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"Loving Us” Pow Wow Encourages Recovery

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“I lost my granddaughter to heroin addiction,” Anita told me. “We’ve lost so many people,” Tena added.

Recently, former Marine Tena Quackenbush and her friends, including Quincy Garvin, Jasime Funmaker, Lori Pettibone, Cindy Ward hosted a gathering to promote and encourage recovery from addiction, especially the scourge of heroin addiction.

Ms. Quackenbush started #StoptheStigma, an organization with a mission to stop the stigma of addiction. She was joined by members of “Natives Against Heroin” in hosting the event.

“Wogixete Wi” was a traditional pow wow. Translated from Ho-Chunk, wogixete wi means “Loving Us.” Reaching out with love to those in recovery and to those still suffering from addiction was the theme of the pow wow.





An Estimated One Billion Dollars Will Be Spent on Foxconn Jobs... for Illinoians

It's very simple math.

Approximately one-third of Foxconn jobs will be filled by people living in Illinois, which means that one-third of the whopping three billion that Wisconsin taxpayers will be spending will be going toward Illinois residents:  One billion.

It also means that every dime Illinois Foxconn workers earn will be spent and taxed in Illinois-- not Wisconsin.

Therefore, if we give Foxconn the benefit of the doubt and assume that all 13,000 jobs will be filled, that's 4,333 jobs for Illinois without spending a dime.





Dana Wachs throws hat into the ring

Dana Wachs has officially announced that he is running for governor. I thought that perhaps Dana was serious about this once he announced that his law firm had merged with another firm, freeing him up to take a leave from his firm. This is now what is happening. Dana would be a great governor, and I find myself in the unaccustomed position of having two people who I count as friends potentially running for governor, and tilting the political center of the state much more seriously toward the left coast.

I am excited to see Dana running, but I find myself a little torn in that I'm not at all sure how I will feel in the primary if both Dana Wachs and Kathleen Vinehout end up running. 





Anti-Foxconn FB Site Delivers News on the Fox Con

Led by social media such as Facebook, Wisconsin's political culture supports a ready resistance to Foxconn. On August 4, scholar-activist Allen Ruff created the Facebook group site, Say No to the Fox Con, quickly gathering 150-plus members, expected to balloon to 1,000s by the end of next week as a "clearing house for critical news and views, primarily articles to inform and educate opposition to the construction of a Foxconn factory in Wisconsin. Pieces regarding the impact on the environment, accounts of the firm's operations elsewhere, and analyses of other effects and 'externalities' not offered up by backers." Gov. Scott Walker has called a for a special legislative session to push the tax-water-sand give-away through in August before citizens begin focusing on the scam, (Fortune), intended in part to reelect Gov. Jobs Failure who counts on Wisconsinites too discouraged to effectively oppose his regime.




Foxconn hearing buries the public

We've been seeing more and more of this throughout the Walker administration - Public hearings that really don't qualify as public hearings. Yesterday's Foxconn bill public hearing was, as is typical now, stacked. Invited spearkers (meaning those in favor of the bill) spoke for eight hours, from 1:30 to 9:30, and then the public was allowed to testify.

By that point, of course, most of the public had gotten the message, thrown up their hands, and had gone home. Exactly the intended effect. These are not public hearings, they are GOP press conferences with a few questions from the public tacked on to the end.





"Gold Standard" QCEW Report: Since Walker Took Office, WI Has Lost 240 Manufacturing Establishments

Both Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker were elected in 2010.

Both have made restoring a manufacturing base in their states their stated top priority and in the name of this priority have severely weakened worker, environmental and consumer rights to get there. 

Both have at least one "safety glasses" photo op in a manufacturing plant at least once a week.





Break-Neck into Wisconn Valley

Here we go again - emergency legislation for something that really requires some thought - or at least reading the bill. The Governor has ordered up a special legislative session tomorrow morning to consider the "Foxconn Bill" to offer money, tax breaks, and the ability to run over the environent in Southeast Wisconsin.  Somewhere. We'll figure out all that stuff later, the important thing is to hand everything we can over to Foxconn so we can serve them better. 

You might want to read the attached bill.  I have nothing against bringing jobs to Wisconsin, but this is a mighty cost. Money I can forgive even though I think it's crazy policy in this case. But the destruction of the environment and lack  of accountability will be with us forever. I have little faith that the legislature will manage to pound this into a more acceptable bill, but on the other hand I didn't think the Republicans would not manage to gut the ACA last week - so hope springs eternal. 

All I ask is that we do not have to hand over our eldest child to them as well. But don't hold your breath. And if past experience is worth anything, I suspect we won't really know what has happened till it's too late.





Foxconn: The Hype and the Small Print

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

Great News! A big tech company called Foxconn is coming to southeast Wisconsin and bringing with it a lot of new jobs. The new company will build a big factory and make flat screens for computers.

 

The Governor tells us the company will create 13,000 jobs that pay nearly $54,000. Other businesses will benefit because the company will buy things from Wisconsin businesses.

 

But, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the Rest of the Story.”




Foxconn, Waker, Trump to announce plant

All of Wisconsin is apparently agog over the Foxconn plant announcement that is coming this afternoon. Still, color me skeptical. Rumors are that Wisconsin is offering a huge tax break to Foxconn in return for building the plant, and the state has certainly paved the way by stomping on unions and generally making the living wage a past dream, something that Foxconn is certainly going to appreciate. But rumors abound that the state is offering somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000 per job in tax "bounty" for the plant. I'm not sure that the state will be able to actually agree to pony up a tax break that big, particularly in view of the current inability to pass a state budget even without the complication of a huge tax break for business. It's not at all clear where this leaves the local governments that will still need to provide services for the plant, their employees, and more.

But perhaps more concerning is that Foxconn has a history of announcing plants in various countries, including in the US, and not following through. Note this article in the Washington Post about the plant in Pennsylvania that was announced int 2013 to great hoopla) that has still not been built.

Locals were giddy. Foxconn had a small office here, but this seemed like the start of an entire new industry. Pennsylvania’s governor boasted about the deal. The Brookings Institution think tank hailed Foxconn’s decision as a sign of U.S. manufacturing’s strength.

But the factory was never built. The jobs never came. “It just seemed to fade to black” after the announcement, recalled a local official. It was the start of a mystery, created by a chief executive known to promise projects all over the world that never quite pan out. Yet few people seem to notice. Foxconn and others continue to get credit for deals that never take place. In December, Pennsylvania’s economic development staff was still touting the $30 million factory that never was.





Health Care: Steps Toward the Future

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told, for his occupation, the tests were absolutely necessary.

 

He was left with a medical bill costing more than his 2017 income.

 

The top-notch staff at the Department of Health Services (DHS), discovered the man was likely eligible for Medicaid. But the man wasn’t interested.





Legislature about to announce budget details

A press conference is being held to announce information on the Senate's verrsion of the state budget.  Live on Wiseye's Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/WisconsinEye/  -- looks about ready to start.





Talk Is All Health Care at the Art Fair

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“My father-in-law is losing his health insurance,” Pam told me. She stopped to chat as we perused the booths at the Stockholm Art Fair.

Stockholm, population 66, has one of the best art fairs in western Wisconsin. Judging by the license plates, the fair is high on the list for Minnesotans too.





Got Budget? No - and this is not a good thing

So, we're now a couple weeks and counting past when the state budget in Wiscosnin is due. At least we've managed to avoid a complete state shutdown, unlike a number of other states in the past month. But cruising along on past allotments isn't an answer. Once again we are seeing that although the current state administration is capable of winning votes, and keeping total control over the government, one thing they are genuinely terrible at is governing. 





Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”

He smiled. Then said, “Hi, my name is Steve. I’m a Republican. I just don’t think it’s conservative to keep borrowing to maintain the roads. We’ve got to pay for what we spend.”

Steve was earnest in his desire to find a solution to the road budget. I’ve heard similar concerns from folks attending my recent town hall meetings.





Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.

 

“Back then it was called shell shock. Today it’s called PTSD. No matter what it’s called, its effects are the same and what was true then is true now. Veterans need help and help is what I am here to talk about.”

 

In a bipartisan effort to bring more veterans into agriculture, Senators Testin, Ringhand, Representatives Goyke and Brooks introduced legislation called the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017. The bill calls for several state agencies to work together assisting veterans in both urban and rural communities. The proposal seeks to provide education, technical assistance, employment, and mentorship including connecting existing farmers with veterans who want to learn farming. Over forty percent of the legislature supports the bill as cosponsors, including myself.

 

A U.S. Army Infantry and combat veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Kosovo, Mr. Sales captivated Senators with his story of how farming brought his life purpose.




We ask why Democrats are not winning. Gerrymandering is a large part of it.

Okay, llet's be honest. Gerryymandering is an American tradition. Whatever party is in power has always tried to gain the upper hand by organizing congressional districts to suit their needs. Packing and cracking of districts has happened for a very long time, and it helps to keep the winning party in power over the long term.

But something has changed. The ability to use computer power to set district boundaries (and the will to use them for that purpose) has resulted in districts in Wisconsin that make it next to impossible for party power to change in the local district. We see it time after time.  Good challenging candidates just lose because surmounting the party bias in their own home area is impossible.





Celebrating Wisconsin’s Dairyland

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“Do you still milk?” I asked Jim at a recent gathering. “No,” he told me. “My son tells me the most help I can be is to stay out of the way,” he joked. We both agreed that was hard. Dairying gets in your blood.

 

June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites.

 

Reminiscing with an old dairy farmer, you realize the love of cows and farming never really goes away. The smell of newly mowed hay or the glistening dew on the field of newly emerging corn brings back tangible memories. While the body is worn and weary, the mind still remembers the satisfaction of a job well done when every cow is milked and fed, the barn is clean and limed, and all the other farm animals are ready to settle in for the night.




What Choices Would You Make?

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.

 

Lawmakers are working off a spending plan submitted by the Governor earlier this year. Changes have already been made to his proposal.

 

For example, the budget writing committee removed much of the new money for the University of Wisconsin System. Big spending cuts in the last budget forced, among other things, a reorganization of UW-Extension, which may leave local communities without their own Ag or 4-H agents.

 

This year, the Governor’s budget returned about one-sixth of that cut and ties the increase to new “performance” standards. However, majority party lawmakers cut that increase roughly in half and disapproved a small decrease in tuition.




Greater Chippewa Valley League of Women Voters forum on Gerrymandering

This is the first forum sponsored by the recently-rebooted Chippewa Valley League of Women Voters chapter. This session is a presenation by Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause. The session was followed by a lively Q&A session. There were over 75 in attendance at the meeting, which is a great start for the local chapter. For more information on the LWV in Wisconsin, including information on how to join, see the link below.





AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.
 
A recently released audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) found that “WEDC cannot be certain about the number of jobs actually created or retained as a result of any awards that ended.”
 
By law, WEDC is required to report jobs created or retained. The agency meets the requirement through reports posted on its website. However, auditors found these data inaccurate.
 
“We found that the on-line data in January of 2017 included 183 jobs created and 1,082 jobs retained by recipients that had sold their operations in Wisconsin, ceased their operations in Wisconsin, or had withdrawn from their contracts before the contractually specified completion dates.




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Today, October 19

  • Steve Hanson
    2:07pm

    Nineteen states have called for a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision. Representative Scott Allen won't even allow a public hearing on a resolution that would let Wisconsinites vote on this core issue of our timeWhile many politicians may like unlimited and often undisclosed campaign contributions, the rest of America is disgusted by it.

    Last week, Allen refused a request to have AJR 53 placed on the public hearing agenda, calling the advisory referendum, “politics at its worst”. Wisconsin law provides for advisory referendums. There was a statewide referendum in 2006 pertaining to the death penalty.

    "Politics at its worst"...really?? This is a cross-partisan issue. There are plenty of billionaires on both sides of the aisle. Both parties are raking in campaign cash. Money talks and the rest of us have no say.

    It’s outrageous that Chairman Allen won’t even allow this to be put on the agenda. This is the Constitution and Ethics Committee, after all. And Citizens United has torn a hole into our Constitution, drowning out our free speech rights as citizens, and ushering in all sorts of ethical problems.

    These resolutions (AJR 53 / SJR 54) were introduced by Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). Polls show a vast majority of Americans view our election system as corrupt. Special interest money has enormous political influence and everyday citizens feel they are getting no representation.

    “It is stunning that Republican Representative Scott Allen considers giving the average Wisconsinite the opportunity to have their say at the ballot box to be ‘politics at its worst,’” said Rep. Subeck. “Wisconsinites are fed up with the massive corporate and special interest spending Citizens United has ushered into our elections, and it is time to let them be heard.”

    Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

    Please contact ...

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