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Stoughton School District Administrator's letter to parents

Stoughton Area School District
 Administrative and Educational Services Center 320 North Street Stoughton, WI 53589-1733 (608) 877-5000

June 4, 2015


Dear families,


In recent weeks, you may have heard about or read about the state budget and how it could impact public education. Last month, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee proposed a budget bill that has huge ramifications for Stoughton Area School District (SASD) as well as public school districts across Wisconsin. The bill still has to be debated by the full legislature, but we wanted to give you a summary of the proposed changes and how we believe they could impact our schools and community if enacted:


Below the national average - This budget would drive Wisconsin under the national average in per pupil spending, according to Michael Griffith, a senior policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States. For the first time in history, the state budget will not provide for an increase per student in revenue limits (spending caps). Public school budgets are frozen in 2015-16 and will receive a $100 increase per student in a special aid in 2016-17.


Athletics and extracurriculars - Home-schooled students, private school and virtual charter school students who reside in our district but do not attend Stoughton schools nonetheless could participate in any extra-curricular or athletic team our district offers. The WIAA is a private, non-profit organization composed of both non-public schools and public schools like SASD. The WIAA has come out against this budget provision as an “alarming precedent and an unacceptable over-reach” by the state government.


Teacher licensing - The new law eliminates many standards for licensing teachers and, according to the SAA (School Administrators Alliance), “would position Wisconsin as having among the lowest entry standards for the teaching profession in the country.”


New graduation requirements - A school district could not grant a student a high school diploma unless he/she passes a 100-question civics assessment. Additionally, there is a provision allowing up to ½ of a student’s credits required for graduation to be obtained via a learning portfolio. There is no guidance around how this process will work.


‘Apples and oranges’ assessments - School districts will not all have to take the same state assessment. That means parents likely will not have the information to make an “apples to apples” comparison of school districts’ academic performance data and be able to make fully informed decisions about where they send their kids to school. The budget bill also proposes a controversial five-star “rating” system for schools based on their performance on these assessments instead of the current system identifying how well schools meet expectations.


State Aid - The Stoughton Area School District, and all public schools across the state, will have their state aid cut to allow for voucher expansion under this budget bill. Vouchers use public tax dollars to pay for a student’s private education, but studies have shown that voucher students perform no better than students in public schools, according to the School Administrators Alliance (SAA).


Cost of vouchers - In year one, 1% of students from SASD could receive vouchers to attend private religious or secular schools. SASD would lose aid in the amount of $7,210 for an elementary or middle school student and $7,856 for each high school student to pay the private school voucher. In the first year, this could cost SASD approximately $237,000. Each year, the maximum number of students allowed to attend a voucher school increases by an additional percent (e.g. in year two up to 2% of students) and the state aid payment that the district loses for each student will increase. After 10 years, there would be no limit on the number of vouchers offered to students in our school district.


Special education vouchers - Students receiving special education services could potentially attend a private school with a special education voucher. $12,000 per student would be cut from SASD’s state aid to fund each of these vouchers. Students enrolled in these private voucher schools would not be guaranteed the legal rights and protections afforded to them by federal law. There is no proposal to increase special education aid for public schools. The current budget proposal results in eight years without an increase in special education aid for public schools.


These are just some of the provisions in the 40-page budget bill advanced by the Joint Finance Committee. The bill must still pass through the legislature before it reaches Governor Walker, but as is, we fear the current proposal erodes local control of schools, undermines school accountability and does not adequately fund our public education system. The district and our Board of Education will be sharing these concerns with our state legislators and the Joint Finance Committee, (listed below) but we wanted to keep you informed about how this proposal directly affects Stoughton Schools.



Dr. Tim Onsager, District Administrator, Stoughton Area School District , (608) 877-5000


Senate District


13 Scott Fitzgerald (R - Juneau)


15 Janis Ringhand (D - Evansville)


16 Mark Miller (D - Monona)




38 Joel Kleefisch (R - Oconomowoc)


43 Andy Jorgensen (D - Milton)


45 Mark Spreitzer (D - Beloit)


46 Gary Hebl (D - Sun Prairie)


47 Robb Kahl (D - Monona)



Joint Finance Chairs

Senator Alberta Darling


Rep. John Nygren



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The Dems they are a-changin' ?

 MAY 9, 2015

The Dems they are a-changin’: How progressives upended the debate — and forced neoliberals to adapt

Neoliberal stalwarts like Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel are moving left — here's why it's not a fluke



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not a timid man. But like most politicians, he is cautious. He’s taken some risks during his years in Albany — like when he muscled through same-sex marriage, or when he imposed a statewide ban on fracking. Even in these rare moments, though, he was careful and deliberate. He only gambled when he saw no better option. And that’s one of the reasons why his recent endorsement of a wage hike for fast-food workers is a genuinely big deal.

Writing in the New York Times, Cuomo, who usually bills himself as the consummate pro-business Democrat, declared that although he’d already signed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour by the end of 2015, the fast-food industry’s wage floor was still not high enough. And because the state legislature wouldn’t cooperate, the governor continued, he was going to direct the state’s labor commissioner to impanel a “Wage Board,” which would ultimately recommend a new fast-food minimum wage. There would be no need for legislative approval.

Unlike his moves on marriage equality and fracking, Cuomo’s joining the growing movement to raise service industry wages came rather out of the blue. But when you situate the notoriously plutocrat-friendly governor’s announcement in the larger context of what’s happening within the Democratic Party right now, it doesn’t just make more sense — it also becomes quite telling. If even Andrew Cuomo has decided that spurning multinational corporations like McDonald’s by supporting the “Fight for $15” is in his self-interest, then the balance of power among Democrats has truly shifted in favor of the party’s activist, union base.

Of course, this is hardly to say the Democratic Party is now the social democraticorganization of lefties’ dreams. The minimum wage for fast-food workers is just one issue, and in terms of threatening the party’s wealthiest supporters, it’s relatively harmless (political donations from the fast-food industry overwhelmingly benefit Republicans). But Cuomo’s op-ed for the Times, while significant, isn’t the most important sign that the Democratic base is steering the party in a more left-wing direction. In fact, it’s not even the first or the most conspicuous; but those designations belong to Democrats whose respective names carry at least as much weight.

A political shift on this order is always a long time coming, so picking a start date is inevitably somewhat arbitrary. But if I had to point to one big, specific moment when it started looking like party elites would have to veer left to stay in the base’s favor, I’d go with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s surprisingly difficult reelection from earlier this year. As I wrote at the time, one of the main reasons why Emanuel had to fight off a left-wing primary challenger was because Chicago Democrats, especially African- and Latino-Americans, were angry over a first-term record they saw as too conservative on economics and education. Some even took to calling him “Mayor 1 Percent.”

After running an apologetic run-off campaign — in which the neoliberal Emanuel and his supporters tried to refashion him as a true progressive — the mayor ended up defeating his opponent, Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, with relative ease. But while Garcia, by most accounts, ran a disorganized and borderline incompetent campaign, simply forcing Emanuel into the run-off was itself a major victory. No incumbent Chicago mayor had ever had to do it before, and it was widely seen by expert observers as an “embarrassment” for President Obama’s former chief of staff. In retrospect, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis’s unfortunate illness may have saved Emanuel’s career in electoral politics.

Chicago was the first sign that a new Democratic Party base — one comprised of more people of color as well as educated and single women — was exerting its influence. But former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential campaign has been the most conspicuous. Because while Emanuel’s pivot to the left wasn’t so much about policy as public relations, Clinton’s campaign has thus far been characterized by her assuming new, more liberal policy positions. Despite having been a believer in the “tough on crime” policies of her husband, Clinton endorsed outfitting the nation’s law enforcement with body cameras, and spent her first big policy address calling for mass incarceration’s end.

However, if Clinton’s speech on criminal justice was an encouraging sign for the kind of Democratic base voters who support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, her address on immigration this week was, for reform advocates like the so-called DREAMers, a major success. As Vox’s immigration reporter Dara Lind argued in a post describing Clinton’s speech as “stunningly aggressive,” the onetime first lady not only “told activists exactly what they hoped they’d hear” but delivered an address that was “much better than they expected.” She not only promised to uphold and expand Obama’s recent, controversial executive actions; she also called on Congress to pass a reform bill that featured a “full and equal” path to citizenship.

Again: None of these recent examples are intended to prove that the Democratic Party’s left wing is now calling all the shots. There’s precious little doubt in my mind that Cuomo, Clinton and Emanuel will all take policy positions in the coming years that drive the base voters I’m talking about up the wall — most especially on issues involving Wall Street and financial regulation. Still, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue, as some of the more cynical and pessimistic members of the American left have done, that the Democratic Party is the same intransigently neoliberal beast as it was throughout the ’90s and early aughts.

Assuming you can find someone not currently under indictment, go ahead and talk to the folks in Albany and ask them what motivates Governor Cuomo. It ain’t the goodness of his heart.


Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

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This is a combination of two voices, MY letter to the editor in the DeForest Times Tribune, and a video made by my friend, the Rev. John Stanley, a fellow member of the DeForest Area Progressives and the Wisconsin Grassroots Network Task Force.

While we may disagree about many things, we DO agree on this point: Issue One is a bad thing for Wisconsin. I will let you watch his video first! Turn your sound on, click on THIS LINK to be taken to his video, then close that window to come back and read more to read my letter to the editor 


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“Radicals of a different sort”: How the reactionary right is plotting to steal the White House

TUESDAY, MAR 17, 2015

“Radicals of a different sort”: How the reactionary right is plotting to steal the White House

For all America's progress, the right's quest to control who votes just won't die. Here's their latest disgrace VIDEO



Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of what Think Progress’s Ian Millhiser called “the most perfectly radical presidential speech in American history.” It was the “we shall overcome” speech Lyndon Johnson gave before a joint session of congress in 1965, in which he said to a body composed of a large number of white supremacists of his own party (and a country filled with them), “we shall overcome,” echoing the rallying cry of civil rights activists in the South. He demanded of Congress that it pass the Voting Rights Act to make good on a centuries-old promise of full civic  participation for African-American citizens.

This period in history has been the subject of controversy lately because of the portrayal of Johnson as being reluctant to push the act in the movie “Selma,” but as Millhiser points out, that’s irrelevant to the greatness of the speech he gave that day, which announced a pending indictment of America itself as a “failed nation” if it refused to act in the face of what had happened on that bridge and elsewhere. That is a radical notion, to be sure.  If any American president today uttered the words, he’d likely be impeached.

Millhiser draws upon his book “Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted” to illustrate the America in which Johnson was speaking, a time of astonishing economic growth accruing to the benefit of generations who had lived through depression and war. In those days before the historic blunder of Vietnam engulfed the national consciousness, Johnson was able to use America’s idealism to finally force the nation to push through the institutional racial barriers that had been standing since the earliest days of the Republic and that even a bloody civil war had failed to properly dismantle.  However he got there, it was a propitious use of a moment in history, to say the least.

Millhiser looks briefly at the man Johnson had just defeated in the 1964 election, Barry Goldwater, and makes an interesting observation about him that has resonance to the ongoing issues with civil rights we still see today:

Johnson’s speech was, in many ways, a test of just how completely he had vanquished his opponent in the 1964 presidential elections, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, and whether the ideology that drove Goldwater’s campaign could finally be cast aside in America’s golden age. Goldwater, for reasons that I explain in more detail in Injustices, was a somewhat unlikely champion for white supremacists. He’d supported weaker civil rights bills in 1957 and 1960. And he supported integrating the Arizona Air National Guard when he served as its chief of staff. Ultimately, however, the Barry Goldwater of 1964 cared more about a narrow, philosophical objection to government intervention than he did about the rights of African Americans struggling to break free from Jim Crow.

That would be an apt description of the libertarian right today, would it not? Sen. Rand Paul famously said that tolerating injustice, inequality and discrimination was “the hard part about believing in freedom,” which simply translates into believing in the “freedom” of the powerful to do whatever they choose. After all, the only people for whom such a belief is truly “hard” are those who are forced to live as second-class citizens.

Johnson gave that speech 50 years ago almost to the day. The Voting Rights Act was passed and many more African-Americans and other racial minorities were able to participate in our democracy as full citizens. It resulted in such a sea change in American politics that the regional coalitions that formed the two parties in Johnson’s time have switched places. Ironically, today practically the only Southern Democrats are African-American and the Northern Republican is as rare as an albino elephant. There are very few conservatives in the Democratic Party and you’d have to waterboard any Republican to make him admit to being the “l” word.

But one thing has continued: the reactionary right’s relentless quest to deny African-Americans the right to vote. In fact, after having calmed down a bit for a few years, they are more aggressive about it than ever, passing voter ID laws designed to make it difficult for people to vote. And while they will caterwaul 24/7 that there is no racist intent, America’s history proves otherwise, particularly since there is no evidence that their alleged “concerns” over voter fraud have any basis in fact. Just this week, the state of Ohio had to reluctantly announce that yet another waste of taxpayer’s money has proved that there is no systematic “voter fraud” in the state:

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has been on a mission to weed out purported voter fraud in the state since he took office in 2011. After launching an investigation into what he called an “expanding loophole” allowing non-citizens to vote in Ohio and potentially decide elections, he announced Thursday that 145 non-citizens were registered to vote illegally in 2014, amounting to just .0002 percent of the 7.7 million registered voters in the state. Husted’s office would not provide any information about the 27 people it referred to the Attorney General’s office for further review.

But in 2013, his office sent 17 potential cases — .0003 percent of total ballots cast in the state — to the AG who eventually referred them to county prosecutors. Most reports of voting irregularities were dropped by the county prosecutors because the “voter fraud” problems were determined to have been caused by simple mistakes and confused senior citizens, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation. Voter fraud in Ohio is a fifth-degree felony and could carry up to a year in prison. But of the cases referred to prosecutors’ offices in 2013, most irregularities were caused by voter confusion or mistakes made by elections officials and not deliberate attempts to commit fraud, the investigation found.

For example, Cuyahoga County looked into 15 cases referred from Husted’s office and chose not to pursue criminal charges against any of the individuals, concluding that the voters were confused about the “Golden Week” during which people can both register to vote and also cast their absentee ballot.

He did find two non-citizens who registered to vote, so all that work was surely worth it. No word on how much all this cost the state but evidently there is no limit on how much time and money can be spent by frugal, small government, liberty lovers on these quixotic scavenger hunts for the Sasquatch of the electorate: the fraudulent partisan voter.

This is just one of dozens of investigations that have been done over the past few years that have yet to turn up the kind of voting irregularity that could change election results. But if they succeed in keeping even a few racial minorities away from the polls either out of confusion or fear, these crusades will have done the job for which they were intended: vote suppression. This, along with other practices like the purging of legitimate voters from the rolls and “caging” initiatives, can make the difference in close elections and they know it.

Conservatives sincerely believe the nation is better off if certain people are making decisions and those people are qualified by the fact that they have money and property. As founder John Jay is said to have quipped, “the owners of the country ought to be the ones to run it.” But inconveniently for them, we do have a democracy and today the GOP is facing a serious demographic challenge, which makes it almost imperative that they find a way to stop Hispanics, young people and African-Americans from voting in big numbers or they simply will not be able to win national elections. One might expect them to take a second look at that ideology and see if maybe it could use some revision for the 21st century, but that’s a problem too. This ideology, which confers “freedom” in degrees commensurate with how much money you have, is fundamental to their beliefs and is not easily changed.

Fifty years ago brave civil rights activists in the streets and a president and other officials who knew the moment for change had arrived put justice and equality ahead of a property owner’s right to discriminate and the state’s right to deny the vote to their citizens. It was a radical move, necessitating a serious challenge to federalism. Unfortunately, the story did not end there. Millhiser reminds us at the end of his piece that Johnson and company may have been radicals in their time but today the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts overturned much of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and Sen. Rand Paul, who lugubriously proclaims that liberty is never harder for him than when his philosophical integrity forces him to support the constitutional rights of racist property owners over everyone else’s, is running for president.

Those people are radicals of a different sort and they stand ready to overturn and subvert progress wherever they find it.


Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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What will the new economy look like?

What will the new economy look like?  This article apeared in Salon.com.


 Robert Reich: Economic redistribution is our only hope

The former secretary of labor explains why new technologies have rendered the 20th century economic model obsolete

ROBERT REICH, ROBERTREICH.ORG            This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

It’s now possible to sell a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many, if any, workers to produce or distribute it.

At its prime in 1988, Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 145,000 employees. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

The same year Kodak went under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13 employees serving 30 million customers.

The ratio of producers to customers continues to plummet. When Facebook purchased “WhatsApp” (the messaging app) for $19 billion last year, WhatsApp had 55 employees serving 450 million customers.

A friend, operating from his home in Tucson, recently invented a machine that can find particles of certain elements in the air.

He’s already sold hundreds of these machines over the Internet to customers all over the world. He’s manufacturing them in his garage with a 3D printer.

So far, his entire business depends on just one person — himself.

New technologies aren’t just labor-replacing. They’re also knowledge-replacing.

The combination of advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data, text-mining, and pattern-recognition algorithms, is generating smart robots capable of quickly learning human actions, and even learning from one another.

If you think being a “professional” makes your job safe, think again.

The two sectors of the economy harboring the most professionals — health care and education – are under increasing pressure to cut costs. And expert machines are poised to take over.

We’re on the verge of a wave of mobile health apps for measuring everything from your cholesterol to your blood pressure, along with diagnostic software that tells you what it means and what to do about it.

In coming years, software apps will be doing many of the things physicians, nurses, and technicians now do (think ultrasound, CT scans, and electrocardiograms).

Meanwhile, the jobs of many teachers and university professorswill disappear, replaced by online courses and interactive online textbooks.

Where will this end?

Imagine a small box – let’s call it an “iEverything” – capable of producing everything you could possibly desire, a modern day Aladdin’s lamp.

You simply tell it what you want, and – presto – the object of your desire arrives at your feet.

The iEverything also does whatever you want. It gives you a massage, fetches you your slippers, does your laundry and folds and irons it.

The iEverything will be the best machine ever invented.

The only problem is no one will be able to buy it. That’s because no one will have any means of earning money, since the iEverything will do it all.

This is obviously fanciful, but when more and more can be done by fewer and fewer people, the profits go to an ever-smaller circle of executives and owner-investors.

One of the young founders of WhatsApp, CEO Jan Koum, had a 45 percent equity stake in the company when Facebook purchased it, which yielded him $6.8 billion.

Cofounder Brian Acton got $3 billion for his 20 percent stake.

Each of the early employees reportedly had a 1 percent stake, which presumably netted them $160 million each.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be left providing the only things technology can’t provide – person-to-person attention, human touch, and care. But these sorts of person-to-person jobs pay very little.

That means most of us will have less and less money to buy the dazzling array of products and services spawned by blockbuster technologies – because those same technologies will be supplanting our jobs and driving down our pay.

We need a new economic model.

The economic model that dominated most of the twentieth century was mass production by the many, for mass consumption by the many.

Workers were consumers; consumers were workers. As paychecks rose, people had more money to buy all the things they and others produced — like Kodak cameras. That resulted in more jobs and even higher pay.

That virtuous cycle is now falling apart. A future of almost unlimited production by a handful, for consumption by whoever can afford it, is a recipe for economic and social collapse.

Our underlying problem won’t be the number of jobs. It will be – it already is — the allocation of income and wealth.

What to do?

“Redistribution” has become a bad word.

But the economy toward which we’re hurtling — in which more and more is generated by fewer and fewer people who reap almost all the rewards, leaving the rest of us without enough purchasing power – can’t function.

It may be that a redistribution of income and wealth from the rich owners of breakthrough technologies to the rest of us becomes the only means of making the future economy work.

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 new movie "Inequality for All" is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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Threatened Wisconsin Idea - a disdain for Education for starters!

  • No politician is elected on the basis of a post secondary degree in the USA. The criteria is community service, activities in public office, and reputation earned in the process. Today, reputation is purchased more often than not via promoters who know their contributions to a candidate will garner them advantages during the term of the candidate. The potential of the candidate to be 'bought' is enhanced by the Supreme Court decision nicknamed: Citizens United. This decision reflects the Supreme Court's inclination to define a corporation as a person, and the 'speech' of that 'person' includes how it spends its money. Ensuring 'freedom of speech' to include 'freedom of expression by money-expenditures'. The definition of 'personhood' has become so convoluted, we are in deep trouble as to how influence can be purchased by 'corporate people'-- as a teacher, I've never had a corporate person ask for an education, nor have any of my nurse friends delivered a corporate baby, nor have any people in the funeral industry 'buried' a corporate person in their cemeteries..... and so forth..

    Scott Walker, however, has received millions of dollars from these questionable 'corporate persons'. Money buys influence and that influence flows both way as a matter of course.

    It is my opinion that if Scott Walker had completed his college education, he would have emerged better prepared to discern the ethics of this situation, better prepared to understand the Wisconsin Idea and respect it, better prepared to understand ecology, the delicate environment of his state, the rights of the voters to have better access to the vote instead of restricting voting, better able to see why societies are better when everyone does better. A lack of finishing education is a lack of availing oneself of a type of enrichment that can't help but enhance the opportunity to appreciate the value of all public education, protection of health of citizens, protection of local control to vital resources, equality of all citizens, respect for all voters.

    Instead, we have a governor lacking in common sense, weak enough to be shaped by those who contribute heartily to his campaigns, and who will expect his hearty cooperation to achieve advantages to their corporate bottom line, often not even in Wisconsin. A cutter of public programs serving to strengthen communities, health, studies of how to protect public health, air, water, soil, and providing for those who take those actions.

    The governor of Wisconsin is a traitor to the well-being of Wisconsin, his flawed educational exposure very likely contributed to the many failures he is hiding behind while being the puppet of corporate greed. This demonstrates a lack of education in the highest degree. We could say he has a post-graduate degree in mis-educationl

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Trickle down reality. A geyser showering dollars at the top.

 It's important to realize that policy is responsible for much of the acceleration of inequality, which means a change in policy, can work to lessen inequality as well.

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"VOTE TODAY SIGNS" Increase the Voter Turnout 4%




Research in 2005 by Fordham University Professor Costas Panagopoulos found that holding two foot by three foot signs that said “Vote Tomorrow” at strategic intersections increased voting by almost 4%*.  

Current projections are that many electoral races will be very close.  Therefore a 4% increase in turnout could be decisive.  

It is essential that every group and/or individual make plans to do the following:

  • Recruit volunteers to hold signs on November 3rd and 4th
  • Identify high traffic locations and times for this activity
  • Make signs
    • Select durable material like foam core
    • Buy dimensions of about 2’ by 3’
    • Print Bold Lettering with black sharpie or similar marker
    • Print Two Signs -  “VOTE TODAY” and “VOTE TOMORROW”
    • Store signs for next election cycle.
    • If you have any questions contact Adam Grabski at adampgrabski@mail.com.


* 6-30-2009 Journal of Electoral Studies Vol. 28 Issue 2 pg. 309-313


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GOP's vote-suppressing militia

TUESDAY, SEP 23, 2014                           Copied from Salon

GOP’s vote-suppressing militia: Why Scott Walker’s thugs are getting violent

Scott Walker may want to be president, but he's got to win statewide first. And he's pulling out all the stops


It seems like a long time ago but it’s actually been just a couple of years since a whole bunch of Wisconsin voters had second thoughts about the man they’d elected to the governor’s office and decided they couldn’t wait another two years to be rid of him.  That recall election was a national story, with public employee unions and other progressive types lining up against the conservative majority that beat back the recall. Now Scott Walker is beating back what seems like endless ethics charges and legal scandals and is fighting for his political life. The man who was once touted as the Great Midwestern GOP Hope is rarely mentioned anymore for the presidency. He may even lose his seat in November.

One of the most interesting stories of that recall election was the extent to which the Republicans were willing to engage in no-holds-barred vote suppression largely led by a national group of vote suppression experts, the “poll watching” group known as True the Vote.  Despite no evidence ever being produced to show that systematic voter fraud exists or that any election has been decided by people who are ineligible to vote, True the Vote has managed to create the illusion that challenging voters at the polls is all that’s saving the republic from an otherwise inevitable coup d’état led by a secret cabal of Democrats rigging elections with ineligible voters. Apparently, this is the only way they can explain to themselves that they are not universally popular.

All the vote suppressors are just pleased as punch that a panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit waited until Sept. 12 to overturn an earlier ruling that their pride and joy, the Wisconsin Voter ID law, was unconstitutional — and set off a last-minute scramble to ensure that voters are informed of the new law and have them in hand before Scott Walker faces the music. (Opponents have appealed to have the full 7th Circuit review but in the meantime, voter registration groups and state officials are having to work overtime to deal with the ruling.) And just to make things even more fun, the DMVs in 48 out of 72 counties are only open for five hours a day, two days a week. And that means voters in those areas without an official state ID only have 12 days to get them.


True the Vote generously noted on its Facebook page that the ID cards are free. Never say they didn’t do these voters any favors. Their followers were certainly thrilled:

The only people that don’t want this are the people who are trying to cheat the system. The same people that are screaming foul are the people that need an ID to get all their government handouts. I’m proud to show my ID when I vote because it means some union punk from out of state, or some illegal alien won’t be able to steal my vote. It also means that some libtard dumbocrat won’t be able to vote more than once.

In case you were wondering True the Vote calls itself nonpartisan.

So, now everyone can relax, knowing that there is no way that the thus far nonexistent voter fraud could ever happen in the future, right? Well, not exactly. It would appear that vote suppression may not entirely get the job done. Just because you have an ID doesn’t mean you should be voting and even if True the Vote is patting itself on the back for its success, there are still some good Americans out there who are willing to make sure that you don’t. This time they are going for full-blown voter intimidation.

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WHY should Wisconsin Grassroots Network and all communities care about and resist the formalization of the Trans-Pacific- Partnership and other similar trading agreements? What does it matter if we sit back and wait for legislators at the Federal level represent us in this matter?? The TPP will affect the health and future of all communities. It surpasses, in its proposed control, the validity of all democratic processes and local control of essential self-government down to the most local level. It will control access to our most basic resources, even air, water and land-use. There has never been such a comprehensive global agreement that reaches into the lives of all beings on earth. The TPP is secretive, it is far from respecting the autonomy of all societies. We are heading towards a legislative disaster of planetary proportions but affecting every level of economic and social structures! 

In our history, so many worthy legislative and policy changes emerge from a concentrated ground-swell of public opinion. The sooner we all speak up, stand up, step in, against any policy that is dangerous or damaging to the  world's well-being, the better!   Apartheid was dismantled by the pressure created through countless methods of generating awareness. Finally, it was overcome.

The Trans -Pacific-Partnership, along with its Fast Track legislation designation is the largest trade agreement negotiated since the World Trade Organization (WTO). It covers 12 countries so far and includes provisions that reach beyond issues of trade. The full contents of the TPP are unknown because it has been negotiated with unprecedented secrecy; however, it is clear from what has been revealed that the TPP gives transnational corporations the power to alter our laws down to the local level to enhance and protect their profits.

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