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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Participatory Budgeting

    Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting

In 2016 and 2017, La Crosse has allocated $1.5 million dollars - $750K each year - to infrastructure projects decided by selected neighborhood associations and their residents. There is no more money allocated for neighborhood improvement projects beyond 2017, which is also an election year for all Common Council districts and the Mayorship. In order to keep this valuable program, it is important for residents to speak up before March 15th, when project requests are due to the City Finance Department.

This is a valuable process that has the potential to engage more people in democratic process, and  The Participatory Budgeting Project there are other examples of Cities running similar programs.  These examples could help show the value of La Crosse's existing program and potentially show ways to refine and expand it. For more information, check out the video above and the following documents:
If you are a La Crosse city resident, you may consider writing to the Mayor or your Councilmember to make sure participatory budgeting is included in the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program. While the Common Council approves the CIP in November, staff begins working on it as early as January. Contact for your Councilmember can be found here, but if you don't know your district, here's the map which will change to this after the 2017 election. Note: the big red-outlined numbers are the district.

Sample Social Media Posts

Twitter: Will [official’s Twitter handle] support #ParticipatoryBudgeting to bring real democracy to the community? @PBProject
Facebook: Hi [official’s name], will you support participatory budgeting, to bring real democracy to the community? See this video to learn more: 

Sample Email

You can copy and paste the sample email below to introduce PB to your local elected officials and to schedule a meeting. For more guidance on how to organize for PB, read our Organizing Toolkit.
Dear [your official’s name],

As stakeholder in [your community], I join my neighbors in urging you to support a participatory budgeting(PB) process. PB is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. The White House recently lifted up PB as a best practice in open government.

Elected officials in cities across the nation have been inviting their constituents to join them in making meaningful decisions around public budgets as a way to improve their communities. I ask for your support in bringing PB to [your community]. It would be an innovative and effective way of directly including me and my neighbors in local budget making.

Please consider including PB in the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program. The $750,000 budgeted in 2016 and 2017 for neighborhoods to decide which infrastructure funding is most important to them was a great way to get residents engaged in improving the city.

Can we schedule a meeting so we can discuss how to bring this transformative process to our community?.

[your name]

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Our Revolution Coming to La Crosse

Our Revolution

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign launched a political revolution, and now it’s up to all of us to continue it in Wisconsin.

Our Revolution is helping to carry out the legacy of Bernie's campaign, but the only way we'll do that is if we do it together. Bernie has always said that change happens from the bottom up. That's why we are committed to organizing at the state and local level here in Wisconsin.

We're launching "Our Wisconsin Revolution" by kicking off a series of organizing meetings across the state during the next several weeks. There's an event happening near you — will you come out to one of these important meetings to hear what's next for our movement?

Organizing Meeting in La Crosse
Southside Neighborhood Center

Saturday, February 4ᵗʰ at 3:00 pm CST
1300 S 6th St
La Crosse, WI 54601
Here’s the plan:
  • Hold regional meetings all across Wisconsin to engage people who want to build the political revolution – putting forward the vision, hearing what people have to say to strengthen our approach, and to develop our program.
  • Build local chapters and hold a founding convening in early spring to formally launch Our Wisconsin Revolution.
We can build the political revolution and take power back from the establishment and the billionaire class. Fundamental change starts from the grassroots — that means all of us.

Build a powerful organization, Our Wisconsin Revolution. Elect our own to office and fight for Bernie’s agenda at the local, state and federal levels. Wisconsin deserves a grassroots group created by the people, for the people. Join now and commit for the long haul.

Reminder - Sunday rally at 1:30 BE THERE!

This is important, people! It's coming and we need to get organized and get active.

Tomorrow's SAVE OUR HEALTHCARE rally is one of hundreds happening around the country.It starts at 1:30 p.m. at Cameron Park (5th & King) in downtown La Crosse. Ken Tschumper and others have really gone all out in a very short time to get speakers, musicians, publicity, and more to make this something our elected officials can't ignore. Please attend. Please bring others. This is just the first step, but it's important that we all get together going forward.

How bad can it be? Our Wisconsin mini-Trump and his rascals have put forward plans to rip apart our near-death Department of Natural Resources, allow CAFOs to (not) police their own water pollution, and even roll back protections for child laborers. And the new Trump administration, true to its zombie apocalypse core, is talking about opening up national parks for fossil fuel production, building more nukes, restarting not just DAPL but also KXL pipelines, ending legal protections for GLBTQ citizens, forcing women back into the Ceaucescu era, tearing up Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid protections, and much much more.

Many people have come up with lists of how we can resist the Trump agenda even as they prime the charges to totally wipe out the benefits gained not just from the Great Society and New Deal programs, but going all the way back to the turn of the 20th century (Ladies, hold onto your VOTES please! That right is not yet 100 years old, remember?) Wait, haven't we seen this before? Idiot Boy Scout leaders? Islamic State? (As the BBC asks, "Why does Islamic State destroy ancient history?") problem is that the new leaders are not interested in the old system. Mandate? They don't need no stinkin' mandate! While you are thinking that surely there's a law about that, they are repealing that law and replacing it with one that does just the opposite or just ignoring it altogether. All your base are belong to us. Please read and absorb this quote from the great Ron Suskind article about the Bush administration, 2004's Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency of George W. Bush. Trump is going to be that on steroids and with a crazy, yessir Congress. And probably the Supreme Court, too. And let's not forget - the Congress is still infested with corporate Dems who just can't bring themselves to buck their masters and so willingly and reliably sell out their constituents for a campaign contribution.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Some of the best Rise-and-Resist suggestions include Robert Reich's 12 (or 14) Ways to Resist (and/or Disrupt).
Get your senators and representatives to pledge to oppose Trump’s agenda. Reject his nominees, prolong the process of approving them, draw out hearings on legislation. Call your senator and your representative and don’t stop calling.

Yale professor, Timothy Snyder, has written a great post for Yes! magazine - Post-Fascist Europe Tells Us Exactly How to Defend out Democracy (20 Lessons from the 20th Century)  If you have ever been railroaded by a person or system who you thought you could trust, you will get this. His number one suggestion:
DON'T OBEY IN ADVANCE. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
There are many others out there, but the third (thanks, George) is written by former Congressional staffers and is actually a handbook of real things real people can do based upon their knowledge of how congress and elected officials operate. It's The Indivisible Guide. Please download, read, and share.
Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President- Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.

We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism— and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance,
and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.

Friday, January 13, 2017

1/12 Potluck Summary

Thanks to everyone who made it to this week’s progressive potluck last night! We had another great gathering with excellent topics discussed, ranging from events to campaigns to rallies to art. Below is a summary for folks who couldn’t make it and want to keep up, or if you came and want a review.

Local Elections

We had the pleasure of hosting three candidates for local office: Nick Dutton running for city council in District 7, David Marshall running for city council in District 4, and Laurie Cooper Stoll running for school board in La Crosse County. All three are excellent candidates and are happy to take on any and all volunteers to help get them elected! All are running against incumbents, and we are going to need to pound the pavement to get their names out in the public to make sure these progressives get into office. Email Peter at if you want to volunteer.

Climate Action Festival

Kathy Allen heading up the Coulee Region Climate Alliance is organizing the 2nd annual climate action festival and looking for volunteers to help organize the event. Last year, the festival was more focused on awareness and local organization publicity, but this year we are hoping to focus more on specific action to defend our planet. Contact Kathy Allen at if you want to help with this event.

Trump Healthcare Accountability Rally

This Sunday 1/15 at 1:30 in Cameron Park (across the street from the People’s Food Co-op), there is a rally to hold president elect Donald Trump accountable. Trump stated explicitly that he would not make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and now as Republicans in Congress move rapidly to make cuts, it is time to tell our president-elect that he must live up to his word. There are 9 rallies in Wisconsin alone, and this national event is hoping to garner national news coverage. It is our job to highlight the discrepancies of our incoming president as he fails to fulfill his campaign promises, so that we can show all those who he fooled that he has no intention of helping out everyday Americans, but instead is going to serve his rich, corporate interests. Please, please try to make it out to this event: All you have to do to make a difference is show up! There will be signs available, or make your own if you’re inspired. If you are someone who uses or has used Medicaid, Medicare, health insurance from the ACA marketplace, please consider speaking at the rally to share your experience and why you are concerned about the proposed healthcare repeals. Contact Ken Tschumper at to let him know if you care to speak at the rally.

Progrestival update

On February 4th, starting at 6 PM, there will be a local coalition-building event lovingly called the “Progrestival” at the Concordia Ballroom. We will have free food and music for activists all over the La Crosse area. This event will be an opportunity to socialize and network with other people working in progressive political and social organizations in the area. Attendance is free, and groups are encouraged to attend to talk about their work. Tables and half tables are available for groups that want to have space for posters, literature, etc. We are asking for $10 for a full table and $5 for half, but let the organizers know if cost is a barrier. Please contact Kevin ( or RoZ ( for more info, or contact Avery Van Gaard ( to reserve table space for your group.

Forum on alternative transportation

There will be a forum on transportation at City Hall coming up on Wednesday the 18th. The main point of our discussion was that the road through the marsh is being pushed by monied interests, and it is frankly hard for officials to turn down money. If we are going to beat the northwest corridor for good and get better bike lanes and bus routes, we need to work on economic arguments for how it will be fiscally responsible and better for the City to invest in infrastructure changes to decrease cars, traffic, and emissions (while creating jobs).

Listen To Your Mother looking for auditioners

The second annual performance of Listen to Your Mother is coming up! This show is a showcase of diverse stories written and performed by locals on their experiences of motherhood, which can be about a mother or mother figure in your life, or your experience as a mother. The directors are inviting people to audition: Feb. 8th 5-9 PM, Feb. 13th 5-9 PM, and Feb 18th 8:30-noon. To schedule auditions, email

April Social Justice Week at UW-L

Social Justice Week 2017 on the UW-L campus is coming up in April, a wonderful program started by our excellent school board candidate Laurie Cooper Stoll. It is still early for details, but stay tuned and contact Lori if you want more info or if you want to work on the event.

DPW caucus

The Democratic Progressives of Wisconsin, a caucus in the State Democratic Party, is looking for members. This caucus came out of the experiences of national convention representatives for Bernie Sanders, who joined the party and felt the need for a way to organize all of the party members and keep pushing for progressive representation. If you are a member, please consider signing up. Here is the Facebook page. You can also contact Obbie ( to get signed up, he is gathering membership info in La Crosse and is on the County Exec Board.

Democratic Party Outreach Committee

The party outreach committee is looking to work on connecting with those in our community who are very likely to be targeted by the Trump administration and his supporters and investigate how we can best support them. They are also looking to expand the party base in rural areas and talk to voters who will be increasingly disillusioned as Trump and the Republican party fail to help them. They are also working on contacting new members harnessing the energy from the election. If you want to get involved, reach out Sara (, the committee chair.

Polling Place investigation

The polling places of La Crosse are far less than satisfactory. Many people are required to travel farther than they are able, especially those who lack their own car. At the Democratic Party meeting this Monday night, we are planning to introduce a motion to work on researching locations and hopefully proposing them to the city with our evidence of how they will increase voter turnout and thus aid our city in becoming more democratic and fair. You can contact Peter ( for more info.

Clean Water campaign

La Crosse County has had previous reports of high chromium-6 levels in municipal water, and the city seems to have done nothing about it. This is a carcinogen created from steel manufacturing and coal power plant functions, but unfortunately there is no federal regulation of the chemical. However, California regulates the chemical at 0.02 ppb, while La Crosse water is at 0.73 ppb, an incredibly high concentration. The local Sierra Club chapter will be heading up a task force to investigate this further and work to hold our city officials accountable for ensuring clean water is available to all of our residents. Our infrastructure is crumbling across the nation, and after mass deception and tragedy in Flint, MI we have seen that, unfortunately, the responsibility for ensuring that water is safe has been shifted to private citizens and activists. Contact local Sierra Club Rep Cathy ( to get involved.

Our Wisconsin Revolution

At this point I am sure you are all ready to go to the Progrestival, but you might be thinking, ‘I’ll be so excited and energized, what should I do earlier that day?’. Well, luckily we have another amazing event right beforehand! Convenient we know. February 4th at 3 PM at the South Side Neighborhood Center (1300 S. 6th St.), Our Wisconsin Revolution is having a meeting for the start of the La Crosse branch. Our Revolution is an organization founded by Bernie Sanders to continue the momentum his presidential campaign created. Ths group will find, endorse, and help progressive political candidates run for office, as well as work on issues locally and on the state level. We encourage everyone reading this to get involved, and you can rest assured that it will be talked about at future meetings.

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

Indivisible is a fabulous guide on resistance in the upcoming months and years. We highly recommend, if you can find some time, that you at least download it, flip through it, and save it for future use.

Monica and Peter

Thursday, January 12, 2017

La Crosse Area Planning Committee Annual Meeting (free food)

[UPDATE: Maureen has noted there is yet a THIRD option! At 2:30 p.m. on the 18th, in room 1107 of the new County Administrative Building (between 6th and 7th on State Street) the TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) of the La Crosse Area Planning Committee will meet to discuss many of the same things that will be discussed at the other meetings! Agenda below. So, you could add this to your list of things to do and skip one of the conflicting others). Thanks, Maureen!


1. Approval of Minutes of the October 19, 2016 TAC Meeting.

2. LAPC 2017 Local Studies Program. About $72,000 is available for the 2017 LAPC Local Studies Program. Funded local studies are subject to approval by WisDOT for federal and state funding. Studies must be for transportation related purposes and cannot include engineering or project implementation. There will be a 20% local match required, and the studies should be complete by the end of 2017. Please submit local studies proposals by February 15, 2017 so that the TAC can prioritize funding at the March meeting.

3. Transportation Demand Management planning. LAPC meetings in February, March, and April in 2017 will focus on LAND USE and POLICIES, PARKING, and TRANSIT, respectively. Municipalities will report on existing and discuss future projects to implement Transportation Demand Management. At this TAC meeting we will prepare for the parking and transit discussions. Specifically, how is your community prepared to support or implement measures to manage transportation demand related to LAND USE and POLICIES and PARKING?

4. Coordinated City/County/MPO Planning and Destination Medical Center in Rochester. Tom Faella will provide an overview of how land use and transportation planning is coordinated in Rochester, Minnesota with an integrated City, County and MPO planning structure. Mr. Faella will also discuss the Destination Medical Center project in the Rochester area and how it relates to our local Transportation Demand Management discussion. (This presentation will be repeated at the LAPC annual meeting; TAC members have the option to attend either one.)

5. Other Business, Adjourn, Next meeting to be announced.

Of course when it rains it pours. On Wednesday, January 18 at 5 p.m. there are two important meetings dealing with transportation, transportation demand management, and alternative transportation in our area.

In a recent post we noted the Alternative Transportation forum being hosted by Sustainable La Crosse.

But, at the very same time, the La Crosse Area Planning Committee which is working on coordinating efforts to better manage traffic in our region without the new DOT recommended road, will hold its annual meeting at Piggy's Restaurant (501 Front Street) which is open to the public. Members of the LAPC include elected officials from La Crosse county cities, towns, and villages so this would be a great time to buttonhole decision-makers and let them know of your desire to drag our transportation system into the 21st century by upgrading bike/ped infrastructure, modernizing (with renewable energy buses, more frequent service, and new routes), and managing parking to make it less attractive than public transportation or shared ride commuting (for example!)

The official word:

The next meeting of the LAPC Policy Board will be Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. at Piggy’s Restaurant, 501 Front St South, La Crosse

La Crosse Area Planning Committee Annual Meeting!!! You’re Invited!!!
Please note meeting start time at 5:00 pm.
Following a short business meeting, technical committee members and the public are invited to join the LAPC Policy Board for complimentary hors d’oeuvres in an informal setting. Hope to see you there! 


1.     Approval of Minutes of the November 16, 2016 LAPC Meeting (Action Requested).

2.     Public comment relative to agenda items, with 5 minute time limit per comment.

3.     Coordinated City/County/MPO Planning and Destination Medical Center in Rochester.
Tom Faella will provide an overview of how land use and transportation planning is coordinated in Rochester, Minnesota with an integrated City, County and MPO planning structure.  Mr. Faella will also discuss the Destination Medical Center project in the Rochester area and how it relates to our local Transportation Demand Management discussion.

4.     Overview of Upcoming LAPC Meetings.
LAPC meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of February, March, and April in 2017, and will focus on parking, transit, and land use and policies, respectively.  Municipalities will report on existing and discuss future projects to implement Transportation Demand Management.  The meetings will be facilitated by Jason Valerius, MSA Professional Services, Inc.  All future LAPC meetings will be scheduled in Rm. 1107 of the new La Crosse County Administrative Center, 212 6th St. North, La Crosse.

5.     Other business; Adjourn; Next meeting to be announced.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


[Another update!]
Join the “Save Our Healthcare” National Day of Action Rally Jan 15th in La Crosse

Republicans, as one of their first  actions in 115th Congress, are determined to past legislation that will destroy healthcare for millions of Americans. Their plan would take away healthcare coverage for over 20 million Americans by repealing Obamacare, ending guaranteed benefits for Medicare recipients, slashing Medicaid, increasing prescription drug prices for millions of people, and defunding Planned Parenthood which millions of low income women rely on for their healthcare needs.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Bernie Sanders have called for a National Day of Action to make Republicans aware that millions of Americans are opposed to their reckless and destructive agenda.

Local Democrats, Bernie supporters and progressive political activists from around the Coulee Region are planning a “Save Our Healthcare” National Day of Action Rally on Sunday Jan. 15th at 1:30 at Cameron Park in La Crosse. The Rally will coincide with similar rallies planned for Wisconsin  and around the Nation on that day

We need a unified front of all Democrats and Progressives to oppose these Republican attacks on our healthcare system. 

Please join our rally to “Save our Healthcare” this Sunday Jan.15th at Cameron Park in La Crosse. We can make a difference.

Monday, January 09, 2017

One way to resist

Here's a hopeful article from Raw Story about Howard Dean's push back against Breitbart.
According to the article, "group called Sleeping Giants have been successful at forcing advertisers to blacklist Breitbart by taking screen shots of advertisements that appear next to hate speech on the conservative website. The group then uses the screen shots to shame the advertisers on social media."

Slate has also covered this effort. 

This type of push back has been used against Rush Limbaugh. In fact many years ago, I contacted a local credit union whose ad ran in between racist Limbaugh segments (the credit union had simply bought an advertising package that provided for so many ads run so many times per day) and I believe the CU requested to not be on during the Limbaugh air times.

So, if you are interested, put your money where your politics are and make sure businesses know what values you expect of them.