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John Scepanski

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  • Meeting notes from May 19, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes

    May 19, 2014


    No meeting next Monday, Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.  Next meeting will be Monday, June 2nd , 6:00-8:00 p.m. at John's condo clubhouse, 717 DeForest Street, DeForest.


    Schedule for upcoming regular meetings of DeForest Area Progressives:

    • (skip Memorial Day - no meeting)
    • June 2nd at John's condo clubhouse, 717 DeForest St., DeForest
    • June 9th at Don's, 3736 Shiloh Rd. in Token Creek
    • June 9th at Peg's, 4397 Memorial Circle, Windsor

    All meetings are 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., as usual.


    There were 13 people at the May 19th meeting.


    Karen briefed us on how to magnify our Facebook participation.  She passed out a handout on the subject.


    The painting picnic is set for Saturday, June 14th, 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. at DeForest Fireman's Park.  Thanks especially to John Stanley for organizing this affair.  Among the invitees are all DeForest area progressives, Progressive Partners, and a host of others.  Mary Arnold (and Sue Salter) and George Ferriter, both candidates for Assembly, will be there.  Margo Miller, another candidate for Assembly, will try to make it.  We are hoping for Diane Hesselbein too.*  As noted in the invitation you received, Wisconsin Grassroots Network will provide brats, and DAP will provide soda and water.  A donation will be appreciated.  Bring a dish to pass.  Also, bring sign painting supplies if you have them.


    "Tailgating to Save Our State" is scheduled for June 18th.  This is a driving excursion to the Penokees, among many other events along the way, to publicize and work for clean energy in Wisconsin. See for more information.


    Mary Arnold and Henry stopped by to pick up nomination papers and discuss her campaign.  Mary's official campaign kickoff will be June 21st at Fireman's Park in Columbus from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.


    We touched on plans for our participation in the DeForest 4th of July celebration, including our parade float.


    There was much discussion about the idea to have an open mic at least quarterly in the DeForest area. 

    • Don volunteered to scout out some locations in restaurants or bars.
    • people talk about issues, make speeches
    • social, hang out
    • issues, sign up for time slots to speak, sing, whatever
    • guest speakers, entertainers
    • open to public
    • John St. sing Peter, Paul, & Mary songs
    • nostalgia for Kingston Trio and like
    • Leonardo's band
    • uplifting, mood raising
    • "You cannot subsist without your daily quota of joy."  - Don
    • jam, joke telling
    • one really cool speaker
    • How advertise?
    • Review significance of protest songs, social and political commentary.


    *DeForest has three Assembly reps, being divided unusually into three Assembly districts.  

  • Meeting notes for May 12, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes for May 12, 2014


    Next meeting: Monday, May 19, 2014, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Isabel's, 816 South Street, DeForest.  Note that this will be our last time at Isabel's, as the condo has been sold.  Further meeting locations will be sent to you when they are arranged.

     There were ten people present at the meeting on the 12th.

     Since we are losing Isabel's condo as a meeting place, we discussed other meeting sites for the future: members' homes, library, unrented offices, restaurants & bars, etc.

     Regarding our on-going discussion over some sort of regular, maybe quarterly, open mic affair, the new wine bar opening up in DeForest might be a venue, as they were noted in the Times-Tribune article as wanting to become a sort of casual hangout in the DeForest area.  Other discussion on the open mic idea....

     The Wisconsin state Democratic Convention is being held in the Dells on June 6 and 7.  John, Marcia, and Karen are going.  Others are encouraged to go and to vote for Nate Timm for continuing chair of the Dems's Rural Caucus.

     John Stanley has entered our DAP float in the DeForest 4th of July parade (we're number 14).  We decided on the theme, "Let Freedom Ring."  Those riding on the float will ring bells.  John, Leonardo, Don, Marcia, and Peg have volunteered so far to ride/walk with the float.  Anyone and everyone is welcome to join them and help build the float and so on.  More on the float later.  Some of us will be working as volunteers at bingo.  DAP 4th of July activities will be the subject of further agenda items at future meetings leading up to the 4th.

     The painting party/picnic/workshop has been set for June 14th at DeForest Fireman's park (the big, old park downtown).  Thanks to John Stanley for reserving the pavilion and all.  THANKS BIG JOHN!  The shelter is reserved from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  We will have music, food, and sign painting for all.  The Wisconsin Grassroots Network, our partners in this endeavor, will be providing brats.  We -- DAP -- will provide soda.  Otherwise, attendees should bring a dish to share a la potluck.  Karen will provide a list of supplies to bring: saw horses, brushes, tarps, red/white/black paint, rollers, pans, cans, containers for paint, plywood and other surfaces to paint, etc.  JohnSki will send out the invitations to all DAP-pers and Progressive Partners.  We will teach attendees how to paint both the "big red" signs and the "burma shave" signs.

     Karen and Marcia will attend the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit on July 15-20.  It is an annual national gathering of grassroots activists who are IT savvy: bloggers, tweeters, facebookers, etc.  The keynote speaker is Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Karen and Marcia are gathering votes, trying to qualify for scholarships to attend, as it is quite pricey.

     Dan Rowe spoke about working with George Ferriter on George's campaign for Wisconsin Assembly.  He talked about trying to get a joint fundraiser going for Ferriter, Arnold, and Hesselbein.  Dan will keep us informed of progress on this project and what we can do to help.  Marcia also noted that some of us will be available to drop lit, knock on doors, etc., wherever there might be gaps identified in locations, small towns, etc.

     Karen talked about DAP on Facebook, the old Facebook page -- who? what?  She will discuss it again next week, as time was short in this meeting.  Someone mentioned maybe having training on how to use Facebook, Twitter, and so forth.

     John St. and Marcia talked about resuming discussions about DAP policy.  We remembered that John had written up in some detail some drafts of policy that we might want to consider.  We need more organization such as timelines and chairs for projects, committees, how to propose a project, how to submit a project for consideration and things of that nature.

     We failed to discuss the item that Beth Trotter had asked about, that is, herbicide spraying on school grounds.

  • published Ruth Conniff on George Lakoff in Opinion Blog 2014-05-09 18:51:45 -0500

    Ruth Conniff on George Lakoff

    Posted by RUTH CONNIFF on March 19, 2014, on

    Wisconsin Progressives Bring George Lakoff to Help Fight the Right


    The organized forces of the right have been busy dismantling the Wisconsin's progressive tradition, its public employee unions, its model environmental protections, its open-meetings laws, and funding for its great university system, technical colleges, and public schools. Citizens are fighting in scattershot, grassroots campaigns against all of these assaults.

    If ordinary people are going to overcome the organized forces of greed, they are going to need to work together to develop a smart, winning strategy.

    With that in mind, last year a group of progressive activists decided they needed help getting organized.

    "We thought the perfect person to talk to would be George Lakoff," says Scott Wittkopf, chair of the Forward Institute, a public policy think tank. Lakoff, author of the best-selling books Don’t Think of an Elephant!; The Political Mind; and Whose Freedom? is the nation's leading expert on linguistic "framing" in politics and on how the left can recapture the rhetorical high ground, by speaking in the emotionally resonant language of values.

    Wittkopf's group, along with a handful of other environmental, labor, and civil rights organizations, including the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Milwaukee Interfaith Coalition, teachers unions in Madison and Milwaukee, and United Wisconsin (the group that led the recall drive against Governor Walker) contacted Lakoff and began a series of trainings under his tutelage.


    Lakoff took a keen interest in the uprising against Scott Walker, writing about how the labor and recall fights should be framed on his blog.

    "I’ve followed Wisconsin politics for many, many years, beginning in my teen years when a friend of my brother’s worked with Gaylord Nelson," Lakoff said in a phone interview from his home in California. "I was really inspired by the protest movement at the statehouse. I wrote a piece about it and apparently it was printed out and posted on the statehouse wall, which won my heart."

    Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature in Wisconsin are deploying what Lakoff calls "the conservative communication system."

    "I’ve been fighting that system for fifteen years," he says. "Most people don’t even know that it exists."

    Democrats, meanwhile, have failed to set up an effective communications system of their own, Lakoff says.

     "So when I was approached by Scott about what could be done in Wisconsin, I said here is what the Republicans have done, It is very smart. . . .When Republicans went to college and studied business, they took a course in marketing and found out how people really think."

    Progressives need to learn from that, Lakoff says.

    Working with the network of grassroots activists from around the state, Lakoff helped set up trainings in framing a progressive message.

    "No matter what issue you're passionate about, his research gives us a foundation to unify everybody because it's about values--morals and values," says Wittkopf.

    Pointing to all of the battles in Wisconsin, from education to voting rights to the expansion of lobbyist influence and campaign finance reform, Wittkopf says, "you have all these really core democratic issues at stake. As progressives we make this fatal mistake that each group does its own messaging . . . creating silos."

    With Lakoff, the grassroots activists developed the "Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign," to connect all of those issues. At two early meetings, Lakoff joined the activists on a in a video conference to talk about how they could unite around a progressive definition of freedom.

    So far the activists have conducted four trainings in Western Wisconsin, the Fox Cities, Milwaukee, and Madison, building on this core notion of a definition of freedom that is not about the conservative idea of freedom, which Wittkopf describes as self-centered and serving the interests of business, but a more expansive notion of human freedom, that comes out of America's progressive roots--extending access to democracy for as many people as possible.

    "We have had some little successes," says Wittkopf, who attributes "values-based messaging" to popular campaigns to pass school spending referenda in Appleton, despite a well-financed ad campaign by Americans for Prosperity, as well as organizing against sand mining and against school privatization at the state level.

    Lakoff would like to see Wisconsin progressives raise enough money to set up a speakers bureau for ordinary citizens throughout the state, conduct more trainings, and solidify a single framing structure.

    "You learn how to respond to conservatives, and not just to respond but to go on the offensive and get the message out in every possible way," he says. "That takes organization and will." "You never speak to conservatives using conservative language," he adds. "'The issue is jobs'—No. Freedom is an issue. Freedom from wage slavery is an example. To get that we need good paying union jobs, where you get paid fairly, and you are treated like a human being, where you get not “benefits” but health care that is part of your salary. That’s good for everybody—it’s good not to have employees that are sick, its good to have a population that is healthy . . . this is not rocket science. Everything I say is what you already know. My job is to tell you what you already know but are not saying." Wittkopf is energized by Lakoff's work in Wisconsin. "We have never had collaborative messaging before," he says. "That's where the conservatives are really beating us up." "Wisconsin is the laboratory" Wittkopf adds--for progressive politics starting a century ago, and for the rightwing takeover of civil society, which gained traction with Scott Walker's attack on public employee unions, voter I.D., the privatization of public schools, and the rest of the attacks on basic democratic freedoms. "That's why Lakoff took an interest in Wisconsin," says Wittkopf. "We are at the center of it." Plus, Wittkopf adds, "Any scientist will tell you that it is a life goal to see your work put into practice. Lakoff's work has not generally been put into practice by a lot of progressives or Democrats." That's another area where Wisconsin could lead the way, as a laboratory for resurgent progressive politics. —Ruth Conniff 


  • Meeting notes for April 28, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes for April 28, 2014


    Next meeting: Monday, May 5, 2014, at Isabel's, 816 South Street in DeForest, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.


    Ten people were present at the April 28th meeting.


    May 19th will be the last meeting at Isabel's condo, as the condo has been sold.  We will continue meeting, then, at Dawn and Ginny's houses.


    JohnSki reported on his latest visit to the DeForest village Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, where among other topics, they discussed two chapters of the proposed revised comprehensive village plan, Chapters 6 and 3, "Land Use" and "Downtown," respectively.  John volunteered to keep up these monitoring visits when the P&Z Committee discusses changes in the comprehensive plan.


    Marcia reported on her attendance the previous Tuesday at the Earth Day Conference in Madison.  There were excellent speakers on the topic of climate change.  We must keep thinking about community rights in the face of business and industrial corporations that would run roughshod over local communities.  See next paragraph.


    There will be a training conference in Viroqua, May 23-26, on "Community Rights Networking."  There are already a hundred local communities around the country that have successfully established community bills of rights, and only two of those bills have been challenged by corporations who would exploit local communities' resources.  The communities who have protected themselves have put in place ordinances before they face such challenges as the sand mining in Wisconsin.  For the present, we should all familiarize ourselves with the websites on the topic.  It was noted that Leonardo had put on our list of brainstormed things DAP should engage in, a community environmental bill of rights.    Maybe we could host an event ourselves to familiarize Wisconsin with the concepts and introduce CELDF, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.  In short, we have a right to clean water, clean air, unpolluted land, and a way of life not disrupted by unwarranted and unwanted industrial activity.  An informal poll of those present found unanimous agreement that DAP should get involved with this CELDF stuff. 


    Janet summed up the efforts so far to collect signatures for Mary Burke's nomination for governor, as well as other nomination papers that DAP members are circulating.


    Karen reported on the tar sands pipeline issue, taking note of the "cowboys and indians" action taking place in Washington, D.C.  There is a tar sludge pipeline in operation already in Dane County (the Enbridge Pipeline) that carries the oil sludge from Alberta, Canada, through Wisconsin to a refinery in Chicago (owned, by the way, by the infamous Koch brothers).  The tarmac-like substance mined in Alberta is diluted to make it viscous enough to transport through the pipeline.  At the Chicago refinery, it is separated, and the dilutant is sent back to Alberta via another, parallel pipeline.  The part of the pipeline that runs through DaneCounty is in the northeastern part near where CountyV intersects Hwy. 151.  The pipeline itself is underground, but the pumping stations are above ground and visible.  The tarmac-like substance is strip mined in Alberta, where the trees are first taken down, and then huge machinery is used to dig into the earth.  The refinery in Chicago converts the raw substance to "pet-coke" (petroleum coke which is used to burn with coal in production facilities like electric generation plants), heavy oils, greases, and diesel.  It is not suitable for gasoline.  A pipe like the Enbridge burst not long ago in Michigan, about 150 miles east of us, causing tremendous pollution and damage.  The proposed XL pipeline that gets so much attention these days is not the only one.


    Shirley mentioned four Wisconsin Assembly campaigns that "Turn Wisconsin Blue" is working on.


    Liz finished four sides of signs, except for the messages to be put on them.  Mary Lou has two signs, four sides, she needs done.  There are a few "big red" signs that need some maintenance and repair, too.  John St. suggested (again) that we host a sign painting picnic/workshop in one of the DeForest area parks.  We can have some fun ourselves and invite others among Progressive Partners to join us to learn about sign production and enjoy the picnic with us.


    Karen reported on bumper sticker and button sales.  She gave JohnSki $57 to deposit in the DAP checking account.  We should sell more at the DeForest area 4th of July celebration.  We should have a table or booth for sales, voter registration, sign recruitment, etc.  Further discussion on this and the float for the parade will ensue at later meetings.


    Finally, for those of you who are more adventurous than others of us, in the UW Arboretum there is going to be training for those who intend to put their bodies on the line, so to speak, if and when the XL Pipeline begins construction.


    Next meeting: Monday, May 5, 2014, at Isabel's, 816 South Street in DeForest, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

  • published The New Piketty Book in Opinion Blog 2014-04-30 18:31:52 -0500

    The New Piketty Book

    This book is receiving a lot of attention.
     APR 30, 2014

    Piketty shrugged: How the French economist dashed libertarians’ Ayn Randian fantasies

    "Capital in the 21st Century" reveals once and for all that the invisible hand of the market can't solve inequality

    Piketty shrugged: How the French economist dashed libertarians' Ayn Randian fantasiesThomas Piketty (Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau)
    This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

    AlterNetLibertarians have always been flummoxed by inequality, tending either to deny that it’s a problem or pretend that the invisible hand of the market will wave a magic wand to cure it. Then everybody gets properly rewarded for what he or she does with brains and effort, and things are peachy keen.

     Except that they aren’t, as exhaustively demonstrated by French economist Thomas Piketty, whose 700-page treatise on the long-term trends in inequality, Capital In the 21st Century, has blown up libertarian fantasies one by one.

     To understand the libertarian view of inequality, let’s turn to Milton Friedman, one of America’s most famous and influential makers of free market mythology. Friedman decreed that economic policy should focus on freedom, and not equality.

     If we could do that, he promised, we’d not only get freedom and efficiency, but more equality as a natural byproduct. Libertarians who took the lessons from his books, like Capitalism and Freedom (1962) and Free to Choose (1980), bought into the notion that capitalism naturally led to less inequality.

     Basically, the lessons boiled down to this: Some degree of inequality is both unavoidable and desirable in a free market, and income inequality in the U.S. isn’t very pronounced, anyway. Libertarians starting with these ideas tend to reject any government intervention meant to decrease inequality, claiming that such plans make people lazy and that they don’t work, anyway. Things like progressive income taxes, minimum wage laws and social safety nets make most libertarians very unhappy.

     Uncle Milty put it like this:

    “A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.… On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality.”

     Well, that turns out to be spectacularly, jaw-droppingly, head-scratchingly wrong. The U.S. is now a stunningly unequal society, with wealth piling up at the top so fast that an entire movement, Occupy Wall Street, sprung up to decry it with the catchphrase “We are the 99%.”

     How did libertarians get it all so backwards? Well, as Piketty points out, people like Milton Friedman were writing at a time when inequality was indeed less pronounced in the U.S. than it had been in previous eras. But they mistook this happy state of affairs as the magic of capitalism. Actually, it wasn’t the magic of capitalism that reduced inequality during a brief, halcyon period after the New Deal and WWII. It was the forces of various economic shocks plus policies our government put in place to respond to them that changed America from a top-heavy society in the Gilded Age to something more egalitarian in the post-war years.

     As you’ll recall, if you watched the movie Titanic, the U.S. had a class of rentiers (rich people who live off property and investments) in the early part of the 20th century who hailed from places like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. They were just as nasty and rapacious as their European counterparts, only there weren’t quite so many of them and their wealth was not quite as concentrated (the Southern rentiers had been wiped out by the Civil War).

     The fortunes of these rentiers were not shock-proof: If you remember Hockney, the baddie in James Cameron’s film, he survives the Titanic but not the Great Crash of ’29, when he loses his money and offs himself. The Great Depression got rid of some of the extreme wealth concentration in America, and later the wealthy got hit with substantial tax shocks imposed by the federal government in the 1930s and ’40s. The American rentier class wasn’t really vaporized the way it was in Europe, where the effects of the two world wars were much more pronounced, but it took a hit. That opened up the playing field and gave people more of a chance to rise on the rungs of the economic ladder through talent and work.

     After the Great Depression, inequality decreased in America, as New Deal investment and education programs, government intervention in wages, the rise of unions, and other factors worked to give many more people a chance for success. Inequality reached its lowest ebb between 1950 and 1980. If you were looking at the U.S. during that time, it seemed like a pretty egalitarian place to be (though blacks, Hispanics, and many women would disagree).

     As Piketty notes, people like Milton Friedman, an academic economist, were doing rather well in the economy, likely sitting in the top 10 percent income level, and to them, the economy appeared to be doing just fine and rewarding talents and merits very nicely. But the Friedmans weren’t paying enough attention to how the folks on the rungs above them, particularly the one percent and even more so the .01 percent, were beginning to climb into the stratosphere. The people doing that climbing were mostly not academic economists, or lawyers, or doctors. They were managers of large firms who had begun to award themselves very prodigious salaries.

     This phenomenon really got going after 1980, when wealth started flowing in vast quantities from the bottom 90 percent of the population to the top 10 percent. By 1987, Ayn Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan had taken over as head of the Federal Reserve, and free market fever was unleashed upon America. People in U.S. business schools started reading Ayn Rand’s kooky novels as if they were serious economic treatises and hailing the free market as the only path to progress. John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged(1957), captured the imaginations of young students like Paul Ryan, who worshipped Galt as a superman who could rise to the top through his vision, merit and heroic efforts. Galt became the prototype of the kind of “supermanager” these business schools were supposed to crank out.

     Since the ‘80s, the top salaries and pay packages awarded to executives of the largest companies and financial firms in the U.S. have reached spectacular heights. This, coupled with low growth and stagnation of wages for the vast majority of workers, has meant growing inequality. As income from labor gets more and more unequal, income from capital starts to play a bigger role. By the time you get to the .01 percent, virtually all your income comes from capital—stuff like dividends and capital gains. 

    That’s when wealth (what you have) starts to matter more than income (what you earn).


    Wealth gathering at the top creates all sorts of problems. Some of these elites will hoard their wealth and fail to do anything productive with it. Others channel it into harmful activities like speculation, which can throw the economy out of whack. Some increase their wealth by preying on the less well-off. As inequality grows, regular people lose their purchasing power. They go into debt. The economy gets destabilized. (Piketty, and many other economists, count the increase in inequality as one of the reasons the economy blew up in 2007-’08.)

     By the time you get to 2010, U.S. inequality, according to Piketty’s data, is quantitavely as extreme as in old Europe in the first decade of the 20th century. He predicts that inherited property is going to start to matter more and more in the U.S. as the supermanagers, the Jamie Dimons and so on, bequeath their gigantic hordes of money to their children.

     The ironic twist is this: The reason a person like the fictional John Galt would be able to rise from humble beginnings in the 1950s is because the Gilded Age rentiers lost large chunks of their wealth through the shocks the Great Depression and the deliberate government policies that came in its wake, thus loosening their stranglehold on the economy and society. Galt is able to make his fortune precisely because he lives in a society that isn’t dominated by extreme concentrated wealth and dynasties. Yet the logical outcome of an economy in which there is no attempt made to limit the size of fortunes and promote greater equality is a place in which the most likely way John Galt can make a fortune is to marry an heiress. So it was in the Gilded Age. So it may be very soon in America.

     Which brings us back to Friedman’s view that people naturally get what they deserve, that reward is based on talent. Well, clearly in the case of inherited property, reward is not based on talent, but membership in the Lucky Sperm Club (or marriage into it). That made Uncle Milty a little bit uncomfortable, but he just huffed that life is not fair, and we shouldn’t think it any more unjust that one person is born with mathematical genius as the other is born with a fortune. What’s the difference?

     Actually, there is a very big difference. It is the particular rules governing society that determine who amasses a fortune and what part of that fortune is passed on to heirs. The wrong-headed policies promoted by libertarians and their ilk, who hate any form of tax on the rich, such as inheritance taxes, have ensured that big fortunes in America are getting bigger, and they will play a much more prominent role in the direction of our society and economy if we continue on the present path.

     What we are headed for, after several decades of free market mania, is superinequality, possibly such as the world has never seen. In this world, more and more wealth will be gained off the backs of the 99 percent, and less and less will be earned through hard work.

     Which essentially means freedom for the rich, and no one else.

  • Meeting notes from April 21, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes for April 21, 2014

    Next meeting: Monday, April 28, 2014, at Isabel's, 816 South Street in DeForest, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

    Dawn opened the meeting with the lyrics for a new song she is going to submit to the Raging Grannies, sung to the tune of "Along Comes Mary" by The Association from the sixties/seventies.  The theme is Mary Burke for Governor.  Cute, Dawn!

    Most of the meeting was taken up with discussion about Mary Burke's candidacy.  JohnSki passed out copies of an article that appeared in last week's The Capital Times, "The Real Mary Burke."  We are educating ourselves about Mary, gearing u to support her in the campaign.  Those of you who have filled up nomination papers can drop them off at Janet's house, 4054 Gray Road.  Note that you've to go the roundabout way (literally) to get there: Windsor Road to Portage Road to Gray Road (Tinker to Evers to Chance for you baseball history fans :-).  Janet will get the completed papers in to Eric in Madison.  You may also call Janet, and she will pick them up.  Those who are interested are going to meet at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday in VeteransPark in DeForest to gather signatures from the drivers of cars passing by, a la the collections for the recall.

    Dawn suggested "Join the Party" as a theme for this year's DeForest 4th of July parade float theme.  We can decorate with balloons, etc., as for a party.

    Karen briefed us on training available for Keystone XL pipeline protesters.

    Liz reported on her attendance at the public speak-out on Sanimax in DeForest and the odor problem from the bio-diesel operation. It was a big public turnout, and Liz was proud of our elected representatives the way they stood up for the people.  Stand by for further developments.

  • Meeting notes for April 14, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes

    April 14, 2014


    Next meeting April 21, 2014, at Isabel's, 816 South Street, DeForest, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

    There were seven people at the April 14th meeting.

    Ginny checked with the village of DeForest on use of VeteransPark to collect signatures on Mary Burke and John Lehman nomination papers for governor and lt. governor.  We may use the parking lot for free, but we must pay a fee to use the park itself or the gazebo.  If we use the parking lot, we must post any signs on our cars -- none may be mounted on the pavement or draped over the signs in the park or the lot.  Janet provided petition forms to all present, along with clipboards and pens.  You may begin tomorrow to collect signatures from your friends and neighbors.  Janet also instructed us about rules for gathering signatures and how to fill out the forms properly.  Most of us were veteran signature gatherers from previous elections and the Walker recall campaign, but it was good to review anyway.  Thank you, Janet and Ginny.   The DPW (Democratic Party of Wisconsin) told Janet that signatures may be gathered starting April 15th, and they want the sheets in by May 10th for checking and collection to put them in shape to be turned in.  AT NEXT WEEK'S MEETING, MONDAY APRIL 21ST, WE WILL SCHEDULE WORKERS FOR SHIFTS AT VETERANS PARK, SO IF YOU INTEND TO WORK ON SIGNATURE GATHERING, BE SURE TO BE AT NEXT  WEEK'S MEETING.

    We had a discussion on our ongoing signs project.  Ginny and Liz have finished six new "big red" signs (4' x 5'), and they are almost ready to be mounted at the designated locations.  WAY TO GO GINNY ANDLIZ!  Go to to see what the signs are accomplishing.  John St. suggested we host a sign painting party both for fun and to get some more signs painted, also to teach newcomers how to do it.  Maybe this could be a Progressive Partners party.  We might include Mary Arnold and George Ferriter signs in the party's activities to help support some of our candidates.  Everyone present agreed that this is a good idea and we should do it.

    John St. brought up the fact that there is confusion as to when and where the April quarterly meeting of Progressive Partners is going to be.  He and Wisconsin Grassroots Network thought that maybe DeForest Area Progressives should step in to host the April meeting.  After some discussion, it was the consensus that we should not interfere in other groups's business.  If the April meeting takes place, fine.  If it does not, well, SPARC has already announced it is going to host the June meeting as a picnic in or near Sun Prairie.  So be it.

    Janet passed out a flyer from #NOKXL on activities planned to express opposition to and hopefully to thwart the building of the KXL oil pipeline.  Go to for further info.  Sign the pledge, if you are so inclined, at  Be aware that this is a series exercise in civil disobedience if you go the full mile with it.  Ginny mentioned that the pipeline ladies are getting very well organized.

    We should include voter registration with our 4th of July planned activities.  The primary election is August 12th, and registration activities must stop 20 days before elections.  Considering that Governor Walker has signed into law five bills restricting voting rights, it is imperative that we pursue voter registration, as we have in the past.

    Karen displayed her water drop brooch or lapel pin in solidarity with the ladies of the BadRiver tribe.  No to pollution from metallic mining in Wisconsin.

    Come to Monday's meeting to be a part of nomination papers signature gathering in support of Mary Burke and John Lehman.

                                              (John Scepanski's notes)

  • Meeting notes for April 7th and March 31, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Notes to meeting of April 7, 2014

    Next meeting: Monday, April 14, 2014, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Isabel's 816 South Street, DeForest

    There were eight people at the April 7th meeting.  John reported a balance of $205.66 in our checking account as of the end of March.

    We hashed out a review of the Wisconsin Grassroots Network sixth annual festival at WisconsinHeightsHigh School in Mazomanie.  "We want your ideas."  DAP had a significant presence at the festival and helped much in its planning and execution.

    Marcia led a discussion on what do you see in the future for DAP that is important to you:

    • in community
    • fun things
    • with other groups
    • political, non-political
    • SPARC (Sun Prairie) does a lot of non-political, community things like great books group, food pantry, and meals for kids
    • Ginny said she thinks we should do more in our own backyard -- non-political things like DANN (DeForest Area Needs Network), food pantry, Friends of the Upper Yahara River Headwaters
    • Shirley said she doesn't know DeForest and Windsor well enough yet but wants to get to know them better.
    • Leo: community environmental bill of rights, yes!
    • Karen: outreach to Morrisonville progressives
    • Janet: support Mary Burke for governor; also schools, reading with kids program
    • 4th of July parade participation again this year; volunteer to help with the parade too
    • Norskie Nibbles
    • Blessings in a Backpack
    • voter registration; and voter registration at high schools

    Karen passed out a flyer on what products manufactured by the Koch brothers can be boycotted.

    Janet briefed us on the effort statewide and county (Dane) wide to gather signatures on Mary Burke's nomination papers.  We set up plans to do so, including a post at VeteransPark in DeForest like the station we set up there to gather signature on the recall petitions.  More on this at next week's meeting; also nomination signatures for Mary Arnold, Diane Hesselbein, and George Ferriter.

    Discussion on sign projects and


    Some quick notes from the March 31, 2014, meeting:

    Getting $200 maybe from WGN for all work done for festival

    Discussion and plans for election work

    April 22nd Earth Day Conference

    May 22 CELDF workshop in Viroqua

    May 1st Heather and The Progressive magazine at Monona Terrace, Diane Ravitch; search Diane Ravitch internet for details

    Much discussion on local electoral politics, including speculation about DaneCounty tea party activity and ALEC influence

    "Tons of leafleting" done by DAP members and associates - THANKS!

    We distributed at least 2000 pieces of literature for the move-to-amend referendums - GOOD GOING!  Special thanks to Janet for her unwavering efforts.

    More discussion on further move-to-amend efforts all over

    Karen -- "Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians" currency stamps. J

    Ginny needs new place for sign painting

    Janet - OFA DaneCounty team, Mary Burke, Janet will keep us in the game

    Marcia - peaceful actions at Senator Tiffany's office

  • I hope this guy is wrong.

    APR 9, 2014

    Global rankings study: America in warp-speed decline

    From access to healthcare and education to gender equality, the U.S. resembles a second-rate nation


    This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

    If America needed a reminder that it is fast becoming a second-rate nation, and that every economic policy of the Republican Party is wrongheaded, it got one this week with the release of the Social Progress Index (SPI).

    Harvard business professor Michael E. Porter, who earlier developed the Global Competitiveness Report, designed the SPI. A new way to look at the success of countries, the SPI studies 132 nations and evaluates 54 social and environmental indicators for each country that matter to real people. Rather than measuring a country’s success by its per capita GDP, the index is based on an array of data reflecting suicide, ecosystem sustainability, property rights, access to healthcare and education, gender equality, attitudes toward immigrants and minorities, religious freedom, nutrition, infrastructure and more.

    The index measures the livability of each country. People everywhere depend on and care about similar things. “We all need clean water. We all want to feel safe and live without fear. People everywhere want to get an education and improve their lives,” says Porter. But economic growth alone doesn’t guarantee these things.

    While the U.S. enjoys the second highest per capita GDP of $45,336, it ranks in an underperforming 16th place overall. It gets worse. The U.S. ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety.

    More surprising is the fact that despite being the home country of global tech heavyweights Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, and so on, the U.S. ranks a disappointing 23rd in access to the Internet. “It’s astonishing that for a country that has Silicon Valley, lack of access to information is a red flag,” notes Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, which oversees the index.

    If this index is an affront to your jingoistic sensibilities, the U.S. remains in first place for the number of incarcerated citizens per capita, adult onset diabetes and for believing in angels.

    New Zealand is ranked in first place in social progress. Interestingly, it ranks only 25th on GDP per capita, which means the island of the long white cloud is doing a far better job than America when it comes to meeting the need of its people. In order, the top 10 is rounded out by Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark and Australia.

    Unsurprisingly these nations all happen to rank highly in the 2013 U.N. World Happiness Report with Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden among the top five.

    So, what of the U.S? In terms of happiness, we rank 17th, trailing neighboring Mexico.

    We find ourselves languishing for the very fact we have allowed corporate America to hijack the entire Republican Party, and some parts of the Democratic Party. This influence has bought corporations and the rich a rigged tax code that has redistributed wealth from the middle class to the rich over the course of the past three decades. This lack of shared prosperity and opportunity has retarded our social progress.

    America’s rapid descent into impoverished nation status is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. By every measure, we look like a broken banana republic. Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. Only one U.S. airport makes the list of the top 100 in the world. Our roads, schools and bridges are falling apart, and our trains — none of them high-speed — are running off their tracks.

    With 95 percent of all economic gains funneled to the richest 1 percent over the course of the last decade, and a tax code that has starved the federal government of revenues to invest in public infrastructure, America will be a country divided by those who have and those who have not. InThe World As It Is, Chris Hedges writes, “Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods, and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty.”

    This week the Republican Party rolled out its 2014 Ryan budget. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, noted that under the Ryan budget, ”[affluent] Americans would do quite well. But for tens of millions of others, the Ryan plan is a path to more adversity.” Greenstein pointed out that the plan would leave millions without health insurance through repeal of the Affordable Care Act and changes to Medicaid funding.

    Greenstein also criticized the budget for its impact on anti-poverty programs, estimating that it would slash basic food aid provided by SNAP by at least $135 billion and convert the program to a block grant, make it harder for low-income students to attend college and make massive unspecified cuts to domestic non-military spending, which means cuts to social welfare programs.

    The countries ranked highest in social progress are doing the complete opposite. They’re investing in schools rather than drones. They’re expanding collective bargaining laws rather than busting unions. They’re providing their citizens with universal healthcare and education rather than selling these basic human rights to the highest bidder.

    “Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly, or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower protofascist movements such as the Christian Right,” observes Hedges.

    It’s your move, America.


    CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America, and God Hates You. Hate Him Back. 


  • published Dems Should Act Like Dems in Opinion Blog 2014-04-09 16:28:45 -0500

    Dems Should Act Like Dems

    APR 9, 2014

    The right’s wobbly electoral lifeline: How Dems can win back white working class

    The way to take back Congress is not to move to the middle – but to offer pro-working-class economic progressivism


    If the Democrats lose control of the Senate in the fall elections, the Republican party will control both Houses of Congress and a majority of state legislators. Even though President Obama was re-elected in 2012, the Republicans picked up a governorship in North Carolina and added to their majority of state legislative seats—3975 to 3319 for the Democrats.

    While demography may favor the Democratic coalition in presidential elections, the Republicans have been able to mobilize enough white working class support to overcome the deficit of GOP voters among blacks and the most rapidly-growing U.S. minority group, Latinos. The Democrats have lost white working class voters not only in the racially-polarized South, but in the Northern states as well.

    This means that unlike Franklin Roosevelt, who took office at another great economic crisis in American history, Barack Obama is unlikely to bequeath a new Democratic majority in Congress as well as the White House to his successors.

    Ruy Texeira and Andrew Levison point out that low white working class support for Democrats might make a 2016 Republican presidential victory possible:

    On the positive side, permanently increasing the level of Democratic support among white workers to just the 40 percent Obama received in 2008 (he received 36 percent in 2012) could actually ensure a genuinely stable and reliable Democratic majority for many years to come. On the negative side, if in 2016 white working class support for the Dems falls to or below the 33 percent it hit in 2010, a GOP president becomes a very real possibility. Not to mention the dire effects such low support would have on Democratic prospects in 2014: It would be essentially impossible for Democrats to retake the House and they might well lose the Senate in the bargain.

    Why does the Democratic party do so poorly with the white working class and middle class? One standard narrative holds that white working class voters who support Republicans vote against their own economic interests. This economic irrationality is then explained in terms of racism, or cultural conservatism, or some other factor.

    But are the Democrats really offering white working class voters economic policies worth voting for?

    As Thomas Edsall notes, the white working class is positively left-wing on many economic issues:

    There are a few — but very few — issues on which the white working class is more liberal than the general public, all of which capture the group’s bread-and-butter concerns: expansion of family, maternity and sick leave; a belief that “Wall Street hurts the American economy more than it helps”; and support for the protection of Medicare benefits.

    Most members of the white working class also support a higher minimum wage, Social Security and oppose “free trade” deals with mercantilist nations like South Korea and China that lead to the destruction or offshoring of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

    The progressive wing of the Democratic party supports many of these white working-class goals. But Democratic progressives are marginalized by establishment congressional Democrats and centrist presidents like Bill Clinton and Obama.

    Let’s go down the list of the economic policies that working-class whites favor, and what the mainstream Democrats have offered them:

    A higher minimum wage. Recently Obama and mainstream Democrats have endorsed this popular proposal—after decades in which “centrist” Democrats often argued for expanding the earned income tax credit, an indirect subsidy to low-wage employers, instead.

    Expansion of family, maternity and sick leave. A few members of Congress have offered legislation for universal family leave paid for out of a payroll tax, of the kind that already exists in California and New Jersey. But this hasn’t been a priority either for Obama or congressional Democrats.

    A belief that Wall Street hurts America more than it helps. While a few progressives like Elizabeth Warren have been strong critics of the financial sector, the mainstream Democrats continue to depend on the financial industry for donations and the revolving door continues to spin between Wall Street and the Obama White House and Democratic committees in Congress.

    Support for the protection of Medicare benefits. The Democratic advantage on this issue has been weakened by the endorsement by President Obama and other leading Democrats of the conservative conviction that the deficit—driven chiefly by health care—is a grave crisis facing America.

    Social Security. Working class voters, white and nonwhite, depend almost entirely on Social Security in their retirement. And yet President Obama proposed to cut Social Security benefits, by altering the measure of inflation adjustments (“chained CPI”), in return for concessions on slightly higher tax rates from the Republicans. The Obama White House has backed away from this proposal, but according to reports it is still on the table.

    Trade. A majority of Congressional Democrats now share populist skepticism about trade deals that increase American deficits and erode American manufacturing. But the Obama administration, like the Clinton administration, continues to promote a trade agenda that chiefly serves the interests of U.S. multinationals (many of which avoid paying US taxes) and the investor class.

    And then there’s the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The social programs that enjoy the greatest level of support from white working class voters are universal, non-means-tested programs like Social Security and Medicare which reward work by being funded with payroll taxes.

    What, then, did Obama and the Democrats offer these voters, in 2009? A version of the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Massachusetts Romneycare plans, based on means-testing (not universalism), individual mandates (not universal payroll or other taxes) and subsidies to private insurance companies.

    FDR and LBJ offered white working class voters universal social insurance programs—Social Security and Medicare—and were rewarded with huge Democratic majorities in Congress and presidential elections, even though the white working class was far more racist and culturally conservative than it is today. Obama and the Democrats in 2009 offered a deeply-flawed version of a pro-business, right-wing health care scheme and may lost Congress this year and the White House in 2016.

    Would working-class white voters walk away from great deals like those offered by Roosevelt and Johnson today, because of racism or moral traditionalism? We don’t know, because no Democratic president since LBJ has offered anything resembling the popular New Deal/Great Society entitlements. Carter, Clinton and Obama all ran as populists, but then they governed as moderate economic conservatives with slightly liberal social views. Most of their policy innovations have been means-tested programs like Obamacare focused on helping the poor, not universal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare that help working-class families who may make too much money to qualify for welfare-program means tests.

    What prevents Democratic candidates for the White House and Congress in 2016 from running in the primaries and the general election on a campaign to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security, legislate universal paid family leave, and crack down on foreign nations that cheat at trade? We all know the answer: Democratic donors. Most, though not all, of the rich people who fund the Democrats tend to be economically conservative, even if they are socially liberal. A party funded by fiscally-conservative Wall Street financiers and the intellectual property rentiers of Silicon Valley is not going to pursue the interests of the working class of all races in expanding universal entitlements and substantially raising taxes on the rich, even if its successful candidates strike populist poses in campaigns. A genuinely progressive presidential candidate would never survive the fund-raising “money primary” that comes before the actual voter primaries.

    But isn’t the white working class irrational to vote for Republicans who claim they want to destroy middle-class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare? Not necessarily. Paul Ryan can publish all the libertarian budget manifestos he likes, but when it comes to actually voting to cut Social Security or Medicare for the working class, Republican members of Congress inevitably flinch. Working-class white Republican voters have learned that, however much Republicans may slash spending on the poor, they will usually protect benefits for their constituents.

    Between Democrats who talk like Roosevelt or LBJ, but offer little or nothing to working-class whites not poor enough to qualify for means-tested welfare, and Republicans who sound like Ayn Rand but end up supporting Social Security and Medicare, the white working class has little to choose from. So non-racist, non-Southern members members tend to identify with the one of the two economically-conservative, plutocrat-funded parties that is dominant in their states and neighborhoods.

    The white working class has not rejected the party of pro-working-class economic progressivism, because in today’s America no such party exists. They can’t turn down a new New Deal that nobody offers them.


    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation


  • published New York Times Op-Ed re Gogebic in Opinion Blog 2014-04-01 18:50:02 -0500

    New York Times Op-Ed re Gogebic

    In case you didn't see it ...

    State's environmental heritage 'under attack' by Walker-backed mine, says New York Times op-ed

    Although the Penokee Hills rest quietly under a blanket of snow, debate over a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin is again heating up.

    The New York Times took note of the issue this weekend with an op-ed piece from Dan Kaufman, a Wisconsin native who has written about state issues previouslyfor the influential national publication.

    Kaufman’s latest piece is titled “The Fight for Wisconsin’s Soul” and references the state’s proud environmental heritage, which dates to 1910 when voters approved a constitutional amendment promoting forest and water conservation. Kaufman also notes pioneering leaders like Aldo Leopold and Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day in 1970.

    The Capital Times made similar references in a story pegged to Earth Day 2013. Earth Day 2014 is April 22.

    For those who have followed the Wisconsin mining fight closely, Kaufman doesn’t break any new ground but does a good job weaving the story together. He details how mining interests have contributed $15 million to Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators to grease the skids for what could be the largest open-pit iron ore mine in the world.

    “Wisconsin’s admirable history of environmental stewardship is under attack,” Kaufman maintains.

    For Kaufman, the main issue centers on the impact of the proposed mine on the surrounding streams and wetlands. The area rests entirely within the watershed of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater source in North America.

    Kaufman recalls a speech by President John F. Kennedy delivered in Ashland 1963 where he lauded the region as “a central and significant portion of the freshwater assets of this country.” He notes how Walker was seemingly unmoved by the JFK speech when it was played for him by Mike Wiggins Jr., the chairman of the Bad River Chippewa tribe and the mine’s leading opponent.

    The New York Times piece also contrasts the difference between the native people and supporters of Gogebic Taconite, the company owned by coal mining magnate Chris Cline that has promised up to 700 new jobs from the project.

    “In the Chippewa tradition, a decision is made based on how it will affect people seven generations forward. By contrast, the company’s optimistic estimate for the life span of the first phase of the mine is 35 years,” Kaufman writes.

    Voters in Iron County where part of the mine would be located are getting a taste of the national spotlight as well, with reports that the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity has paid for negative campaign mailings against local candidates viewed as against the mine project.

    Steven Verburg of the Wisconsin State Journal reported that story last week.

    Read more:

  • commented on The Bush Torture Years 2014-08-14 15:54:38 -0500
    Thanks, Joan, we don’t think about such things, do we?

  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    This letter was submitted to the DeForest Times-Tribune newspaper as a letter-to-the-editor on March 29, 2014.

    Dear Editor:

    On March 22nd I attended a lecture on health care reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the Wisconsin Grassroots Network Festival in Mazomanie.  Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin reported that the ACA is succeeding, contrary to what one hears on right wing talk radio and TV.  Mr. Kraig said that research shows that most people approve of the component parts of the ACA, even though a majority disapproves of the ACA when it is disparagingly presented as "obamacare."  People seem to approve of health care reform that creates standards and outlaws abuses in the health care industry.  Interestingly, two single payer health care systems -- Medicare and the Veterans Administration -- have proven to be the most efficient health care systems in the country.

    Wisconsin has not taken advantage of the new reforms.  By refusing the offers from the federal government to expand Medicaid, Wisconsin winds up paying more for health care while covering fewer people.  What foolishness. 

    Wisconsin state government does not do well regulating the "medical loss ratio," which is the difference between the amount of money spent on care versus the amount spent on administration, advertising, and other non-care costs in the for-profit system.  The ACA regulates that ratio to make sure more of our health care dollars go into care provision than go into non-care costs.  In Minnesota, where the state has challenged health insurance companies when they apply for premium rate increases, insurance rates have dropped by 35 percent.  By contrast, Wisconsin state government has not challenged a single company rate increase, and our insurance rates are much higher.

    Congress has been criticized for causing many insurance companies to cancel policies.  The truth of that matter is that most of those canceled policies were substandard -- did not meet the standards of the ACA -- and many were the equivalent of "snake oil," that is, the companies that sold them to people were cheating their customers by selling them substandard policies.  The standards set by the Affordable Care Act ended those practices.

    The fact of the matter is that in the U.S. those who can afford it get very good health care.  The problems arise when we look at the cost of that care, the accessibility to it (or not), and the discrimination against certain classes of people that makes our system inferior to better organized systems in other countries.  The ACA moves us closer to a more equitable and accessible system.

    Let us hope that Wisconsin embraces the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act better in the future, so that we may benefit from the advantages and advances it offers us.


    John Scepanski


  • DeForest Area Progressives meeting notes March 24, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting notes

    March 24, 2014

    Next meeting: Monday, March 31, 2014, at Isabel's, 816 South Street, DeForest, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

    There were seven people at the March 24th meeting.  Chair Marcia passed out a printed agenda for the meeting!

    Thank yous were passed all around for attendance and work done by DAP-pers on the Wisconsin Grassroots Network Festival last Saturday, the 22nd.  The DAP presence and contribution were notable.  Also true of the Mike McCabe presentation at the DeForest Library.  Karen reported that those staffing the table at the WGN Fest sold 27 bumper stickers (18 "Vote Burke Not the Jerk" and 9 "Want to Work Vote for Burke") and 54 two and a quarter inch buttons and 3 three inch buttons.  There was $95 in the bag at the end of the day, although there should have been $111.  It was a lesson in watching both the inventory and the cash box more carefully at future events.  There was lots of video taken at the Fest, especially of George Lakoff's presentations, and it will be available on Youtube.

    We went over leafleting and other plans to promote the two referendums on the DeForest and Windsor ballots April 1st

    Marcia expounded on the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).  Both she and Karen have attended some of the CELDF training.  She asked all of us to review the CELDF web page to get familiar with it and to try to decide what, if anything, we want to pursue along those lines.  Do we want to pursue CELDF projects locally in Wisconsin, as has been done successfully in other states?  What do we want to do as DAP?  CELDF has lawyers who will help local communities to develop and pass "Declarations of Community Rights," which will help to resist outside forces such as mining corporations from pushing locals around.  Further discussion on this topic will take place at future DAP meetings.

    John Stanley reported on a number of contacts he has made and other issues and questions that came up in regard to the WGN Fest.

    DON'T FORGET TO VOTE TUESDAY.  See you Monday!

                                                               John Scepanski

  • DAP meeting notes for March 17, 2014

    DeForest Area Progressives

    Meeting Notes

    March 17, 2014

    Next meeting: Monday, March 24, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Isabel's, 816 South Street, DeForest

    There were 14 people present at the March 17th meeting.  Good turnout!

    Terri Treinen joined us for the first hour.  Terri is running for DeForest Area School Board.  She is a 1988 graduate of DeForestHigh School.  She has her MBA from Edgewood.  Three years ago she became interested in the school district when the discussions were going on about administrators' raises.  She has a child in attendance in the district.  She feels the current school board is too remote.  She does not care too much for the "policy governance" method of doing board business.  If elected, she will be more engaged and "in the buildings" of the schools, as the current board has not been.  She feels the jury is still out on Common Core.  She feels that the budget cuts of the last few years at the state level are having a negative impact, although DASD is not as impacted as other districts.  She thinks the board needs more give and take with the public, and she is appalled at the poor public attendance at school board meetings.  There is no video of the meetings, and meeting minutes are vague and uninformative.  Terri does not like the elimination of elementary school librarians and reading specialists.  There are two reading specialists in the district now, but we need more, as reading is of utmost importance. We talked of many other subjects.  All of those in attendance seemed very impressed with Terri Treinen and some volunteered to work for her election.

    We discussed activities afoot to promote the passage of "YES" votes on the two referendums on the ballot April 1st to get money out of politics (or at least to lessen its influence).  Signs are going up.  A lit drop is in the works.  We had decent attendance at the Mike McCabe presentation, along with coverage by Lauren Anderson of the local news media, the DeForest Times-Tribune.  At least two and maybe more DAP members will be out on the curbs holding up "VOTE YES" signs the day of voting.

    DAP has a significant role in the Wisconsin Grassroots Network's 6th Annual Festival this Saturday at WisconsinHeightsHigh School in Mazomanie.  We will have our DAP publicity table, kindly furnished and paid for by Frank D.  Several of us will be facilitating breakout sessions.  Special thanks to Marcia for pushing us all to get acquainted with George Lakoff's writings, as George will be the featured keynote speaker.

    Marcia reported on the CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) training she attended recently.  CELDF teaches communities -- towns and villages -- how to defend themselves against large corporate takeovers of their local resources.  We are no longer the targets of concern by our state legislatures.  Corporations are.  Many communities around the country are formulating and passing their very own bills of rights (for example, the rights to clean air and clean water).  CELDF helps those communities pass ordinances that can help them to defend against corporate exploitation.  We will hear more on this at future meetings.  In the meantime, do a computer search for CELDF and peruse their website.

    Ginny reported on the George Ferriter gathering in Cambria last weekend, where George announced his candidacy for Wisconsin's 42nd Assembly District rep against Keith Ripp, whom some of us have been trying to unseat for several elections now.  Five or six DAP-pers were in attendance, and a good time was had by all.  Work for George, vote for George!

    Janet mentioned in brief her work with OFA in preparation for the Mary Burke campaign against Scott Walker for governor.

    Come to the WGN Festival tomorrow, and come to the next DAP meeting Monday.

                                        Solidarity Forever!




  • published Encouraging memo from DPW in Progressive Partners Blog 2014-03-13 16:54:23 -0500

    Encouraging memo from DPW

    John --

    The latest national poll numbers out yesterday from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports show that support for Scott Walker is slipping: Walker is now tied with Democratic challenger Mary Burke at 45%.
    This is the biggest signal yet that the work we’re doing across the state is breaking through and reaching Wisconsin voters.
    With eight months to go, and momentum clearly on our side, we can really swing this election in favor of progressive values.
    It’s anyone’s guess whether Walker’s numbers have slipped based solely on his abysmal track record on jobs and the economy or if what little is known about his involvement in criminal activity that sent four of his top aides to jail has moved the dial for Wisconsin voters.
    In any case, the Republican Governors Association (Walker’s fellow targets in a second, ongoing criminal corruption probe) is all in with millions of dollars in TV ads attacking Mary Burke’s record in an attempt to change the conversation.
    We’ll never match that kind of cash, but the poll numbers prove that when we all pitch in what we can when we can, we can make a big difference. Keep the momentum going by chipping in today:

  • Move to Amend LTE submitted 2/21/14

    Dear Editor:

    We have to fight for campaign finance reform, again.  Big money has taken over on both sides of the political spectrum: transnational corporations, individual billionaires, big labor unions.  Both sides of the political spectrum are obsessed with building big money political action committees and other associations to collect big bucks to spend on election campaigns and issue advertising.  Elected officials these days spend more of their time fundraising than they do on our public business.

    Unfortunately, our Wisconsin Assembly voted two weeks ago against Assembly Joint Resolution 50, an advisory referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court's bad Citizens United decision.  AJR 50 was a resolution that would reduce the influence of big money on politics.  A similar resolution was just introduced in the Wisconsin Senate.  We will see how it fares there.

    One topical area that has not received much attention yet is the fact that foreign citizens and nations are using the Citizens United decision to pour money into influencing ourU.S. elections.  Keep an eye out in the news for reports about this new outside influence.

    What can we do?  According to The Capital Times (2/12/14), "Wisconsin's Money Out, Voters In coalition recently submitted close to 25,000 signatures on petitions calling for Wisconsin to join 16 other states in calling on Congress to approve a constitutional amendment that would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC -- which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy elections -- and restore the right of citizens and their elected representatives to regulate the influence of money in politics./  United Wisconsin and the dozens of other groups in the Money Out, Voters In coalition want the Legislature to place a statewide advisory referendum on the November 2014 general election ballot.  [State Representative] Taylor and state Sen. David Hansen...have submitted legislation to do just that."                       The Capital Times, 2/12/14)

    What can we little guys do about this?  One thing you and I can do is VOTE YES on the two referendums that will appear on the local Windsor, DeForest, and Waunakee ballots at this April's elections.  The referendums ask our village and town boards to ask our United States Congressional representatives to support Constitutional amendments that declare that corporations are not the same as human beings and that spending money to influence elections is not the same as the free speech guaranteed us human beings in our Bill of Rights.  Those Constitutional amendments will return to us citizens and taxpayers the right to regulate big money in politics.  It will give us back our right to campaign finance reform.

    VOTE YES on the referendums.  Do your bit to lessen the influence of big money on politics.  On March 12th, there will be a forum at the DeForest Library on this topic.  The main guest speaker will be Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  Look for the announcement in the Times-Tribune's Community Calendar under DeForest Area Progressives.


    John Scepanski


  • donated 2014-01-30 16:05:15 -0600

  • Governor Walker's State of the State Speech

    In case you missed this:

    ...just two sentences in to Scott Walker’s preview of the State of the State address...we’ve already counted four [items of misinformation].

     “The state of our state is strong and improving every day.  The economy is dramatically better and our finances are in great shape.”

    1. “The state of our state is strong” – Nope. We’re 37th in the nation in job creation and 70 percent of Wisconsinites say their personal financial situation has stayed the same or gotten worse since Scott Walker took office. [1]
    2. “Improving every day” – Wrong again. Ranking 45th in the nation in projected job growth and 48th in new business start-ups isn’t a sign of improvement. [2]
    3. “The economy is dramatically better” – Compared to what? Not our neighbors in the Midwest and most of the rest of the nation. Wisconsin is growing jobs at just half the national averageand two-thirds of the state says our economy won’t get better in the next year. [3]
    4. “Our finances are in great shape” – Under Scott Walker Wisconsin’s debt level has risen to an all-time high of more than $14 billion and his new tax plan adds another $100 million to our structural deficit. [4]

     Seriously, if these first two sentences are any indication, the WisDems Truth Team has a long night ahead of us. And an even longer nine and a half months til Election Day. 

     The WisDems Truth Team


    [1] United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, MarquetteLawSchool Poll

    [2] Forbes Magazine, The Kauffman Foundation

    [3] United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, MarquetteLawSchool Poll

    [4] Legislative Fiscal Bureau

  • Notes from January 20, 2014, meeting

    DeForest Area Progressives (DAP)

    Meeting notes for January 20, 2014



    1. Monday's meeting, January 27th, will be at the "Maureen McCarville for DaneCounty Board" fundraiser at Dawn Fish's house, 6822 Valiant Drive, Windsor.  Special guest is Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  Bring your checkbook.  It is estimated that these days it costs around $10,000 to run a successful campaign for DaneCounty Board.  The affair is scheduled from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. with the DAP meeting to follow until 8:00. 
    2. This Saturday, January 25th, DAP is hosting the quarterly meeting of Progressive Partners at the DMB Windsor Neighborhood Center, 4438 Windsor Road, Windsor from 9:30 a.m. (registration 9:30 - 10:00) to 2:00 p.m.  Helpers are needed at 8:00 a.m. to set up tables & chairs, etc., as well as clean-up after 2:00.


    There were 7 people present at January 20th's meeting of DAP.


    We reviewed responsibilities for next Saturday's meeting of Progressive Partners at the DMBWindsorNeighborhoodCenter.  I you are coming, don't forget to bring something to share at the potluck noontime luncheon.  The program will feature Marcia Riquelme's workshop on messaging the Lakoff way through framing language.


    At our meeting this evening was a special guest, Mike Basford, Chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County.  Mike shared a pot load of information with us, only a fragment of which I share with you below.


    Maureen McCarville has two challengers in her run for re-election to the DaneCounty Board, thus necessitating a primary in February.  There are only seven contested races this year for CountyBoard.  The large majority of progressive board members is not being taken for granted, and the party is putting resources into all of the races to win them and retain the big progressive majority.  Much work has been put into the effort to obtain that majority by Mike and others in the county party structure.  They have worked also to elect local board members to school boards, town boards, and village and city boards.  Mike took note of the fact that there are only two incumbents running for three seats on the DeForest Village Board.


    In regard to the last sentence immediately above, John Scepanski erred last meeting in putting his name up as a wrote-in candidate for that DeForest Village Board seat. Please DO NOT write John's name in for that position.  He cannot accept the call.


    Mike noted that the successes in electing progressives over the past few years have resulted in much good, progressive legislation being enacted by boards in DaneCounty, especially the DaneCounty Board.  Mike described the legislative atmosphere in the State Capitol as "war."  Much ultra-conservative legislation is being passed.


    Regarding this fall's elections, Mike said, "I think we have an excellent opportunity to retire Scott Walker."  Mary Burke is working tirelessly already in all counties to do that.  Mike described her style of campaign to be like that of Tammy Baldwin in her successful campaign to win the U.S. Senate seat; that is, Mary is meeting all over the state with all sizes of groups from all sectors of all communities to get herself and her policies known..  Mary Burke will be at the February 12th meeting of the Democratic Party of Dane County.  All are encouraged to attend.  Responding to questions from Liz, Mike listed some of Mary Burke's asserts:

    • her business background
    • her understanding of struggling peoples' needs that the GOP does not seem to fathom
    • her acceptance among minorities and people of color
    • her knowledge of how to manage teams to get things done.


    Mike noted the tremendous assets that Kathleen Vinehout brings to the legislature and sees a bright future for her, maybe running for Ron Kind's position in the U.S. Congress, as Kind has said he might run for U.S. Senate.


    Other discussion included campaign financing, environmental stewardship, the state Dem Party of Wisconsin's "Red to Blue" strategy to win back some of the seats in the "red" zones of Wisconsin, and a book recommendation, The Hero's Workbook.


    Frank Dederich said that he, Dawn and Terry Fish erected three signs over the weekend.  Way to go, guys!




    John Scepanski