John Scepanski 519.80pc

John Scepanski

John Scepanski's activity stream


  • July 8th meeting & other notes FYI

    DeForest Area Progressives

    July 8, 2013 meeting

    John's notes

     

    There were only six of us present, somewhat disappointing but it's summer, what the hey.  As you know, the July 15th meeting was a field trip to Baraboo to meet with folks there who are opposing frac sand mining in Sauk County.  July 16th will be a follow-up field trip to the Sauk County Board meeting to show solidarity with our friends who are testifying on the subject.  Back to the 8th meeting...

     

    John Scepanski reported that the DAP treasury has $537 dollars in it.  Ten dollars was spent in July to register our float in the DeForest 4th of July parade.

     

    The big project on the table right now is the July 20th sandstone mining informational conference this Saturday.  Go to www.WisconsinGrassroots.net and check the calendar for details.  Don't forget to RSVP if you are going.  We discussed the finalization of the poster and the sale of tickets for the WGN t-shirt raffle.  Speakers have all been confirmed.  We had a long discussion on what the speakers are gong to say.  Related things we talked about were tours of the sand mining areas: who wants to go? who can drive? who has video cameras with zoom lenses?  Does anybody know a pilot or anyone with an airplane to fly over the mine pits?  After the July 20th event, we will be writing letters to the editor and to county and town officials.

     

    Alan Harvey, attorney and former Windsor Town Chair, should receive a special invitation to the July 20th sand mining event, as he has special professional expertise in the legalities of the issue.  (John did contact Alan, and he could not make it due to a family conflict but he expressed interest in participating in the future.)

     

    There is an organization called CELDEF (or CELDF) -- CELDEF.org -- that advocates for local ordinances protecting local peoples' rights against outside influences like mining companies.  The ordinances require outside agencies to prove why their proposals are good, rather than the local peoples' having to prove why the companies' proposals are bad.  It puts the power into the hands of the local residents.

     

    Mary Sanderson was at the meeting to sign people up for the Dane County Time Bank.  She particularly asked about the students in Marcia's DAP Spanish class.

     

    We discussed movie night, August 5th, and social night, August 3rd.

     

    We discussed the Palermo's strike support project and how much further we want to get involved and in what ways.

     

    Ginny reported on the 4th of July parade and our float in it. It was a big success.  She was the star, as she rode the back of the pickup in costume, watering flowers as a symbol of "Growing Democracy," our theme this year.  Dan McClain and his daughter, Edy, walked behind, tossing candy, waving, and grinning.  Pictures are being shared.  GROW in Waunakee is borrowing our "Growing Democracy" banners from the float to use at Waun-a-fest on July 28th.  Thanks to Nate Timm for driving his pickup and John Stanley for riding shotgun.

     

    There will be a sign painting workshop July 13th.  WGN wants DAP to be a hub for the statewide sign posting project.  There might be a money making opportunity in it.

     

    Ron Wolfe of GROW in Waunakee requests two volunteers for a committee or forum on possible governors' candidates.  John-ski volunteered and Ginny might be interested too.

     

    We discussed other former DAP active members whom we haven’t seen for awhile, and we talked about some sort of recruiting drive and fundraising.

     

    John Stanley asserted that we should have an event of our own, not just tag onto others' events.  John has been an advocate in the past for some sort of a bazaar or something like that.

     

     


  • published A Saga from North Carolina in Opinion Blog 2013-06-25 11:46:44 -0500

  • published Alternative American History in Opinion Blog 2013-06-18 13:43:00 -0500

    Alternative American History

    This is a version of an email I sent to a small group of friends that includes some quite vehement libertarians and a nutty tea partier or two, as well as at least one progressive supporter.  (smiley face here)
     
    One thing I think I detect that separates liberals from conservatives in our country is that liberals acknowledge the reality of some of the nastier things to be found in an honest perusal of U.S. history, to wit:
     

    1. Racism and bigotry
    2. Tribalism
    3. Aggressive wars
    4. Genocide
    5. Slavery
    6. Wide disparity between the rich and the poor
    7. Discrimination in the workplace, schools, and in the community
    8. Xenophobia and isolationism
    9. American arrogance
    10. Special privileges for the rich
    11. Tyranny of the majority
    12. Cover-ups and propaganda
    13. Intrusion of government into the sexual lives of consenting adults
    14. Welfare for the wealthy and privileged

    This list was paired with another list of positive U.S. values in an essay I found by searching "traditional American values" on the internet.  Here is the list the author of that essay offered by contrast as good, conservative American values:

    1. Belief in the god of the Bible, regular church attendance

    2. Sex permitted only within the confines of heterosexual marriage

    3. Hard work and sacrifice
    4. Ambition
    5. Capitalism and free-market competition
    6. Frequent and open displays of patriotism
    7. Generosity toward the disadvantaged
    8. Democracy
    9. Honesty
    10. Importance of family

    There are probably other items that could be put on both lists.  And, of course, not all conservatives sweep the bad realities of American history under the rug.  Liberals, though, are more apt to recognize and acknowledge the imperfections in the American character as revealed in a realistic study of American history.  I strongly urge you all to read Howard Zinn's, A Peoples' History of the United States.  It is a classic and a must-read for all serious liberals (progressives) like me.  If you want to know what I am talking about, read that book or at least dip into it here and there.  It is the history that "they" do not want you to read who want you to think in only idealistic, rosy pipe dreams about where we came from and the fine things on the "good" list.

    As my brother the libertarian has pointed out to some of you, I was more or less conservative in most things until I began to read some of the alternatives like Zinn and especially some things about the history of the labor movement in the USA and now the "occupy" movements around the world.  I also highly recommend The Occupy Handbook, edited by Janet Byrne, for an understanding of current liberal thinking expressed in numerous essays by numerous authors.  Of course, there is always Noam Chomsky too, although his name lights a fire for some of you, I know.

    I dare you to try some study outside your comfort zones.  For those who do not read much, maybe you can get it on DVD :-) .  Come to think about it, there are some good sources on DVD too: The Grapes of Wrath, or how about that movie with Kris Kristofferson, Heaven's Gate, about the Johnson County war of 1892 in Wyoming.  Do a search on the Johnson County War for some interesting history and how that bit of history influenced Hollywood and American mythology.

    Anyhowever, that's it for me for now.  Hasta la vista.  That's until next time for those of you who do not speak America's second language (thus speaks the provocateur :-).

                                       Juanito


  • published "Somethin's happenin' here ... " in Opinion Blog 2013-06-14 16:21:10 -0500

    "Somethin's happenin' here ... "

    Taksim and the Left

    By: Kemal Derviş

     

    The small park in Taksim Square in the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul is one of the few green spaces left in the city center. On May 28, a handful of Turkish environmentalists started a peaceful protest against a redevelopment plan for the park that would replace the greenery with a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks, a shopping mall, and apartments. But heavy-handed police repression launched a massive civic movement that has spread to the entire country.
     
    The redevelopment plan for the park triggered a huge protest against what a large segment of the Turkish public, particularly young people, considers paternalistic and authoritarian political leadership. The movement’s rapid growth was fueled by widespread opposition to what many regard as official efforts to regiment lifestyles, as well as by frustration over perceived economic inequities.
     
    Indeed, though environmentalists and secular youth spearheaded the protest movement, it became remarkably diverse and inclusive almost overnight. Pious Muslims – particularly those who believe that Turkey’s urban development has created too much rent-seeking and too many easy fortunes – joined the demonstrations as well, as did some far-left groups.
     
    Some of the protests became violent. Overall, however, the movement has remained peaceful and even joyous. Moreover, important figures in or close to the ruling Justice and Development Party expressed their willingness to hold a dialogue with the protesters. President Abdullah Gül, in particular, played a calming, statesmanlike role.
     
    A striking feature of the protests has been the distance that the demonstrators have put between themselves and existing political parties, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the largest force in the center-left secular opposition. In this sense, the Taksim “sit-in” resembles protests elsewhere, particularly in the advanced democracies, from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement to the protests in Spain and Italy.
     
    To be sure, there are country-specific features to such protests – including, in Turkey’s case, the reaction against lifestyle paternalism. But social democrats must understand why the protests developed quite independently of existing, organized, center-left politics. Without such realism, the center left in Europe and the emerging world cannot regain political momentum.
     
    Modern production systems, in which information technology plays an increasingly crucial role, are totally different from the large factory floors that characterized the birth of trade unionism and social democracy. The way much of GDP is now produced has made it significantly harder for the left to organize in traditional ways. That has weakened center-left parties.
     
    Yet information technology and global social media have empowered people to overcome social fragmentation along occupational, residential, and national lines. On some recent days, posts about Taksim Square have reportedly occupied a huge part of the entire world’s “Tweet space.”
     
    In this corner of cyberspace, there is, of course, everything under the sun, including calls for the worst sort of sectarianism. Nonetheless, what dominates is a desire for individual freedom, an acceptance of diversity, great concern for the environment, and a refusal to be “organized” from above. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP’s reformist leader, quickly recognized these dynamics: “The demonstrators don’t want us on the front lines,” he said, “and we have much to learn from these events.”
     
    And yet, while civil society can be a trigger, sooner or later democratic politics has to drive the process of change. Whether in New York, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Istanbul, or New Delhi, a feeling of unease and a desire for change has emerged in societies that are becoming increasingly unequal, and in which politics and business mix in non-transparent ways. Rising youth unemployment and cuts in pensions and social expenditures come at a time when many large multinational corporations legally avoid taxes by shifting their profits to favorable jurisdictions. In the eurozone, stock prices are soaring, while joblessness is at a record-high 12.2%.
     
    The democratic opposition can address the flaws of the existing order only if it recognizes the need for very different forms of mobilization from those of the past. It must recognize a strong popular desire for individual autonomy, more leadership positions for women and the young, and greater support for individual enterprise (along with reforms of social insurance that make it cost-effective and truly inclusive).
     
    Finally, the environment, climate change, and global solidarity will be defining themes of the twenty-first century. Acting on their own, nation-states can successfully address neither tax avoidance nor carbon emissions. The renewed patriotism seen in many places  – a response to the unfairness and dislocation that globalization can generate – must be reconciled with human solidarity, respect for diversity, and the ability to work across national borders. The success of Germany’s Green Party reflects the focus that it has placed on many of these issues.
     
    The events that started in Taksim Square are specific to Turkey, but they mirror aspirations that are universal. The same can be said for the challenge facing the democratic left.

  • published NSA in Opinion Blog 2013-06-14 11:18:53 -0500

    NSA

    Want to get an idea of how serious this NSA gobbledegook is?  Here's one good article:

    http://www.wired/threatlevel/2013/06/general-keith-alexander-cyberwar/all/


  • commented on Cartoon Magic 2013-06-10 16:18:39 -0500
    They think they’re foolin’ somene, Karen. Hah!

  • published DAP meeting notes in DeForest Area Progressives Blog 2013-06-06 16:47:00 -0500

    DAP meeting notes

     DeForest Area Progressives meeting, June 3, 2013, John Scepanski's notes

     

    We met at the usual time and place: 6:00-8:00 p.m. every Monday, 6616 Lake Road.

     

    Most of the meeting was taken up by reports of members on their activities:

     

    • road trip to Black River Falls conference on frac sandstone mining; new information, new friends, Marcia established relationship with Ho Chunk reps and got them interested in Wisconsin Grassroots Network
    • Marcia attended a meeting in Lodi with Columbia County Democrats.  John Sc. said he would have gone too but had a conflict.  We have some good friends and connections with the Columbia County Dems.
    • Lois, John Sc., and Liz participated in a listening session in Waterloo with Rep. John Jagler and Senator Scott Fitzgerald
    • Liz and Karen attended a Dane County Board meeting on the subject of
      Badger Care
    • Ginny, Leonardo, Karen, and John Sc. testified at a Windsor Town Planning Commission meeting on the subject of a proposed change in quarry blasting regulations.  We used the opportunity to educate the commission members on mining regulation in Wisconsin.  Note that there is much of the type of sand used for fracking within Dane County, so DAP territory is not immune to frac sandstone mining, hill and bluff removal, either.
    • attendance at a Wisconsin Association for Peace and Justice get-together in Eau Claire
    • Several of us attended the film festival in Whitehall in Trempealeau County and toured some of the sandstone mining sites upon several occasions

     

    John Stanley reported on his activity with the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, setting up the July 20th sandstone mining educational event at MATC in Madison.  Save that date.  Unfortunately, that same date is the day of the next quarterly Progressive Partners (of the Wisconsin 2nd Congressional District) quarterly meeting in Fitchburg.  John Sc. volunteered to attend the Progressive Partners event that day, in order too show solidarity.  Most other DAP regulars will be working on the sandstone educational event with John St.

     

    Several of us will be attending the Wis. Dem Convention this weekend, June 7-8, in Oconomowoc.  John Sc. is a delegate from Dane County and will be working closely with attendees from the Wisconsin Grassroots Network.

     

    We have reserved a spot in the DeForest Fourth of July Parade.  Does anyone have access to a pickup truck or a car with a trailer?  Please let one of the regulars know or come to the next Monday night meeting.

     

    Karen Edson reported, too, on various legislative actions and her growing correspondence with Wis. Rep. Keith Ripp.  Stay tuned on that!

     

    Marcia is creating a database and email list of DAP members and associates.  She will report more on that later.

     

    Much is going on as well with the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, in which several members of DAP are actively involved.  Go to www.Grassroots.net for much information on WGN.

     

    Lois is going to Guatemala for a visit during the week of July 8th.  She will report back to us all on topics of interest upon her return.

     

    As you can see, much is going on with DAP.  Besides the usual dozen or so regulars, where are the rest of you?

     

    John Scepanski


  • published J. Stiglitz, THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY in Opinion Blog 2013-06-04 14:41:21 -0500

    J. Stiglitz, THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY

    Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (2013)

    Not just in the United States but around the world as well, there is mounting concern about the increase in inequality and about the lack of opportunity, and how these twin trends are changing our economies, our democratic politics, and our societies.

    ===========

    ...the magnitude of the student loan crisis...

    ...their sense of disillusionment, of hopelessness, was sobering and sad...  Their bitterness ...

    ====================

    Perhaps the statistics that most resonated as I met with groups from coast to coast...were those relating to lack of opportunity in America.  Both those in America and those abroad had simply assumed that America was the land of opportunity. ... But it was obvious that we weren't.

     ============

     ...the incomes of ordinary Americans keep shrinking.

     ...the combined consequences of persistent inequality, of a deficient safety net, and of growing austerity are increasingly felt.

    ===============

    These disturbing trends in income and wealth inequality were outdone by even more disturbing evidence about inequalities in health.  ...for the poorest group of Americans there has been no progress, and for poor women life expectancy has actually been declining.

    Decreases in income and decline in standards of living are often accompanied by a multitude of social manifestations -- malnutrition, drug abuse, and deterioration in family life, all of which take a toll on health and life expectancy.

    ====================

    The Inequality "Debate"

    ...increased economic insecurity.  It was equally hard to deny that the United States was no longer the land of opportunity portrayed by Horatio Alger stories of "rags to riches." 

     

    ...much of America's concentration of wealth at the top was the result of rent seeking -- including monopoly profits and the excessive compensation of some CEOs and, especially, that of the financial sector.

    ...markets don't exist in a vacuum.  They are shaped by our politics, often in ways that benefit those at the top.

    Most heartening to me was the fact that even more conservative publications joined the discussion ... the Economist highlighted the extent of the increase in inequality and the reduction in opportunity, and agreed with most of our diagnosis and many of our prescriptions.  ...the Economist concluded, in particular, that "inequality has reached a stage where it can be inefficient and bad for growth."  Sharing our concern about the lack of opportunity in the United States, the report cites ... Not surprisingly, the Economist's recommendations began with an "attack on monopolies and vested interests" and then moved on to ways of improving economic mobility, where the "target should be pre-school education, as well as more retraining for the jobless."  It even recognized the need for more progressive taxation, including "Narrowing the gap between tax rates on wages and capital income....

    =============

    ...the American economy has not been delivering for most Americans

    Any economic agenda focusing on the middle class is, by its nature, an agenda centered on shared prosperity; and that means halting and reversing the trend of growing inequality.

    =====================

    An efficient system of social protection is an important part of any modern society.  The market failed to provide adequate insurance, for instance, for unemployment or disability.  So the government stepped in.

    ============

    What [Cornel] West was hinting at, I think, is that the real solution to the inequality crisis lies in focusing on community rather than simply self-interest -- both community as a means to prosperity and as a goal in its own right. ... If our economic system leads to so many people without jobs, or with jobs that do not pay a livable wage, dependent on the government for food, it means that our economic system has not worked in the way it should, and then the government has to step in.

    We do have a divided society.  But the division is not, as Romney has suggested, between freeloaders and the rest.  Rather it is between those (including many members of the 1 percent) who see America as a community and recognize that the only way to achieve sustained prosperity is to have shared prosperity....

    Even if it were true that 47 percent of the population are freeloaders, it would mean that something is wrong with our society.  Every society will have some rotten apples, but most individuals intrinsically want to make a contribution to their communities, to have a meaningful job; they want "decent work."  But if a country doesn’t give a large proportion of the population the education that they need to earn a decent living, if employers don't pay workers a decent wage, if a society provides so little opportunity that many people become alienated and demotivated, then that society and its economy won't work well.


  • Mning Resoutions at State Dem Convention

    Since many DeForest Area Progressives have a deep interest in the mining issues as they play out in Wisconsin, I thought you'd be interested in the mining-related resolutions to be considered at this weekend's Wisconsin Democratic Party convention.  Inside the parentheses are the congressional district Dems who sponsored the resolution.  "Adopt" means that the DPW committee on resolutions recommended a vote by delegates to adopt the resolution.        John

     

    RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS

     

    13-AGE-01: SUPPORT RESPONSIBLE MINING LEGISLATION (1ST,, 2ND 3RD, AND 8TH CDS , 88WORDS); ADOPT

    WHEREAS, Wisconsin has a beautiful environment with clean air, water, and other natural resources;

    WHEREAS, many of Wisconsin’s natural resources are not renewable if destroyed or contaminated;

    WHEREAS, protection of our ground and surface water is a state public trust responsibility; and,

    WHEREAS, new mining methods have been developed that could potentially endanger those natural resources that factor in to Wisconsin’s quality of life;

    THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW will not support modifications to legislation for existing mines or creation of new mines that may jeopardize Wisconsin’s natural resources.  

     

    13-AGE-02: CITIZEN PROTECTIONS FROM INDUSTRIAL FRAC SAND MINING (3RD CD, 82WORDS); ADOPT

    WHEREAS, there is a massive land grab by the Wisconsin sand mining industry;

    WHEREAS, frac sand mines, processing plants, and transportation facilities generate huge clouds of silica dust, which causes health hazards, while putting drinking water at risk; and,

    WHEREAS, many citizens and communities have serious concerns about industrial frac sand mining adversely affecting their health, safety and general welfare;

    THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW supports state legislation to protect property owners, buyers, and neighbors with required permits, and strong public health protections.

     

    13-AGE-03: NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS AS RELATED TO MINING (7TH CD, 85WORDS); ADOPT

    WHEREAS, the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly passed on straight party line votes mining bill SB1;

    WHEREAS, Governor Scott Walker signed SB1 despite the opposition of a majority of Wisconsin citizens; and,

    WHEREAS, neither the Governor nor the committee chairs consulted with Native American Leaders as required by the treaties of 1837, 1842, and 1854, in violation of the tribes’ Constitutional rights;

    THEREFORE, RESOLVED, that the DPW support the Wisconsin Native tribes in their fight to prevent construction of the Gogebic Taconite Mine.

     

    13-AGE-04: MINING BILL (8TH CD, 79WORDS); ADOPT

    WHEREAS, the Mining Bill recently passed by the Wisconsin Legislature fails to protect Wisconsin jobs, local government interests, the environment and ignores the sovereignty of our Native American brothers and sisters; and,

    WHEREAS, the bill was passed with votes of legislatures (sic) who voted against their constituents wishes;

    THEREFORE, RESOLVED, that the DPW opposes this legislation and any startup construction until it is amended to include the interests of all affected by the building of any mine in this state.


  • July 2013 Quarterly Meeting & Picnic

    Hello Partners!
     
    We now have a date and location for our meeting and picnic.
     
    It will be July 20 from 9:30 to 3:00 in Fitchburg at Swan Creek Park shelter, 5175 E. Cheryl Pkwy.
     
    This link gives you a map to orient yourself for directions: http://mapq.st/131f6Xh.
     
    It is not as secluded as McGaw Park but is newer, has cleaner tables, more space in the shelter, and has an additional picnic table. Parking is along Crinkle Root Drive which is right by the shelter.
     
     
    The agenda will be out by the beginning of July.

  • published New Recommended Books in Opinion Blog 2013-06-04 11:52:43 -0500

    New Recommended Books

    Stiglitz, Joseph E.  The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future.  New York, 2013.

    Amazon blurb:

    A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist.

    America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. ...exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. ...examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.

    =====================================================================

     Byrne, Janet, ed.  The Occupy Handbook.  New York, 2012.

     Amazon blurb:

    Analyzing the movement's deep-seated origins..., some of the greatest economic minds and most incisive cultural commentators - [e.g.] Paul Krugman, Robin Wells, Michael Lewis, Robert Reich, Amy Goodman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Gillian Tett, Scott Turow, Bethany McLean, Brandon Adams, and Tyler Cowen ...- capture the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon in all its ragged glory...considering the lasting changes wrought, and recommending reform. ...THE OCCUPY HANDBOOK is a talked-about source for understanding why 1% of the people in America take almost a quarter of the nation's income and the long-term effects of a protest movement....

     =====================================================================

    Chomsky, Noam.  Occupy.  Brooklyn, New YHork, 2012.

    From reviews at Amazon:

    "Occupy" is a selection of speeches...made by veteran radical Noam Chomsky at Occupy events in the U.S. late last year.  The speeches are a mixture of Chomsky putting events into context, an extremely brief history of the Neoliberal era (the "Thirty Years of Class War"...), a eulogy for the late Howard Zinn (of A People's History of the United States fame) and some reluctant but spot on advice ... and makes interesting reading even for those to whom it is not directly relevant.

    ...  While [the book] is rather short (about 120 pages), I think it's a worthwhile purchase for a few different reasons.  One: ...some fresh perspective on Howard Zinn! ... Agree or disagree with Chomsky; the fact is that you still are getting a fresh approach on one of the most beloved historians of our time.  Two: ...delivers a relevant argument for the need of 'Occupy' and movements similar to it. ...

    ... An interesting book for readers wishing to learn more about Occupy as well as the protests across Europe and the uprisings in the Arab World....

    ... This pamphlet can easily be the guide that occupiers, professors, activists and those seeking change can use to constantly navigate the uncharted territory. "Noam Chomsky Occupy" offers perspective and strategic vision.

    =====================================================================

    Couper, David C.  Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption ''and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation's Police.  Indianapolis, 2011.

    Amazon blurbs:

    Repression of protest. Racial profiling. Excessive force. Misconduct. Corruption. ... The book is autobiography, history, and a police improvement manual in which he outlines the seven steps police must take in order to overcome the four obstacles which have "arrested" their development: anti-intellectualism, violence, corruption, and discourtesy.

    David Couper led the Madison Police Department for over twenty years (1972-1993). During this time, the department successfully handled hundreds of public protests without incident, implemented a collaborative leadership style, and brought women and minorities into the department. ... Since his retirement he has been concerned about the militarization of our nation's police and their slow progress which has arrested their development. ... This is his third book on policing. For more information visit his blog at: http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com


  • published Red to Blue Badger in Opinion Blog 2013-05-30 18:03:41 -0500

    Red to Blue Badger

    The Dem Party of Wisconsin has annunced a new program, Red to Blue Badgers, to suppoprt Democrats who might be willing to run a candidate in traditionally Republican territory.  Here is a description of the Red to Blue Badger initiative from the DPW website.

    About

    As part of our commitment to a 72 County Strategy and our goal of re-taking the state legislature, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is proud to announce our latest effort to support and empower Democratic candidates who run for office in traditionally red districts.

    The Red to Blue Badgers program is designed to give Democratic candidates the resources they need to run successful campaigns in historically Republican districts. As candidates achieve benchmarks for doors knocked, phone calls made, and dollars raised, this initiative will assist them in an escalating fashion as part of our long-term investment to compete in every part of the state and turn Wisconsin’s most conservative counties from red to blue.

    How to Qualify

    Qualified applicants to the Party’s Red to Blue Badgers program will be expected to meet the following benchmarks:

    Participate in Training – Qualified candidates will be expected to have participated in a candidate or campaign training program. This includes, but is not limited to, the Advanced Democratic Leadership Institute, CampWellstone or Emerge.

    Form a Kitchen Cabinet of Advisors – In order to demonstrate buy-in from local leaders and grassroots activists, candidates for the Red to Blue Badgers program will be expected to form a small group of campaign advisors known as a “kitchen cabinet.” The kitchen cabinet will work to hold both the candidates accountable to their goals and the state Party to their obligations to Red to Blue Badgers candidates.

    Demonstrate a Commitment to Voter Contact – Prior to being named a Red to Blue candidate, applicants must produce a voter contact plan that includes a robust commitment to door-to-door conversations with voters about how to strengthen the middle class.

    Build a Network of Grassroots Donors – In order to qualify for the Red to Blue Badgers program, candidates must also demonstrate financial buy-in from a network of grassroots donors. Whether grassroots supporters give $5 or $500 at a time, the success of this program requires building a network of people invested in legislative campaigns. Candidates will also be asked to produce a finance plan outlining how much they hope to raise and what their spending priorities will be.

    Benefits

    VAN Access

    Candidates who qualify for the Red to Blue Badgers program will be ensured access to the voter file from the state party. The voter file, or VAN, is a critical component in the efficient use of scarce campaign resources.

    Campaign Plans and Templates

    Red to Blue Badgers candidates will also receive a series of draft campaign plans and templates from the state Party.

    Campaign Plan – Sample campaign plans will be provided to Red to Blue Badgers kitchen cabinet advisory groups in order to help craft plans to compete in their districts.

    Mail Plan – Direct mail is among the most effective forms of paid communication in legislative campaigns. The state Party will provide sample mail plans for candidates to tailor to their districts and individual races.

    Sample Budgets – Draft budgets will be provided to the campaigns.

    Fundraising

    Along with draft budgets, the state Party will commit to helping raise money for Red to Blue Badgers candidates. Money raised online with a Red to Blue email will be distributed directly to Red to Blue candidates. A stand-alone Red to Blue Badgers fundraising event will also be held to showcase both the candidates and the program, again with the money raised going directly to candidates.

    Red to Blue Badgers Coordinator

    A dedicated Red to Blue Badgers Coordinator will work with the candidates and serve as the main point of contact to candidates and campaign managers. The coordinator will be responsible for assisting candidates and campaign managers on a daily basis with messaging, literature, mail, and earned media. The coordinator will also work with candidates and kitchen cabinets to turn narrative finance plans into realistic budgets and to hold the campaigns accountable to their fundraising goals.


  • commented on Thoughts on Ecology from His Holiness The Dalai Lama 2013-05-25 19:47:10 -0500
    26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
    28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

  • New Capitol Crackdown

    New crackdown on Capitol protests may be imminent

    JESSICA VANEGEREN and STEVEN ELBOW| The Capital Times | [email protected]

    Another state-backed crackdown on the persistent Capitol protesters is likely to begin after April 1.

    According to a “statement of scope for administrative rules and emergency rules,” obtained by The Capital Times Monday, the state is planning to promulgate emergency rules — a fast-tracked method to pass a new law quickly without public input — to once again define what sorts of permitted activities are allowed in the Capitol.

    The statement of scope document was approved by Gov. Scott Walker Friday.

    On Monday, Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Administration, confirmed in an email that the department had submitted the scope statement to the Legislative Reference Bureau for drafting purposes and the new emergency rules would be issued sometime after April 1.

    “It is not anticipated that the rule changes will have any new impact upon any person or group that follows the permit process,” Marquis said in the email.

    She added that the intent of the new rules is to codify the current policy as well as update the rules in conformance with recent court rulings.

    The scope document says the changes are needed because of the protests that began in 2011 in response to Walker’s ultimately successful effort to turn back collective bargaining rights for public employees.

    “Beginning in February 2011, groups of persons began to occupy the Wisconsin State Capitol building without permits,” the document reads. “This included appropriating rooms and hallways in the Capitol building for purposes such as camping and storage of bulk supplies.”

    It goes on to read: “Groups of persons continue to occupy rooms in the Wisconsin State Capitol building without permits, including the Capitol rotunda. These groups constitute an exception to the norm … It is imperative that the department continue to gain greater compliance from user groups in order to protect public safety and welfare.”

    The statement of scope says among the objectives of the new rules is to codify the permit process, define such terms as “event” and “exhibit,” and clarify that “even common materials can pose a hazard when used or deployed in a hazardous manner.”

    The document also discusses the possibility of closing the Capitol as a public forum, mirroring policies at the U.S. Capitol and several state capitol buildings, but adds that the measure “is not recommended.”

    Because the rule changes are being proposed as an emergency rule, they do not need legislative approval, which means no public hearing will be held on the changes before they become law.

    “One thing that should be abundantly clear, even to the most casual observer, is this is an administration that is utterly contemptuous of the public,” says Bob Jambois, who is representing several of the protesters who have been cited. “They don’t care what the public has to say.”

    One of the prime targets of an attempted crackdown that began last summer has been the Solidarity Singers, who have conducted noon-time singalongs in the Capitol rotunda every Monday through Thursday for the last two years to skewer Walker and other Republican leaders in song.

    ...

    The citations are the result of a change in command that occurred July 23 when David Erwin became the Capitol Police chief and instituted a much tougher approach to the protesters.

    “It has been a colossal failure,” says Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. “They should have left the rules alone, but instead they have brought in a police chief that wants to hit a fly with a baseball bat.”

    Taylor has been one of the most critical voices against the ongoing efforts of the Walker administration to curtail free speech at the Capitol.

    There have been a few disruptions blamed on a handful of Capitol protesters. The Solidarity Singers, a group made up mostly of current or retired public workers, have conducted their singalongs largely without incident. Erwin has demanded that the singers obtain a permit, but the group has refused.

    The Department of Administration, however, says in the statement that the singers have disrupted a number of permitted events, “including, but not limited to, a Red Cross blood drive, a high school science exhibit, school group tours, general public tours, and legislative committee meetings and sessions.”

    But Jambois says the singalong has taken place without incident for two years, so adopting an emergency rule at this point makes no sense.

    According to state law, “an agency may promulgate a rule as an emergency rule without complying with the notice, hearing and publication requirements ... if preservation of the public peace, health, safety or welfare necessitates putting the rule into effect prior to the time it would take effect if the agency complied with the procedures.”

    “What is the emergency that needs to be addressed for people coming to sing a song or people coming to hold up a sign,” asks Taylor. “This is really just a way to side-step the (rule-making) process and put rules in place that will further limit activity at the Capitol.”

    Steven Elbow

    Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.


  • published The Working Poor in Opinion Blog 2013-02-09 11:32:27 -0600

    The Working Poor

    This is a good, short article on what I consider to be close to the core of our economic problems.  Underlines are mine.   JS

    A good book on the subject is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.

    ======================================
     

    Working, but still poor: Why is it that millions of Americans who have jobs can’t make ends meet?                         By THE WEEK Staff | January 30, 2013

     Who are the working poor?
    They’re the millions of people who have jobs that leave them mired at the edge of poverty. Their ranks include legions of retail clerks at chains like Walmart, fast-food workers, dishwashers, customer assistance representatives, home health-care aides, factory workers, and farm laborers. Some 46.2 million Americans now live in families where someone is working but earning less than the poverty line: $11,702 a year for an individual or $23,021 for a family of four. Many economists have a broader definition, saying that the working poor are those whose incomes do not cover basic needs: food, clothing, housing, transportation, child care, and health care. By that standard, there are more than 146 million Americans in the poor-but-working class. People in this category generally have no savings and survive from check to check, often filling in the gaps by going into debt. “Any little thing—a child getting sick, a car breaking down—those are quite significant events for these working families,” said Brandon Roberts of the Working Poor Families Project.

     Where do they live and work?
    About half the working poor are white, mostly living in the South or Southwest. But African-Americans and Latinos are vastly overrepresented in their ranks: Over a quarter of blacks and Latinos live in poverty, while only a tenth of whites do. Most commonly they work for major national chains whose business models depend on very low labor costs—Walmart, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Target. In these hugely successful companies, most of the profits go to top management and stockholders. The top 50 employers of low-wage workers, a recent study found, paid their top executives an average of $9.4 million a year and have returned $175 billion in dividends to their shareholders since 2006. In contrast, the typical worker eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax break for low-income workers, has an adjusted gross income of $13,900. Since the Great Recession of 2008, about 60 percent of the jobs created in the U.S. have been low-wage ones. One out of four Americans now earns less than $10 an hour. 

     Is the minimum wage too low?
    There is a strong case that it is. The federal minimum wage has been frozen at $7.25 since 2009, and the cost of living has risen more than 7 percent since then. Some economists argue that paying workers more would mean fewer jobs as labor costs rose, but others say that basic economic principle doesn’t hold at the low end of the job spectrum. Many of these service jobs can’t be outsourced or automated. But thanks to globalization and the waning power of labor unions, workers have little leverage to press for higher salaries. 

     Why are unions shrinking?
    One major factor is that the manufacturing companies that were once a union stronghold have closed or sent their jobs overseas. But that’s not the whole story. Canada’s economy has seen similar changes over the past four decades, yet union membership there is still 30 percent, whereas in the U.S. it is 11.3 percent overall and less than 7 percent in the private sector. In the U.S., unions have dwindled partly because poor leadership has damaged their image, and partly because of “right-to-work” laws, now in place in 24 states, which effectively bar unions from organizing workers. 

     Do the working poor pay taxes?
    They pay federal payroll taxes and sales taxes at the same rate as more affluent Americans, but they do not pay federal income taxes. Under tax programs that both Republicans and Democrats supported as a way to get poor people off welfare, workers with low incomes qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and often the Child Tax Credit. Perversely, however, these special tax breaks serve as disincentives for the working poor to make more money. A single mother earning $18,000 a year loses tax credits and benefits as she climbs the income scale, so for each additional dollar she makes, she effectively keeps only 12 cents. She has little incentive to increase her hours and her income unless she can make a major jump in salary. 

     Why not simply get a better job?
    The best way out of low-paying work is to get a good higher education. But most of the working poor come from struggling communities where schools are not well financed, and kids who attend bad elementary and high schools are far less likely to attend college. Even today, only 30 percent of Americans get college degrees. And for those with only a high school diploma, job prospects are more limited than ever; the average high school graduate today makes $12,000 less than the average high school graduate did in 1980. Men who are unemployed or in low-wage jobs tend not to marry, or if they do, are likely to get divorced, creating a vicious cycle: Their children often grow up in single-parent homes, which are far more likely to stay poor. “Folks in our state are working hard, but for many families, working hard just isn’t enough,” said F. Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. “Things need to change.”

     How taxpayers subsidize Walmart
    Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S.—and has the most workers on public assistance. In 2007, the company shifted from regular shifts to flexible shifts, a change labor activists said was designed to force full-time workers to downgrade their status to part-time, so they would not qualify for health insurance or other benefits. The result is that hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees rely on state benefits or Medicaid. Most of the company’s warehouses are contracted out to temp agencies, so even if a warehouse loader works full-time in a Walmart warehouse for years, he gets no benefits. Walmart has also spent at least $1 billion since 2005 settling lawsuits over unpaid wages or illegal working conditions. One study estimated that Walmart workers cost taxpayers more than $1 billion every year.

     


  • published MyChoice is Judge Rebecca St. John in Opinion Blog 2013-02-07 10:52:19 -0600

    MyChoice is Judge Rebecca St. John

    DeForest Area Progressives has had both candidates to our Monday night meetings.  With all due respect to both candidates, my choice is Judge Rebecca St. John.  Below is a statement from a former boss of mine, with which I totally agree.          John Scepanski

    Why I Hired Judge Rebecca St. John and Why I Am Supporting Her Election

     By Peg Lautenschlager, former Wisconsin Attorney General

     In 2004, I hired Judge Rebecca St. John from a pool of hundreds of applicants to be an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of justice.

    I was impressed then, as I am now, by the qualities that make her an outstanding judge: a first-rate legal mind; a fierce independence; an outstanding work ethic; and a passion for using her considerable skills to make communities safer and make the criminal justice system work better for all of us.

    It is not surprising that given something to argue about, lawyers will. So it is not surprising that some attorneys, who have been supporting Judge St. John’s opponent from the beginning, are arguing about what Judge St. John wrote in her judicial application.

    It is one thing to have differences of opinion. It is another to distort a candidate’s words and misinform voters about her. I recognize the difference. Many of the attempts to discredit Judge St. John fall into that latter category.

    Judge St. John’s application is a 57 page document. It is posted in its entirety on her campaign website at www.judgerebeccastjohn.org.

    Asked to “explain in one page or less why you want to be a judge/justice” Judge St. John wrote (page 9 of the Judicial Application Supplement):

    “I want to be a circuit court judge because I have a tremendous respect for the role that the judiciary -and circuit court judges in particular - have in the administration of justice and sustaining our structure of government. The quality of the judiciary depends on the quality of its circuit court judges. The circuit court is the first - and, for many or most litigants, the only - step in the judicial process, and many circuit court decisions are accorded deference when appealed.”

    It is clear Judge St. John understands and respects the role of an independent judiciary in our democratic form of government.

    It is clear Judge St. John believes it is a Judge’s duty to overturn laws that are unconstitutional. And knowing her as I do, I have no doubt Judge St. John will courageously exercise that responsibility if and when an unconstitutional law is brought before her.

    Paid for by Citizens to Elect Judge Rebecca St. John, Michael Bauer, treasurer Produced in house

    Peg Lautenschlager: Why I Hired Judge Rebecca St. John and Why I am Supporting Her Election

    I am also concerned about the criticisms of Judge St. John’s analysis of two cases dealing with criminal procedure, one of which I was involved with as Attorney General (Armstrong). Those of us who have prosecuted these awful crimes – the individuals were convicted of murder and sexual assault – understand these cases aren’t ideological. It is about providing finality to victims, absent either a constitutional or other established basis for reversal.

    It is not easy to dismiss the fact that Judge St. John has earned the endorsement of 34 judges, many of whom have decided important cases. They include Judges David Flanagan, Frank Remington, and Paul Lundsten. In addition, Sheriff Mahoney, Mayor Paul Soglin, a long list of some of DaneCounty’s finest attorneys, victim advocates, and educators also support Judge St. John.

    I know Judge Rebecca St. John. I know her work as an attorney and I know her work as a judge. I have read the words she wrote and I have heard her speak about her work as a Judge. She has my full, unequivocal, and strong support.

    # # #


  • My Choice is Judge Rebecca St. John

    DeForest Area Progressives has had both candidates to our Monday night meetings.  With all due respect to both candidates, my choice is Judge Rebecca St. John.  Below is a statement from a former boss of mine, with which I totally agree.          John Scepanski

    Why I Hired Judge Rebecca St. John and Why I Am Supporting Her Election

     By Peg Lautenschlager, former Wisconsin Attorney General

     In 2004, I hired Judge Rebecca St. John from a pool of hundreds of applicants to be an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of justice.

    I was impressed then, as I am now, by the qualities that make her an outstanding judge: a first-rate legal mind; a fierce independence; an outstanding work ethic; and a passion for using her considerable skills to make communities safer and make the criminal justice system work better for all of us.

    It is not surprising that given something to argue about, lawyers will. So it is not surprising that some attorneys, who have been supporting Judge St. John’s opponent from the beginning, are arguing about what Judge St. John wrote in her judicial application.

    It is one thing to have differences of opinion. It is another to distort a candidate’s words and misinform voters about her. I recognize the difference. Many of the attempts to discredit Judge St. John fall into that latter category.

    Judge St. John’s application is a 57 page document. It is posted in its entirety on her campaign website at www.judgerebeccastjohn.org.

    Asked to “explain in one page or less why you want to be a judge/justice” Judge St. John wrote (page 9 of the Judicial Application Supplement):

    “I want to be a circuit court judge because I have a tremendous respect for the role that the judiciary -and circuit court judges in particular - have in the administration of justice and sustaining our structure of government. The quality of the judiciary depends on the quality of its circuit court judges. The circuit court is the first - and, for many or most litigants, the only - step in the judicial process, and many circuit court decisions are accorded deference when appealed.”

    It is clear Judge St. John understands and respects the role of an independent judiciary in our democratic form of government.

    It is clear Judge St. John believes it is a Judge’s duty to overturn laws that are unconstitutional. And knowing her as I do, I have no doubt Judge St. John will courageously exercise that responsibility if and when an unconstitutional law is brought before her.

    Paid for by Citizens to Elect Judge Rebecca St. John, Michael Bauer, treasurer Produced in house

    Peg Lautenschlager: Why I Hired Judge Rebecca St. John and Why I am Supporting Her Election

    I am also concerned about the criticisms of Judge St. John’s analysis of two cases dealing with criminal procedure, one of which I was involved with as Attorney General (Armstrong). Those of us who have prosecuted these awful crimes – the individuals were convicted of murder and sexual assault – understand these cases aren’t ideological. It is about providing finality to victims, absent either a constitutional or other established basis for reversal.

    It is not easy to dismiss the fact that Judge St. John has earned the endorsement of 34 judges, many of whom have decided important cases. They include Judges David Flanagan, Frank Remington, and Paul Lundsten. In addition, Sheriff Mahoney, Mayor Paul Soglin, a long list of some of DaneCounty’s finest attorneys, victim advocates, and educators also support Judge St. John.

    I know Judge Rebecca St. John. I know her work as an attorney and I know her work as a judge. I have read the words she wrote and I have heard her speak about her work as a Judge. She has my full, unequivocal, and strong support.

    # # #


  • published HOLD THIS DATE! in Progressive Partners Blog 2013-02-06 14:24:19 -0600

    HOLD THIS DATE!

    Reserve now on your calendars April 20, 2013, for the next quarterly Progressive Partners gathering at the DMB Windsor Neighborhood Center in Windsor, Wisconsin.  Google for location and directions.  Planning is going on hot and heavy right now.  Further details will be posted here and "blasted" to email lists.


  • History We Need to Know

    Exactly a century ago, on February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, authorizing a federal income tax. Congress turned it into a graduated tax, based on “capacity to pay.”

    It was among the signal victories of the progressive movement — the first constitutional amendment in 40 years (the first 10 had been included in the Bill of Rights, the 11th and 12th in 1789 and 1804, and three others in consequence of the Civil War), reflecting a great political transformation in America.
     
    The 1880s and 1890s had been the Gilded Age, the time of robber barons, when a small number controlled almost all the nation’s wealth as well as our democracy, when poverty had risen to record levels, and when it looked as though the country was destined to become a moneyed aristocracy.
     
    But almost without warning, progressives reversed the tide. Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901, pledging to break up the giant trusts and end the reign of the “malefactors
    of great wealth.” Laws were enacted protecting the public from impure foods and drugs, and from corrupt legislators.

    By 1909 Democrats and progressive Republicans had swept many state elections, subsequently establishing the 40-hour work week and other reforms that would later be the foundation stones for the New Deal. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 presidential election.
    A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America. In the 1880s and 1890s such a movement seemed improbable if not impossible. Only idealists and dreamers thought the nation had the political will to reform itself, let alone enact a constitutional amendment of such importance — analogous, today, to an amendment reversing “Citizens United v. FEC” and limiting the flow of big money into politics. 

    But it did happen. And it will happen again.

    This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.
     
    Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

     


  • published Move to Amend, We Need Ya. in Opinion Blog 2013-02-04 15:00:05 -0600

    Move to Amend, We Need Ya.

    If corporations are persons, then...
    A California man has been driving alone in the carpool lane with corporation papers on the passenger’s seat to test the legal principle that corporations are persons. Jonathan Frieman, 56, says he wants to make a political point. But after he was ticketed for not having a passenger in a carpool lane, a judge rejected his argument. Frieman is appealing.               From THE WEEK magazine, January 18, 2013