4:30 PM

The presidential recount in Wisconsin all boils down to 4:30 PM. 4:30 today is when the payment to the state is due to have the recount proceed. It's also the time that the hearing will take place in Madison to decide if the counties will be forced to do hand recounts of all ballots.

The list of estimated costs from the different counties also lists whether they intend to count all ballots by hand - it appears this is about a half and half mix. It's possible that a full hand recount will increase the cost of the recount, which the Stein campaign is already complaining about as being too high.  It will be an interesting afternoon in Madison.

The Best Idea for a Bill Comes from You!

Kathleen Vinehout

By Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“Where do you get ideas for bills?” a woman at a café recently asked me.

“The best ideas for bills come from people like you,” I told her 

December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working on new legislation. In the next few weeks I will be drafting bills to introduce in January. I am looking for your ideas!

The Wisconsin Recount - where we stand

Ballot Box

Update - It appears the Stein campaign is going to sue to demand hand recounts of all ballots:

Since two recount petitions were filed for a Wisconsin recount of the presidental election, procedures for the recount are now under way. County clerks around the state are currently providing cost estimates for their recount efforts, and must provide both a cost and the method that will be used to recount optical scan ballots by the close of business today. 

The method issue is important. Current state law allows the different counties to select whether they will count the optical scan ballots by hand and visual inspection, or by feedting them through an optical scan tabulator. Since there are some practical issues with recounting with the scanner (needing to obtain a separate memory cartridge, calibrating and testing the machine, visually inspecting each ballot before scanning it, etc.) it's very possible that many of the jurisdictions will choose to hand count, since it is in a lot of cases easier and faster than doing it by scanner. This is complicated by the fact that the Jill Stein campaign has requested hand-counting of all ballots. If a number of counties are planning on counting ballots with a scanner, it's very possible the petitioning campaigns will attempt to receive a court order forcing hand counting of all of the ballots. 

Recount petitions received by Wisconsin Elections Commission

Ballot Box

Recount petitions for the presidental election were received today by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, both from the Jill Stein campaign and from the De La Fuente campaign.  They were filed with a few hours to spare. The petitions and supporting documents are now up on the Elections Commission web site, which has been under a lot of strain this afternoon due to interest in the petitions. 


Personally I believe it's really unlikely that the recount will turn up anything beyond the normal distribution of slight clerical errors -- but the recount in Wisconsin is on.  The commission will have a press conference on Monday with details. The recount must be completed by December 13 by federal law, so this will be a very difficult thing to get done and will require quite a lot of extra work by county boards of canvassers. The recount needs to be completed in time for the Electoral College to cast votes.

School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief

Kathleen Vinehout
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal.
“Around the state, local communities took the lead on funding reform through the ballot box, but the state has to be a good partner and do our share to help small town schools.”
Indeed. This year, Wisconsinites passed a record number of school referenda.
In the recent election, 82% of school referenda passed. Over the last four years, citizens in more than half of Wisconsin’s school districts voted to raise their property taxes to pay for schools.
Why? Because state spending for public schools this year is less than it was eight years ago, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This does not include public spending for the variety of private school options.

EPA Water Listening Session in Eau Claire

EPA Listening Session Attendees

On Tuesday Nov. 15 approximately 300 people attended the EPA listening session at Chippewa Valley Technical College. The session was set up for the Administrator of US EPA’s Region V, Robert Kaplan to listen to citizens testifying about water quality in the state and to help determine if the EPA should take over the oversight of Wisconsin's compliance to the Clean Water Act. Wisconsin's DNR has been shrunk in size, and water quality enforcement has become much less of a priority, as the DNR is often not following its own rules or enforcing the law consistently. This is a (rather long) video of most of the citizen testimony on this issue. Many people testified at the meeting, requiring an extension of the meeting. The meeting was sponsored by the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Sierra Club Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Lakes Association, Citizen Action Organizing Co-op of Western Wisconsin, and Clean Wisconsin

This unfortunately was the only such meeting held in the state, so may of the attendees had to drive in from other parts of the state that have been having water quality crises. You may submit your own written testimony to the EPA at the region 5 EPA web site . You may also find out more information about the situation in general at Clean Wisconsin and Midwest Environmental Advocates, who filed the original petition with the EPA.

EPA Listening Session Eau Claire, WI November 15, 2016

Let's break the gerrymander. Here's how.

  Wisconsin is under one-party rule and it will remain that way under the current gerrymandered legislative districts.

  There are many districts now where it is pointless for the dems to put up a candidate. It is like leading a lamb to slaughter. 

  Instead the Democratic Party should perhaps think about taking the fight to the Republicans on their own turf and run primary candidates, listing themselves as Republicans and abandoning the inter-party contest altogether. The ersatz candidate would not need to hide his or her party background.  They would need however to have a populist message (minimum wage, voting rights, the environment,school funding) that would appeal to the independent voters. The dems could organize their base and with some luck, and a low-turnout election, the crossover dems and low-information Republican voters could deliver the goods.

Back to the Woods

Kathleen Vinehout
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.”
“And look at the branches above,” she said. “They are all broken. The buck was standing here pawing his hooves and tossing his head.”
We were on the edge of one of our hay fields, just where the field dropped into a ravine. I could see over several pastures and fields to the northwest and through the woods to my neighbor’s pasture in the southeast – a commanding spot.
Lisa and I were tracking a big ten-point buck. I saw him many times - even running after a doe right outside my study window as I wrote last week’s column. He was muscular and alert with wide, heavy antlers – a deer hunter’s dream.


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