Blogs

Robert McChesney interview with John Quinlan

John Quinlan has been running a series of interviews on his site Forward Forum - this is his most recent interview, with Robert McChesney.  You may know him from various media-related books and forums - most recently he has written a book with Wisconsin's own John Nichols called  People Get Ready and John interviews him here.

Will Broadband Show Up in Rural Neighborhoods?

Kathleen Vinehout
Will Broadband Show Up in Rural Neighborhoods?
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“I don’t want to promise you fiber where fiber is not going to come,” Kent Disch, AT&T Wisconsin External Affairs Director, told Ellsworth community leaders.
 
Pierce County business leaders and elected officials gathered with telecommunication company representatives and local cooperatives to push for resolution to Internet problems.
 
Business leaders asked companies why they would not or could not bring services to businesses that were more than willing to pay. A concrete company owner noted his company is growing but lack of good broadband “is a bottleneck.”  Broadband is needed to prosper.
 
One after another, the business leaders, county board members, and a former mayor shared community problems. People could not join mandatory webinars or attend virtual conference meetings. Locals frequently experienced dropped Internet connections. The Internet would not work at certain times of the day.

Referenda Sustain Schools During Time of Decreasing State Support

Kathleen Vinehout
Referenda Sustain Schools During Time of Decreasing State Support
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“School districts these days more or less live and die by these referendums in terms of their ability to sustain programs and staff,” Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) recently said as reported by the Isthmus.
 
So far in 2016, voters approved more than three-quarters of the 85 ballot referenda to raise property taxes to send more local dollars to schools. The nearly 77% pass rate is much higher than a few years ago.
 
People are voting to raise property taxes to keep their schools alive.
 
Recently I met with officials from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to understand school funding trends.  I learned there was a big shift in the success of referenda. Prior to 2011 (and the deep school cuts that year) about half of school referenda passed. In the past five years about two-thirds passed.
 
Historically, communities voted to raise school property taxes to build buildings. Prior to 2011, nearly two-thirds of referenda votes were for the purpose of raising debt for building projects.

Like the County Fair? Love 4H? Big Changes Coming to UW Extension

Kathleen Vinehout
 
Like the County Fair? Love 4H? Big Changes Coming to UW Extension
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension service that we used to be.”
 
The news hit hard. Downcast eyes, people with hands over their mouth, and long pauses after Julie asked the group for questions.
 
Julie explained how budget cuts forced UW Extension administrators to rethink their commitment to 100-years of county-based services. Wisconsin has a valuable partnership between the UW System and local counties.

Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film

Kathleen Vinehout
Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
When the game is over the coaches go into the film room to see where the breakdown was in play execution. The best game plan in the world is not any good if the team does not execute it.
 
The “game film” for the State of Wisconsin was recently released. This is a good place to start for anyone evaluating the state’s performance.
 
Every year the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducts a review of state agencies. Known as the Single Audit, auditors examine Wisconsin’s financial accounting of federal dollars.
 
State computer systems are a bit like the football team’s offensive line. These systems do the grunt work so the star players can score.

Vote!

Ballot Box

It's that time again. Time to go out and vote. Time to go out and put yourself behind the candidates of your choice. Despite the legislature in Wisconsin doing everything it can to make voting difficult, it's still your greatest chance to make a difference to how your country, state, and local governments will be run.

This is a particularly important election. Everyone is caught up in the presidential election, and that's mighty serious, but keep in mind that the elections that affect us all most directly are the down-ballot votes. We have an opportunity to direct fundamental change, so don't be that person who didn't care enough to go out and vote.

In this election we have a lot of choices - who should be in the final election for president. Who shall be on the state Supreme Court for the next 10 years (this one is crucial - you can pick someone who has espoused vile views, who is in the pocket of special interests, and who has shown herself to be strongly partisan, or you can vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg, someone with judicial experience and temperament who wants to help clean up the mess in our Supreme Court). You can vote for (as a friend of mine once put it) Ron Kind-Of-A-Democrat or Myron Buchholz, a local political activist. 

Perhaps most importantly, all over the state there are elections for local officials of all types - school board members, county board members, city council members, and more. These are the small-town unsung heroes of our democracy - make sure you check out who is running in your area, and go vote. These offices make a difference in our lives every day. 

My Weekend at Bernie's

Or -- Feel the BRRRRRRRRN!

Nope, this isn't going to be a story about trying to pretend a dead guy is alive -- it's a story about going to see Bernie Sanders.

This morning I set off to Eau Claire from Uppitywis Central to go to the Bernie Sanders Town Meeting. I thought that those of you who have not had the experience might like to see what it's like. It was a day of frustration and exhileration. The drive over was terrifying. I've made the trip from Downsville to Eau Claire a disturbing number of times, but this was the worst trip I've ever taken. The very light snowfall overnight mixed with cold temperatures and one hell of a gusty wind storm to make for terrible driving conditions. The little country road to Eau Claire was slippery and it was often impossible to see anything due to the blowing snow across the prairies. My little car kept getting blown around, and a few times I thought I was going to head off into the ditch. People at the rally told me there were a lot of cars in the ditch on their trips. The trip took almost twice as long as normal, so I arrived somewhat later than I had planned.

I took the footbridge across the river and was greeted by - a gigantic line. I expected a pretty good line, but this was a little more than I expected:

The line went quite a way up the hill on the right - the arena is quite a way to the left.

Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Rally in Eau Claire, WI (4-2-16) Bernie Sanders Rally at Zorn Arena

Which One Claims He's The New Democrat?

I was thinking of starting an informal survey. Hey - who knows maybe some paper or university polling apparatus will stumble upon this post and do one. I'd like to ask registered Democrats who professes to be of an elite coalition  in Congress that calls themselves "The New Democrats". My bets in the high 80% of respondents people would say Bernie Sanders. Well they are wrong. As a matter of fact they couldn't be wronger.

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