it's warming up

There's a lot going on right now, but we should take a few moments to breathe deeply and relax a bit. The Biden administration is off to a blazing start. Not only are the vaccinations getting into arms faster than anticipated, but the American Rescue Plan (i.e. Covid-19 and economic stimulus) passed last week and is already going into effect. And key figures in the administration, including the president himself, are on a week-long tour to educate people about the plan and to emphasize its impact on the lives of every American.

Here in Wisconsin, though, we have an important election coming up. The key statewide race is for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Grassroots North Shore held a candidate forum with the two women running for the position. There are substantial differences between their positions on key issues. So you should watch the taped forum to hear the differences and make an informed choice. Grassroots North Shore is endorsing Dr. Jill Underly both because of her breadth of experiences in the Wisconsin education system and because she is clear about her opposition to funding private schools with public money. See our full endorsement.

Grassroots North Shore is also endorsing Katie Kegel for Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 3. We are especially excited by her fresh thinking about sentencing. There are many other local races for your community on your ballot. You can find a sample ballot and request an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov and you can also find out who is running for what on our 2021 Races page. Drop box information for returning absentee ballots is here and information about in-person early voting is here.

Grassroots North Shore is working hard on the April 6 election. It's important to us, and I hope to you too, to be engaged in EVERY ELECTION. So we're appealing for your help. We need your donation — no matter how small — to finance our activities, including phone banking, sending postcards and producing flyers to hand out at North Shore libraries. You can donate online or send a check to Grassroots North Shore, 5600 W. Brown Deer Road, Brown Deer WI 53223. Please put "elections" on the memo line.

And of course, we'd welcome your participation in our efforts to reach voters through the Weekends of Action being held by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. The shifts — on Saturday, March 20, and Sunday, March 21, as well as March 27 and 28, will include a brief training for those who are new or just need a refresher. Sign up for either or both weekends!

Finally, a word or two about Ron Johnson, an embarrassment to our state if there ever was one. He's gotten a lot of national coverage for his racist defense of the January 6, 2021, insurrection — in the Washington Post, at CNN and others. Not to mention the coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Ousting him from office next year is among our highest priorities. It's taken Wisconsin more than half a century to live down the shame of Joseph McCarthy. We cannot afford to leave Johnson in the US Senate for another term!

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what's in our immediate future

Don't miss the live forum with the candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction — Jill Underly and Deborah Kerr — that Grassroots North Shore is holding on Sunday, March 14, at 7pm. Via Zoom of course. The forum will be introduced by Ingrid Walker Henry, vice president of Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA), and will be moderated by Pablo Muirhead, Shorewood School Board member. Sign up to attend. The Zoom information you will need will be embedded in the response email you receive when you sign up.

Even though the position does not control the budgetary support for schools in Wisconsin, it plays a vital function in educating Wisconsin's children. As the UpNorth News explained, "The state superintendent oversees the state’s more than 400 public school districts and typically is directly involved in education funding proposals. The position also offers direction on a range of issues, from operating schools during the pandemic, curriculum, teacher licensing and online education." The election for this statewide, nonpartisan race is April 6 at a polling place near you. But you really shouldn't wait until Election Day. You can request an absentee ballot at myvote.wi.gov and return it via your community's drop box (find out where yours is). We will also have in-person voting information for North Shore and Ozaukee County communities when it becomes available.

We can also announce the formation of a new Issue Action Team for Violence Prevention. Led by Anneliese Dickman, the team will meet to get organized and to hear from Reggie Moore and Jamaal Smith from the Office of Violence Prevention, part of the Milwaukee Health Department in the city. The meeting is set for Wednesday, March 10, at 7pm on Zoom. Please sign up to join this group! We've formed Issue Teams around two other topics: Fair Maps and Voting Rights and Criminal Justice Reform. The Fair Maps Team is meeting on Monday, March 8, at 7pm and you can sign up. The Criminal Justice Reform group has not yet scheduled its next meeting, but you can contact Dan O'Keefe for more information. If you'd like to lead an Issue Team on some other topic, please contact Paul Geenen at [email protected].

And in a fun, but still serious, way, the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County is sponsoring an Instagram Art Contest for all Milwaukee and Waukesha County Area High School Students. It's called "Express Yourself: Hear Me, See Me, Follow my Lead" and runs through March 16. the site includes the rules for participating. It's a great way for young people to make their voices heard. So if you know any high school students in Milwaukee or Waukesha counties, let them know about this contest.

The CPAC convention is mercifully over but not before introducing the nation to the Golden Trump Idol and not before the "former guy" reprised what he apparently thinks are his greatest hits. Sixty one of 62 court cases alleging voter irregularities that he brought after the November election were dismissed And yet the Republican Party has introduced at least 165 bills in state legislatures all over the nation to try to make it harder for people to vote. Republicans apparently believe that the only way they can win is if the "wrong people" can be prevented from casting a ballot. Here in Wisconsin, where there was no voter fraud, we're seeing efforts to curtail absentee voting, to gum up early in-person voting with extra paperwork, and to restrict the use drop boxes. (See also this article that explains the ranked-choice voting proposal for congressional races as well as the GOP efforts to suppress votes.)

The right to vote is coming under attack everywhere. These attacks are layered on top of efforts to rig the electoral maps to retain what amounts to minority GOP rule in this state and in the country. It may not be an election year with a large number of important state and national offices up for grabs, but that does not mean we can rest easy. The threats to the franchise and the threats to our democratic republic are mounting. We need to join the struggle now to preserve what we can of our imperfect union. In the coming weeks, Grassroots North Shore will have events and actions to engage you in this effort. Stay tuned.

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Looking at the future

With the impeachment trial behind us, the Biden administration is losing no time in aggressively pursuing its agenda. Tonight, President Biden will hold a town hall in Milwaukee, with moderator Anderson Cooper, at 8pm CST. You can watch it on CNN or streamed live on CNN.com. See a listing of all the ways to view it here. And while we're listing events you should not miss, sign up to participate in Grassroots North Shore's celebration of our successes in the last year. It's easy to forget that in spring 2020, we helped Jill Karofsky win her seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, followed up in November by helping to award Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes to the Biden/Harris team, and then helping put Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the US Senate in January 2021. And YOU are the people who made it happen! So join us, Sunday, February 28, at 7:00pm CST.

Here's a couple of things you ought to know about the threat to voting rights in Wisconsin. As Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, recently explained, "Republicans in the Legislature recently unveiled a partisan proposal to apportion eight of Wisconsin's electoral votes by congressional district beginning in 2024." If such a plan had been in place in 2020, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would have received four electoral college votes, despite winning the popular vote in the state, and the Drumpf/Pence ticket would have received six! And that's not all. Heck goes on to speculate that "Republicans also may try to restrict the ability of voters to utilize absentee ballots. They may ban the use of safe and secure voter drop boxes and other collection methods. They hope to vastly restrict the definition of 'indefinitely confined' voters, and to further limit early in-person voting opportunities. They may even move to eliminate Election Day voter registration, which has been in place in Wisconsin for decades."

Already, our GOP-dominated legislature has contracted with law firms — and committed $1million of taxpayer funds — to prepare for the lawsuits that are pretty certain to follow the redistricting fight this fall. The problem of drawing new electoral maps just became more complicated, moreover, because the Census Bureau now says demographic data will not be ready for release to the states until September 30, 2021. The timeline for Wisconsin (and all the other states, too, no doubt) will be seriously compressed this year, making the use of the courts both more likely and more fraught. Republicans will draw gerrymandered maps, Governor Evers will veto them, and the courts will have to adjudicate, as they did in 2001, in 1991, and in earlier redistricting years. As it happens, our Fair Maps Team is meeting tonight, Tuesday, February 16, at 7:00pm CST to discuss how electoral maps are drawn. You can join in by signing up.

Our Criminal Justice Reform team is also holding a meeting this month with Julie Grace of the Badger Institute to discuss criminal justice policies. Although the Badger Institute is a conservative think tank, we can make common cause with conservatives around systematizing data about criminal justice practices so that people of all political persuasions can debate solutions for the problems the data reveal. One example of the kind of issue that arises is racial disparity in sentencing for felonies. Sign up to attend the Criminal Justice Reform meeting on February 23 at 6:30pm CST and help Wisconsin get better insights into its patterns and practices.

With the snowy conditions we are experiencing today, it may be hard for some people to get to their polling places to vote. Nevertheless, IT'S IMPORTANT TO VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION. Dig out if you can, and find your polling place and a sample ballot at myvote.wi.gov. Our votes today will determine who will be on the ballot for the April 6 election. We will be winnowing the field of seven in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. And to prepare yourself for the spring election, visit our page with a list of every race and candidate we know about.

You'll see in the Events list below, that fundraising and organizing for the 2022 elections are already under way. But don't skip over the special election for Senate District 13. Democrat Melissa Winker will be on the April 6 ballot, hoping to replace Scott Fitzgerald who formerly held the seat. She will be facing whichever Republican emerges from today's primary. And she really needs our help. So give her your support at her campaign kickoff event on Wednesday, February 17, at 6:00 pm.

And stay active in this lull between 2020 and 2022. We've learned to our detriment that staying engaged in the political arena — by voting, by writing postcards, by calling voters and elected officials, and by writing op-eds and letters to the editor — can make a difference. To learn how to be more effective at writing op-eds, for example, you should try an online clinic provided by The Progressive. Grassroots North Shore will be sending postcards with follow-up phone calls for the April 6 election. Stay tuned for our call to action! Meanwhile, if you can spare a dime or two, please donate to our postcard effort to help us purchase stamps.

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Let's Vote

The second impeachment trial for he-who-shall-no-longer-be-named has begun. It's going to be a speedy affair and may not include witnesses. You can watch the whole thing online at the New York Times online and no doubt at other news outlets both online and on TV.

But we have matters closer to home to engage in. Most immediately, those who want to work on criminal justice reform in Wisconsin should attend the Criminal Justice Reform Issues Team meeting on Thursday, February 11, at 1pm. When you sign up, you will receive an email with the Zoom link. The next day — Friday, February 12, at 1:00pm — the Criminal Justice Reform Team will meet with the staff of our newest Assembly Representative, Deb Andraca. Sign up for that meeting also!

And while we're reliving our horror at what transpired in our nation's capital on January 6, 2021, we should also be rejoicing together for what took place all over our country and here in Wisconsin on November 3, 2020, and then again in Georgia on January 5, 2021: we need to celebrate the fruits of our hard work right here in the North Shore of Milwaukee and in Ozaukee County. Although we cannot get together to hug and sing and shout, we can and will Zoom as we Celebrate Our Success — Sunday, February 28, at 7pm. Sign up to join the Grassroots North Shore annual meeting that we are calling "Your Efforts Made a Difference." We'll have a few speeches, of course, and we'll conduct a little business, but we'll also have music and laughter, featuring some local and not so local talent. It's bound to be a grand evening.

And as a reward for Wisconsin's exemplary behavior in the last presidential election, apparently President Biden will visit us, along with Anderson Cooper, for a town hall event on Tuesday, February 16, which, as it happens, is also our spring primary day! (It will be held at Pabst Hall, as I understand it, and that's all the information I have at this time.) Early in-person voting is happening now and of course the polls will be open on Election Day from 7am until 8pm. You can consult our Elections 2021 page to find some information about early voting locations, days, and times. And also information about contacting your town, village, or city hall to find out any information we've been unable to provide. You can also visit myvote.wi.gov to get a sample ballot for your own location and to find your polling place. At this point, with the US mails as uncertain as they have been, we do not recommend requesting an absentee ballot for the February primary, but you may want to do so for the April 6 election.

Probably the most important race on the primary ballot is the one for Superintendent of Public Instruction. For an outstanding account of why this election is so important, read Alan Borsuk's "The race to become state schools superintendent may draw modest interest, but overlooking it would be a mistake" from the Journal Sentinel on Feb. 5. For information on the candidates, visit our "Candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction" page. We have provided you with a candidate statement in answer to our Grassroots North Shore questionnaire as well as links to their websites and Facebook pages.

 

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looking to our future

Happy Groundhog Day. Perhaps the sun is shining in Pennsylvania where the eternal Punxsutawney Phil lives — despite their humongous snow storm — but at least here in Wisconsin there's no sign of a groundhog's shadow. So maybe an early spring?

Now on to the important things! There's a primary election in a mere two weeks — on February 16th. If you have not yet requested an absentee ballot, you should do so immediately. And you should return the ballot via a drop box in your community to avoid any issues with the postal service. You can request an absentee ballot by filling out the forms on myVote.WI.gov or by requesting one directly from your municipality's clerks office. You can find contact information for your municipality on myVote.WI.gov or on our 2021 General Election page, where there are phone numbers for our North Shore and Ozaukee communities and also information about early voting in some of the communities. Early in-person voting begins today and runs through February 12 in many communities. Some city and village halls are, however, closed to the public because of the intensity of viral spread. So it is wise to call ahead and find out what the process for early in-person voting is.

The spring elections are non-partisan and this year there are few races in most communities that will require a primary (meaning there are rarely more than two candidates for a position). Nevertheless, it is vitally important to vote! That's because a key race all over the state is for Superintendent of Instruction. Seven candidates are on the ballot and two of them will go on to the general election on April 6. Candidate's positions, as well as links to their campaign websites and Facebook pages, are provided in great detail on our website. You can also find at least the names of candidates for various municipal, judicial, and school board positions on our 2021 Races page. So be informed and BE A VOTER!

Grassroots North Shore's annual meeting has been scheduled for February 28th at 7pm. You won't want to miss it! We will celebrate our successes in the November 2020 elections while we look ahead to the next great year for our organization. Please save the date and SIGN UP. In addition to some analysis of what we accomplished together, the event will feature the talents of Libra Folk Music's Linda and Poul Sanderson, the musical satire of Roy Anderson, and several other entertainers. It's bound to be a fun and relaxing evening with your North Shore and Ozaukee County compatriots. On Zoom of course.

Finally, here's a reason to use this "quiet period" before the major election in 2022 to make plans and get organized. Today's issue of Urban Milwaukee points out that "Evers Faces Daunting Odds In 2022 because a "Smart Politics analysis of Wisconsin election data finds that Republicans have won a staggering 32 of the last 33 elections for governor when a Democrat resides in the White House dating back to 1855." And the situation in our congressional districts may be equally challenging, depending on how redistricting goes after the 2020 census figures come out. Right now, the state has eight districts, three of which are held by Democrats and five of which are held by Republicans. The voters in this state tend to split their votes pretty evenly between the parties. So the fact that the congressional districts are not represented by four people from each party is due to the way the 2011 district maps were drawn to maximize Republican representation. That is, the congressional districts were gerrymandered, as were the Assembly and state Senate districts. We have an Issue Team working to gain support for Fair Maps and we're part of the Fair Maps Coalition statewide. If you would like to be part of the action on this fundamentally small-d democratic issue, you can sign up for the next meeting, on Monday, February 8, at 6pm. The meeting will be held on Zoom, of course, and once you sign up you will receive the Zoom link to attend.

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A New Era Begins

Would you believe that the 2022 election cycle has begun already? Well it has. Several Republican Senators have already announced that they will not be running again in 2022 when their current terms expire. Let's make sure Ron Johnson is among them! After all, when he was first elected he promised to serve only two terms. Let's hold him to that promise. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been helping, first with an editorial declaring Johnson, along with Representatives Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald, unfit for office. When Johnson wanted to provide a rebuttal to the original editorial, the Journal Sentinel followed up by giving him his wish. However, the editors also annotated his piece and exposed all his lies! Go read and enjoy the whole piece.

Now is a good time to pile on by writing a letter to the editor. To find out what is needed to submit a letter to the Journal Sentinel, go HERE. To send one to the Ozaukee press, go HERE. Progressives, liberals, moderates, Democrats of all kinds — we need to be loud and clear about defending our government, one that is the outcome of our votes. And we need to combat a tyranny of the minority and call out the GOP effort to suppress the votes of ANYONE in the hopes that Republicans can win if they can keep enough of the "wrong people" from participating in elections. That means working to undo partisan gerrymandering (join our Fair Maps and Voting Rights team and attend the meeting on Monday, February 8), for one.

And about that false claim that there were substantial and consequential irregularities in our state's election: the Wisconsin State Journal has an excellent article investigating the thousands of complaints that "top Republicans in the legislature said they were reviewing" about the Wisconsin election in November. "There were indeed thousands of complaints.... The majority of them, however, were mass-generated form letters making nonspecific claims about alleged irregularities, a right-wing fraud-finding effort and a clip from Fox’s Sean Hannity show." In the end, the Wisconsin State Journal was able to "identify just 28 allegations of election fraud or other irregularities that were specific enough to attempt to verify, but could only partially substantiate one, involving 42 votes." The article, first published Jan. 25 and updated today, is full of important information to counter the BIG LIE that the election was "rigged" or "stolen" in our state.

Despite all the sturm und drang about the election, Joe Biden is now President, Kamala Harris is now Vice President, Chuck Schumer is now Senate Majority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Come celebrate our victory, both here in Wisconsin and across the nation, with Grassroots North Shore! We did it!! And not through wishing and hoping, but through hard work and persistence. On February 28, at 7pm, we will gather on Zoom with our special guest, newly elected Assembly Representative Deb Andraca, and a host of musical and comedic guests. I hope you will join us.

Finally, don't forget to make plans to vote in the spring primary on February 16 and the spring election on April 6. There's a statewide election for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Seven people will be on the ballot for that important post. You can find out who they are and where they stand by visiting our web page for that race. You can also see a list of who is running for various municipal offices in the North Shore and in Ozaukee County. Information about candidates for judicial offices should be ready soon. Meanwhile, you can request your absentee ballots at myvote.wi.gov. When you have filled out your absentee ballot, you can deposit it in a dropbox for your municipality. See a list of them HERE.

 

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We're still waiting to exhale

On Friday, January 8, I encouraged everyone to get in touch with Senator Ron Johnson, U.S. Representative Scott Fitzgerald, and U.S. Representative Tom Tiffany — the three Republican elected officials from Wisconsin who either voted to accept the spurious objections raised to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania or originally committed to doing so but thought better of it after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was put down. These three men should no longer be eligible to serve in the Congress, according to section 3 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution:

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Here's the contact information you need. Make your voices heard and hold these men accountable:

U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald: (202) 225-5101
Email and office locations are not yet available.

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany: (202) 225-3365
email
1719 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515

Sen. Ron Johnson: (202) 224-5323
email
328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

We only have eight more days of the tRump administration to go. But there are plenty of pundits predicting new violence on January 17 and on Inauguration Day, both in DC and in every state capital. See "Americans across the political spectrum fear what the Capitol attack portends" in the Washington Post, "Drumpf supporters plan to surround the Capitol in 'chilling' insurrection plot" in Daily Kos, and "Right-wing violence will now be a regular feature of American politics" in the Plum Line blog. In Madison, "Tony Evers calls up National Guard to protect Capitol, boards up windows after FBI warning of 'armed protests'". Sadly, this seems to be the world we live in right now.

Still, the work of our organization proceeds apace. Dan O'Keefe, the leader of the Criminal Justice Reform Issue Team, invites interested Grassroots North Shore supporters to sign up. The Team is working on arranging a Zoom meeting with State Senator Alberta Darling and welcomes everyone to participate. Details of the meeting will be announced to those who sign up as soon as they are available.

There are going to be seven candidates on the ballot for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Our page with links to candidate's campaign sites is now up so that you can find out something about each candidates' positions. You can also watch a forum with them, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Education Network and originally held on January 7, 20221.

And don't forget the People's Map Commission hearing on Thursday, January 14. You can participate by submitting comments or just registrating for the public hearing (required).

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What a consequential week!

 

The Georgia run-off elections for two US Senate seats happens today. Tomorrow, the 117th Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral college votes. Both events will try progressives' souls: the election in Georgia because it is sure to be followed by litigation and acrimony; the formal tallying of the electoral college votes because more than a few Republicans — including our own Senator Ron Johnson — plan to disrupt the purely ceremonial event with spurious "objections" to accepting the votes of certified electors from various states these seditious officials will claim are "contested." They aren't. All the litigation over the validity of the votes in these states has long since been settled. And all the electors and their votes from these states have been certified by the governors of those states. The results are clear and will ultimately be formally acknowledged by the 117th Congress. But for a dark view of how bad — and nutty — the process could be, see Ed Foley's op-ed in today's Washington Post.

But the question remains: what to do about those who are prepared to abuse the process? Especially those who represent the states whose electoral college votes they are challenging. The Milwaukee Journal has already castigated Representative Tiffany for his part in this seditious charade. In an editorial today, the headline calls Senator Ron Johnson "unfit to represent Wisconsin in the U. S. Senate." The editorial has it just right: "Johnson's disgraceful display should not go unpunished. While there is no way to recall a sitting senator — and censure or expulsion (though deserved) is unlikely given the politics of the moment — we urge voters to remember what Johnson has done. Hold him accountable. Demand that qualified challengers, Republican and Democrat alike, run against him if he has the audacity to break another promise and try for a third term in 2022." The end of the piece asserts that "He has violated his oath of office and in doing so, Johnson has forfeited his right to represent the people of Wisconsin."

Aside from firing Senator Johnson if he runs for re-election in 2022, the important business in front of us is the upcoming nonpartisan elections. There was such spectacular (and welcome) engagement for the fall 2020 election. Wouldn't it be great if we could keep up that level of enthusiasm for our local and judicial elections? Our Elections 2021 pages will help keep you informed of the offices up for election in 2021 as well as the candidates who have been officially nominated. Nomination papers are due today by 5pm in most cases so we should have all that information available within the next few days. So start becoming informed! You can apply for an absentee ballot for the primary (February 16) and/or the general election (April 6) at myvote.wi.gov. Get it out of the way now!

This week's event list is more, well, eventful. I especially want to highlight the People's Map Commission public hearing on Thursday, January 14 (time TBA). There's nothing more important to democracy than fair electoral maps. As we have seen in Wisconsin over the last 10 years under our partisan gerrymandered maps, it's a lot more difficult to hold elected officials accountable for the positions and votes they take when politicians can choose their own voters instead of voters choosing their politicians. And that's what a partisan gerrymander gives us: elected officials who are not responsive to anyone who does not vote for them. If you'd like more information about gerrymandering and want to help do something about it, come to the organizational meeting of the Fair Maps and Voting Rights Issue Team on Thursday, January 7 at 6pm on Zoom.

If you are interested in the other Issue Teams Grassroots North Shore is now forming, contact Paul Geenen. There will be organizational meetings for teams focusing on Criminal Justice Reform and on the Environment soon. Or let him know of any other current issue you want to engage.

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Goodbye to 2020

We're finally going to have perfect 2020 vision — in hindsight, of course. But Donald Drumpf just won't let go of his destructive efforts to upend our democracy. It seems he has appealed the latest ruling that the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued in mid-December. That suit was decided by a 4-3 vote and relied heavily on the Laches Doctrine, "which requires that a plaintiff does not unreasonably delay a claim. Drumpf’s suit failed in this respect because he did not file suit when the same laws and practices were in effect when he won the presidency in 2016" (Urban Milwaukee, 12/29/2020). And Monday Representative Louie Gohmert sued Vice President Mike Pence. CNN called the suit a "wacky attempt to transform the vice president's purely ceremonial role in presiding over the announcement of the Electoral College results in Congress into a power broker position in which the VP could effectively hand the election to President Donald Drumpf" (CNN, 12/29/2020).

Congress will meet in joint session on Wednesday, January 6, at 12 noon CST to count the electoral college votes. The Vice President will preside, following both the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act of 1887. As the Washington Post explains in a 12/29/20 op-ed, "the Jan. 6 session ... address[es] a narrow question: Are the electoral votes received by Congress ones cast by electors the states appointed?" Here's the core of the issue:

This limited inquiry requires Congress simply to authenticate the documents. Remember, these rules were formulated in the 19th century, when there was a realistic risk of counterfeit papers pretending to be official. Thus, the 1887 act requires a state’s governor to affix “the seal of the State” to the certificate confirming the appointment of electors.

Further, the 1887 act obligates Congress to consider 'conclusive' a state’s own 'final determination' of litigation over a state’s appointment of electors when two conditions are met. The 'final determination' must occur by a certain date, Dec. 8 this year, and must be based on state laws existing before Election Day, Nov. 3. Congress instructs governors to provide verification of these two conditions in their certifications.

VP Pence, as the presiding officer, is charged with simply opening the envelopes with the certified votes from each state. As an AP report explains, "the presiding officer opens and presents the certificates of the electoral votes in alphabetical order of the states. The appointed 'tellers' from each chamber, members of both parties, then read each certificate out loud. The tellers then record and count the votes, and the presiding officer announces who has won the majority votes for both president and vice president" (AP, 12/15/2020).

Objections to a specific state's electors must be made, in writing, with at least one Representative and one Senator signing on. It's possible that no senator will oblige the crazies in the House, but even if one does, the objection is likely to be defeated in both chambers. It's a little nerve-wracking, of course, but it may be worth making some popcorn and tuning in to watch the comedic drama unfold.

On a more serious note, one of Wisconsin's foremost tasks ahead is drawing the new electoral district maps that will go into effect for the 2022 elections and remain in force through 2031. The new maps are the only way Wisconsin can rectify the travesty of partisan gerrymandering that has so disrupted the relationship between the will of the voters and the distribution of power in the state's legislative chambers. To counter the Republican effort to cement their hold over the legislature, Governor Tony Evers created the People's Map Commission, a group of nine people who have been chosen by a Selection Panel of three retired judges in Wisconsin. The members of the Commission are "Wisconsinites representing each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts and members from the African American, Latinx, and Tribal communities. The Commission members may not be elected officials, public officials, lobbyists, or political party officers. The idea is that the people should be making these important decisions, not politicians. The Commission may also include nonvoting members who are experts in redistricting, including professors, statisticians, mathematicians, map software experts, and legal scholars."

Grassroots North Shore supporters have their chance to participate in the series of public hearings The People's Map Commission is holding in the new year. The one for the 4th CD is to be held on Thursday, January 14 (time TBD). If you want to participate by speaking or submitting written comments, you'll need to sign up to do so. You can also participate by tuning in to watch. The sign-up page seems to be the same both for contributing remarks and for simply attending the session. The hearing for the 6th CD will be held on February 25, 2021. Nothing has a more fundamental impact on the governance of our state than the map of electoral districts. So nothing is more important than attending one of these public hearings to make our presence heard and felt. Please sign up for the 4th CD hearing or the 6th CD hearing. The links take you to a form titled "Public Input for People’s Maps Commission" but there does not seem to be any other way to register just to attend the session. So don't be shy!

During the holiday season, the events list continues to be short. But expect things to heat up considerably after January 5, 2021. That's when nomination papers are due for nonpartisan elections as well as for school board elections this spring. You can see what offices are up for election on our website. We will be updating the page with the names of people who have qualified to run for each office and whenever possible links to their web pages and/or Facebook pages just as soon as we can. Once the primaries are completed, we will be endorsing some candidates and in March will be holding a candidate forum for those running to be State Superintendent of Public Instruction. You should be able to request an absentee both for the February 16 primary and the April 6 general election at myvote.wi.gov but the 2021 election cycle requests are not yet available! Presumably, they will be soon.

And may the New Year be happier, brighter, and more hopeful than the year we are leaving behind.

 

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Home for the Holidays

Merry Christmas and/or Kwanzaa to everyone. As you will see, there's almost nothing that has not been suspended or canceled on the events list for the next two weeks. So this newsletter will focus on some ongoing work and some prospective opportunities so you won't feel useless and forlorn staying home for the holidays! (At least I hope you're staying home and not having children and grandchildren over to celebrate! The rate of coronavirus spread in Wisconsin is lower than it was a month ago but it is still quite high. Be safe and protect others so we can all have happy holidays together in 2021.)

The run-off elections for the two senate races in Georgia are being held on January 5. You can still help out by sending money (of course) and/or by phoning voters. I've heard from others who are phoning that Georgia voters are friendly and nice to callers. Because it's an election that focuses on turnout — meaning the side that gets more of its voters out wins — the phone lists are pretty tightly focused on voters who will vote for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. So take a couple of hours out of this week and next to do some worthy campaigning. Here are the links you need:

Grassroots North Shore is launching several issue teams in the new year. These teams will meet to hear from important speakers and to develop strategies and tactics to make progress both in our state and nationally. Two teams already have organizers: Deb Patel is putting together a group to work on Fair Maps and Other Voting Rights; Anneliese Dickman is putting together one focused on Gun Safety and Violence Prevention; Paul Geenen is forming a group to work on Criminal Justice Reform. I urge you to contact these organizers if you're interested in working on those projects this year. Or if you have another issue you're keen to pursue, contact Paul and we'll help you form a team for that issue!

And just in case you gave the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a miss this morning, here's news that will make you sick at heart: Wisconsin Republicans all vote against coronavirus relief plan, with Ron Johnson joining 5 other senators opposing bill. If you'd prefer a little irony to rebalance your day, you can try this story instead: Trump carried counties where many voters declared themselves indefinitely confined and avoided ID rules. This article is tagged as available only to subscribers, so here's an excerpt:

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review shows 123,357 voters in the 58 counties Trump carried claimed to be indefinitely confined on the basis of age, physical illness or disability, which allowed them to avoid the photo identification requirement.

In the 14 counties Biden won en route to a 21,000-vote victory, 92,356 voters listed themselves as indefinitely confined.

We don't of course know which presidential candidate those who deemed themselves indefinitely confined voted for. And there is no way after the fact to find an answer to that question. We do know, however, that the law in question leaves the designation up to the voter. No note from your doctor is required! And by the way, you should be able to request an absentee ballot for the February 16 and April 6 elections to be held in Wisconsin this year — but apparently not yet. At least not through myvote.wi.gov. I hope it will be possible to request such ballots after the first of the year. Stay tuned.

And in some interesting news unlikely to be featured in the national press, it appears that "Michigan's attorney general will seek professional sanctions against attorney Sidney Powell over her efforts to overturn President Donald Trump's election loss (Raw Story, 11/22/20).

Finally, especially for Ozaukee county progressives, you should know about and sign up for the Ozaukee County Dems Inauguration (virtual) Celebration that will take place on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 7 - 9pm. The celebration will feature a champagne toast and truffles with all proceeds benefiting Ozaukee food pantries. If you sign up by January 11, you will receive the goodies in time for the event. The cost is a reasonable $30 for "Champagne and Truffles for Two." So even if you're not an Ozaukee resident, you might consider joining the celebration, or at least contributing something to help the hungry.

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