Sunday, August 27, 2017

Coming up this week (August 28 - September 3)

Women's Equality Day was August 26
but we're not there yet.
There are many opportunities to interact with government and our fellow community groups this week. If your event is missing, please email couleeprogressive-at-hotmail-dot-com or use this form.

Monday, August 28
5:30 p.m. A very minor change has been in the works for Clinton Street for more than five years which includes providing for a turn lane and bicycle lanes. Last minute concerns by residents have caused a special meeting to be called at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center. If you would like to show up to support bicycle infrastructure (if paint counts), please check over these talking points and come to the meeting hosted by City Council Rep. Andrea Richmond.

6:00 p.m. Bluffside Neighborhood Association meeting at First Congregational Church (Main St. and Losey Boulevard)

Tuesday, August 29
7:00 p.m. Our Wisconsin Revolution holds a meeting. "Thanks to all who attended our meeting on Tuesday! We discussed: - promoting the 3rd CD Listening Session in Tomah on August 27th sponsored by Indivisible WI-03 - tabling at Open Streets La Crosse on September 3rd to promote our group and upcoming events and teach/help people to register to vote -panelists to invite for our Meet Your County/State Government and possible dates/locations -potentially hosting this year's Fighting Bob Fest on September 16th. If you cannot make it to the meetings, but would like to help with these events and more, please contact us at We'd love to hear from you!" 

Wednesday, August 30
9:00 a.m. Poverty Simulation at the Erickson Boys and Girls Club of La Crosse (1331 Clinton Street). I think you have to have registered in advance. See link for more details.

4:00 p.m. Northside Neighborhood Celebration with food, music, games, activities and community resource information.
4:00 p.m. Fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate TONY EVERS at the Bodega Brew Pub, 122 4th Street. f you have questions or need further information, please contact Cassi Fenili at 920-205-7010.

5:00 p.m.  Coffee with Mayor Kabat at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center. An opportunity to meet Mayor Kabat, hear about city business and offer your thoughts and ideas about how to improve our city. Coffee provided.

Thursday, August 31
All Day - Rebuilding for Learning Summit VII at the La Crosse Center

Friday, September 1
All Day and through Monday, September 4: La Crosse Area Bike Fest with HQ at Cameron Park. Guided rides all over the Coulee Region and in the City.

Sunday, September 3
Noon to 4 p.m.  OPEN STREETS LA CROSSE - an afternoon without cars on some La Crosse downtown streets. Music, food, demos, workshops, info, activities, and imagining a city where people > cars. Free and open to all.

PRIDE in the PARK returns to Riverside Park on Saturday, September 9 as part of the three day PRIDE 2017 event. Great food, music, info booths, activities and friends.

If you wondered what happened to FIGHTING BOB FEST, it's coming to La Crosse! from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 16. Featured speakers include Our Revolution president, Nina Turner, and progressive firebrand, Jim Hightower. More details coming soon.

On Saturday, September 23, the La Crosse County Democratic Party will host a RALLY FOR VOTING RIGHTS starting at 1:30 p.m. in Cameron Park. The event will include several speakers including elected officials and gubernatorial candidates as well as one of the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin gerrymandering case now before the Supreme Court of the United States.

And, the La Crosse Education Foundation is looking for crowd funding to help support the 2017 Black Youth Summit in La Crosse which will, "bring 6th -12th grade students who identify as black, biracial, or multiracial (with black being one of their racial identities) together for a day of learning and fun. The Summit will take place annually and this is our second year. (Read about the first Summit here.) The Black Youth Summit will provide a safe space for students to engage in tough conversations on an array of topics such as race, societal pressures, identity and learn how they can get involved in their community in and out of school. The Summit will focus on building self-confidence, cultural identity, academic excellence, and community involvement all rooted in a social justice lens."

Check for more important events at our calendar.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

From Charlottesville to La Crosse

Last Saturday, La Crosse Area Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)—a group of anti-racist white people and people of color who are willing to work with us to hold us accountable—held a small community discussion to talk about symbols of white supremacy in La Crosse. This gathering was prompted by a nationwide call to address white supremacy in locally-appropriate ways in the wake of overt white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was called for by the Movement for Black Lives—a broad coalition of progressive people of color working to dismantle oppressive systems and build a world where we are all free. SURJ supports the Movement for Black Lives.

On Saturday, the local gathering explored a number of symbols rooted in white supremacy in La Crosse, some of which included:
- The “Hiawatha” statue in Riverside Park
- The “cigar store Indian” statue in the South Side Community Center
- Ho-Chunk burial mounds in La Crosse and surrounding areas not being respected
- The general fact that the land the City of La Crosse occupies was stolen from the Ho-Chunk Nation
- Columbus Day honoring a historical villain and the glorification of colonization and imperialism
- In an unprecedented move, Chancellor Gow overturning all 4 of UWL’s governing bodies’ decision to have a statement honoring the Ho-Chunk nation’s history of being indigenous to this land
- Racist comments on the La Crosse Tribune Facebook
- “We Back The Badge” stickers and signs in business windows
- Various displays of Confederate symbols (for instance, on private vehicles and flying in Murphy’s Frame and Axle auto repair store)
- This is not an exhaustive list

Many of these may seem easy to overlook for white people especially, but they provide the background noise of institutional racism and various levels of white supremacy.

[image: blue pyramid with text on the top part of the period that reads “OVERT WHITE SUPREMACY (Socially Unacceptable): Lynching, Hate Crimes, Swastikas, KKK, The N-Word, Burning Crosses, Racial Slurs, Racist Jokes, Neo-Nazis” and beneath it at the pyramid’s base text that reads “COVERT WHITE SUPREMACY (Socially Acceptable): “Make America Great Again,” Hiring Discrimination, Police Murdering POC, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Confederate Flags, Discriminatory Lending, Racial Profiling, Not Believing Experiencing of POC, Mass Incarceration, Paternalism, Police Brutality, Virtuous Victim Narrative, Euro-Centric Curriculum, English-only Initiatives, Housing Discrimination, Anti-Immigration Policies/Practices, Fearing People of Color, Assuming that Good Intentions are Enough, Denial of White Privilege, Expecting POC to Teach White People, Believing that we are “Post-Racial,” “Don’t blame me. I never owned slaves,” Celebration of Columbus Day, Denial of Racism, “But what about me?” “But we’re just one human family,” Bootstrap Theory, Tokenism, Blaming the Victim, Racist Mascots, Cultural Appropriation, White Savior Complex, Colorblindness, “It’s just a joke!” Claiming Reverse Racism, Not Challenging Racist Jokes.”

While we can see the problematic nature of these racist symbols across our community, it is not up to us as white people to decide on our own what to do with these observations, particularly those that attempt to represent (and often misrepresent) people of color in the community. People of color have a breadth of perspectives on these symbols and problems in La Crosse and how to best respond to them. SURJ seeks to follow leadership from local people of color and will take action in collaboration with those groups.

It is important that we work to keep bringing these things to consciousness by having conversations about how white supremacy functions in our community. As white people, we do have access to power and privilege that people of color do not have. We are all in different positions to challenge these symbols in our community. We can and should use our privilege and the relationships we have to help our neighborhoods, local businesses, and city evolve. Together, we can grow as a community.

After our discussion on Saturday, one man offered to stop by Murphy’s Frame and Axle, the auto repair shop where a Confederate flag was recently seen hanging above a work station. He spoke with the owner and let him know that some people were talking about the display of the Confederate flag in the shop and were concerned about it. The owner agreed that it was a problem and told him that he was already going to have his employee take it down. This is an example of using white (and male) privilege and a friendly, direct approach to take steps towards making our community safer and more inclusive.

While the Confederate flag and other racist symbols are not acceptable and should be identified as such, we must remember that some if not many of the people displaying or allowing them may not understand the context or impact of their actions. Approaching people in a non-combative way and starting a dialogue can lead to growth for our community and a coming together of people, instead of provoking more conflict from the start. We have to withdraw our support from white supremacy, in all its manifestations, and we are in a better position to do that when we call people in to join us before we start calling them out and alienating them. This is how we can expand our network of friends working together for a better world.

If you have any relationship with someone displaying white supremacist symbols, please drop in and just have a conversation about it. What do the symbols mean to them? What do they mean to you? Do they know that people are concerned about it? How does it make you feel to see these symbols in our community? It is not helpful to confront people hostilely. We need to start an honest dialogue about what those symbols mean to us. Consider: Where do you hang out? Where do you shop? Where do you work? What friends or neighbors could you approach about this? Do you know who your city council alderman is? Have you talked to them about your stance on these issues? What conversations have you started in the community? Please share, so we can all keep growing and learning together.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What's happening this week (August 21-27)

First, you can buy tickets NOW for a September 13 TUGG event - a screening of the film Equal Means Equal, an unflinching look at how women are treated in the United States today. If the organizers sell enough tickets by September 6, the film will be screened at the Marcus Theater on Wednesday, September 13. But they have to meet their minimum by the deadline. So, please get tickets now.

Today, August 21;postID=4747190462844416210
4:00 p.m. The La Crosse City Plan Committee will hold a PUBLIC HEARING about the city's Capitol Improvement Budget for 2018. You must be there before 4 p.m. to register if you wish to speak. Among items of interest, budget proposals for bike/ped projects and sustainability projects. (find link to budget at link above).

6:30 p.m. The La Crosse County Democratic Party holds its monthly meeting at the Ho-Chunk House (8th and Main). This month's guest speaker is Nate Timm of the Wisconsin Grassroots  Network. If you regularly donate to, work for, and/or vote for Democratic Party candidates, then you should join the party so you will have influence into the policies and candidates it produces. You can join at the meeting (but party membership is not requried). Really. You can join every other group you want, but you need to be in the group that runs the candidates people vote for.

Tuesday, August 22
6:00 p.m. The Upper Northside Logan Neighborhood Association meets at Trinity Lutheran Church

Friday, August 25
6:00 p.m. in Winona - Meet Senator Al Franken for a Talk and Signing of his latest #1 New York Times bestselling book, AL FRANKEN, GIANT OF THE SENATE at Paperback & Pieces in Winona, MN

7:00 p.m. in Riverside park, the kickoff concert for the 42nd Annual Great River Folk Fest.

Sunday, August 27
Unsure of times - the See Me, Read Me project will have events at the North and South La Crosse Public LIbraries. Check with the libraries for more details.

4:00 p.m. There will be a 3rd Congresional District HEALTH CARE LISTENING SESSION at Tomah High School. Confirmed attendees include state Rep. Steve Doyle, state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, and representatives from U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin's offices. Possible attendees include state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and state Reps. Lee Nerison and Dana Wachs.The event, FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, is sponsored by the nonpartisan Voters Engaged participatory democracy project and hosted by the Indivisible WI-03 project (Monroe County).

5:00 p.m. Vigil for Charlottesville at the Christ Episcopal Church, 111 Ninth St. N. “We want all people in the Coulee Region, especially those whose lives are most vulnerable to the violent words and actions of hate groups, to hear us say we welcome you and want you to be our neighbors and friends. Let us stand together committed to forming our lives in this community, daily, through practices of hospitality and not hate, in acts of compassion and not callousness, and as witnesses to the promise of peace and not the pathology of violence.”

And, the La Crosse School District is asking for community support for the second annual Black Youth Summit From the organizers: The Black Youth Summit is designed to bring  6th -12th grade students who identify as black, biracial, or multiracial (with black being one of their racial identities) together for a day of learning and fun. The Summit will take place annually and this is our second year. (Read about the first Summit here.) The Black Youth Summit will provide a safe space for students to engage in tough conversations on an array of topics such as race, societal pressures, identity and learn how they can get involved in their community in and out of school. The Summit will focus on building self-confidence, cultural identity, academic excellence, and community involvement all rooted in a social justice lens.

Read about the success of the See Me, Read Me fundraising project here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Progressives Media Project Op-Ed Workshop 10/13

Note - attendance is limited to first 25 (waiting list will be maintained).

FRIDAY,​ ​OCTOBER​ ​13,​ ​2017​ ​-​ ​La​ ​Crosse,​ ​WI

The​ ​Progressive​ ​Media​ ​Project​, with the support of the BRICO​ ​Fund​, invites you to participate in our FREE​ op-ed writing workshop on Friday,​ ​October 13th​ ​at​ ​Three​ ​Rivers​ ​House​ ​in​ ​La​ ​Crosse

Since 1993, The​ ​Progressive​ ​Media​ ​Project​ has worked tirelessly to amplify underrepresented voices in mainstream media to end discrimination, advance social justice, and democratize perspectives on current events locally, statewide, and nationally.

By participating in our workshop, you will:
★ Learn how to effectively communicate your ideas as an op-ed writer;
★ Receive editorial and op-ed placement support from The Progressive magazine’s editorial team;
★ Understand how to use social media to get your published op-ed in front of a larger audience.

The workshop begins at 9:00AM​ and concludes at 4:30PM​ with breaks for breakfast and lunch.

Attending the workshop is free for all participants. Breakfast, lunch, transportation and accommodation expenses are covered as well.

The​ ​Progressive​ ​Media​ ​Project​ ​Op-Ed​ ​Writing​ ​Workshop​ ​-​ ​La​ ​Crosse
Location:​ ​Three Rivers House
724 Main St. La Crosse, WI 54601
Time:​ ​Friday, October 13th, 2017 from 9:00AM to 4:30PM
Contact:​ ​Jess Pernsteiner at or 608-257-4626

To register for the workshop, please complete our online registration form.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What if it were La Crosse? [with updates]

Charlottesville, Virginia is about the same size as La Crosse, so as the news unwinds about the white supremacist rally there, I started wondering what if this had happened in La Crosse and, since it didn't, then I started wondering what if this happens in La Crosse in the future?

So, what if it does? How can we be prepared to do "better" than Charlottesville in being pro-active and in our response. How can we press our social institutions to do better? How can our community groups do better? How can we as individuals do better?

For example, many report that the Charlottesville police did not even attempt to "keep the peace." Lots of eye witnesses say that police just stood by while white supremacists beat up counter protestors. A very graphic video shows one man being beaten, punched, and kicked in the parking garage next to the police department. This article describes how congregants of a Charlottesville synagogue had to hire private protection because the Charlottesville police "declined to provide a guard for the site."

Surely, La Crosse can do better than that.

And yet, in La Crosse there have been many incidents including fairly recent incidents that expose racism in our police department, on area campuses and in our community. We may no longer be an official "sundown town," but racism and hatred toward different faith groups and the LGBTQ community continue.

In his "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America," Rev. Michael Eric Dyson challenges those of us who live comfortable white lives in our institutionally white supremacist society to make it stop.
"[E]ven though whiteness is not real, it is still true. ... It is true because it has the power to make us believe it is real and to punish those who doubt its magic. ... It is most effective when it makes itself invisible, when it appears neutral, human, American."
In a recent Truthout article, Austin C. McCoy says, In the Wake of Charlottesville, Let's Call for Structural Transformation  ".... mainstream narratives about Charlottesville that focus primarily on Trump's bad character and the actions of one murderous racist (Fields), leave something to be desired: They obscure the need to creatively confront and defeat the white supremacist right. These limited narratives belie the structure of white supremacy in the US. Ultimately, this framing tells many of us on the left what we already know: Neither liberals nor conservatives have a real strategy for eradicating white supremacy at its root."

It's not just a few surface spots of rust, in Charlottesville and in La Crosse (and Madison and most every other place you can name), it's a corrosive network of decay and rot that has weakened every institution, every life, every future. The election of Donald Trump did not suddenly usher in white supremacy and racism. We've tolerated and even nurtured an us versus them ethic in our most basic institutions. In fact, in many cases it's "the American way."

So, there are two questions. What can we do every day from now until we die to change this institutional disease? And what can we do right now to ensure that our community is able to better deal with a Charlottesville style overt display, even celebration, of white supremacy, racism, and hate ? Because this weekend, apparently at least nine more similar rallies are planned around the country and they won't stop soon.

It seems to me that one thing we can do right now is pledge to stand with and protect vulnerable groups. Also, we can call on and urge our local law enforcement institutions to work now on a plan that providets real service and protection to the community.

We might also consider and plan what is the best response by a caring community to a march or demonstration by those espousing hate or violence against our fellow citizens. Counter protests may be counter productive, encouraging more hate and violence. Some communities have countered hate marches with community gatherings in another location, encouraging community members and the media to ignore the hate groups.

Preparing an appropriate response ahead of time is something our community could do right now. To me, planning an event that turns away from the hate and encourages the community to come together and renew vows of inclusivity and cooperation makes sense.

Martin Luther King, Jr, a radical in so many ways, repeated over and over that you cannot hate away hate. It's not a slogan and it's not an easy thing to actually do. Even if you can come to the intellectual point of agreeing that hating the most vile racist, white supremacist Nazi does not help change that person, coming to that point physically and emotionally in the heat of the moment with physical and verbal threats and attacks takes a lot of training and practice for most of us. Our institutions and our habits have not prepared us to meet hate with love, but, King and others say that's the only thing that works.

The ACLU, an important civil rights institution, after earning kudos and praise for its strong defense of immigrants caught in the Donald Trump edicts a few months ago, has now, in some circles, become the toad for defending the rights of the racists to demonstrate and speak. Their point is that you cannot allow government to limit the speech of any group, vile as it may be. Limiting speech does not make the ideas go away. Often it pressure cooks the hate. 

Ted Rall, a victim of unemployment by association, reminds us that firing people for their beliefs is not the solution. So the "victories" of identifying the racists and getting them fired is not the way to end the racism or violence or hate. Unfortunately, public shaming for reprehensible behavior seems no longer an option for confronting and changing it. Especially when "leaders" like Trump and Scott Walker ("Trump can speak for himself") give that behavior a pass.

The solutions are not easy. It's not just condemning the vile, but somehow transforming the vile. How do we do that? I don't know.

There will be another vigil on August 27 led by the Interfaith Coalition of La Crosse. Maybe some ideas about strengthening our options and abilities to act and react in positive ways can be discussed.

In the meantime, connecting with local groups like SURJ and Shoulder to Shoulder and others can help to build a base of resiliency.


Here are a few resources that might help:
from Medium: Eight things we can do right now to help Charlottesville
from Mother Jones: Law enforcement playbook for keeping the next far-right protest in check
from The Leadership Conference: 10 Actions That You Can Take To Stop White Supremacy And Stand Up For Civil And Human Rights

Also, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is calling for removal of city-owned monuments to Confederate soldiers in Madison's Forest Hills Cemetery 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Poverty Simulator

For those not familiar with how it feels to be poor, a Povery Simulation is being hosted in La Crosse on August 30 from 9 a.m. to noon by the Erickson Boys and Girls Club of La Crosse (1331 Clinton Street). Because their FB event page is off limits to non FB users and there doesn't seem to be a non-FB website that describes the event, details are shown here.

 The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse in collaboration with Silver Lake's Educator Leadership Master's Program invite the La Crosse community to participate in a simulation of what it is like for many Americans to live in poverty. 
Poverty affects 43.1 million people in the United States. In La Crosse 28% of the community lives below the poverty threshold. 

The mission of this simulation is to allow individuals with more economic stability to gain a first hand experience of the difficulties of poverty. We are in need of 70-120 Participants for this simulation to be most effective. All materials for the event will be provided on site. 

If you are interested in participating, please use the link at the FB event or contact Britton Slowey (britton.slowey-at-bgclax-dot-org).

If you know any others within the community who would be interested in this event, please feel free to invite them. We believe that through collaboration, experience and understanding we can face and conquer the issue of poverty in our communities.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What's coming up? August 14-20

We stand with Charlottesville and all those affected by hate, prejudice, ignorance, and suffering. Every moment, we have the choice to create ripples of compassion, generosity, and love, or to fan the flames of hatred, greed, and misery. May we have the strength to choose the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  - Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

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This week is very busy. Please try to attend or participate in at least one event or action this week. If your event is not shown and you'd like to submit it, please use this form or email couleeprogressive-at-hotmail-dot-com.

Monday, 8/14
4:00 p.m. at City Hall (council chambers) - City of La Crosse Plan Committee meeting including a Public Hearing on the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program Budget which covers the Airport; Harbors/Docks/Waterways; Miscellaneous/Special Projects (like bike/ped infrastructure); Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department (including Memorial Pool rebuild); Police Department; and Public Buildings. Links to budget details in agenda. Must register BEFORE 4 pm if you wish to speak.

5:00 p.m. at the Onalaska Public Library - State Senator Jennifer Shilling and State Representative Jill Billings will hold a listening session on the Governor's plan to give $3 billion of tax payer dollars to Foxconn. If you can't attend this meeting, you can complete Rep. Billings' online survey.

6:30 p.m. Weigent-Hogan Neighborhood Assn meeting at 401 West Avenue South

Tuesday, 8/15

6:30 p.m. Green Drinks at Fayze's - There are no dues, fees, agenda, board, minutes, attendance or programs. We hope you will find a lively mixture of people with similar interest in environmental health and learn new ideas as well. A calendar of upcoming events will provide an opportunity to choose areas of interest. Pay for a drink, stay for the conversation.
6:30 p.m.  La Crosse Citizens' Climate Lobby monthly meeting at 401 West Ave. So. - online guest for August is Paul Hawken, author of  Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The book is based on the work of researchers from around the world who identified, researched, and modeled the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change. What was uncovered is a path forward that can roll back global warming within thirty years. It shows that humanity has the means at hand. Nothing new needs to be invented.
6:30 p.m.  Organizing meeting Hintgen Neighborhood Association at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Birch and Mormon Coulee Road

7:00 p.m.  Our Wisconsin Revolution - La Crosse meets at the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, 8th and Main Sts

Wednesday, 8/16
5:30 p.m. Vernon County Dems are holding a community dinner at the Hillsboro community center with discussion focused on rural roads. The Vernon County Highway Committee and Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution backing a gas tax to fund the state's transportation budget.

6:45 p.m. Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood Assn meeting at the Southside Neighborhood Center.

7:00 p.m.  La Crosse Area SURJ will host the  film, If These Halls Could Talk at the People's Food Co-op upstairs community room (FREE)

Thursday, 8/17
4:30 p.m.  The Sustainable La Crosse Commission will hold a meeting in the County building (7th and State) during which they will review 2016 sustainability indicators and identify sustainability actions and projects to be supported and promoted for 2018. If you've seen An Inconvenient Sequel, you know how very important this is.

5:00 p.m.  in room 1107, of the new County Admin Center (6th and State),  the La Crosse County Board Executive Committee will hear a resolution against gerrymandering in Wisconsin. If it passes, it will be introduced at the 6:00 meeting of the full board. Both meetings are open to the public. County Board member Maureen Freedland writes,
The purpose of the Resolution is to create awareness of the process that led to the federal court ruling in 2016 that Wisconsin's electoral process is unconstitutional. The case is now before the United States Supreme Court. The Resolution also calls on the state legislature to create a procedure for redistricting that is nonpartisan and transparent. 

Wisconsin has frequently been cited as the most or among the most frequently skewed states in the nation in favor of the Republican Party going back 40 years, but it is also true that both parties even in Wisconsin have used their power when in the majority to draw the lines to their own favor.  For that reason, I endeavored to make the Resolution non-partisan and I have a conservative cosponsor.  Gerrymandering with its rigged election outcomes is a step to the death of representative government and harmful for all political parties.
5:00 p.m. Taste of the Kane Street Garden is a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force. The event includes a meal, local beer and wine, a silent auction, music, and community conversations about gardening, food issues, and health. Cost is $25 per person. RSVP by calling 608-793-1002.

Friday, 8/18
1:00 p.m. - Planning meeting for 2018 Juneteenth celebration at JavaVino

5:00 p.m. - Meet Chris Ott, the new Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin at the the Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern, 328 Front Street South. If you are not already a member and supporter of  the ACLU, what are you waiting for!? From immigrant rights to LGBT rights to veterans, students, and everyone else's rights, the ACLU has been on the front lines for decades. Meet Chris, join (or not, but really ...), and talk about ACLU actions in Wisconsin and in our region. FREE.

Sunday, 8/20
5:00 p.m.  Vernon County Dems Picnic supper with Matt Rothschild, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (another organization you should definitely consider supporting with a donation).  It's at a local farm,E2560 Hamburg Ridge Rd, Stoddard. There will be brats, hotdogs, and other great food. $10 donation suggested.
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A few things not related to the calendar.

Catastrophic climate change is upon us. It's an emergency. We have to make changes now - big changes in every community and family. What are YOU doing about it? La Crosse's mayor recently signed on to move our community to 100% renewable energy. How can you help that happen? George recommends this great Wisconsin Public Radio To the Best of our Knowledge program about Imagining Climate Change for starters.

Next, congratulations Citizen Action of Wisconsin! Their goal of 280 members for the new statewide Healthcare for All organizing co-op has been met early. You can still join this co-op. [Thought the battle to repeal Obamacare has been won for now? Think again. This article describes how plans may be afoot to appoint the DINO Joe Manchin of coal country WV to Secretary of Energy which would open the way for the newly switched (from Dem to R) WV governor to appoint a Republican replacement who would tip the anti-healthcare balance if another vote were held. It's not about serving the people for them. It's about tearing down our social infrastructure.]

And, there's a new citizen action tool for your smart phone. The League of Women Voters is one of the organizations sponsoring it. Here's what they say:
"Voices" is a mobile app that facilitate s your calls, tweets, or emails to local, state, and federal elected officials in coordination with the lobbying efforts of various advocacy groups. The  LWVWI has become one of the advocacy groups represented on the Voices app. Downloading this app to your smartphone will allow you to receive action alerts from LWVWI and to amplify your voice by joining other engaged citizens lobbying our government for action on behalf of LWV. For more information: https://tryvoices.com

In response to yesterday's deadly and hateful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the community will be holding a vigil in the La Crosse Friendship Garden in Riverside Park. 

The vigil will begin at 7:30pm TONIGHT (Aug.13). Bring candles, flashlights, and your own internal light to share at this peaceful gathering. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Foxconn Listening Session Monday in Ona

State Senator Jennifer Shilling and State Representative Jill Billings will hold a listening session on Monday, Augusts 14 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Onalaska Public Library about the Foxconn deal Scott Walker is pushing.

If you haven't yet watched the testimony of Citizen Action of Wisconsin's Robert Kraig on the Foxconn deal, please do. Also you may be interested to read these articles that discuss various aspects of this disaster. Please attend and share your thoughts.

CNBC - WEDC can't pass audits, shouldn't oversee Foxconn

The Guardian - Foxconn's poor record on job creation, working conditions

WPR - Foxconn deal waives enviro rules

NYT: "We can only describe this as a gift from Wisconsin to Foxconn."

Chicago Tribune - Foxconn deal would cost Wisconsin $230,700 per worker

Kenosha News - WI Republicans revise Foxconn bill

Rep. Billings writes, 

I have created a quick constituent survey meant to gauge support and areas of concern regarding the Foxconn deal. Please take a minute to fill it out here.

On its face, job creation for Wisconsinites is something we can all get behind. However, I have concerns about the state's return on investment. The Foxconn bill calls for a $3 billion incentive package, which includes up to $1.5 billion in payroll tax credits and up to $1.35 billion in tax credits on expenditures for six assets, such as land and building.  Furthermore, according to a recent fiscal study, even in the best case scenario, the state will not break even on this deal for another 25 years. This rides on the assumption that Foxconn will create no fewer than 13,000 jobs, all of which will be filled by Wisconsin residents. There is also no timeline on when these jobs will be created. Given Foxconn's failure to deliver on similar promises in other states, I worry about Wisconsin incurring so much debt.
Moreover, as many of you have pointed out, I am concerned that environmental and labor protections will go by the wayside as the state makes exceptions and concessions in order to retain the company in Wisconsin. In fact, Gov. Walker has already started to roll back environmental regulations. I would like to see an environmental impact survey before we move forward, although the Foxconn bill exempts the company from having to produce one.
As always, I would love to hear from you on this and any other state matters of interest to you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding pending legislation, the state budget, or any other issue, feel free to contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing me at

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Get involved in community efforts

If you plan to help La Crosse United to Amend petition to get a referendum on La Crosse's spring ballot, please indicate your preferred training date on this doodle poll. The group will begin collecting signatures of eligible City of La Crosse voters in September. This is part of a nationwide movement to counter the unlimited flow of political spending unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2012.

United to Amend is calling for a Constitutional amendment which affirms that:
  • The rights protected in the Constitution are those of individual human beings only
  • The spending of money is not speech, and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process
If you have questions, please email

= AND = 
On Sunday, September 3 from noon to 4 p.m. La Crosse OPEN STREETS (a first annual event!) will take over streets between Burns Park and Cameron Park. Parts of Main Street, Fifth Avenue, King Street and Fourth Street will be blocked to motor vehicle traffic and that means lots of space will be available for food vendors, musicians, yoga posers, hop scotchers, merchants, dancers, neighborhood groups, chalk artists, thespians, service dogs, pedicabs, and much much more (including a pop up Protected Bike Lane demo!) It's a chance for us to experience our city space in a whole new way for a few hours and envision how life could be if we weren't so addicted to cars. Read more about it here and at the FB event page. THE EVENT NEEDS VOLUNTEERS!! If you can help (or if you want to have a table or activity at the event), please email Carolyn Dvorak (608 709-2945).

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11 - Inconvenient Sequel in La Crosse

This just in! The very important new film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, is now showing up on the Marcus Theater (Ward Ave., La Crosse) schedule for Friday, August 11 [UPDATE: it is OPENING August 11 and runs through the week.]. It's possible it will be shown on other days, but for now, if you can attend on August 11 (and take your neighbors, family members, and friends), please do. 

Show times and tickets (Fridays before 5, seniors pay $5) can be had at their website:

Citizen Action deserves our support

Just a note that Citizen Action of Wisconsin is still looking for a couple dozen Wisconsin citizens to kick in $20 per month (more or less depending upon your circumstances) in order to fund a full time HEALTHCARE FOR ALL co-op organizer who will work across the state to push for better, accessible, affordable, equitable health care. More details here. Their deadline is AUGUST 15 (not the 20th as previously stated).

And, if you want proof that Citizen Action ("heroes of the week," according to the Shepherd Express) is on top of the important issues in our state and not afraid to speak out, check out this testimony by Dr. Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, before the Wisconsin State Assembly during the special session to consider whether or not to hand over $3 BILLION to a Foxconn, a Chinese based tech giant (that still hasn't met its 2013 pledge to create lots of jobs in Pennsylvania), so 13,000 people (probably, many from Illinois) can make electronic display panels.

"If you look at metrics for spending $3 BILLION, you should be producing a lot more jobs. ,,, For example, according to a University of Massachusetts study, if you made a  $3 BILLION investment in education, because education is labor intensive, you would produce 87,300 jobs. That dwarfs the highest estimates we're hearing for this, for Foxconn. If you did it in healthcare, it'd be 58,800 jobs. Again, healthcare is labor intensive and we all need healthcare. ... And then as far as clean energy, you would produce 56,300 jobs - clean energy and renewable energy. So, we could make these investments now. We could have made them years ago."

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dem Party of WI Progressive Caucus update

DPW Progressive Caucus Update

First and foremost I want to thank all of you for having so much patience.

All of us want to get to work as soon as possible but the caucus is currently in a holding pattern until the DPW Executive Committee schedules a meeting to approve caucus strategic plans.
As soon as we know when this will take place we will let you know. The DPW has been going through many staff changes since the Convention which I'm sure is slowing things down.

I would also like to point out that although we are in a holding pattern there is no reason why each and everyone of us cant stay engaged with the political revolution. Congress is enjoying August recess right now and spending time in their home districts to engage with constituents and friends. Now is the perfect time to seek out your democratic members of congress and discuss the #peoplesplatform.

The peoples platform is a collection of strong progressive bills that need the support of all Democrats to move this country forward. Below you will find a link that will bring you to more information regarding summer of progress and the People's Platform.
Take Action!

Health Care updates

This is from Citizen Action of Wisconsin. They are still seeking a few dozen people to commit to donating $20 per month (more or less if you wish) to hire a full time, state Healthcare for All organizer. Anyone in Wisconsin may join this statewide co-op. If they don't meet their goal of 280 members by August 20, no one will be charged anything. Find out more at their Healthcare for All co-op website.

In the meantime, they are not just sitting around waiting for that goal to be met! Here's the latest:

Citizen Action of WisconsinWe can't wait one more minute to give Wisconsinites the option to choose BadgerCare as their health insurance. 

Molina Healthcare just announced that they will no longer sell individual health insurance plans in Wisconsin following Trump's sabotage, leaving one county completely without an individual health insurance option. Several other counties have only one or two options, with sky-rocketing premiums.

We have the solution
Allow any Wisconsinite to pick BadgerCare as their individual health insurance plan.They would pay a premium just like regular health insurance. The infrastructure is already there, no taxes would need to be raised.

Right this very minute, Rep. Genrich (one of our organizing co-op members) has a bill at the state capitol that would do this, but corporate lobbyists will kill it if we don't organize and fight back. 

Huge, corporate insurance companies shouldn't have a monopoly on the market. This bill has been called a 'pragmatic' solution to the problem. Let's make this happen. Sign this petition today and join our Healthcare for All Organizing Co-Op to fight for big ideas like this!

Katie Dunn, Organizer 

Healthcare for All Organizing Co-op

Founded by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and

Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals


Meanwhile on the national stage, HR 676 Medicare for All now has 116 co-sponsors (still no Ron Kind). And in the Senate, Bernie Sanders is crafting a similar bill, as this August 2 Guardian (UK) article reports:
The Vermont senator will spend the next several weeks leading a campaign to build support for his plan before unveiling the bill next month. On Wednesday, he launched a six-figure digital advertising campaign on Facebook and Google that encourages supporters to become “citizen co-sponsors” of his plan, which he calls “Medicare for All”, according to Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis, a reference to the public healthcare program for older Americans.

Monday's Commoner Call highlighted several excellent articles about healthcare including
* It's Time for the Compassionate Adults in This Nation to Talk Seriously About Medicare for All
by Dr. Carol Paris (Common Dreams)
* While the Uninsured Suffer and Die: 70 Top Healthcare CEOs Raked in $9.8 Billion Since 2010 by Jake Johnson (Common Dreams)
* Al Gore Breaks With Democratic Party Leadership to Support Single -Payer Healthcare by Eleanor Sheehan (Fusion)

In addition, The Sanders Institute and National Nurses United delivered a paper to every member of Congress last week. Medicare For All vs All the Healthcare Each Can Afford analyzes our current fragmented healthcare system and suggests a system of healthcare reflecting the nurses' values of caring, compassion and community. You can read it at the link.

Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money by Robert H. Frank (NY Times) looks at the numbers and concludes that single-payer is the way to go.

And, we've heard that a screening of the new film, Now is the Time - Healthcare for Everybody, is in the works for this fall.