Tag: Madison WI

Wisconsin GOP state legislator Isthmuswashes Democratic state legislator

It’s another odd-numbered year, so there’s another state budget debate in Wisconsin. However, this time, the Republicans aren’t just pulling out the “Madison liberal!!!” card to attack Democratic legislators who are from the Madison area; they’re using Wisconsin’s second-largest city to attack Democrats who live far from Madison:

Wisconsin State Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, accused Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Democrat, of using “Madison math” in regards to her opposition to a University of Wisconsin budget measure. There’s two problems with that.

First, Shankland’s opposition to the measure is based on the fact that the GOP is trying to enact a budget measure that would leave Wisconsin’s public university system in a budget mess:

I might be a lifelong Illinoisan, but I know that Stevens Point is pretty far away from Madison. As a matter of fact, I’m going to coin a new word to describe what Tiffany did to Shankland: Isthmuswashing. Isthmuswashing is the act of claiming or implying that someone is from Madison, Wisconsin, when he or she is actually not from Madison, Wisconsin.

The women of America are leading the opposition to Donald Trump

madison-wi-women-march-1-21-2017
Sign carried by a participant in the Madison, Wisconsin Women’s March (Photo taken by Kari Nelson and provided by Sarah Lloyd)

Ladies and gentlemen, the opposition to President Donald Trump is officially here!

Earlier today, millions of people across the United States and on all seven continents around the world (including Antarctica!) participated in Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C. and numerous other locales. The Women’s Marches are the single largest action by the women’s rights movement that I have witnessed in my lifetime by far.

Although I was unable to attend any of the Women’s Marches, here are some observations from the Women’s Marches (all of these are courtesy of either social media of participants or news sources with an online operation of some kind):

The opposition to Donald Trump is not going to be led by a single person. It’s going to be led by a large segment of the American people.

Madison, Wisconsin replaces every single lead pipe in the city

Madison, Wisconsin, the second-largest city in Wisconsin, did something incredible with their water supply. They replaced every single lead pipe in the city’s water system in response to the lead concentration in the water supply being one part per billion over the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit for lead concentration in the water:

Long before Flint, Mich., faced a water-contamination crisis, this city dealt with one of its own. The local utility had sampled residents’ tap water in accordance with the federal government’s new Lead and Copper Rule and discovered unacceptable levels of lead.

But Madison’s response was like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. It was so aggressive that only one other major municipality in the United States has followed its approach so far. It’s also why some people now call Madison the anti-Flint, a place where water problems linked to the toxic substance simply couldn’t happen today.

Madison residents and businesses dug out and replaced their lead pipes — 8,000 of them. All because lead in their water had been measured at 16 parts per billion — one part per billion over the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard.

Although the federal government defines lead contamination of water as the lead concentration level in water being over 15 parts per billion, no level of lead in water is safe. Madison has proved yet again why it’s America’s most forward-thinking city.

Madison, Wisconsin leads the way when it comes to welcoming Syrian refugees

AUTHOR’S NOTE: An Arabic-language translation of this English-language article is included below the English-language article. Translation is courtesy of an online translation service. Due to the online translation service not being able to translate part of the name of a member of the Madison, Wisconsin Common Council into Arabic script, she is referred to in the Arabic translation by the elected office that she holds.

يتم تضمين ترجمة عربية-لغة هذه المادة باللغة الإنجليزية تحت المادة باللغة الإنجليزية: المؤلف ملاحظة. الترجمة هي من باب المجاملة خدمة الترجمة على الإنترنت. يرجع ذلك إلى خدمة الترجمة الفورية لعدم تمكنه من ترجمة جزء من اسم عضوا في ماديسون، المجلس المشترك ولاية ويسكونسن في الكتابة العربية، وقالت انها المشار إليها في الترجمة العربية من قبل المكتب المنتخبين أنها تحمل.


 

The Common Council of the City of Madison, Wisconsin unanimously passed a non-binding resolution saying that Wisconsin’s second-largest city will welcome Syrian refugees:

…The Madison Common Council sent a unanimous message Tuesday that the city will accept Syrian refugees.

[…]

The resolution is meant to send a message that is in line with the city’s long history of accepting refugees. The resolution comes a couple weeks after Gov. Scott Walker said any new Syrian refugees would not be welcome in Wisconsin.

[…]

“I think it’s just to send a message about who we are as a Madison,” Alderwoman Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said. “Regardless of the redirect from anybody else, I think it’s just a statement about us and Madison and what we stand for.”

While far-right conservatives pander to Islamophobic bigots, Madison leads the way when it comes to human decency and upholding the American tradition of welcoming immigrants to this great country.


أصدر مجلس المشترك لمدينة ماديسون ويسكونسن بالإجماع على قرار غير ملزم قائلا ان ثاني أكبر مدينة في ولاية ويسكونسن سيرحبون اللاجئين السوريين:

… أرسل مجلس المشترك ماديسون رسالة بالإجماع الثلاثاء أن المدينة لن تقبل اللاجئين السوريين.

[…]

ويهدف القرار لإرسال رسالة مفادها أن يتماشى مع تاريخ المدينة الطويل في قبول اللاجئين. ويأتي القرار بعد بضعة أسابيع وقال محافظ سكوت ووكر أن أي لاجئ سوري الجديد لن يكون موضع ترحيب في ولاية ويسكونسن.

[…]

واضاف “اعتقد انها مجرد لإرسال رسالة حول ما نحن عليه باعتباره ماديسون”، وعضو المجلس المشترك من جناح الخامس قال. “بغض النظر عن إعادة توجيه من أي شخص آخر، وأعتقد أنه مجرد بيان عنا وماديسون وما نمثله.”

في حين المحافظين اليميني المتطرف باندر لالمتعصبين ضد الإسلام والتخويف، ماديسون سباقة عندما يتعلق الأمر اللياقة البشري والحفاظ على التقاليد الأميركية الترحيب المهاجرين إلى هذا البلد العظيم.

More corporate welfare is not the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem

Make no mistake about it, Wisconsin has a serious job loss problem. Most notably, Oscar Meyer recently announced that it was closing its Madison, Wisconsin factory that had been in operation since 1919.

However, more corporate welfare isn’t the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem, in fact, I’d argue that Scott Walker’s political agenda as a whole, including corporate welfare, is the main culprit behind the growing job loss problem in Wisconsin.

Under Republican rule, Wisconsin has become one of the worst states, if not the worst state, for business. From Act 10 taking away collective bargaining rights and a sizable chunk of take-home pay from Wisconsin public employees, to other laws eliminating workers’ rights protections that Wisconsin workers enjoyed for decades, to laws making Wisconsin open for corruption and graft, to the morbidly-corrupt Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin has become a state that is absolutely hostile to business. More corporate welfare would only make the problem worse, since what businesses in Wisconsin need aren’t more taxpayer giveaways to them, but rather a stronger middle class and more money in the pockets of Wisconsin consumers.

Former Wisconsin politician Kelda Roys finds success in the real estate business

AUTHOR’S NOTE: An aunt on my dad’s side of my family is a real estate agent in the Westville, Illinois area, and my aunt’s real estate business would be a competitor to Kelda Roys’s business, if Kelda’s Wisconsin-based business expands into Illinois as planned.


Remember Kelda Roys? If not, I will tell you that she was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly who represented parts of Dane County until she lost her bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin in 2012 to fellow Democrat Mark Pocan.

I will also tell you that Kelda is a very successful businesswoman nowadays. Kelda founded OpenHomes, a real estate business in Wisconsin, not long after losing her congressional bid, and her business has been very successful. A couple of weeks ago, the Madison Club, an elite social club in Madison, Wisconsin, held a startup business pitch competition based on the ABC (first-run) and CNBC (reruns) reality television show Shark Tank, which was won by Kelda and OpenHomes:

OpenHomes won the Shark Tank-style pitch contest at the Madison Club on (October 15), and with that, a year’s membership to the 106-year-old, private social club that looks out on Lake Monona.

[…]

The young company, at 30 W. Mifflin St., offers a new way to sell homes that it says is faster and more efficient and involves only a 1 percent commission.

“The average agent closes nine deals a year. With OpenHomes, one agent using our platform can close about 45 deals a year,” Roys said.

Kelda’s real estate business has been successful enough that Kelda is considering expanding her business outside of Wisconsin:

Roys is starting a fundraising round and hopes to get $500,000 from investors to expand into Illinois and Minnesota in 2016. “Our company is growing. Now, we want to scale and that’s going to take additional capital,” she said.

In an era where many former politicians get caught doing ridiculous things, Kelda Roys is one of the few former congressional candidates in this country who can claim that she has actually been successful at something outside of politics and hasn’t embarrassed her community in any way.

Meet the most creative LGBT rights activist ever

Love is LoveEarlier this month, Keanan Sargent, the nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), became the star of a recent gay pride rally and parade in Wisconsin’s second-largest city by using colored balloons to obscure signs that anti-LBGT bigots displayed at the parade:

Keanan Sargent, the 9-year-old son of Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent, found himself confronted by homophobia at a pride rally in Madison earlier this month.

(Melissa) Sargent told The Huffington Post she was marching in the parade with her husband and two youngest sons, and the anti-gay protesters gathered at the base of the capitol building. The homophobic signs bore slogans like “gay sex is a sin” and “sodomy is the same as bestiality.”

When her son noticed the signs “were hurting people,” he took a balloon and stood in front of one of them, according to fellow attendee Lars Koch, who took the below photo. When the sign holder tried to move around the solitary balloon, members of the crowd starting handing Keanan their balloons, too.

Keanan Sargent’s creative use of balloons to obscure hateful anti-LGBT signs worked successfully: The bigots eventually rolled up their signs and left the pride event!

Make no mistake about it, Melissa Sargent is one of the finest progressive advocates in this country, and she’s certainly taught her kids well!

Bernie Sanders draws massive crowd to Madison, Wisconsin rally, lays out progressive vision for America

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America’s future in front of a roaring capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (also called the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison, Wisconsin last night.

Here’s a couple of photos of the crowd at the event:

Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie's appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie’s appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Bernie Sanders Madison WI Rally Crowd Doug Cvetkovich
Massive crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin during Bernie Sanders speech. Sanders is standing at the podium on the stage at the bottom left of the picture. (photo courtesy of Doug Cvetkovich)

I’m going to share a video of Bernie’s speech from the YouTube channel Bernie2016.tv (which is not directly affiliated with the Sanders campaign), but I want to make two notes before I do so: First, I’ve set the video to start playing at around the 42:20 mark, which is about 20 seconds or so before Nichols takes the stage to introduce Sanders. Second, several technical glitches occur during the video, most notably the first part of Nichols’s introduction not having any audio at all and an audio echoing issue occurring in at least one segment of Sanders’s speech.

Here’s the video of Bernie’s speech:

Bernie did a masterful job outlining a progressive vision for America. In his speech, Bernie called for reducing income inequality in America, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, expanding workers’ rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, getting big money out of politics, ensuring that women are paid the same as men for the same amount and type of work, reforming the criminal justice system, opposing free trade deals, providing high-quality education to Americans without burdening them with student debt, raising the minimum wage, and enacting many other progressive policies. Bernie energized a large crowd in Wisconsin’s second-largest city, and I think he can win the general election for president.

According to arena officials and Sanders campaign staffers, the attendance was 9,600, although I’ve seen reports on social media that so many people tried to show up at the 10,231-seat arena, some people had to be turned away from the event because the venue couldn’t handle any more people than the stated capacity. Sanders was introduced at the event by John Nichols, a progressive political author and columnist for The Nation magazine. Nichols mentioned during his introduction of Sanders that Ed Garvey, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin and the founder of the annual Fighting Bob Fest progressive gathering, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), and Wisconsin State Representatives Terese Berceau and Melissa Sargent (both D-Madison), were present at the event. Of those four, Sargent livetweeted Sanders’s speech, in which Sanders talked about issues like money in politics, climate change, education, higher education, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, income inequality, poverty, criminal justice reform, the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, breaking up “too big to fail” banks, and international trade. Here’s every one of Sargent’s tweets about Sanders’s speech in Madison:

Note that there is an apparent typo in one of Sargent’s tweets (the one she sent at 8:05 P.M. about Sanders talking about how climate change affects our future; Sargent likely meant to type “We must leave this planet in a condition that is habitable for our children”); other than that, Sargent did an absolutely fantastic job paraphrasing Sanders’s speech and livetweeting the key points that Sanders made. Please also note that Sargent has, to my knowledge, not formally endorsed a presidential candidate.

It is perfectly fitting that Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America in the hometown of Wisconsin progressive legend Fighting Bob La Follette.

Corporate Democrat Chris Abele would represent Scott Walker’s third term in office if he were to run for and be elected Wisconsin Governor

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Executive Chris Abele has been making public appearances outside of Milwaukee County in recent days. Recently, and to my knowledge, he’s appeared on a talk radio program in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s also appeared at a Democratic Party picnic in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Both of these locations are 60-90 miles or so away from Milwaukee, if I’m not mistaken. This seems to be unusual for Abele to make appearances at events outside of Milwaukee County.

While there was some speculation that Abele may run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin next year, Russ Feingold is already running in that race, and, for someone who is not known as a big-time fundraiser, Feingold has raised a ton of money for his campaign, so I’m guessing that Abele thinks that he doesn’t have a realistic path to victory in that race, although I could be wrong about that. I’m speculating that Abele may want to run for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and, outside of a few social issues, Abele would pretty much represent Scott Walker’s third term in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion if he were to run for and be elected governor.

Before being elected the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, Abele once threw fireworks at a neighbor’s house. Since being elected Milwaukee County Executive, Abele has:

  • Enacted Scott Walker-style austerity measures in Milwaukee County, which have hurt Milwaukee County’s economy
  • Has openly antagonized Democrats, progressives, and labor union members
  • Tried to get the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to prohibit counties from passing living wage ordinances designed to boost local economies
  • Actively supported corporate welfare for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks
  • Actively opposed efforts to allow Milwaukee County voters to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether or not they want to get rid of Walker/Abele-style big-money politics
  • Allied himself with Deanna Alexander, a far-right Milwaukee County Supervisor who has made overtly racist and sexist remarks about Democrats, women, and ethnic minorities
  • Spent large amounts of Milwaukee County taxpayers’ money on items like a large SUV for himself
  • Has repeatedly had his vetoes of progressive ideals overridden by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, a Milwaukee County employee and progressive patriot, has documented Chris Abele’s horrible track record as Milwaukee County Executive at his blog over the past few years.

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chris Abele’s right-wing record as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. When I say that Abele wouldn’t be significantly better as Wisconsin Governor than Scott Walker, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. Hopefully, one or more actual progressives, or at least someone who believes that the government should serve the people and not big-money special interests, runs in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin Governor a little more than three years from now.

My thoughts about no charges being filed against the police officer who killed Tony Robinson

Earlier today, Dane County, Wisconsin District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced that he would not file any criminal charges against Matt Kenny, a member of the Madison, Wisconsin Police Department, despite the fact that he shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Here’s my thoughts about this:

Right Decision, Bad Law

Given the description that Ozanne of what led to Kenny’s decision to shoot and kill Robinson, I believe that Ozanne made the right decision, given the current Wisconsin state law regarding law enforcement officers using deadly force. However, I believe that the law gives police officers in Wisconsin too broad of authority to use lethal force, and that many other states have similar laws on the books. Because Wisconsin state law allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force if, for whatever reason, the officer reasonably believes that someone is threatening to either kill or cause great bodily harm to the officer, the police shooting of Robinson was justified in the eyes of the law, but not justified in the eyes of my personal opinion. I believe that deadly force should never be used against an unarmed person like Robinson was at the time he was shot and killed by Kenny, and that deadly force should only be used if the suspect(s) is/are armed, the suspect(s) show(s) intent to use the weapon(s) against law enforcement officer(s) and/or others, and the officer(s) have no other option but to use deadly force.

Madison’s Police Taser Policy is Absurd

If you’re wondering why Kenny did not use a taser in order to stop Robinson without killing him, that’s because of an absurd policy in Madison that prohibits law enforcement officers from using a taser except when another officer is present at the scene. Madison’s taser policy should be amended to allow for officers to use tasers to stop suspects without another officer being present, and similar policies in other jurisdictions should be amended as well.

Racial Disparities are Systemic in Madison

Despite being America’s most progressive city, there’s systemic racial disparities between white people and black people in Madison. If you’re a black person in Madison, you’re anywhere from 8 to 11 times more likely to be arrested than a white person in Madison:

The Race to Equity report also found that black adults in Dane County were more than eight times as likely to be arrested as white adults in 2012, which was higher than the black-white arrest disparity in Wisconsin (4-to-1) and the entire nation (2.5-to-1) in 2010. While black men made up only 4.8 percent of the county’s total adult male population in 2012, they comprised more than 43 percent of all new adult prison placements that year.

Updated numbers for only Madison may be even worse: Erica Nelson, who authored the Race to Equity report, told PolitiFact Wisconsin that black adults are 10.9 times as likely as white adults to be arrested in the city, based on a preliminary analysis of the Madison Police Department’s 2013 annual report.

I Strongly Support a Peaceful, Constructive Movement Against Police Brutality and Systemic Racism

So as long as the protests are peaceful and constructive in nature, I strongly support protests against brutality by law enforcement officers and systemic racism in our society. A lot needs to be done to make America a truly equal place. Protests should be non-violent, raise awareness of the problems of police brutality and systemic racism, and raise awareness of various solutions to hold police officers who engage in brutality accountable and end the systemic racism in this country.

The problems of police brutality and systemic racism in this country go beyond Madison, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York City, and Ferguson. They are nationwide problems that need to be addressed by the people, the media, and public officials. Most importantly, there needs to be a concerted effort in this country to, through non-violent protests, supporting progressive-minded candidates for public office, and implementing new laws and policies, to end police brutality and systemic racism in this country once and for all.