Thursday, June 29, 2017

More on citizen action

On Tuesday, Our Wisconsin Revolution - La Crosse chapter hosted a Meet your City Government event at the Myrick Park Center. Moderated by Prof. Richard Kyte of Viterbo University's Ethics in Leadership program, the panel included Mayor Tim Kabat and members of the La Crosse City Council, School Board, and City Committees.

According to one attendee, "Mayor Kabat encouraged people to CALL their elected reps - not email, as it’s more direct- regarding matters of concern. He encouraged people to CALL him (608 789-7500) when they had issues of vital importance and didn’t know where to go. Maybe it's time for people to call their council members, committee members, and the mayor, and call again and again…respectfully of course. AND give kudos to the Planning Committee, direct positive feedback to those members, saying their approach is helpful to civic engagement."

Calling or speaking with an elected in person is a most effective way to communicate. But, especially if you are lobbying for a specific program change or innovation, emailing can also be useful because you can include graphics, charts, and links to background information. Or if you are contacting the entire city council (since public hearings before all the council members are now much more difficult), emailing may be the most effective and efficient way.

Another way to get involved: you can nominate yourself to serve on a City Board or Committee

We also need to make sure that those we call actually count and respond to our calls (or emails or letters). How many times have you been asked for your name, address, and phone number when called Sen. Ron Johnson's office? (Maybe that's a bad example since 90% of the time you will either get the chance to leave a voice mail, or, more often than not, get a message that the voice mailbox is full). [Ron Johnson's contact info is here.]

Speaking of effective citizen action, this email came today:

#AllOfUs, Democracy Spring, Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, The People's Consortium, and Progressive Democrats of America are working together to organize, coordinate, and support sit-ins at Senate offices across the country on Thursday, July 6th inspired by ADAPT’s courageous nonviolent sit-ins last week targeting Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell . We will target as many Republican Senators as possible with a common demand that they vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Our country needs single-payer, Medicare for All that leaves no one out. But right now we must do everything we can to defend the tens of millions who will suffer if Trumpcare passes. If ordinary people rise up and demonstrate that this bill is morally unacceptable, if we put our own bodies and liberties on the line to show our neighbors that human lives are stake, we have a real shot at stopping this bill from becoming law.

Sign up now.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Public involvemet in government

Long ago, anyone in the city of La Crosse could "attend" Common Council meetings by tuning them in on a radio. You could hear what new proposals were coming up, who was in favor and opposed, who had prepared for the meeting and who had not, and who understood Robert's Rules of Order and who did not. The broadcasts were provided by a local commercial radio station.

In the 70s (I think), that service was taken over by UWL's campus station and then it was available on cable (not everyone had or has cable) and now it's less accessible than it was 50 years ago. I guess if you have cable/satellite and/or high speed internet you can hear the meetings, but if you don't you will have to attend or rely on La Crosse Tribune (sometimes restricted access) articles to know what's going on.

Not all that long ago, when a big issue came before the city council, citizens were able to attend a committee of the whole meeting and give public input before the entire council. We did that when getting an anti-war resolution passed and when passing a minimum wage increase in the city.

A few years back, those rights were severely restricted when the council decided to only allow public input at committee meetings. They kept the door to some public hearings at full council meetings partly open (ok if approved by vote of two-thirds of the council but not as a routine right.) And, while committee meetings are required to be posted online, often they are not posted until the very last minute with vague agenda items that makes it difficult to know what is being discussed when. In addition, while city council meetings are held in the evening, when more people are available to attend, some committee meetings are held in the afternoons or at other times when working people may find it hard to get to a meeting.

Now, the city council is changing even those input rights. Under the heading "New Start Times for Meetings of the La Crosse Common Council," comes this little tidbit: "Starting with the July 2017 Judiciary & Administration Committee and Finance & Personnel Committee meetings, anyone wishing to register to speak on an agenda item, or register in favor of or opposition to said agenda item, must complete a committee registration form prior to the start of the meeting.  No forms will be considered after the meeting has started, except in the case of public hearings that are required by law."  I guess the good news is that those committees will now begin at 6 p.m. But if you are rushing to a meeting after work or picking your kids up from soccer or swimming or otherwise unable to be there before the meeting begins, your opinion, at least in the form of public input at the committee meeting, is out.

Consider, for example, a La Crosse Tribune article on Wednesday noting that planning is underway on La Crosse's 2018  budget. The Mayor may submit more than one budget, but one must be a "no tax rate increase" budget, according to the article. The article also mentions that, "The Board of Estimates will host public hearings on the budget no later than Sept. 10, according to the city website. The Common Council will take citizen input, and before the third Tuesday in November, approve the operating budget."

Here's an opening for citizen input, but, I have been unable to find any details about the, "Board of Estimates will host public hearings," part of the article. In fact, the Board of Estimates' page is totally empty.

So, it's nice to have people in city government telling us how open they are to more citizen input, but it would be nice to have that talk backed up by more not more restricted opportunities for public input and more opportunities for people to find out what's happening in city council and committee meetings.

Budgets are important and citizen input in the budgeting process is vital. Apparently, this is coming. When we find out how input is possible, that info will be noted here.

Now, for a GOOD example of inviting public input into an important issue, check this out from the La Crosse Area Planning Committee:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Our Wisconsin Revolution Steps Forward

[from Mark N.]
Photo by Allison Vandenberg-Daves

On June 24 and 25 about 200 people from all corners of Wisconsin met in Stevens Point for the first convening of Our Wisconsin Revolution (OWR). By-laws were voted upon and ratified. Seven at large board of directors were elected to office (see below.)
An OWR (short) platform for political engagement was accepted:
+ Real Democracy
+ Economy that Works for All
+ Quality Public Goods and Services for All
+ Fair Taxes

Delegates discussed strategy and enlarged upon plans for growth in the eight Wisconsin congressional districts. If you were to ask us for an elevator speech for what I learned about what OWR represents for the future of Wisconsin political life it is this:
We Believe in the Goodness of Governance
Of the People, By the People and For the People

Part of La Crosse delegation (by Allison Vandenberg-Daves)

For too long a campaign has been waged to undermine confidence in the service of our government. Remember the 1981 catch phrase announced by President Reagan, "Government is not the solution, government is the problem." That was the shot that echoed across our land of a battle, now sustained for 35 years, to vilify the idea of governmental service for the benefit of all.
OWR believes that our elected and appointed public servants are benefactors to our community. OWR believes that government is a common good that we all share. OWR works to develop governance of the people, by the people and for the people.
Come join us.Together we will sustain confidence in our community's ability to govern ourselves for the good of us all. Start by attending Tuesday's Meet Your City Government event, a conversation between public servants and that public they serve (free and open to all) at 7:30 p.m. at the Myrick Park Center.

from OWR]
Congratulations to our newly elected At-Large Board members: Terrance Warthen (Interim Co-Chair), Sarah Lloyd (Interim Co-Chair), Rahul Mahajan, Joel Rogers, Alicia Leinberger, Jaime Alvarado, and Marina Dimitrijevic. We look forward to working with you and adding CD Reps from each Congressional District across the state.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Coming up this week (6/26 - 7/1)

[Report on this weekend's Our Wisconsin Revolution organizing convention coming up tomorrow.] 

This week:

Monday, June 26: Pre-register now for a telephone town hall on healthcare at 5:30 p.m. with Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. If you register, they will call you precisely at 5:30. If you miss the call, you will not be able to participate. Currently, Sen. Johnson is opposed to the Senate's version of a health care bill (which, as noted by a great letter in Sunday's La Crosse Tribune, saves the government money by killing people off). Johnson, in an interview on CNN equated people who have preexisting conditions (like children born with disabilities, cancer survivors, and maybe even mothers (depending upon how you define "preexisting condition,")) with those who wreck their cars and then want affordable car insurance. This is the mindset.  AND  The Bluffside Neighborhood Association meets at 6 pm. at the First Congregational Church.

Tuesday, June 27: The Coulee Region Sierra Club holds its annual summer potluck at 6 p.m. in Onalaska (see link for details). You meed not be a member of the Sierra Club to attend. Discussion is informal but often includes sharing ideas and plans about environmental issues and programs. AND The Upper Northside Logan Neighborhood Association meets at 6 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church on Sill Street.  AND Our Wisconsin Revolution - La Crosse chapter is hosting Meet Your City Government beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Myrick Park Center.

On Thursday, June 29 from 5:30 to 9 or so, join fellow bicyclists and pedestrians in an OpenStreets Mapathon. MUST RSVP (see link). Bring a laptop if you can.

If your event is missing PLEASE submit it to this calendar!

Ongoing - Citizen Action of Wisconsin is looking for new co-op members to chip in montly in order to hire a full time HEALTHCARE FOR ALL organizer. This is a statewide project.

Citizen Action is also seeking FAIR MAPS ACTIVISTS to leaflet and march for and end to partisan gerrymandering. Citizen Action Organizing Co-op members want YOU to join us in your local 4th of July Parade and celebrations to raise awareness about gerrymandering and drawing fair election maps. We call it the "Independent Maps for Independence Day!" action. Having fair elections is ground zero for our democracy. Wisconsin's election maps are rigged so that politicians are choosing their voters, not the other way around. When maps are skewed to benefit one party, they undermine our American democracy and our belief in "one person, one vote." Show your patriotism this 4th of July by participating in Independent Maps for Independence Day! events. Read a good article about the harmful effects of Republicans' political gerrymandering in Sunday's La Crosse Tribune.

Riverfest is coming and lots of people will be in and around Riverside Park and downtown La Crosse. If you have a candidate, event, or cause, get your flyers ready. Thanks to a lawsuit a few years ago, we are free to leaflet in the park before, during and after Riverfest, and on city sidewalks and other public property. (See this ACLU page of brochures about our rights.) Let's take advantage of this opportunity. (You will need a button north of the eagle statue because of course we have to pay again to enter a publicly owned and paid for city park. Or something.)

Indivisible notes that "One of the final stages of the TrumpCare bill is a little-known process known as “vote-a-rama” where ANY Senator can submit as many amendments as he or she wants. And here’s the thing: EVERY amendment takes time to be introduced and voted on. We’re collecting THOUSANDS of amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff.
Please please please: submit your amendments here, and get your friends and family members to submit amendments. We know this is working already. Senators are reading these amendments on the Senate floor. But we need thousands more.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ron Johnson tele town hall/Healthcare

Sen. Ron Johnson says he does not support the current Senate Republicans' "American Health Care Act (AHCA)" bill. His aide said (I actually got to talk to a human one day last week when I called) he prefers that the Congress work on two bills - one that would fix problems with the current Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare) and one that would take longer to produce and be a comprehensive long term bill. You have to wonder what's going on since Johnson has been one of the most vocal and inaccurate (to be kind) critics of the ACA since it was signed into law. And he says he doesn't like this bill because it doesn't do enough to cut subsidies so people can afford health insurance! (His take is that "Obamacare" artificially hiked premiums and priced the wealthy (not eligible for subsidies) out of healthcare. Never mind that premiums were increasing exponentially before the ACA took effect.) But at this point we take what we can get.

Johnson is hosting a telephone town hall on health care on Monday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. Central time. You must sign up at the link and then precisely at 5:30 p.m. you MUST be able to immediately answer your phone when they call you (not in the bathroom, hanging up clothes, freezing asparagus, or anything that doesn't allow you to immediately answer your phone when THEY CALL YOU.) Then you may or may not (probably the latter) get to ask a question. But the more concerned citizens on the call, the more chance that the overall tone will be "DON'T DO IT!!!"

While you're at it, use the Indivisible Guide to Stop TrumpCare in the Senate to make some more calls every day. Scripts and phone numbers are in the guide. There is also good information about the impact of this regressive gift to the wealthy on each state. We also want to be sure to contact Dem Senators and urge them to withhold consent on all normal Senate business and filibuster by amendment on the repeal bill itself. Even after all the terrible awful rule-breaking things their Republican colleagues have done, some Dems are still unwilling to go the limit opposing this bill.

Currently, there are as may as eight Republican Senators who have said they oppose the bill - most because it's not mean enough and at least one, Maine's Sen. Susan Collins, who didn't get the memo that her party has been taken over by killer zombies and still thinks they actually want to provide health care with this bill. Haha.

This Independent article has rundown of the low points of the Senate's bill with respect to women. (Hey, at least they haven't yet given employers the legal right to fire women who use contraception. At least not in this bill.)

So, every call, letter, and personal exhortation helps no matter where you live.

Oh, yes, this should help the Democrats win over the majority of voters who favor single payer healthcare.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Circles of Support Calls for Volunteers to Build Compassionate Community

It is increasingly common knowledge that our criminal justice system is deeply problematic and harmful to people in our society and our community. Currently over 2.2 million individuals are incarcerated in the United States. Legislation and executive action to militarize police departments over the past three decades particularly targeted poor people and people of color, who are incarcerated at alarming rates. People who are incarcerated are often forced into labor, as the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." Many face solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and violence. Most people in the criminal justice system are struggling with substance use disorders and other mental health issues. They need treatment--not more trauma.

When released from incarceration, people often have little to no support. They are shunned by employers and landlords. They may be ostracized from family and friends. They are often only welcomed back by others who are in active addiction. The larger community generally pretends they don't exist. Our inadequate community response contributes to the high incidents of recidivism (though it's important to note that massive revision to racist and classist laws and policies is also needed). In Wisconsin, 3-year recidivism rates are over 30%; this means that nearly one in three individuals leaving Wisconsin correctional facilities will be locked up again within three years. When it comes to how we respond to incarcerated people, we have to do better.

Circles of Support is a local attempt to put those words into action. Circles of Support is a community support program in La Crosse that helps individuals rejoin the community upon leaving incarceration. This endeavor "offers community members the opportunity to experience transformative relationships that build compassion into our community and empower those who have fallen out of community to bring their strengths, talents, and unique gifts back into play as productive citizens." And they are looking for volunteers!

Each circle consists of one core member and four or five other community members who meet for one hour a week for at least six months. A core member is a person who is returning from incarceration and demonstrates commitment to working recovery. Other community members are any adults who are able to be consistent and are committed to offering nonjudgmental, compassionate support to a fellow human being in their time of struggle. Each circle meets once a week for one hour, which serves as both a casual hang out and check-in with the core member on their progress in making decisions towards their goals and well-being. Friendships and trust develop over time, and the circle becomes a source of stability, support, and community. This is not a place for professional support, but inviting people to be present with one another and allow healing to occur naturally through community relationships.

My husband and I decided to form a circle with a couple of our friends. We filled out applications a few weeks ago and last week attended a training. In the next week or two, we will start meeting for a weekly cup of coffee and conversation with a core member selected for the program. We are greatly looking forward to the opportunity to build community and be a part of the change our community needs.

I welcome you all to consider if this is an effort you'd like to be a part of. If it's not a good fit for you, please still spread the word. Maybe someone you know will start the next circle or pass along the application to someone whose loved one is incarcerated and could benefit from this opportunity. For applications and more information, check out or contact the Program Coordinator at or 608-519-3850.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Action calendar June 18 - 25

This weekly calendar update is going out a day early (so we reserve the right to update!) to make sure you remember to attend

Sunday's Juneteenth celebration at the Southside Neighborhood Center.

On Monday, June 19, please attend the La Crosse County Democratic Party Fundraiser/Picnic fro 5 to 9 at Copeland Park. If you normally work for, donate to, and/or vote for a Dem candidate, you need to join the party so you will have more say over who are the candidates, what are the party's priorities, and how are the candidates and priorities decided.

On Tuesday, June 20, at noon you can learn more about the history of the Irish in the La Crosse area in a program hosted by the La Crosse Area Historical Society at the Riverside Museum in Riverside Park. AND there will be a public input session on the rebuilding of South Avenue. Current DOT plans are not big on providing good bicycle/pedestrian avenues but others are continuing to plan for it. Have your say starting at 5:30 p.m. at Central High School AND If you are a resident of the Grandview-Emerson Neighborhood, attend the annual Potluck and Hop Swap starting at 6 p.m at Myrick Park Rod & Gun Club Shelter AND at 6:30 p.m. the La Crosse group of Citizen Climate Lobby will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 401 West Avenue South.

On Wednesday, June 21, the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood will hold its monthly meeting at 6:45 p.m at the Southside Neighborhood Center AND a new group, La Crosse United to Amend, will host a program to explain the plan to petition the city of La Crosse to put a resolution on the April 2018 ballot supporting a constitutional amendment clarifying that a corporation is not a person and money is not speech. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and will be in the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House on the corner of 8th and Main Streets.

Thursday, June 22 is an official Gardening Day at Kane St. Community Garden.

On Saturday, June 24, ReNEW La Crosse will host a volunteer day and Block Party from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (party at Copeland Park) AND it's another Gardening Day at Kane St. Community Garden AND Our Revolution Wisconsin will hold its organizing convention in Stevens Point.
If your event is missing please use this form to submit it or email details (please include a url/link if at all possible).

Also - Citizen Action of Wisconsin has kicked off its state-wide HEALTH CARE FOR ALL organizing co-op membership drive. If you can kick in $20 or more per month to join this co-op (everyone invited but they are especially seeking medical professionals to support this one), a full time organizer can help make our push for single payer health care for all even stronger and more coordinated. Check the website for details.

AND if you have some time free, check out these interesting articles: Power or Principles: How the Establishment Branch of the Democratic Party Is Choosing to Lose Both by John Atcheson. Why, if Americans overwhelmingly hold progressive positions on most issues -- even in red states -- are voters so loathe to call themselves "liberal?"  This may be the most important question facing America, and the answer reveals what amounts to a silent coup, four decades in the making, in which a few rich families and corporations took over first the Republican Party, then the Democrats and the media. 
Rev. William Barber: "Voter Supression Hacked our Democracy" by Mary Claire Blakeman.  "Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America's elections," said Barber, who has gained national interest through his vocal opposition to restrictive voting laws.
Greg Palast: How Racist Voter Suppression Could Cost Jon Ossoff the Georgia Election on Democracy Now! To be very clear, Jon Ossoff would be the congressional member right now. He really would have won the previous special election but for a combination of systemic voter suppression tactics and techniques. The district itself was gerrymandered. The Republican leadership have been very clear that they gerrymandered this district in order to ensure that it would be held by a Republican.
Election Con 2016: New Evidence Demolishes the Myth of Trump's "Blue Collar" Populism by Anthony Dimaggio.  In sum, approximately three-quarters of Trump voters were from households earning more than the national median income, while just one-quarter earned less than the median.
Have you heard of PROJECT REDMAPThe GOP Rigged the House: Even a massive Donald Trump defeat wouldn't give Democrats control by David Daley in (April 2016). Enter REDMAP. The RSLC strategists decided to target as many state legislative chambers as they could in 2010, with an eye to maximizing the number of states where they could have total control of drawing new maps the following year. They spent $30 million — a steal when you consider that’s the cost of some Senate races — in local elections in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina, all with the goal of asserting GOP dominance in purple states. They were aided by the fact that 2010 became an anti-Obama wave election and many discouraged Democrats stayed home. But by the end of Election Night 2010, the GOP had attained several hundred new state legislative seats (hitting a decades-long high point) and captured some two-thirds of state legislative chambers nationwide. They pressed that advantage big-time in 2011, using the most advanced map-making and demographic technology ever to super-glue their gains in place.
Here are their plans for 2020.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Corporations are NOT people

[This event is being sponsored by an Indivisible group in La Crosse and seems to be the kick off event of a new group called La Crosse United to Amend. Hope to clarify soon!]

You are invited to attend a presentation by La Crosse United to Amend at 7:00pm on Wednesday, June 21st at the Ho-Chunk Nation Office at 724 Main Street, La Crosse.
George Penn, from Wisconsin United to Amend, will explain our plan to petition the City of La Crosse to put a resolution to referendum on the April 2018 ballot. It is a call for a constitutional amendment that will assert that a corporation is not a person and that money is not speech. This is the first and most important step in the process of removing the damaging effects of big money on politics
Over 100 Wisconsin municipalities have already passed this resolution and we hope to exert enough pressure on the elected officials in the Wisconsin legislature so they too call for this amendment and join the 19 states that have already done so. Local referenda like ours have all passed, with an average of 79% of voters in favor, so we know that people of all political persuasions are frustrated with the moneyed interests drowning out the voices and votes of citizens

La Crosse United to Amend is nonpartisan and we welcome everyone who shares our concerns to join us. Please invite others to attend our meeting.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

OWR Meet Your City Government

The La Crosse chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution is hosting a Meet Your City Government event Tuesday, JUNE 27th in the Marsh room of the Myrick Part Center from 7:30-9; refreshments and snacks will be provided. Attending city officials and employees are Mayor Tim Kabat, council members David Marshall and Doug Happel, school board members Laurie Cooper Stoll and Tom Thompson, and planning department employee Lewis Kuhlmam.  Richard Kyte will be moderating. Come meet the people representing our city and working on public policy in La Crosse!


Health care activisim

The Senate's march to the cliff on a no good very bad healthcare bill continues. Will it pass? What is it? Who knows?

The major things right now are

Call Sen. Ron Johnson's office every day and tell him NO. (Hilariously, Ron Johnson, lead Republican blabbermouth on the horrors of "Obamacare" and member of the 13 men plus (maybe) one woman health care working group says he hasn't seen details of the secret bill.) In fact, Indivisible has given us a whole page of instructions including sample talking points and even the name of the Johnson healthcare staffer. (You can email him, too.)

While you're at it, call Tammy Baldwin, too, and tell her to push back and play hardball on this bill and to help get a Medicare for All bill introduced.

Commentator Shaun King wrote that Every Democrat in American Should Support Medicare for All. Amen. But this Counterpunch article by Russel Mokhiber notes that even some Dems who have signed onto the House Singer Payer bill (HR 676) don't seem to be too interested in pushing it. “Congressional Democrats and the national Democratic Party don’t actually want to pass Medicare for All because that would be the end the steady flow of campaign money the party receives from the for-profit health care industries.”
Rep. Ron Kind has said recently, "We are as far away as possible from single-payer in the current legislative environment." So, does that mean he supports it or not? Will he co-sponsor or not (so far not). Will he push for it or not?

We are also as far away as possible from renewable energy promotion in the current legislative environment, but that doesn't mean we have to go all out for it.

At least Donald Trump thinks the House Republicans' plan is "too mean."

Monday, June 12, 2017


In the late 1800s residents of Iowa could hop on a train and get to almost all corners of the state plus more on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway passenger rail system.

Similar services were available in the Coulee Region with a passenger rail system that connected La Crosse with Viroqua and other points south and southeast and even La Crosse with Hokah, Houston, Rushford, Lanesboro, and Fountain.

At the turn of the twentieth century, electric trains started helping commuters and farm goods get from rural communities to jobs and commerce centers. The InterUrban Railroad in Iowa, an electric passenger rail line founded in1907, helped my grandfather get from his rural home north of Des Moines to his cement plant job in the city, for example. "During the 20's it did run 9 trains a day between Des Moines and Perry and from Des Moines to Colfax, a resort area."

Today, our pitiful old chug of a public rail service, Amtrak, valiantly carries on with limited service (compared to most of the rest of the world), ancient equipment, and delays caused in part by continual competition with freight. Nevertheless, last year was a record setting high for Amtrak and efforts are underway locally to have a second daily Empire Builder (Chicago to the west coast) stop in La Crosse. 

Let's not even think about normal everywhere train service in Europe, or how rail plus solar and wind could drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions or high speed rail advances being made in China ($500 billion to upgrade its high speed rail) and Japan. Truly, we are living in a different century when it comes to passenger rail - one of the most energy efficient methods of public transportation (and transportation of other things, too.) 

Here's what we are facing from the Republicans determined to  "get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

[Note: References are made to June 23 Rally for Trains. If I hear of one in La Crosse or if ny other rail advocates would like to help set one up, more details will follow.]

What about D Trump's BIG INFRASTRUCTURE talk? Not so fast. As the National Association of Rail Passengers warns, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET WILL KILL AMTRAK SERVICE.

All Aboard Wisconsin!, in its most recent newsletter, urges us all to act now. Here's what they say (with contact info). 

To coin a different cliché, “Play it again Sam” might be the theme for the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Transportation Budget.  A near copy of the proposal that was forwarded for the balance of the 2017 FFY, a proposal soundly defeated in both houses of Congress; to no-one’s surprise, but great disappointment, the proposed Federal 2018 Federal Fiscal Year budget, which would go into effect on October 1, 2017, repeats the same destructive proposals: the elimination of all Amtrak long-distance intercity trains, leaving only the Northeast Corridor and state supported corridor services such as the joint Wisconsin-Illinois Hiawatha, Illinois “Lincoln Service”, Michigan’s state supported trains, and Minnesota’s proposed “Northern Lights Express” Twin Cities-Superior-Duluth service as the only passenger rail services available.   

Current stations at Watertown, Columbus, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, Tomah and La Crosse in Wisconsin, as well as Winona, Redwing and St. Paul in Minnesota that can be accessed by Wisconsin residents, would lose all service. The “Empire Builder” and other famous “name trains” which provide service to over 200 stations coast-to-coast across the country would all fade into history, and with that millions of citizens would lose their most convenient, reliable, and in some cases ONLY intercity travel connection.   

Along with the proposed demise of long-distance intercity trains, the budget proposes to eliminate the “essential air service” program that helps provide commercial airline passenger service to such places as Appleton, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Stevens Point - Wausau and others, further isolating them, and their business communities, from the rest of the country.  Finally, federal funding for the capital equipment and facility needs as well as operating assistance for public transit systems across the country is also proposed to be cut.  The message seems to be – “get in your car and drive” if you want to go somewhere, and if you can’t drive or choose not-to for whatever reason – “too bad for you”. 

National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) Plans “Rally for Trains” on June 23, 24.

Inline image 2
Will THIS Be Wisconsin?! 
Now is The Time to Do Your Part to Ensure that it Won’t!!

NOW is the Time to Act!!
Congress heard the voices of the American people “Loud and Clear” back in April when it soundly rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts to the FFY 2017 transportation budget.  Now is the time to let our elected representatives in Washington know that we haven’t changed our minds on the importance of the nationwide passenger rail network and local public transit in the last two months and neither should they!  This is important!  The listing of US Senators and Representatives published in last month’s Newsletter is reprinted below for your use.  OUR elected representatives need to be reminded that they work for us, and we want Amtrak services continued and EXPANDED, not eliminated.  Please take the time to make that call, send that e-mail, write that letter, and follow-up with reminders over the coming months.  Here’s the list:
 Please “Cut and Paste” or save the contact information below for use now and in the future:

            Sen. Tammy Baldwin:  202-224-5653;
            Sen. Ron Johnson:  202-224-5323;
1st District:  Speaker Paul D. Ryan:  202-225-3031;
2nd District: Rep. Mark Pocan:  202-225-2906;
3rd District:  Rep. Ron Kind:  202-225-5506;
4th District:  Rep. Gwen Moore:  202-225-4572;
 5th District:  Rep. James Sensenbrenner:  202-225-5101;
6th District:  Rep. Glenn Grothman:  202-225-2476;
7th District:  Rep. Sean P. Duffy:  202-225-3365;
8th District:  Rep. Mike Gallagher:  202-225-5665;
Mailing Addresses:  If you choose to mail your correspondence there are two generic addresses for the House of Representatives and Senate, just enter the lawmaker’s name at the appropriate place:

Senate:   The Honorable (Full Name)               
                 United States Senate
                 Washington, DC  20510

House:  The Honorable (Full Name)
               United States House of Representative
               Washington, DC 20515

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Coming up this week

First, in case you missed the People's Summit in Chicago this weekend, videos of speakers and workshops are up at

Coming  up in our area:
Kane Street Community Garden is hosting three Gardening Days - June 12, 15, and 17. Other volunteer hours are also available. See their site for details.

Also on Monday, June 12, the Weigent-Hogan Neighborhood Association has its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 401 West Avenue South.

On Tuesday, June 13, Cecil Adams co-founder of the African-American Mutual Assistance Network, will talk about African Americans in the La Crosse Area - The Process rom noon to 1 p.m. at the Riverside Museum (in Riverside Park). Free and open to all. AND at 7 p.m., the La Crosse chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution will meet at the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House.

UPDATE - AND - New Directions (Indivisible) meeting  is at 7 p.m. at 401 West Avenue South in La Crosse. Active Listening training will be offered. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Two important events on Wednesday, June 14. There's an organizing meeting at 6:30 p.m. for people interested in backing Mike McCabe for Governor. (See details and RSVP instructions at link) AND the Vernon County Dems are hosting a potluck and presentation on gerrymandering in Wisconsin in Viola at 5:30 p.m.

On Thursday, June 15, PANDA (parents, friends and allies of the LGBTQ community) will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. at the English Lutheran Church (16th and King). This group meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month and his sponsored by The Center - 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection.

Friday, June 16 marks the start of the 28th Annual Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin which runs through Sunday, June 18. (A free bus may be available from Menomonie/Eau Claire/Osseo) This year's keynote address will be by JB Straubel, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Tesla. (If you miss the Custer Fair, there will be another Energy Fair in Minneapolis in early September.)

On Sunday, June 18, attend the La Crosse Juneteenth celebration at the Southside Neighborhood Center and Poage Park from noon to 3 p.m.

Please submit your event to the calendar if it's missing. Remember, not everyone is on FB!

As you may have heard, the Senate is pushing ahead with its Anti-Healthcare bill using tactics that we've seen Wisconsin Republicans use. While it is possible that their compulsion to control women's reproductive systems may cause problems (though there is one woman on the Senate's healthcare working group), "Activists on the front-lines are treating Senate passage of health care bill as imminent."  Whether or not they pass a bill, they are working daily to strangle the current program to death.  Moveon is urging people to call Republican Senators NOW (Senate switchboard: 855 999-1663) and demand that they not pass the terrible awful Republican bill.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Citizen Action: Pence in Milwaukee - DETAILS

We've just confirmed the time and location of where Mike Pence and Scott Walker will be speaking tomorrow:
Direct Supply (medical supplies for seniors)
7227 W Green Tree Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53223
We will still be hosting a press conference and meet-up:
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
221 S 2nd #300, Milwaukee, WI, 53204

Wear your white coat/scrubs and bring water because it's going to be hot!
We invite you to bring signs-- the focus will be on how, if the Senate passes it, Trumpcare/Ryancare will:
-  Allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions
- Slash Medicaid funding
- Cause seniors' premiums to skyrocket 
Rally sponsored by Citizen Action of Wisconsin

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Pence talks "health care" in MKE Saturday

[from Katie Dunn, Citizen Action of Wisconsin's new Healthcare-for-All Organizing Co-op]

I wanted to personally let you know that Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Milwaukee on Saturday to talk about healthcare. This is the kind of moment we were built for. 

For the medical professionals here, I would love if you could show up in your white coats and scrubs (or regular clothes for us regular people) at our press conference Saturday 9:45am in our office (221 S 2nd St #300, Milwaukee WI). We are working to find out exactly where Pence will be and we'll go to that location after the press conference. Click here to let us know if you can come or to learn more.

[If we haven't met yet-- I'm the new Healthcare for All Co-Op organizer. Our big Membership Drive Kickoff is the evening of Thursday June 15 (NEXT WEEK!) in Wauwatosa and if you care about healthcare you should be there! We are going to be launching our 60 day drive to find over 250 member-owners, to grow our organizing co-op to permanently ensure that our care is safe and to fight for a Medicare-for-All style system as long as it takes!]

The Senate will likely vote on the awful AHCA this month.
We must oppose any effort to return pre-existing condition discrimination, end Medicaid-as-we-know-it or cut off coverage for 23 million Americans! We are running out of time to resist. Please join us.

Katie Dunn
Healthcare for All Organizing Co-Op

Some notes:
The new Healthcare for All Organizing Co-op is welcoming members from anywhere in the state of Wisconsin.

By the way, this article underscores that the struggle for a single payer "Medicare for all" style health care plan is still a multi-party battle. Lessons not learned.

"They rejected their voter base and went with the donor class to create and market a health law, the so-called Affordable Care Act, that protected the profits of the medical-industrial complex, and it backfired. In the 2010 election, 63 Democratic incumbents lost their seats in Congress and the party has been in decline ever since with a record low number of elected officials nationally."