Eilene Stevens published stand up for local school boards in Newsletter Archive 2021-10-20 08:45:53 -0500
There's a lot going on nationally, but little of it is new. Hence last week's invocation of the doldrums — a nautical term referring to the latitudes near earth's equator where sailing ships often found themselves stuck in virtually windless waters. Right now, we seem to be adrift in windless political waters. The Build Back Better Bill, aka the reconciliation bill, is stuck in endless negotiations that seem to go nowhere. The January 6 Select Committee is asking the House to approve a criminal referral to the Justice Department to try to force Steve Bannon to relinquish documents and to testify about the events leading up to the insurrection. The pace of the request, announced last Thursday, seems glacial. Majority Leader Schumer announced that he will bring bills to address voting rights to the senate this week, but we know they can't pass because of the filibuster and the refusal of at least two Democrats to abolish or amend the filibuster rule. The whole promise of the Biden administration seems at least indefinitely stalled or perhaps even doomed.
Here in Wisconsin, plenty of issues are percolating, the most fraught of which is the attacks on school boards. The vitriol is pretty widespread in the state. For example, here's a recent article from WiscNews: Wisconsin school board association condemns threats made against local members. "Discussion of COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as mask mandates in the Beaver Dam and Oshkosh school districts, prompted a number of threats against school board members in Wisconsin. Members of the public also threatened the Waukesha School Board after they voted unanimously to opt out of a federal program that offered free meals to all students, in order to reinstate a free and reduced meal plan for economically disadvantaged students."
Ruth Conniff, writing in the Wisconsin Examiner on September 24, summed up the problem: "The anger unleashed in the Drumpf era, fanned by Republicans at both the national and state level in order to motivate the former president’s voters, is now focused on a soft target — local school boards. Across Wisconsin, they have endured mini versions of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In Kenosha, a crowd jammed a meeting and forced a vote to drastically cut school board members’ salaries, while making it mandatory that they attend meetings in person. In Eau Claire, a school board meeting was cancelled after some participants refused to wear masks. Recall efforts targeting school board members for voting to sustain mask requirements and online learning during the pandemic have proliferated across the state. And school board members in different districts across the state quit this fall saying they and their families were threatened by angry members of the public."
In our own bailiwick, there's a special election — an attempt to recall four incumbent members of the Mequon-Thiensville School Board — taking place on November 2, just two weeks from today. The website for the Coalition to Support MTSD argues that school boards are and must remain non-partisan. The group points out that those behind the effort to take over the school board ("Recall / Restore MTSB") "has maintained all along they are non-partisan. However, over the last week, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Ozaukee County, the gubernatorial campaigns of Rebecca Kleefisch and Jonathan Wichmann, and the Patriots of Ozaukee County have all stepped out of the dark to reveal they are backing the 4 Recall / Restore candidates. Their social media posts expose the lie that Recall / Restore MTSD is just a local group of concerned apolitical parents."
The site includes an image of a message from the Republican Party of Ozaukee County that urges people from EVERYWHERE to lend the recall effort aid: "YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE IN MEQUON-THIENSVILLE TO HELP IN OUR EFFORT! Everyone is welcome, even if you live in another municipality!!" The Coalition to Support MTSD even shows proof that outside funds are fueling the ideologically driven recall effort. And it urges people who care about the integrity of the current school board to Get Involved, Volunteer, Order a Yard Sign, Express Your Opinion, and Talk to Your Friends and Neighbors. So if you live in the Mequon-Thiensville school district, know people who do, or are just hot under the collar about this attempt at a hostile takeover of a school board, it's time to get busy!Read more
I think we're in the dreaded doldrums! Nothing good seems to be happening: the reconciliation bill — aka the Build Back Better bill — seems perpetually stuck; the non-Fox-like-media seems unable to quit the narrative that Dems are in disarray; and the "fraudit" parade here — with former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gableman pretending to be in charge — is bumbling along, maybe with legitimate subpoenas, or maybe not. See "'Shut this fake investigation down': Attorney general slams GOP election review, calls subpoenas unlawful" in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online for the complete and confusing back-and-forth. And wait for something to happen, I guess.
We do have some tiny green shoots coming up though. This morning, Representative Adam Schiff (a member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the House Jan. 6 Select Committee) signaled that the Select Committee is being quite serious about the subpoenas the committee has already issued to Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, and Dan Scovino. "Those who don't cooperate with our committee are going to be the subject of criminal contempt" (Talking Points Memo, 10/12/2021). And the Washington Post reports that "A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage" (Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2021). The rate at which people are voluntarily quitting jobs is quite high and reflects "the options workers have in the current economic market, with job openings outnumbering unemployed workers and people reevaluating what they want to do," Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed, is quoted as saying.
Here's another, possible, green shoot: according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as quoted in Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog post, "Will Georgia voting laws reduce turnout? Maybe not, studies show." The AJC article asserts that "a body of research on voting rules such as those in Georgia doesn’t support the narrative that turnout will decline significantly because of the law." It does not, however, link to any of the research it purports to cite, at least not in the part Hasen quotes. So, more than a grain of salt needs to accompany consumption of this article. Plus, the voting changes are simply onerous and should definitely be contested.
In not so chipper news, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Wisconsin (JSOnline, Oct. 11, 2021), even though the overall US numbers are declining (Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2021). Dr. Ian Gilson will be updating Grassroots North Shore supporters — and anyone else you'd like to invite — to an update on the pandemic, on Monday, October 25, at 7pm on Zoom. The link will be sent to you when you register. Don't wait to sign up!
Eilene Stevens published We're powered by people like you! in Newsletter Archive 2021-10-05 15:35:14 -0500
As there is every week, there's plenty of national, state, and local news to cover. This week, though, I'd like to focus on some of the people who are the heart of Grassroots North Shore. Every year people we cherish — people who have volunteered and worked with Grassroots North Shore for many years — pass away. We wish to honor their passing. By the same token, we are blessed to have activists who achieve recognitions from other organizations. And we wish to honor their good work as well.
My Co-Chair Norma Gilson and I thought this fall would be a pretty quiet affair. Boy were we wrong! Here's what we've been up to since mid-summer: POSTCARDS, LIT DROPS, and PHONE CALLS! Grassroots North Shore volunteers have been furiously writing postcards
- to reach people in WI and PA who voted for the first time in November 2020;
- to promote Fair Maps and a nonpartisan redistricting process;
- to help foil a far right-wing attempt to recall four members of the Mequon-Thiensville School Board;
- to participate in a research project about effective messaging run by the group Activate America.
In addition we've done a lit drop in Glendale and Brown Deer promoting Fair Maps. And we 're participating in a phone bank organized by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin to contact people who have been purged from the Wisconsin voter rolls to help them re-register.
We'd love to have your help with funding these activities. Our chief need is for postage. As you know, the US Postal Service is now charging more and doing less than ever for its customers. To keep pace with the upcoming elections in 2022, we will need thousands of stamps so that we can communicate with supporters, making people aware of election and candidate information for all four elections: February 15, April 5, August 9, and November 8. Please give as generously as you can.
Finally, I'd like to alert you to an upcoming Grassroots North Shore event featuring Dr. Ian Gilson. Last December, Dr. Gilson helped us understand what was known and unknown about the coronavirus pandemic. That was before vaccines were available. Now the question on the minds of many people includes so-called booster shots: what kind, when, and who is eligible, among other questions. We'll be holding this event on Zoom on October 25 at 7pm. You can sign up here.
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If you missed some newsletters and want to catch up, you'll find them archived on our website.
Eilene Stevens rsvped for Covid Revisited: Dr. Ian Gilson Gives Us an Update 2021-09-29 15:33:53 -0500
COVID Revisited: On October 25th Dr. Ian Gilson Gives Us an Update
In times of crisis, people turn to the experts. A year ago, Dr. Ian Gilson gave us the latest information on Covid-19, and on Monday, October 25th at 7 pm, he will update us on the changing, ongoing nature of that crisis.
Grassroots North Shore and its members appreciate Dr. Gilson’s time and his willingness to share his expertise. The program will cover variants, breakthrough infections, latest treatments, mask effectiveness, rapid testing and its importance, travel guidelines, and more. He will take questions from viewers after the presentation.
Dr. Gilson, a practicing internist since 1977, is currently managing patients under his care who have developed COVID-19 infections. He experienced his first pandemic in 1985 when HIV/AIDS arrived in Milwaukee and has been a volunteer speaker for AIDS education to healthcare providers in Kenya and Uganda. He is a member of the American College of Physicians Wisconsin chapter Health and Public Policy Committee, Doctors for America, and Grassroots North Shore.
Join this Grassroots North Shore program to listen, to learn, to ask questions, and to protect yourself and those you love.
ONLINE AT 7:00 October 25thWHENOctober 25, 2021 at 7:00pmWHEREVirtual Event
ut the Obamacare bill, a BFD.
It's an even bigger day in the Wisconsin legislature as the GOP passes what's known as a Joint Resolution stating its criteria for the electoral maps it must draw this year in response to the new census data. Among some other items many of which are kind of a smoke screen is a stipulation that would "help secure electoral advantages for [Republicans] over the next decade," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (September 28, 2021). The article — Republicans seek to limit changes to election maps as legal fight over redistricting heats up — goes on to show that Republicans used one set of principles when they last drew the electoral maps in 2011, and have completely reversed themselves for this current round of redistricting:
Why is this maneuver a problem? After all, such resolutions are not binding. But they send clear signals. In this case, "[t]he resolution could be used in court proceedings to try to persuade judges to take a largely hands-off approach when drawing new lines." In particular, the Joint Resolution could be used in the case they have already filed with the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. They have also appealed to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to try to get the Democrats' redistricting lawsuit currently in federal court dismissed on the grounds that redistricting issues should be the province of the state's courts. SCOTUS has not yet decided whether to adjudicate the appeal.
It is also a big day for voter registration. In fact, it is National Voter Registration Day. Common Cause in Wisconsin has a great page about what you can do TODAY to spread the word.
And in good — or at least entertaining — news, Drumpf Loses Case to Enforce Omarosa Manigault Newman’s N.D.A. and there's a new *rump tell-all book from one of his press secretaries — Stephanie Grisham, who famously held no press conferences during her tenure — called I’ll Take Your Questions Now. In it, she apparently accuses the former president of "abusing his staff, placating dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, and making sexual comments about a young White House aide." The New York Times article about the forthcoming book provides us with news we will hardly find shocking: "Stephanie Grisham’s Book Details Drumpf’s ‘Terrifying’ Temper."Read more
The event we held on Sunday, September 19, was a great success. Those who missed it can view the recorded webinar on their own time. The subject, what stops Wisconsin from enacting popular laws regulating guns in the state, is vast but there are lots of things people can do to help turn the situation around. You can find a fantastic list of resources and specific guidance about actions to take in our Gun Sense Resources page.
Over the last few days, there have been a number of really interesting and important developments helping to undermine what Hilary Clinton termed "the vast right-wing conspiracy," many of them revealed in in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's book Peril." As the Washington Post explained, last week's hack of Epik reveals identities of those who fund and operate far right websites like 8chan, Gab, and Parler, a network of sites devoted to extremist QAnon conspiracy theories. "The files include years of website purchase records, internal company emails and customer account credentials revealing who administers some of the biggest far-right websites. The data includes client names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and passwords left in plain, readable text. The hack even exposed the personal records from Anonymize, a privacy service Epik offered to customers wanting to conceal their identity." The hack revealed more than 150 gigabytes of data, so much that "those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it."
That was last week. This week the New York Times reveals that the "Drumpf Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows." On November 19, 2020, Sydney Powell and other lawyers held an infamous press conference at which they made outlandish allegations against Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, allegations that if true were designed to overturn the election results. A memo filed in the defamation lawsuit against the campaign and its lawyers, however, reveals not only that the allegations were false, but also that the campaign knew they were false. "The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Drumpf." Here's what the internal memo found:
- "That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.
- "That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.
- "And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing 'antifa' activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed."
The campaign memo, including emails debunking the lies about Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, were filed in support of a defamation lawsuit in a Colorado court last week and released to the public yesterday.
Meanwhile, as the *rump campaign was covering up its own conclusion that the Powell accusations were lies, the Woodward and Costa book shows that the former president was engaged in a concerted effort to overturn the election results by illegally manipulating the Electoral College votes as they were being counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. John Eastman, one of the many lawyers engaged in the effort, wrote a 6-point memo outlining the steps that then Vice President Pence should take during the congressional process for certifying the election. CNN also obtained the memo and published the whole memo online.
Mark Sumner at Daily Kos sums up the scheme: "Eastman’s plan for Pence was simple: in his role as the president of the Senate, Pence was to call the roll of states normally until he got to Arizona, at which point Pence was to claim 'that he has multiple slates of electors, and so is going to defer decision on that until finishing the other States.' Pence was then to repeat this claim for the seven other states that Drumpf lost but claimed to have won.
"When the count was complete, this would mean that only 454 of the electors had been recognized. Pence was then to say that, of this 454, Drumpf had won 232. So, big smack of the gavel, Drumpf wins."
And we can't forget the ongoing investigation of the Drumpf Organization in New York. Apparently, Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer, is expecting to face additional indictments and needs more time to prepare his defense because his lawyers need to review millions of pages of documents. Of course many of those same documents were in Weisselberg's possession.
Some of the items on this week's events list include work in advance of the 2022 elections. The first of several trainings for prospective poll workers is tonight at 5:30. REGISTER and hop on it! (Another session is being held on Saturday, September 25.) And we have a Weekend of Action coming up on September 25-26. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is holding both canvassing and phone banking shifts to educate voters about the important elections coming up. A different group is calling Wisconsin voters to recruit poll workers. You can SIGN-UP HERE.Read more
Grassroots North Shore appreciates your participation, and we hope our Gun Sense presentation was informative and helpful. Our thanks to our co-sponsors: WAVE, The Brady Group, Wisconsin Jewish Democrats, League of Progressive Seniors, and Moms Demand Action.
Here are the resources promised in the presentation.
Sen. Latonya Johnson - https://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/06/johnson
Rep. Deb Andraca - https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/legislators/assembly/2266
View the full presentation at - https://youtu.be/v0pzU_9_HUE
From Anneliese Dickman at WAVE: Dangerous bills introduced by Wisconsin's pro-gun legislators include lowering the minimum age for carrying concealed firearms and allowing firearms in vehicles on school grounds. Guns do not belong in the hands of youth or on school grounds!
- WAVE makes it easy to take action:
- To learn more about preventing suicide through Extreme Risk Protective Orders, click herefor a fact sheet from WAVE and here for more information from Brady.
- Here are three ways you can stay involved with Brady:
From Liz Miller – Moms Demand Action
Go to Momsdemandaction.org to LEARN more about the largest grassroots gun violence prevention organization in the country. TAKE ACTION by joining through the website and to connect on both the national and local levels. Find out more about the North Shore Milwaukee chapter by contacting Jennifer Hoffman-Jonas at [email protected].
From Dr. Barbara Moser https://www.compassionmke.com/
Let’s Talk Gun Safety Solutions
Guns and Suicide – RESOURCES
Barbara Moser – [email protected]
Get Help Now:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call: 1-800-273-8255
- Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
- Warning Signs for Suicide: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ Crisis Text Line
- Text the word “Hopeline” to 741741
General Resources on Suicide:
- Prevent Suicide Wisconsin: https://www.preventsuicidewi.org/home
Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee: https://www.preventsuicidemke.com/
#Bethe1To: https://www.bethe1to.com/ (and see Barbara’s video)https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/ Case Fatality Rates: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/case-fatality/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline –
Firearms and Suicide
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Lethal Means Stakeholder Group (2020 Report)
- Lethal Means and Suicide Prevention: A Guide for Community and Industry Leaders: https://theactionalliance.org/resource/lethal-means-suicide-prevention-guide-community-industry-leaders
- Harvard School of Public Health: Means Matter: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/
Case Fatality Rates: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/case-fatality/
- Prevent Suicide Wisconsin: https://www.preventsuicidewi.org/home
- Recommendations for Families (includes information on storing firearms):
- Stanford University 2020 study on Handgun Ownership and Suicide Rates in CA:
- https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/06/handgun-ownership-associated-with-much-higher- suicide-risk.html
- Suicide Case Fatality Rates in the US: 2007-2014 Annals of Internal Medicine 12/2019:
Quick reminder: Grassroots North Shore is hosting a program — Let's Talk Gun Safety Solutions — this Sunday afternoon from 3pm-4pm on Zoom. Our co-sponsors include Moms Demand Action, the Brady Group, WAVE, Wisconsin Jewish Democrats, and the League of Progressive Seniors. Our speakers include State Assembly Representative Deb Andraca; State Senator LaTonya Johnson; Anneliese Dickson (The Brady Group); Liz Miller (Moms Demand Action); and Dr. Barbara Moser. These experts and legislators will update us on why Wisconsin has been unable to pass legislation to address gun violence in our communities and what we can do about the impasse. Join us for a lively discussion! Register here.
The 9/11 commemorations were moving on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. And, in something of a surprise, our 43rd president, George W. Bush, gave what Dana Milbank called a "magnificent speech Saturday contrasting the warm courage of national unity after the 9/11 attacks with the domestic terrorism Donald Drumpf has unleashed." The most quoted passage — and one those of us who generally opposed most of the Bush policies genuinely applauded — was aimed squarely at the former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and his followers: "There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them."
Now we are staring at what may be a reprise of the January 6 insurrection on Saturday, September 18, as a MAGA crowd gathers for a "Justice For J6" rally. Fencing around the Capitol building is returning and the news media are focused like a laser on the events, perhaps surreptitiously hoping for more great b-roll to air on their cable shows.
Maybe we have not yet had our fill of disaster news: the Afghanistan withdrawal and its problems occupied a couple of days (New Yorker, Aug. 19, 2021); a new story about the Kabul drone strike that supposedly killed ISIS terrorists but may actually have been a colossal error has gotten a little play (New York Times, Sep 10, 2021); and the COVID news continues to be awful (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Meanwhile Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana and caused unexpected deaths in flash flooding in the northeast. Wild fires rage out west and a new hurricane/tropical storm is drowning the Texas gulf coast and heading to Louisiana to add to the misery there. Maybe it's just me, but there are so many of these horrors — not to mention the US Supreme Court's failure to prevent a draconian anti-abortion law and an equally abominable voter suppression law — that they could undermine our nation's capacity to cope.
Not everything is gloomy, though. Here are some brightish spots. The outcome of the California recall election looks promising — we'll know for sure in a day or two or three. And Senate Democrats have introduced a revised voting rights bill. Our local events list is finally starting to show that there are plenty of actions to take in the next two weeks. The only antidote I know for the kind of malaise we're experiencing is to renew our collective resolve to build our "more perfect union."Read more
Eilene Stevens published Don't let women become victims in Newsletter Archive 2021-09-07 16:41:12 -0500
This week, the newsletter is focusing on protecting women's health and our autonomy. As you undoubtedly know, in its landmark decision Roe v Wade, decided in 1973, the US Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, based on her right to privacy. In 1992, the court narrowed the right, ruling that after the fetus became viable, at about 24 weeks, women could no longer freely choose to terminate pregnancies. However, in that ruling, the court declared that states could not impose an "undue burden" on the right to an abortion, up to the point of fetal viability. In the intervening years, all sorts of laws to restrict the right to bodily autonomy have passed in various states and have been upheld by the courts.
Now the Supreme Court has allowed a draconian Texas law that bans all abortions after about 6 weeks (dating from the first day of a woman's last menstrual cycle) and that empowers any random citizen to sue ANYONE who helps someone obtain an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The Texas statute introduces the novel provision that only private citizens can enforce the law. That provision became SCOTUS's rationale for declining to enjoin the law and preventing it from taking effect, as it was clearly designed to do.
The result allowed the Texas law to take effect on September 1, 2021. Similar laws are set to be replicated in a number of other states. But even if they do not enact new anti-abortion laws, laws prohibiting abortion are already on the books or even in the state constitutions in almost half the states. These laws will go into effect if Roe is overturned. The Guttmacher Institue has the relevant data:
- 22 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion.
- 8 states retain their unenforced, pre-Roe abortion bans.
- 11 states have post-Roe laws to ban all or nearly all abortions that would be triggered if Roe were overturned.
- 9 states have unconstitutional post-Roe restrictions that are currently blocked by courts but could be brought back into effect with a court order in Roe’s absence.
- 7 states have laws that express the intent to restrict the right to legal abortion to the maximum extent permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the absence of Roe.
- 4 states have passed a constitutional amendment explicitly declaring that their constitution does not secure or protect the right to abortion or allow use of public funds for abortion.
Wisconsin is one of the eight states that have retained an unenforced, pre-Roe abortion ban. Just look at the company we keep: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. The Wisconsin law provides an exception to protect the life of the patient (but not necessarily her health), as do some of the other unenforced laws. In Wisconsin, there would also be no exception for the victims of rape or incest.
In short, Wisconsin will become one of the states where abortion is no longer legal if Roe v Wade is overturned. Moreover, if our GOP-dominated legislature passes a vigilante law like the one SCOTUS just allowed in Texas, the only way such a statue can be prevented from going into effect here is to ensure that a Democratic governor will veto it. So — to protect women's rights, we have to make sure we accomplish two key goals:
Re-elect Tony Evers next year. Grassroots North Shore will be conducting vigorous efforts on Governor Evers behalf (as well as for a number of progressive candidates for state and national offices) during 2022. Make a plan to join us by signing up to be a volunteer now.
- Redouble our efforts to defeat the gerrymandered electoral maps that have governed our state and federal elections for the past decade. With fairer maps in place, we will have a fighting chance to break the stranglehold the Republican Party has on our legislative elections. Join Grassroots North Shore and the Coalition for Fair Maps for a statewide program exploring how to USE OUR PEOPLE-DRIVEN POWER. Register here.
Here are two more key ACTIONS to take this week!
- National Voter Registration Day is September 28. Get some training on assisting eligible citizens of Wisconsin to register or re-register to vote. The Wisconsin Voting Rights Coalition is providing this nonpartisan interactive workshop that will prepare volunteers to help with nonpartisan, voter registration in their community. Experienced organizers will explain best practices and specific Wisconsin voting laws. Sign up for some training here. And then sign up to phone people who have recently been purged from the voter rolls in Wisconsin. Grassroots North Shore will be holding its own orientation sessions to review how to use the Virtual Phone Bank and the script. So sign up on our website and choose an orientation and script overview session on the RSVP page.
- Fight back against government waste and corruption, as "conservatives" were always demanding. Republicans are about to spend $680,000 to "review" the Wisconsin 2020 election. Tell you legislators you do not want your tax-payer dollars spent to re-enforce the fictitious idea that our elections are rife with fraud — that's the goal of such a "review," especially one headed by Michael Gabelman, a staunch, looney *rump supporter. Contact your WI legislators this week.
Finally, a reminder that we are hosting a wonderful, alas virtual, program on preventing gun violence. Speakers include State Assembly Representative Deb Andraca; State Senator LaTonya Johnson; Anneliese Dickson (The Brady Group); Liz Miller (Moms Demand Action); and Dr. Barbara Moser. They will discuss the obstacles to our state enacting sensible gun safety laws and how to push back. Please join us for this online forum. After you register, you will receive email with the Zoom information you will need.Read more
- 22 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion.
Eilene Stevens published Useful things to do right now. in Newsletter Archive 2021-08-31 16:23:50 -0500
Labor Day looms and the end of summer is nigh. The events list continues to be sparse even though my inbox is filled to overflowing with candidates soliciting donations. So summer may be slow, but campaigning is forever fast and furious! Grassroots North Shore continues its steady pace of events, though. And here's one you really should not miss.
GRASSROOTS NORTH SHORE EVENT: Our program on SEPTEMBER 19th is now virtual, but still features great speakers. As many of you already know, we have changed our September 19th event to an online one to respond to recent concerns about the rise in Covid cases. From 3:00-4:45 we will gather to hear from legislators and experts and activists to explore why Wisconsin has not been able to pass sensible gun legislation — despite widespread support for it. One featured speaker will be Liz Miller of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a National Grassroots Organization working to decrease gun violence. Find out how to advocate for safer and stronger gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Learn about safe gun storage through their BeSmart program. Our follow-up email after the event will tell you how to make contact with the North Shore Milwaukee branch, which works with groups from the City of Milwaukee and other surrounding areas to increase awareness of the public health crisis of gun violence. To sign up for this event, RSVP HERE.
We're at an inflection point with GERRYMANDERING in Wisconsin as the legislature begins the process of drawing new electoral maps that will govern electoral districts for the state legislature and our Congressional Districts for the next decade. We heavily criticized the Republicans who drew the last set of maps in secret. Now's our chance to bring a little sunshine to bear on the process. We urge you to participate in the redistricting process by contributing to the Web portal the legislature has set up for just such a purpose. You can draw a map for your "community of interest," you can draw a full Wisconsin Legislative or Congressional District plan, or you can draw one or more districts in a given region of Wisconsin. The portal opens on September 1 and will accept submissions until mid-October. And it offers three FREE web-based technologies you can use to make your map.
There may not be an imminent election in Wisconsin, but there's a critical one looming in California. ACTIVATE AMERICA needs phone bankers to help Governor Newsom defeat a recall election. Here's their pitch:
In an interesting confluence of redistricting and the pandemic issues, there's a pointer to a research project at ELECTION LAW BLOG that explains why "NY Lost One Seat in Congress Due to Covid-Related Deaths".
Finally, a Daily Kos diary picks up a disturbing article about ANTI-VAXXERS who SHUT DOWN MOBILE VACCINE CLINIC IN GEORGIA:
For those who are celebrating the Jewish New Year next week: L'Shona Tovah.Read more
Eilene Stevens published the redistricting battle begins in Newsletter Archive 2021-08-25 11:27:44 -0500
There are three really big topics in the recent news. The evacuation of troops and allies from Afghanistan has been pretty dominant. You can no doubt learn all about it from the national media outlets. And of course the terrible toll the coronavirus delta variant is taking has also been well covered. But here in Wisconsin, the most immediately important news — although it's not getting the coverage it really warrants — is the redistricting fight now underway in earnest.
The Census Bureau released high level state data in April, allowing people to forecast which states would gain or lose representatives in the US House. That data showed that Wisconsin would retain all eight of its congressional districts. But the detailed census tract data was only released on August 12. And already there have been two lawsuits filed in federal courts and one in a state court in Wisconsin.
On behalf of Democrats, various NGOs, and three individual voters, Law Forward filed a suit in federal court asking the court to ensure that Wisconsin has fair and legally compliant maps in time for the 2022 elections. (The non-partisan elections are February 15 and April 5, 2022; the partisan elections are August 9 and November 8.) In their email blast about the lawsuit Law Forward explains: "The Legislature should do its job and draw new maps that reflect the population shifts captured in the 2020 Census, and send the Governor fair maps for his signature. But all signs point to another attempt to gerrymander our state by legislative leadership. That's why we are asking the federal court to make sure we have maps that will empower Wisconsin voters to make their voices heard in our government for the next decade." See more about this suit.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court on August 23. That suit asks the state Supreme Court to handle the drawing of new maps, requesting that it "accept the case and put it on hold until the Legislature adopts a new map. If the Legislature doesn't adopt a constitutional map approved by the governor, the lawsuit argues, then the court should adopt new maps, using the current ones as a starting point" (ABC News, Aug. 23, 2021). That last statement — using the current maps as a starting point — is highly contested and pretty much signals that the GOP and its allies intend to keep as much of the gerrymandered map as they possibly can.
A day after the census data was released, Marc Elias — formerly at Perkins Coie and now head of a new law firm, Elias Law Group — filed a suit in federal court in Madison, seeking to bar the Wisconsin Election Commission from "using the maps drawn in 2011 because census data released Thursday shows the districts no longer contain equal populations.... They asked the court to set a deadline for Evers and lawmakers to enact new maps — and to have the court draw its own map if they don't reach a deal" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 13, 2021). The suit filed by Elias and the 13 lawyers who left Perkins Coie with him directly challenges argument that the courts should use the current map as the basis for drawing new ones.
The point of all this legal jockeying is to make sure that Wisconsin voters — not partisans drawing maps rigged to ensure a decade of dominance in the state Assembly and Senate — are able to choose their elected officials. Next week I will provide you with clear action items you need to do to help ensure that we have fair maps and fair elections going forward.
For this week, though, the action item is pretty simple. The situation with COVID-19 in Wisconsin is not as dire as it is in states with lower vaccination rates, but it is serious enough to be careful. That's why we have chosen Virmond Park in Mequon as our venue for an outdoor, in person meeting on Sunday, September 19th from 3:00-5:30. We will hear from legislators, experts, activists and gun violence survivors to explore why Wisconsin has not been able to pass sensible gun legislation despite widespread support for it. Among the many speakers, we will feature a presentation from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national grassroots organization working to decrease gun violence. Find out how to advocate for safer and stronger gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Learn about safe gun storage through their BeSmart program. To join us, RSVP here.
Eilene Stevens published The lessons of the past are still with us in Newsletter Archive 2021-08-18 10:36:38 -0500
The news has been so uniformly grim in the past week, that I'm beginning to tune it out! And that's not a good strategy for engaging in activities that will help turn things around! So I'm going to start with what to do to engage with the electoral redistricting that officially kicked off when the 2020 census data were released last week. A day after the states received their population figures and distributions, Marc Elias, representing six Democrats from Wisconsin, filed a lawsuit in federal court asking it to "ready itself to redraw Wisconsin's congressional and legislative maps" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 13). As the article explains, "it seeks to bar the [Wisconsin Election] Commission from again using the maps drawn in 2011 because the census data ... shows the districts no longer contain equal populations."
Right now, the thing to do is to contact your legislators, regardless of which party they belong to, and ask them to support fair maps — ones that do not guarantee any political party seats in the state legislature or in the congress. Find contact information for your Wisconsin legislators here. And don't think that calling or writing your representatives is just a waste of your time. Members of both parties do keep track of how many people contact them with views on the matters at hand. And Wisconsin voters have already demonstrated bi-partisan support for fair electoral maps. The goal of phoning or writing is to let legislators know that people are paying attention!
On a more uplifting note: plan to join your fellow Grassroots North Shore compatriots on Sunday, September 19th, at Virmond park in Ozaukee County. Grassroots North Shore will feature talks about Gun Sense and Gun Safety at our first in-person gathering since January 2019. Replacing our traditional picnic, it will be held outside and will host several experts and legislators. Come for the community, the knowledge, and the tasty treats that afternoon from 3:00-5:30 in a park setting that allows us peace of mind while meeting together on an important issue. So save the date on your calendar and sign up on our web page.
On the virus front, the Biden administration is apparently planning to recommend that fully vaccinated people who obtained Moderna or BioNTech shots also get a booster shot about 8 months after their last COVID vaccination. Those who had the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will probably also need boosters, but the government is waiting for the results of J&J's ongoing clinical trial of the booster regimen with that vaccine. As with the first round of shots, nursing home residents and health workers are likely to go first, with older people next. The announcement of the policy is likely to come in the next few days. See the full article in the New York Times.
The COVID situation in Texas and Florida, just to name two of the most egregious states, has already become dire, in part because both states have relatively low vaccination rates. "The number of people hospitalized nationally has already surpassed the level seen during last summer's surge, and it is still climbing," reports the New York Times. Meanwhile, New Zealand, where the first COVID case in six months has been detected, has gone into a three-day lockdown to contain the spread. But in Wisconsin we can't even mandate masks as schools re-open! And of course new cases and hospitalizations are rising here, as they are across the country. Thankfully, COVID-related deaths, however, have remained low.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is gearing up for next year's abundance of elections: FOUR of them, to be exact. Over the upcoming weekend, phone volunteers will talk to infrequent Democratic voters about the Child Tax Credit and the American Rescue Plan, using what's known as "the dialer" and also the traditional Virtual Phone Bank (VPB). Please sign up. The following week, the party will be contacting strong Democratic voters. So you can sign up for that action also.
Congress is in recess now, and the national media are intensely focused on the debacle in Afghanistan. And President Biden is taking plenty of heat from the usual suspects who have been urging the US to stay militarily engaged — maybe just for six months when the summer "fighting season" ends, or perhaps another year, or two or three. My own view is that our strategies have failed utterly. The Afghan "army" isn't interested, apparently, in fighting the Taliban. And we can't force them, no matter what we do. So I'm with our President: it's long past time to leave. Even though the situations are different in many ways, the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the triumph of the Taliban feel like the end of the Vietnam war all over again. As Peter, Paul, and Mary so poignantly sang so many years ago, "when will we ever learn"?Read more
Eilene Stevens published Join the fight against the *rump coup! in Newsletter Archive 2021-08-05 09:40:03 -0500
’ve become so inured to Donald Drumpf’s proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election." Reich argues that the revelation — "Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen" — from the notes of a December 27, 2020, phone call to the acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen "should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who 'engaged in insurrection' against the US." "Make no mistake," he writes, "this was an attempted coup."
Meanwhile, our own Robin Vos has been working to organize a Wisconsin "investigation" of the 2020 election here. Only he has run into a spot of bother. It seems the two retired police officers he had hired as investigators quit sometime early in July. (Vos's explanation: "both of them quit because they were hired to work part-time but they said it required a full-time effort.") So instead of cancelling the whole effort, Vos decided to go big! How big? Who knows? A former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice — who claimed the election had been stolen at a November *rump rally — has been empowered "to hire as many investigators as he wants...." And the cost? Originally the investigation was projected to come in at about $72,000. Now there's no budget but "Vos said it would be reasonable to spend several hundred thousand dollars on it" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 30, 2021). So that's your Wisconsin tax dollars at work.
And Vos's venture is not the only one! According to the Wisconsin Examiner, Rep. Janel Brandtjen plans to start her own investigation. "Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who chairs the Assembly Campaign and Elections Committee, announced Monday she has decided to “initiate a more intensive investigation” of possible election fraud. (Think: Arizona’s search for bamboo filters in ballots to show they might be from China.)" So more public funds spent on the oft-disproven lie that the November 2020 election for president in Wisconsin was riddled with voter fraud? Apparently so. The committee she chairs has been given the power to "investigate," including the power of subpoena. The effort to overturn the last election and to sow suspicion about American elections goes on and on and on.
So, infrastructure and the Delta variant of COVID-19 are dominating the news right now. But the key to our democracy's survival remains insuring that we have free and fair elections in the United States. That's how we are fighting against what can only be called the GOP's on-going coup attempt. And that's where Grassroots North Shore is focusing its efforts now and into the fall. And we will need your participation!
Right now we have three major initiatives going, all of them in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin:
Phone Banking: As soon as the League has created the script and set up the phone bank, we will need people to call previously registered voters who have been removed from the Wisconsin voter rolls to help them re-register if possible. Starting in mid-June, the Wisconsin Election Commission notified approximately 180,000 people who were on the voter registration rolls but who apparently had not voted in last four years. If these voters failed to respond to the notification by July 15, they were to be purged from the rolls. These calls, then, function much like a voter registration drive. Please sign up here. To provide support for those planning to phone, I will be setting up orientation sessions on Zoom on August 18 at 4pm, August 21 at 10am and 2pm, and August 22 at 1pm and 4pm to help get you started.
Door-Hangers: On August 14 and 15, we will be distributing door-hangers to people in Glendale, encouraging people to call their Assembly representative and their state Senator, to urge them to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Please sign up here for this low contact, outdoor activity.
- Leaflets: We are also beginning a project to distribute leaflets outside of libraries and farmers markets in our North Shore area. The leaflets, also prepared by the League of Women Voters, explain why gerrymandering hurts our state and ask people to phone their legislators. As the leaflet says, "Tell them you want Fair Maps in 2021, public hearings and for your vote to count." Sign up and stay tuned for the details of dates, locations, and shift times!
The events list is filling out a little more. And soon it will be overflowing with candidate events. So while the weather is cooperating, plan to attend at least one of the outdoor events scheduled for the next two weeks. Many of them are really social, rather than explicitly political. So join with other like-minded folks and make some new friends, why don't you?Read more
- Phone Banking: As soon as the League has created the script and set up the phone bank, we will need people to call previously registered voters who have been removed from the Wisconsin voter rolls to help them re-register if possible. Starting in mid-June, the Wisconsin Election Commission notified approximately 180,000 people who were on the voter registration rolls but who apparently had not voted in last four years. If these voters failed to respond to the notification by July 15, they were to be purged from the rolls. These calls, then, function much like a voter registration drive. Please sign up here. To provide support for those planning to phone, I will be setting up orientation sessions on Zoom on August 18 at 4pm, August 21 at 10am and 2pm, and August 22 at 1pm and 4pm to help get you started.
Eilene Stevens published Securing our democracy and putting on masks again! in Newsletter Archive 2021-07-28 09:22:31 -0500
The Select Committee on the January 6 Insurrection met in formal session today. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) chairs the panel, which also includes two Republicans Speaker Pelosi named to the committee after Minority Leader McCarthy pulled his five nominees in a huff. In his opening statement, Chairman Thompson promised to expose "the big lie." "Some people are trying to deny what happened,” Thompson said. “To whitewash it. To turn the insurrectionists into martyrs. But the whole world saw the reality of what happened on January 6th. … And all of it: for a vile, vile lie. Let’s be clear. The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie. As chairman of this committee, I will not give that lie any fertile ground." Representative Cheney followed: "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our Democratic system." (See full coverage in the Washington Post, July 27, 2021.)
If the purpose of the investigation is to prevent another attempt in the future, then simply beefing up security at the Capitol and elsewhere or rolling back measures to suppress the vote will be insufficient. As Ned Foley, a contributing author at Election Law Blog, has pointed out, "the biggest risk that Drumpf starts a second term on January 20, 2025, as a consequence of his being awarded electoral college votes that he did not win as a result of the popular vote in the relevant states, is from members of Congress being willing to declare him the winner even though he actually lost, in a second — and this time successful — version of the Big Lie." So he wonders whether there is plan, "either through the work of the select committee or otherwise, to confront this problem?" Neither the "For the People Act" nor the "John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act" provide any counter to the Republican efforts to subvert elections by taking over their administration and certification: in other words, the new laws that are about how votes are counted (including whose votes are counted) and certified rather than simply about who has access to the ballot box.
In COVID-19 news, the CDC is now recommending that fully vaccinated people, especially those who live in areas of high disease transmission, should resume wearing masks in indoor public settings. According to the New York Times, "The change follows reports of rising breakthrough infections with the more contagious Delta variant in people who were fully immunized, and case surges in regions with low vaccination rates." Major news outlets are also reporting that impatience with and anger at vaccine refusniks are growing.
And in a wonderful ironic twist, COVID-19 vaccinations DO NOT CAUSE male infertility or erectile dysfunction. HOWEVER, getting COVID-19 can! Mark Sumner at Daily Kos notes that "For months, rumors have been circulating about the COVID-19 vaccines causing such issues. Those rumors are simply untrue. There is no evidence that the vaccines can cause infertility among men or women. But the disease certainly can." He concludes, "by turning down the vaccine, Republicans may be not just putting their lives at risk, but taking themselves right out of the gene pool."
To do more than cluck and tut about the state of the world, though, how about taking a proactive step or two? The Ozaukee County Fair is taking place from July 28 (that's TOMORROW) through August 1. The Ozaukee County Dems are going to be managing a booth there and invite you to drop by for swag, selfies and support! And it's not too late to volunteer to help out at the State Fair, at the Milwaukee Fair Grounds, August 5 — 15. Each day, shifts of 2.5 hours begin at 11am and end at 9pm. To volunteer (and get a free ticket for that day's Fair), call Marlene Ott — 414-421-8866 —. Please leave your name, your phone number, and the date & times of shifts you are available. Then repeat the info before hanging up.
This week the Events list is a bit longer. And it has a nice mix of cultural, social, and political actions to choose from. Surely you can find something interesting to do!Read more
Eilene Stevens published first the ugly then the good in Newsletter Archive 2021-07-21 08:05:10 -0500
There's plenty of worrying news circulating just now. For me, the most troublesome is a piece by Mark Sumner in Daily Kos about the danger of allowing the Covid-19 pandemic to endure. It's a long piece but worth the time it takes to read because it clarifies the all-too-real consequences of an endemic disease accelerating its reproduction number (R0) over the past 18 months and will apparently continue to mutate in a way that will continue to raise that number even further. Meaning that the virus can become more transmissible with each new variant.
As Sumner explains, "every person infected brings around 10,000,000,000 new examples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into existence. Every single one of those is subject to mutations. Those mutations then get winnowed by the one evolutionary pressure that faces viruses: getting that R0 number ever higher. The idea that viruses always mutate to become less deadly over time is simply not true. Viruses become more contagious. That’s it."
Meanwhile, the bipartisan infrastructure bill seems headed for a show-down. After having negotiated an agreement of sorts, Republicans are now balking at increased funding for the IRS so that it can pursue extremely wealthy tax cheats. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo dissects the flimflammery in this move, while arguing that the ball remains in the Democrats' court. Let's hope he's spot on when he writes, "If Republicans won’t produce 10 votes for the bipartisan mini-bill, Democrats can simply pile that money into the reconciliation bill. While no one wants to say that out loud or say it too loudly, that looks like what they will do." Majority Leader Schumer has fixed tomorrow as the deadline. Let the fireworks begin!
But let's focus for now on something positive you can do. First, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has just launched a Menstrual Supply Drive to collect menstrual products and donate them to homeless shelters across Milwaukee. Many people who menstruate suffer from not having access to period products or are unable to afford these products. Unfortunately, they are still treated as a commodity. Pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and feminine wipes are all needed. A drop-off location is available until August 6th. For donations please contact Kambria Farwell at [email protected]. Kambria will provide the address of the drop-off location and answer your questions. Please share this community service project with friends, relatives, and on social media!
Second, you can sign up to help those who have been struck from Wisconsin's voter rolls re-register to vote. As part of a registration drive put together by the League of Women Voters, Grassroots North Shore is seeking volunteers to make phone calls to those people and to help those who want to be able to vote to get registered again. The phone bank will begin early in August and may continue through the early autumn. This project is not a heavy lift: you can participate by making calls from home and giving the effort just a few hours a week. Sign up here and we'll be in touch when we're ready to go.
Third, we are also going to "drop lit" in our communities to combat gerrymandering. The League of Women Voters has produced door-hangers detailing what gerrymandering has meant to the fate of legislation voters of Wisconsin say they want: "Partisan maps cause elected officials to focus on partisan primaries, representing their political party and donors instead of voters." If you're up for stretching your legs and getting a bit of fresh air, RSVP. We'll be in touch.
[PS: BUCKS IN SIX! Go Bucks.]Read more
Eilene Stevens published Let's fight back against gerrymandering and voter suppression in Newsletter Archive 2021-07-07 08:16:15 -0500
The national and local news items of note are many and various. But now that Congress has returned from its Fourth of July recess, the political action will definitely heat up even more. Sometimes the national and local bits converge. For example, he-who-shall-not-be-named (ie, the "former guy") is attacking Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (awww) for "failing to adequately fight to overturn Biden's win" (Washington Post, July 5, 2021). Vos of course is not the only state legislator who has been threatened with *rump's recruitment and endorsement of a primary opponent for these so-called RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). The point of these efforts is to tighten his grip on the GOP (or as it is sometimes now called, the GQP).
Fighting back: that's what we need to do. But how? One good way is to keep pressing to end gerrymandering, and promote fair maps. (Note: you can pick up a Fair Maps yard sign at our office, 5600 W. Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116, on Wednesday, July 7 from 4:30 to 6:30pm and on Saturday, July 10 from 11am to 1pm.) The People's Map Commission (PMC) will be drawing new maps to present to the legislature after the state-level census data are distributed (early this fall). The PMC is relying on citizens to help this effort by drawing maps of their "communities of interest." And that means YOU.
Ariana Hones, from Wisconsin Conservation Voters, is announcing two opportunities for citizens to participate in map-making: the first on Tuesday, July 13, from 3-4:30pm and the second on Thursday, July 15, from 6-7:30pm. Ariana explains, "Mapping our communities is an easy and important part of the districting process and an opportunity to advocate for the needs of our communities.... Learn how to draw a map that represents your community and your best interests. These maps will be submitted to the People’s Maps Commission for consideration during this year’s districting process. At each map making event you will be split into small groups and have a point person that is trained in making the maps. All we will need from you in your input and ideas on what matters to your community."
For its current actions, Grassroots North Shore is participating in a phone bank with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin to alert people who are on the Voter Purge list. The list comprises registered voters who apparently have not voted in any election in the last four years and has been developed by the Wisconsin Election Commission. The goal of this strictly nonpartisan effort is to get as many people registered as possible ahead of both the nonpartisan and partisan elections in 2022. The League has kindly set up our own GRNS phone bank list at https://www.openvpb.com/vpb_bycode/A494E4E-658806. You can view the really simple script and/or sign up for a phone bank refresher and script walk-through either on Wednesday, July 7, at 4pm or Saturday, July 10, at 10am. Once you sign up, an automatic email reply will confirm your participation and send you the Zoom link for the session. Of course if you're an experienced phone banker, you can use the link to the phone bank above to just plunge right in. (Just so we know who is participating and when, please text Nancy Kaplan at 443-465-1920 or email her at [email protected] when you begin phoning.)
While we continue to wait for the US Senate to pass the For the People Act and/or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, nothing is more important than voter registration efforts ahead of 2022. That's how we combat voter suppression laws (and there are many, many of these already in Wisconsin, even if Governor Evers will veto any new ones that come his way).
Republicans have somehow decided that they can't win a majority of voters so they are resorting to reducing turnout in hopes that more voters who lean toward Democrats will be discouraged or prevented from voting, as compared to those who tend to vote for Republicans. They are probably wrong about their assumption. As the Washington Post puts it, "There is precious little evidence that the expanded turnout ... accrues to Democrats’ benefit," at least at the congressional level — after all Republicans picked up seats in the 2020 elections. But history shows that they are right about presidential elections. In the past eight presidential elections, Republicans have indeed won the White House three times, but only once — with the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 — have they won the popular vote for President. The New York Times offers a comprehensive explanation and history of these peculiar elections.
Eilene Stevens published on voting rights and redistricting in Newsletter Archive 2021-06-29 22:07:07 -0500
US Supreme Court watchers will have been disappointed again today because the Court has not yet ruled on Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case challenging the Arizona law that requires the ballots of people who vote outside the precinct in which they are registered to be discarded. As Oyez.org explains, "If officials determine the voter voted out of precinct (OOP), the county discards the ballot in its entirety, even if (as is the case in most instances), the OOP voter properly voted (i.e., was eligible to vote) in most of the races on the ballot. The Democratic National Committee challenged this OOP policy as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it adversely and disparately affects Arizona’s Native American, Hispanic, and African American citizens." Oral arguments were heard on March 2, 2021. You can listen to the argument or read the transcript here. The opinion will be released on Thursday, July 1, 2021, the last day of the Court's term.
The case revolves around what's called the "disparate impact" element of the Voting Rights Act. The "disparate impact" standard does not rely on legislative intent. But because there is some concern about what the Court will rule, based on the way oral arguments went, the Department of Justice is basing its newly announced suit against new Georgia voting restrictions law on the "discriminatory intent" standard in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In its press release, the Department of Justice explains, "The United States’ complaint contends that several provisions of Senate Bill 202 were adopted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race. The Justice Department’s lawsuit alleges that the cumulative and discriminatory effect of these laws — particularly on Black voters — was known to lawmakers and that lawmakers adopted the law despite this."
Congress has recessed for the July 4 holiday, but the Wisconsin legislature is barreling along. The legislature plans to pass the biennial budget, with a tax cut of $3 billion over two years — mostly benefiting the wealthy, naturally — and a provision ending the long freeze on in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin schools. (Meanwhile, a sophisticated academic study concludes that lowering taxes for the wealthy and corporations doesn't result in an improved economy for all — see this article in Bloomberg News.)
And in case you missed this tidbit, Republicans will try to take a case over their contracts with lawyers hired in December 2020 and January 2021 in anticipation of litigation over redistricting to the Wisconsin Supreme Court later this week. The Journal Sentinel notes, however, that the plan "may be risky because the high court on Friday [June 26] reminded conservatives that it wants those bringing cases to follow regular procedures instead of engineering ways to get them to the justices as fast as possible."
In COVID-19 news, it's now apparent that almost all of the new cases, in Wisconsin and across the nation, involve people who have not been vaccinated (see the AP story). But the future here is a bit cloudy. While so-called "breakthrough infections" (infections involving fully vaccinated people) are relatively rare, the Delta variant has been detected in about three-dozen cases in Wisconsin, "but the real number is expected to be much higher" (cbs58). So the state could see a surge in cases, and a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, in areas of the state where vaccination rates are not optimal.
On a final note, there's been an update to the hours and days you can drop by our office (5600 W. Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116) to pick up Fair Maps signs. The office will be closed this week (June 28-July 4), but will be available for those who want to pick up signs on Wednesday, July 7 from 4:30 to 6:30pm and on Saturday, July 10 from 11am to 1pm. Brown Deer Road is under construction, so please show extra caution in the area.
Eilene Stevens published ACA, yay; For the People Act, not so much in Newsletter Archive 2021-06-23 09:12:31 -0500
So Ron Johnson walks into a Juneteenth celebration in Milwaukee. Guess what happens? (I feel a little like I'm writing for Stephen Colbert's segment "Meanwhile"!)
You've probably already heard that the US Supreme Court ruled, 7-2, that "neither the states nor the individuals challenging the law have a legal right to sue, known as standing." In the majority opinion authored by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Roberts, Kavenaugh, and Coney Barrett, the Court ordered the case returned to the lower court with instructions to dismiss it. As a result, Obamacare lives! For a deeper analysis and history of the case, see an article at scotusblog.com. The Washington Post's analysis suggests that "While health care remains a potent political issue — and the Affordable Care Act has shortcomings Democrats have acknowledged — the latest court ruling suggests that Republican chances of winning a legal battle to kill it are now much diminished." Republicans are apparently now admitting that "the battle would now focus on the policy fight in Congress." Twelve years in the making, we have finally come away victorious!
The next big partisan fight — on voting rights and election administration — is already looming. Majority Leader Schumer is planning to put the For the People Act (also know as HR1 and S1) up for a test vote today. The act would require non-partisan redistricting for congressional seats, among other things. The vote to begin debate will undoubtedly run into a filibuster, but the fight is really just beginning. The Washington Post has the bird's eye view.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is asking people to sign a petition, calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the bill. (Of course, he's also using this appeal to raise money, but you can safely ignore the pitch.) The League of Women Voters is also asking people to call Senator Baldwin and Senator Johnson to tell them to Vote Yes on the For the People Act (S1). Return control of our government back where it belongs — into the hands of the people. You can reach Senator Baldwin's office at 202-224-5653, or by email. And Senator Johson's office at 202-224-5323, or by email. If you do nothing else this week, at least show your support for the bill. Senate staffers will tally up the calls and emails so your efforts will not be for nought!
As Paul Waldman in the Washington Post's Plum Line blog writes, however, "things are about to get much harder for Biden and Democrats." As he explains, "we’ve been caught in a holding pattern as Democrats try to pass an infrastructure bill and electoral reform, both of which are being held hostage by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). Every sane person understands that Republicans will never support either, so the most likely outcome is that electoral reform will fall to a GOP filibuster and infrastructure will be passed through a majority reconciliation vote." Protecting voting rights and reigning in partisan gerrymandering are two of the most serious issues it looks as if we might have to shelve. If the For the People Act fails, we will need to ensure that Governor Evers wins re-election next year so that we can preserve a veto over redistricting maps the GOP will likely adopt if they win the governorship in 2022. Remember, Texas redrew its electoral maps in 2003, in the middle of the decade, when Republicans won control of both houses of the legislature. It would not be the least bit surprising if new maps are adopted here in 2023, if a Republican Governor takes over!
President Biden has already taken a hit because of his inability to fulfill many important campaign pledges — raising the minimum wage, creating a public health insurance option, providing new funding for child care, and guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining, for example. All of these proposals are pretty popular. Yet at FiveThirtyEight.com, Biden's overall approval rating is down to 51.7%, better than the former guy's at this stage in his *residency but lower than most other recent presidents'. The good news, though, is that Biden's disapproval stands at 42.6%, nine percentage points lower than his approval.
The events list for the next two weeks is pitiful. But that doesn't mean all worthy political activity has come to a halt. The Democratic Party is sponsoring a weekend of action on June 26-27 to organize around local issues in the Governor's Budget. Sign up here! The party is also providing grassroots training for organizers. You can see the summer schedule here, with the proviso that the schedule is subject to change.
The League of Progressive Seniors — an organization Grassroots North Shore works closely with — is holding a fundraiser to enable it to set up a billboard, create postcards and flyers, and pay for statewide distribution of materials. The subject of these efforts is Robin Vos and his stubborn refusal to allow Wisconsin to expand Medicaid under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. The Medicaid Expansion would bring $1.6 BILLION to our state's General Purpose Revenue pool and 70% of Wisconsin's people support it. (All donations to the League are appreciated. Suggested donation is $50.) The event will take place on the patio at the home of Jackie Boynton and Peter McAvoy, 3945 North Harcourt Place, Shorewood, 53211. With questions or concerns, email Patty Yunk or Jackie Boynton.
It's only mid-June but already it feels as if the Dog Days of August are here! The events list below is still pretty thin. But there are a few events that will be taking place IN PERSON! YAY!! Drinking Liberally Milwaukee is going to hold its next meeting (this evening) at Estabrook Park's Beer Garden; Drinking Liberally Wauwatosa is going to hold its meeting (for vaccinated people) tomorrow at Camp Bar (6600 W. North Ave., Tosa); and the League of Progressive Seniors is celebrating its 5th Anniversary on Jackie Boynton's patio on June 24. See the particulars in the event list.
And Grassroots North Shore is dipping its toes in the face-to-face (but still masked) waters. Beginning Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Grassroots North Shore office will be open for limited hours to distribute Fair Maps Signs! Hours will be Wednesdays, 4:30 – 6:30pm and Saturdays, 11am – 1pm. A donation of $5 per sign is appreciated. Please wear a mask in the building. Our office is at 5600 W. Brown Deer Road, Suite 116, Brown Deer, WI 53223. It would help immensely if the For the People Act could pass the U.S. Senate. But we need to keep pushing this issue with the Wisconsin legislature. In particular, we urge you to call your Assembly and Senate Representatives to urge them to hold a public hearing for Assemby Bill 395 and its Senate companion SB 389. You can find their contact info here. (For a wealth of information you can use to talk to you representatives, your family, and your friends, visit the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's web page for Fair Voting Maps). Then pick up your phone AND your sign!
Gerrymandering is just one way of rigging elections to ensure a desired outcome. But there are of course many others. We're seeing an avalanche of legislation all across the country that seeks to limit who can vote, how people can vote, and when they can vote. The Brennan Center For Justice has just completed and published an analysis of these bills and have concluded that "the harshest voter suppression bills enacted this year have been introduced and enacted in starkly partisan fashion by Republican legislatures and governors." Senator Joe Manchin's belief that election and voting rights legislation should be bipartisan notwithstanding, the GOP has launched this attack on the fundamental tenet of democracy without support from voters or the other major party. Democracy requires that the will of the people, as expressed through elections, must be honored.
Even more worrisome is the parallel effort to give legislatures in Republican-controlled states the tools they could use to overturn future elections, both presidential elections and those for lower offices, including state and local ones. For a great account of what's happening where, see "14 GOP-Controlled States Have Passed Laws to Impede Free Elections" in Mother Jones. "While GOP-controlled legislatures rush to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote, they are also intensifying their control over how elections are run and how votes are counted, after Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election results."
These paired actions — tightening control over access to the ballot box and politicizing and corrupting the administration of elections — have been mounted in the wake of "the former guy's" efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, concerted efforts that included intense pressure on the Department of Justice to take up the *resident's cause" and a violent insurrection on January 6 whose purpose was to interfere with the certification of the Electoral Collage votes that elected President Biden.
To many of us, the GOP efforts sound alien and bizarre. But the project of winning elections by suppressing votes and controlling the rules for administering elections have been around for at least a century and half. In this morning's Plum Line post, "Rand Paul offers an accidentally useful Jim Crow analogy in rationalizing his party’s illiberal shift", Greg Sargent unmasks the logic of these maneuvers: "What’s important about these shifts is that they seek to formalize and facilitate what we saw in the months after the 2020 election. It isn’t simply about trying to work the refs or about bending the rules to suit political ends. It’s about changing the rules at the outset to make a rejection of the popular will something that’s part of the legal process." The purpose, Sargent writes: "limiting the involvement of the public in decision-making." I hope you'll read and think about the whole article. It frames the events of the last nine months in a novel and revealing way.Read more
Eilene Stevens published Evolution Marketing, LLC in Green is Good Resources 2021-06-11 07:22:39 -0500
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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 Conservatives'. For Conservatives that sense of community only extends as far as their own interests. Progressives view our community as global.