Friday, November 13, 2009

Rate hikes and serfdom

serfsFor Xcel's explanation of its rate increase request, read this document.

I can't tell if the public comment period is over or not, but you can email the PSC (docket #4220-UR-116) with your comments on the proposed rate increases. This page talks about how to provide comments to the PSC.

It seems other Xcel states are none too happy about paying higher rates when Excel execs waste money on extravagant dinners, spas, box seats at sports events and other luxuries.

In this Wednesday, Nov. 11 article from the Colorado Independent, we learn that:
Some of those 2008 travel and entertainment expenses include $9,524 of a $41,890 bill for a board retreat at the plush St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder; $5,410 of a $9,721 bill for Colorado Avalanche games; $19,323 of a $26,639 bill for “other employee related sporting activity”; $3,746 of an $11,958 tab at McCormick’s Fish House and Bar in Denver; and $3,458 of a staggering $15,211 bill at Frasca restaurant in Boulder.
Really, have we progressed all that much?


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Surprise hearings - energy, health care

Democracy depends on an informed electorate ... unfortunately, finding out where and when the information will be dribbled out often takes some keen sleuthing.

In Saturday's paper, uncovered by Guy, was a notice of an Excel rate increase teleconference hearing on WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. in room 104 Wing Technology Center, UW-L. (Note - this overlaps with Wednesday's Racial Profiling listening session, 4 to 7 p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library.)

According to the LaX Tribune: "Xcel filed June 1 with the PSC for an electric rate increase of 5.7 percent and proposed to keep its natural gas rates the same. The PSC staff recently suggested a 2.7 percent electric rate increase and no change in natural gas rates."

Guy says, "Please consider coming and voicing your concerns about money
for laying the plan for 345Kv, 150 powerlines; for upgrades to
increase nuclear power and nuclear storage at Prairie Island
Mdewakaton Dakota Community (even while Xcel is fighting basic safety
measures requested by the Tribe and City of Red Wing, and
all the while raising rates on low income individuals."

I suppose this is better notice than that of Wednesday's Ron Kind Health Care sort-of listening session by proxy
At the start of the call at about 6:35 p.m., a random selection of households in the district will receive a call inviting them to participate. Those who stay on the line will hear some comments from the La Crosse Democrat and will have the opportunity to ask questions. Interested constituents may also dial in themselves by calling 1-877-229-8493 and using the code 15311.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Driving while black?

from Wisconsin ACLU:

Effective January 1, 2011, all Wisconsin police officers are required to collect data that will be used to determine whether vehicles operated or occupied by racial minorities are disproportionately stopped. The data collected, collection method, and analysis will be determined by a new administrative rule. The Office of Justice Assistance (OJA), a state agency, is preparing the rule with the assistance of the Advisory Committee.

The public is invited to share their comments with the Traffic Stop Data Collection Advisory Committee on a rule being developed to assess the possibility of racial profiling in Wisconsin traffic stops at a public to attend a listening session next Wednesday, November 11th at the La Crosse Public Library, 800 Main Street from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Please encourage people you know to attend and speak out.

If you are part of the media have any questions about the listening session, please contact OJA: Tami Jackson, Office of Justice Assistance, Public and Media Relations Officer, Office: 608-266-6476, tami.jackson[at]

If you are an advocate with questions about racial profiling, please contact Chris Ahmuty, Executive Director, ACLU of Wisconsin, Cell: 414.704.6226, CAhmuty[at]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time Saver - do this

Too busy to write my own, but here's a to do list from Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (more details here:

*Action Alert 1 - Wisconsin: *Restore Books to Department of Corrections Prisoners

*Action Alert 2 - Wisconsin:* Urge Governor Doyle to speak up for Palestinian water rights by canceling trade mission to Israel

*Action Alert 3 - Wisconsin: *GSA for Safe Schools 2009 Wisconsin School Climate Survey

*Action Alert 4 - Wisconsin:* Demand full public financing of Wisconsin Supreme Court elections

*Action Alert 5 - National: *Take action to protect the peace community of San Jose de Apartado in Colombia

*Action Alert 6 - National:* Oct. 27 March on the Bankers Convention in Chicago

*Action Alert 7 - National:* HR 2404, requiring Afghanistan "exit strategy", introduced

*Action Alert 8 - National:* H.R. 3699 to prohibit funding for Afghan "surge" still needs Wisconsin cosponsors

*Action Alert 9 - National: *Nov. 1-8, host a local event in support of equal marriage rights


*Contact:* Wisconsin Representatives and Senators here:
Wisconsin State Legislator here:


*Action Alert 1 - Wisconsin: Restore Books to Department of Corrections Prisoners*
*Background:* The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is denying prisoners access to donations of used books; Dan Westfield, Security Chief of the Department of Corrections, imposed the used book ban in November 2008, interrupting a free book service that had been provided to prisoners by Rainbow Bookstore for years without incident. It is a well-documented fact that increasing literacy and educational opportunities for an inmate is directly correlated to the success they will experience when returning to their communities.
*Action Request:* Call Governor Doyle and express your concern at (608) 266-1212 or email him here: and contact your State Representatives here: to ask them to investigate the Department of Corrections' actions.
*Contact for more info:* Elizabeth Severson at 608-233-3170 or email:

*...................................... *
*Action Alert 2 - Wisconsin: Urge Governor Doyle to speak up for Palestinian water rights by canceling trade mission to Israel*
*Background:* Governor Doyle plans to lead a trade mission to Israel ( this
November Nov. 17 to 19 on sciences, water technology and agriculture where he will speak at a water conference and is urging Wisconsin businesses to join him. He has directed the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to promote this trip. Israel practices systematic, widespread racial discrimination against Palestinians in the allocation of water resources, both for human consumption and for agricultural use.
*Action Request: *Sign the Petition Supporting Palestinian water rights (,
and call the Governor's office ( to demand that he cancel his planned trade mission to Israel*.*
*Contact for more info:* Barb Olson, Phone: 608-238-1227 email:

*Action Alert 3 - Wisconsin: GSA for Safe Schools 2009 Wisconsin School Climate Survey*
*Background:* GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) for Safe Schools ( is launching a 2009 Wisconsin School Climate Survey to collect important information about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning students and their straight allies in Wisconsin middle schools and high schools. It is anonymous and the information gathered will help GSA for Safe Schools and other organizations educate policy makers, educators, and the public on issues facing LGBTQA students and better advocate for their interests on state and local levels. *Action Request*: Please share this link with any middle school or high school-aged youth you are connected to who may be interested in sharing their experiences. LGBTQC School climate survey (
*Contact for more info:* GSA for Safe School’s office at (608)661-4141 or email Brian Juchems at or Tim Michael at

*Action Alert 4 - Wisconsin: Demand full public financing of Wisconsin Supreme Court elections*
*Background:* The Impartial Justice Bill (Senate Bill 40 ( Assembly Bill 65 ( would provide for a system of public financing for all Wisconsin Supreme Court elections. In previous Supreme Court elections, business groups such as Wisconsin
Manufacturers and Commerce have pumped millions of dollars into campaign to elect corporate-friendly justices.
*Action Request*: 1) Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline, 800-362-9472 (266-9960 in Madison). Tell your state senator and representative to support the Impartial Justice bill. 2) Call Senate Leader Russ Decker (608-266-2502) and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (608-266-7503 or toll-free 888-947-0044) to urge them to promptly schedule a vote on SB 40 and AB 65.
*Contact for more info:* Beverly Speer, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign,

** *......................................*
*Action Alert 5 - National: Take action to protect the peace community of San Jose de Apartado in Colombia*
*Background:* In Colombia, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado has received a note from paramilitaries located in the hamlet of Nueva Antioquia, in the municipality of Turbo. The note told them they must leave their lands, failing which “blood will run”. The Peace Community has previously received threats from these paramilitaries, who openly collaborate with the Colombian Army and Police, and have previously threatened to kill Eduar Lancheros, a companion of the Peace Community.
*Action Request*: Write or call your representatives in Congress, advising them of this continued illegal collaboration between paramilitary forces with the Colombian military. Tell them the U.S. must demand the dismantling of the paramilitary base in Nueva Antioquia, and prosecution of those who threaten the Peace Community and Eduar Lancheros. If they do not, U. S. military aid to Colombia should be suspended. Also please contact the government officials listed here (
*Contact for more info:* Cecilia Zarate-Laun of Colombia Support Network (, email:

*Action Alert 6 - National: March On the Bankers Convention in Chicago*
*Background:* the American Bankers Association has its annual meeting in Chicago, October 25-27, and large coalition of labor, community, and consumer organizations are organizing a counter-convention and protest (, starting with workshops and discussion on Sunday, Oct. 25 and ending with a march to the Bankers' convention on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Tuesday schedule:
10:00am - Prayer vigil on Wacker, east of Michigan Avenue
10:30am - March: starting at Stetson and Wacker;
11:00am - Rally at the Sheraton Hotel (301 East North Water Street, Chicago)
*Action Request:* Register for Sunday workshops here ( Participate in the march on Tuesday. More info on the march
here (
*Contact for more info:*

*Action Alert 7 - National: HR 2404, requiring Afghanistan "exit strategy", introduced*
*Background:* Representative Jim McGovern has introduced HR 2404 (,
which requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress outlining the exit strategy from Afghanistan. The bill currently has 99 cosponsors (, including Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore and Steve Kagen.
*Action Request:* Contact your representatives ( to ask them to support for HR 2404, or to thank them for their cosponsorship.
*Contact for more info:* United for Peace and Justice Legislative Working Group, email:

*Action Alert 8 - National: H.R. 3699 to prohibit funding for Afghan "surge" still needs Wisconsin cosponsors*
*Background:* Barbara Lee has introduced H.R. 3699 ( to prohibit funding for any increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan. The bill now has 23 cosponsors (, but none from Wisconsin yet.
*Action Request:* Write or call your member of Congress ( to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3699.
*Contact for more info:* US Labor Against the War (

*Action Alert 9 - National: Host a local event in support of equal marriage rights, week of Nov. 1-8*
*Background:* Following up on the October 10 National Equality March in Washington, D.C. calling for full and equal marriage rights for LGBT couples, Equality Across America ( is working to build a grassroots network in all 435 Congressional Districts to make this demand a reality.
*Action Request: *Host a local meeting during the week of November 1-8 to help build a grassroots network for full federal marriage equality. Check the map here ( to see if an event is already planned for your area. If not, you can download an organizer's toolkit ( (.pdf) and register your own event. (
*Contact for more info:*
WNPJ is forwarding these weekly alerts from membership and national affiliates. WNPJ is not responsible for the content, or the contact links for websites & phone numbers. Questions about the Alerts? Please contact the person listed in the alert. If you are a WNPJ member and have an alert you would like posted in this weekly WNPJ Action Alert e-bulletin that comes out mid-week, please send it for review to Steve Burns, WNPJ Program Director at: Thanks to UW-Madison work-study student Michaela Machicote for her assistance with these Action Alerts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Democracy: Battery edition

Remember that great moment in The Matrix when Neo wakes up and realizes that he's merely a battery in an immense machine?

Welcome to the Health Care Reform Matrix.

Matt Taibbi walks you through the machine in a very depressing article about so-called health care reform in the September Rolling Stone. Read it.

"We might look back on this summer someday and think of it as the moment when our government lost us for good. It was that bad."

Then, listen to the interview from today's Kathleen Dunn program on Wisconsin Public Radio.

You'll learn that the fix has been in for many months. The Obama White House shook down health industry lobbyists for money to propagandize the American people (if the government had paid it would have been illegal.) You'll learn about deals made with pharmaceutical companies including one that extends drug patents (as if they hadn't gotten enough already) and, of course, no negotiations to pay true costs. You'll understand why Olympia Snowe has become our nation's 45th president and why Max Baucus' bill will be The One and why single payer was "off the table" from the very beginning.

Then, go ahead, and call Ron Kind and ask him to support what most people really want - single payer universal health coverage or even a "robust" pubic option that's not just the rug under which all the uninsurables are swept. Ha ha ha.

You are just a battery.

All that's left of health care reform is a collection of piece-of-shit, weakling proposals that are preposterously expensive and contain almost nothing meaningful — and that set of proposals, meanwhile, is being negotiated down even further by the endlessly negating Group of Six. It is a fight to the finish now between Really Bad and Even Worse. And it's virtually guaranteed to sour the public on reform efforts for years to come.

"They'll pass some weak, mediocre plan that breaks the bank and even in the best analysis leaves 37 million people uninsured," says Mokhiber, one of the single-payer activists arrested by Baucus. "It's going to give universal health care a bad name."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pennies for Peace

Central High's Amnesty International group is raising funds through Greg Mortenson's Pennies for Peace campaign to fund a school for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their goal is to raise $45,000 by February 1, 2010. If you would like to help with this worthy project, please send a check (I think payable to Pennies for Peace) to Central High School, Attention Ms. Newgard-Larson, 1801 Losey Blvd. S., La Crosse, WI 54601.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

UN Day in La Crosse

Veteran activist, Ray Starrett, has good news! The Mayor of La Crosse will proclaim Saturday, October 24 La Crosse - UN Day! Ray is founder of the La Crosse United Nations Association.

Please show support for this proclamation by attending the ceremony on Saturday, October 24 at 10:00 a.m. on the south side of City Hall.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


From FireDogLake:

Sixty-five members of the House drew a line in the sand: no public option, no health care bill.

Unfortunately, the "Blue Dogs" have drawn their own line in the sand: Blue Dog: Votes aren't there to go it alone on public option

You can sign this petition to progressive members to let them know you have their backs, and to remind them that they cannot vote for anything but a public option in both the House bill AND the conference bill. But you will also need to call - call every day - to urge Ron Kind and leaders in the house and senate.

Think we can afford to do nothing?

Without reform, health insurance rates to nearly double in 11 years

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Democracy" and Health Care Reform

During the election of 2008, Ralph Nader was roundly excoriated for his election night comment, "To put it very simply, he is our first African American president, or he will be, and we wish him well. But his choice, basically, is whether he's going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations."

With the latest health care/health insurance "reform" debacle, it's pretty clear that Obama has chosen Tom over Sam.

A recent column by Glenn Greenwald at makes the case:
"The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status). This is how things always work. The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way. When is the last time they didn't? The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach) -- and the vast, vast majority of progressives (all but the most loyal Obama supporters) who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform. But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support. Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want."

So, this is what we canvassed and called and donated and worked for? I don't think so.

Supposedly, Obama is fond of quoting President Franklin Roosevelt, who urged supporters of legislation he favored to "make me do it." On the surface, this sounds like an invitation to participatory Democracy - get out there and fight for the policies you believe in. But, when the person urging you to fight, is found to be supporting and supplying the opposition, it turns into a cruel torture.

Take the Ron Kind [not] listening sessions scheduled for the hinterlands (but not La Crosse) this week. To make things more manageable, Kind will have attendees take numbers and speakers whose numbers are drawn will have two minutes to speak. Apparently, at the Richland Center session, with 500 people in attendance, 25 speakers (five per cent) were allowed to speak. With no guarantee, based on past experience, that anything any constituent says makes any difference whatsoever in Kind's actions or votes, this, too, looks less like a democratic forum and more like something a bully might dream up.

In Afghanistan, elections have just been held. More than fifty political parties were on the ballot. Here, two, or if you believe Nader, one.

Paul Krugman's recent post on, makes the case that Democrats are not evil, duopolist bullies, but rather, incredibly gullible political dimwits: "So far, at least, the Obama administration’s response to the outpouring of hate on the right has had a deer-in-the-headlights quality. It’s as if officials still can’t wrap their minds around the fact that things like this can happen to people who aren’t named Clinton, as if they keep expecting the nonsense to just go away."

Either way, we are screwed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just say, HELL, YES! to health care reform NOW

Feingold listening sessions - Saturday August 1

7:30 a.m. in La Crosse - City Hall, 400 La Crosse Street

10:30 a.m. in Chaseburg Village Hall

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


From the Tribune:

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind will host a panel discussion on health care reform Wednesday in La Crosse.

The public forum is from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the La Crosse Public Library, 800 Main St. The panel will include a hospital administrator, physician, small-business owner and laborer, and will focus on how health care reforms would affect businesses and families in western Wisconsin.


What do we want?

Single payer universal health care!

When do we want it?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

LOTS of important stuff!

Health Care NowSorry to dump all this at once but I just have not had time to update regularly. If you can make it to one or more of these important events, please go!

It's especially important for all of us to push back against the bland and dangerous "middle" that is fast destroying our hopes for true change in environment and health care policy. See more below this event list:

Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church (1010 Sill St.) - TREATMENT INSTEAD OF PRISON! sponsored by AMOS. A Restorative Justice Forum with rick Raemish, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections; Judge Elliot Levine, La Crosse County Circuit Court; Tim Gruenke, La Crosse County District Attorney. For more info, see the AMOS web site.

Thursday, May 28 at 2:45 p.m. at the Amtrak Station in La Crosse (601 St. Andrew St.) - RALLY FOR HIGH SPEED RAIL! sponsored by UW-L Environmental Council and WISPIRG. For more info and/or to RSVP visit the Facebook page at

Thursday, May 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House (corner of 8th and Main Streets in La Crosse) - Wisconsin's Electric Energy Future with Commissioner Mark Meyer, of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) sponsored by the Clean Energy Coalition. Also on the agenda is discussion about Governor Doyle's Global Warming Task Force. For more info, please email Bill K.

Saturday, May 30 - NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION IN SUPPORT OF SINGLE PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE - NO LOCAL RALLY IS PLANNED, but please take this opportunity to write and call your representative and senators in support of this best, most cost effective option. See Health Care Now for more details.

Monday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Franciscan Spirituality Center (920 Market St.) - Judicial Independence Forum - Should we reform Wisconsin Supreme Court elections? sponsored by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan organization now building awareness of the Impartial Justice Bill scheduled for a May 27 public hearing:

On the national front, our wonderful dear leaders are taking the middle path ensuring no significant change will occur in health care and environment issues.

HEALTH CARE - according to American Health Care Reform, the insurance and drug lobbies are buying their way into a sweetheart deal. Referencing a Washington Post March report, "Health insurers and drug makers have showered Congress with almost $6 million bucks to have their seat at the health reform table."

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, major providers and insurers apparently promised to lower costs by &2 trillion and Obama touted this as a "major breakthrough." But, this promise was quickly disputed by those who attended the meeting. And, even if it were true - $2 trillion over 10 years - who is going to hold them accountable?

And what about the reform that would benefit the most Americans at the lowest cost - single payer, universal health care? Off the table. In fact, some "moderate Democrats" have vowed to keep a public plan out of the mix of options now being considered. Ben Nelson (D-MT) has called a public option a "deal breaker."

On the other hand, in April, four major caucuses (Progressives, Black, Asian Pacific American, and Hispanic) sent a letter to Obama stating what's ON the table for them - ‘our support for enacting legislation this year to guarantee affordable health care for all firmly hinges on the inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.'

With big bucks and "bought" Dems (and don't forget the loopy Republicans) and Obama's mastery of making something out of nothing, unless there is a major public outcry, the best, most cost effective health care reform plan will not see the light of day.

ENVIRONMENT - Well, we knew this had to happen! "Coal, Electric Industries Big Winners in Climate Bill Deal." In fact, this bill is so flawed that major environmental groups are not supporting it.

Really, it's too depressing. Watch this Democracy Now! program for more info.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Energy Fair Coming - Take the BUS!

This just in - don't miss out:

The People's Food Co-op will sponsor a bus trip to this year's MREA Energy Fair on Saturday, June 20. Here are the details:

Coach (56 passenger with bathroom facilities)
Bus Cost: $15 (Fair admission separate - see below)

7:00 a.m. - Depart PFC parking lot
9:30 - Arrive at Energy Fair in Custer WI
6:15 p.m. - Depart Energy Fair
9:00 – Arrive at PFC parking lot

FAIR Admission (pay at gate): $15 (general); $10 (+65); $10 (13-18); Free (12 & under)

NOTE: MREA gives $5 off admission for bus goers (coupon given on bus). SIGN UP BY June 6! (Last year's bus sold out early!) There are no cancellations after registration (unless we have a wait list).

If interested, please email Vicki or call the People's Food Co-op, 784-5798.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What do we want? Universal single payer health CARE!



4:30 TO 6:00 P.M.




Tell Ron Kind: CO-SPONSOR and PASS HR 676 -
The United States National Healthcare Insurance Act

It's amazing that the insurance companies and their lobbyists have such a hold on our politicians that even at the Obama health care "summit" in March, those who represented a single payer, universal health care plan were at first excluded entirely, then allowed admittance but virtually ignored.

The facts are undeniable. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, administration consumes at least 31% of U.S. health care spending. The administrative costs of the Medicare program are around 3%.

For the whole picture, download and read the extensive Single Payer/Medicare for All - An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation.

If we don't push now for a health CARE (NOT INSURANCE) program that covers everyone for basic and necessary services, we will be stuck with a crushingly expensive welfare program for insurance companies (can you say Medicare Part D?) for a long tie to come.

And every week you will be invited to attend a silent auction, spaghetti dinner or some other fundraiser for a friend, relative, neighbor or co-worker who is seriously ill but has no insurance. If this doesn't make you boiling mad, you should not be visiting this blog!

(And please GET WELL SOON, Guy!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sustainability is NOT a four letter word

SustainabilitySometimes you have to wonder what some people are thinking. Certain La Crosse Common Council members are having trouble with the Sustainable La Crosse legislation on which a group of committed volunteers has worked long and hard. Dick Mial's column in today's Tribune gives you a few examples of some of the nutso ideas that must be overcome if this meekest of plans is to be implemented.

The very idea that the government might actually be involved in people's and, yes, businesses', lives seems to irk some people (who don't seem to wonder at their government certified clean air and water, their government protected streets, their government subsidized electricity and internet access, their government inspected food (well, hmmm, maybe NOT that one) ... you get the idea.)

But, equally disturbing, are the people who just don't get that this is a real crisis. If you ask me, the time for suggesting is over and now it's time for some real mandates and I mean mandates on private individuals and business, yes.

For example, we now forbid people from burning waste in their back yards. Why? Because the smoke and smell is a nuisance, it's a fire hazard, and worst of all, it's a major health hazard, especially when people burn plastics and other things that should not be burned. It's a government mandate that you NOT burn your trash and it's for the good of all that this mandate exists.

Now it's time to mandate a few more things. I'm all for mandating that businesses selling electrical appliances and toys (ceiling fans, refrigerators, televisions, etc.) turn them OFF. I think we all know what a ceiling fan looks like whether it's moving or not. Or how about the city mandating that any group using city facilities pay a carbon tax for the electricity they use. And that tax increases as more power is consumed. (Yes, I am out to END the wasteful and polluting Rotary Lights as we know it!)

I'm also in favor of mandating that private individuals quit wasting energy with crappy windows and minimal insulation. If I were king, the city would go neighborhood by neighborhood and do an energy audit of every house, then work with homeowners to WEATHERIZE - upgrade doors and windows, insulate, seal cracks, etc. Why couldn't the city offer low or no interest long term loans, paid for by the stimulus bill, to be paid on property tax bills, for homeowners to do this? Homeowners would save on energy costs, people would be put to work building and installing upgrades and utility companies would not have a leg to stand on when they wail about increasing energy demand. (The latest National Geographic magazine has a great feature article on energy conservation we can all do right now.)

And, while they're at it, the city should ensure that homeowners who DO upgrade to save the planet aren't punished for it by higher property taxes. Maybe each neighborhood could be like an energy TIF district, where the payback for the upgrades, say at 0% over 30 to 40 years, takes the place of any property reassessment due to the energy enhancement of the property. And after the 30 or 40 years, then the enhancements can be used to increase the property taxes (assuming the world doesn't end in 2012 or something (since apparently the Y2K apocalypse didn't work out as planned.))

It doesn't have to be Draconian.

The City of Austin does an annual Kill-A-Watt Challenge and businesses participating see a great financial savings from reducing their energy costs. Even Wal-Mart, which has started its own energy challenge, is requiring that suppliers start using less energy too.

One elderly person I talked with was afraid she would be required to ride a bike or [gasp] SHARE A RIDE with someone if the sustainability plan passes! Rather than scare old and overweight people with visions of bicycle torture, why not make it an offer they can't refuse by charging much higher parking fees, increasing frequency and convenience of public transportation (hey! THAT one IS in the sustainability plan) and using the $20/month bicycle incentive in last year's stimulus bill to get some of those big behinds out of the Lexus and onto a bicycle (or at least a bus seat.) Why should those of us who have to BREATHE for a living subsidize fat asses who insist on driving everywhere and clogging our air with asthma inducing pollutants?

The sustainabilty plan is a good start, but to me it doesn't go far enough. Read it and then contact your council representative to vote for this important first step. (And while you're at it, ask her/him to see about getting council meeting agendas posted on the city's website at least one or two days in advance of council meetings!)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Run for cover or stand and fight

The BirdsThe Republicans have left the jungle gym and are in hot pursuit of their latest target, progressive nominee for Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.

First an anonymous hold, then more time to "review her responses" to their questions, then a minor business tax owed by her husband threatened to stop her nomination.

The Nation magazine comes to the point,
The real problem for her opponents is that under Solis, the Department of Labor would once again defend the rights of workers after eight years of repealing, reducing and blatantly ignoring workplace laws and regulations. As a state senator, Solis authored the first environmental justice law in the nation, and she has since said she is committed to creating green jobs. She also told the Senate that she would address the retirement security crisis; ensure that workplaces are safe, healthy, and fair; and protect workers from job discrimination.

--- snip ---

Solis has been one of Congress' strongest backers of the Employee Free Choice Act, serving as a co-sponsor of the measure in 2007, and her nomination is turning out to be an early proxy fight over the legislation itself.

Given that conservatives are going all out to block Solis's appointment, and the fierce and effective right-wing effort to push back the stimulus package, it's crucial that your elected reps hear how many Americans support President Obama's pick for labor.

Some thought the battle was over in November, but that was just the opening round. Every progressive change will be a new battle. So, get on the phone, write that email, mail that letter. This one's worth fighting for.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Push the "stim"

This is from Campaign for America's Future via

The word on the street here in Washington is that the right is killing us with phone calls to Congress on the Obama economic recovery plan. One congressperson said the calls are running 100 to 1 against it.

The legislation is now on the Senate floor. If senators perceive that Americans side with Obama in this fight—which several polls say they are—that will strengthen the power of progressives in the debate and we’ll get a good bill. If, on the other hand, senators are only feeling the heat from conservatives, then our advocates will be weakened and we’ll get a lousy bill. That’s just the way things go on Capitol Hill....

That means pick up the telephone and call 202-224-3121 (or use the toll-free service at 866-544-7573). Ask the Capitol operator to transfer you to one of your state’s U.S. senators. When you’re connected, say you’re calling to urge your senator to "support the Obama economic recovery plan and oppose all conservative amendments." Call back and repeat for your other senator. Then contact everyone you know and urge them to do the same.

Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Feingold: (202) 224-5323 or contact form

Kohl: (202) 224-5653 or contact form

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Thanks to all who worked on and attended the 2009 Coulee Progressives State of the Union!

Planning committee: Kevin, Jessica, RoZ and Obbie, Hank, Guy, Cathy
Flyer: Obbie
Venue: Concodia Ballroom
Soup & Salad: RoZ, Guy, Jess, Cathy, Kevin
Bread donation: Fayze's Restaurant
Guest speaker: Ben Manski
Speaker host: Hank
Emcee: Obbie
Year in Review: Guy (and Kevin?)
Power cord for projector: anonymous angel!

Thanks to everyone else for attending, networking, sharing, bringing great desserts, bringing food donations, helping to set up and helping to clean up!

By tomorrow, we will try to have links/contact info for all groups represented at the Community Fair in case you missed someone.

Please help us make this event bigger and better (yes, bigger IS better in this case) next year by completing the survey!

Please feel free to add your comments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a NEW DAY! [Updated]

CouleeProgressives State of the Union 2009Have you been inspired and energized by Martin Luther King day events and the inauguration of Barack Obama? Here's your chance to get involved!

The FIFTH ANNUAL Coulee Progressives State of the Union will be held on Friday, January 30 at the Concordia Ballroom, 1129 La Crosse Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. to the annual Community Fair - lots of local, regional and national organizations and groups letting you know what's going on and giving you the opportunity to sign up to volunteer. Of course, free food and a cash bar and wonderful music and lots of idea sharing will add to the enjoyment.

At 7:30, Ben Manski of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution will speak.

[UPDATE:] We will also get a preview of the new video Transportation Liberation and have a great look back at actions and events of 2008!

Entrance is by sliding scale donation (we use entrance fees to help pay for the hall) and you are welcome to bring a dessert to share and/or a non-perishable donation for local food pantries.

Groups, organizations, candidates who want table space during the Community Fair should email

Updated: Confirmed tablers (so far - will update over the weekend. If you should be on this list, please email me!)

African American Cultural Alliance of La Crosse
American Civil Liberties Union
AMOS/Jubilee Center
Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin
Clean Energy Coalition
Coulee Partners for Sustainability
Coulee Region Sierra Club
Driftless Region Bicycle Coalition
La Crosse Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
La Crosse Area Freethought Society
La Crosse Citizen Advocacy
La Crosse County Democratic Party
La Crosse Interfaith Coalition for Justice and Peace
Lenard for Mayor of La Crosse
Londre for Shelby Town Board
LGBT Center of the 7 Rivers Region
Three Rivers Waldorf School
United Nations Association of La Crosse
Upper Mississippi Anarchy
UW-L Progressives
Vets for Peace/War Moratorium
Wisconsin Farmers Union
Women in Black

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

National Single Payer Health Call in Day

National Health Care for Allfrom Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice:

Call Congress - Support HR 676 – Single Payer Healthcare. Call 1-202-224-3121

United For Peace and Justice encourages you to join this nationwide Congressional call-in day. This is the second such call-in day, organized by the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare - National Single Payer Coalition.

Make your calls to the Washington, D.C. offices of the House of Representatives. HR 676 has been reintroduced in the 111th Congress. There are 86 cosponsors in the House from the 110th Congress who have been sworn into the 111th session. The goal set by the National Single Payer Coalition is to double those sponsors through this massive call-in on Thursday and other efforts. [You can see a map of who is a co-sponsor at this web site. You guessed it! Ron Kind is NOT a co-sponsor! - CP]

If you do not know who your Representative is or how to reach her/him, click on to -- and then enter your zip code on the upper right corner where it says "Find Your Officials". The Congressional call-in number is 202-224-3121.

When you make the call, be sure to ask if your Representative is already a sponsor of HR 676. If they are, thank them and urge them to do all they can to help it pass.

If your Representative is not yet a sponsor, urge them to become one now. (Visit Healthcare NOW for talking points.) They can also attend a briefing on HR 676 that will be held on Wednesday, January 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the halls of Congress.

If you can make one more call, please call one or both of your Senators to support companion legislation to HR 676 in the Senate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Important Corporate Law Case Coming

One Wisconsin Now
The headline reads "Case could rewrite corporate law in Wisconsin” and arguments before the Wisconsin State Supreme Court begin this week.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has already made it known how it would like the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule.

And who can forget the millions of dollars WMC spent supporting corporate-friendly and ethically-challenged judges Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler?

Haven’t you had enough? It's time WMC-backed justices Gableman and Ziegler remove themselves from ruling on this case. Sign the petition below and demand Justices Ziegler and Gableman recuse from the Virnich and Moores case.

In 2006, A jury ordered the owners of Communications Products Corporation, Daniel Virnich and Jack Moores, pay $6.5 million in damages after the pair took over $10 million from the company as they drove it into the ground. Dozens of workers were out of jobs when the company went under, and Communications Products Corp. refused to fulfill its union contract and pay workers their due. All the while, Virnich and Moores continued to collect huge payments from the company.

When WMC gets its way, it means fewer rights for workers and more breaks for corporations. Labor lawyers have said that allowing owners like Virnich and Moores to get rich on the backs of workers would "weaken future collective bargaining agreements and companies' duties to meet their obligations."

Please take just a moment and sign on to the petition demanding Gableman and Ziegler recuse themselves. But don't just sign—get five friends to sign too. Together, we'll stand strong with our workers and fight back against the corporate greed of WMC.

Follow this link to sign the petition:

Justices Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman,

I am writing to request you recuse yourself from participating in the upcoming case before the Wisconsin State Supreme Court involving the former Communication Products Corporation. As you know, oral arguments are set to start, Wednesday, January 7.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce not only filed a brief at the appeals level but also reiterated its sentiments and desired outcome of the case in the media just days ago.

Because of the millions of dollars spent by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce which benefited both of your races for Supreme Court, your continued participation would raises serious concerns about your impartiality on this case.

To ensure a Wisconsin Supreme Court with the highest ethical standards, I respectfully request you withdraw from participation in this case.

[Your Name Here]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.A community celebration and commemoration of the life and ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held on MONDAY, JANUARY 19 at 7 p.m. at the English Lutheran Church, 1509 King Street, La Crosse. The featured speaker will be Reverend Everett Mitchell, of the Madison-area Urban Ministry with music by the Tommy Wesley Gospel Choir. Doors open at 6:30. Free admission. Sponsored by La Crosse County, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center and Franciscan Skemp Healthcare.

La Crosse MLKJr FlyerPlease print out and distribute the flyer!

"It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

More last minute notice

From the Tribune:
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will take public comment in La Crosse today on its draft long-range transportation plan, Connections 2030. A public meeting will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the UW-La Crosse Cartwright Center. Area residents are invited to attend to learn about the plan, ask questions and submit comments. The DOT also welcomes comments and questions via phone at (608) 266-8108, or on the Connections 2030 Web site at Comments will be received until Feb. 27.

The draft plan summary includes:

Support BICYCLE and PEDESTRIAN facilities and plans.:
*Increase accommodations along state trunk highways, where feasible, to develop a connected bike and pedestrian network
* Expand the federal “complete streets” policy to state funded projects
* Continue to implement the state’s bike and pedestrian plan goals

* Support public, specialized and human services transit.
* Work with partners to ensure that adequate funding is available for existing transit systems and improve coordination among providers
* Seek new funds for rural and regional transit systems to improve coordination between the state’s transit systems
* Improve intercity bus service and connections.
* Promote intercity bus service that links urban and rural areas, and connects to other modes
* Establish a state program to fund service, improve station facilities and purchase new buses

* Support development of fixed-guideway transit systems.
* Continue state funding for studies and implementation
* Recommend new, separate operating funds for new fixed-guideway transit systems receiving state assistance, and develop a capital and operating assistance program in
major metropolitan areas
* Increase intercity passenger rail service.
* Continue to improve intercity passenger rail service by supporting existing service and implementing the state’s component of the 3,000-mile Midwest Regional Rail System
* Establish a rail station capital assistance program for existing buildings and constructing new stations, and promote connections with other modes such as local and interregional bus, taxi and air service
* Consider opportunities »to extend intercity
passenger rail service to areas of the state not identified in the Midwest Regional Rail System.

Most important (to me):
Encourage transportation demand strategies.
*Encourage alternatives »to driving alone by promoting ride sharing and telecommuting, providing more transportation service choices and improving modal connections
* Integrate transportation demand management strategies and corridor management

There's more at the link above. And/Or attend tonight's public meeting. Maybe in a few decades our public transportation system will begin to meet the needs of the last century!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Advance notice?

From the Tribune:

Wisconsin Sen. Dan Kapanke is inviting constituents to his new La Crosse office for an open house Thursday.

Kapanke, who was elected in November to his second term, will be on hand to take questions and talk about the 2009 legislative session. A projected $5.4 billion shortfall is likely to dominate most of the session as lawmakers struggle to balance the state’s budget.

Visitors are welcome between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in suite 308 of the Exchange Building, 205 Fifth Avenue S. A light lunch will be served.