For Immediate Release–April 20, 2021
Contact: Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 [email protected]
Citizen Action Praises Chauvin Guilty Verdict: Calls for Transformational Reform of the Entire System
Milwaukee: Citizen Action of Wisconsin praises the murder conviction of George Floyd’s killer, former Minneapolis Police officer Derrick Chauvin, and calls for the structural reforms needed to end the police assault on Black lives.
“This murder conviction is a step forward and a great relief to everyone who cares about true human equality, but it must only be a start, not an exoneration of the system that made it possible,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The downside is that the verdict required singling out one police officer while giving cover to the police department in Minneapolis (and others around the country) for the responsibility of a structurally racist system that does not truly respect Black life. The only real solution is an unwinding of the current systems of policing and mass incarceration and its replacement with a new balanced system that truly promotes community safety for everyone in America.”
“The truth is, without the over policing of Black and Brown communities, the over funding of police departments compared to nonviolent interventions, and the social and economic investments needed in low-income and marginalized communities, George Floyd would not have had to fight for his life after being accused of a petty crime. This verdict does not change what we know to be true: the deadly official violence aimed at Black people in America will not end until we uproot the whole system, root and branch, and replace it with a system that equally values all human lives, especially Black lives and the many others that are devalued by our out of control system of policing and mass incarceration.”
The whole Citizen Action of Wisconsin team supports and fights alongside George Floyd’s family and the people demanding justice and accountability. But we also know that Justice is not just Chauvin’s conviction. Justice would be George Floyd being alive.
This week we discuss the historic passage of the American Rescue Plan, universal GOP opposition, and its implications in Wisconsin. In addition to the massive aid it provides to working people, the new law puts an extra $1.6 billion dollars on the table if Wisconsin finally passes BadgerCare Expansion. Will Legislative Republicans still stand in the way? After reviewing major new agenda items that are moving in the next stage of Biden’s reform agenda such as labor law reform, voting rights, and a massive green infrastructure plan, we have an exclusive interview with Wausau Mayor (and Citizen Action member) Katie Rosenberg on the city’s exciting new guaranteed income pilot program. Listen Now – Episode #483 Download Mp3
For Immediate Release – February 17, 2021
Contact: Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324/[email protected]
Commends Governor’s Budget on Healthcare Costs, Climate, and Economic Equity.
Statewide: On behalf of its grassroots members across the state, Citizen Action of Wisconsin commends Governor Evers for the important advances in his state budget to address the crippling cost of health care, and the pressing need for an immediate climate transition that expands economic opportunity for everyone in Wisconsin, especially all of the people left out of prosperity and in desperate need of family supporting jobs.
The crushing cost of health care has been the top issue in Wisconsin for two consecutive elections. Governor Evers included major health care initiatives that Citizen Action members have been fighting for, including full BadgerCare Expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a new BadgerCare Public Option to give Wisconsinites a more affordable choice than corporate for-profit insurance, and a Prescription Drug Price Review Board to restrict price gouging by the Pharmaceutical industry. The Governor also includes in his budget the creation of a Wisconsin health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, a critical cost, access, and accountability reform for which Citizen Action has long fought for.
Citizen Action members across Wisconsin have also been organizing for a large-scale climate transition that uses the opportunity to radically expand economic opportunity and equity for working Wisconsinites left out of access to good family supporting jobs, especially those from marginalized communities and economically challenged rural areas.
Following up on the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change, Chaired by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the budget includes several initiatives Citizen Action members have been fighting for. These include on-bill utility bill financing (zero cost financing for home energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for homeowners and renters), and a requirement that Wisconsin municipalities develop comprehensive climate action and resilience plans.
Citizen Action commends additional major budget items included by Governor Evers. The Governor’s investment in rural broadband, especially the enabling of public broadband in the most undeserved areas, is a major issue Citizen Action’s rural members have been pushing for to level the playing field for Wisconsin’s rural communities. In the area of voting rights, the budget mandates automatic voter registration, a common sense reform to remove needless obstacles to voting for which Citizen Action has advocated for over a decade.
Citizen action also commends the Governor’s proposals to end the failed prohibition of marijuana, the expansion of workers rights to form unions and bargain collectively in the public and private sectors, a dramatically enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit for moderate income working families, juvenile justice reform, rural flooding initiatives, overhaul of the state’s antiquated unemployment insurance system, and gun reform.
“Without question, Governor Ever’s budget is the most visionary and progressive we have seen in Wisconsin in over a decade,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action. “The Governor’s budget is a breath of fresh air packed with meaningful advances that will improve the health and economic well being of working Wisconsinites.”
During the tenth anniversary of Act 10, we consider its legacy, what it says about the ruthlessness of modern conservatism, and the continuing ramifications of historic protests it sparked. We dig into a number of major state and federal issues, including the latest attacks on the mask mandate, a bill in Congress that would supercharge the ACA, and Governor Evers pre-budget announcements on BadgerCare Expansion, Marijuana Legalization, and Prescription Drug reform. Do these initiatives bode well for a more progressive state budget? We look at some huge federal issues in the heady early days of the Biden Administration, including COVID relief, impeachment, and protecting the housing rights of the LGBTQ community. Finally we raise concerns about the wave of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. sparked by right-wing rhetoric, and a rogue ICE which is flaunting President Biden’s executive orders and continues to follow Trump’s immoral deportation policies. Listen Now – Episode #479 Download Mp3 Press Clips
Citizen Action of Wisconsin is seeking to hire a Health Equity Organizer beginning as soon as January 15th of 2021. This is a full time (40-50 hrs/week on average) salaried position. Some evenings and weekends required, as well as in-state travel and occasional out-of-state travel. Normally, this position would be based in the Milwaukee office, but during the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is a majority work from home position. In person usage of the Milwaukee Office will be granted on a need basis and in compliance with Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Covid 19 Safety Policy. Applicants must have unlimited access to reliable high speed internet and cellular service at home, and an aptitude for/ desire to learn how to conduct organizing though digital and phone communications. Applicants must live in (or be willing to relocate to) the Greater Milwaukee Area. Women, Bi-racial/People of Color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and formerly incarcerated individuals are strongly encouraged to apply.
Description of Work: This position reports to the Health Care for All Director and works closely with the Climate and Equity Director. A successful Health Equity Organizer will work to advance a Health Equity Campaign primarily with and in communities of Color in Milwaukee, and with a multi-racial and cultural constituency in other rural and suburban areas of the state. The Health Equity Organizer will work closely with other organizing staff who lead Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Organizing Cooperatives (a modernized chapter system). The role involves community organizing and multi racial and cultural coalition building. Together with member-leaders and Citizen Action of Wisconsin staff, the Health Equity Organizer will advance diverse/multi level healthcare related issue and electoral campaigns that lead to real impacts on their community and lay the groundwork for large scale changes in communities of Color and for all of us in Wisconsin.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin organizers are expected to learn new skills on the job, and are provided with training and onboarding that may take up to 6 months, while also “jumping in” to the work to gain lived experience. After 6 months to a year, the successful Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizer will be highly skilled in traditional community organizing; coalition building; public speaking and providing issue education to members of the public; event planning, hosting, and turnout; dues-paying membership recruitment and retention; development and implementation of short and long term issue and electoral campaigns; at least at an intermediate level in regards to all technology and tools they have at their disposal; as well as crafting organizing messaging and maintaining social media presence.
On a special Thanksgiving edition of Battleground Wisconsin we dig into the question of how Joe Biden can govern effectively in the face of a Republican Party whose base is supercharged and will do everything to undermine his administration. First we talk with Rick Perlstein, the author of 4 major books on the rise of the radical right, including the recently released Reaganland, about the prospects for passing progressive reform when 73 million American believe a dangerous and counterfactual ideology. Next, John Nichols joins the conversation to discuss what we can learn about Biden’s strategy from his early cabinet picks. Is this a group that can move progressive policy on the pandemic, economic reconstruction, structural racism, and the climate threat, or is it more of the same from establishment Democrats? Listen Episode #469 Download Mp3
We are on tape from last week’s from the Democratic National Convention, in our long planned counter programming to the proto-fascist Republican National Convention. Will not be able to comment on the latest racist atrocity in Kenosha until next week (but links to our latest statements are below). For this week’s program, on radio row at the Democratic National Convention we taped 4 interviews about a central question for the future of racial justice, economic equality, and the future of the planet: will a future Biden Administration, if we can elect him, be boldly progressive? The alliance between Biden and Bernie Sanders on policy is a great sign, but there are huge challenges to making this alliance between moderates and progressives really happen after the election. We ask two moderates and two progressives for their views. We start the moderates, leading off with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whose storied political career in state and national politics has made him a very well informed player within the Democratic Party. Next we talk to Jason Rae, the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee, who knows the inner workings of the party as well as anyone. Then, we talk to two progressives with national reputations. John Nichols the National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, and one of the most prolific writers in the entire progressive media and a large following in his native Wisconsin. Finally George Goehl, Executive Director of People’s Action (Citizen Action’s national network), bats clean up on our powerhouse panel. George is one of the most respected and strategic progressives organizers in the country.
North Side Rising Campaign Keeps the Lights On for WeEnergies Customers
Last week, North Side Rising and community allies held a rally and march to We Energies calling for an extension of the moratorium on We Energies and utilities from cutting of power to those who can’t currently pay their bills. As of early this week, We Energies had not agreed to a moratorium extension Therefore, Northside Rising held another march and protest at We Energies this Wednesday.
The event focused attention on how important it is for everyone to have essential energy and power. “Please just have a heart, please look at us as people and not as profit,” said Dana Kelley, Citizen Action North Side Rising organizer. “We are struggling,’ said Kelley. “So to struggle to whether you’re going to pay the electric bill, or buy food, that’s not something right now that people need to be struggling and worrying about.”
In addition to the protest, North Side Rising organized people to contact the Public Service Commission to extend the moratorium on cutting off people’s power.
BREAKING UPDATE: On Thursday, the Public Service Commission voted 2-1 to extend the moratorium that bars utilities from disconnecting residential customers behind on their bills to Sept. 1. A huge victory for people in Wisconsin unable to pay their bills due to COVID-19. Citizen Action of Wisconsin got some of the credit, see story in the Milwaukee Journal SentinelRead media from North Side Rising rally.
Driftless Co-op Anniversary Meeting, Saturday, August 29th
On August 29th the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will have its one year anniversary of organizing in the area. In honor of the big day we will be hosting a virtual meeting for all our members, friends and allies.
This will be a chance to hear about all the work we have done to expand healthcare, protect voting rights, fight climate change and elect progressive candidates. We will also be laying out our plans for the rest of the year. Several members will be presenting on projects they have been working on with Citizen Action.
We encourage everyone to come out for this very special virtual meeting. Please use the link below to RSVP. Space is limited so RSVP today! Details on how to join this Zoom meeting will be sent once you RSVP.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin will be working with Josefine’s campaign to schedule several days of action to help her win her primary. Keep an eye open for information about the following events
Sending handwritten postcards to voters across the district
Volunteer shifts to drop flyers on voters’ doors
Green Bay Passes City-Wide Mask Ordinance
After a week of intense community discussion, the Green Bay City Council passed a City-Wide mask ordinance 7-5. Mayor Eric Genrich unveiled the proposal at a press conference on Monday. “I think we all want our schools to be open, but in order to do that, we need to crush this curve,” he said. “We all want the Packers season to be back and for fans to be able to witness the games … We want our economy back going strong, but in order to do that, we really need to bring the fight to the coronavirus.”
Green Bay Alder Randy Scannell first proposed a communication last week encouraging a city-wide mask ordinance, however it was not passed through the Policy and Protection committee. Thanks to you, we were able to help over 130 people contact the Green Bay City Council in favor of passing a mask-ordinance! Thank you to everyone who took action with us to encourage our elected leaders to put the health of our community above all else.
Join One of Multiple Solar Jobs & Green Homes Presentation Coming Up
Join a live video Zoom discussion about new ways Citizen Action of Wisconsin has found to help support job creation and fight climate change based on new federal actions that makes it easier for homes to get solar and/or cut mortgage & utility costs.
These presentations will go over what we are doing, how it fits into a movement for change, and how people can help, whether or not they are able to add solar panels. Virtual events are coming up on all the following dates/times:
Wednesday, Jul 29 at 10:00 AM, co-hosted by Connie Raether, click here
Wednesday, Jul 29 at 04:00 PM, co-hosted by Kay Hoff, click here:
Wednesday, Jul 29 at 04:00 PM, co-hosted by Bryan Milz & Renee Gasch, click here
Thursday Jul 30 at 04:00 PM, co-hosted by Jonathan Barker, click here:
Thursday Jul 30 at 07:00 PM, co-hosted by Max Winkels, click here
Friday Jul 31 at 09:00 AM, co-hosted by Jackie Cody, click here:
Friday Jul 31 at 11:00 AM, co-hosted by Laura Lokken, click here
Friday Jul 31 at 01:00 PM, co-hosted by Karen Lemke, click here:
Tuesday Aug 4 at 03:30 PM, co-hosted by Rebecca Alwin, click here
Tuesday Aug 4 at 05:00 PM, co-hosted by Randall Wendt, click here
Thursday Aug 6 at 07:00 PM, co-hosted by Michael Karolewicz, click here
Vote August 11th & Volunteer for Citizen Action Candidate Kristina Shelton
The August 11th primary is fast approaching! In addition to making sure that you have your absentee ballot requested and filled out, you can make a huge impact in supporting Kristina Shelton in the 90th assembly district.
Kristina Shelton is in a tough race against the incumbent in Assembly District 90. She continues to demonstrate a commitment to her community and her experience, integrity, and vision to lead is greatly needed in the State Assembly. You can help Kristina win her election by sending texts, calling voters, and helping do lit drops in her district. You can help learn more about her action opportunities by visiting //www.kristinaforassembly.com/volunteer.
North Central Organizing Co-op is Working on a Solar Group Buy…Help Create Union Jobs and Cut Your Energy Bills and Carbon Emissions All at Once!
Citizen Action of Wisconsin has helped convince multiple banks through a public campaign to offer green home upgrades, where the bank provides resources to help cut a home’s carbon emissions and utility bills that pay for themselves right away. According to the Nature Resource Defense Council, reducing the carbon emissions coming from our home is the number one thing that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, it’s good for the pocketbook!
Now, we are launching a project to train and coach homeowners through the steps of accessing solar through this campaign victory where they can help create good jobs fighting climate change through this “green mortgage” program saves more than it costs from the get go!
Citizen Action of Wisconsin is currently accepting applications for 20 homeowners from North Central Wisconsin to be fellows in this program at this time and participate in this “Group Buy”. Fellows chosen will be trained through video meetings and 1-1 coaching sessions to undertake and communicate how to fight climate change at home. Fellows will only be chosen if we are confident we can reduce their costs and cut their carbon emissions, with extra consideration for Citizen Action members and/or those from historically under-invested areas (especially rural and communities of color) and/or union members. You do not need to be a Citizen Action member for consideration.
Through this group buy, we will achieve better savings, and help push the industry to be better at delivering carbon-cutting upgrades to people in the Northwoods/Wausau area! Sign up here!
Fair Maps Coalition Update – Marathon County
Citizen Action of Wisconsin members from all across the state are part of the Fair Maps Coalition, and there has been some movement in the North Central region to get Fair Maps resolutions and/or referendums passed. Currently, the Marathon County Board of Supervisors is preparing to vote on a Fair Maps resolution. This will be the 2nd time that this has been attempted. The difference is that this time there is a new board, and several new members now exist. But the votes will be close!! Calling your County Board Supervisor, if you’re a Marathon County resident, and telling them that you support this, could be the difference between them voting yes or no! If you would like to call your County Board Supervisor, you can identify them and find their contact information here!
If you would like to stay up-to-date on the Fair Maps Coalition and the work that they are accomplishing, check out their latest newsletter, and stay tuned for future issues. One of the founding members of the Citizen Action of WI North Central Organizing Co-op is featured in this newsletter!
Citizen Action in the News
Citizen Action’s protest last week in Milwaukee on COVID-19 relief, led by our new African American led North Side Rising project, included the demand that the Public Services Commission extend the moratorium on utility shut-offs. On Wednesday the PSC reversed itself and extended the moratorium until October. Citizen Action got some of the credit in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on the decision.
Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig sat down for a deep interview with People’s Action Executive Director George Goehl on how progressives can build governing power in the Biden Administration. It was a full episode of the Next Move Podcast, the newest feature of People’s Action, Citizen Action national federation of state and local social justice groups.
Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig was on the Jeff Santos Radio Show to discuss progressive movement building, following an interview with path-breaking African American Political Scientist Adolph Reed. The program, which originates from Boston, is replayed on the commercial progressive radio stations in the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. Citizen Action’s Battleground Wisconsin is also featured on these stations every week.
The panel digs into the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, now one of the worst 19 states in the country in containing the virus. How bad is it? What is the State Legislature, the Evers Administration, and local governments doing about it? As the federal cut-off of pandemic unemployment benefits looms, the panel discusses dissension in the ranks of the GOP, and the likely inadequate proposal they will make to the Democrats. We also look at the immense economic impact being inflicted on working Americans, and the disproportionate impact on communities of color. Will right-wing conservatives in The Senate and the White House get their act together, or will they unleash a historic wave of utility cut offs, hunger, evictions, and foreclosures? Listen Now – Episode #452 Download MP3
New Report: Loss of Federal Unemployment Stimulus Will Devastate Wisconsin Working Families, lead to over 65,000 additional jobs losses
Report finds every metropolitan area to see substantial job loss as families lose funds.
STATEWIDE: On a media webinar today Citizen Action of Wisconsin was joined by State Senator La Tonya Johnson to release a new report showing the economic consequences of a failure of Congress to extend the $600-per-week benefit for out-of-work and partially working Wisconsinites. Without a renewal by Congress and the President, the benefits will expire on Saturday in Wisconsin. Republicans in Washington remain gridlocked, and will not make a counter proposal to House Democrats (who passed an unemployment extension in May) until next week at the earliest.
The report breaks down the economic impact of cutting the $600-per-week federal funding stimulus for major Wisconsin metropolitan areas. Over 200,000 Wisconsin unemployed workers and underemployed workers participating in Work-Share programs will lose more than half of their family incomes. Taking this money out of the pockets of working families across Wisconsin will have a cascading impact on local economies, cutting demand for groceries, auto repairs, and other basic services, damaging already struggling businesses and forcing additional layoffs. It will also force many to go without enough food and other basics, and spark an unprecedented wave of evictions and foreclosures.
For workers, the drop in the $600 enhanced UI stimulus weekly will result in an over 60% drop in weekly earnings for those out-of-work. (Figure 1)
Statewide, Wisconsin could expect to see a loss of 65,635 jobs over the rest of the year by a drop in consumer demand from the ending of the $600-per-week federal support to out-of-work Wisconsinites. (Figure 2)
At current levels of unemployment, $3.1 billion in federal funds will be taken out of the pockets of working people and local Wisconsin economies from August through December. An extension through the end of the year is included in the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May but stalled by the U.S, Senate and the President. (Figure 2)
Because metropolitan areas often cover large regions, county level unemployment figures alone do not fully capture the impact. The 3 metropolitan areas most impacted are Greater Milwaukee (20,458 jobs at risk), Greater Madison (6,842 jobs at risk) and Greater Green Bay (3,238 jobs at risk).
As covered in Figure 3, every county in Wisconsin would be impacted, hurting rural and urban Wisconsin alike as dollars are not spent consumer-to-business then business-to-business.
Figure 1: Percent of Income Reduction from Drop in UI Benefits
Impact by Worker Characteristics
Weekly Benefit Currently
Weekly Benefit Without Stimulus
Reduction in Earnings
Full-time worker who normally earns $20/hour or more*
61% reduction in spending potential
Worker who normally earns $10/hour, 30 hours a week
79% reduction in spending potential
Worker on a “Work-Share” plan, hours reduced 50% to 20 per week, $20/hour
50% reduction in spending potential
* – Unemployment insurance amount is based on the quarterly earnings, a combination of hours and hourly wage. Data gathered from Department of Workforce Development’s Weekly Benefit Rate Calculator. UI weekly benefits are capped in Wisconsin at $370 per week at most.
Figure 2: Statewide and Metropolitan Economic Impact of Not Extending the $600/Week Unemployment Stimulus Until the End of 2020
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
Jobs at Risk
Federal $ Taken from Wisconsin Working Families
$3.1 billion not coming to families
Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI MSA (covering Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington & Ozaukee counties)
Madison, WI MSA (covering Dane, Iowa, Columbia & Green counties)
Green Bay MSA (covering Brown, Oconto & Kewaunee counties)
Appleton, WI MSA (covering Outagamie & Calumet counties)
Racine, WI MSA
Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA
Wausau-Weston, WI MSA
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA
Eau Claire, WI MSA (covering Eau Claire & Chippewa counties)
** – Methodology: Using the state-level calculation of job loss from the Economic Policy Institute, we estimate the local impact through adjusting for the proportion of unemployed Wisconsin workers eligible for the $600-per-week benefit by multi-county Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). MSA’s are preferred as they better capture the flow of money between adjacent communities and local economies.
*** – Based on DWD UI Week 26 estimate of weekly claim recipients by county, grouped by MSA, multiplied the number of weeks remaining in 2020 and by $600 per week. Figures may be low, as they do not count residents waiting for unemployment determinations and UI funds.
Figure 3:Number of Residents Unemployed by County, as of DWD Week 26, and Estimate of Jobs at Risk Per County from End of $600 Unemployment Stimulus.
Estimated Job Loss from Conclusion of $600/week*
Weekly unemployment claims as of DWD UI Week 26**
109 jobs at risk
375 people unemployed
Fond du Lac
Not allocated to a specific county***
* – Methodology: Using the state-level calculation of job loss from the Economic Policy Institute, we estimate the local impact through adjusting for the proportion of unemployed Wisconsin workers eligible for the $600-per-week benefit by county. While county level spill-overs no doubt occur (money is not only spent in the county one lives in) we assume spillovers occur in both directions between counties.
** – Source: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Initial and Weekly Claims Filed, UI Week 26
*** – DWD statistics do not account for the county of origin for all UI recipients.
Figure 4: Wisconsin UI Weekly Benefit Rate Compared to Other States, National Average
“It is absolutely stunning that in the middle of a pandemic-induced depression, conservatives in Washington are forcing the cut-off of the unemployment payments that keep millions of working families afloat,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The important data in this release document the needless economic pain that will be inflicted on Wisconsin working families in every corner of the state, and the additional working families. The data also document the cascading impact this cut-off of support will have on tens of thousands of additional working families who will also lose their jobs as a consequence. With enhanced unemployment payments ending next week in Wisconsin, and Republican in Washington in gridlock, the State Legislature must come back into immediate emergency session. This is a time for leadership, and it is time for conservative politicians at the federal and state level to start doing their jobs,” Kraig concluded.
“For many families the extra 600 federal unemployment benefits means the difference between financial security during a time when they are struggling due to no fault of their own, and the risk of losing their home”, said State Senator La Tonya Johnson. “We need our leaders at both the state and federal level to take immediate steps to support Wisconsin families, including removing red tape that makes it difficult to successfully navigate the UI system and maintaining the $600 federal lifeline that families-and our economy- depends on.”