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Monday, August 19, 2019


If you haven't yet, please email Wisconsin's DNC members and ask them to vote yes on the Podlodowski resolution at this week's DNC meeting in California. Be aware that DNC chair, Tom Perez has introduced a competing toothless resolution. Read more at Huffington Post. (Unfortunately, this is just business as usual for Perez.) Two Wisconsin DNC members are already on board. Thank you Andrew Werthmann and Khary Penebaker. The others are Martha LoveJanet BewleyBen WiklerMahlon Mitchell, and Felesia Martin.

On Tuesday, 8/20, State Senator Jennifer Shilling is hosting a birthday fundraiser. If you can attend, do. If not, consider a donation and, coming up, volunteering. Shilling won her last election by a very slim margin last time. State Republicans are hoping to gain enough seats in 2020 to provide a "veto proof" majority. We can only imagine what that might mean for the ghost of progressive Wisconsin.

On Thursday, Kevin Kane will meet with La Crosse area folks interested in organizing a Citizen Action co-op in our region. If interested, sign up at the FB event page.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

City will consider new "special events" permits

From the city's web site:

The City of La Crosse is proposing updated policies and procedures for permitting special events held within the City beginning January 1, 2020.

The City’s goal is to encourage and help coordinate special community events, while regulating these events in a positive manner to ensure the health and safety of participants at the event, efficient management of City services and the protection of public lands and facilities.

The proposal will be discussed at the Board of Public Works meeting on Monday, August 12, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room.  The proposed legislation is expected to then be presented to the Judiciary & Administration Committee and Common Council in the September 2019 cycle of meetings.

Below are links to documents detailing the proposed policies and procedures:
If you have questions or seek additional information, please contact Nikki in the City Clerk’s Office at (608) 789-7555 or email at (Note:  I will be out of the office August 5 - 9, 2019.)

Does this mean that a demonstration or vigil or group visibility event needs a permit with an application 60 days in advance and proof of insurance? Do city permit regulations interfere with First Amendment rights?

The ACLU says,
"Do I need a permit before I engage in free speech activity?   
Not usually. However, certain types of events require permits. Generally, these  events are:
• A march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk, and other events
that require blocking traffic or street closure
• A large rally requiring the use of sound amplifying devices; or
• A rally at certain designated parks or plazas
Many permit procedures require that the application be filed several weeks in  advance of the event. However, the First Amendment prohibits such an advance  notice requirement from being used to prevent rallies or demonstrations that are
rapid responses to unforeseeable and recent events. Also, many permit ordinances give a lot of discretion to the police or city officials to impose
conditions on the event, such as the route of a march or the sound levels of  amplification equipment. Such restrictions may violate the First Amendment if  they are unnecessary for traffic control or public safety, or if they interfere
significantly with effective communication with the intended audience. A permit  cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views. 
If organizers have not obtained a permit, where can a march take place? 
If marchers stay on the sidewalks and obey traffic and pedestrian signals, their activity is constitutionally protected even without a permit. Marchers may be  required to allow enough space on the sidewalk for normal pedestrian traffic and
may not maliciously obstruct or detain passers-by.
May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks? 
Yes. You may approach pedestrians on public sidewalks with leaflets, newspapers, petitions and solicitations for donations without a permit. Tables may also be set up on sidewalks for these purposes if sufficient room is left for  pedestrians to pass. These types of free speech activities are legal as long as  entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically and
maliciously detained. However, a permit may be required to set up a table.
Do I have a right to picket on public sidewalks?Yes, and this is also an activity for which a permit is not required. However, picketing must be done in an orderly, non-disruptive fashion so that pedestrians can pass by and entrances to buildings are not blocked.
Read more at the ACLU's site.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

PeopleFest and more

Sunday marks the second annual PEOPLEFest in La Crosse. Sponsored by a long list of great community groups, the gathering will highlight our community's growing diversity and welcome everyone to our big family. The FREE event runs  from noon to 5 p.m. at Riverside Park.

Performing groups include the Enduring Families Project, Group Cabana, Irish and Hmong dancers and more.

There will be food there, too (but be sure to bring your WATER BOTTLE) so we can reduce or eliminate bottled water!

On Monday, August 5, the Wisconsin Public Education Network hosts its Fifth Annual Summer Summit at Central High School. Governor Tony Evers will be the featured speaker at the day-long event that includes workshops, advocacy training, networking and more. You don't have to be a teacher to attend! WPEN is, "a grassroots, nonpartisan coalition to support our public schools made up of parents, educators, board members, administrators, school districts, and groups around the state." Visit the event site for registration and schedule details.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Public hearings season

Many communities are beginning to work out their budgets for the coming year. Budgets are where say meets do.

Sometimes it's hard to know what is being considered and when and where the public may provide input. You almost need to sit, like a polar bear (back in the normal times) waiting patiently by an air hole, for something to pop up on legistar,  one of the least user friendly sites in the world (every step, a new. pdf download) or squint through the tiny print in the Public Notices section of the newspaper (if Captchas and ads and paywall polls don't knock you out first.)

Agendas are often not listed until the last minute. Titles of resolutions don't always make sense. Public hearings are sometimes scheduled in the middle of a work day morning with no clear path for feedback if you can't attend a meeting. There's always email, I guess.

There are a few opportunities we know of coming up for public comment. Not all of these are specifically about budgets, but in a way, all of them are about budgets. Please attend or participate if you can, or at least check out the issues and call or email council and or board reps to weigh in. (We will gladly post more if you know of others.)

For City of La Crosse, here's the page to keep your eye on.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, the La Crosse Judiciary & Administration Committee, will discuss 19-0906, AN ORDINANCE to create Division 6 of Ch. 115, Art. VII of the Code of  Ordinances of the City of La Crosse regarding Solar Energy Systems. It appears this is an effort to make it easier for individuals, businesses, and other entities to put solar panels on their properties. Thus is a needed step in the live to turn from fossil fuels. If you can attend to show support for this ordinance, please do. You don't need to speak, just register in support. The meeting will be in the council chambers, City Hall.

At that same meeting, a permit for demolishing existing buildings for yet more parking lots will be considered. How does this fit into our sustainable future where we need to make it harder, not easier, to keep driving individual fossil fueled vehicles and expecting storage at every possible stop. Plus there is the issue of embodied carbon.

The public transportation system we have now has very limited routes and schedules compared to the current needs of workers, students, those who don't or can't own and drive cars, and those who prefer the lower carbon footprint of public transportation. One of the biggest gaps is in MTU service between La Crosse and Onalaska (the #9) which stops at Gundersen Onalaska, Woodmans, the DOT office, Mayo Onalaska, Center 90, and Onalaska City Hall among others. The #9 only runs hourly for few hours on week days and the schedule has a big three hour hole right in the middle of the day.  The service was better a few years ago before the budget was cut, an equivalent of about sixty cents per family per year by some estimates.

If you would improved service and have a story to tell (you have trouble getting to Ona Mayo appointments, you can't work at thd Ona Y because thr bus doesn't go there, your elderly relative has to get a ride everywhere because of bad bus service, or whatever), please go to the Onalaska City Council's Utilities committee meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday, August 7 at Onalaska City Hall.

An ongoing campaign by Citizen Action Wisconsin is encouraging people to contact their electricity provider soon and tell them to apply to be part of the USDA's Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) which makes loans to energy providers like electric co-ops who in turn provide affordable, long term loans to energy users for energy saving upgrades - everything from caulking andvinsulating to replacing appliances, installing renewable energy systems, replacing inefficient equipment, and more. This one is a relatively easy action since CA has created an online petition. Read more about it, and about CA's plan to organize in our area, at their website.

On September 4, the Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a public hearing in Onalaska on updating CAFO siting rules, something that is drastically overdue. The hearing will be at Stoney Creek Hotel, 3060 South Kinney Coulee Drive in Onalaska from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. You may also comment online or via mail or email. Get all the info and details at

Monday, July 15, 2019

Climate action wants YOU!

Tuesday - Coulee Region Sierra Club press event to celebrate City of La Crosse passage of Ready for 100 resolution. July 16 at 1 pm at City Hall.

Wednesday - monthly Citizens Climate Lobby meeting. July 17 at 6:30 pm 401 West Ave South

Friday - Fridays for Future La Crosse weekly vigil at City Hall any time 10 am to 1 pm (bring your signs!)

When was the last time you saw a news item on local TV news about the climate crisis? If you answered, "Just about NEVER!" you are CORRECT! Why is that?

We can learn the name and life story of every student athlete signing for a college scholarship, the details and background of every cat locked in a moving van or water skiing squirrel, the schedule of every local party, but we get not a peep about the latest report that the Earth's oceans may be nearing their carbon saturation point, or that a new study estimates 120 million will be pushed into poverty by climate change or that Alaska is burning?

We need to make more noise about the climate crisis, from attending public events and connecting with other activists to calling the media and asking why they are not covering the most important story of all time.

Please. The time for changing a bulb and sending a check and buying a gasoline powered car that gets 50 mpg instead of 30 mpg and then being done with it is over. We all need to take our concern to the next level. What will you do?