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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Important election: Hear from candidates

The 32nd district State Senate seat is vacant. It was held by Jennifer Shilling until she quit in May to take a lobbying job with Dairyland Power Cooperative. There are three people running in the August 11 Democratic Primary. In the last election for this position, Jennifer Shilling won by just 61 votes.

Brad Pfaff was the Secretary-designee of the state's Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) until the Republican minority-controlled state legislature "fired" him by refusing to confirm his appointment. Read more about Pfaff at his campaign FB page.

Jayne Swiggum is a nurse who lives in Gays Mills. She has not run for office before. She says the Republican candidate's irresponsible behavior during the COVID-19 crisis spurred her to file to run. She is not accepting any campaign donations and is a supporter of Medicare for All and other progressive issues. Listen to a good interview here. Her campaign website is at

Paul Michael Weber is a resident of La Crosse. You can listen to an interview with him on WORT-FM here.

The Republicans have targeted this seat in their "veto-proof" campaign. Adding three seats each in the State Senate and Assembly would give them complete power to rule the state as a minority party and override any Evers vetoes. So, this is not a rehearsal. This is big. 

A virtual house party for Brad Pfaff is being hosted on Wednesday, July 14 from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. This is an opportunity to ask Pfaff about your top issues. 

Meeting ID:  924 4166 2573


Jayne Swiggum will be a guest at the Monday, July 20 6:30 p.m. La Crosse County Democratic Party ZOOM meeting. Dr. Mark Neumann, who is challenging United States Representative Ron Kind in the Democratic primary, will also speak at this meeting.

Email for meeting access details. 


Friday, July 10, 2020

Safe Routes to School

If you still believe in CLIMATE CHANGE, then Safe Routes to School is very important. If you live by a school in La Crosse you will know that every parent on the face of the earth MUST driver her/his child to and from school, parking near the entrance, and, often, idling for 10 to 30 minutes per trip. Schools have even invited this by redesigning entrances to provide more spaces for cars to pull in and idle. 
Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxins, which are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxics during the afternoon hour coinciding with parents picking up their children. Children’s lungs are still developing, and when they are exposed to elevated levels of these pollutants, children have an increased risk of developing asthma, respiratory problems and other adverse health effects. - EPA Idle-Free Schools Toolkit
Never mind that the EPA thinks idling is so dangerous to children's health that it has a whole program designed to STOP people idling their cars by schools. Never mind that some of the children live but a few blocks away or that about one in every 7 Wisconsin children is obese or that every fossil fuel car trip sends climate-changing greenhouses gases into the atmosphere.

If you want to help solve the climate crisis, get your kids to school some other way than driving them. Safe Routes to School is trying to encourage that. The plan that will be discussed is an update that's been open for public comment for about a month. Each elementary and middle school has a plan (for some reason, SRTS thinks high school students are a lost cause. Sad.)

My complaint with this process is that it's like asking people who have never seen a vegetable, what kind of salad to serve the children. We live in CAR-IS-GOD's country and if you are not a car and dare to try using a road, street, or highway, woe be unto you, even if you are a child trying to bike to school. Could we close a street in front of a school for a couple of hours per day so no one but those with permits could drive to the front of the school? Could we narrow a street by adding a walk/bike multi-use lane (not a sidewalk, but claw back a street lane) protected from moving vehicles by posts, blocks, planters? Could we set an intersection light to be4-way green FOR BICYCLES ONLY for one minute of each cycle?

Other cities, even whole countries, have asserted that the rights of people are more important than the rights of fast cars. For example, check out this short online webinar from Mobycon on The Elements for Creating Child Friendly School Zones. "Over two-thirds of all school-aged children walk or cycle to school, with 75% of secondary school students cycling to school." If someone is achieving like this, wouldn't you want to use their ideas and designs? If you're on Twitter, follow @fietsprofessor check out #PowerfulMobilityMemes.

Enough ranting. Here's the message about the upcoming meeting:

In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Safe Routes to School Plan Committee meeting will be conducted through video conferencing. The meeting can be viewed by clicking this link (or typing the URL in your web browser address bar):

If you wish to speak on an agenda item, you can do so as part of the virtual meeting.  Contact the Planning and Development at the email: or phone number 608-789-8676 below so we can provide you with the necessary information to join in. Agenda items approved for public hearing by the committee are open to public comment.

Members of the public who would like to provide written comments on any agenda may do so by emailing Questions, call 608-789-8676



Best Regards,
Jack Zabrowski
Associate Planner
City of La Crosse Planning and Development
608-789-8676 w
608-381-1033 c

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Important Budget Issue - your action required!

from Heather (note that the amendments also include language to require public hearings):

SAY NO TO $36 million Police Law Enforcement Center WITHOUT Public Input!


Today we mobilize to AMEND the 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Projects Budget: SAY NO to a $36M Police Law Enforcement Center without public input!

The proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget will go before the City Council tomorrow, July 8 at 6 p.m. for final approval. Though we have tried in earnest to have the entire CIP budget delayed in light of COVID-19 and the subsequent budget crisis, as well as lack of public input and community impact assessments, the budget WILL BE up for a vote tomorrow night.  

We are mobilizing to AMEND items in the CIP budget that we find most egregious. The amendments below have been cleared and will be uploaded on Legistar shortly. We can ACT NOW!

Our goal is to have 1,000 residents contact the ENTIRE City Council TODAY with PERSONALIZED statements in support of these amendments! After you send your email, please notify us and SHARE with your people. THEN, update with counts of how many completed the action if you can. We are aiming for 1,000 contacts today!!! 


Olson Amendment #1:
Line Item [8] Police Law Enforcement Center

  • Delete $25,000,000 from 2023 GOB (GOB = General Obligation Bonds)
  • Delete $10,000,000 from 2024 GOB
Olson Amendment #2:
Line Item [645] City Hall Lobby Renovation
  • Reduce 2021 GOB funding from $1,500,000 to $140,000
  • Move $1,360,000 GOB funding to 2022
Line Item [272] Main Library Flooring
  • Amend project title to read "Main Library Flooring and Shelving"
  • Increase GOB funding from current amount of $170,000 to $310,000
  • Move full funding from 2022 to 2021
Line Item [23] Myrick Park Playground
  • Move $500,000 GOB allocation from 2022-2021
Line Item [443] Weigent Park Shelter
  • Move $300,000 GOB allocation from 2022 to 2021
Line Item [552] Riverside Park Bathrooms
  • Move $250,000 GOB allocation from 2022 to 2021
And, a third amendment is forthcoming regarding funding for renovation work at South Branch Library in 2021! Keep eyes out for that!

Full amendment text here:

We're Taking Notice, Acting Together!! We need to ALL send PERSONALIZED statements of support for these amendments TODAY! Many council members go from work to the meeting tomorrow night, so today must be our day of action to make sure they have time to HEAR US and ACT ACCORDINGLY!

Example (but please personalize)

Council Members,

My name is __________ and I live at ____________. I am writing in support of Olson amendment #1 and #2 to the CIP budget. Please pass these amendments at tomorrow night's meeting and do the work of soliciting public input and completing community impact studies needed in regards to the proposed Police Law Enforcement Center and City Hall Renovations. Don't say yes to the money until they've done the work! We're in the midst of remaking how we do policing in America and we're also in the midst of a public health crisis. Our 2021-2025 CIP budget needs to reflect those realities!

Thank you.
Get more information from

Support Medicare for All

From Citizen Action & Coulee DSA

Millions of Americans are not able to afford the healthcare they need

We are living through the worst global pandemic of our lives. Americans across the country have lost their jobs, their income, and their access to healthcare.  This moment, more then any moment in American history, is showing us just how dangorous it is to have healthcare tied to employment. La Crosse County needs to stand up with counties, and cities, across the country to demand a universal single payer healthcare system so that no one goes without the health coverage they need to live!  Please use this form to contact the county board and let them know that La Crosse County supports universal, single payer healthcare!

Universal single payer healthcare will not only make sure that EVERY AMERICAN can access the healthcare we all need, it will also boast our economy both locally and nationally.  It will allow Americans to look for the kind of employment that allows them to follow their dream without the worry of losing healthcare. It will take the burden of providing healthcare off the backs of our local employers. It will end the toxic political influence of the health insurence industry. Most importantly single payer healthcare will guarantee that every American is able to see a doctor, or recieve life saving healthcare, when they need to regardless of income.

You can help make health coverage a reality for every American, regardless of income by urging the La Crosse County Board to pass a resolution in support of Medicare For All. Dozens of places across the country such as Austin Texas, Warren County Tennessee, Cook County Illinois, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania have all passed similar resolutions. There is a national movement of cities and counties showing Washington that Americans need healthcare; La Crosse County needs to add its voice to that movement. Together all of these resoutions will show Washington that America demands a universal, single payer healthcare system NOW.  

Please use this form to send an email to members of the La Crosse County Board letting them know they need to pass a county resolution showing supporting Medicare For All. Once you fill out this form, and customize the email if you want, your email will be sent directly to every member of the La Crosse County Board.  

Only together can we make Medicare For All a reality in America.  Please use this form to contact the La Crosse County Board right now and demand that La Crosse County adds its voice to the Medicare For All movement!

Friday, July 03, 2020

Films, talks, podcasts

Some films, talks, and podcasts for the weekend and the month. 

JULY 3-5: UNFIT from Duty to Warn. Scheduled for release in September. 3 days only: July 3,4,5; Hi-res stream; 84 min's; $6 Trailer here

Medical doctors and mental health professionals go on camera, on the record, for the record - it's an eye-opening discussion, analysis, and science-based examination of the behavior, psyche, condition, and stability of President Donald Trump. #UNFIT also examines Trump's effect on our citizenry, culture, and institutions. 

JULY 7: THE CONDOR AND THE EAGLE is a new film about how independent media initiatives can be powerful tools for indigenous rights and social and environmental justice organizing. The National Sierra Club hosts the film and talk at 6 p.m. Register to receive the link to view. Trailer here

Challenging the isolation and impotence that many are feeling in the face of the current health and racial crises, the award-winning documentary The Condor & The Eagle and its impact campaign "No More Sacrificed Communities" bring us together in these challenging times – reminding us of our deep interconnectedness with the Earth and one another. Regarded by EcoWatch magazine as one of the "7 best new documentaries about global warming” (March 2020) that “exemplifies how independent media initiatives can be powerful tools for social and environmental justice organizing,” (June 2020) the film is breaking new ground in the distribution world, working directly with impacted communities and the organizations fighting for climate justice around the world.

JULY 7: 13th by Ava DuVernay. Hosted by Sierra Club Ready for 100 team with discussion after. Tuesday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m. Register for link. Discussion follows. Trailer here.

Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay's examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country's history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards.Rating: TV-MA For mature audiences. 

NOW THROUGH JULY 28: The Story of Plastic from the Story of Stuff Project. This screening is sponsored by the Coulee Region Sierra Club. Register for link to view any time between now and July 28. An online discussion will held on Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m.. Trailer here

THE STORY OF PLASTIC takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic pollution and the worldwide effect it has on the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it. Spanning three continents, the film illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash, rivers and seas clogged with waste, and skies choked with the poisonous emissions from plastic production and processing. Featuring interviews with experts and activists on the front lines of the fight, the film reveals the disastrous consequences of the flood of plastic smothering ecosystems and poisoning communities around the world, and the global movement that is rising up in response. 

JULY 16: RACE IN AMERICA WITH COLSON WHITEHEAD will be livestreamed on the Library of Congress Facebook page and Youtube channel at 6 p.m. as part of the National Book Festival.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden talks to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Festival veteran (2009, 2012, 2016 and this year) Colson Whitehead about the need for stories from our past to help us contend with the present—especially at moments of great change.

PODCAST. Intercepted - episode: Confederacy Inc.: Donald Trump, Racist Police, and the Whitewashing of History. Jeremy Scahill interviews Simon Balto, assistant professor of African American History at the University of Iowa (formerly of Chaseburg!), whose book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power, tells the often deleted history of Black political organizing and rebellion in Chicago. It offers lessons on how this history speaks to the demands and struggles of the present moment. Scahill also talks with Native American historian and professor, Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and an assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico and host of The Red Nation podcast.