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Dem Meeting Notes

MAY 15, 2017


Four people,  Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) chair candiates, spoke to those who attended the meeting. Martha Laning is the current party chair, first elected in 2015. She is running for another term. Joe Donovan is a retired business person from the Milwaukee area. Eric Finch is an attorney. Brian Kennedy is former educator and mayor and was president of the AFT-Wisconsin for five years.

Those who will attend the June Democratic convention were urged to learn more about these candidates and the others running for state-wide party office and running to be representatives to the Democratic National Committee.

Two questions were asked of the candidates: how would they react, as party chair, if Mike McCabe were to run for Governor as a Democrat and how can the party better use the VAN (database of Democratic voters) and other resources to reach more voters?

The slate of DPW delegates from La Crosse county to the June 2-3 state party convention was approved. Unfortunately, there were fewer delegates than could have been sent on the list.

The revised versions of the county party's constitution and by-laws were read for the first time. An amendment was submitted to simplify the description of officers in the constitution. Everything will come back to the next two meetings for reading and discussion so it's important for as many people as possible to continue attending these meetings.

The events committee facilitated two break out sessions to solicit ideas and feedback about two events planned for the fall. Some members felt that the sessions could also have been used to get ideas for other events.

Steve Doyle and Jill Billings reported on what was happening in Madison.

Peter submitted a resolution reiterating party support for economic policy designed to decrease carbon emissions and slow climate change, including but not limited to a fee on carbon. More discussion and action will be taken on this issue at future meetings.

The party is selling t-shirts. You may order them from treasurer, Diane Wulf.

The next meeting is the annual potluck picnic/fundraiser at Copeland park on Monday, June 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. Brats, hot dogs, beverages provided. Bring a dish to share. There will be door prizes and a raffle. Suggested donation is $10 per person (children under 6 are free). NEW MEMBERS ARE WELCOME.

Following the official meeting, Martha Laning met with some progressive Dems to talk about encouraging more cooperation between the party and other groups working on the same side on many issues. 

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MARCH 20, 2017
This is an unofficial report about what happened at the March 20 La Crosse Democratic Party meeting. This is just an observer's report. It is not official minutes. These views are not those of the Dem party or its officials. Any action items noted below are identified as such from notes taken at the meeting. This is not in any way official Democratic Party communication. It is hoped that this info will be helpful for those who were not able to attend the meeting but who wish to participate in building the party.

Dem party committee chairs talked about what each is doing and requested help from members.

Obbie (Communications) asked for members to help write letters to the editor. Currently, the LTTE group is working on letters that deal with health care - the ACA, the so-called replacement (the We Don't Care act), effects on specific populations or on other programs like Medicare. If you want to get involved on this team, please email Sue. Other projects include updating the web page and social media sites and working with other committees on messaging. Most immediate need: VOLUNTEER PROFESSIONAL GRAPHIC ARTIST!!! Email Obbie if this is YOU!

Sara (Outreach/Inreach) noted that they have a list of area groups and organizations that have goals and priorities similar to those of the Dems. They are working on an "inreach" plan to reach out to these groups. They are coordinating with other committees so as not to overlap work.

JD (Constitution/Bylaws) reported that bylaws are being updated and will be available for members to comment and vote some time this summer.

JD (Events) is planning a series of programs around the county to engage more voters in import issues affecting us all - roads, schools, environment, infrastructure, etc.

Ed (Union Outreach) was ill. He is working with others from local unions to encourage more union membership and participation in the Dem party.

Dave (Membership) noted that party membership has risen dramatically since last year. He's set a new goal for membership this year; so far things are on pace. There is a new county party membership brochure available. Email Dave if you would like some. Dems will have a monthly ad in the Union Herald and will be reaching out to Democratic party voters in our community.

Paul (Parade Committee) is preparing a list of parades that Dems can participate in this season. Parades are a good place to give out party info, remind people which candidates represent their interests, and keep the party's and candidates' names in people's minds. He will have more info about parades coming up later this spring.

Jeff (Volunteer Committee) reminded people to return volunteer sign up forms that we mailed out a couple of weeks ago. If you need another one or just want to volunteer, email Jeff.

Peter (Polling Places) reported that the committee has just met once but is focusing for now on a couple of districts in the city where polling places are quite far from the district's population center and, in some cases, even outside the district. The committee is researching the issue for now and will report back at the next meeting. It was noted that Audrey Kader is on the ballot running against Teri Lehrke for City Clerk. Redistricting and polling place placement is one of her main issues.

An OFA (Organizing for Action) organizer will be coming to our area to work on the statewide redistricting.

There is a fundraiser for Midwest Environmental Advocates on April 27 at the Cavalier which will include a screening of the film, Sustainable. More details will be coming soon.


Co-Chair's report
  • The State Convention is June 2 and 3 in Middleton. Third CD convention delegates are automatically State Convention delegates. Among other things, there will be a vote for a new DPW chair at the state convention. [You may register online. Before May 19, the fee is $25. You must notify the county party chair by May 12 if you want to be a delegate at the convention.]
  • There are Tony Evers signs and lit routes available. Ask JD.
  • Students at Seven Rivers High School are asking for survey participants regarding political preferences. Email JD if you'd like to help them with their senior research project.
  • T-Shirts will soon be available for $10 each. More details coming soon.
Candidates present
Barb Johnson is running for La Crosse City Council (district #3)
Allen Pruitt is running for La Crosse School Board

Elected Officials' Reports
Sen. Jennifer Shilling said that she and Rep. Steve Doyle were having a budget listening session at noon on Tuesday in West Salem. There are six official budget listening sessions around the state. The nearest to La Crosse is in Platteville on April 3. Self insurance (the fix no one asked for) may save money for the state which the governor has pledged to the education budget, but that could be a problem for families and the University. Water/Water Quality issues are high on Dems list including water quality, high capacity wells, water table and concerns neighbors are having around high capacity wells that will be authorized forever. The Dems' Assembly and Senate agenda: Opportunity, fairness, roads, healthcare, strong schools.
Senator Tammy Baldwin's rep. Ryan Cornet is replacing John Medinger. They are working on health care, buy America, trying to slow down the Trump juggernaut. Visit and volunteer - seconnd floor of the Exchange Building.
Devin, for Rep. Ron Kind,. talked about the national news. If the health care bill passes, it could make 218 Republicans vulnerable in elections. Statistics show that 60,000 more people (about 20% first time voters) voted in 2016 who hadn't voted in previous years' elections. Most we older white males.

College Dems have been on spring break but they are getting together with other groups on campus, Black Student Unity - are doing something the second weekend of April, Earth Week, Bake Sale tomorrow, tabling for voting. Planning to screen the film - Selma. There was a question about student activity fees. Currently, student government votes on fees and payment is mandated. If students are able to opt out of some fees, some expensive projects and initiatives could lose funding.

There was discussion about being negative vs. being positive and proactive regarding some proposed initiatives. More discussion will be held. In the meantime, reaching out into the community with positive efforts - letters to the editor, volunteering with local organizations as a group, etc. would be more beneficial. It would be good to engage the community by hosting positive fun cooperative community events.
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 FEBRUARY 20, 2017

This is an unofficial report about what happened at the February 20 La Crosse Democratic Party meeting. This is just an observer's report. It is not official minutes. These views are not those of the Dem party or its officials. Any action items noted below are identified as such from notes taken at the meeting. This is not in any way official Democratic Party communication. It is hoped that this info will be helpful for those who were not able to attend the meeting but who wish to participate in building the party.

First, the chair was ill and many people were grateful that he was able to make it through the meeting and appreciated the effort.
"There's a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls." - Walter Reuther, past president United Auto Workers Union

The speaker was Terry Hicks who is the editor of the Union Herald, a union newspaper that reaches about 4,000 union and other households in western Wisconsin. Hicks is also an officer in the local AFL-CIO and has been a past La Crosse Dems chair. He talked about how many union members believed Donald Trump when he promised to bring back manufacturing jobs. He noted that after the 100,000+ people in Madison failed to stop the Republican war on (public) unions, some union members wondered how to fight back. Unions are looking for new ways to organize and rebuild. He acknowledged that sometimes Democrats' actions (for example, some Dems' support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership) have pushed union members away.

Republicans are continuing their war on unions nationally and in the state. Public union membership in Wisconsin is about half what it was before Act 10.

He urged those who support unions to subscribe to the Union Herald. More support will allow more pages with more information to reach more people. You don't need to be a union member to subscribe. The cost is $6.60 per year (payable to Union Herald, Inc., PO Box 1295, La Crosse, 54602-1295 - include your name, mailing address, city, state, zip). In addition to union news, there is information about training and job opportunities.
"Every piece of progressive social legislation passed by Congress in the 20th century bears a union label." - George Meany, president AFL-CIO (1955-1979)
Q: Is there a list of non- or anti-union businesses to boycott?
[Here is a webpage of AFL-CIO boycotts and others: http://getitunion.com/boycott.asp)

Q: Is there a list of businesses that are friendly to unions in La Crosse?
A: There is not a list per se but some locals were named (and then there was a list of businesses that no longer have union affiliation in the community.) [The same website noted above also lists businesses that have union affiliation and products made by union workers.]

Note: Dairyland Power Co-op has many union workers (IBEW #953) and has had a great relationship with unions. In fact, there are currently job openings at Dairyland along with internship opportunities.

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George Wilber spoke next. George is a member of the Vernon Dems and is running for Third CD Representative to the state's Administration Committee - the "operating body" of the party in the state). He noted that he's been a long time member of the party, serving in many positions and on many committees. He's an attorney, has been a town supervisor, and has served on many board. George feels the party needs to do more at the local, township, city, county level and be active all the time every month every year. In addition, outreach and canvassing needs to go beyond very narrowly focused target populations.
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The Third Congressional District Convention will be on March 25 in Wauzeka (not Prairie du Chien) (registration is 9:30 to 11 a.m.) There are still openings for delegates. Delegates to this convention will automatically be eligible to attend the state convention (June 2-3 in Middleton). There will be elections for most offices. In addition, each county may submit resolutions. The cost is $25 ($15 for students) and you must get your name to JD Wine by March 10 to get on the list. There will be car pools so don't let lack of transportation stop you if you wish to attend.

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The Dem's St. Patrick's Day event will be at Earl's Grocery and Saloon, 401 Third Street South. Bring a friend to JOIN THE PARTY and a snack to share.

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Two candidates for local office spoke. Allen Pruitt is running for La Crosse School Board. Jim Bagniewski is running to represent the 7th District in La Crosse. The Tuesday election is super important. Tony Evers, current State Superintendent of Public Schools is the only thing standing between Betsy DeVos and our public schools.

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There were reports from Ron Kind's representative, Jill Billings, and UWL College Democrats (the College Dems are looking for ways to connect with other student groups that share values. They will also be tabling on campus to encourage people to vote and provide information about the April elections.

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FEB. 22 - RON KIND LISTENING SESSION (for students) 1:15 p.m. UWL Student Union
FEB. 22 - RON KIND LISTENING SESSION 3 p.m. 711 6th St. South (American Legion Post 52)
MAR. 10 - Wisconsin Legislative Children's Caucus 9:30 a.m. La Crosse Public Library
MAR. 23 - Assembly Democrats Campaign Committee with Chair, Rep. Peter Barca

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There will be a committee looking into polling places in the City of La Crosse. In 2016, the La Crosse common council reduced the number of common council members to match county administrative districts and redrew voting districts) several voting districts are left with polling places at the edges of, or in some cases, outside of the districts. 

Resolution of support for Rep. Keith Ellison for DNC chair (urging state Democratic Party leaders who will vote for DNC chair on February 23 to support Ellison) originally submitted at the January meeting was passed by the membership with 78% voting in favor.

The meeting ended before it ended because the venue has a 9 p.m. closing time. No new business was able to be discussed.

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