Steve Hanson's blog

The legislature taketh and perhaps the courts giveth back

We're in another one of those interesting moments in Wisconsin where some of the more egregious acts of our state legislature are again in court. Despite our governor's assertion that Voter ID is working "fine" in the state, the current lawsuit in Wisconsin Western District court seems to be arguing otherwise. Walker is unwilling to admit that there's a problem here, yet he seems willing to write administrative rules to "fix" it. Well, only a little bit. 

Voter ID has been a painful issue right down then line, attempting to save us from the dire consequences of impersonation fraud at the polls. Fraud for which nobody seems ever to find evidence. The current case argues, I think convincingly, that the whole Voter ID law is a bare-faced attempt to disenfranchise voters who are likely to vote Democratic. Let's hope that the court sees the point here and is willing to act on it.

Recovery Court Celebrates Ten Years of Changing Lives

Kathleen Vinehout
Recovery Court Celebrates Ten Years of Changing Lives
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
Addiction may begin in a very private way. But, healing from addiction can take a village and can be very public.
“This is a big challenge,” Taavi McMahon, the Trempealeau County District Attorney told me. “People get up in front of everyone in open court and spill the beans about their whole life.”
Recovery Court in Trempealeau County recently celebrated 10 years of helping addicts return to a healthy life and avoid prison. I was blessed to be a part of the anniversary celebration held in Whitehall.
“All of the Black Tar China Girls raise your hands,” said Kim Walker to the crowd of community members and graduates of the Recovery Court. Folks raised their hands. These were heroin or other opiate drug addicts who changed their lives.
Kim Walker worked with addicts through intensive outpatient counseling. Her smile and sparkling enthusiasm for life was infectious. Those recovering crowded around her and took “selfies” to mark the anniversary of the program that brought them from the brink of death to a full life in a supportive community.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers

Don't blame me - blame Shakespeare. Or Dick the Butcher if you're character-driven. Some days it seems like a reasonable sentiment.  Let's compare and contrast two news stories that have passed over my desk in the last day or so. They're related both to my little neck of the woods and the state as a whole.

From the Eau Claire Leader Telegram re: the last Menomonie City Council Meeting:

 Approved Knaack’s appointment of the law firm Weld Riley, which has offices in Eau Claire, Menomonie and Black River Falls, for general legal counsel. John Behling will serve primarily as city attorney. Weber Law Office of River Falls will serve as the prosecution for traffic court issues. Allyson Baier will serve as the primary lawyer for that portion. City attorney Ken Schofield retired.

Remember when using the bathroom was simple?


Okay, maybe not this bathroom, but -

I note that Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) is saying that he's going to bring back the transgender bathroom bill that failed to pass in the last legislative session because ""This North Carolina law has taken the blinders off for a lot of people," 

Well yes, it has taken the blinders off for me. It has made it clear that people proposing these ridiculous bills around the country really don't care about "protecting children" so much as they care about ridiculing and persecuting people for the crime of "being different". Which is apparently enough these days.

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
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
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.


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


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