Please bring your likeminded friends and family members along to learn about how you can help us win in April and November! Sign up.

    Monday, January 22

    State Senate Dems Welcome to New Leader, 5:00 - 7:00pm
    Enlightened Brewing Company, 2020 S Allis St, Milwaukee

    Please join us as we welcome our new Senate Democratic Leader, Dianne Hesselbein to Milwaukee! With fair maps within reach, we must begin preparing to flip the Wisconsin State Senate from red to blue and you are critical to making that happen. We look forward to seeing you there. This is a fundraiser for the State Senate Democrats Committee. RSVP.

    Milwaukee Party Democratic Party Monthly Meeting, 6:00pm
    Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Harmony room

    The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County holds its monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month. Join with fellow Democrats to hear from important speakers, to learn about upcoming Dem events, and to discuss important issues with each other.

    Tuesday, January 23

    Supermarket Legends UWM Voter Registration, shifts from 10:00am - 4:00pm
    UWM Library

    If you are able to help, email Sue Schneidler.

    Milwaukee Press Club, 11:45am - 1:30pm
    Newsroom Pub, 137 E. Wells St., Milwaukee

    Jay Rothman, president of the Universities of Wisconsin, will be the guest speaker at a Newsmaker Luncheon set for Tuesday, January 23, hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and Rothman previously was chairman and CEO of Foley and Lardner LLP, one of the state’s largest law firms and ranked among the top 50 law firms in the country based on revenue. He will take questions from a panel of journalists and from the audience at the luncheon, to be moderated by Milwaukee Press Club President Maryann Lazarski, series/documentary producer for Milwaukee PBS. Advanced registration and payment are required.

    WisDems Voter Protection Kickoff, 6:00 - 7:00pm

    Join the WisDems Voter Protection Team — and special guest, WisDems Chair Ben Wikler — in kicking off our 2024 program on January 23rd at 6pm CT on Zoom! We'll hear from Chair Wikler about what's at stake in 2024, share our plans to protect voting rights across the state, and explain all the ways you can get involved in the fight for democracy in 2024. Sign up.

    Thursday, January 25

    WISDOM Elections 2024 Training, 6:30pm

    In order to prepare for the upcoming 2024 elections, WISDOM is excited to have relaunched School of Democracy last September! The fourth event in our series is a training with our affiliate, FREE's Director Peggy West-Schroder on State Elections on January 25 at 6:30 p.m. CT through Zoom. Come learn about important upcoming elections, what's at stake for 2024 and how you can make a difference by using your voting power. Register.

    Saturday, January 27

    Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
    76th and North Ave, Milwaukee

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


    Multiple Dates and Times

    Registration at Urban League Drivers Training Classes, Various
    Milwaukee Urban League, 435 W North Ave, Milwaukee

    Supermarket Legends have a new opportunity to answer questions about voting and to help with voter registration on the last days of the spring drivers training classes at the Milwaukee Urban League, 435 West North Avenue. We need volunteers to be available on the following dates and times:

    • February 1 — 1:30pm
    • February 8, March 14 — 6:45pm
    • February 22, March 28 — 11:00am

    If you can help, contact Linea Sundstrom.

    Saturday, February 3

    Grassroots Glendale 60 Days to Victory Friendbank, 4:00 - 6:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale for our 60 Days to Victory Friendbank! We'll be getting together to learn how to activate and engage our networks using the Reach app for relational organizing. Join us as text our networks to hear what issues matter to them and to make plans to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket in 2024! Sign up.

    Sunday, February 4

    Grassroots North Shore presents: Authoritarian Candidates in the Nation and in Wisconsin, 5:00 - 6:30pm

    Are We Dealing with Rising Fascism? Our featured speaker, Ruth Ben-Giat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them. Senator Chris Larson will discuss Wisconsin's own local versions of strongmen who threaten democracy. Can we unseat them and restore balance and democracy to the state? RSVP here. This event is the Annual Fundraiser for Grassroots North Shore. Donate.

    Saturday, February 17

    Get Out the Vote - Spring Primary, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

    Help connect with Ozaukee County voters ahead of the February 20 Spring Primary Election. You can contact us at

    Sunday, February 18

    Get Out the Vote - Spring Primary, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

    Help connect with Ozaukee County voters ahead of the February 20 Spring Primary Election. You can contact us at

    other important links

    Become a Member of Grassroots North Shore

    Milwaukee County Democratic Party

    Support Grassroots North Shore


    Ozaukee County Democratic Party

    Visit Grassroots North Shore on Facebook and Like Us!

    like Grassroots North Shore

  • published everything, everywhere, all at once in Newsletter 2024-01-12 15:32:51 -0600

    everything, everywhere, all at once

    I'm late, I'm late. There's so much happening right now, that I have been feeling a little overloaded with political and election news. But let's begin with our area's Spring elections and Wisconsin judicial opinions that will have an impact on this year's elections. Then we'll take a look at the national news and Trumpelthinskin's trials and tribulations, finishing up with a unionization drive that's going on at Planned Parenthood Wisconsin.

    First, though, let me remind you about the fundraiser for Tammy Baldwin this Sunday, January 14, from 4:00 to 5:30pm at an address in Mequon (available upon request or in response to signing up). Tammy will be facing a well-heeled opponent who will barely have to raise any grassroots funding and will be the beneficiary of the national GOP's funds. As best I can tell, the senate race in Wisconsin will be one of their top targets. If Democrats hope to keep control of the senate after this election cycle, re-electing Baldwin is key. But that's not the only or even the most important reason to support her: she has been an outstanding senator for Wisconsin. Just consult her page of press releases for 2021-2022 (the 117th congress) to see an overview of what she was doing and how focused she has been on helping the residents of Wisconsin succeed.

    For the spring 2024 election, the busy bees at Grassroots North Shore have been diligently gathering information about the candidates that you will see on your ballot. For many of Grassroots North Shore's supporters, no primary on February 20 will be needed. There are, however, some areas that will have primaries. Here's a list of the municipalities we know about right now:

    • Milwaukee County Supervisor, District 18
    • Mayor of Milwaukee
    • Milwaukee Alderpersons in Districts 5, 7, and 11
    • Shorewood School Board
    • Trustee in the Village of Fox Point
    • Ozaukee County Supervisor, District 7

    We do not yet have all the information we'd like to provide, but the basic bones are accessible through our Elections 2024 page. If you check back on the Elections pages in a couple of weeks, we should have gathered links to candidates' social media pages so that you can be an informed voter. And by the way, the April 2 election is ALSO OUR PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY. President Biden will be on that ballot and really needs your support. But since we hold a so-called "open primary" that allows you to vote in any party's primary, you can take your choice, depending how the state of the race looks. But beware: you can vote in only one party's primary.

    Now that 2024 has begun, it's time to request your absentee ballots at That site will offer you the chance to request absentee ballots for ALL THE ELECTIONS in 2024 and we recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity. Voting by mail (or turning in your absentee ballot in person at your clerk's office) is the most secure way to make sure you'll be able to vote. For example, voting absentee means that if you are unexpectedly out of town or under the weather on election day, your vote has already been cast! Problem solved.

    Absentee ballots are typically mailed to you 21 days in advance of an election. As usual, you'll need a witness to certify that you are voting your own ballot. But you don't need to be quite as anxious about whether your witness correctly fills out their complete address on the certification envelope. Thanks to lawsuits pursued by the League of Women Voters and Rise, Inc., municipal clerks will once again be allowed to correct minor errors on the certification envelope. (I'll have a fuller explanation of what the court's opinion means below.)

    At the very bottom of the Elections 2024 page, you will find the texts of three referendums that will amend the Wisconsin constitution if they are approved by the voters — two of them will appear on the April 2 ballot and the third on the November 5 ballot. We don't yet know the full import of them, but we will certainly have information about what they REALLY mean and a recommendation about whether you should vote to approve each one, or not. So stay tuned.

    This year's municipal, judicial, and school board elections look to be much sleepier than the spring elections the last couple of years have been. Most incumbents who are running for re-election are unopposed. For two North Shore communities, there will presumably be write-in campaigns for the Nicolet and Whitefish Bay school boards. Just because these elections don't seem to present a lot of conflict, though, doesn't mean you can safely skip them. It's vital that people get in the habit of voting in every election, even if it means four elections a year, as it often does in Wisconsin. Our local elections and local office holders exert a lot of influence on how our communities function. And they also create the "bench" for candidates at state and national levels. This year, the spring election includes two proposals to amend our state constitution. For that reason alone, you need to VOTE.

    As for the change in the way small errors on certification envelopes are handled, the issue seems like a pretty minor concern. But it's not. It may "fly under the radar," but it's one more way to suppress the vote. As Democracy Docket explains, "Wisconsin’s witness address requirement has been a source of confusion and disenfranchisement for years. Under Wisconsin law, when voting absentee, voters must fill out their absentee ballot alongside a witness. The witness must complete and sign a witness certificate that includes the witness’s address. If a witness address is missing, the ballot will not be counted." The court rulings were a major win for voting rights groups and "could prevent thousands of ballots from being unfairly rejected due to witness certificates with an incomplete address." The court order for the Rise, Inc. suit can be found here. The one for the Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is available here.

    The biggest judicial news in Wisconsin lately has been the 4-3 ruling of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin that the current legislative district maps are unconstitutional and cannot be used in the fall 2024 elections for Assembly and state Senate. Because new maps have to be in place by early March, the December 22, 2023, decision specified a lickety-split timeline for the parties to submit remedial maps that comply with the technical specifications and data requirements identified by two expert consultants the Court hired for this purpose. The Court hoped that the legislature and the governor could agree on a map in the allotted time. Governor Evers, however, is "not expecting agreement with Republicans on new maps" (Wisconsin State Journal, January 5, 2024). And the proposed maps are due on January 12 (TODAY!). The next steps are as follows:

    • January 22, 2024: Each party may file a response brief.
    • January 22, 2024: Non-parties with previously granted permission may file a non-party amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief.
    • February 1, 2024: the consultants, Dr. Grofman and Dr. Cervas, will evaluate and file a report on each of the parties' submissions based on the criteria identified in the Court's December 22, 2023 opinion. Only if no submission meets the criteria identified will the two consultants submit their own proposed remedial map.
    • February 8, 2024: The parties and all amici who have been granted leave to participate may submit a response brief addressing the consultants' report.

    Okay, so on to Trumpelthinskin's trials and tribulations just this past week. I'm sure you have seen, read, or heard about TFG's outburst in the closing arguments of the New York State fraud case yesterday. Judge Engoron shut him up after a few minutes of ranting, whereupon he stormed out of the courtroom. Here's the AP account of the court action. The fraud trial threatens to strip him of the right to do business in NY.

    Far more serious were the oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether a former president has absolute immunity from prosecution for acts he undertook while he was president. If you were not able to listen to the whole thing when it took place on Tuesday, January 9, you can listen to it here. George Conway, a highly respected conservative attorney and former husband of Kellyanne Conway, explains how Trump's argument fell apart under questioning from one of the judges. Here's a clip of Conway discussing it with Chris Hayes. The AP has a really helpful set of pages for tracking many of the cases against Dolt45.

    Finally, 2023 was a really good year for union actions, especially the much covered strikes and then contract settlements at the big three auto makers. Let's keep the momentum going in 2024. The healthcare workers at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin have begun a union organizing drive. They are seeking people to sign the petition supporting their efforts. They have also set up a Facebook page for the effort. Share the links to the FB page and the petition widely to people who support unions!

    Read more

  • published as we close out the year in Newsletter 2023-12-19 15:39:43 -0600

    as we close out the year

    We're heading toward the shortest day of the year — Thursday, December 21 — or the darkest day of the year, if your mind runs that way. Politically speaking, it's been pretty dark for a while. But on December 22, the days will start to grow longer and the nights shorter. In today's newsletter — the last one of 2023 — I'm going to be a bit of a pollyanna, seeing the glass half full, if you will. I hope you will indulge me.

    I begin the upbeat with Mr. Optimism himself, Simon Rosenberg, in his recent Hopium Chronicles posting: Three Things I'm Thinking About As We Head Into 2024. He writes that three facts about 2023 buoy his outlook.

    • The Strong Democratic Performance Since Dobbs - It’s The Most Important Electoral Data Out There Now
    • The Remarkably Robust American Economy Gives Biden A Strong Foundation For His Re-Election
    • Trump’s Historic Baggage Is Being Overly Discounted in Current Analysis About 2024

    Rosenberg goes on to elaborate each point. On TFG's "Historic Baggage And Ongoing Betrayal of The Country Is Being Overly Discounted in Current Analysis," he points out that "The media is simply not spending enough time war-gaming out what Trump’s unprecedented, Olympian level of baggage will mean for him and the GOP next year. Recent polling suggests it could be a very big problem." He then lists 10 bullet points describing Adolf Twitler's execrable behavior. Rosenberg's post is well worth a read.

    The judicial arena is particularly lively right now. So there's a lot to read and to know, starting with the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Mark Meadow's case for removal from a state court in Fulton County, Georgia, to the federal court in the Northern District of Georgia. In a unanimous decision delivered only three days after the court heard oral arguments, the court denied the appeal. In doing so, the court relied on two key arguments. First, the statute in question "applies only to current government officials, not former ones like Meadows" (Politico, December 18, 2023). And second, "the panel of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit concluded that, even if Meadows were still in office, his argument would still fail because the state’s charges against Meadows are about an alleged criminal agreement to join a conspiracy, not about any actions Meadows took as Trump’s chief of staff."

    At her highly respected blog, empty wheel, Marcy Wheeler points out that the ruling is as applicable to Boss Tweet as it is to Mark Meadows: "Meadows (and by extension, Trump) had no authority over state elections and electioneering of Meadows (and by extension, Trump) was not in their official duties." Many major news organizations covered the story: ABCNews, CBS News, and The Hill, to name a few.

    Then, of course, there's the Rudy Guiliani humiliation. The defamation trial ended with a jury verdict specifying that Rudy pay Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss a cool $148 million (see Paul Waldman's take at the MSNBC website). Whereupon he held a press conference to repeat the lies: "Giuliani doubled down on the baseless conspiracy theory that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.... He also claimed that his allegations against the two election workers were 'supportable' but that he didn't have the opportunity to present the evidence at trial." (As Rachel Maddow might say: BULLPUCKY!) The two former Georgia election workers are suing again, this time asking that they be allowed to seek the jury award now, before Giuliani can try to hide his assets, and that Guiliani be prohibited from spouting lies about them in the future.

    On the judicial front for our antihero, Kate Shaw has an important op-ed in today's New York Times (gifted): Trump Has Always Wanted to Be King. The Supreme Court Should Rid Him of That Delusion. Explaining why the question of presidential immunity is already in front of SCOTUS (as well as before the D.C. Circuit Court), Shaw writes: "To advance the Jan. 6 case against Mr. Trump, the special counsel Jack Smith wants to skip a step at the appellate court and have the Supreme Court rule on that critical question, since a ruling in Mr. Trump’s favor would end the case. A protracted delay could have the same effect, preventing the trial from happening before the election and allowing Mr. Trump to call off the prosecution if he wins." She goes on to explore the legal cases that have addressed this issue and have found the claim of presidential immunity wanting. "In 2020 a 7-to-2 majority in Trump v. Vance rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that he should not have to cooperate with a subpoena in a state criminal case. And the court was unanimous in rejecting Mr. Trump’s arguments for absolute immunity."

    Here are some key dates to watch in the two cases for presidential immunity. SCOTUS has set the due date for TFG's response to special counsel Jack Smith's appeal for Wednesday, December 20 (like tomorrow!) Meanwhile the Appellate Court has set the following schedule:

    • Dec. 23, 2023: Trump brief due
    • Dec. 30, 2023: Smith brief due
    • Jan. 2, 2024: Trump reply brief due
    • Jan. 9, 2024: Oral arguments

    Also, Judge Engoron isn't having what our Butternut Berlusconi is dishing. Not only does he deny TFG's motion to dismiss the NY state fraud trial, he lights into the so-called expert witness that was supposed to undercut the government's case: "Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron slammed Bartov in a Monday evening ruling denying the defendants’ latest request for a directed verdict in the $250 million case" (Daily Kos, December 19, 2023).

    On the local scene, the League of Progressive Seniors held a compelling seminar on the "Threats to Your Vote in Wisconsin" last Friday. State Senator Chris Larson gave an insightful talk on the history of legislative action on voting rights in Wisconsin over the last decade. Claire Woodall, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Election Commission, followed up with an empirically-supported view of where the ease of voting in Wisconsin is now compared to where it was in the past. You can and should watch the video.

    Farewell 2023. I'm going to be visiting family and friends on the east coast for the next two weeks. So the next newsletter won't appear until January 9, 2024. And hello 2024. The Events list is especially sparse right now. But it will not stay that way. Savor the next couple of quiet weeks, at least on the Grassroots North Shore front. And then suit up for action!

    Read more

  • published what's on the bubble in Newsletter 2023-12-13 11:40:25 -0600

    what's on the bubble

    I wanted to send this newsletter out a bit early this week because there are a couple of campaign kickoffs on Tuesday evening you might not want to miss (see the Events list below). But an emergency meeting of a working group for the Politics, Elections, and Campaigns committee got in the way. Oh well. This week is full of legal and political issues that look forward to the next election. But before we dive in, I want to wish everyone the warmest of holiday cheer. We are in the middle of Chanukah and looking forward to Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner, followed swiftly by New Year's Eve and Day. A busy time, and I hope some respite from angst and anger.

    In the comeuppance division, Rudy G's trial for defamation began Monday. It's a jury trial but the main judgment — that he defamed Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss — has already been decided. Why? Because that great lawyer and statesman Giuliani repeatedly refused to obey the court's orders to produce evidence in the case and to turn it over to the plaintiffs. So the judge just declared judgment: Rudy is guilty of defamation! No doubt this case determining the amount RG must pay will be covered on the news. In their opening statement, "attorneys for Freeman and Moss played recordings of some of the messages for the jury in U.S. District Court in D.C., where Giuliani could be held liable for up to $43.5 million in damages" (Washington Post, December 11, 2023, gifted to get you through the paywall). The threats were of course racist and frightening.

    Meanwhile, Dolt 45 once again shows that underneath all the bluster and bullying, he is a coward afraid to take the stand in his own defense in the NY State fraud trial. Alina Habba, one of his many defense lawyers, told the press last Thursday, "her boss 'doesn’t cower' and looked forward to testifying once again in his own defense" (Vanity Fair, December 11, 2023). And at his Saturday rally, TFG told yet another of his bizarre stories in which he claimed some unnamed but "fantastic" general once told him that debating Hillary Clinton after the Access Hollywood tape came out was more courageous than fighting a war. The author of the piece, Eric Lutz, writes, "If Trump is perhaps 'cowering' now, it may be because his last appearance on the witness stand didn’t go so well." In short, that first stint on the stand was a temper-tantrum. Lutz wryly notes that "there is a difference between making unchallenged statements outside the courtroom and making them on the witness stand, under oath."

    A special election to replace expelled Representative George Santos will take place on February 13. The Democrats have already rallied behind the man who formerly held the seat — Tom Suozzi. (You can see his Ballotpedia page and his campaign website.) According to TPM, one potential opponent will be "Philip Sean Grillo, a 49-year-old man from Queens who ... filed the paperwork to run for office in New York’s 3rd Congressional District." Grillo, it turns out, participated in the January 6 Insurrection! He "was found guilty of 'felony obstruction of an official proceeding and other charges related to his conduct during the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol,' the Department of Justice announced in a news release this week.” A convicted felon to replace the soon-to-be  convicted felon who was just expelled? Why not.

    Special counsel Jack Smith is making tracks. "The special counsel urged the justices to move with exceptional speed, and they quickly agreed to fast-track the first phase of the case, says Monday's New York Times (gifted). Smith filed the appeal Monday afternoon; the US Supreme Court granted at least the first part of his request, namely that they "put their consideration of whether to hear the case on a fast track." Benedict Donald's lawyers have until December 20 to file their response. At the same time, Smith's "team filed papers to Judge Chutkin asking her to keep the March 4 trial date and saying she could still work on certain aspects of the case even as the appeal was being heard." Every day we hear news about this criminal trial and every day our anxiety deepens. But Smith and company are on it.

    On the home front, despite the fact that Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Robert Spindell together with the other nine fake GOP electors settled the civil suit against them and agreed that Joe Biden won the election here, Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu "rejected Democrats' calls to rescind [Spindell's] appointment to the state elections commission" (AP post in Daily Kos). LeMahieu's excuse? The imposters were simply following a "legal strategy" that failed. They definitely were NOT part of a "a sinister plot to overturn an election.” If you believe that crap, Devin LeMahieu no doubt has a bridge he wants to sell you.

    Even though it's December and we're barreling towards the most intense holiday season of the year, we have to plan past January 1. So ...

    Let's Take Action

    • If you live in Milwaukee County, you would be doing a mitzvah (that is, a marvelous thing, a blessing) if you dropped by the Milwaukee County Democratic Party's office (2999 S Delaware Ave, Milwaukee) any time between 3:00 and 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 13. You can then sign nomination papers for both county and (if you reside there) and city candidates. Campaigns have only until January 2nd to collect and submit the necessary signatures to get on the ballot, so the sooner the signatures are collected, the better.

    • Donate items to the Democrats "Christmas is for Kids Holiday Toy Drive." The Dems are collecting new, unwrapped toys for kids of all ages plus donations of new towels and washcloths, children's socks, child and adult sized t-shirts, and travel sized toiletries. This drive is for the benefit of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Bucyrus Campus and Mr. Bob's Under the Bridge Homeless Outreach. Donations can be dropped off at the Milwaukee Democratic Party Office (2999 South Delaware Ave, Milwaukee) Monday through Wednesday from 10:00am - 2:00pm (or during the Open House and nomination-paper signing from 3:00-7:00 on Wednesday, December 13) and on Thursday from 9:00am - 12:00pm. Items can also be dropped off at the Coordinated Campaign Office (8405 W Lisbon Ave, Milwaukee) Tuesday through Friday from 12:00pm through 8:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am - 5:00pm.

    • Activate America has a new postcard writing opportunity focused on the special election for former Representative Santo's House seat taking place on Tuesday, February 13. The Democrat running for the seat is Tom Suozzi, who held the seat for 6 years before he left to run for governor. Activate America will be alerting voters to this “pop-up” election and boosting name recognition for this highly qualified candidate. To volunteer for this postcard campaign, just sign up HERE.

    Other postcard campaigns at Activate America are also described on the sign-up page. But keep in mind that Grassroots North Shore will be working on a postcard campaign that will launch in January, 4-5 weeks ahead of the February 20, 2024, primary. We'll be soliciting your help too!

    Read more

  • published fake electors cop to plot! in Newsletter 2023-12-06 17:29:40 -0600

    fake electors cop to plot!

    So I procrastinated finishing the newsletter this week until — serendipitously — some really fantastic news broke. I'm talking about the civil lawsuit two Democratic presidential electors have filed against the 10 Republican imposters: Penebaker et al v. Hitt et al. The infamous 10 have now admitted that Biden won! The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a rather anodine version of the story. Much better is the one in the Washington Post (gifted to bypass the paywall): Wisconsin Trump electors settle lawsuit, agree Biden won in 2020.

    You can read the whole settlement agreement and attendant documents, if you like (it looks like it's 184 pages!). The key points in the Washington Post story show that several of the 10 imposters were uneasy with what they were being asked to do but went ahead anyway. For example, "one of the Wisconsin Republicans appeared to refer to the attempt to install Trump for a second term as a 'possible steal.' That Republican expressed skepticism about the plan but told others he was going along with it in part because he feared he would face blowback from Trump supporters if he didn’t." Significantly, the lawsuit against lawyers Jim Trupis and Kenneth Chesebro will go to trial next fall. And as part of the settlement, the fake electors "promised to assist the Department of Justice with its investigation and help the Biden electors as they continue their lawsuit against Troupis and Chesebro."

    The criminal trial alleging that Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election results still seems to be on track for a March 4 starting date. For one thing, Newsweek reports that "potential jurors in former President Donald Trump's election interference trial may have been sent a pre-screening document." A Rolling Stone article describes "a notice of evidence to be introduced in the trial." In it special prosecutor Jack Smith foreshadows a plan "to present the court with a far-reaching historical review of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, some of it dating back years before Trump even assumed the presidency." The piece mentions a Trump tweet from 2012 in which he stated as "fact" that voting machines switched votes from Romney to Obama. Needless to say, he had no evidence supporting the allegation. There is more, of course. An ABCNews article provides extensive detail.

    To buoy your spirits about the looming catastrophe many predict (see the current issue of The Atlantic: If Trump Wins), Greg Sargent has an antidote: Enough with all the fatalism about a Trump dictatorship.

    Let's Take Action

    The best response to anxiety and those doom-y feelings is to get busy with some useful work: circulate nominations papers. Local candidates who want to compete in the April 2 election have begun circulating nomination papers. Under the Elections 2024 tab on our Grassroots North Shore website, you will find a link to a page with the names of the candidates who have sent their papers to me for distribution. If you go to Nomination Papers for Spring 2024, you can download and circulate each candidate's form. To be a circulator, you do not need to be a resident of the district in which the candidate is running. To sign the form as a nominator, you do have to reside in the relevant district. To sign nomination forms for the judicial offices, you need to reside in Milwaukee County.

    Special request: Anne O'Connor, who is running to be a Milwaukee County Supervisor for District 1, has asked that people in her district return forms to Cheryl Maranto (6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale), by December 10. So you need to get cracking! Supervisory District 1 includes all of Bayside, Fox Point, River Hills, Whitefish Bay, and Shorewood but only PART of Glendale.

    Donate items to the Democrats "Christmas is for Kids Holiday Toy Drive." They're collecting new, unwrapped toys for kids of all ages plus donations of new towels and washcloths, children's socks, child and adult sized t-shirts, and travel sized toiletries. This drive is for the benefit of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Bucyrus Campus and Mr. Bob's Under the Bridge Homeless Outreach. Donations can be dropped off at the Milwaukee Democratic Party Office (2999 South Delaware Ave, Milwaukee) Monday through Wednesday from 10:00am - 2:pm and on Thursday from 9:00am - 12:00pm. Items can also be dropped off at the Coordinated Campaign Office (8405 W Lisbon Ave, Milwaukee) Tuesday through Friday from 12:00pm through 8:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am - 5:00pm.

    Join the Milwaukee Voter Project at DMVs in Milwaukee. Everyone! Join us to register voters inside three Milwaukee DMV's, 2701 South Chase, Teutonia & Florist and 73rd & Mill. During the months leading up to the Supreme Court Election we produced 3168 paper registrations, thousands of online registrations and made 50,000 voter contacts. We work year around and will give you the simple training and supervision you need. Contact us at our email: [email protected] or phone (414) 218-5944. See more information on our website.

    How about writing some more postcards? Activate America is sponsoring a postcard drive to make sure that Democratic-leaning voters in Arizona know that the Biden administration capped the cost of insulin for diabetics. According to the email Activate America sent me, "83% of Americans support this policy, but only 29% know it happened." So why Arizona? "We’re especially excited to reach voters in Arizona, because Native Americans and Mexican Americans have some of the highest rates of diabetes, and they are well-represented in this targeted outreach." Sign up for lists.

    In case you were wondering about the effectiveness of sending postcards, Postcards to Swing States shared recent research on that. "The latest data show that writing postcards is the most effective way to make a difference from your own home!" The research is in the 5th edition of Get Out the Vote, published in 2023. The analysis of various methods "suggests that handwritten postcards generate an average of one vote per seventy-one postcards, which is about three times as effective as conventional nonpartisan GOTV mail." See their website for more analysis of their postcard programs, including their 2020 Wisconsin primary postcard experiment.

    Read more

  • published rights and wrongs in Newsletter 2023-11-29 11:11:59 -0600

    rights and wrongs

    Voting rights under attack nationally chillingly remind us of what any MAGA presidential administration portends. In the past week or so, several appellate rulings threaten to blow a hole in what remains of Voting Rights Act. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had recently ruled that Louisiana's electoral map likely violated the statute. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals contradicts the 5th Circuit's opinion, ruling for the first time since the Act was passed in 1965 that private individuals and groups — like the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other civil liberty-focused organizations — do not have the right to bring suits seeking to enforce the VRA. Only the US Department of Justice can bring such suits. See the post in Election Law Blog (11-26-2023). Since most voting rights suits have been brought by civic groups or individuals, it follows that a LOT of cases will never be brought if this ruling becomes the law of the land.

    Next, a lawsuit "challenging the at-large method used to elect members of the Public Service Commission, which is responsible for regulating public utilities in Georgia. The plaintiffs allege the at-large elections used to select commissioners violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting Black voting power." On August 5, 2023, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Black voters in Fulton County who had brought the suit. When the case was appealed, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals "stayed" (paused) the trial judge's order. A few more twists and turns in this story ensued but the final outcome is this: "On Nov. 24, the 11th Circuit reversed the district court’s decision, thereby allowing the at-large method to elect members to the Georgia Public Service Commission to stand" (Democracy Docket). If the final ruling is upheld, challenging statewide at-large systems elsewhere will become much more difficult.

    Third, on November 28, the Ohio Supreme Court "dismissed a trio of lawsuits challenging the state’s legislative maps, leaving in place gerrymandered districts for 2024" (Democracy Docket). The case had been bouncing back and forth between the legislature and the Supreme Court that, in earlier iterations, had found the maps were consistently in violation of the Ohio constitution. Once the court became more right wing with the election of a new justice, all of those rulings were simply ignored or overruled.

    There's a lot more gloomy news, and many more cases all over the country, challenging laws that tend to make voting more difficult or that seek to cement legislative power in one party regardless of the vote share that party receives. And that's the case in Wisconsin. Since the GOP-controlled legislature adopted gerrymandered election maps in 2011, the GOP has held a majority of seats in both the Assembly and the Senate, whether their party won the most votes statewide or not. Recently the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS) heard oral arguments last week in Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, a case "challenging the extreme partisan gerrymandering of the state legislative maps" (Law Forward). Now we await the decisions and the litigation to follow.

    Ahead of the oral arguments, the Fair Maps Coalition and other groups — including North Shore Fair Maps — held a rally in the Capitol. Many groups participated and spoke. Our own co-leader of Grassroots North Shore spoke eloquently about how partisan gerrymanders have stymied Wisconsin voters' preferred policies in many areas: "affordable healthcare, sensible gun legislation, funding for public schools, and access to abortion. 'But the Legislature says no,' Maranto said after naming each of these issues." Executive Director of Common Cause, Jay Heck, concurred: "Since Republicans now control safe seats, they do not have to listen to the needs of the people, adds Heck, noting fair maps would help promote actual representation" (Isthmus, 11-21-2023).

    E. J. Dionne's opinion piece in the Washington Post on November 26 — Democracy faces two threats. Trump is only one of them. — explains the decade-long effort to curtail voting rights really began with a 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, that struck down the section of the VRA that required "pre-clearance" of changes to voting laws in jurisdictions that had a history of discriminating against minorities: "This led to an explosion of state abuses, including discriminatory voter-identification laws, targeted purges of electoral rolls, gerrymanders that undercut minority representation and changes in early-voting rules that often advantaged some groups over others." He goes on to note that "defenders of today’s restrictions insist they are not discriminating against anyone. But making it harder for some people to vote — often in the name of preventing the falsely imagined “voter fraud” that is at the heart of Trump’s election denial — is no less an attack on democracy." Dionne proposes two remedies: fighting for a new Voting Rights Act and enacting a constitutional amendment that would at last explicitly guarantee every citizen's right to vote. Neither will happen any time soon, but both are worth fighting for starting now.

    Meanwhile, we need to support the Democratic administration we enjoy now. To that end, the Biden campaign is providing us with some issue-oriented talking points on the Threads platform. You can use these points to address these crazy MAGA claims:

    • "The economy was better during Trump!"
    • "Trump's going to protect our Social Security and Medicare!"
    • "Trump secured our border!"
    • "There's no federal ban on abortion; you can still get one — what's the big deal?"
    • "Trump is better for workers!"
    • "World leaders respected Trump and the world was safer!"
    • "Trump is winning in the polls!"

    You don't need a Threads account to follow the campaign's postings.

    Finally, a word or two about a long-forgotten Walker administration boondoggle: Foxconn. I'm sure you know that the corporation failed to fulfill its promises to invest beaucoup bucks (like $10 billion) in Racine County, to hire 13,000 workers at good pay rates, and to manufacture large display screens at the site. Taxpayers — you and me and everyone else in the state — foot the bill for the infrastructure the state created. Well now, Microsoft is bidding to buy "an additional 1,030 acres of land that Foxconn never built." To do the deal, the terms of the Foxconn contract that the state renegotiated in 2021 apparently have to be modified again. You'll find the Kathleen Gallagher's story in the November 24 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The headline gives away the bottom line: "Local officials are poised to let Foxconn off of the hook. Here's why politics and development deals rarely succeed."

    Now it's time to shop until we drop, right? Chanukah, I learned, starts next week, followed shortly by Christmas and Kwanzaa. So let's be merry and also find some politically productive things to do!

    If you missed some newsletters and want to catch up, you'll find them archived on our website.


    Read more

  • published the case of the rigged maps in Newsletter 2023-11-18 11:49:46 -0600

    the case of the rigged maps

    I'm writing and sending this newsletter a few days early because on Tuesday, November 21, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on Rebecca Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the case concerning the election maps currently in effect in Wisconsin. (Access the complete brief from the Fair Maps Coalition.) Although the case the justices have agreed to hear does not look directly at the partisan gerrymandering we have been living under since the 2011 maps were signed into law by then Governor Walker, they have ordered the parties to address four questions. The Fair Maps Coalition summarizes the four key questions:

    1. Do the existing state legislative maps violate the contiguity requirements contained in Article IV, Sections 4 and 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution?

    2. Did the adoption of the existing state legislative maps violate the Wisconsin Constitution's separation of powers?

    3. If the court rules that Wisconsin's existing state legislative maps violate the Wisconsin Constitution for either or both of these reasons and the legislature and the governor then fail to adopt state legislative maps that comply with the Wisconsin Constitution, what standards should guide the court in imposing a remedy for the constitutional violation(s)?

    4. What fact-finding, if any, will be required if the court determines there is a constitutional violation based on the contiguity clauses and/or the separation-of-powers doctrine and the court is required to craft a remedy for the violation? If fact-finding will be required, what process should be used to resolve questions of fact?

    You'll find the Supreme Court order accepting the part of the case pertaining to the four questions above here.

    The issue of contiguity is apparently tangled up with the constitutional requirement that electoral maps also respect municipal boundaries. An interesting article in Propublica — Wisconsin’s Legislative Maps Are Bizarre, but Are They Illegal? — discusses the dilemma, though in a way that seems to leave malign Republican intent out of the explanation!: "In the interior of her district, the 91st, sits a free-floating chunk that actually belongs to the turf of the adjacent lawmaker, Republican Karen Hurd. That may seem odd, but what is often left unsaid in discussions of Wisconsin maps is that the islands are not random parcels created by mapmakers to advantage Republicans at the behest of a Republican legislature. Rather, the irregular blobs largely follow municipal maps that reflect the history of Wisconsin cities and villages adding to their tax base by annexing bits of land in nearby areas. The practice often leaves towns with irregular maps and legislative districts with holes and satellites."

    University of Colorado Law Professor Doug Spencer, an expert in redistricting, knows of no other redistricting cases that hinge on what "contiguity" means. He defines contiguity as a district that is drawn without the need for the map maker to lift up her pencil. "According to the legal complaint, the majority of Wisconsin’s Assembly districts are noncontiguous — each consisting of between two and 40 disconnected pieces of territory. Two-thirds of the state’s Senate districts are noncontiguous — each with between two and 34 disconnected pieces."

    Several of the leaders of Grassroots North Shore are planning to go to Madison to watch the proceedings beginning at 8:45am and running for 80 plus minutes. But you don't have to get in your car before dawn to watch. WisconsinEye will be broadcasting the hearing live.

    Watching is not the only thing you can do. Go to a noon rally to show your support for fair maps. Milwaukee will be the scene of a rally at noon at the Milwaukee State Office Building (819 N. Sixth St, Milwaukee). Other rallies at noon will take place at the Brown County Court House in Green Bay (100 S. Jefferson St, Green Bay) and at the Eau Claire County Courthouse (721 Oxford Ave, Eau Claire).

    The Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) brief submitted by the Wisconsin Justice Institute and the Fair Maps Coalition (of which Grassroots North Shore is a member) lays out the problem: "Polling data shows that by overwhelming margins citizens who vote for both parties want a nonpartisan redistricting process."

    Seventy-two percent of voters say they prefer redistricting of legislative and congressional districts to be done by a nonpartisan commission, while 18 percent prefer redistricting be done by the legislature and governor. Majorities in each partisan group favor a nonpartisan commission for redistricting…. Less than 30 percent of each group preferred redistricting be done by the legislature and governor (Marquette Law School Poll, January 24, 2019).

    Wisconsin's future direction hangs on the outcome of this case. This handy graphic to the right displays what large majorities of the people of Wisconsin want but cannot get because legislators in seats gerrymandered to make them safe for the incumbents do not have to pay attention to all their constituents. And that's how a party that garners more the 50% of the total statewide vote for the Assembly ends up with only 35 of the 99 seats.

    The Events listings are thinning out and will probably remain a bit sparse until after New Year's Day. But there's still plenty of good events for you to review. Below this paragraph you will find video recordings of events you may have missed and links to a few podcasts you might find interesting.

    On Sunday, November 12, Grassroots North Shore presented Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024? with featured speakers David Pepper (author of Saving Democracy), Melissa Agard (WI Senate Minority Leader), and Mandela Barnes (President of Power to the Polls). In case you missed it, you can watch the recording.

    The Nov. 13 public issues forum "Fact or Fiction: Dispelling Abortion Care Myths" — presented by the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County — lived up to its billing. The presenters provided clarity on abortion-related topics that are subject to disinformation, such as anti-abortion billboards falsely depicting stages of fetal development. View the recording here.

    Recordings are now available of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin's three programs on Preparing for Elections in 2024. Issues Briefing Session 1: Redistricting in Wisconsin; Issues Briefing Session 2: Citizen Action at the State Level — Proposed WI Constitutional Amendments, Part 1 and Part 2; and Issues Briefing 3: Overcoming Barriers to Voting & Election Administration Challenges.

    And here are some podcasts you might like.

    • A daily weekday dose of somewhat rehabilitated, former-ish Republicans, The Bulwark Podcast is hosted by Charlie Sykes, a Wisconsin native and formerly a prominent "conservative" talk show host on WTMJ in Milwaukee. But he has seen the error of his ways and is now a frequent talking head on MSNBC. He was and is a never-Trumper. Episodes tend to take about 3/4 of an hour.

    • A weekly update on some aspect of the legal quicksand closing in on Dirty Don, Prosecuting Donald Trump is co-hosted by Andrew Weissmann and Mary McCord, both veteran federal prosecutors. Each episode runs a few minutes over 30 minutes.

    • Strict Scrutiny, hosted by "three badass constitutional law professors" — Leah Litman, Kate Shaw, and Melissa Murray — the weekly episodes dissect (mostly) US Supreme Court cases. They did do a show titled "Trump's Legal Defense is Dumb AF," though. The episodes tend to be a little cheeky but convey important legal information those of us who are not lawyers can grasp. The episodes tend to run an hour plus 8 - 12 minutes.

    • For a truly, entertainingly quirky show, try Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Those of you who remember the cable show of the same name will recognize the inimitable style Olbermann brings to the news. And if you happen to be a sports fan, as he has always been, you'll find a segment of each episode full of delightful, arcane sports information — often about baseball. The episodes vary in length, with some about 40 minutes and others over an hour. He posts new content four days a week.
    Read more

  • published Messaging for 2024 in Messaging for 2024 2023-11-14 22:15:08 -0600

    Messaging for 2024

    Messaging for 2024

    Notes from Grassroots North Shore webinar Nov 12, 2023.     

    Video at

    Notes from – David Pepper – The Gop offers a world American do not want.

    (Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for Every American)


    Compare and contrast what we believe and what they believe.                           

    • Amplify their extremist policies
    • Democrats are better on kitchen table issues
      • Tax breaks for the rich versus investing in infrastructure and things that help people
      • Banning and burning books v strengthening schools
      • Democrats deliver … on what America wants
    • All politics is local. When you engage people in local issues … they pay attention to national issues
    • Practice the serenity prayer
    • Run everywhere… galvanizing voters in local races helps up and down-ballot
    • Pace yourself and work year-round; there is ALWAYS something to do
    • Biden v Trump
      • Who do YOU want running the show?
      • Who is the GROWNUP in the room?
      • Biden’s age means wisdom and experience


    Notes from – Melissa Agard

    The will of the people – Kitchen table issues.

    Dems and GOP unite on these issues – these are Wisconsin values – but the GOP in the legislature are standing in the way.

    • Reproductive rights – Dems support personal freedom; Red wants to be in our bedrooms;
    • Guns safety. Public health epidemic. GOP obstructs.
    • Marijuana – we are an island of prohibition. One of six most restrictive states.
    • Medicaid expansion. We are 1 of 10 states who have not expanded Medicaid. Losing billions of federal dollars and could insure 90,000 more people.
    • Water quality – PFAS, lead … rural and city –GOP stands in the way of comprehensive protections

    Run everywhere! We all do better when we have candidates on the ballot everywhere.

    Data supporting statements in “What Wisconsinites Want” at


    (More message ideas follow)

    From the teachings of Simon Rosenberg

    (Hopium Chronicles)

    Repeat -- Amplify

    1. Joe Biden is a great president
    2. The Democratic party is strong
    3. I would rather be us than them


    There are millions of us.

    We need to repeat this message everywhere

    Give Hopium a try….

    From ASO Communications meeting: Tested messages

    • Set the terms of the debate

    Don’t say:         Democrats are better for the economy

    Say:                  Dems are better for you and your family’s economic well-being

                             Dems will protect our cherished economic programs and

    Dems will tax the rich

    Narrative: We need leaders who will grow our economy from the middle up and bottom out – not the top down – by investing in America, empowering workers, and lowering costs for families. Democrats have delivered for families, by lowering prescription drug prices and energy costs, investing in infrastructure including highways, broadband, and clean water, and strengthening supply chains by investing in domestic manufacturing, bringing good union jobs back to the US.

    • Acknowledge present realities, speak to future aspirations
      • Majority want leaders to focus beyond just economic issues
      • Connect abortion, voting rights, and school to economic issues

    Narrative: We need leaders who care about our whole lives – from putting food on the table to seeing our kids grow up happy to having clean air to breathe and safe places to live. By electing Democrats, we can stand up to MAGA Republicans and their billionaire backers, make corporations pay what they owe, and ensure American can earn a good living and have a good life – with the education and healthcare, housing, and jobs that every family needs.

    • Confront, pushback, and inoculate opposition

    Kentucky governor’s race message: “I believe people want a governor that talks about the things that impact us most: jobs, economic development, public safety, public education, infrastructure, healthcare. Those are the things parents worry about at night … I think that what you’ve seen in this race is the difference between vision and division, While I’m trying to talk about a better life for our families and good jobs, my opponent is obsess over kids and gender reassignment surgeries.” KY Gov Andy Beshear

    • Tap into potent populism

    Swing and surge (didn’t vote last election) voter populists blame corporations and the wealthy.

    Populist freedom frame.

    As Americans, we value our freedoms.

    • Freedom to earn a good living and care for our families.
    • Freedom to decide what happens to our bodies, to cast our votes and elect our leaders.

    That’s why [Joe Biden / Tammy Baldwin] is running again –

    • to keep making corporations pay what they owe
    • restore the child tax credit
    • protect social security, and
    • to work to ensure access to abortion and voting rights

    To Protect Everyone’s Freedom.

    • Contend with cynicism
      • Make it personal. Don’t say “We benefit from growing the economy.” Say “We can ensure our families have the freedom to thrive.”
      • Give voters agency. (We can do this, together.)

    Get off the couch. Don’t watch the news. Make news.    

    Read more

  • published The NFL's Tush Push in Newsletter 2023-11-14 17:15:47 -0600

    The NFL's Tush Push

    What a way to finish the year! A week ago, I wrote about the elections happening as I typed. In the bit about the governor's race in Kentucky, I wrote that Democrat Andy Beshear's campaign focused on abortion rights while Daniel Cameron, his Republican opponent and Mitch McConnell protegé (and not a MAGA type), put inflation in his spotlight. I concluded, "It will be interesting to see what comes of this first head-to-head messaging war." Well now we know: the freedom to make your own decisions about your own body won big. And that has been the case in every special and off-year election since June 2022, when the Roe v. Wade was overturned.

    So what does this newsletter have to do with the latest NFL gambit to win very close 4th down plays and goal line stands — the Tush Push? (Listen to a description and discussion of the tush push on NPR.) That's when the team with the ball gets behind the quarterback to help push him over the line to gain. In terms of our scary political moment, we find ourselves with lots of big, worrying punditry discouraging us with much hand-wringing and bed-wetting about next year's election, especially the presidential race. And there is much to worry about. But one big-wig in the election opinion biz is pushing hard in the other direction. Providing us with our own team's Tush Push, so to speak.

    Simon Rosenberg, political analyst and upbeat author of the Hopium Chronicles, has several posts reviewing all the good data that came after the awful day Dobbs came down. Here's a great summary:

    Our current political moment began in the spring of 2022 when Dobbs happened, Uvalde and other mass shootings happened, extremist Republican abortion trigger laws took effect and when the January 6th Committee began its public work. 3 days after Dobbs our candidate in an unfunded Nebraska house special election outperformed our 2020 results by 10 points. In the 5 House specials after Dobbs our candidates outperformed 2020 by an average of 7 points in what was supposed to be a good year for Republicans. Democrats and women in particular started registering to vote in much higher numbers; our candidates dramatically out-raised Republican candidates; we blew it out in the early vote in state after state; and then in the battleground states we outperformed expectations and gained ground over 2020 in AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH and PA, getting to 59% in CO, 57% in Pennsylvania, 55% in Michigan and 54% in New Hampshire. Our performance in 2022 would have been encouraging in a good year; that it happened in a “red wave” made it even more extraordinary.

    This heightened Democratic performance, and sluggish Republican performance, has carried over to 2023. In 33 state house and senate elections across the US we’ve outperformed 2020 by 6.2 pts. A broader analysis of the elections leading up to November 7th had us outperforming the partisan lean of districts by 10 points. We flipped two of the largest Republican-held cities in the country, Jacksonville and Colorado Springs. We took away that Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, getting 56% of the vote. We got to 57% in the August Ohio Vote No ballot initiative. Like 2022, in the elections leading up the 2023 November election Dems just kept overperforming.

    Then the 2023 election came, and once again we saw overperformance. Beshear got a higher percentage of the vote in KY than he did in 2019. We kept the Senate in Virginia, and did something few thought was possible, flipped the House too. We got to 57% in Ohio - a jawdropping achievement. We picked up state legislative seats in New Jersey. We had big wins in municipal races across the US, and in school board races too. Like the 2022 election, Democrats outperformed expectations in 2023, performing at the upper end of what was possible for us even in red states.

    Chris Hayes, on MSNBC on Wednesday, November 8, gave a wonderful trip through the elections of the previous night and really shows how "overperformance" works out and what it means. It runs more than 8 minutes but it's worth every second. The 538 chart Hayes uses can be found here. If you look at the chart, you will be able to spot two Wisconsin special elections — in SD-08 on April 4 and in AD-24 on July 18. Democrats did, alas, lose those contests but note how big the swings toward Democratic candidates were! That's also part of the political Tush Push.

    Keep in mind that "overperform" does not mean "win." It means that compared to the partisan lean of a given electoral district, Democrats won a larger percentage of the overall vote, sometimes by a lot. The other thing to keep in mind about Rosenberg's account is that all the elections he summarizes were state or local affairs. The work we do — every day — produces these outcomes. Talking to people and turning out the like-minded during election periods — urging people to vote absentee, during early in-person voting, or on election day — can pay huge dividends.

    Rosenberg makes it plain: YOU produce the astonishing wins. "Our grassroots is stronger than it’s ever been, and keeps driving our performance to the upper end of what’s possible in election after election in all parts of the country. While the Republican Party is in trouble, Democrats are thriving." Today, he put up a page with links to his various analyses, video presentations, and podcasts. If you need some upbeat political news, try some Hopium.

    Closer to home, you may have missed the news that a Dane County judge has ordered former Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Patience Roggensack "to produce all records related to her involvement in a panel of former justices tasked with exploring the prospect of impeaching a current member of the state’s high court." The other two former justices (both of whom apparently advised the Assembly not to engage in impeaching the newest justice) and Speaker Robin Vos have all turned over their documents already. But lest you think the issue of impeaching Justice Protasiewicz is now behind us, think again. In the same Wisconsin State Journal article the author writes: "Vos has said he would still weigh impeaching Protasiewicz depending on how she rules in the redistricting case."

    In really pressing matters, oral arguments in Rebecca Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the case in front of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS), take place starting at 8:45am on Tuesday, November 21, at the state Capitol. At 9:00am, a rally will take place inside the Capitol (see the flyer for full details). There will also be rallies at noon at the Milwaukee State Office Building (819 N. Sixth St, Milwaukee), at the Brown County Court House in Green Bay (100 S. Jefferson St, Green Bay), and at the Eau Claire County Courthouse (721 Oxford Ave, Eau Claire). You can watch the arguments at SCOWIS on WisconsinEye. And you can read the Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief submitted by the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, of which Grassroots North Shore is a member. The outcome of this case may very well determine whether Wisconsin will have new, and fairer, election district maps for the Assembly and State Senate in 2023.

    Now, in keeping with this strangely optimistic newsletter, a little light ending: Jordan Klepper (of The Daily Show) interviews TFG's supporters.

    Read more

  • published perils and promises in Newsletter 2023-11-08 02:02:10 -0600

    perils and promises

    It's the first Tuesday in November, so it must be election day somewhere. In fact, there are a number of pretty important elections taking place in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky. In Virginia, control of the state Senate and the House of Delegates is at stake in the chief races in play. Some are speculating that a big win for Republicans could provide a rationale for Governor Glenn Youngkin to announce a bid for the GOP nomination for President. In Ohio, a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive health care — specifically abortion and contraception rights — is on the ballot. In Mississippi, there's another race for governor. In this one, Tate Reeves, the Republican incumbent, is facing "Democrat Brandon Presley, a state utility regulator and cousin of rock ’n’ roll legend Elvis Presley." Reeves is neck-deep in a financial scandal and wasn't all that popular the first time he ran, winning with just 52% of the vote in 2019.

    In Kentucky, the biggest race is between the incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear and the Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, a Mitch McConnell protege. Beshear has wanted the focus to be abortion rights, which he supports and his opponent does not. Cameron wants to focus on inflation. It will be interesting to see what comes of this first head-to-head messaging war.

    In fact, messaging occupies the core of every campaign. In preparation for the coming elections, Grassroots North Shore is hosting a Zoom event about messaging: Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024?. The program is at 7:00pm on Sunday, November 12, and features an interview with David Pepper, former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and author of two vital books: Laboratories of Autocracy and Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for Every American. In addition, we'll hear from Melisa Agard, minority leader in the state Senate, and Mandela Barnes, head of Power to the Polls. The outcomes of some of the elections described in the first couple of paragraphs may offer some fresh insights. All you have to do is sign up and attend!

    In a rousing speech to kick off a One Year to Win canvass in Glendale last Sunday, Ben Wikler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, reminded us that the November 5, 2024 election may truly be the most important one ever. Now we do hear that said almost every four years, but our democracy continues to be under threat nearly everywhere you look. The Brennan Center for Justice offers this analysis of the recently elected Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson (MAGA Mike to those in the know): "Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is not just a casual election denier, a cynical pol winking at the MAGA mob. Johnson was the congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, advocating an interpretation of the Constitution so outlandish that not even the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could swallow it." Johnson was behind the so-called "independent state legislature" theory that even our deeply right-wing Supreme Court couldn't countenance. And that was far from the only effort MAGA Mike pursued to reverse the 2020 results. The Brennan Center analysis will step you through the most important ones and discuss why this matters for the 2024 election.

    The House of Representatives and the US Senate jointly complete the process of electing the US President. But a lot happens before we get to that ceremonial act. On October 2, NBC News's Jake Tapper wrote, "Former President Donald Trump is lashing out at political and legal foes in increasingly violent terms as his campaign to return to office accelerates.... The aggressive turn began a week ago on Truth Social, where Trump alluded to the execution of his former top military official." And the "problem" has only increased in the last few weeks. As Ruth Ben-Ghiat wrote in her Substack Lucid, "Autocrats seek to create a climate of fear in societies so that silence about their crimes will become the norm. They use the threat and reality of violence not just against their usual targets —the press, opposition parties, judges, and more— but against the elites of their parties as a means of keeping them in line. Those elites, in turn, threaten others to prove their loyalty to the leader and maintain their position in the hierarchy of thugs."

    In his biography of Senator Mitt Romney, McKay Coppins wrote that "Romney attributed some of the two-faced behavior of his colleagues to their fear of violent retribution from their voter base..... One senator wanted to vote for Trump’s second impeachment but feared for his family’s safety if he did." We must urge our leaders to speak out, to take TRE45ON's words — "I am your justice.... I am your retribution" — seriously. On March 4, as he said these words, attendees at CPAC went absolutely wild. Project 2025, bankrolled by the Heritage Foundation, fleshes out what that justice and retribution would look like.

    In Wisconsin, we can just glimpse a ray of hope as the Supreme Court of Wisconsin gets down to work. Oral arguments concerning the challenge to our current election maps, Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, are scheduled to be heard in Madison on Tuesday, November 21. You can access links to the many briefs for this case. At issue in the challenge is not gerrymandering per se; rather it is the way 55 of the 99 Assembly districts and 21 of the 33 the Senate districts "'consist of a patchwork of disconnected pieces that do not share a common border with other parts of the same district' and therefore run afoul of the 'Wisconsin Constitution’s plain-text ‘contiguous territory’ requirement'” (Democracy Docket, October 9, 2023). A second issue with profound implications concerns the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. When the Supreme Court imposed the current legislative map in 2022, the Court chose the one the legislature had passed, the governor had vetoed, but the legislature failed to override the veto. In essence, petitioners argue, even though the legislature could not muster the votes the Court in effect overrode the veto for it. We cannot predict the outcome of this complicated case, but we can hope that if it is decided promptly, we could have new Assembly and Senate districts for the 2024 elections.

    IF WE HAVE NEW MAPS, we have a shot at electing legislative bodies that are more responsive to the electorate and our priorities. Of course, even with new maps a differently constituted Supreme Court could undo what we hope will happen this year. That's why EVERY ELECTION and EVERY ACT of ISSUE ADVOCACY matters. Although we're heading into an election hiatus, Grassroots North Shore is busy looking ahead to next year. The spring nonpartisan primary will be held on February 20. The spring nonpartisan election and the preferential presidential election will take on April 2. People hoping to be elected to nonpartisan positions can begin circulating nomination papers on December 1, 2023. After January 1, you can go online to to check your registration and to request absentee ballots for the whole year. We won't have election-specific information for you until the middle of January, but right now you can visit our page that covers campaign contribution limits for every local, state, and federal office.

    Read more

  • published the world still turns in Newsletter 2023-10-31 21:44:07 -0500

    the world still turns

    indulge me in a sad comment about the state of the world. Israel has begun its long-promised invasion of Gaza. Many Palestinian civilians have no doubt been killed and wounded in the bombings that preceded the invasion and now in the invasion itself. That is an awful truth. But while conditions continue to deteriorate for the millions of Palestinians who must live there, we cannot forget that this evil war began with an unspeakable terrorist attack from Hamas, torturing and killing (mostly civilians) indiscriminately. Hamas also took more than 200 hostages into Gaza where most of them presumably remain, vowing to kill all of them if Israel retaliated. Their location and their fate are unknown. The heinous attack was clearly meticulously planned, constitutes the worst antisemitic pogrom since the Holocaust, and has engendered a world-wide upswelling of antisemitism, frightening and threatening Jews everywhere.

    At Cornell University (where I earned my PhD), the Ithaca Journal reported that Cornell Hillel advises caution after 'horrendous, antisemitic messages' target community: "Cornell Hillel, a Jewish organization, on Sunday cautioned that people not visit a building that includes a multicultural dining hall and serves as a center for the Jewish community after it was targeted by antisemitic threats." CNN notes that "Outbursts of antisemitism have often been harbingers of societies in deep trouble and omens that extremism and violence are imminent... The Hamas attacks – a pogrom against Jews that killed 1,400, mostly civilians – have initiated a sequence of events that have left Jewish people around the world feeling threatened." All of us — not just Jews — live in precarious times.

    Meanwhile, here in the "us" — Boss Tweet's startling discovery that the objective form of the word "we" also signifies the U.S.! (watch) — MAGA Mke, the newly elected Speaker of the House, is already running into legislative trouble over his proposal to reject President Biden's $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other urgent needs. Speaker Johnson's promoting his own $14.3 billion package that takes the funds from the IRS and uses them to aid only Israel. See the (gifted article) account in the Washington Post, Speaker Johnson faces immediate backlash to first legislative move. We face a government shutdown in just a few weeks and it's unclear at this point whether the House can even pass another Continuing Resolution to extend the time they have to pass the appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government for the fiscal year that began a month ago!

    Elections are coming: they don't solve everything but they're our only hope, right? As Grassroots North Shore begins its preparations for the 2024 elections in earnest, we're holding a Webinar on Sunday, November 12, to address one of the critical ways Democrats and Progressives can win: getting the messaging right: Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024?. The program will feature a taped interview with David Pepper, former Chair of the Democratic Party of Ohio and author of Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for Every American, and live remarks from Melissa Agard, WI Senate Majority Leader; and Mandela Barnes, head of Power to the Polls. The program will discuss the power of well-crafted messaging. So get the full skinny and sign up.

    Another good messaging document comes from ASO Communications, the messaging and polling organization headed by Anat Shenker Osorio (also host of the podcast Words to Win By): Freedom Over Fascism Toolkit.

    In Wisconsin we continue to battle the MAGA-led legislature over fair election maps. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign announced that it began running a redistricting radio ad Monday, October 30th. This ad will run on every Civic Media radio station in Wisconsin. You may be wondering, why run radio ads right now? Well, the Wisconsin State Senate will be back in session on Tuesday November 7th which means the legislature may attempt to force a vote on SB 488/AB 415 (the flawed redistricting bills). It is important that every Wisconsinite take a minute or two to call your state senator and let them know that rushing how Wisconsin draws legislative district maps in the future is unacceptable. We want the best bill possible to produce the fairest maps possible. Listen to the radio ad: click the link to open the mp3 file or right click to download it: Wisconsinites Will Not Be Silenced On Voting Maps.

    To cure a deficiency with the redistricting bill that was introduced and passed in the Assembly without a public hearing, the senate committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection had a hastily announced hearing on October 19 about SB 488 (the senate version of AB 415), a bill Republicans claim will ensure that election district maps will be drawn in a non-partisan way. Almost all the testimony opposed the bill. Watch the full SB 488 hearing. Warning: it goes on for about four hours. Cheryl Maranto's outstanding testimony starts at the 3 hour mark. I recommend it highly, especially the way she fielded questions from the senators.

    You can find the contact information for your state senator at 2023 Wisconsin State Senators. By default, the page lists senators alphabetically but you can choose to have them listed by district number. If you don't know the name of your senator or what your senate district is, you can go to the legislature's home page and type in your address to receive the information. You can also contact the members of the committee. Their names and contact information are listed on this pdf.

    In other election matters, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has redesigned the return envelopes  — the certification envelopes — for absentee ballots to make them easier to fill out correctly and for postal and election workers to identify them. The League of Women Voters has provided this description:

    For voters looking to take advantage of their early voting options next year, things have gotten a little bit easier. The Wisconsin Elections Commission recently updated the return envelope to make the certificate more user friendly for both voters and election officials. Over the course of several months, the Wisconsin Elections Commission conducted several rounds of usability testing and design revisions with input from voters, poll workers, local clerks, and the U.S. Postal Service. The absentee ballot certificate envelopes are now color-coded to indicate which type of ballot is contained in the envelope.
    • Blue envelopes will be used for outgoing envelopes mailed to voters from municipal clerks.
    • Purple envelopes will be used for standard return envelopes that voters mail in.
    • Teal envelopes will be used for return envelopes from care facility-based voters.
    • Brown envelopes will be used for return envelopes from military or overseas voters."

    * * * * * TAKE MORE ACTION * * * * *

    There's a lot you can do right now, ahead of the 2024 elections, to help voters and to educate them about the issues. Here are a few of those actions:

    • Sign up for one of the many Year to Win canvasses near you — or maybe not so near you. See the full list at

    • Here's a list of canvasses on Saturday, November 4, and Sunday, November 5, in the North Shore and Ozaukee County (See the Events list or click these links for specific dates and shift times):
    • Phonebank ahead of the Ohio election: Help the pro-choice citizens who put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot by phoning to Get Out the Vote in Ohio. The election takes place on November 7 and early voting is already under way. The first opportunity is tomorrow, Wednesday, November 1. A second opportunity is on Monday, November 6. Sign up.

    • Make calls to Ohio beginning Tuesday, October 31 at 5:00pm CDT and ending Tuesday, November 7, at 4:00pm CST. Sponsored by Women's March Action and Activate America.  Sign up.

    There are more things to do and to attend on the Events list. So have at it. (And have a happy, sorta snowy Halloween.)

    Read more

  • published Questions for State Senator Melissa Agard 2023-10-26 13:36:17 -0500