Wednesday, February 28, 2007

LAMP's Blackey will visit Afghanistan

A few years ago, Ray Starrett decided to do something positive about the U.S. attack on Afghanistan. He started LAMP - the La Crosse Afghanistan Mine-removal Project. This Adopt A Minefield chapter, part of the United Nations Association of the USA, raises funds to help clear landmines and unexploded ordinance in Afghanistan.

Fundraising is heaviest in early November when the annual worldwide Night of 1,000 Dinners (N1KD) brings people together in their communities for food, education and giving. The La Crosse N1KD has grown over the years; for the past two years, LAMP has organized a week of activities including art displays, speakers, cooking classes and the N1KD, with authentic recipes from Afghanistan, speakers and slides.

David Blackey, LAMP's current president, will travel to Afghanistan this spring. "My travels will take me to Kabul on April 29 for a ten day stay. I will be staying with Shabana's father, General Basij Rasikh. I hope to send brief emails while there, and then do an email report to the membership after my return on May 9th, plus show photographs at next November's N1KD."

David notes that he will meet with Sarah Chayse, formerly a reporter for National Public Radio, now, according to David, "a saint." She is working to develop a cooperative that makes natural skin care products, ARGHAND, to foster democracy, make money for the villagers of the Kandahar region and combat the illegal opium trade. You can hear Amy Goodman's October 2006 interview with her here.

We hope to include some posts from David during his travels and will remind you when N1KD time rolls around in November. But you can contribute to LAMP anytime by mailing your check to LAMP, PO Box 3542, La Crosse, WI 54602-3542

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not Enough

A few days ago a group of veterans, parents and relatives of veterans visited Congressman Ron Kind's office to press him to take action on defunding the Iraq occupation and start bringing troops home. While listening politely, and agreeing that things are not going well in Iraq, Kind made no promises. He supports the Murtha plan, he said. But, talk is cheap. We need to see some action.

On Friday, a local group had a short meeting with Senator Herb Kohl. Many had occupied his offices last fall in hopes of scheduling a meeting. Some were arrested. Charges were dropped, but it has taken several months for the group to get a meeting with Kohl. The results, to those of us who support the protesters and want some action from Kohl, were disappointing. He said he was a quiet man and "not a leader." If only we had elected Rae Vogeler in his place last November ...

Both Kohl and Kind are taking advantage of us voters. We sent a strong message to both - we want the Iraq occupation ended and troops brought home - but they are not doing enough. Both men are fine communicators, but we need strong leaders who are not afraid to take strong action. For example ...

More below.

In a previous post we detailed some of the Iraq legislation introduced in the House. To date, Ron Kind has not co-sponsored one of them. And Murtha's Bill? Even though Murtha's plan to limit deployments based on troops receiving training and equipment and adequate down time is supported by a majority of Americans, the Democrats are self destructing again and there's doubt about whether it will ever see the light of day. And even if it does, it turns out, maybe Kind didn't really mean he'd support the plan that much.

And Kohl?

In June, 2006, Kohl made Matt Rothschild's Iraq Roll of Shame. In fact, seach the list of bills co-sponsored by Kohl and seach on "Iraq." Not one. Not one bit of legislation about Iraq - withdrawing, defunding, redeploying, you name it - has been sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Kohl. What is this?

It's not enough. It's not enough to talk nice and do nothing. People are dying and being maimed and losing their minds and committing suicide. Our children's future is being loaned to the war mongers.

We have to crank up the heat on these guys. March 16. Watch for more details. This must change.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Celebrate Black History Month - POSTPONED!!!

[UPDATE: The BHM event scheduled for Monday, February 26 has been postponed to Tuesday, March 6. Note that this is the same evening as the public hearing on the eco-municipality legislation before the La Crosse Common Council Committee of the Whole (public hearing). Dust off your clone or plan to attend the BHM event first then scoot over to City Hall for the 7:30 p.m. public hearing!]

Come to Lincoln Middle School at 5 p.m. for free dinner and a great program (at 6 p.m.) featuring music, awards, student presentations, speakers and much more. This annual event celebrates Black History Month and diversity in La Crosse.

Lincoln Middle School is at 510 S. Ninth St. Admission and refreshments are free

Thursday, February 22, 2007


[UPDATE: "Kohl discusses Iraq with war protesters"]

Kohl's office has finally notified the "La Crosse Six" of their meeting place.

Radisson Hotel, 200 Harborview Plaza, Front Lobby, 10:30 a.m.

Organizers suggest that people meet at 10:00 a.m. on the street/sidewalk by the parking lot in back of the Radisson Hotel where leaders will direct and get you organized.

This is an opportunity to show Kohl that there are many of us who want the free flow of money for war to stop now. We want him to support legislation to cut funding for more war and bring all U.S. troops home (and no permanent bases, either.)

For background, see below the fold.

Senator Kohl has pretty much gone along with the Bush administration. H voted in favor of giving the criminal Bush unlimited war-making authority. Then he said the problem was that they'd done it wrong. When it's safe and he doesn't have to DO anything, he can sound tough.

But is he tough enough to meet with constituents? Apparently not.

Read more about the protest at the La Crosse Tribune.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


[UPDATE: In the Wisconsin State Legislature, the "Global Warming Solutions" Bill is coming. "Joined by leaders of Wisconsin's major environmental, social and faith-based organizations and other groups, Wisconsin State Assembly Representative Spencer Black and State Senator Mark Miller announced last week at the State Capitol a legislative initiative aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas pollution emissions from Wisconsin between now and 2020." Please Email Dan Kapanke or phone him at 1-(800) 385-3385, email Mike Huebsch (an exercise in futility, but you never know!) or phone him at (608) 266-3387, and email Jen Shilling or call her at (608) 266-5780 and urge them to co-sponsor this bill. They have until Friday, February 23! Find contact info for other state legislators here. More about this bill here.]

Now, we're cookin' with gas:

La Crosse City Council Members Jai Johnson and Dorothy Lenard are pleased to announce the introduction of legislation to establish La Crosse as an eco-municipality and lay the ground work for a more ecologically sustainable future. The eco-municipality model, based on The Natural Step framework, originated in Sweden and is now spreading across the globe. Wisconsin, in keeping with our proud, progressive tradition, is leading the way. The cities of Ashland and Washburn were the first cities in the United States to adopt The Natural Step approach. Madison soon followed suit and the City of La Crosse is now poised to join this select group of forward thinking communities.

At the heart of The Natural Step is sustainability. Sustainable development has been defined as community development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." But beyond embracing this noble objective, the pending resolution provides the direction and funding to establish a formal Strategic Plan for Sustainability for the City of La Crosse. We’re excited about the solid foundation this work can lay to promote economic growth and development while protecting our environment for generations to come.

Click below for dates of upcoming legislative meetings at which you may appear and register or deliver comments in favor of this legislation.

Public may comment at:

City Planning Commission Meeting February 26, 2007, 4:00 p.m.
5th Floor Conference Room La Crosse City Hall

Public may comment or register in support at:

Judiciary & Administration Committee Meeting February 27, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Council Chamber, City Hall

Committee of the Whole Meeting March 6, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Council Chamber, City Hall

Final vote – no public comment:
La Crosse City Council Meeting March 8, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Council Chamber, City Hall

Here's the legislation:

WHEREAS, on December 19, 2002 the Common Council of the City of La Crosse adopted Confluence: The La Crosse Comprehensive Plan and a goal of said plan is safeguarding and improving environmental features as a means of promoting neighborhood revitalization, community image and quality of life that enhances, restores and protects natural resources such as the rivers, wetlands, bluffs and wooded hillsides, among others; and

WHEREAS, The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities for sustainable community development has been well shown to fit this goal by the experiences of several cities in the United States including Ashland, Washburn and Madison, Wisconsin and over 75 cities worldwide; and

WHEREAS, the willingness of the City to become an Eco-Municipality through The Natural Step program can serve as a model for others and thereby encourage sustainable practices in the City and throughout the region; and

WHEREAS, the following four guidelines were developed by the American Planning Association to help communities implement sustainable practices:

1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, and extracted underground metals and minerals.
2. Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in Nature.
3. Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems.
4. Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently; and

WHEREAS, it is important to the goals within Confluence that the City endorse the principles of sustainable community development and prepare a sustainable community plan following the guidelines of The Natural Step Model for Eco-Municipalities.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby endorses the principles of sustainable community development as described through The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities stated above, and agrees to apply these principles whenever possible in its planning, policy making, and municipal practices.

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby authorizes the Planning Department to prepare and circulate a Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek a qualified person(s)/firm(s) who will assist the Mayor, All City Departments, City staff and others, in preparing said sustainable community plan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor shall appoint a consultant selection committee and said selection committee shall provide a recommendation to the Common Council for selection of said person/firm and contract for services.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the cost for said planning services shall not exceed $25,000 for the planning consultant(s) and $5,000 for City staff, printing, mailing and meeting costs, with the source of funds being 2006 & 2007 Community Development Block Grant, sustainable plan funds.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Tuesday is primary day. There are some important races so please VOTE!

Three candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court will seek enough votes to advance to the general election. One has been endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life and one thinks he should have been.

That leaves Linda Clifford, a Madison attorney, with experience as Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. She has served on many Wisconsin State Bar committees. In 1997, she received the President’s Award of Excellence for her work on the State Bar’s Commission on the Judiciary as a Co-Equal Branch of Government.

Clifford's supporters include: former governors Tony Earl (D), Patrick Lucey (D), Martin Schreiber (D) and Lee Dreyfus (R); Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Senator Russ Feingold, Congressman Steve Kagen, Congressman Ron Kind, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and Congressman Dave Obey. Organizational support comes from AFSCME - PEOPLE, Building & Construction Trades of South Central Wisconsin, Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin AFL-CIO and Wisconsin Laborers District Council.

More below
Locally, La Crosse voters have several Circuit court primaries to decide.

Branch 2 candidates include

Christine Clair, veteran public defender and a great worker for families of domestic violence and assault who also serves as president of the La Crosse School Board.

Loralee Clark, who has been endorsed by many Republicans.

Elliot Levine, a veteran public defender who also manages the regional State Public Defender’s office which comprises 10 surrounding counties. Levine is an adjunct professor at Viterbo University teaching Constitutional Law and serves as a coach for the UW-L Mock Trial team. He is founding President of the Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals and a founding member of the La Crosse County Criminal Justice Management Council.

For me, it's between Clair and Levine. Both have received good endorsements and both would be good judges. What an embarrassment of riches!

Branch 4's three candidates must also compete in a primary. The candidates are

John Brinckman, a veteran defense attorney who currently serves as a local multi-jurisdictional Municipal Judge.

Scott Horne, a Republican.

Kara Burgos, a local attorney who has served as La Crosse County family court mediator and as court commissioner for two local judges.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

And, by the way: "All election results for every race on every ballot cast at every polling place in La Crosse County will be announced and available as they come in (beginning after the polls close at 8:00 p.m.) in the County Board Room (B410), located in the basement of the County Administrative Center, 400 4th St. North, La Crosse. The public is welcome."

And, if you aren't yet registered to vote, check here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


[From Guy]

This Valentine’s Day, February 14 ... Before you go away to that romantic rendezvous, before you snuggle with your sweetie, before you even have another routine lunch at your desk ...


The main U.S. Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121. You can reach every member of Congress from those numbers. There are also toll-free numbers you can use. These are: 1-800-828-0498, 1-800-459-1887, 1-800-614-2803, 1-866-340-9281, 1-866-220-0044.

Ron Kind Toll: (888) 442-8040 TTY:(888) 880-9180 - Ron has already introduced Healthy Farms, Foods, and Fuels Act, an approach to dramatically reduce oil and coal through wind and renewables

Sen Kohl - La Crosse Office: 425 State Street, Suite 202. Phone: (608) 796-0045, Fax: (608) 796-0089

Senator Feingold: - La Crosse Office: 425 State St., Room 225. Phone: (608) 782-5585

And tell them:


The FY 2008 federal budget released by George Bush February 5 includes whopping increases for nuclear power—and cuts for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs needed to address the climate crisis. A Public Citizen statement providing more details is below.

Show your love for the planet, and join thousands of people in calling both of your senators and your representative with a simple message: It’s time to stop wasting more of our tax dollars on ineffective, dangerous and unnecessary nuclear power programs. We need to redirect those funds where they will help most: for solar power, energy efficiency, wind power, geothermal, and so on. We have a good chance for success with the new Congress, but it won’t happen unless they hear from you.

Feb. 5, 2007

Bush Administration Budget Proposes to Squander More Than a Billion Dollars on Unsafe and Polluting Nuclear Power and Nuclear Waste Programs in FY 2008

Statement of Michele Boyd, Legislative Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Just how much taxpayer money does the federal government have to squander before it realizes that it is chasing a nuclear power mirage? Apparently, more than a billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2008 alone. The Bush administration’s budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposes to waste another $1.3 billion for nuclear power programs in pursuit of dangerous policies to revive the nuclear industry, restart nuclear waste reprocessing in the United States, and resuscitate the failing Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project.

Among the many subsidies for the 50-year-old nuclear industry in the Bush administration’s budget:

* $4 billion in proposed loan guarantees for nuclear and coal plants in FY 2008, compared to a $5 billion cap for biofuels, electricity transmission and the vast array of renewable energies. The DOE set these amounts, but according to the budget request, has yet to evaluate the financial risks for U.S. taxpayers. A 2003 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the risk of loan default for a new nuclear plant would be “well above 50 percent.”

* $802 million for nuclear power research and development, a 38 percent increase from the FY 2007 request (the pending FY 2007 Continuing Resolution does not provide full funding). More than $1.4 billion has been spent on nuclear power research and development since FY 2001. Yet it is unlikely that we will see any new reactors before 2017 – if ever. Meanwhile, significant efficiency measures and renewable energies could be implemented in the next few years if federal policies supported them.

* $114 million for the Nuclear Power 2010 program, which pays the wealthy nuclear industry for half the cost of applying for new reactors and licensing new designs. More than $251 million has been appropriated for this program since FY 2001. The DOE has granted $260 million to a consortium of utilities and manufacturing companies, called NuStart, for only one construction and operation license application.

* $36.1 million for developing designs for the “next generation” of nuclear reactors. More than $200 million has been spent on the program since FY 2001. According to the DOE, these designs will cost between $610 million and $1 billion. None of these designs is part of any of the new reactor proposals.

New reactors would also mean more radioactive waste, but the Bush administration budget has no solutions:

* $405 million in FY 2008 for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a program to promote reprocessing that the Bush administration first announced last year. This represents a $285 million increase from the pending FY 2007 Continuing Resolution for the ill-defined program. Reprocessing is expensive and the most polluting part of the nuclear cycle. It also would threaten U.S. national security by producing highly radioactive plutonium that is vulnerable to theft. More than $586 million has been appropriated for reprocessing research since FY 2001. But according to the National Academy of Sciences, a full-scale reprocessing and plutonium fuel program for the waste that we have today would cost at least $100 billion (1997 dollars). There is significant skepticism in Congress about the partnership. The report of the House FY 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations bill found that “the Department of Energy has failed to provide sufficient detailed information to enable Congress to understand fully all aspects of this initiative, including cost, schedule, technology development plan, and waste streams from GNEP.”

* $494.5 million for the proposed high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a $49 million increase for the program. Despite claims by the DOE that its priority is to submit a “high quality” license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June 2008, the DOE is in the conceptual stage of redesigning the site facilities and operations once again. The Government Accountability Office released a report last week concluding that more than $25 million will be spent to find falsified data and replace key modeling programs for the site. Approximately $9 billion has been wasted on this program already. Retiring Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Edward McGaffigan recently stated that the project “has been beset by bad law, bad regulatory policy, bad science policy, bad personnel policy, bad budget policy throughout its history.”

In comparison to lavish funding for the mature nuclear industry, the administration proposes to keep solar funding flat, to cut wind and weatherization budgets and to eliminate geothermal funding. As with past Bush administration budgets, the real solutions for combating climate change and meeting energy needs – renewables and efficiency – get the very, very short end of the budget stick.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Feingold says NO!

Today was the "virtual march to oppose the surge." I hope you contacted Senators Kohl and Feingold. Even as hundreds of thousands of voters across the country called their representatives, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan had thrown in the towel on behalf of all of us.

His compromise resolution, worked out with Republican Senator John Warner, is "a mistake," says Sen. Feingold. (Read his blog here.)

Feingold rightly points out that,
"It rejects the surge, but it also misunderstands the situation in Iraq and endorses the President’s underlying approach. It’s basically a back-door authorization of the President’s misguided policies, and passing it would be a big mistake. Under the guise of constructive criticism, the Warner-Levin resolution signs off on the President continuing indefinite military operations in Iraq that will not address the fundamental political challenges in Iraq, and that continue to distract us from developing a comprehensive and global approach to the threats that face our nation."

Now is the time to contact Senators Feingold and Kohl and tell them to not just oppose this resolution, but push for passage of Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2007 and the bi-partisan, H. R. 645, the Comprehensive Strategy for Iraq Act of 2007.

More below.

With new reports that say the "surge" could be up to 50,000 and that the Decider will strike Iran soon, it's time to light a fire under these Democrats whose new power comes straight from the anti-war vote.

They can't continue this silly badminton game while the Decider is playing at World Wrestling Smack-Down.