Bill Kaplan: Will Johnson stand-up for retirees?

Bill Kaplan: Will Johnson stand-up for retirees?

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
Photo by: Gage Skidmore

A politician is defined by promises to voters. In 2016, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson made three pledges to state voters (Baraboo News Republic): Johnson said he would not run for a third term if reelected (since backpedaled); emphasized that he was running on “retirement security” and declared he would “move bipartisan bills”. The time has come.

Johnson has indicated sympathy for Wisconsin retirees covered by troubled multiemployer pension funds, including the Central States Pension Fund. “The situation has been brewing since the 2008 financial crisis, as investments plummeted, leaving many plans in the red. The slow economic recovery and recent stock market rally (2017-2018) have not been sufficient to reinvigorate the plans, which are jointly funded by labor unions and employers …” (New York Times).

The Washington Post reported: “There are more than 1 million Americans (includes 25,000 Wisconsinites) who participate in severely distressed multiemployer pensions and another 9 million who are in healthier programs that could be affected by changes”. Johnson has spoken with state retirees, tweeted, issued a letter and press release. He said: “I’ve met with and heard from many of my constituents who are deeply concerned about the dismal state of the multiemployer pension system… . They’re asking for a transparent process and a fair outcome”. A solution is now on the table.

A few weeks ago, the Democratic-led House passed the bipartisan Butch Lewis Act. All Wisconsin Democratic representatives voted for the bill, as did 29 GOP representatives, including Wisconsin firebrand Sean Duffy. The pension protection legislation is named in honor of Butch Lewis, a Vietnam War veteran and Ohio Teamster, who worked to save pension coverage for retirees before his untimely death. “The measure would help pension plans sponsored by several employers and managed by a collective bargaining agreement by giving (low-cost loans) to insolvent plans (to make investments that are not risky) so they can continue to distribute the promised retirement benefits” (Washington Post).

New York GOP Representative Peter King tweeted: “As lead Republican sponsor of the Butch Lewis Act (H.R.397) to protect multiemployer pension funds I was proud to speak in support of this legislation in support of working men and women … . Solid victory for America’s middle income families.” Unlike Duffy, the other Wisconsin GOP representatives voted no. Most perplexing: Green Bay GOP Representative Mike Gallagher’s supporting Trump’s buying Greenland, but declining to help Wisconsin retirees.

However, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is a lead sponsor, with 28 other senators, of S.2254 – Butch Lewis Act of 2019. Baldwin said: “Now that the Butch Lewis Act has cleared the House with bipartisan support, Mitch McConnell (GOP Senate Majority Leader) should immediately bring it up for a vote in the Senate so we can get the job done protecting the pensions that these workers and retirees have earned.” And, Kenny Stribling, Co-Chair, Milwaukee Committee to Protect Pensions, pleaded: “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of fairness… .”

Senator Johnson must stand-up for retirees and support the Butch Lewis Act.

– Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 16th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 16th

Friday, August 16th

The AMA Gets Out Of The Way Of Medicare For All

The American Medical Association leaves Partnership for America’s Future which is fighting Medicare for All.

In a huge win for Citizen Action and our partner organizations in other states, the American Medical Association (AMA) has ended their relationship with the Partnership for America’s Future. If you aren’t familiar with the Partnership, they are a coalition of corporate healthcare organizations that support the for profit healthcare system. They oppose Medicare for All and also are against many of the provisions that were in the ACA like Medicaid Expansion.

You can read more about them here.

In May, a group of Citizen Action members traveled to Chicago to protest the AMA’s participation in the group.This is what activism can do.  Who next is deserving of our “attention”? Email karen.kirsch@citizenactionwi.org with your ideas and to learn more about how you can be involved

North Central Organizing Co-op Members joined members of the Lincoln County and Marathon County Democratic parties to do Issue Canvassing

  It was an exciting weekend, because Citizen Action of Wisconsin and the Chapters of the DPW (Democratic Party of Wisconsin) worked together in the NC region, to do issue based canvassing in Wausau (Marathon County) and Merrill (Lincoln County). It is great to see groups working together, and it will take this kind of unity if we want to be successful in 2020 and beyond.

Rather than knocking on doors to remind or persuade someone to vote for a certain candidate, we were there to listen. And we hit independent and right-leaning doors, as well as the doors of known Democratic voters. When we told a independent voter that we were there to hear which issues mattered to them most, they were somewhat surprised, and in most instances, very willing to talk about what mattered to them.

Chair of the Steering Committee for the NC Organizing Co-op, Don Dunphy, and organizer Joel Lewis went as a team in Merrill. They had at least 2 people who typically vote Republican, but told them that in 2020 they are strongly considering voting for a Democrat. One of the people gave the reason that the cost of healthcare is out of control and the Republicans are offering no solutions to this problem. Other voters were not pleased with how the President speaks about minority groups or with how he acts. We look forward to doing more of these types of canvases throughout the year.

Updates from North Central Co-op

Fair Maps

Co-op member, and all-around community leader, Hans Breitenmoser continues to fight tirelessly for Fair Maps. He believes that this is the top issue, because until this is changed to a more fair system, the politicians are picking the voters instead of the other way around.

For those that have not been following this issue, Hans is a founding Co-op member in North Central WI. He had already passed the State’s 8th County resolution stating that they supported a nonpartisan procedure for redistricting, prior to joining the Co-op. One of his goals was to spread these resolutions all across the State.

Since then 49 counties have passed similar resolutions. Hans created a toolkit that others around the State could use. He has actively been involved with the Fair Maps coalition, and through this coalition, much has been done, in addition to the passage of these resolutions. And the fight is far from over!

Most recently, Hans was featured in a NY Times article! It is this type of action from our members, and our work with partners all across the State, that will lead to more victories for the people and the planet in the future!

Co-op members get chance to meet new State Chair of the DPW

The Lincoln County Democratic Party had their annual Summer picnic on Lake Alice, in Tomahawk. NC Organizing Co-op members were invited as well, and had the opportunity to meet the new State Chair, Ben Wikler. Many are excited about his leadership experience and what it could mean for the future of WI!

The Healthcare for all Co-op is at Center Street Daze having conversations about Medicare for All and 2020 Election

Last Saturday, Citizen Action Healthcare Co-op members attended Center Street Daze in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood to talk about Medicare For All and conduct a straw poll for the 2020 presidential election. Most of the people we spoke with supported Medicare for All and said they were fired up about next years election. Bernie Sanders won the presidential straw poll.

Issue Canvassing Workshop: Menomonie, Saturday, 10am

“Face-to-face communication is the most effective way to connect with supporters. Canvassing is a key part of any campaign, however, it can also be extremely intimidating! Learn from Citizen Action how to have difficult conversations with our deep canvassing training and feel more empowered talking about difficult topics. Connect with your neighbors on the issues that matter to you and your community.

The training will begin at 10 AM at the Raw Deal in Menomonie. Afterward, we will put our training into action when we canvass the community together! We look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, August 17, 10 AM – 2 PM
Raw Deal, 603 S Broadway St, Menomonie
RSVP via Facebook event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email the organizer at noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org.

Unlock the Vote! In Eau Claire

Over 68,000 Wisconsin Citizens are disenfranchised from voting due to laws that disproportionately affect communities of color and individuals of low-income. Thank you to EXPO and in particular, Carl Fields and Sarah Ferber, for their leadership and advocacy. Citizen Action is proud of our member, Representative Jodi Emerson, and her co-sponsorship of the Unlock Lock the Vote legislation.

Brew Fest Fundraiser, Thursday, September 19th

Citizen Action’s annual Brew Fest social and fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, September 19th at 5pm in Milwaukee. Join us for a fun evening of camaraderie and celebrating the hard social justice work that we’re all passionate about. We’ll have a wide selection of union and locally sourced beer to sample, appetizers, and the ever popular silent auction.

“Boss Vos” Battleground Wisconsin

The panel talks about Boss Vos’ stubborn unwillingness to accommodate State Rep. Jimmy Anderson, a legislator with a disability. We discuss the news that state leaders met with Foxconn officials this week in the wake of reports that taxpayers will pay $172,000 – $290,000 per job, if there are any. Governor Evers floats the idea of a special session on gun violence and pays a visit to the heart of right-wing political darkness, WMC. Clean Wisconsin and other environmental groups sue EPA over Trump’s retrograde coal power rule, and we discuss the presidential candidacy of Sen. Kamala Harris.

Listen Now – Episode #404
Download MP3

Working Families Party Presidential Endorsement Interviews

Bernie Sanders
Saturday, August
17th at 6:00pm (interview at 6:30pm)
RSVP to join us for watch parties at Bounce Milwaukee here or  Art*Bar here   

Bill de Blasio
Sunday, August 18 at 7pm ET/4pm PT

Kamala Harris,
Thursday, August 22 at 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT

Cory Booker
Friday, August 23 at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT
Sign up to participate in any interview.

Facebook post of the week

“Boss Vos” Battleground Wisconsin

“Boss Vos” Battleground Wisconsin

The panel talks about Boss Vos’ stubborn unwillingness to accommodate State Rep. Jimmy Anderson, a legislator with a disability. We discuss the news that state leaders met with Foxconn officials this week in the wake of reports that taxpayers will pay $172,000 – $290,000 per job, if there are any. Governor Evers floats the idea of a special session on gun violence and pays a visit to the heart of right-wing political darkness, WMC. Clean Wisconsin and other environmental groups sue EPA over Trump’s retrograde coal power rule, and we discuss the presidential candidacy of Sen. Kamala Harris.
Listen Now – Episode #404
Download MP3
Press Clips

Working Families Party Presidential Endorsement Interviews

Bernie Sanders
Saturday, August
17th at 6:00pm (interview at 6:30pm)
RSVP to join us for watch parties at Bounce Milwaukee here or  Art*Bar here   

Bill de Blasio
Sunday, August 18 at 7pm ET/4pm PT

Kamala Harris,
Thursday, August 22 at 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT

Cory Booker
Friday, August 23 at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT

Sign up to participate in any interview.

Links:
Foxconn leaders, Wisconsin officials meet; details unclear.
No Republicans sign letter urging Assembly speaker to allow paralyzed lawmaker to call in to meetings.
Wisconsin Assembly leader says accommodations will be made.
Evers bows to WMC.
Clean Wisconsin, other environmental groups sue EPA over coal power rule.
Tony Evers says it’s possible he’ll call a special session on gun violence.
‘Can you stop recording?’ Wisconsin Republicans dodge reporters’ questions on guns.

Bill Kaplan: Trump and GOP don’t have Wisconsin’s back

Bill Kaplan: Trump and GOP don’t have Wisconsin’s back

Trump has foolishly proclaimed: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win”. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin cut to the chase: “Wisconsin farmers have been hit hard by Trump trade wars with China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union. More than 1,600 dairy farms have gone out of business since Trump took office”. Foreign retaliatory tariffs have been imposed on Wisconsin agricultural products: dairy, corn, cranberries, ginseng, kidney beans and soybeans, as well as beef and pork. “The trade war has hit farmers already beset by years of low commodity prices … . U.S. farm income dropped 16% last year … . U.S. agricultural exports to China dropped by more than half in 2018 after the trade war began …” (Time).

Alarm bells are clanging. Julie Bomar, Director, Wisconsin Farmers Union, said: “Farmers … are confronted by an economic crisis that is more severe than any since the 1980s. Now the weather and continuing trade wars are causing even more concern as we look forward to another distressing year in farm country.” Wisconsinite “Jim Mulhern, chief executive of the National Milk Producers Federation, said dairy exports to China have dropped 54% so far this year. ‘Any step away from an agreement that further escalates tensions puts recovery of these sales further out of reach’, he said” (Wall Street Journal).

Last week, Trump escalated: 10 percent U.S. tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports to America. “The trade war between the United States and China entered a more dangerous phase …, as Beijing allowed its currency to weaken, Chinese enterprises stopped making new purchases of American (Wisconsin) farm goods and … Trump’s Treasury Department formally labeled China a currency manipulator.” The fallout and fear was immediate: the stock market lost 767 points, the worst day of the year. The plunge was followed by days of ups and downs. The Washington Post headline was scary: “Impulsive acts (by Trump) propel trade war with China”. Finally, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was blunt: “Wisconsin farmers are losing as China halts purchases of U.S. ag products”.

Trump, detached from reality, prattles on: “American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them …”. Despite Trump’s fanciful boast, U.S. tariffs on China don’t even cover the cost of Trump’s limited aid to farmers. It gets worse: “Richest farmers get most of bailout” (Washington Post). Meanwhile, Wisconsin farmers will again receive peanuts – and Trump’s trade wars are hurting other regular folks.

“Trump has yet to articulate a clear and coherent set of objectives. He often speaks about the revival of American manufacturing, but in talks with the Chinese, his administration has focused instead on making it easier for American companies to operate in China – something that seems unlikely to increase employment in Wisconsin” (New York Times). Moreover, economic growth is slowing around the world, but Trump is clueless about the approaching downturn. Nothing but tweets.

Trump and the faltering GOP don’t have Wisconsin’s back. Only a clean Democratic sweep in 2020 will bring change.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 9th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 9th

Friday, August 9th

TAKE ACTION: State legislation introduced this week to accept federal Medicaid money. 

This week state legislators who support accepting federal Medicaid money to expand BadgerCare introduced new legislation to save the state money and cover tens of thousands more Wisconsinites with health coverage.

The media announcement event in Wauwatosa featuring the Governor, Lt. Governor and state legislators was attended by a dozen Citizen Action members.

The legislation is open for co-sponsorship.  We are encouraging everyone to contact their state legislators and tell them to co-sponsor.  You can call your legislators at: 1-800-362-9472. 

Encourage your family and friends to call their representatives.

Accepting the federal money remains extremely popular with the public and a common sense thing to do. We need to keep pressure on state legislators and will continue to work to make accepting the Medicaid money a reality, even if it requires another election to succeed.

Do you have a healthcare access story?
We want to hear from you. Contact: Mireya@citizenactionwi.org

Northwestern Wisconsin Co-op responds to farm crisis in state

Citizen Action organizer Noah Reif and former organizer and current state senator Jeff Smith attended a community forum on the deepening farm crisis facing Wisconsin’s small family farms. Issues ranging from milk prices, healthcare costs and Trump’s trade war were discussed.

“We believe healthcare is a human right and that’s another part of mental health. If you get hurt on the farm and can’t go get it taken care of. It just compounds, gets worse, and ultimately we want to make sure people are being able to go in and take care of these needs when they happen rather than 10, 15 years down the line when it’s too late,” said Citizen Action organizer, Noah Reif.

Read media from the event.

Issue Canvassing Workshop: Black River Falls, Saturday, 10am

Learn how to have those scary political conversations on the doors, or at the dinner table with that difficult family member! The training will last roughly an hour; afterwards we will put our new skills to the test and canvass the community together.

Saturday, August 10, 10 AM – 2 PM
Revolution Coffee, 38 Main St., Black River Falls

RSVP via Facebook event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email the organizer at noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org.

Health Care Co-Op at Center Street Days in Milwaukee

Citizen Action will be at Center Street Days to talk to people about the organizing co-op and Medicare for All.  Stop by and say hello if you attend and vote in our Presidential straw poll.

North Central Organizing Co-op members meet with Sen. Tammy Baldwin & attend a Student Loan Debt Task Force Roundtable, and more!

The North Central Organizing Co-op has had one of those weeks that feels like an entire month worth of events and activities. On Sunday, the Steering Committee had their bi-weekly meeting. In case you’re not familiar, the Steering Committee is made up of 13-15 people, democratically elected by the membership every two years. They are what makes this a member organization as they approve or disapprove of the work that the Co-op Organizer does.

On Monday, North Central Organizing Co-op members, and all around community leaders, John and Mary Robinson held a meet and greet for US Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Healthcare was a top issue of discussion. Sen. Baldwin made a statement about the various health care bills being touted by the Democratic Presidential candidates. She said rather than arguing over which shade of blue is better, just pick blue! A healthy reminder that we need to stay united rather than divided.

On Tuesday, August 6th, Gov. Evers’ Student Loan Debt Task Force held a roundtable discussion in Wausau. This task force is led by the WI State Treasurer, Sarah Godlewski. Members of the North Central Organizing Co-op helped to find citizens to speak in this discussion and helped to promote the event. It was surprising to hear how many people are saddled with student loan debt. A couple of the people even exclaimed that they may not have their student loans paid off before they die!

Lastly, this Saturday, August 10th, Members of the Citizen Action of WI NC Organizing Co-op will be teaming up with members of the Marathon County and Lincoln County Democratic Parties to do issue-based canvassing. We really need to understand the issues that people are most affected by or worried about in our region, and it’s great to have the opportunity to work with other groups on this. If you would like to join, people are meeting up at 10 am.

Lincoln County: Meet at the home of Melissa Schroeder, 510 N Genesee St. Merrill, WI
Marathon County: Meet at the Marathon County Dem Office, 218 Sherman St. Wausau, WI

Call NC Organizer Joel Lewis at 715-551-2525 if you would like to be involved.

Save the Date: Brew Fest Fundraiser, Thursday, September 19th

Citizen Action’s annual BrewFest social and fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, September 19th at 5pm in Milwaukee. Join us for a fun evening of camaraderie and celebrating the hard social justice work that we’re all passionate about. We’ll have a wide selection of union and locally sourced beer to sample, appetizers, and the ever popular silent auction.

The event is sponsored by the UAW! Current co-sponsors include: Mark Thomsen, Tanya Atkinson, State Senator Chris Larson, Rebecca Lynch, Scott Spector, Martha Pincus, Bruce Colburn, Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel, State Rep. David Crowley, Marina & Eduardo Dimitrejevic,  Marcus White, Emily Siegrist, Peter Rickman, State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, Chris Rockwood, Cain Oulahan, Gary Goyke, Guy Costello.

If you would like to co-sponsor the Brew Fest for a donation of $50.00 or more contact matt.brusky@citizenctionwi.org

Brew Fest Facebook event page

“White Supremacist terrorism” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the growing death toll of white supremacist terrorism, last week’s mass shootings, and the tepid response from Wisconsin GOP leaders. State Senator Jon Erpenbach joins us to talk about this week’s introduction of legislation to expand BadgerCare. A new study says Foxconn jobs will cost state us $172,000 – $290,000 per job, or an astounding 6 to 10 times the national average. Finally, Citizen Action co-op organizer Noah Reif tells us about door canvassing this Saturday at 10 am in Black River Falls and next Saturday in Menominee.

Listen Now – Episode #403
Download MP3

Working Families Party Presidential Endorsement Interviews

Elizabeth Warren
Tuesday, August 13th at 4:30pm (interview at 5:00pm)
RSVP and join us for watch parties at Puddlers Hall here or Art*Bar here

Julián Castro
Thursday, August 15th at 6:30pm (interview at 7:00pm)
RSVP to join us at the WFP downtown HQ here or in Washington Heights here

Bernie Sanders
Saturday, August 17th at 6:00pm (interview at 6:30pm)
RSVP to join us for watch parties at Bounce Milwaukee here or  Art*Bar here

Facebook post of the week

Bill Kaplan: GOP health care time bomb

Bill Kaplan: GOP health care time bomb

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a huge success. 11.4 million, including 205,118 Wisconsinites, have gained private insurance coverage. Most receive federal financial assistance to pay insurance premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Another 12 million now have health coverage through Medicaid expansion. But none in Wisconsin because of GOP intransigence. Moreover, the ACA provides strong consumer protections for 52 million, including 852,000 Wisconsinites, from being denied health coverage or charged higher rates for preexisting conditions. Finally, without the ACA, uncompensated health care would increase by $50.2 billion, including $412 million in Wisconsin (Urban Institute).

Nonetheless, Trump and the GOP continue to try to roll back the ACA with a sabotage campaign: deep cuts in ACA advertising and outreach; a much shorter enrollment period; elimination of federal payment of out-of-pocket health costs; allowing the sale of useless bare-bones insurance; and eliminating the tax penalty (individual mandate) for not having health coverage. However, it gets worse.

Two defeated run-of-the-mill Wisconsin GOP politicians, former Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel, orchestrated a federal lawsuit to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. A ticking health care time bomb. After they lost reelection, a federal Texas judge struck down the ACA in December 2018. The Trump administration had declined to defend the ACA, while calling for the court to eliminate all ACA protections for preexisting health conditions.

Suddenly, in March 2019, the Trump administration called on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional. The American Hospital Association said: “The position is unprecedented and unsupported by the law or the facts. Millions of Americans would lose the coverage they have relied on for years. … Medicaid expansion would be reversed and protections for people with chronic and preexisting conditions would cease to exist.” Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “Here is the Republicans’ plan for your health care: … Trump and Attorney General Barr are working to win a lawsuit that would repeal health insurance (and consumer protections) for millions … .”

In April 2019, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers withdrew Wisconsin from the lawsuit. However, Trump and other GOP-led states have continued to support the lawsuit in the federal appeals court, while Democratic-led states and GOP Attorneys General Timothy Fox of Montana and David Yost of Ohio defended the ACA. Fox and Yost said: “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall. But the District Court’s ruling is wrong, and its errors threaten harm to millions … .” Wisconsin congressional Democrats have denounced the GOP lawsuit, while Wisconsin congressional Republicans have refused to defend the ACA.

Make no mistake: the Trump-GOP lawsuit is a ticking time bomb. Health care-legal expert Timothy Jost said: “There seems to be a real possibility … that the Fifth Circuit may affirm the lower court’s judgment (ACA is unconstitutional). It will then again be up to the Supreme Court to sort things out. … (This) will likely become a major issue in the 2020 election.”

Wisconsin Republicans brought us to this man-made disaster.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill to accept federal Medicaid money to be introduced today in Wauwatosa

Bill to accept federal Medicaid money to be introduced today in Wauwatosa

Today, August 5th state legislators who support accepting federal Medicaid money to expand BadgerCare will introduce new legislation to save the state money and cover tens of thousands more Wisconsinites with health coverage.

The event is at the Wauwatosa Public Library at 12:15pm. If you want to attend arrive by Noon.

We are encouraging everyone to contact their state legislators and tell them to co-sponsor.  You can call your legislators at: 1-800-362-9472. 

Please share stories about the legislation on social media next week and encourage your family and friends to call their representatives.

Accepting the federal money remains extremely popular with the public and a common sense thing to do. We need to keep pressure on state legislators and will continue to work to make accepting the Medicaid money a reality.

Do you have a healthcare access story?
We want to hear from you. Contact: Claire.Zautke@citizenactiowi.org

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 2nd

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, August 2nd

Friday, August 2nd

Milwaukee Celebrates Green New Deal Task Force Creation

Thursday evening in Milwaukee at the beautiful Wisconsin Black Historical Society, over 50 Citizen Action members and allies joined together to celebrate a 3 year effort to create a City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County Green New Deal task force to create a long term plan for the area to meet international climate targets and addresses the horrendous level of racial economic inequality in Milwaukee.

Citizen Action members from the Southeast Wisconsin Organizing Co-op are playing a very active role in leading this campaign. This work is being coordinated by the Milwaukee Economic Climate Justice Coalition (MECJC), which includes Citizen Action, Sierra Club, 350.org, and other partners. The Milwaukee Area Labor Council endorsed the task force, and there will be members of organized labor on the panel.

Task Force sponsors, Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton and Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde, attended and laid out the process and timeline for the task force to produce recommendations. Both leaders also answered questions from those in attendance.

Event speakers clarified that If nothing is done in the very near future, we’re headed for a climate genocide. This disaster will disproportionately affect and impact our most marginalized communities already dealing with decades of de-industrialization and structural racism. This our opportunity to make Milwaukee a national leader on two of the biggest challenges of our time: catastrophic climate change and racial inequality.

Read more about campaign in Shepherd Express.

Save the Date: Brew Fest Fundraiser, Thursday, September 19th

Citizen Action’s annual BrewFest social and fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, September 19th at 5pm in Milwaukee. Join us for a fun evening of camaraderie and celebrating the hard social justice work that we’re all passionate about. We’ll have a wide selection of union and locally sourced beer to sample, appetizers, and the ever popular silent auction.

Brew Fest Facebook event page

Members of North Central Organizing Co-op participate in the WiLD Training

Four members of the North Central Organizing Co-op took part in the WI Leadership Development (WiLD) Training in Wausau this past weekend. At these trainings, people learn how to use their story and the stories of others to help push an issue. The Citizen Action team focused on continuing to use referendums for Fair Maps (an end to partisan gerrymandering). This is an intense, 2.5 day training.

The team joined 45 other participants.

Fair Maps Summer Kick-off for Northeast Co-op

The Northeast Co-op will be holding it’s summer kick-off for our Fair Maps Campaign on Tuesday August 6 at 6-7:30 at the Kress Family Library in De Pere (we’ll be in the Emil and Gail Fischer Room 1 in the basement). Join us to learn more about state legislation introduced this month for non-partisan redistricting and prison gerrymandering and strategize how we can take action to support these measures this year. For more information contact Jolie Lizotte at jolie.lizotte@citizenactionwi.org.

Driftless Organizing Co-op Kickoff: Campaign for Green Jobs

As many of you know, Citizen Action WI has been holding a series of conversations around southwestern and western Wisconsin, the “Driftless” area, about how we might build a Rural & Urban Alliance that could seek to heal that which has caused so much strife in Wisconsin – the urban/rural divide.

From meetings and deep listening in small towns and cities we discovered an opportunity to rebuild Driftless communities post-storms by urging our local utilities to apply for federal funds to create good green jobs and upgrade homes to be energy efficient. But we only have until Sept 30th until the next USDA funding deadline!

In the next few weeks, we will have multiple opportunities to meet and discuss how to advance both of these causes through the launch of a new Organizing Co-op campaign with full-time organizer to advance that as long as it takes. We welcome you to join “kick-offs” on how to (1) urge our utilities to act, (2) build a rural/urban alliance, and (3) make it an ongoing campaign able to make serious change in our communities able to negotiate with power!

Upcoming organizing events in August will take place in Reedsburg, Platteville and Onalaska! The next meetings are:

Reedsburg on Wednesday, August 7th, 6pm
Reedsburg Library, 370 Vine St, Reedsburg.
Reedsburg event details.

Platteville on Thursday, August 8th, 6pm
Driftless Market, 95 W Main St, Platteville.
Platteville event details

Onalaska on Thursday, August 22nd, 6pm
Onalaska Public Library, 741 Oak Ave Room A, Onalaska
Onalaska event details

Issue Canvassing Workshop: Black River Falls, Aug. 10th, 10am

Learn how to have those scary political conversations on the doors, or at the dinner table with that difficult family member! The training will last roughly an hour; afterwards we will put our new skills to the test and canvass the community together.

Saturday, August 10, 10 AM – 2 PM
Revolution Coffee
38 Main St., Black River Falls

RSVP via Facebook event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email the organizer at noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org.

“Gerrymandered” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Wisconsin Fair Election Project Director Sachin Chheda joins us to discuss new state legislation for fair legislative maps and the possibility GOP leadership could attempt to dodge Gov. Evers to gerrymander Wisconsin again. We also talk about Speaker Vos refusing to make  accommodations for Rep. Jimmy Anderson to participate in committee meetings and Gov. Evers looks to protect water from nitrates. We also review the latest Democratic presidential news and Robert takes a first look at Kamala Harris’ new healthcare plan released this week.

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE 402
Download MP3
Wisconsin Fair Elections Projects

Citizen Action Media Clips

Facebook post of the week

Citizen Action Weekly: July 19, 2019

Citizen Action Weekly: July 19, 2019

Friday, July 19th

Citizen Action member teams up with Tom Perez of the DNC to talk about the ACA and Medicaid Expansion

Healthcare Co-op member, Mike Bernstein, joined a press conference with the DNC’s Chair Tom Perez at the Clock Shadow Creamery in the fifth ward of Milwaukee.

As a former CEO and CFO of several big health systems on the West coast, he was able to testify to the financial issue that Wisconsin is suffering higher healthcare costs as a result of the continuing battle against the ACA and the rejection of the Medicaid money.

We are always proud of our activism of our members.

North Central Organizing Co-op Updates

Founding member of the North Central Organizing Co-op, Rob Norton won his recall election in Merrill, WI, along with all but 1 incumbent. Some of our Co-op members in Merrill helped him with his efforts.

Co-op members, and people from various other organizations joined

Lights for Liberty events all across the state, including in Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau and Minocqua. You can see news coverage of the Wausau event here.

NC Organizing Co-op member Scott Kirby and other co-op members have been working hard in Oneida and Vilas County on Fair Maps, and Move to Amend resolutions. The Oneida County Board refused to take up either issue, so co-op member Jackie Cody and others decided to make progress in the County by organizing township by township!

They completed knocking doors on July 10th, with a total collection of 542 signatures. This is 100 signatures above the required 15% of voters in the last election of 2018 which was the governor’s race.

The next step is to present the signatures to the City of Rhinelander Clerk, Val Foley, on Tuesday, July 23rd at 3 PM. Fourteen circulators and a core group of six knocked on every door in a neighborhood. Three of the core six were Citizen Action members Steven Schreier, Tom Jerow and Jackie Cody. Citizen Action member Scott Kirby, was one of the several individual circulators contacting friends. Scott’s infant son, Elton, made his political debut at the first organizing meeting. Elton is lucky to have a dad politically involved.

“There were very few residents who were not interested in signing the petitions. People were receptive and knowledgeable about the two issues. They want the opportunity for their voice to be heard as it should be in a democracy. So it is now up to the Rhinelander City Council to place it on the April 7, 2020 ballot.  It would be respecting the will of the people,” stated Jackie Cody.

At the City of Rhinelander Council meeting of Monday, August 12th, Tom Jerow, Citizen Action member, will be speaking to the Council to place the referendums on the April 7, 2020 ballot.  “The Council could decide to pass the resolutions without allowing the residents to vote.  The residents that signed the petitions are expecting the referendum to be on the ballot,” stated Cody.

Signature collection also took place at the Northwoods Pride Festival, Northwestern Lounge’s Wednesday Trivia Night and at the Farmer Market on one Saturday.

Citizen Action member, David Barnhill, aided volunteers in Eagle River to complete their collection of signatures as of July 16th. The group collected 175 signatures. The number of signatures needed were 112. Co-op member Kay Hoff, Mike Gerlach and four more volunteers knocked on every door in Eagle River!  Petitions will be given to the Eagle River City Clerk on Wednesday, July 24th.  The Council meeting has yet to be scheduled.

There are individuals in the towns of Hazelhurst, Pelican, Crescent and Pine Lake in Oneida County who will be approaching their town boards requesting the two issues be on the April 2020 ballot. Kay Hoff is seeking to find volunteers to approach at least four towns in Vilas County.

Working with George Penn of WI United To Amend was very helpful. George is also coordinating with Fair Elections Project about the progress of petitioning.

Jeff Smith & Jodi Emerson Ride the Bus!

Two of our elected co-op members held office hours on the Eau Claire city bus last Friday. State Senator Jeff Smith and Representative Jodi Emerson met dozens of constituents. From the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram: “This is amazing,” said Brooke Whiterabbit, 29, who recently moved to Eau Claire from Barron County. “I never would have gone to anything like this if it were anywhere else. I never would have reached out to a legislator on my own.”

Read Eau Claire Leader Telegram article

(Pictured: Jeff Smith in the foreground, Jodi Emerson in Bue)

Having Scary Conversations- Issue Canvassing Training (August 10 & August 17)

Canvassing is an extremely important part of taking action, but it can also be kinda scary! If you wish that you felt more confident when canvassing, this training is for you. Our organizer, Noah, will be facilitating a conversation on how to navigate the scary parts of talking politics on doors, or even with that one difficult family member. The August 10th training will take place in Black River Falls, and the August 17th training will take place in Menomonie. More details will be on the way soon so stay tuned! If you have any questions or would like to have a training in your community, contact Noah at noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org.

Lights for Liberty- Eau Claire

We are proud to join in solidarity with the nationwide protests that took place on July 12th. Our members are deeply disturbed by the humanitarian crisis on our southern border that has been fabricated by the current administration. It is critical that we stand with those in our community who are targeted and we pledge to be allies in the continuing fight.

Ballots & Brunch/Ballots & Brews Event with NextGen

Over the last week, Citizen Action has partnered with NextGen in their push to expand ballot accessibility in the state of Wisconsin. This included events in Eau Claire and Hudson. We are proud to support the push to expand ballot accessibility and ensure that the voices of voters are truly heard across the state.

Southeastern Co-op

Good Government Issue Team

Join us on Monday on the 29th at Black Sheep 216 S. 2nd St. 6 pm (across the street from our office) for our new Good Government Meet. We have lots of exciting things that will be discussed at our first meeting. We will be discussing things like ranked choice voting, voter registration, fair maps, election integrity, and we will have a direct report from our State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski! State Treasurer Godlewski is working on pensions for Wisconsinites and tuition free college. Join us in our conversation to find out how we’re going to tackle these issues. 2020 is around the corner and we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.

Acción Ciudadana 

Expect a call in the next few days from us in the next few days. We’re going folks to let them know we’re meeting up in the next coming up month. There we will talk strategy about moving forward. Talk to you all real soon.

Steering Committee Election Winners

We had three open seat up this election cycle. Thank you to all the folks who applied and if you didn’t get a chance to run we strongly encourage you all to join our issue team. Congrats to Vice Chairman Eric Marsch for his reelection. Also, congratulations to the new Steering Committee members Ashlie Benson and Zena Blom. Super excited to have you all on board.

Eco-Justice Task Team

Join us on Aug 1st at 6 pm at the Black History Historical Society Museum for our Green New Deal campaign kick off. We’re going to be talking about how to get involved and what we have coming down the line in the next few weeks. We want to push these Green New Jobs in communities of color and low income. Join this revolutionary campaign and help us kick off Milwaukee into the future. We this more than ever.

HealthCare for All Co-op

With the Tony Evers signing of the budget, the Co-op has decided to hit the reset button on issues they would like to concentrate on.  We are forming new issue teams so let us know which team you want to be on.

“Amanda Stuck steps up” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss Donald Trump and his campaign doubling down on racist, white nationalist appeals this week. Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy says Trump’s tweets were not racist and denies calling four congresswomen anti-American. We are joined by Citizen Action member and State Representative Amanda Stuck who announced this week she is running for Congress. Citizen Action’s Kevin Kane stops by to discuss the new member organizing co-op we are organizing in the “Driftless” area of Wisconsin and how you can get involved in an initial campaign to get area utilities to accept federal funds to create energy efficiency jobs in the region upgrading homes at no cost to residents.

Listen Now – Episode #401
Download MP3

To get more information about the Driftless Organizing Cooperative: Kevin.Kane@citizenationwi.org

SIGN Petition to Electric Utilities to Rebuild the Driftless.

Citizen Action Media Clips

Facebook post of the week

 

Bill Kaplan: After the budget, Medicaid expansion

Governor Tony Evers wisely approved the budget passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, despite its being, “in many ways, insufficient”. Evers said: “Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long.” Moreover, Evers ingeniously used a partial veto “to boost K-12 education funding in Wisconsin by about $65 million …” (Wisconsin Public Radio). That was on top of the $500 million increase that GOP legislators approved, having read the election-year tea leaves.

The most glaring budget omission was the failure of the GOP-controlled legislature to include Medicaid expansion. Evers decried Republican willful fiscal and moral blindness: “70 percent of Wisconsin citizens (43 percent of Republicans) support expanding Medicaid because they understand it will allow us to expand coverage to more than 80,000 Wisconsinites, save $324 million in state tax dollars, and bring in $1.6 billion in new federal investment into our health care system in Wisconsin …, and make health care more affordable by lowering premiums for folks who have private insurance.”

The June 20, 2019 JAMA Forum (Journal of the American Medical Association) supported Evers: “A series of new studies being released … are all starting to point to a single action that is behind … reducing mortality from … cardiovascular disease and cancer; addressing seemingly intractable racial disparities that plague the U.S. health care system; reducing hospital bad debt and rural hospital closures; decreasing maternal and infant mortality; lowering payday lending and housing foreclosures; creating jobs …; improving medication compliance; and lowering the cost of insurance. That action? Passing and implementing Medicaid expansion”.

Evers promised to “continue to fight for Medicaid expansion through separate legislation, future budget bills, and otherwise through every executive power I am afforded.” This can be done with a GOP-controlled legislature. Crackerjack Urban Milwaukee journalist Bruce Murphy opined that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald exposed a division among Republicans in December, 2018 when he said he would not “rule it (Medicaid expansion) out”. Although Fitzgerald quickly walked back his comment, there are 3 GOP state senators who might support Medicaid expansion.

Republican state Senators Luther Olsen (Ripon) and Jerry Petrowski (Marathon) have both considered taking the federal money to expand Medicaid on multiple occasions. And, Republican state Senator Robert Cowles (Green Bay) showed independence in opposing the 2018 GOP power grab that limited the powers of Democratic Governor-elect Evers. All three conservatives are central to begin getting Medicaid expansion passed. Local media, business, community and religious leaders as well as doctors, nurses and hospitals need to reach out to these senators.

Former Ohio GOP Governor Kasich offers inspiration: “Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid” and “When you die and get to the meeting with Saint Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he is going to ask you what you did for the poor”. Senators Cowles, Olsen and Petrowski should consider their legacies.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.