It's Time to Clean House

Our mission this week is twofold: cleaning up our environment by starting at home and cleaning up our elections by drawing fair maps. Let's dive in.

This week is Earth Week. So we have a Mythbusters program scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14, from 7-8:30pm, with our friend Kevin Kane, of Green Homeowners United. He'll debunk the myth that you can't afford to make your house green. There will be ample time for discussion and Q & A. So sign up.

Also, Wisconsin Conservation Voters is hosting an Earth Week Series you may want to attend:

In thinking about a longer term, we need to be focused on infrastructure — not roads, bridges, ports, and broadband, actually, but our election infrastructure. Especially the way electoral districts for state and federal representation are constructed. In truth, many political ills in Wisconsin — and indeed in many parts of the nation — are based on gerrymandered electoral maps. The polarization we experience in so many areas is at least in part a product of the way our electoral maps make incumbency virtually invincible. Because districts are in effect drawn to protect those already in power, elected representatives don't really face viable competition in elections. The only real competition for them arises from challenges within their own party's primary. And because only really dedicated — and usually highly partisan — voters tend to vote in political primaries, elected officials are often rewarded for moving to and pleasing the most partisan voters. Wisconsin's current electoral maps were structured just that way in 2011.

But we have a chance to revise the maps as a result of the 2020 census. And nothing could be more important to our political future than using fair maps for our elections going forward. We need electoral maps that ensure voters choose who represents them, rather than the current maps that representatives drew to "choose" their voters. That's why Grassroots North Shore is hosting a program on what we can do about gerrymandering in Wisconsin in a webinar on Sunday, May 2: Mopping Up Wisconsin's Map Mess, from 7-8:15pm. As we get organized for the big elections in 2022, we need to lay the groundwork now to ensure that we will have a more representative state senate and assembly going forward. So please make plans to join us on May 2 for our event on fair election maps.

For a really outstanding article about the process and effects of rigged electoral maps, you can't do better than to read Ryan Grim's essay in The Intercept. The New York Times also had a great op-ed piece in yesterday's online publication on "prison gerrymandering" — the pernicious effects of counting incarcerated people where they are serving their sentences rather than counting them where they come from and will return to after they complete their sentences. A key effect, of course, is to shift political power and funding from urban areas where most of those in state and federal prisons live, to rural and predominantly white rural areas where prisons tend to be located.

Now on to the Events for the coming two weeks.

 

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It's Election Day!

In this morning's Washington Post, Robert A. Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), discussed a forthcoming report on CPOST's analysis of the 377 Americans who have been arrested or charged so far in the Insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The analysis aimed to find commonalities among who the insurrectionists are and where they live. Here's what they found:

"Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties....

[B]y far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges....

Put another way, the people alleged by authorities to have taken the law into their hands on Jan. 6 typically hail from places where non-White populations are growing fastest."

The piece ends with a recommendation: "Understanding where most alleged insurrectionists come from is a good starting point in identifying areas facing elevated risks of further political violence. At the very least, local mayors and police chiefs need better intelligence and sounder risk analysis." Read the whole thing and learn a little about the role of the "Great Replacement" theory as the source of the rage that drives this political violence.

On a slightly different issue of violence in our communities, did you know there are only 10 violence interrupters working in the City of Milwaukee? And that these essential workers put in 40-hour plus weeks yet use what little free time they have to work side jobs, most often as Uber drivers, because of their poor pay? The neighborhoods of Milwaukee deserve a greater investment in their safety. Join the GRNS Gun Violence Prevention action team, Moms Demand Action, and WAVE to advocate for more resources for gun violence prevention in the state budget. Here's how:

  1. Sign up to meet with your legislator during the Moms Demand Action advocacy week, April 12-16. Moms will email you with more info about the meetings, the budget items, and how to prepare.
  2. Testify at a virtual Joint Finance Committee budget hearing, April 9, 21, 22, or 28.
    • Learn more about the budget hearings.
    • Need training on how to share your story when testifying? Sign up for WAVE's statewide virtual training on April 14th at 3 pm
  3. Also, check out WAVE's take action menu for easy actions to contact the Joint Finance Committee and your legislator.

Finally, here are two important issues and actions you should consider joining:

  • The League of Progressive Seniors is holding a rally in Whitewater on Friday, April 9, in conjunction with a Budget Listening Session in support of Medicaid Expansion and to send a message to Robin Vos, Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. Vos says we don’t need Medicaid Expansion. But we see friends and family members fight cancer, live with dementia, and cope with chronic pain. If we are going to age with the support we need and the dignity we deserve, Wisconsin must accept the $1.6 billion Medicaid Expansion funds. The League is organizing a Van for people who need a ride. But if you can drive to Whitewater for this rally, please plan to join in. You can RSVP to Jackie Boynton or Karen Royster.

  • Attend the Fair Maps Issue Team meeting on Monday, April 12, at 6pm to hear Harvard Law Professor Nicholas Stephanopolous, a specialist in Election and Constitutional Law. Professor Stephanopolous was part of the Whitford Legal team that took Wisconsin's challenge to gerrymandering to the US Supreme Court, and is a founder of PlanScore, a group of legal, political science, and mapping technology experts tackling the challenge of making redistricting fair and easy to understand. Sign up.

And an important reminder: polls are open until 8pm tonight. If you have not yet voted, get yourself to your polling place. Grassroots North Shore has endorsed Jill Underly for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Katie Kegel for Milwaukee Circuit Court, Branch 3. See our recommendations here. But no matter who you choose on your ballot, be a voter!

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We're down to the wire

Time is flying. We have only 3.5 days to finish calling women who are strong Democrats in the North Shore to help elect Jill Underly as the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The importance of this position is often overlooked. And because there are no other truly high profile races on Milwaukee County ballots in the election on April 6, a lot of the women we are calling are simply unaware of the race and of how crucial it is to vote in this election. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction — Governor Evers's former position! — sets vital policies for the state's educational system, overseeing school libraries, teacher qualifications and the like. Dr. Underly has strong qualifications for this role. And we especially note that she opposes expanding the role of vouchers and siphoning more money from public education. Please spend a couple of hours today, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday contacting women and encouraging them to vote. You can download the Grassroots North Shore version of the script here and access the phone bank if you already have an ActionID from last year's election efforts. For assistance with creating an ActionID, download these simple instructions. These are easy calls to make: all the people on the list are strong Democrats. And we are leaving messages. So make a difference and participate in this vital election.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party is hosting Get Out the Vote shifts for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (Election Day). I urge you to sign up for one or more of their shifts also. Like the phone bank Grassroots North Shore is running through Friday, April 2, these phone banks allow you to work from the safety and privacy of your own home. But unlike our own phone bank, the Dems have set up shifts with specific start and end times and you will "show up" at a Virtual Staging Location where you can attend an orientation session before you begin calling. So this is another way you can contribute the election effort this spring!

While we're on the local political beat, I want to call your attention to two requests from the Ozaukee County Democrats. They're looking for 20 people to sign up for shifts to staff the Ozaukee County Fair, July 28 - August 1. They need your commitment by March 31 (tomorrow)! So do the right thing. Otherwise, the Democrats won't be at the Fair! Click here. Our Oz supporters might also be interested in joining a virtual community organizing discussion with the new Regional Organizing Director, Ayden Romer. There will be a Zoom meeting at 7pm on April 2 to discuss the progress that we’ve made as a county, what we and the state party can do to improve, and workshopping next steps for after the April 6 election. Sign up.

Here's some hopeful news about COVID-19. Although we are witnessing an uptick in new infections, rates of hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease, we may be within sight of achieving something like "herd immunity" if vaccination rates hold — but we still have a ways to go. Dr. Walensky, the Director of the CDC, warned about a fourth surge that seems to be imminent. She warned that she has a feeling of "impending doom" as case loads begin to accelerate again. So the good news is that the vaccines effectively protect people from becoming infected and thus from transmitting the disease to those not yet vaccinated. But the cautious news is that we must still practice mitigation strategies like masking and social distancing for another couple of months. That's not so hard, now, is it.

If you have a strong stomach, you can watch the trial of Derek Chauvin live on the New York Times site. All the major news outlets are of course covering the trial with reporting and analysis aplenty. In somewhat less blanketed coverage, the defamation suit Summer Zervos brought against Donald Trump has been allowed to move forward, the highest court in New York State has ruled today. As the Times reports, "The case could yield the first deposition of Mr. Trump since he took office in January 2017, compelling him to testify about his behavior during the period of time in 2007 and 2008 when he and Ms. Zervos were in contact, as well as during his first campaign." Keep an eye on this one. We may yet get a cheery dose of schadenfreude.

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Passover, Easter, or just a wonderful spring.

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Our Congressional Reps Misbehave, again

he New York Times, The Independent, Vanity Fair, Esquire, CNN, and ABC News for just a few of the ridiculous things he has opined in the last week or so. But Glenn Grothman is bidding to compete. His latest? Statehood for DC isn't warranted because D.C. doesn't have any mining! And lately he's been an active and vocal antagonist of the Black Lives Matter movement. They're such embarrassments to our state. We have a great opportunity to get rid of both of them in 2022. Let's go get 'em.

The Minocqua Brewing Company has already made a good start, developing messaging and putting up three digital billboards on Highway 29 and Business 51 in Central Wisconsin. And it has begun an UpNorth podcast. The second episode — "Squeaky Cheese and Smoking Meat" — is now available. About a month ago, Kirk Bangstad, the Minocqua Brewery owner, decided to "celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with some 'Biden Beer' and ', la'" (ie., comma-la). The beers were, briefly, available in Milwaukee but quickly sold out. Bangstad's efforts came from frustration with what he perceives as slanted news coverage in the area. As he wrote in an email, "For too long, the Northwoods has been plagued by newspapers that have long-since dispensed with the notion of "balance" and instead regurgitate the misinformation of the alt-right to our communities. I saw this when I ran for State Assembly and wanted to do something about it." He's an inspiration to us all!

There are a couple of important online events coming up this week and beyond that deserve your attention.
  1. The Gun Violence Prevention Team meeting will take place on Wed. March 24th at 7 pm. On the agenda: discuss and develop a strategy for advocating for more resources for violence prevention as part of the state budget. The team especially needs folks in Sen. Duey Stroebel's district to join. But given the events in Atlanta and in Denver, nothing could be more pressing. Please RSVP and join the team.

  2. Wisconsin Budget Listening Sessions:

Right now, Grassroots North Shore is sending postcards and making phone calls in support of Dr. Jill Underly, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Katie Kegel, candidate for Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 3. And we need some help. These activities require volunteers, of course, but they also require funding we need to raise to continue getting turnout in our BLUE 'burbs to be as high as we can make it. If you want to volunteer for this effort, email me[email protected]. To help us pay for election activities, DONATE through ActBlue 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 don't neglect to vote. You can still request an absentee ballot — the safest way to vote — and return it to your community's drop box.

Finally, a heads up: Save the Date for the Grassroots North Shore event on ending gerrymandering through laws, the courts, and most importantly the court of public opinion. Sunday, May 2, 7pm, on Zoom. Speakers will include Carlene Bechen from the Fair Maps Coalition; Deb Andraca, Assembly Representative (23rd district); Mel Barnes of the law firm Law Forward; and Chris Ford, chair of the People's Map Commission. Further details will be announced soon.

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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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