Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Here's a handy THINGS TO DO list for this week and next:

BUY TICKETS for the planned August 7 screening of CITIZEN KOCH! We still need to sell 38 tickets for this Tugg event to happen and we really want it to happen because a) secret campaign financing is a big deal and b) Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign will be the guest for the post-film Q&A session! Please spread the word and encourage people to buy their tickets NOW. (Or you could buy tickets for them!) Tickets are available ONLINE ONLY at http://www.tugg.com/go/ivv2k

Print out (back to back) and post or hand out these handy little event notices! (9 per page - cutting guide on p. 2)

Volunteer to help Mary Burke remove Scott Walker from office. Sign up for the Saturday, July 26 state-wide DAY OF ACTION (noon to 1 p.m., 126 Fifth Avenue South) or any day or evening from now until election day.

Plan to attend one of the three listening sessions hosted by the La Crosse Public Library Task Force on the future of public libraries in La Crosse:  
  • August 5: 4:00 p.m., South Community Library
  • August 12: 5:30 p.m., North Community Library
  • August 16: 10:00 a.m., Main Library
Get ready to VOTE in the August 12 primary. You can vote in person at the City Clerk's office for two weeks before August 12. For more information - finding your polling place, requesting an absentee ballot, etc. visit https://myvote.wi.gov/

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WE'RE ON! Citizen Koch screening August 7!

[UPDATE (7/18): In the first day of sales, about 20% of required tickets were sold. That's great! But we need to sell (as of now) about 40 more for the event to take place!

Check out this article from Mother Jones magazine: Public TV Snubbed This Film to Avoid Offending a Billionaire Donor. No one will ever know exactly why PBS pulled the plug - the filmmakers were able to make up the production funds through a KickStarter campaign - but the article is a good one.]

Finally, the theater has confirmed and we are on for our TUGG screening of Citizen Koch.

The event will be on Thursday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Marcus Cinemas, 2032 Ward Avenue in La Crosse.


The even greater news is that Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, will be live in the theater for the post-film Question and Answer session!

The way a TUGG event works is that an organizer must pre-sell a set number of tickets by a deadline in order for the event to take place. Those who pre-buy tickets to a "pending" event will not be charged until the event sells its minimum and is confirmed as "active." At that time, pre-bought tickets will be charged and those who bought them will receive an email confirmation WITH THEIR TICKETS WHICH THEY MUST PRINT AND BRING to the event.

Those who purchase tickets to an "active" event will be charged right away and their confirmation and tickets will be emailed.

For this specific event, we must pre-sell at least 56 tickets (it was 58 but I already pre-bought two of them!) by July 31. I think this is feasible. Please spread the word to make this event happen.

The tickets cost $11 each. This covers the cost of the theater rental and screening rights for the film. In addition, the promoter gets 5% of the proceeds which will be donated in full to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Please spread the word! Our state primary is just a few days after this event - August 12 - and it will be a good reminder about what we are fighting and fighting for.

If you have any questions about this event, please email couleeprogressive[at]hotmail.com.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Still waiting ...

I am still waiting to hear from the TUGG representatives about confirmation of date and time for the screening of Citizen Koch. When I first heard about TUGG, I thought it was a great idea. Having an organization that connects viewers with films and theaters - what could possibly go wrong? Well, now I know what could go wrong. The theater doesn't respond to the TUGG representative and the TUGG representative apparently isn't as fired us as we are to get this thing finalized. And so, we wait. I promise that as soon as I know something, it will be posted here.

Now, for something completely different, you may know that there's a lot of talk about closing the South Branch Library. The Library Board claims there's not enough money to keep it open, but a recent study group identified available funds and suggested possible efficiencies. If you have an opinion about whether or not the South Branch should stay open (and/or other library-related issues), please plan to attend a public hearing:

  • 4:00 p.m. August 5 at the South Branch
  • 5:30 p.m. August 12 at the North Branch
  • 10:00 a.m. August 16 at the Main Library

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lac-Megantic Oil Train Victims Remembered

La Crosse Citizens Called to Wake Up and Recognize the Dangers of Oil Trains As Canadians Lost in Derailment Disaster Last Year Are Remembered

La Crosse residents gathered near Central High School and the rail tracks Thursday to call for protection of local communities from the dangerous oil trains that pass near several schools, business, homes, and sensitive environmental areas every day.

The memorial service, organized by the local group CARS (Citizens Acting for Rail Safety), included a reminder by CARS member, Rev. Curtis Miller, that the explosion that killed at least 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec last July 6, was not a natural disaster but rather a fully preventable industrial accident.

Miller pointed out that citizen action is needed to demand reforms or we will continue to experience these disasters. At least 42 trains, each carrying atleast one million gallons of highly explosive Bakken crude oil, passthrough the heart of La Crosse every week.

The names and brief biographies of the 47 Lac-Mégantic victims were read aloud as their pictures were posted on oil train models provided by CARS. Many of the victims, from babies to octogenarians, were so incinerated by the force of the explosion they were not able to be identified by thecoroner. Three rail employees have been charged with criminal negligence. The bankrupt Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic Railway, Ltd. is named as a co-accused in the trial, but none of its top officials have been charged.

Ironically, a 103 car oil train, carrying at least three million gallons of volatile crude oil, passed near the gathering and high school during the memorial ceremony.

Following the ceremony, CARS member, Guy Wolf of Stoddard, reminded the group that the proximity of tracks to the river and its tributaries provides even more opportunities for disaster. High flood levels may undermine rail beds and bridges, and local emergency providers, some of whom are sited within the potential blast zone, do not have the training, equipment and staffing to deal with major spills or explosions. The tracks through La Crosse pass near at least four public schools, and the 1/2 mile “blast zone” includes nearly one-quarter of La Crosse residents' homes, businesses and/or work places.

CARS member, Alan Stankevitz, who maintains the comprehensive DOT111 Reader  pointed out that industry and government officials have known for decades that rail cars used in the transport of volatile Bakken crude oil and many other toxic substances are known to be unsafe because of their relatively thin skin and susceptibility to ruptures.

A 2012 USA Today article on increasing oil shipments by rail notes that, “Larger trains are harder to control, and that increases the chances of something going wrong.” More oil was spilled in rail accidents inthe U.S. last year than in the previous four decades, according to federal statistics.

And yet safety and emergency preparedness is lagging terribly behind the ramp up in domestic oil extraction. U.S. oil producers are slated to increasetheir output by about 750,000 barrels per day in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s first projections. If export restrictions are eased by Congress, that figure may rise.

Besides the danger and fear of exploding trains, La Crosse residents' quality of life is being impacted by more, longer, and heavier trains. Noise, rumbling, and dust have caused structural damage and made some residents' homes nearly uninhabitable. Utilities workers have been delayed or blocked by parked oil trains. Residents of neighborhoods with access crossed by tracks worry that emergency responders and vehicles might be impeded by parked or moving trains.

Organizers of the event, are calling for the dangerous trains through the populated City to stop, for effective emergency preparedness and the release and dissemination of critical emergency response information to the people of La Crosse, and for sweeping change of oil transport at the federal regulatory level.

A national petition calling for a ban on the use of outdated and unsafe DOT111 tank cars is circulating at the website dot111.info. Known as “Pepsi cans on wheels,” this model of rail cars is known to puncture and explode due to substandard construction and the high volatility of Bakken crude oil.

“Ticking time-bombs should not be rolling by our schools and neighborhoods on a daily basis. And it's not just our community. Dangerous oil-bomb trains are threatening citizens and businesses all over the country,” said Duane Teschler of Veterans for Peace.

“What is truly evil about the train disaster in Lac-Mégantic is the fact that this disaster could have been prevented if human life and safety were valued as highly as maximum profits. This was not an accident but a criminal act. The proximity of rail lines to schools and businesses in our city make us realize that what happened in Quebec last year could very easily have happened here,” said George Nygaard, a member of CARS.

“I was more affected than I thought I would be thinking about the people who were killed in Lac-Mégantic. They could be my own friends and family members. This immoral system - where producing more and more dirty fossil fuels for export on the world market takes precedence over the lives of people living and working in communities all across the country - has to change. I don't want to see a La Crosse area resident interviewed on national news about an oil train explosion near Central High or major devastating contamination of the Mississippi River. Things will not change until and unless all of us wake up to these dangers and force things to change,” said CARS member, Irving Balto.

CARS, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, sponsored the July 10 event.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95503110/Today, kudos to those who speak up and speak out.

First, way to go Maureen Freedland! Maureen was interviewed for the 5 p.m. segment by Mitch Reynolds on La Crosse Talk PM today (1410 WIZM) about new information released to and by the state that an average of 42 oil trains per week pass through La Crosse. Citizens Advocating for Rail Safety (CARS) has been trying to get specific information about this for months. Now, apparently by federal order and thanks to an open records request by the AP, the railroads (BNSF and CP) were required to release this information. (The reporting threshhold is one million gallons, so there may be more Bakken crude oil passing through, less than one million gallons on a mixed car train.) Warning: if you listen to the audio (it's the second hour), please note that lots of called in mis- and dis-information is thrown about.

Next, Maureen Taylor, state chair of Michigan's Welfare Rights Organization, strongly, firmly, and with great conviction gave a Michigan reporter what for on MSNBC Live this morning. As you may know, thousands of Detroit residents who are at least two months behind and owe at least $150 on city water bills, have had their water shut off or are threatened with shut off. It's so serious that activists have appealed to the United Nations. And who knew that major businesses, sports franchises, and golf courses who owe thousands of dollars in water bills have NOT been threatened with shut off? For more about the Detroit water shut off crisis, read the LA Times article recommended by DKos' Progressive Liberal.

In case you missed it, the fine documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, which was on Wisconsin Public Television last week, is now streaming FREE on the PBS/POV website. It's a very good and inspiring look at someone who's been fighting the good fight for more than 70 years! If you have high school activists in training, watch this with them.

And now, a couple of reminders:

Thursday at noon at Central High School - commemoration of Lac-Megantic rail explosion that killed 47 people. "This observance is to show support for their survivors and work toward rail safety in their memory. Towns and cities across the nation are observing similar ceremonies this week recognizing this tragedy and the hazards of moving explosive Bakken oil and other hazardous substances through communities. People attending in La Crosse will be given the chance to speak to the effects and concerns of trains in our community.
Listen to La Crosse Fire Chief Cleveland's national interview underscoring concerns for the La Crosse region."

And, your comments about the Badger-Coulee 345 kV high voltage transmission line project are due to the Public Service Commission (PSC) by July 15! Please check out the Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) page and NoCAPX2020 for power line information. In a nutshell, these interstate high voltage power lines will carry dirty-coal generated electricity across our region - despoiling natural areas, reducing property values, possibly causing health hazards, and costing rate payers ever more money (in part due to the guaranteed 12+% rate of return promised to line builders!) to points east. Does Wisconsin need this? No! Could this money be better spent helping people, communities and businesses increase their energy efficiency? Yes! What if some of the $18 BILLION Wisconsin sends out of state to pay for power could be kept in state paying for solar panel manufacturing, solar gardens, wind generators and other renewable energy generation? Anyway, you can read others' comments and generate your own at the PSC (and understand that many PSC commissioners leave their posts for high paying jobs with the utilities they are now regulating and/or firms that advocate for those utilities). Click Case Documents to read others' and File a comment to submit your own.

UPDATE: Citizen Koch screening

The date has still not been confirmed by the theater! But we are shooting for an early August screening of the important documentary, Citizen Koch. Once the date is confirmed information about pre-purchasing tickets will be available here and through others. The good news: Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, has agreed to lead the post-film discussion! This is a great organization and Mike knows just about everything about campaign finance, dark money, illegal campaigning in the state. 

Check back often! As soon as the date/time is confirmed, we will post it here!! 

And, finally, Tom Tomorrow is a genius. 


Sunday, July 06, 2014


Ok, it's been a while (like THREE YEARS) since the last post on this blog. There is so much going on now, I felt the need to turn it on again. So, here's a schedule of important events coming up next week. Please attend if you can! I've included links to specific websites for more information. Please educate yourself about these very important issues! 

Please check back often for updates and new information on important issues like the Badger-Coulee high voltage power line, unsafe rail cars, frack sand mining, the Sierra Club's Coulee Region Goes Solar campaign, Community Solar Gardens, energy efficiency opportunities, political campaigns, and much more!

Every Sunday, I will try to post a calendar of upcoming events of interest to the progressive community. If you have events, please email couleeprogressive@hotmail.com. Also, if you'd like to post on this blog, please email.

MONDAY, JULY 7 at 4 p.m. at the County Administrative Building (room 3220), the County's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will consider a piece of legislation that would fund a railroad safety analysis. With increasing traffic of larger, longer, and less safe trains (and the possibility that a second rail line will be constructed through sensitive areas), the proposal would study whether current infrastructure - rail crossings, bridges, etc. - are safe or might require upgrading or repair. If you wish to make a comment in support of this proposal, please attend! 

TUESDAY, JULY 8 at 7 p.m. at the Cartwright Center, UW-L, CRUE (Coulee Region United Educators) will host a screening of CITIZEN KOCH. "A searing exposé on the state of American democracy and the fracturing of the Republican Party, CITIZEN KOCH investigates the money behind the Tea Party and traces the impact of unlimited election spending by corporations and billionaires. Alternately terrifying and funny, CITIZEN KOCH is an essential and powerful portrait of our political times." One of the teachers featured in the film will be on hand after the screening for questions. 

[NOTE: A second screening is being planned for late July or early August through TUGG. Details have not yet been finalized. Check back next week for ticket information.] 

TUESDAY, JULY 8 at 7:15 p.m. at the La Crosse Democratic Party Headquarters, 126 Fifth Avenue South (Suite 102), there will be a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mary Burke. Read more here. 

THURSDAY, JULY 10 at noon at the corner of Losey and Green Bay, CARS (Citizens Advocating for Rail Safety) will hold an event commemorating the one year anniversary of the deaths of 47 people killed when a Canadian Pacific train carrying tar sands crude oil exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada. (Hear a good story about this event, including a La Crosse connection, here). 

CARS has been working in La Crosse to alert people of the increased risk of derailments, toxic spills, and explosions as more and more trains, carrying more and more unsafe cars full of explosive crude oil pass through the middle of our community. About 25% of citizens live and/or work within 1/2 mile of the tracks - the danger zone for an exploded train car. Heavier and more frequent loads are causing damage to houses and reducing quality of life for families living near the rails. Parked trains are blocking utilities workers and may pose danger for residents who live in neighborhoods with limited access roads that could be  blocked by parked trains. In addition, the oil is dirty and enviromentally devastating, For more info on the oil train issue, check out the comprehensive DOT Reader

Remember, there is a primary election coming up on August 12! If you need to register to vote, get more information about your polling place or early voting, or request an absentee ballot, please visit MYVOTE, a Wisconsin voter information site and portal. 

I'm off Facebook because of all their shenanigans, but if you use FB, pleases share this link.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And now for something completely different . . .

water on fireGASLAND is a new film about the process of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing of rocks to recover natural gas.

THERE WILL BE A SCREENING OF THIS IMPORTANT ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED DOCUMENTARY ON SUNDAY, APRIL 17 EVENING (exact time and location TBA - watch this space!) The event will be FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Please SIGN UP to attend this film and see a trailer. Sign the petition to demand that Congress pass the anti-fracking bilL.

Fracking is touted as a way to increase US energy independence, but the process of injecting high pressure chemicals, sand, liquids has resulted in water contamination, noise and shaking making life unbearable for those living near drilling sites, and a host of other complaints including demands to know exactly what chemicals are being used.

You may remember that Scott Walker clone, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, has recently recommended that Ohio public lands - including parks - be opened up for oil and gas development, including fracking.

Fracking is already taking place in Wisconsin, with many urging a hold until more is known about consequences. Those of us who use natural gas for heating, cooking and/or transportation should know what are the real costs, environmental and human, of this "clean" fuel.

Please attend and drag your friends to this FREE screening. This is important!
"The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of 'fracking' or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a 'Saudia Arabia of natural gas' just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."