t's budget time in Wisconsin. And you know what that means. The governor proposes and the legislature disposes: reportedly preparing to remove 545 items from Evers' plan. (During the last budget cycle two years ago, the legislature removed about 391 items.) In the crosshairs are the proposed 12-week paid family and medical leave program, legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana, hiring additional mental health providers in schools, and much more. Tax rates, too, are coming in for their share of struggle. Evers wants to reduce the tax rates "by 10% for individuals earning $100,000 or less a year and married filers making $150,000 or less." Republicans plan to strip out that proposal and focus "their efforts on flattening the state’s more than 110-year-old income tax." The Wisconsin State Journal published an extensive article on the push and pull between the governor's proposed budget and the legislature's plan to strip huge chunks of it out. It contains a long list, though of course not an exhaustive one, of the Republican's likely cuts. The more you know, the more there is to dislike.
We still have no word on when the special election to replace Dan Knodl, the former representative of the 24th Assembly District, will be held. We do know, from an email he has sent to his constituents — and to me even though I am no longer his constituent since the new election maps assigned me to the 10th Assembly District — that at the end of his last Assembly floor session "my colleagues gave me a nice sendoff by unanimously messaging me over to the Senate." I have no idea what "messaging" someone over to the Senate could possibly mean, but he could be sworn in during the next scheduled Senate floor session. Or not. Maybe he's just enjoying a rest from his light record as a legislator? Who knows. According to the Senate's online calendar, though, the next Floorperiod is May 16-18, and he could take his seat then, setting the machinery of a special election in motion.
On the national scene, last week's news covered the Dominion lawsuit, Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon's departures from their respective cable news networks, and TFG's mounting legal woes. This week, the press seems to be preoccupied by the ethical morass some justices at the Supreme Court seem to have created and the E. Jean Carroll suit. The New York Times has of course provided lots of details about the relationship between Justice Thomas and his billionaire buddy Harlan Crow. And they've also discussed Justice Gorsuch's sale of property to the CEO of a prominent international law firm with plenty of business before the court. Plus the unreported income from commissions Chief Justice Roberts' wife was paid.
But the story most worth your time to read, and which is "gifted" to you so you can pierce the paywall, takes a close look at the relationship between the conservative justices and their sweetheart deals with the Scalia School of Law at George Mason University. "The documents [the Times reviewed] show how Scalia Law has offered the justices a safe space in a polarized Washington — an academic cocoon filled with friends and former clerks, where their legal views are celebrated, they are given top pay and treated to teaching trips abroad, and their personal needs are anticipated, from lunch orders to, in Justice Gorsuch’s case, house hunting." If these arrangements weren't verging on open bribery, the idea of providing a "safe space" for the justices' conservative thinking might almost be funny.
E. Jean Carroll's litigation has turned out to be strikingly interesting. She has now endured several days of testimony and cross-examination with what has been described as poise and good humor. The latest revelation from her testimony: that George Conway (erstwhile GOP lawyer, soon-to-be former husband of Kellyanne Conway, and Never Trumper) encouraged her to file the suit. The Guardian has a good article about the ongoing trial.
Looking ahead to the punditry we will endure during the endless 2024 election, which has of course already begun, Doug Sosnik, who was a senior advisor to President Clinton and who regularly writes political memos, has a relatively new piece out that goes into great detail about what he and others are calling "the diploma divide." Sosnik writes "educational attainment has increasingly played a dominant role in voting. This has led to a political realignment, with the base shifting for both political parties." He goes on to say that "educational sorting has made the vast majority of states no longer politically competitive. It is the battleground states in the middle - where education levels are neither disproportionately high nor low - that will decide the 2024 presidential election." Eight states, his analysis shows, will determine the outcome of the presidential election: "Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin."
This is a rather hodgepodge version of the newsletter. So let me end with something completely different and yet relevant to the national debt ceiling "debate" we must endure. In the April 30 edition of Middle Wisconsin, an online magazine, Dave Svetlik has two articles — SEEMS OBVIOUS – PART ONE and SEEMS OBVIOUS PART TWO — that take a rather jaunty look at how the country makes its money. Seriously: not earns but creates. He begins PART TWO with a brief recap of PART ONE: "So, we know the US Government is the creator, the source, of the nation’s money. We know the US Government always has money of its own (for Heaven’s sake it creates the money). We know the US Government can never run out of money. There, the review of Part One is done. Thank God!" And then he goes on to poke holes in the very notion that the United States government would ever need to borrow money in the first place. Now I was never any good at economic theory so I'm sure there's some snappy rejoinder a serious economist could make. But it's a fun read and some food for thought.
Bay Bridge Restorative Justice Series, 6:30 - 8:00pm
Untied Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, 819 E Silver Spring Dr, WFB
Healing the Survivor and Community with Janine Geske, Director of the Andrew Center of Restorative Justice and Distinguished Professor of Law at Marquette University of Law School. She will discuss how restorative justice can bring healing to victims and survivors and repair relationships and communities impacted by crime. Sponsored by: Bay Bridge Wisconsin; United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay; MICAH; WISDOM; EXPO; The Community; From the Same Dust, a Baha'i Group, Bay Shore Lutheran Church, Christ Church Episcopal, Congregation Sinai, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition. LIVESTREAM will be available.
Saturday, May 13
5th CD Dems Convention, 1:00pm
Jackson Area Community Center, N165 W20330 Hickory Lane, Jackson
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin 5th Congressional District is holding its annual convention on Saturday. Registration opens at 1pm. The Convention convenes at 2pm. Please RSVP by ordering your tickets ($20 each). Questions? Please email [email protected] or call 414-491-4544.
Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Wisconsin and Prospect (by orange sunburst), Milwaukee
Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday. This week we will focus on Palestinian rights Join us.
Monday, May 15
DPMC Monthly Membership Meeting, 6:00 - 7:30pm
734 N. 26th Street, Milwaukee
The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is focused on empowering citizens with the tools they need to improve our communities. We must join our friends and neighbors in electing leaders that we believe in. We’re ready to win, but we need your help to do it. Let’s get to work! Join us for our fifth membership meeting of 2023!
Yesterday was a mind-blowing news day, what with Fox firing Tucker Carlson and CNN firing Don Lemon. If you watched, listened or read any news Monday, you couldn't miss the bombshell from Fox News. It was everywhere with oodles of speculation about why Carlson was fired. I won't bother with links. Just Google it. The Lemon matter was hardly covered at all but still made a little noise. You can Google that one too. And maybe you learned the E. Jean Carrol's lawsuit against TFG is beginning with jury selection today. It will no doubt take up some air space in the weeks to come.
Meanwhile DA Fani Willis sent letters to law enforcement agencies in and around Atlanta to warn them that she will be announcing criminal indictments between July 11 and September 1, 2023. She wrote to give the agencies "sufficient time to prepare the Sheriff’s Office and coordinate with local, state and federal agencies to ensure that our law enforcement community is ready to protect the public" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 24, 2023). She justified the early warning: "We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence that will endanger the safety of those we are sworn to protect. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to prepare." It sure seems like she has someone in particular in mind.
But all the hubbub around the national press should not distract us from the urgent need to keep sharply focused on the constant GOP stratagems to rig our elections. As I mentioned last week, the April 4 election in Wisconsin featured record turnout, especially among college students. Here's a link to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece on April 13: Wisconsin college students voted in huge numbers for the 2023 spring election. What led to increase and will it continue?
Sure enough, a leading Republican lawyer, who also happens to be on the board of the Bradley Foundation here in Milwaukee, jumped right on it. It's a huge problem for the far right, of course, because these young people apparently don't seem inclined to vote for the current crop of Republicans. Our former governor Scott Walker thinks the problem lies in the way young people are "indoctrinated" presumably by the education system he worked so hard to undermine. ("On Fox, Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says result of the state Supreme Court election is 'liberal indoctrination coming home to roost'.") But Cleta Mitchell, the aforementioned MAGA lawyer, wants to tackle the voting behavior of college students by, you know, making it impossible or at least harder for them to vote. Here are a few accounts of the "private" remarks she made to top GOP donors: a gifted link (to get you around their paywall) to the story in the Washington Post on April 20 titled "Top GOP lawyer decries ease of campus voting in private pitch to RNC." On the same day, and based on the Post's story, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published "Bradley Foundation board member Cleta Mitchell bemoans college voting in private meeting with top GOP donors." MSNBC covered the story on Alex Wagner Tonight on April 22: "MAGA lawyer recorded while discussing ways to suppress the youth vote." (Skip the Alex Wagner video at the top of the post and read the blog post by Ja'han Jones.)
The attack on democracy, human rights, and our individual freedoms is pervasive and pernicious. What’s Next in Wisconsin, a sobering piece in the the Brennan Center for Justice's newsletter, looks at "how Wisconsin’s conservative state legislature might respond to Justice Protasiewicz’s win and the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s new liberal majority." From impeachment proceedings based on rulings MAGA Republicans don't like to "bills that target the court’s power or independence by, for example, stripping its jurisdiction or remedial powers," the legislature has several avenues to constrain the state's Supreme Court.
For the future of your personal pocketbook, here's the result of the Dominion defamation case: Fox Corp. and Fox News have been ordered to pay humongous amount of money to Dominion Voting Systems. But foxy Fox is now demanding that cable companies pay it more per customer to carry Fox on its basic cable system. In essence, Fox wants TV viewers to pay for its defamation costs! We do not have to stand for it. Call your cable provider to demand that they not raise the amount they pay Fox to carry its "news."
We do not yet have specific information about the special election to fill the Assembly seat in District 24. Once we have that information, Grassroots North Shore will be partnering with grassroots groups in Germantown and Menomonee Falls to work on the election. And I will be calling on you to get involved in all the usual activities: writing postcards, making follow-up calls, texting with the campaign of whoever runs (c'mon Bob Tatterson!), canvassing with the Democratic party. And with this election, we'll be trying something new: organizing a Driver Brigade to make canvassing in the district both easier and more fun. So stay tuned for announcements and pitch in when you can. (You can already to sign up to drive a canvasser.) It will be a turnout election and we stand a good chance of an upset here. There will be no incumbent and turnout will be especially low. That means every vote we get will really further our chances.
In the meantime, we're not just taking a vacation. Grassroots North Shore is partnering with the Democratic Party in a donation drive for kids' school supplies from May 1 to May 18. We'll be collecting notebooks, folders, crayons, markers, pencils, colored pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, highlighters, lined paper, and rulers. Drop items off at Shirley Horowitz's house at 4845 N Newhall St in Whitefish Bay or Andy Berger 's house at 7632 N Beach Drive in Fox Point. Andy will be hosting a gathering to celebrate the drive on Sunday May 21st. So hit those stores and/or scrounge in your homes for stuff to help kids thrive in school!
Also, the Democratic party is looking for canvassers ahead of the May 2 special election for Milwaukee County Supervisory District 14 (in the south part of the county). The party has endorsed Caroline Gómez-Tom and will be hosting canvasses our of the county party's office at 2999 S Delaware St. on Saturday, April 29: sign up for a shift at noon or at 3pm. There will also be two shifts on Tuesday, May 2 at noon and 3pm.
Today, President Biden announced that he will run for President in 2024. As if we didn't know already. Anyway, there will be ample time to chew over the pros, cons, whys, and wherefores in future newsletters.Read more
Probably because the April 4 election in Wisconsin attracted a lot of national attention and its results were so striking, there continues to be a lot of press and analysis of how different groups voted, including in the Washington Post. Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about the youth vote in the state, focusing particularly on the turnout among college students. "Across the state, college students showed up to the polls in droves for an election barely on their radar a couple of months ago. A number of voting wards on or near college campuses show students cast ballots near midterm-level, exceeding the expectations of local clerks and youth organizers."
At least some of the outcome stems from a new organization, Project 72, headed by Mike Tate, a former chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin: "By Election Day, the Project 72 team topped 100 organizers who had set up shop at 15 institutions. They knocked on 40,000 dorm doors, tabled outside quads in judge's costumes and taped "my body, my choice" signs in women's bathrooms." It's worth noting that Grassroots North Shore was active on three campuses for this election: UM-Milwaukee, MIAD, and MSOE. So we can take a bit of credit too!
A more comprehensive look at voting patterns and trends, "Lessons from the Wisconsin Supreme Court race: Why the alarm bells for Republicans are ringing louder", examines the race for the WI Supreme Court in the broader context of recent elections. A key sub-head notes that "Republicans have a losing record in Wisconsin in the Trump Era." Craig Gilbert, the article's author, divides the elections of the past 15 years as two contrasting eras: the Obama years and the Trump years, including 2021, 2022, and 2023. He notes that six of the 22 major elections ("for president, governor, U.S. Senate and state Supreme Court") "were decided by roughly 1 point or less." However, since Trump became president in 2017, "only one side — the left — has won decisive statewide victories in Wisconsin. Democrats won an 11-point race for Senate in 2018 and a 3-point race for governor in 2022. Liberals won double-digit court victories in 2018, 2020 and 2023." The article goes into great detail about several past elections and is worth a careful read.
In news you may have missed, Mandela Barnes was named president of Power to the Polls Wisconsin, "an organization focused on voter turnout, especially in diverse communities like Milwaukee. Barnes worked with the group during the recent spring election." We've seen declining turnout in the city in recent elections. Perhaps Power to the Polls Wisconsin will help turn that around. In his statement, Barnes pointed out that "Organizing isn’t just about what happens right before an election – it’s about mobilizing communities to use their power year in and year out." Amen.
The national political news is hopping right now. The Dominion defamation case against Fox News and Fox Corporation is getting underway today. Next week, the E. Jean Carroll rape and defamation case against Donald Trump will begin. And then there are all the other investigations, both civil and criminal, into DJT. Business Insider has a pretty comprehensive list, noting that "It's hard to keep track of Donald Trump's very busy legal docket." The publication lists the Manhattan DA's most recent indictment plus the Trump Organization payroll case DA Bragg successfully prosecuted last year. In addition, there's the Fulton County, Georgia, probe; the Justice Department's investigation into schemes to overturn the 2020 presidential election; the DOJ investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents; New York AG Letitia James's civil suit against the Trump family and the Trump Organization; lawsuits alleging that Trump incited the violent mob that stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; a 'multi-level marketing' pyramid scheme case stemming from a promotion on "The Celebrity Apprentice;" Micheal Cohen's suit against Trump and Bill Barr for sending him back to prison for speaking to the press and writing a book. Then there are the civil suits Trump himself has initiated: against Hillary Clinton — which was tossed out of court last September and resulted in nearly $1 million in sanctions against Trump and his lawyer — and against his niece Mary Trump, the New York Times, and three of its reporters. Whew: so much litigating!
And then there's this news from the League of Women Voters: National Popular Vote Bills Introduced In Wisconsin.
I'm surprised — and pleased — to see that the events list this week is growing robust again. The Democratic Party of Ozaukee County invites residents of the 6th Congressional District to sign up to be "a delegate to the 6th Congressional District Convention in Oshkosh on May 7 and/or a delegate to the DPW State Convention in Green Bay, June 11-12. It is a great opportunity to meet fellow Democrats, vote on officers, both at the CD and state level, participate in various caucuses of interest to you and attend valuable workshops. Register here.
In addition, the 1st CD convention is listed in the events section. The 5th CD convention will be held May 12. You can see more information and sign up for that now. The 4th CD convention was held on March 25.
The state convention will be held in Green Bay on Saturday, June 10, and Sunday, June 11. Even without attending a congressional district convention, you can apply to be a state convention delegate.Read more
In case you were wondering, the turnout in the communities we target was quite high in most cases. And GRNS takes some credit for that. We sent out thousands of postcards and made thousands of phone calls encouraging absentee and early voting both for the February primary and the April 4 election, for example. And we began these actions much earlier than the Democratic Party. The postcards and flyers we designed and printed explained WHY voting in these spring elections was so important. Our website offered a one-stop locale for finding both statewide and local candidate information as well as early in-person dates and times. In short, we were all-in from early January until the polls closed on Election Day. But when I say "we," I really mean YOU. All in all, we had more than 100 volunteers undertaking these vital actions. Grassroots North Shore is nothing without all of you. But truly amazing when we all pitch in.
Naturally, I have a lot more to say about last week's election results. For one thing, there is a lot of data to analyze and ponder. I've done my best to gather some election results for you. If you want to wade in the numbers, you can download the spreadsheet! The first tab is an overview of the areas of the state where Grassroots North Shore sent postcards, phoned, dropped literature, distributed yard signs, and encouraged our supporters to volunteer with the Democrats to canvass. The next several tabs provide more detailed information about how wards in the North Shore and in Ozaukee County voted, how wards in Milwaukee that are in Assembly District 10 voted, how the parts of Washington County in Senate District 8 voted, and how the Washington County communities voted in the Supreme Court race.
Here's a picture of how all 72 counties voted in the Supreme Court race:
And also a picture comparing the results of the Supreme Court race in the city of Waukesha to the results of the race between Tim Michels and Tony Evers in November 2022.
As you can see in the map and the accompanying data, Democrats did better in the most recent election in what used to be ruby red areas than they did only a few months ago.
With their narrow win in Senate District 8, Republicans maintained their supermajority in the Senate (the seat was formerly held by Republican Alberta Darling until she retired last fall). With a supermajority in hand again, there's been loose talk that the legislature could impeach and convict elected state officials without needing a single vote from Democrats. Before the election Dan Knodl expressed his view that the "Milwaukee County Justice system is failing" and that its prosecutors and judges need to be scrutinized. Indeed when he was asked whether he would vote to impeach Janet Protasiewicz, he said he "would certainly consider it."
Immediately after the election results came in, Devin LeMahieu, Senate Majority Leader, poured some cold water on the idea: "To impeach someone they would need to do something very serious, so no we are not looking to start the impeachment process as a regular occurring event in Wisconsin,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Braggadocio about impeaching people you oppose is easy when you're running for office. But not really effective once the election is over.
Actually, removing judges, prosecutors, or even governors would be pretty foolish. If the legislature impeached Governor Evers, for example, Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez would serve in that capacity. If she were also impeached, the next person in line would be the Secretary of State, Sarah Godlewski! So too with judges and prosecutors. After all, that's how the now defeated William Brash obtained his seat on the Milwaukee Court of Appeals and how Dan Kelly got his former seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court!
What has turned our elections into national news has now been augmented by the ruling that the drug mifepristone will no longer be available to the nation's women after Friday, April 14, unless the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issues an emergency stay. In today's coverage of the issue in the New York Times, the connection between Janet Protasiewicz's stunning victory and the push to ban or seriously curtail medication abortions is explicit:
Days earlier, abortion was the central theme in a liberal judge’s landslide victory for a contested and pivotal seat on the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin. Some Republicans are warning that the uncompromising position of their party’s activist base could be leading them over an electoral cliff next year.
If Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk's ruling on mifepristone is upheld, the consequences for federal regulations of all sorts could be awful. Take the article in The Hill: "Texas abortion pill ruling could impact other FDA-approved drugs, vaccinations: HHS secretary." On CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, laid out the problem: “When you turn upside down the entire FDA approval process, you’re not talking about just mifepristone. You’re talking about every kind of drug. You’re talking about our vaccines. You’re talking about insulin. You’re talking about the new Alzheimer’s drugs that may come on.” Other regulatory bodies may not be immune to similar attacks. Think about the EPA, the FCC, the SEC, and so on. We may be seeing the thin edge of a dangerous wedge: the long-running GOP strategy to cripple federal regulations entirely.
The events list is once again pretty sparse and is likely to remain that way for a while. Nevertheless, you should have a look. Something there might pique your interest.
The news is once again wringing its virtual hands over the latest — but certainly not the last — school massacre (see the coverage on NBC or CBS or any other news site you choose). The coverage is replete with pictures of the "shrines" the community constructs — the flowers and the candles and the teddy bears propped near the scene of the crimes. But not with pictures of what bullets from the weapons of war so often used in mass murders do to the human body. Thus the media mask the brutality, saving us from confronting what these events really mean. And of course the Governor of Tennessee offers his thoughts and prayers. The shock wears off and we go back to our routines. And then the next one happens. We lather, rinse, repeat.
Instead of fixing our dysfunctional gun culture, the legislature in the state of Georgia has passed a law to allow it to fire any elected District Attorney they please. Surely that means Fani Willis for daring to investigate TFG? Governor Kemp is apparently ready to sign it. So we're a small step ahead of Israel, where the current government is in the process of "bringing the judiciary to heal." In other words, making sure the judiciary does not act too independently, or at all. And saving big wigs from the annoyance of being indicted and tried.
It's all so maddening. And we feel helpless in the face of it. But we're not. We must simply redouble our efforts to elect people to represent us who refuse to seek power with lies. And first up is Jodi Habush Sinykin, who is set to debate Dan Knodl (currently the Assembly representative for AD24). Even if you are not in Senate District 8, contribute to her campaign. The election maps currently in place in Wisconsin have made Senate District 8 a bit less competitive than it was in the last decade. So the money to compete successfully is more important than ever. If you do live in SD 8, go to the debate in person. You may have already voted for her or plan to do so this week (using early in person voting) or on April 4. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that we show up and stand with her. Here are the details.
If you cannot attend in person, you can use the sign up form to specify that you want to "attend" the virtual event. A link to a video of it will be sent to you.
If you want to watch an interview with Judge Janet Protasiewicz, you could do worse than looking at this one. Irene Parthum, a long-time member of Grassroots North Shore, has shared a video of our candidate for the Supreme Court and the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. It's recording of a live-stream from 3/20, with Judge Janet and Ben Wikler to get out the vote for the April 4 election. When you start to watch, fast forward to about the 11 minute mark (there were lots of technical troubles at the beginning).
There isn't any public polling on the race, but in today's New York Times online, an extensive article about the race, asserts that "she appears to have the advantage, with a lead in private polling and a major fund-raising and advertising edge" (Costly Court Race Points to a Politicized Future for Judicial Elections).
As we head into the final week of the campaign, I hope you will help GET OUT THE VOTE in any way you can. Here are links to canvassing opportunities, texting opportunities and to places where you may be able to get yard signs. Of course putting a sign in your yard, while helpful to signal your position to your neighbors, isn't enough on its own. If you absolutely cannot canvass, team up with a friend who can and offer to drive them through their turf to make the canvass quicker and the walking not quite so strenuous! And don't forget to urge like-minded family and friends to vote.
Finally, in the never-ending saga of special prosecutor Jack Smith's pursuit of justice, former Vice President Mike Pence must testify to the DC grand jury. In this case, the judge ruled that TRE45ON's claim of executive privilege is so much BS (New York Times) and that the "speech and debate" clause protecting members of Congress might apply to the former vice president under other circumstances but not when acts that are potentially illegal are involved. Reuters, however, is less nuanced, simply saying the Pence is shielded from testifying about Jan. 6, 2021." So, two cheers, maybe?Read more
So much excitement! So much anticipation!! So when will this indictment and arrest finally happen? Apparently not on TFG's timetable. But the April 4 election IS happening NOW. Today is the first day of early in person voting. If you live in the suburbs or Ozaukee County, you can consult our early voting page to find out where to go and the hours the office is open. The page includes phone numbers you can use to double check the information. Early voting in these locations will be available through Friday, March 31. If you live in Milwaukee, you can find the sites, days and hours for early voting at the Milwaukee Election Commission site. In the city, early voting continues on Saturday, April 1. But note that you cannot register at an early voting site on that Saturday.
As you probably know by now, your ballot will pose two questions about amending the state constitution. As presented on your ballot, the questions are pretty deliberately anodyne. But they're not. Here's what David Liners, Executive Director of the WISDOM Action Network has to say about them.
For more information about these proposed amendments, visit the League of Women Voters toolkit explaining the April 2023 Bail Amendment. The League is also providing the Bail Amendment Advocacy Session tonight from 6-7pm. You can read both the language you will find on your ballot as well as the actual legislative language for these proposed amendments on our site. Grassroots North Shore recommends voting NO on Question 1 and Question 2.
And in case you missed it, Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dan Kelly debated today on Channel 3000. You can see the whole thing on YouTube. The debate actually begins around the 4-minute mark.
There things other than our election to talk about. While we await some shoe, any shoe at all, to fall in the numerous investigations into TRE45ON'S crimes, we don't want to forget about the Dominion defamation case accusing Fox News of spreading lies that seriously damaged its voting machine business. In the shadow of that legal action comes ANOTHER SUIT, this one from a Fox news producer claiming the company is making her a scapegoat in Dominion lawsuit.
Meanwhile, as Stephen Colbert would say, one of E. Jean Carroll's two defamation cases is still alive. The first one has been delayed indefinitely — over the question about whether a sitting president can be sued for defamatory comments he made at a press conference while he was in office — but the second one — "for battery and defamation based on statements the former president made about Carroll after he left office" — will begin on April 25. So we're in for lakes of newsprint ink featuring our least favorite character. Read about the pre-trial skirmishing at cnn.com. We're going to have criminal investigations and defamation lawsuits as far as the eye can see, it seems.
And in other *rump-related news, The Guardian's Andy Wong roots for Janet Protasiewicz to prevail, declaring that "This Wisconsin judicial election could decide the next US president". Here's the nut graph, as they say in the news biz:
It's all on the line. Let's make sure we're reaching out to every voter we can. Call, text or email five people you know who might not vote in this election. Our future, our rights and freedoms are on the ballot!
SPECIAL EVENTS SECTION FOR CANVASSING and DRIVING
We're in the final stretch of Get Out the Vote activity. So it's really time to sign up to canvass with the Neighborhood Team nearest you.
Another way to make a difference: Souls to the Polls is looking for volunteers to take calls from voters who need rides during early voting and on election day. They also need people who will drive others to polling places. You can volunteer here.
ELECTION INFORMATION AND YARD SIGNS
Read and pass along a Guide to the 2023 Supreme Court Race from guides.vote. The Guide includes
- a section on why your vote in this race matters;
- a section providing an overview of the candidates's qualifications and positions on key issues like abortion and redistricting/gerrymandering;
- a section on how to register and vote in this election, with dates and deadlines.
For additional information about the candidates and the races in your community, visit our 2023 Elections pages. The index page has links to each community where you will find the names of candidates for each office and links to the online information we've been able to gather for each candidate.
The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County has Judge Janet Protasiewicz signs at the Office. You can stop in to pick one up! Location: 2999 S Delaware St, Milwaukee, WI 53221. Hours: Monday - Wednesday, 10:00am - 2:00pm. Thursday - Sunday: CLOSED. Office Phone: (414) 269-9287; Office Email: [email protected]. To make sure some are available, it's wise to call ahead.
Grassroots North Shore is distributing signs for Janet Protasiewicz and Jodi Habush Sinikin while supplies last. Contact the person nearest you to make arrangements.
- Bayside & Fox Point: Eilene Stevens
- Glendale: Cheryl Maranto
- Whitefish Bay: Shirley Horowitz
- Grafton & Mequon: Mark Gennis
Grassroots North Shore's RESCUE LADY JUSTICE event this past Sunday was a wonderful chance to hear from and ask questions of several candidates. If you missed it, you will be able to watch a video of it in a few days. As a result of that event, Grassroots North Shore is announcing its endorsements. You can read the rationals for these choices on our website:
Sara Geenen for Milwaukee County Appellate Judge, District 1;
Jodi Habush Sinykin for Senate District 8;
- Janet Protasiewicz for Wisconsin Supreme Court
I'd like to say a bit more about the referendums. The first two questions will appear on all Wisconsin ballots and are the proposed amendments to the Wisconsin constitution. Both hinge on a phrase found in the legislative language but not in the language presented on the ballot. In Question 1, the current constitutional text reads that a judge can impose pre-conviction conditions "that are designed to protect members of the community from serious bodily harm." But the legislative language of the amendment would strike the word "bodily" and add the key phrase "as defined by the legislature by law."
In Question 2, the key phrase appears as part of a long proposed addition that provides copious detail about when a judge can impose cash bail. It adds language specifying that cash bail can be imposed "if the person is accused of a violent crime as defined by the legislature by law." In both cases, the key phrase specifies that the legislature has the power to define both what constitutes "harm" (in Question 1) and what counts as a violent crime (in Question 2).
So it is that phrase — "as defined by the legislature by law" — that gives the legislature new power, power that is currently part of a judge's discretion. The ballot language fails to include this crucial information about what the amendments would actually accomplish. And that's a key reason why we are leaning toward a "NO" vote on both questions.
In addition to Questions 1 and 2, all voters in Wisconsin will see Question 3. Although the difference between the effect of Question 3 and the first two questions is not apparent, at least on my sample ballot, it is simply advisory. In other words, the question appears on the ballot to encourage a people with a somewhat punitive view of those who receive welfare benefits to vote in this rather low turnout election. It asks whether "able-bodied childless adults [should] be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits." Wisconsin already has a requirement that they look for work in order to receive unemployment insurance. A similar requirement for Wisconsin Foodshare has been waived during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Milwaukee County, a 4th question — also simply an advisory one — appears on the ballot. (Other jurisdictions may also have additional advisory questions on their ballots.) Question 4 asks whether "Wisconsin Statute 940.04, which bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy without exception for rape, incest, or health of the patient, [should] be repealed to allow legal access to abortion care." It is clearly designed to attract voters who believe women should be free to receive reproductive health care without interference from the state.
Turning to the race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, you should save the date. On March 21, Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dan Kelly are set to debate for the first and only time. Sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin, WISC-TV and WisPolitics, it will be televised live. Judge Protasiewicz is being attacked for declining to engage in additional debates. When she was asked why at the Grassroots North Shore's RESCUE LADY JUSTICE event, she gave a perfectly reasonable response. She is campaigning for the seat on the Supreme Court while she continues to work at her current, full-time job. So time constraints, rather than some other objection, underlies her choice. According to a post by WisPolitics, "The March 21 debate will be livestreamed by Channel3000.com. It will then be replayed at 4 p.m. by WISC-TV and WKBT-TV."
Absentee ballots that have already been requested will begin to be mailed today. If you have not already requested one, the time to do it is NOW and the place to do it is MyVote.WI.gov. While you're there, you should also check your sample ballot so you will know exactly what will be on it. Prepare to fill out your absentee ballot as soon as you receive it. In the February primary, unfortunately, 75 otherwise valid ballots were delivered to the Glendale municipal clerk the day after the election and therefore could not be counted. There are just two ways to return an absentee ballot:
- Put it in the US Mail.
- Hand deliver it to your municipal clerk during regular business hours.
A word of caution about both methods. Legally, all voters must mail their ballots themselves (although it would be hard for anyone to know who placed the ballot in a mailbox). The same holds true for taking a ballot to the municipal clerk. The clerk will refuse to accept a ballot delivered by someone other than the voter of the ballot!
And a word about our digital presence. Grassroots North Shore is expanding its digital presence. In addition to our website, our Facebook page, and our Twitter page, we now have a spiffy new Instagram page. You really should check it out!
Finally, ahead of this vital election, I have changed the way I list some events. So you will see a special section devoted to canvassing and phoning voters. Some people, like me, can no longer canvass. But we can buddy up with someone who can and drive them through the turf they're working. It saves the canvasser a lot of time. And you can phone voters, an activity many people dislike. But I always say, like an eye doctor, "is it better 1 or 2." Is it better to grit your teeth and phone or lose the election? You know what the right answer is. When the future of the state and perhaps of the nation at stake, each of us must do as much as we can to win this election! The links allow you to sign up for several canvasses or phone banks. So get busy.
SPECIAL EVENTS SECTION FOR CANVASSING AND PHONING
Canvassing is probably the most important way you can help secure victories for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz, Senate District 8 candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin, and Milwaukee Appellate Court candidate Sara Geenen. We've organized into Neighborhood Action Teams. Here are the links to sign up for the one that's most convenient for you. Each sign-up page has multiple day and shift options.
Join the WisDems for a phone bank! We will be calling voters to talk about the importance of voting in the State Supreme Court race and encouraging voters to make a plan to vote! Phoning takes place on many days and at many times. Go to a comprehensive listing and sign up.
OTHER ELECTION VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Write letters for the Wisconsin Supreme Court election with Vote Forward. We're sending the letters out on Tuesday, March 28. Overview: Help encourage Democratic-leaning voters to vote in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election by April 4, 2023. Background: The next Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice will rule on important issues that affect everyone in Wisconsin. Our letters can help provide more information about the candidates and motivate Democratic-leaning voters to participate in this critical election.Targeting: Fellow citizens who are unlikely to vote but likely to vote for Democrats when they do cast a ballot. Goal: This campaign seeks to increase voter turnout. This is a project of Vote Forward. Sign up.
Be a Poll Observer: the Voter Protection Project needs a lot more poll observers. It is our duty to remain diligent and protect our democracy. That’s why we’ve been building a team of poll observers to ensure every precinct’s voting process is smooth, fair, and equitable. Poll observers are the eyes and ears for our voter protection team at critical polling locations across the state. Without poll observers, we can’t rapidly respond to important issues at polling places as they arise. There are 3 Election Day poll observer shift options: All-Day (6:30am-8:30pm - this is our greatest need), AM (6:30am-1:30pm), or PM (1:30pm-8:30pm). You will have plenty of opportunities for breaks and meals throughout the day, and a place to sit down. Sign up.
ELECTION INFORMATION AND YARD SIGNS
Read and pass along a Guide to the 2023 Supreme Court Race from guides.vote. The Guide includes
- a section on why your vote in this race matters;
- a section providing an overview of the candidates's qualifications and positions on key issues like abortion and redistricting/gerrymandering;
- a section on how to register and vote in this election, with dates and deadlines.
For additional information about the state candidates and the races in your community, visit our 2023 Elections pages. The index page has links to each community where you will find the names of candidates for each office and links to the online information we've been able to gather for each candidate.
The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County has Judge Janet Protasiewicz signs at the Office. Please stop in to pick one up! Location: 2999 S Delaware St, Milwaukee, WI 53221. Hours: Monday - Wednesday, 10:00am - 2:00pm. Thursday - Sunday: CLOSED. Office Phone: (414) 269-9287; Office Email: [email protected]. To make sure some are available, it's wise to call ahead.
Grassroots North Shore will also be distributing signs for Janet Protasiewicz and Jodi Habush Sinikin. I will let you know how to get them as soon as I know.Read more
This Sunday, Grassroots North Shore will present RESCUE LADY JUSTICE with featured speakers Judge Janet Protasiewicz (candidate for Supreme Court), Jodi Habush Sinykin (candidate for WI senator from Senate District 8), and Deb Andraca (Assembly Representative in AD 23) at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett Ave. Shorewood). We are meeting in person indoors for the first time in THREE YEARS! And it will be especially wonderful to see everyone up close and personal. Still COVID-19 has not gone away. So we recommend that you act prudently and wear a mask when you can. We will have some masks available for you at the sign-in table. So RSVP and enjoy the first day of daylight saving time with your Grassroots North Shore friends! (And don't forget to set your clocks one hour ahead before you hop into bed Saturday night.)
Last week I shared some maps of Wisconsin to show the counties that candidates won and the counties where the aggregate of the two liberal candidates prevailed. Here's more, and more expert, analysis of the outcomes. In the podcast (about 34 minutes long) Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School poll, talks about the primary and some election trends in the state. You'll find it here.
I promised I would have something to say about the two referendums to amend the state's constitution that will appear on you ballot. So here goes. To amend the state constitution, the exact same legislative language must pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature and THEN be offered to the voters via a ballot referendum. That's what is happening now. The issues these amendments address are complex and there are a number of different views about them. But precisely because they change our foundational document, we should take a bit more care to understand fully what each proposed amendment does.
So far there has been little discussion or analysis of them in the media or anywhere else I've been able to find. And it is a little curious that the Republican dominated legislature is choosing to put these amendments to the voters in an extremely low-turnout spring election. So Grassroots North Shore is suggesting that in the absence of strong supporting arguments with evidence, we vote NO on each of them for the following reasons.
- The proposed amendments would transfer power to the legislature from the judicial and from the executive branches of government.
- The legislature is using the constitutional amendment process for these matters, instead of simply passing laws to alter the way judges can proceed, in order to get around a gubernatorial veto. In short the majority in the legislature is gaming the system to get the results they want.
You should, however, take a few minutes to read the texts and then make up your own minds. You can read both the language that will be on your ballot and the actual legislative language on the Grassroots North Shore website.
Two warnings about absentee ballots have come to my attention this week. First, some people in Wisconsin are receiving "misleading mailers from a Washington, D.C.-based group that have incorrect information" on pre-filled absentee ballot application forms, according to an AP story on msn.com. the These mailers are coming from the Center for Voter Information, a group that has worked to register voters and elect Democrats across the country. The Center has admitted the mistakes but "was unable to say how widespread its mailing was." But voters are confused.
Second, in the primary we just held 75 mailed-in ballots were delivered in Glendale the day after the election — too late to count. This sort of problem happens in a lot of communities but the number of late ballots is usually very small. In this case, Mayor Brian Kennedy said that although the 75 ballots could not have changed the outcome of any race, they made up 2% of the ballots cast. In fact, the only contested primary on the Glendale ballot in February was the Supreme Court race. And Judge Protasiewicz won that primary with a whopping vote total of 63%. Because the Monday before the Tuesday election was a federal holiday, the post offices were closed, possibly adding to the problem. But in one case a voter in San Diego mailed a ballot on February 8, two weeks before election day!
The moral of the story: people voting by absentee ballot should take their ballots in person to their municipal clerk's office ahead of the election whenever possible. That advice, though, won't help people who mail absentee ballots because they are nowhere near their municipality. In that case, people who have to cast an absentee ballot should return the ballot as soon as it arrives and should check its status on MyVote.WI.gov a few days after it has been mailed. If the ballot has not been received with at least 10 days to election day, voters should call their municipal clerk for advice on what to do. Contact for municipal clerks is provided by the MyVote site.
And a final announcement: The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County will give anyone who completes 2 canvassing shifts in Milwaukee County a 50% discount on the price of tickets to the County Party Awards dinner on March 26th. The event will be held at the Italian Community Center at 5:30pm for drinks and 6:30pm for dinner. The party will announce the recipients of a number of awards, including Democrat of the Year Mandela Barnes. And Judge Janet Protasiewicz will be the gala's special speaker. So please find an opportunity (or 2!) to knock doors and talk to your neighbors. The events list has plenty of canvasses in a location near you for the three weekends before the election. Tickets for the gala, titled "Defenders of Democracy," are available now.
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What a great Tuesday night we had last week! Judge Janet Protasiewicz received 46% of the statewide vote in a smashing victory for her. She of course did even better in our North Shore communities. In Shorewood and Bayside, she received over 70% of the vote. Glendale and Whitefish Bay awarded her more than 60% and River Hills came in with 54%. Only in Brown Deer did her vote total fall below 50%. But combined with the vote share for her liberal opponent, we can be pleased with the outcome: 67%! In Thiensville, she won 46%, the highest share of the vote. In Grafton, Cedarburg, Port Washington and Mequon she also won the most votes, 38%, 43%, 45% and 45% respectively. You can see all the county-by-county results online at the New York Times. And for a great appraisal of the outcome, you can't do better than to read Ben Wikler's piece on Daily Kos today.
Here's a map showing the winner of each county by color. (Click here for a larger version.) Note that Protasiewicz actually won Ozaukee County, while Dorow came first in Washington and Waukesha. Since the voters did not favor her opponent, it's possible that at least some of them might prefer Protasiewicz in the April election. To get a clearer picture of the split between liberal and conservative candidates in the aggregate, here's a map showing the aggregate vote totals by county. (For a larger map, click here.) That is, if you add the vote totals of Protasiewicz and Mitchell together and compare the result to the sum of Kelly and Dorow's votes, you approximate the vote total of the liberal candidate in the April 4 election. The result is an astonishing winning margin of nearly 8 points.
What the data show is that we can win this WI Supreme Court seat if we work hard to get like-minded people out to vote. Grassroots North Shore is sending out about 3500 postcards this week and next, to be followed up with phone calls. We have flyers to distribute in walkable places like Glendale, Shorewood, White Fish Bay, Fox Point and Bayside. We're working on putting together a smaller handout to give students on campuses in Milwaukee County. And of course we're canvassing like crazy. Go to our volunteer page to sign up to participate. In the events listings below you'll find oodles of opportunities to volunteer to canvass with the Neighborhood Team nearest you. In essence the whole five weeks to Election Day (April 4) is a Get Out the Vote effort. Please pitch in!
And join us on Sunday, March 12, for a chance to meet and hear from Judge Janet Protasiewicz, Jodi Habush Sinykin, and Deb Andraca. We're celebrating Grassroots North Shore's 19th anniversary! The event will be held at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N Bartlett, Shorewood) from 4 - 6pm. Since it is an indoor event and COVID doesn't seem to be done with us yet, we recommend that people wear masks and we will have some at the door in case you forget yours. RSVP.
Another way to help is to volunteer with the WisDems Voter Protection Team and become a Poll Observer with the Voter Protection Team in the Spring Election. Poll observers are the eyes and ears for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Voter Protection Team inside polling locations across the state. You will be the last line of defense against any problems voters might face in trying to cast their ballot, which makes poll observing the single most important thing you can do (other than casting a ballot yourself) to ensure a strong, healthy democracy. Poll observers will be trained by the Voter Protection Team and supported by our staff throughout the process.
Now that we're focused on the April election, don't forget about the referendums for constitutional amendments that will be on everyone's ballots. Grassroots North Shore has not yet taken a position on either of them, although that may change as we learn more about what's at stake. But you should at least read them — they're quite short — and also the actual legislative language. You can find them on our website.
There is a lot going on in international and national news right now. There's the situation in Ukraine and the situation with TFG in Georgia, in New York, and in DC. And then there's the Dominion defamation suit seeking $1.6 billion in damages. With possible punitive damages on top of that. If you haven't been following the twists and turns in the latest Dominion filing — for a summary judgment no less — have a look at the story at CNN online. One of the best bits is Rupert Murdoch's answer to a question about why Carlson kept giving air time to Mike Lindell — you know, the pillow guy: "It is not red or blue. It's green." In short, lying about the election results was a business decision. So shocking, isn't it. This is what CNN's analyst Oliver Darcy concludes: "at its core, Fox News is not a news network. News networks work hard to deliver the truth to their viewers. These documents reveal that Fox News executives and hosts knew the truth and yet they peddled election lies to the audience."Read more
Your hair should be on fire right now! Election Day is tomorrow. We have to work our fannies off to get a progressive jurist on the ballot in the April 4 election for the open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Lots and lots of people we've run across don't really seem all that aware of this election and its importance. We won't have another chance to remake the direction of this court until 2026! To finish tomorrow's primary with enough votes to claim a spot on the April 4 ballot, Democrats and Grassroots North Shore are continuing to Get Out The Vote on Election Day. So sign up for a shift either with the Fox Point Team or the Glendale Team. Shifts are 11am, 2pm and 5pm. I don't need to tell you how important it is to get out every last vote. So bring a friend. Knock some doors. And feel good while doing good.
The primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat has received oodles of national coverage, for which we should be thankful. Here are just a few of the recent posts on Daily Kos:
- We can't let anti-LGBTQ forced birthers and election deniers hold the Wisconsin Supreme Court. [Please note that this post endorses a candidate. Grassroots North Shore asks that you vote for one of the two progressive candidates — Janet Protasiewicz or Everett Mitchell.]
- We can end corporate ownership of at least one Supreme Court in this election in Wisconsin
- 5 Days Till Wisconsin's Supreme Court Primary Election
- Why two hyper-conservative candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court will not advance from the primary
And here are some national news outlets on the WI Supreme Court beat:
- A Wisconsin Supreme Court race holds high stakes for abortion rights and the 2024 election
- Democrats see a prime chance to take control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Plenty of Wisconsin voters are really into the Supreme Court primary race
- A Colossal Off-Year Election in Wisconsin
If you have not yet voted, tomorrow is your last chance. Check your polling place and see your sample ballot at MyVote.WI.gov. In a few areas, there are other races on the ballot. Vote in every race. If you need information about candidates on your ballot, you can find some by visiting our election pages. Just follow the link for your community. You will also find information about the referendums and an advisory question that will be on your ballot on April 4. After the primary tomorrow, I will have more to say about those.
Our next big event (on Sunday, March 12 from 4 - 6 pm) will — finally — be held in person at the North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett Ave. Shorewood). The event aims to RESCUE LADY JUSTICE. Speakers include our fantastic candidate for state Senate District 8, Jodi Habush Sinykin, and our equally fantastic 23rd Assembly District representative, Deb Andraca. And the icing on the cake? The progressive winner of tomorrow's referendum. So sign up! (We recommend that you wear a mask and will have some on hand if you no longer keep any at home.)
The April 4 election will be here before we know it. And again, Grassroots North Shore will be flooding the mails, heating up the phone lines, and pounding the pavement. We'll be starting the next round of projects next week. So please, please, please sign up for something.
One terrific way to get engaged is to help register eligible high school students with the League of Women Voters. Milwaukee Public School District has asked the League of Women Voters to work with them to conduct voter registration events at each of their 24 high schools during the open enrollment period, February 22 to March 15, for the April election. To cover that many schools, the LWV will need many volunteers! LWVMC members who would like to participate in the high school events should access the training materials. If you sign up on the Google form at the end of the training, your name will be placed on the high school volunteer list. New volunteers will be paired with experienced volunteers. If you have any questions about this please contact [email protected].
There's always an election cycle in Wisconsin, or so it seems. This year, though, we won't have another election after April until February, 2024. So we'll be able to think about other things that are important to us, our state and our nation. Stay tuned.
Because I want to get this version of the newsletter out a day early, so that you have time to sign up for canvassing on the final day, I am including only a few events. If others come to my attention later this week, I'll send an events-only email to you.