Kathleen Vinehout- college professor, dairy farmer, State Senator from Alma, WI, and now candidate for Governor. I had the good fortune of hearing Kathleen speak in Baraboo last Thursday night. Her talk with the 60 or more of us gathered at the Baraboo Civic Center gave me hope and inspiration for the future of our state.
Since 2006 (her constituents have elected her 3 times), Kathleen has served as Senator to her rural district in west central WI. She understands the unique needs of rural communities and the challenges that face them. Kathleen knows what it’s like to get up at 4 am each morning to milk cows, and she also knows what it’s like to go without health insurance because it’s too expensive. When her son needed emergency surgery, she knows what it’s like to have to take out a second mortgage to pay the medical bills. (This is the reason Kathleen decided to run for state office; she knows how essential healthcare is and she also knows how to fix it so that everyone has access.)
Kathleen firmly believes that if state leaders put the needs of the people of our state first (if people are the first priority), there is enough money in the state budget to take care of those needs- healthcare, education (K-12 and higher education), clean air, water, and land, viable roads and bridges, and broadband access. Each 2-year budget cycle, Kathleen carefully crafts a “People’s Budget” which takes the same amount of money that the current Administration has to work with, and allocates it for programs and services that directly benefit the people of the state (not big corporations).
Please come and meet Senator Kathleen Vinehout, candidate for Governor, in Reedsburg on Sunday, April 29, from 4:30-6:30 pm at the Reedsburg Rec Center (across from the Reedsburg Public Library). The public is welcome and a complimentary taco bar will be served.
The First Amendment is the most important amendment in the Constitution. Sauk County has been blessed for years to have a free press in the form of the Baraboo News Republic. Many small towns and counties across the nation do not have a daily newspaper, not to mention an award-winning, high-quality daily paper.
The Baraboo News Republic has fantastic reporters and columnists. Investigative-reporter Tim Damos has faithfully and doggedly covered committees and the full County Board when supervisors on the County Board put up obstacle after obstacle. He exposed the dirt and held local government accountable.
Weekly papers for the most part do not have the staff or dollars to fully cover local government. They only print once a week and are not timely enough for citizens to be informed and act quickly to hold politicians accountable. Some politicians use lag time to rush through their hidden agendas before citizens can act. There is a good turnover in the County Board due to concerned citizens being informed and running for office.
The new and improved Board of Supervisors needs to continue to be held accountable. Democracy depends on the Free Press. Name the Baraboo News Republic the county paper.
Citizens in a democracy deserve every opportunity to voice consent or dissent on government matters, especially those at the very basis of our country’s political system.
“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Declaration of Independence
One party redistricting election districts so it wins the majority of seats even when another party wins a minority of the votes is gerrymandering. Proportionate representation by citizens is then impossible.
Corporations and other artificial entities are not mentioned in the Constitution and should have no inalienable Constitutional rights. Artificial entities, such as corporations, must be subject to federal, state and local laws.
Judging that money is speech, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United in 2010, is undemocratic. Access to the political process, whether by contributor, candidate, or supporter of legislation should not be limited by a citizen’s wealth.
These three current practices make it difficult for American citizens to fulfill their responsibility to engage in our self-government. The Sauk County Board should place the, “Nonpartisan redistricting, the “Corporations are not a person”, and the “Money is not speech,” referendums on the November ballot.
Capitalism is not an inherently greedy and exploitative system. I imagine that at some time in the future, capitalism will have evolved into a system that combines profit-making with sustainability. But in its present form, capitalism closely resembles the Spanish Conquistadors with their philosophy of plundering and pillaging.
Any system with concentrated power and wealth requires checks and balances to avoid excesses. That is where regulations come in, regulations that require extraction companies to clean up toxic spills and to reclaim the land when they abandon operations. Safety regulations that protect workers and the surrounding communities. Environmental regulations that insure both national parks and natural resources will be preserved for the future. Regulations to protect clean air and water.
Under our current Capitalism-on-Steroids system, regulations are being removed and corporate growth will be basically unchecked. And after a few years of life without regulations, we may have compromised the environment beyond what we can reclaim. Sadly, the same can be said of our educational system and our health care.
As we all remember from high school civics class, our government is designed to function with each branch providing a check or balance for the other branches. Alas, this protection, too, is being eroded. The executive branch (the Presidency) and the legislative branch (the Congress) are in lock step and together they are creating a Supreme Court in their own image. We may soon have a government that is out of control, serving only a select segment of our population and basically ignoring the needs of average Americans.
It is like a slow motion coupe, taking place in such a tedious way that most Americans won’t even notice. Behind a screen of sensational tweets, the underpinnings of Democracy are being whittled away. While we gawk and marvel at the battles of small minds in the administration, something much more sinister is going on. It is becoming more difficult to vote. It is more difficult to afford a college education. Wages stay low, preventing people from rising out of poverty and keeping the middle class stressed and over-worked.
Together, these underhanded dealings will make it easier for a powerful few to make our decisions for us. While we are distracted by tweets about dangerous aliens or dangerous Arabs or dangerous Russians, Democracy is under attack. Just as there may be no repairing damage to our environment if regulations are abandoned, we may find that Democracy has been replaced by an Aristocracy, a government of the wealthy and powerful, and there may be no going back.
If we don’t find a way to slap some regulations and some checks on this greedy stampede, it may leave us in the dust.
Wisconsin Way Forward promotes Fairness, Opportunity, and Community
When the 2017-18 Legislative Session began, it was clear that too many hardworking Wisconsin families were struggling to make ends meet, too many of our roads and bridges were crumbling, too many of our schools and students were suffering as a result of massive funding cuts, and too many local businesses and family farms were closing.
While other states have rebounded from the greatest recession in the last century, many Wisconsin families, communities, and businesses continue to fall behind. In response, Legislative Democrats announced a unified agenda called the Wisconsin Way Forward designed to put the needs and aspirations of Wisconsin families ahead of wealthy special interests by investing in our students and schools, our roads and bridges and the businesses that create jobs and opportunities for all our residents.
We shared our commitment to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the very top. We believe that when we expand opportunities for all Wisconsin residents and give every hardworking family a fair chance to get ahead, we can grow our middle class and strengthen communities throughout the state.
We decided to take that perspective and use those inherent values to evaluate every piece of legislation that was brought forward this session. For each policy proposed, we agreed to consider whether it was fair, whether it provided new opportunities, and whether it strengthened our local communities. And throughout this process, we made a conscious effort to solicit public input, encourage new ideas and hold elected leaders accountable.
As part of our effort to empower residents and increase government transparency, we launched an unprecedented effort to keep citizens informed, engaged, and involved in our state. Through these weekly email updates, regional listening sessions, expanded social media use and new online resources, we have worked to expand access to information and make sure everyone can easily follow what happens under the dome of the State Capitol.
The input and feedback we’ve received has been incredibly helpful, and we look forward to continuing these conversations with Wisconsin residents throughout the year and in the upcoming legislative session as we work together to chart a Wisconsin Way Forward.
Foxconn will be the recipient of the largest taxpayer giveaway to a foreign corporation in our nation’s history. Thanks to Scott Walker and Donald Trump’s election year scheming, taxpayers are estimated to spend $4.5 billion to bring Foxconn to Wisconsin, and even the most optimistic number-crunching doesn’t have us paying off the bill for another twenty-five years.
And it’s not just the price tag. Foxconn will cost us our environment and our natural resources as it destroys wetlands, pumps 7 million gallons of water out of Lake Michigan a day and pollutes our air.
Foxconn will also cost our roads and infrastructure — even with the second worst roads in the nation, $90 million will be taken away from already-underfunded local road projects to accommodate Foxconn.
Believe it or not, Foxconn will also cost our democracy. Scott Walker has given them a fast-pass through our court system and made it so that lawsuits involving Foxconn will more likely than not be heard by Walker’s corporation-friendly conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
The Foxconn deal was rushed through passage with little public comment despite the fact that we Wisconsin taxpayers will be footing the bill. You deserve to have your voice heard, too.
Democrats from the Legislature are hosting town halls across the state because they want to hear your feedback and answer your questions. We are highlighting this opportunity because we think this is a great opportunity for you to have your voice heard. If you are unable to make one of the three dates, WisconsinEye will be broadcasting them live on their website.
For decades the federal government had only occasional scandals. Since conservatives took over in 2016, we’ve experienced a virtual blizzard of scandals. We’ve seen porn stars, nepotism, racism and wealthy Cabinet members who rip off taxpayers with $31,000 dining sets, $43,000 unnecessary phone booths and exorbitant travel expenses.
We have an unqualified education secretary who fails to visit poorly performing schools, and a tax cut for the rich coupled with a trillion-dollar spending spree leading to an increase in the national debt. The president has refused to condemn Russia for election meddling, and his family has suspicious relationships with Russian officials.
The Trump administration can be described in one word: Stormy.
President Donald Trump’s tariff policies threaten to increase the cost of farmers’ equipment (steel) and shrink their markets for cheese and corn in Mexico, and soybeans and pork in China. The proposed tariffs have caused erratic swings in the stock market.
Failing to criticize Trump, conservatives wallow in the gutter with him. We desperately need a Congress that is willing to put ethics and country over party. Draining the swamp is no longer appropriate. It’s time to flush the toilet.
Think about that before November when you pull the lever.
We are in big trouble at the Sauk County Board. The most distinct problem is that of Chairman Marty Kreuger who has created his own brand of chaos and mis-management. And he has his minions who willingly do his bidding.
But there are some very decent honest Board members who are frustrated with the stranglehold that exists.
And there is an election coming up on April 3 where you can help choose qualified members for the next Board.
Here’s a listing of my favorite candidates:
District 2, Tom Kriegl; District 3, Charles Whitsell; District 4, Pat Rago; District 5, Robert Newport; District 6, John Dietz; District 11, Glen Johnson; District 13, Kristin White Eagle; District 14, Shane Gibson; District 15, Peter Vedro; District 16, John Miller; District 17, Tim Rippen; District 18, Scott Von Asten; District 19, Bryant Hazard; District 20, Matt Joyce; District 22, Jean Berlin; District 23, Kevin Lins; District 24, Dave Riek; District 25, Sandy Vieth; District 26, LaNell Jaquish; District 27, Scott Alexander; District 28, Bill Hambrecht and finally District 42, Valerie McAuliffe.
Vote for these Sauk County Board members on April 3.
Our forefathers felt strongly that nature needed protection from development. Had they not, the Grand Canyon, Smokey Mountain National Park, the Florida Everglades, Devils Lake State Park are a examples of areas that could have disappeared through habitat destruction with their beauty gone forever.
Today, greed is stealing nature from our kids and grandkids and beyond. Once 100,000 acres of wetlands that have been removed from protection are developed, they are gone…forever. The reason given for removing the protection is that it will make homes cheaper. In other words, the wild life and beauty of nature will be destroyed so we can buy cheaper houses. Future generations are being robbed but those in power don’t care. After all, the profit motive is more important than habitat destruction.
Perhaps remembering a Cree proverb will put home buyers and developer’s greed in perspective. It says, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can’t eat money.”