Saying “Good Bye” to Benjamin

Kathleen Vinehout
Saying “Good Bye” to Benjamin
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“I make the promises and my staff keeps them,” said former state Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center). I don’t know if Senator Schultz was the first to say this but his statement certainly describes the important role of Capitol staff.
 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

No, that's not a quote from Melania Trump's speech.  I wrote it myself with a little help.  Though it does have a familiar ring to it. Not to beat a dead horse.

Actually the flap over the speech brings to mind two things. For one, I think it's typical that the big flap from the Republican Convention seems to revolve around these little score-keeping gotcha moments, rather than the big story of the convention. Republicans have gone completely off the rails and are now running completely on a platform of fear, anger, jingoism, and lies. The Trumpization of the GOP appears to be complete, as even Republicans that we thought had better sense are falling in line behind this disaster of a candidate, and repeating his message in lock-step. Some of the worst offenders in all of this are from our own state.  I'm looking at you, Gov. Walker, Reince Priebus, Sean Duffy, Ron Johnson and parrticularly Paul (I Can't Even Remember What I Believe Any More) Ryan. 

UWEC and Local Business: A Flourishing Relationship Worthy of Investment

Kathleen Vinehout

UWEC and Local Business: A Flourishing Relationship Worthy of Investment

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“One hundred years ago the Chamber rented a rail car to go down to Madison,” President Bob McCoy of the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce told the gathering of business leaders. A century ago, Chamber members traveled to Madison to advocate for a new UW campus in Eau Claire.

Government Accountability Died the End of June

Kathleen Vinehout
Government Accountability Died the End of June
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Government Accountability passed in a quiet death the last day of June.
 
There was no fanfare, no long speeches – just hard working employees packing up personal items.
 
I imagined the nonpartisan judges of the Government Accountability Board (GAB) breathed a deep sigh as they left their service on the GAB and ended the rough and tumble ordeal as broad members.
 
All the fanfare, public speeches and hyper-partisan rhetoric happened last winter in what GAB board member, Judge Thomas Barland, called a “public lynching”.
 
Judge Barland is a former Circuit Court Judge for Eau Claire and Trempealeau counties. As a GAB board member, he oversaw government accountability in Wisconsin. Earlier this year he retired from the GAB.
 
For over thirty years, he served as a nonpartisan judge. Ironically, given the partisan focus of destroying the GAB, Judge Barland served as a Republican State Representative from 1961 to 1967.
 
Following an interview with Judge Barland, Chippewa Valley Herald Associate Editor David Gordon wrote, Barland said his ‘public lynching’ comment referred both to the recurrent attacks on the GAB by members of the Republican majority in the Legislature, and to the actual destruction of the Board.”

Buchholz Campaign Speaks Out on our Wars

Peace takes courage! In the last couple of decades I’ve seen the actions of Myron Buchholz exemplify that statement. Today Myron’s campaign has released a new video featuring former Captain Amanda Buchholz, Myron’s daughter. Here’s the press release that has accompanied this release. 

Buchholz campaign: Former US Army captain Amanda Buchholz endorses her father, Myron Buchholz, for Congress. 

For immediate release, 6-28-16.  Contact Jodie Arnold: 715-726-8613 or 715-944-9948 

Amanda Buchholz endorses her dad, Myron Buchholz, for Congress.

Delight in the Sun!

Kathleen Vinehout
Delight in the Sun!
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Don’t you want to sit in the shade?” my sister-in-law asked. “No” I replied. I love the sun. I understand why ancient civilizations worshiped the sun.
 
Somehow, I think my in-laws, Cindy and Norm, love the sun too.
 
They just returned from the Midwest Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. The Energy Fair, sponsored by the nonprofit Midwest Renewable Energy Association celebrated its 27th anniversary in June.
 
With over 200 workshops and roughly 15,000 folks attending, the fair serves as a catalyst for clean energy projects all over Wisconsin.

Policy & Politics: Predators Among Us

Joe Plouff

Sightings of the creature were reported in the Rice Lake area over a period of time. Pictures of its tracks were sent to the WI Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). Numerous people reported seeing it on their early morning walks and each time the DNR said they needed more evidence.

Eventually a group of citizens stood under a tree, along with an employee of the DNR. Some great pictures were taken. That a predator was among us could no longer be denied.  There it was, lurking on a branch ready to pounce.  

Predators stalk. They watch and lurk, seeking the most vulnerable among us. They creep and pounce when opportunity arises. And not all predators live in the animal kingdom.

29th Assembly District Candidate Forum

Community Conversations in Menomonie held a Candidate Forum on June 18th for legislative candidates in the 29th District. All four of the announced candidates participated - Scottie Ard, Randy Knaack, Rob Stafsholt, and Vince Trudell. These are video recordings of the forum, broken into two parts.

Wisconsin 29th Assembly District Candidate Forum

Wisconsin 29th Assembly District Candidate Forum part 2

Conservation Scorecard Shows Record Attacks on Water, Air, and Land: Engaged Citizens Fend Off Worst Legislation


Conservation Scorecard 2015-2016 Released

MADISON — The Conservation Scorecard 2015-2016, released Wednesday, paints a picture of aggressive attacks against our water, air, and land. However, it also shows that engaged conservation voters were able to stop or improve the worst of those pieces of legislation.

Jennifer Giegerich, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Legislative Director, said, “We saw more attacks on our air, land, and water during the 2015-2016 legislative session than ever before. Special interests like factory farms and frac sand mining companies pushed their radical agendas at the expense of the people who live, work, and raise their families in Wisconsin.”

“However, the Conservation Scorecard shows how citizens made all the difference. Without conservationists from every corner of the state taking action and talking to their legislators, this session would have been a lot worse. Conservation voters met with their legislators, wrote letters to local newspapers, sent letters and made phone calls to decision makers, and engaged friends and family over 33,000 times,” continued Giegerich.

Despite continued attacks, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters commends their members and other citizens for key successes, including: protecting $33 million dollars for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program; making vast improvements to the Polluter and Developer Grab Bags (AB 600/SB 459 and AB 582/SB 464); protecting the Great Lakes from plastic microbeads (AB 15/SB 15); and ensuring that water systems are not privatized (AB 554/SB 432).

In addition to the 43 legislators who earned perfect 100% scores (see page 3 of the Scorecard), Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters highlighted five decision makers who went the extra mile for conservation and earned a place on the Conservation Honor Roll, as well as three who worked aggressively to gut natural resource protections, putting them on the Dishonor Roll.

The five legislators on the Conservation Honor Roll include: Senators Rob Cowles and Mark Miller and Representatives Chris Taylor, Joel Kitchens, and Cory Mason. Details about each legislators’ work that placed them on the Honor Roll can be found on page 2 of the Scorecard.

Legislators whose egregious actions landed them on the Dishonor Roll are: Senators Tom Tiffany and Frank Lasee and Representative Adam Jarchow (page 3).

The Conservation Scorecard 2015-2016 by the numbers:

  • Average Senate score: 44%
  • Average Assembly score: 44%
  • Number of Senate Conservation Champions (100% score): 8
  • Number of Assembly Conservation Champions (100% score): 35
  • Number of Senators with 75% and higher: 13
  • Number of Representatives with 75% and higher: 36

“This session was full of bad ideas, many of which became law. Too many legislators are out-of-touch with the voters who live, work, raise their families, and play in Wisconsin. It’s time to turn things around,” concluded Giegerich.

To view the Conservation Scorecard 2015-2016, please visit www.conservationvoters.org/scorecard2015-2016.

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Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea

Kathleen Vinehout
15, 2016
Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
 
The frail elderly, disabled, and their families learned the governor sought to privatize the successful Family Care and IRIS programs, handing them over to a few large insurance companies.
 
The birth of this idea happened in secret.
 
The Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary – charged with shepherding the plan through the legislative process – acknowledged to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “she learned of the proposal only when the governor’s budget was released.” Evidently her staff also knew nothing of the plan.
 
“None of them knew anything about this,” said Barbara Beckert of Disability Rights Wisconsin. “They are in a state of shock.”
 
In December 2014, the governor’s office invited advocacy groups to a meeting to discuss what they would like to see happen with the programs. Jason Endres and his spouse Julie of Eau Claire attended that meeting.
 
“We were never listened to,” Jason said. “The governor did a complete 180 when the budget came out.”

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