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 MyVote.WI.gov 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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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 WisEye.org 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
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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!

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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.

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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 WisPolitics.com. 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 http://www.ozdems.org.

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 http://www.ozdems.org.

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

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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 MyVote.WI.gov. 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!

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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!

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