once more, it's the elections!

There's a lot of Wisconsin news from the last week. So let's begin with the so-called Gableman report. You can read about it, in all its ridiculousness, in the Journal Sentinel's take. Or a shortened version of the same story at Election Law Blog. The Washington Post's Editorial Board offers the justified ridicule: The Wisconsin GOP’s investigation into the 2020 election is a farce. It’s time to abandon it. The opinion piece is definitely worth a read.

The latest Marquette poll of WI candidates and issues shows that we have a lot of work to do to re-elect Governor Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, and a progressive Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. You can read a discussion of the poll results and/or look at the released data yourself. Apparently half of the Republicans surveyed have not yet decided who will get their vote for the gubernatorial nomination in August. Similarly, half of the Democrats are undecided about their August vote in the crowded race for the US Senate nomination. If you read far enough in the data release, you'll find that "Gov. Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 50%, while 41% disapprove. When last measured in October 2021, 45% approved and 46% disapproved." Above water and heading in the right direction but not safe!

According to WHERE WILL YOUNG VOTERS IMPACT THE 2022 ELECTIONS?, a study by Tufts U Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Wisconsin is one of the key states, ranking second out of ten states for the importance of the youth vote in the Senate race and fourth in the gubernatorial race.

The youth population in Wisconsin, which is in the top 5 of both of our rankings, is similar to other states in the upper midwest, making up 16% of the state’s population. Wisconsin is also an above-average youth registration (68%) state and, historically, a high turnout state. In 2020, the state’s young voters preferred President Biden by 23 points in a state that was decided by less than 1 percentage point—though in this state with a lower share of people of color, youth are less Democratic-leaning than young people nationally. The 2022 Senate race for the seat held by Ron Johnson (the only Republican statewide official in Wisconsin) is considered a toss-up. ...[I]n 2022 Democratic incumbent Governor Tony Evers will seek a second term; the race is rated as a toss-up in this perennial battleground state.

You've undoubtedly heard that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the map submitted by Governor Evers was the best of the "least changes" maps submitted to them. You can read the 4-3 decision, with Justice Hagedorn voting with the three most liberal justices and writing for the majority. (With the front matter and the dissents, the whole thing runs to more than 160 pages.) The maps now include seven majority-minority districts in the Milwaukee area and represent a less bad option than the maps drawn by the Republican majority in the current legislature. The remaining conservative justices each wrote extensive dissenting opinions and each signed on with the others' dissents. The majority's opinion, however, runs to about 25 pages, excluding front matter. Justice Anne Walsh Bradley's concurring opinion, only four pages long, takes issue only with the court's original decision in November 2021 to use a "least changes" approach as the chief criterion for deciding which maps to adopt. The rest of the approximately 160 pages includes the three dissenting opinions. The conservatives on the court seem mighty unhappy with the decision.

The Republicans have, of course, appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on the grounds that "[t]he petition by the Legislature and WILL argues the map Evers drew violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it drew the seven [Wisconsin Assembly] districts based solely on race without proving a need under the law" (Journal Sentinel Online, March 7, 2022). In other words, the appeal focuses on the state legislative maps, not the Congressional one, which pretty much divides the state into 3 districts Democrats are likely to win and five districts Republicans are likely to win. Pretty much the same as the situation with the previous maps. Given what SCOTUS has been doing to the Voting Rights Act lately, the appeal might just have some legs. But time is not on their side. Candidates will begin circulating nomination papers on April 1. And the Court has already refused appeals that are too close to the beginning of the partisan primary cycle.

In other gerrymandered map litigation from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Court has denied the emergency appeals, citing the proximity of primary elections in those states. Those appeals were based on the theory that only state legislatures can prescribe the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives" as specified in the US Constitution's Elections Clause. As NPR notes, "Under this theory, any state court decision requiring the redrawing of state legislative maps is unconstitutional under the federal constitution. That is a dramatically different understanding than has ever been adopted by the Supreme Court." However, three justices — Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas — "dissented from the court's decision on Monday not to entertain the North Carolina case and in their written dissent all but embraced the independent state legislature theory." Apparently Justice Kavanaugh has also signaled "strong interest in the independent state legislature theory." There's likely to be trouble ahead.

A final note on gerrymandering: An organization called "Issue One" — describing itself as "the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C." — has provided a discussion of 12 examples of how state legislators have drawn unfair maps for partisan gain over the next decade in an article online called "Extreme Gerrymandering." Wisconsin is on the list which includes seven Republican-controlled states and five in the hands of Democrats.

I can't finish up this newsletter without taking note of the trucker convoy now cruising the Washington Beltway, a stretch of superhighway that encircles D.C. Dana Milbank, in Monday's Washington Post, has the best skewering I have seen. Here's the most amusing bit:

As the truckers crossed the country, the reason for the protest largely evaporated: Mask and vaccine mandates tumbled — not because of the convoy but because the pandemic receded. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated news coverage, leaving the truckers largely forgotten and sharply increasing the cost of fuel for their now-pointless mission.

Now, they’re in the Washington area, camping out in Hagerstown, Md., and they’ve decided the best way to get themselves noticed would be to … make traffic on the Beltway?

Threatening to increase traffic on the Beltway is like threatening to add water to the Potomac River: How would anyone notice the difference? The 64-mile loop around the capital is in a state of perpetual slowdown.

The events list is kind of sparse, but please find SOMETHING you can do, either to support Ukraine and its refugees — Daily Kos has put together a donation page, the proceeds of which will be distributed to various charities providing aid — or support a candidate for the April 5 and August 9 elections. You can find candidate information and links for the April election on our 2022 Elections pages.

There's a lot of Wisconsin news from the last week. So let's begin with the so-called Gableman report. You can read about it, in all its ridiculousness, in the Journal Sentinel's take. Or a shortened version of the same story at Election Law Blog. The Washington Post's Editorial Board offers the justified ridicule: The Wisconsin GOP’s investigation into the 2020 election is a farce. It’s time to abandon it. The opinion piece is definitely worth a read.

The latest Marquette poll of WI candidates and issues shows that we have a lot of work to do to re-elect Governor Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, and a progressive Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. You can read a discussion of the poll results and/or look at the released data yourself. Apparently half of the Republicans surveyed have not yet decided who will get their vote for the gubernatorial nomination in August. Similarly, half of the Democrats are undecided about their August vote in the crowded race for the US Senate nomination. If you read far enough in the data release, you'll find that "Gov. Tony Evers’ job approval stands at 50%, while 41% disapprove. When last measured in October 2021, 45% approved and 46% disapproved." Above water and heading in the right direction but not safe!

According to WHERE WILL YOUNG VOTERS IMPACT THE 2022 ELECTIONS?, a study by Tufts U Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Wisconsin is one of the key states, ranking second out of ten states for the importance of the youth vote in the Senate race and fourth in the gubernatorial race.

The youth population in Wisconsin, which is in the top 5 of both of our rankings, is similar to other states in the upper midwest, making up 16% of the state’s population. Wisconsin is also an above-average youth registration (68%) state and, historically, a high turnout state. In 2020, the state’s young voters preferred President Biden by 23 points in a state that was decided by less than 1 percentage point—though in this state with a lower share of people of color, youth are less Democratic-leaning than young people nationally. The 2022 Senate race for the seat held by Ron Johnson (the only Republican statewide official in Wisconsin) is considered a toss-up. ...[I]n 2022 Democratic incumbent Governor Tony Evers will seek a second term; the race is rated as a toss-up in this perennial battleground state.

You've undoubtedly heard that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the map submitted by Governor Evers was the best of the "least changes" maps submitted to them. You can read the 4-3 decision, with Justice Hagedorn voting with the three most liberal justices and writing for the majority. (With the front matter and the dissents, the whole thing runs to more than 160 pages.) The maps now include seven majority-minority districts in the Milwaukee area and represent a less bad option than the maps drawn by the Republican majority in the current legislature. The remaining conservative justices each wrote extensive dissenting opinions and each signed on with the others' dissents. The majority's opinion, however, runs to about 25 pages, excluding front matter. Justice Anne Walsh Bradley's concurring opinion, only four pages long, takes issue only with the court's original decision in November 2021 to use a "least changes" approach as the chief criterion for deciding which maps to adopt. The rest of the approximately 160 pages includes the three dissenting opinions. The conservatives on the court seem mighty unhappy with the decision.

The Republicans have, of course, appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on the grounds that "[t]he petition by the Legislature and WILL argues the map Evers drew violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it drew the seven [Wisconsin Assembly] districts based solely on race without proving a need under the law" (Journal Sentinel Online, March 7, 2022). In other words, the appeal focuses on the state legislative maps, not the Congressional one, which pretty much divides the state into 3 districts Democrats are likely to win and five districts Republicans are likely to win. Pretty much the same as the situation with the previous maps. Given what SCOTUS has been doing to the Voting Rights Act lately, the appeal might just have some legs. But time is not on their side. Candidates will begin circulating nomination papers on April 1. And the Court has already refused appeals that are too close to the beginning of the partisan primary cycle.

In other gerrymandered map litigation from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Court has denied the emergency appeals, citing the proximity of primary elections in those states. Those appeals were based on the theory that only state legislatures can prescribe the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives" as specified in the US Constitution's Elections Clause. As NPR notes, "Under this theory, any state court decision requiring the redrawing of state legislative maps is unconstitutional under the federal constitution. That is a dramatically different understanding than has ever been adopted by the Supreme Court." However, three justices — Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas — "dissented from the court's decision on Monday not to entertain the North Carolina case and in their written dissent all but embraced the independent state legislature theory." Apparently Justice Kavanaugh has also signaled "strong interest in the independent state legislature theory." There's likely to be trouble ahead.

A final note on gerrymandering: An organization called "Issue One" — describing itself as "the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C." — has provided a discussion of 12 examples of how state legislators have drawn unfair maps for partisan gain over the next decade in an article online called "Extreme Gerrymandering." Wisconsin is on the list which includes seven Republican-controlled states and five in the hands of Democrats.

I can't finish up this newsletter without taking note of the trucker convoy now cruising the Washington Beltway, a stretch of superhighway that encircles D.C. Dana Milbank, in Monday's Washington Post, has the best skewering I have seen. Here's the most amusing bit:

As the truckers crossed the country, the reason for the protest largely evaporated: Mask and vaccine mandates tumbled — not because of the convoy but because the pandemic receded. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated news coverage, leaving the truckers largely forgotten and sharply increasing the cost of fuel for their now-pointless mission.

Now, they’re in the Washington area, camping out in Hagerstown, Md., and they’ve decided the best way to get themselves noticed would be to … make traffic on the Beltway?

Threatening to increase traffic on the Beltway is like threatening to add water to the Potomac River: How would anyone notice the difference? The 64-mile loop around the capital is in a state of perpetual slowdown.

The events list is kind of sparse, but please find SOMETHING you can do, either to support Ukraine and its refugees — Daily Kos has put together a donation page, the proceeds of which will be distributed to various charities providing aid — or support a candidate for the April 5 and August 9 elections. You can find candidate information and links for the April election on our 2022 Elections pages.

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Cautiously optimistic

Let's begin with some good news: the Covid-19 Omicron wave is rapidly dissipating in Wisconsin. This morning's Journal Sentinel reports that the number of ICU patients with Covid-19 and the numbers hospitalized with the disease are both at lows last seen in summer 2021. At least until the next variant hits us, we seem to be in a reasonable place. Responsible people might want to continue to mask up in crowded, indoor spaces. And those of us who are especially vulnerable should remain cautious. But overall, it's welcome news. The rapid development of effective vaccines has had a lot to do with weathering the storm. Read "Why Covid-19 vaccines are a freaking miracle" to find out more about how we got these shots so quickly.

Unfortunately, the rest of the news remains pretty awful. Besides the horrendous events in Ukraine, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments yesterday in a case that involves the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gasses. And it did not go well for those of us hoping that the country and the world can at least mitigate catastrophic climate change. Amy Howe at scotusblog.com has the full story. But as she reports, "The oral argument occurred on the same morning that a panel of scientists convened by the United Nations issued a major new report that warns of dire effects from climate change and concludes that nations are not doing nearly enough to cope with a warming planet." As the Washington Post notes in an analysis before the oral arguments on February 28, "With the court’s conservative justices increasingly suspicious that agencies are overstepping their powers, the case’s outcome could not only reshape U.S. environmental policy but also call into question the authority of regulators to tackle the nation’s most pressing problems." We'll know more when the decision is rendered this summer but it's looking like bad news from the Court. Again.

So let's do what we can to improve life here at home. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is looking for volunteers to be election observers for the April 5 nonpartisan election. Here's their appeal: "Volunteer election observers help ensure we have a fair election by watching for signs of voter disenfranchisement and intimidation and by monitoring the way Wisconsin’s election laws and procedures are being applied. Even if you only have a couple of hours on Election Day, you can still make a difference. Sign up to be an election observer today! Learn more and sign up to volunteer." Russian aggression in Ukraine reminds us that democracy is both precious and under attack. Do your part to shore it up, please.

Two of our Grassroots North Shore communities have candidate forums for school board memberships and for municipal offices this week. For Whitefish Bay, the event is on Zoom at 7 pm, Thursday, March 3. Bay Bridge is hosting and the League of Women Voters is moderating. Here's the link to the event. It becomes available when the event starts Thursday evening. In Shorewood, the forum will be live-streamed on Facebook on Sunday, March 6, at 12:30 pm. Sponsored by the Shorewood Women's Club (SWC) and moderated by League of Women Voters Milwaukee County (LWVMC), the candidates for school board and for Village Trustee will be participating in person, but the audience will connect via the SWC Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account to tune in to the live feed. If you get wind of any others, pass on the details to me at [email protected].

Tonight, President Biden will give the first State of the Union address of his presidency. (Last year's speech to a joint session of Congress doesn't count as a SOTU speech because ... reasons!) He's scheduled to begin his address at 9 pm EST or 8 pm CST. You can watch on TV or streaming online. The Milwaukee County Democratic party and the 4th CD are hosting an online "watch party" beginning at 7:15 with discussion both before and after the speech. You can register here.. His approval ratings need a boost. So tune in.

Finally, anyone who is concerned about the highly gerrymandered maps in Wisconsin, where our state is said to be the worst in the nation on this issue, is invited to create a #MadAboutMaps video to be posted to social media on March 15 — designated as Mad About Maps Day. The Fair Maps Coalition has extensive online help about when and how to participate. The link above will point you in the right direction. Read the call for participation and then signal that you plan to take part.

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Make your voice heard

Last week, the League of Progressive Seniors held a webinar on the disenfranchisement of people with mobility issues. Mark Thompsen, a member of the Wisconsin Election Commission, spoke eloquently about the ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court that enjoined the use of drop boxes and prohibited anyone other than the voters from taking absentee ballots either to their municipal clerk's office or to their mailbox. The limitations will significantly impact the disabled. You can watch the program (1 hour) on YouTube.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to figure out how many voters are likely to be affected for the upcoming April 5 election — or for the August 9 primary and the November 8 general elections should the Supreme Court rule on the matter for those elections too. But Wisconsin is a closely divided state both in presidential elections and in gubernatorial ones. After all, Governor Evers won office in 2018 by only 1.1% of the votes and President Biden won here by a slim 20,608 votes. Some data, however, suggest the effects could be substantial.

About 17.5% of Wisconsin's population is over 65 years old. Not all elderly are disabled nor do all disabled people have trouble voting, of course, but in a population estimated to be approximately 5,895,908, the group most heavily affected are likely to be the elderly. In Wisconsin, the over-65 population is about 1,031,784 people. According to Wisconsin Election Commission, there are 959,199 registered voters over 65 — the largest age group on the rolls. But the figure may be an undercount because people who registered to vote before 2005 do not have a birth date on file with the voter registration system. According to the Journal Sentinel," Rutgers University's Fact Sheet on Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2018 Elections found a 10.4% gap in Wisconsin voter turnout between citizens with and without disabilities." (The data for the 2020 election are also available.)

In an article titled "The Era of Easier Voting for Disabled People Is Over," The Atlantic reported on the nationwide participation of disabled voters:

Nearly 62 percent of Americans with disabilities voted in 2020, a surge of nearly 6 percentage points over 2016, or 1.7 million more voters. The number of disabled voters reporting difficulties while voting also dropped significantly; in 2020, 11 percent of disabled voters reported having problems, down from 26 percent in 2012, according to an Election Assistance Commission report. That’s not to say voting was suddenly simple: Mail-in ballots aren’t easier for everyone, including those with visual or cognitive disabilities. And in 2020, disabled Americans were still roughly 7 percent less likely to vote than nondisabled Americans.

So the problem of disallowing anyone other than the voter from returning an absentee ballot and disallowing drop boxes, which can be accessible from a vehicle and are available outside of regular business hours, seriously impacts the ability of the disabled and the elderly to vote. According to Mark Thompsen, the only recourse we have right now is to petition the individual members of the court. Here's what you should do.

ACTION ITEMS:
  1. Petition the seven Supreme Court Justices. Write each of them a letter and send it to —
    Office of Justices
    Attn: name of justice
    16 East State Capitol
    PO Box 1688
    Madison, WI 53701-1688

  2. Share with others, especially those who are themselves likely to be affected by the injunction.
The justices are: Hon. Annette K. Ziegler (Chief Justice), Hon., Ann Walsh Bradly, Hon. Patience D. Roggensack, Hon. Rebecca G. Bradley, Hon. Rebecca F. Dallet, Hon. Brian K. Hagedorn, Hon. Jill J. Karofsky.

And while I'm discussing ACTION ITEMS, here are three that Grassroots North Shore is pursuing ahead of the April 5 election:
  1. Distributing flyers to households of strong Democratic women in Brown Deer, Fox Point, and Whitefish Bay.

  2. Phoning people in the Mequon-Thiensville School District to turn out the vote for two of the candidates running for school board and an incumbent judge running for a seat on the Appeals Court District 2.

  3. Writing postcards to strong Democratic women in Ozaukee County to turn out the vote for Judge Lori Kornblum running for election to the Appeals Court District 2 she currently sits on. She's a member of Grassroots North Shore and we have endorsed her.
We're almost ready to begin distributing flyers and phoning in the Mequon-Thiensville School District. And we should be ready to begin writing postcards in about 2 weeks. Please volunteer for at least one of these activities by contacting our Co-Chair Norma Gilson or Nancy Kaplan. Please put "GRNS volunteer"in the subject line.

Finally, I'll just mention that the fringy right has turned its attention to undermining public education, both in Wisconsin and in the nation. At least 16 efforts at school board recall elections have been mounted here! I'm happy to report that all of them failed. But it's important to be informed about the issues and to urge your family and friends to know who is running in your area and to turn out to vote for sensible people. You can find out more about the issues by watching the video of our last event: "School Boards Under Attack." And you can find out who is running in your school district on our page for 2022 School Board Elections. That page also provides links to candidates' information so that you can discover at least some of their positions.

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Election Day is TODAY

In case you hadn't noticed, today is an election day. If you live in Bayside, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood, or Whitefish Bay — and you have not already voted — please vote in this important primary election. Grasssroots North Shore recommends that you vote for Liz Sumner for Milwaukee County Supervisor in District 1.

And if you live in the Cedarburg School District or the Mequon-Thiensville School District, you have an important primary too. In both cases, the lowest vote-getter will be eliminated from the April 5 ballot. In Cedarburg, we don't have a solid endorsement to give you. But various trusted voices have recommended that you vote for FOUR of these five candidates: Kate Erickson, Ryan Hammetter, Hani Malek, Mike Maher, and Jamie Maier. In Mequon-Thiensville, we know more because there was a recall election there in November 2021. The recall was handily thwarted but one of the defeated participants is trying again. To thwart her again, we are recommending that you vote for TWO of the following three candidates: Paul Buzzell, Maria Douglas, and Jason Levash.

There's a lot of news, both in Wisconsin and in the national media. The Wisconsin Supreme Court temporarily ruled that while drop boxes could be used for the election happening today, they will not be an available avenue for returning absentee ballots in April. The ruling is temporary because the court has not yet held a hearing on the matter but will do so in time to make a general ruling before the partisan primary on August 9 and the November 8 general election. Here's the article in the Journal Sentinel.

If you want the convenience of voting absentee for one or all of the remaining elections in 2022, you can request absentee ballots for them at MyVote.WI.gov. If we cannot use drop boxes in August or November, you have two additional choices to return your ballot: either put the envelope with your ballot in the US mails — at least a week ahead of election day — or deliver it in person to your municipal clerk's office.

Our own Senator Ron Johnson is suffering what I hope is a disqualifying case of foot-in-mouth disease. Oshkosh Defense, Inc., won a large contract to build postal vehicles but announced that it would not be building them in Wisconsin. Instead, they're going to manufacture the trucks in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Senator Johnson has publicly declared that he will not urge the company to use a Wisconsin facility. "It's not like we don't have enough jobs here in Wisconsin," he said. It's hard to believe that our senator thinks good union jobs aren't needed here. Watch the short video about this matter that a More Perfect Union created to expose both the company and our just-plain-wrong senator.

Our website just added a new featureMoney Talks — with articles from Bill Holohan, emeritus professor and former chair of the Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. The pieces will give you a fresh understanding of the economy. Sort of like our own Paul Krugman.

Finally, on the local front, Citizen Action is holding a virtual event called "In the Wash: A Virtual Workshop about Wisconsin Water Quality" on February 24. You can sign up for it here.

The national news is pretty meaty too. The Trump Organization's long-time accounting firm has just divorced itself from the company and has concluded that nearly 10 years worth of financial statements it developed for TFG (that's the former guy, in case you're not up on the lingo) are unreliable. And the MyPillow CEO/coup advocate announced that his bank is closing his accounts by February 18 because he's a "reputation risk" to the bank. These guys can't get more love from companies that have served them for years! Both events both happened on Valentine's Day, yet another example of the upside down, alternate reality world the MAGA folks are drawn to.

Today's Washington Post has two interesting stories on settlements reached in pending lawsuits, one by the Sandy Hook families who sued Remington Arms (the maker of the AR-15 style rifle used to kill their children) and the other by Virginia Giuffre who sued Prince Andrews for sexual abuse. The Sandy Hook case, ongoing for eight years, is a landmark: it's "the first instance in the United States of a gun manufacturer facing liability for a mass shooting."

If you have time for a short read, I recommend Jamelle Bouie's column in today's New York Times. "Why We Are Not Facing the Prospect of a Second Civil War" offers an excellent, abbreviated history of the forces that produced the Civil War of 1860.

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Elections matter, all of them

Let's begin with important election news. The February 15 non-partisan primary is just a week from today. You may already have requested an absentee ballot at MyVote.wi.gov. If you have not yet filled it out and turned it in, do so today. You can use a drop box located in your community or you can take it in person to your municipal clerk. Early in-person voting is going on now but it ends this Friday, Feb. 11. Find links to information about the candidates on our Elections page.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is holding a Get-Out-the-Vote Weekend of Action on Saturday, February 12, and Sunday, February 13. They're using virtual phone banks so you can "go" in your jammies if you want. The virtual staging locations they are setting up will provide a brief training at the beginning of each shift. So SIGN UP and get a running start on what is going to be a GOTV-filled year.

But the broader issues around voting just keep coming at us. Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that the "Republican lawmakers rolled out a constitutional amendment banning the use of grant money to administer elections" while "Democratic lawmakers called for a state elections commissioner to lose his job after pretending to be an elector for former President Donald Trump." A constitutional amendment will take years to accomplish and will need to be put before the voters — perhaps as early as next year. Needless to say, Grassroots North Shore will mobilize around this issue. And those fake electors should at the least be investigated for pretending to be public officials and for forging state documents!

The League of Progressive Seniors is holding an online workshop to grapple with efforts to suppress the votes of senior citizens and the disabled. State Assembly Leader Robin Vos apparently wants to prosecute members of the Wisconsin Election Commission for allowing residents of nursing homes to vote in 2020 even though Voting Deputies could not attend, as the law stipulates. And now they're trying to use the courts to prohibit the use of drop boxes for voting and to forbid friends or family of people with limited mobility from assisting them by delivering their absentee ballots for them. The program will take place on Friday, February 18, from noon to 1pm. To sign up, you need to email the League.

In the nation as a whole, we've had some victories in the fight against gerrymandering in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. In all three states, maps rigged by Republicans have been rejected by those states' Supreme Courts. The ruling in North Carolina was especially pointed about the effort to lock in GOP control: the legislature violates the state constitution "when it deprives a voter of his or her right to substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation," the order stated. We're still waiting for Wisconsin's Supreme Court to rule on our electoral maps but it could happen any day now.

However, we may have suffered a grievous setback with the latest "shadow docket" ruling on a case about the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The court didn't actually rule on the case: it just stayed a ruling that a lower court in Alabama found discriminated against Blacks by failing to provide for a second congressional district with enough Black voters to enable — but not to guarantee — that they could elect a favored candidate. The Supreme Court's stay effectively restored the Alabama legislature's map, "suggesting that the court was poised to become more skeptical of challenges to voting maps based on claims of race discrimination," according to an article in the New York Times. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. But of course his vote left him in the minority as all five of the "conservative" justices voted to let the maps stand until the case winds its way through the court. So, justice delayed. It's likely the new maps with its one majority-minority district will be in effect for the November 8 election.

Finally, you should catch up on some jaw-dropping news from Senator Ron Johnson. Of course he "refused Saturday to say whether the Republican Party was right to censure two members of Congress and whether it had properly characterized the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection as 'legitimate political discourse'" (JSOnline, Feb. 5, 2022). That he's a coward goes without saying. But he really topped his own record of saying stupid stuff when he said "he won't try to persuade a Wisconsin manufacturer to place more than 1,000 new jobs in his hometown." Here's quote: "It's not like we don't have enough jobs here in Wisconsin. The biggest problem we have in Wisconsin right now is employers not being able to find enough workers" (JSOnline, Feb. 7, 2022). I've paid attention to politicians and their campaigns since the 1960s. I've never heard one say that we don't need any more good jobs around here! Sheesh.

 

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Voting Info for the primary

February has begun! And you know what that means: a non-partisan election is a mere two weeks away. There are primary elections in most of our North Shore and Ozaukee County communities (except Brown Deer). And we can't afford for you to miss it. So be a voter: go to myvote.wi.gov to request your absentee ballot today! Also, visit our 2022 elections page. You will find information about early in-person voting, which begins today, and drop box locations for your community. Drop boxes can be used for this primary but their fate for future elections is uncertain. The WI Supreme Court will rule on the issue before the next election on April 5.

Key Voting Tips

There are primaries for the Cedarburg School District and the Mequon-Thiensville School District. You'll find links and information on our school boards page. In both cases, the candidate with the lowest vote total in the primary will not appear on the April 5 ballot.

For the Cedarburg SD, we don't have a firm recommendation. We can tell you, though, that the current president of the board, Rick Leach, is a gun enthusiast and Laura Strobel is the wife of a Republican Assembly Representative.

Having handily defeated the recall election in the Mequon-Thiensville SD, Grassroots North Shore has a lot more information about those running in that election. Scarlett Johnson and Jill Chromy are both on our "do not vote for" list. So vote for the other three — Paul Buzzell, Maria Douglas, and Jason Levash. Skip making a fourth choice.

On the North Shore, the key primary is in the race for County Supervisor for District 1. The district has been redrawn as a result of the 2020 census. Shorewood and Whitefish Bay used to be in District 3 (Sheldon Wasserman is the incumbent) but are now in District 1. The other communities in that district are Glendale, River Hills, Fox Point and Bayside. If you live in these six communities, this primary will affect you. See the new map on our Milwaukee County Supervisors page.

There are three candidates on the ballot for the county supervisor primary, which will eliminate one. This race pits our preferred candidate — Liz Sumner, the incumbent — against two newcomers. We urge you to vote for her and simply skip a second choice.

Little is known about one of the candidates — Karen Gentile. She's a member of the Republican party, we hear; apparently is not campaigning; and does not want to be contacted (we've tried repeatedly to no avail). She does have a personal Facebook page, though, which will give you some idea of what she's about.

The third candidate in the race — Peter Tase — is much more worrisome. He has no website or Facebook page, but he has recently published an essay supporting the former guy's "Big Lie." A video of a campaign event showcasing his noxious views has apparently been removed from vimeo. However, Daniel Bice published an extensive piece on his views: it's definitely worth a full read.

Local Notable News

COVID 19 remains a huge headache. Now a subvariant of omicron has already been detected in Wisconsin. Its claim to your worries is that it may spread even more easily than omicron.

According to the Wisconsin Examiner, "Assembly Speaker Robin Vos struggles to maintain control" of the legislative body and messaging. The article pokes at his latest press conference and the "review" of the 2020 election he hired Michael Gableman to conduct — an expensive boondoggle, "which numerous observers including newspaper editorial boards, nonpartisan watchdogs and legal experts have labeled a fiasco."

National Notable News

The New York Times has purchased Wordle! Earth-shattering news indeed. And oh yeah, tRump has now admitted, in writing, that he wanted former Vice President Pence to OVERTURN (his exact word) the 2020 presidential election. Today he wants to walk that felonious claim back. And in shocking, but not surprising, revelations, it turns out that he was deeply involved in the plot to seize voting machines, instructing his minions to request three cabinet departments to take action: Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense. All turned him down. So is it time to indict him for seditious conspiracy?

 

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what's happening to our elections

The most important news item today is the ruling the District 4 Court of Appeals issued yesterday. It restores our ability to use drop boxes for the February 5 non-partisan primary. (See the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online or one in the Wisconsin Examiner.) It also allows people other than the voter to return absentee ballots. Both issues are addressed only temporarily. That's because there's a general rule that changes to voting procedures should not be issued too close to an election to avoid confusion and possible disenfranchisement of voters who have not learned the new rules. Absentee ballots are already being mailed to voters. So if you have not yet done so, you should request your absentee ballot NOW. You can use myvote.wi.gov or you can send an email request to your municipal clerk. You'll find phone numbers for most of our municipalities on our early voting information page.

While I'm on the subject of elections, Grassroots North Shore has gathered information on the candidates running for non-partisan local offices. We know, or should have recently learned, how vital these offices are. So visit our 2022 Elections page. We have a page for early voting information, one for Milwaukee County Supervisors, one for school boards, one for municipal elections, one for the District 2 Court of Appeals, and one for Milwaukee County Judges. The page on drop box locations (as of the 2020 election) is also up.  Drop Boxes are available for ballots at least for this first election of 2022. And make a plan to vote!

Also, don't miss the Grassroots North Shore Annual Meeting, coming up on Zoom on Sunday, February 6, at 7pm. We're presenting speakers knowledgable about attacks on school boards — Wisconsin-based education journalist Barbara Miner, and Milwaukee Public School Board President, Robert Peterson. (So RSVP already!) As you might remember, there was a recall election for the Mequon-Thiensville school board in November, 2021. It failed! And it failed big-time because people came out to vote. Now we have to do it again. One of the people running for a seat in the primary is trying again. And she has company. Both Scarlett Johnson and Jill Chromy have major backing from the fringy right of the Republican party. The primary will eliminate one of the five candidates, leaving four contenders for the April election. Talk to your friends, co-workers, family who live in the district and urge them to vote for the other candidates so we can try to repeat our success from last fall.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments on proposed legislative maps from the parties to the lawsuit and from various groups who sent amicus briefs in support of various maps. The court had earlier ruled that it would not look at partisan gerrymandering in selecting a map and that it would really only consider so-called "least change" maps. Conveniently, however, the court failed to define what "least change" means. And sure enough, there was plenty of argument about whether to consider how many voters would have to be moved to new districts — the governor's map was most successful at meeting this criterion — or whether the key would be districts that contain equal numbers of voters. Oddly enough (heavy on the snarkiness), the lawyer representing the GOP legislature argued vociferously for the latter standard, even though it would not preserve the present maps as much as possible. A ruling on the maps should be issued soon.

In the flurry of redistricting happening in all 50 states now, Democrats and progressives have feared that Republican-controlled states would use as much power as they could muster to gerrymander the heck out of the maps to maximize their advantage. And in a few states, like Ohio and North Carolina, they have indeed tried to do that. But the Ohio maps have been struck down by the state's Supreme Court, and there are lawsuits over the North Carolina maps also. It turns out that our fears may be a tad overblown. See a succinct account of it on Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog. And Marc Elias's Democracy Docket has a nifty round up of the redistricting process for each state. You can find that article here.

Making the Most of Infrastructure Dollars, 8:00am
American Family Field Restaurant, Milwaukee

Join WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com for a special breakfast on the topic: “Making the Most of New Federal Infrastructure Dollars.” Doors will open at 8 a.m. at the restaurant and a moderated panel discussion will start at 8:30 a.m. Registration is open until January 27 and cost is $20. Registration and more information.

WISDON: Transformational Justice Campaign, 6:30pm — 8pm
Zoom

Taking On Mass Incarceration in Wisconsin. This event occurs every Thursday until February 24, 2022 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. via Zoom. The Zoom information is the same for all sessions. Session 1: January 24, Session 2: February 3, Session 3: February 10, Session 4: February 17, Session 5: February 24. For questions, email. Register here.

Saturday, February 5

Stand for Peace, 12:00 – 1:00pm
Capitol Drive & Teutonia Avenue, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace has resumed in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Sunday, February 6

Grassroots North Shore Annual Meeting, 7pm — 8:30 pm
Zoom

School Boards Under Attack. Who’s behind these attacks, and why? Are the abusive rhetoric and challenges to school board incumbents a grassroots phenomenon, or do shadowy backers provide the funds and pull the strings? After a brief business meeting, Wisconsin-based education journalist Barbara Miner, and Milwaukee Public School Board President, Robert Peterson, will help us peek behind the curtain. RSVP.

Notable Upcoming Event

Saturday, February 12

UN Association of Greater Milwaukee, 10am — 12pm
Zoom

Pushing Peace in the 2022 Elections: Join the Planning! Featuring Four Milwaukee Peace Activists Discussing How To Bring Foreign Policy Issues To The Candidates And Voters. A Virtual Zoom Program – Free & Open to the Public – Preregistration is Required. The activists include Jim Carpenter, Steve Watrous, Pam Richard, and Sharaka Berry. Advance registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting. For more information: Contact Steve Watrous at 414.429.7567 / [email protected].

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Let's get loud for Fair Maps and safe elections

The issue of Fair Maps — i.e., getting rid of rigged and gerrymandered election districts — is very much in the news. In fact, Wednesday, January 19, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hold a lengthy hearing on the case, beginning at 9am. It can probably be viewed, or at least heard, by accessing Wisconsin Eye. You can also watch Lisa Pugh's interview with Barry Burden, political science professor at UW Madison, for a review of how the case got to the WI Supreme Court and what the complicated case entails.

Concerned Citizens of Wisconsin, a group of folks who have been meeting regularly with North Shore Fair Maps, collaborated with fair maps activists around the state, including Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan Voting Districts and Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP), to file an amicus brief — that's a "friend-of-the-court" brief — with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the Johnson v. Wisconsin Election Commission redistricting case on behalf of voters representing all 33 Senate districts in the state. You can read the brief here. (Shoutout to Laffey, Leitner & Goode for providing pro bono legal services.) A group of legal scholars from across the country also filed an amicus brief, which you can read here. Sign up to show your support, and to make sure you get invited to the follow up meetings where you will hear all about it! Finally, you can access all the documents in the case.

ACTION ITEM: Rallies to demand Fair Maps are taking place all across the state on Friday, January 21, at 12 noon. In Milwaukee County one will take place outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse, 930 W. Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53204. You can sign up here . In Ozaukee County, the rally will take place at the Old County Courthouse, 109 W Main St., Port Washington. You can use the same link to sign up: just choose the Port Washington site as the one you plan to attend. These rallies are sponsored by WFP, LIT (Leaders Igniting Transformation), HAWA (Hmong American Women's Assn), Democracy Campaign, Citizen Action of WI, WI Fair Maps Coalition, and other groups.

The attacks on our election systems are relentless. Not only are the maps the GOP-dominated legislature wants the Supreme Court to bless truly an awful partisan gerrymander designed to keep Republicans in power and mere voters powerless to affect what they do. No, now they have found a judge in Waukesha to rule that municipal drop boxes can no longer be used as receptacles for absentee ballots. The ruling is, I believe, being appealed. But meanwhile, if you want to vote by absentee ballot for the February 15 primary, you need to request your ballots for the whole year NOW! And you need to turn your ballots around quickly so they will be sure to arrive on time. Either that, or plan to take your ballot to your municipal hall and turn it in there. Here's the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online (published January 13). And of course, it's national news too. The Washington Post published a news item about it the next day.

Our Grassroots North Shore election coverage is now available but still lacks lots of significant information about local candidates and in-person early voting. However, there will be several important primaries in some areas. In the North Shore communities in Milwaukee County, the County Supervisor districts have, naturally, been redrawn. So there are new district lines for supervisor district 1, whose current incumbent is Liz Summer, and district 3, whose current incumbent is Sheldon Wasserman. You can visit our page for these elections to get maps of the new districts and, eventually, for links to candidates' campaigns. There will be primary elections in both districts.

In Ozaukee County, two important school board elections have primaries on February 15: the Cedarburg School District and the Mequon-Thiensville School District. If you can vote in either of those districts, please visit our page for school board elections to learn more about what's going on. And again, we will have more links to the candidates' campaigns soon.

School board elections have traditionally been both low-key and primarily of local concern. But not any more. The members of school boards have been personally attacked. As you may remember, the Mequon-Thiensville School District just went through an acrimonious — and I'm glad to report unsuccessful — recall election over mask mandates, critical race theory, and other political issues. Although they were soundly defeated, some of the challengers in that recall election are trying to run in the spring election, hoping to win a seat on the board. And two of the incumbents who were challenged in the recall have decided not to run again. Our upcoming meeting on February 6 will focus on "School Boards Under Attack." The program will feature Barbara Minor (education journalist in Wisconsin) and Robert Peterson (Milwaukee Public School Board president). You won't want to miss it. Sign up to get the Zoom link.

SAVE THE DATE: For recipients of this newsletter who vote in the city, Citizen Action is holding an online Milwaukee mayoral forum ahead of the February 15 primary on Saturday, January 29, at 9am. The next Milwaukee Mayor must be someone who works with the people of Milwaukee to make progress on racial justice, to address climate change and the energy burden put on communities of color, to ensure that everyone has access to a well paying job and the transportation to get to that job. Join the top Citizen Action candidates to hear their vision for the future of Milwaukee. Sign up here.

And a brief word about COVID-19 in our area. Cases continue to be quite high in Milwaukee County. According to the Department of Health Services, Milwaukee county ranked 4th in cases per 100,00 people and Ozaukee County ranked 15th. In both counties, transmission severity is high. Vaccinations with boosters continue to be the best way to avoid serious illness. And masking with a K95 or KN95 remains the best way to protect others, too.

The events list is strangely skinny this week. And that's probably because one of the calendars we use for tracking events has been recently changed and the old one is no longer being updated. But the new calendar is inaccessible, as far as I can tell. So there are undoubtedly events in the offing that I don't know about. I've alerted the relevant people and hope it will be fixed soon. Meanwhile, I hope you'll engage with the Fair Maps rallies in your area and will stay tuned to future Grassroots North Shore newsletters.

EVENTS

Wed Jan 19, 2022

Ozaukee County Dems Meeting, 7pm -7pm
Zoom

The next regular monthly meeting of the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County will be Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held virtually on Zoom.

Suspended: Southwest Region Dems Meeting, 7pm - 7pm
Suspended

Southwest Dems (Region 5) cover Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee (Southwest), West Allis, West Milwaukee. For information on when a meeting may be held check here or contact [email protected].

Sat Jan 22, 2022

Suspended: Community Brainstorming, 8am - 11am
Suspended

Community Brainstorming Conference will suspend its monthly breakfast forums until further notice. More information.

Rally for Fair Maps, Milwaukee County, 12pm
Milwaukee County Courthouse, 930 W. Wells St, Milwaukee
You can sign up here.

Rally for Fair Maps, Ozaukee County, 12pm
Old County Courthouse, 109 W Main St., Port Washington
Use this link to sign up for the rally in Port Washington.

Thu Jan 27, 2022

Mental Health Board Meeting, 9am - 9am
Teleconference

This is a teleconference meeting (see Agenda for details). Public Comment: none. More information.

WISDON: Transformational Justice Campaign, 6:30pm - 8pm
Zoom

Taking On Mass Incarceration in Wisconsin. Register here.

Mon Jan 24

MKE County Dems Meeting, 6pm - 7:30pm
Zoom

The next Members Meeting, on Zoom, is rescheduled for Monday, January 24, at 6pm (to honor MLK Day). Due to the community spread of COVID-19, we will need to assess the situation month by month. When you RSVP, you will receive an email with the Zoom link in it.

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And here we go!

Grassroots North Shore's Annual Meeting

On February 6 (7pm - 8:30pm), Grassroots North Shore will hold an informative virtual event — School Boards Under Attack — featuring Barbara Miner (Wisconsin-based Education Journalist) and Robert Peterson (Milwaukee Public Schools Board President.) Joining the featured speakers will be residents of communities that have recently succeeded in containing the siege on school board members and programs. Sign up and plan to attend!

Two school boards in Ozaukee County — Cedarburg School District and Mequon-Thiensville School District — are experiencing this kind of attack right now. Both will have will have primaries on February 15 and a general election on April 5. If you live in one of those school districts, it is especially important that you come to this event. AND YOU MUST VOTE. Actually, that goes for everyone this newsletter reaches. You can request absentee ballots (i.e., ballots to be mailed to you) for the whole year at myvote.wi.gov.

Before the start of the main program, the Annual Meeting will begin with a short presentation reviewing the work of the past year, outlining our plans for this year, and voting to affirm the selection of steering committee members for 2022. Anyone who has paid their membership dues in 2021 or 2022 can vote for the slate. If you have not yet become a member, now would be a perfect time. You can do it online or mail a check to Grassroots North Shore, 5600 W. Brown Deer Rd, Suite 116, Brown Deer, WI 53223. Memberships are $5 for students, $20 for an individual, and $30 for a family. Up your political game and become a member!

Wisconsin in the News

Senator Ron Johnson has at last announced that, despite his original vow to resign from the Senate after two terms, he's going to run for re-election this year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered Johnson's announcement, and also included brief responses from four key opponents. A lot of national media considered his announcement an important story too. NPR coverage is here. Here's the Washington Post's take. And here's the New York Times's piece. The last two of these outlets use their subheads to note that Johnson tells numerous lies about the 2020 election and covid. Meanwhile, Kathy Bernier, a Republican state senator who has "stood up to attacks on the 2020 election results from other Republicans", has announced that she will not run for re-election. Aside from Talking Points Memo the story was not generally picked up. News of the Big Lie and its impact is everywhere, but vocal opposition is not.

And you should take the time to read an Ezra Klein op-ed in the New York Times and a Greg Sargent post in the Washington Post, both about election strategies and both with quotations from Ben Wikler, Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

COVID News

WISN is reporting that the positivity rate for Milwaukee County from December 31, 2021, to January 6, 2022 was 36.2% while in the city of Milwaukee, over approximately the same time period, it was 41.2%. These are extremely high percentages. And it means your chance of encountering an infectious person is also extremely high if you are out and about. The director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, made the bad kind of news when she went on Good Morning America on Friday and "said that the majority of Omicron fatalities had occurred in people who already had other medical conditions at the same time — known as comorbidities" (Newsweek, Jan 10, 2022). She implied that those who have died were sick anyway, so.... Not what she meant, apparently, but that's the way it came across.

Spring 2022 Election Information

As we always do, Grassroots North Shore will provide you with the information you need about upcoming elections on our website. This year for the first time, we will be including links to candidate information — or at least such online information as we can find — for school board, municipal, and judicial elections in the North Shore and Ozaukee Counties. You will also find links to information about drop boxes (unless the GOP succeeds in outlawing them!) and in-person early voting. Many communities and school boards will not have primaries on February 15. The Cedarburg School District and the Mequon-Thiensville School District are the only two we currently know about. Information about what's at stake and who the candidates are (with links to the online information that's available) should be up by Monday, January 17.

You can request absentee ballots for the whole year by going to myvote.wi.gov. And you should. Do it now while the link is in front of you. Unless you've moved since you last voted, you should be registered to vote. But you can check that too when you're on the site. As we get closer to an election date, you can also see a sample ballot for your voting district.

 

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Welcome to a big election year!

Now that we're a few days into 2022, there's lots of stuff you should do. Not so much on the Events List, but in a group of urgent action items.

ACTION ITEMS

As we approach the anniversary of the attack on our Capitol, people all over the country are organizing remembrances and other activities. Here in Milwaukee, there are three January 6 events you could join:

  1. Defend Democracy voter registration drive from 10am — 1pm CST, starting from El Rey, 916 S Cesar E Chavez Dr, Milwaukee 53204.
  2. We the People candlelight vigil, 2:30 — 6pm CST at the Milwaukee Federal Building, 517 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee 53202.
  3. Textbanking with Field Team 6, a virtual event from 6pm - 7pm CST. To join this action, you will need to do some prep work first. So read the instructions before you join.

Contact Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin to urge both of them to vote for the two voting rights acts pending in the Senate: the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. If you've already done this, do it again. If you haven't, do it for the first time.

Send email to Assembly Speaker Vos and Senate President Kapenga to object to the Gableman sh*t-show: you know, the effort to "audit" the 2020 election in Wisconsin. You can download and send a drafted letter (feel free to edit) or you can concoct your own.

Contact Paul Geenen to work on Criminal Justice Reform and the new bill to set up a systematic data collection to help us better understand what needs to be done. Paul is arranging for a meeting with Senator Alberta Darling to discuss the recently drafted bill and to get Senator Darling's support. He's holding a preliminary meeting with participants on January 6 via Zoom at 12pm. The zoom link is https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79639787210?pwd=ejllSmFpd1I3TFNEOVQvd2V6RVJQdz09 Or you can use the Meeting ID (796 3978 7210) and passcode (A3Z7uR).

Catching Up with the News

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has declared that the US Senate will debate and vote on changes to the filibuster (mis)rule on Martin Luther King Day (January 17) so that voting rights legislation can pass with only 51 votes. He has not specified what his changes to the filibuster will entail, but a smart leader would not make such an announcement without some degree of certainty that he will have the necessary votes. Talking Points Memo has a good piece on this. As does the the Washington Post.

The Omicron variant apparently has an R0 number of 10! (The R0 number specifies how many people an infectious person is likely to spread the disease to.) To put that in perspective, here's a snippet from The Lancet, published December 17, 2021: "The original strain of SARS-CoV-2 has an R0 of 2·5, while the delta variant (B.1.617.2) has an R0 of just under 7. Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (London, UK), reckons omicron's R0 could be as high as 10." Although fully vaccinated and boosted individuals may experience breakthrough infections, they are less likely to be hospitalized or to die from COVID-19. Still, it's best not to get infected at all.

It's difficult to get up-to-date information about the spread of COVID-19 in our area and state, but on December 31, 2021, WKOW released some data from the state's Department of Health Services. And the picture is pretty grim. The DHS dashboard, with data up through January 2, 2022, shows the beginnings of a steep spike in cases and positive test results. You can see that high transmission is occurring throughout the state by looking at their map of Wisconsin. The DHS offers several ways of looking at the data — by county and census tract; by city, village and town; by school district; and by zip code tabulation area — though some of the breakdowns are not up-to-date. Only "58.2% of residents have completed the vaccine series." But it's not clear whether the statistic includes those who have received vaccines but not boosters.

Our electoral maps are in the news again. In case you missed it, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had an important piece on the state of play in the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, January 3, 2022. The article looks at what the "least changes" decision the Court issued in November might mean. In particular, the map the GOP-dominated legislature adopted puts more Wisconsin voters into new Assembly districts — about 16% of voters. Governor Evers's map moves only about 14% of voters. So by this measure, the Governor's map should be preferred. Bottom line, though: "least change" is hard to define and the Wisconsin Supreme Court failed to do so in its November ruling.

And in a little bit of sports news: the Green Bay Packers clinched the #1 seed in the NFC. That means the team gets a bye (i.e., won't have to play on the first weekend of the playoffs) and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Packers fans already know that the team has not lost a home game this season. Go Pack Go!

 

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