Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Homeless Couple Gets A Home On Christmas Eve, Thanks To Innovative ‘Occupy’ Group

Tiny house – CREDIT: NBC 15 WMTV

For one homeless couple the Occupy Madison (Wisconsin) group performed a small but awesome miracle…

Think Progress

For many couples, the thought of living together in a 96-square-foot house sounds awful. But for Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra, it’s a Christmas miracle.

That’s because Derrick and Ybarra  have spent the better part of a year braving Madison, Wisconsin’s often-harsh climate without a roof over their head.

They’ll spend this Christmas in their own home, thanks to more than 50 volunteers with Occupy Madison, a local Wisconsin version of the original Occupy Wall Street group in New York. The group, including Derrick and Ybarra, spent the past year on an innovative and audacious plan to fight inequality in the state’s capital: build tiny homes for the homeless.

In a city where an average home for sale costs nearly $300,000, many low-income individuals simply can’t afford somewhere to live.

Indeed, in January of this year, a citywide count found 831 homeless people living in Madison, a 47 percent increase in the past 3 years. And it’s not just adults; 110 families with children were identified as well.

The “Tiny House Project” began the same month. The plan was for volunteers to build micro-homes that still include living necessities like a bed, insulation, and a toilet. The homes are heated via propane and include a pole-mounted solar panel to power the house’s light. The total cost: $3,000, paid for by private donations.

Rather than building the homes on a particular lot of land — and thus adding another expense — the houses are mounted on trailers which can be legally parked on the street, as long as they’re moved every 48 hours. Parking on the street may not even be necessary after Occupy organizers successfully convinced the Madison Common Council recently to change the city’s zoning laws so the homes could be parked on private property with permission.

As Occupy Madison continues to build more tiny houses, it hopes to eventually buy a plot of land and create a tiny village with as many as 30 homes.

“It’s not just a shelter, it’s a commitment to a lifestyle,” Brenda Konkel, who heads a tenants’ rights non-profit in Madison, said during the zoning meeting, according to The Capital Times. “It’s a co-op mixed with Habitat for Humanity mixed with eco-village as the long-term goal.”

On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Ybarra and Derrick moved into their new home. Ybarra said the moment was “exciting,” telling NBC 15 that she’d never owned her own home before, much less one she helped build. Occupy Madison posted this video to mark the occasion.

Though a common critique of the Occupy movement was that its goals were nebulous and unspecific, it has effected a significant amount of change on a local level. This includes savingmany people’s homes from foreclosure and buying up (and then forgiving) $15 million of consumer debt for pennies on the dollar.

 

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Watch: Wisconsin Capitol police tackle man for photographing progressive protest

Damon Terrell arrest (Screenshot)

Police have been behaving aggressively toward citizen activism all around the country for a few years now.  What’s behind these excessive police tactics?

The protests are peaceful, yet in Wisconsin and North Carolina dozens are arrested weekly.

The videos below, in my opinion, show blatant infringement on citizens’ civil liberties as guaranteed by The United States Constitution.

Raw Story

A photographer and activist was aggressively arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol on Monday during a daily sing along protest.

Video of the incident uploaded to YouTube showed two police officers approaching Damon Terrell, who can be heard saying, “This is not illegal.” As Terrell backed away, one of the officers grabbed him. Terrell ended up on the ground with three officers on top of him.

Another video uploaded to YouTube showed four officers carrying Terrell out of the rotunda by his arms and legs.

Christopher J. Terrell, Damon’s brother, was also arrested for participating in the “Solidarity Sing Along” demonstration in the Capitol.

“The brothers have had a history of demonstrating and arrests by the capitol police, at times that has involved the brothers shouting at officers,” said Michael Phillis of the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The daily demonstrations began during the 2011 budget protests. A judge ruled in July that groups of more than 20 people could not gather in the Wisconsin Capitol without a permit, igniting a wave of arrests and citations.

Earlier this month, a Wisconsin lawmaker and a state official were both threatened with arrest for merely observing the demonstration.

Watch the videos, uploaded to YouTube, below:

 

 

 

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CRAZY TALK: DESPITE DENIALS, SOME ALREADY MAKING 2016 MOVES

Ready for 2016…

The Huffington Post

Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal Among Those Making Moves Toward 2016 Campaigns

Get your face on TV and write a book: Check. Start meeting the big money people: Check. Visit Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina – Israel, too: Check.

Deny any of this has to do with running for president: Check.

For politicians planning or tempted to run for the presidency in 2016, the to-do list is formidable. What’s striking is how methodically most of them are plowing through it while they pretend nothing of the sort is going on.

Somehow, it has been decreed that politicians who fancy themselves presidential timber must wear a veil concealing the nakedness of their ambition. They must let the contours show through, however – more and more over time – while hoping everyone doesn’t tire of the tease.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, among others, are hewing closely to the scripted chores of soon-to-runs. Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are among those coming out with a book, almost a perquisite these days, while otherwise diverting from the usual path of preparation, for reasons that make strategic sense for them (and, you never know, could merely reflect indecision).

There is so much to do: Polish a record, for those in office; network with central constituencies of the party; take a serious stab at social media; start dealing with pesky baggage; and get going with a shadow campaign, which can mean bringing on national advisers, powering up a political action committee, or both. The little-knowns must get better known. The well-knowns must shape how people know them.

Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana say it’s crazy to be preparing for a campaign this soon.

If so, then Christie, Jindal and the whole lot of them are crazy.

Paul is going full steam on prep, making all the necessary moves (visits to New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina among them), while stating his only motive is to help the Republican Party grow. This, despite hard-line tactics in the Senate that do not resemble outreach to GOP factions other than his own.

Still, he’s been more upfront than most in acknowledging the possibility of a presidential campaign. Rubio, for one, claims such a campaign hasn’t crossed his mind even as he’s been running one, in all but name, at least since he darted into Iowa mere days after the 2012 election. Among Democrats, O’Malley now is openly talking about a 2016 race.

Everything Clinton does, short of brushing her teeth, is parsed for presidential campaign meaning. If her brand of toothpaste were known, that would be factored in the punditry, too. “I have absolutely no plans to run,” she says, turning to the most time-worn dodge, which persuades no one, including the supporters and donors who raised more than $1 million in June alone without any discouragement from her.

Happily for hopefuls, much of what they do as public officials is multipurpose, giving them a veneer of deniability even if no one believes it.

Vice President Joe Biden chats up people from key primary states and Democratic interest groups, but, hey, that’s just Joe the king of schmooze, right?

Christie staged a national fundraising tour this summer, swelling coffers for what’s expected to be a cakewalk to a second term as governor but, more important, making the coast-to-coast money connections he’d need for a Republican presidential race. Many could-be candidates travel to raise money for others, similarly introducing themselves to donors for their own potential benefit down the road.

Rare is the presidential prospect who hasn’t been to Israel, the New Hampshire of the Middle East, small in size but big as a touchstone of U.S politics, and it’s easy for a senator to find reasons to go. Paul and Rubio did early this year. Governors pad thin foreign policy resumes with trade missions or other events abroad, as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker did with a summer visit to China. Christie made Israel his first overseas trip as governor last year. O’Malley made a return visit in April.

Many of these people have positions in party organizations or governors associations that make a trip to New Hampshire or a splashy speech in California look like something other than an effort to grease their own wheels for 2016. That’s especially handy for governors, who risk flak at home if seen preening for a national audience. That hasn’t stopped Christie, though, from going for laughs on late-night talk shows or agreeing to a sitcom stint this fall on Michael J. Fox’s new show.

Walker got to preen at home this summer, hosting the National Governors Association annual meeting in Milwaukee. He says he won’t think about running for president until the 2014 governor’s election is over. No one believes him. Notably, he won’t commit to serving all four years if he wins another term.

Both Walker and Jindal are introducing themselves to South Carolina conservatives in a fundraising visit for Gov. Nikki Haley in late August.

Continue reading here…

 

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Ouch! Sarah Silverman’s Tweet For WI Governor Scott Walker

Liberals Unite

The infamous Scott Walker recently signed a mandatory bill to force any woman wanting to get an abortion in Wisconsin to undergo a medically unnecessary and invasive vaginal ultrasound so she can have an “informed decision.” Here’s comedian and actor Sarah Silverman’s response, which was retweeted by some Democratic state politicians, causing the Republicans to cry, “rape threat to Scott Walker!” Oh, the delicious irony.

So tell us in the comments — was this over the top?

 

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Wisconsin Church Cancels Former NFL Player’s Speech For Supporting Jason Collins

The fact is…the “church” is bullying LeRoy Butler.

Think Progress

LeRoy Butler, former safety for the Green Bay Packers, was scheduled to give an anti-bullying presentation at a Wisconsin church this summer, but now the speech is off because he supported Jason Collins for coming out this week. Butler shared the following in a series of tweetstoday:

Wow, I was schedule to speak at a church in WI, and a member said that the pastor wants to cancel my event, I said ok why? Then I was told, because I said congrats to Jason Collins on twitter, I said really? we have a contract, he said check the moral cause. FYI the fee was 8500$,then I was told if i removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the event, I said no.

Then later:

I found out what happened, I guess some parents went to the church and complained about my tweet for support of Jason Collins, so sad.

Butler believes the church’s decision constitutes bullying.  In fact, when he tried to resolve the situation with the church’s pastor by saying, “We agree to disagree,” the anti-gay pastor countered, “No, I’m right and you’re wrong.”

Butler’s controversial tweet?

It’s too bad; it sounds like this church could use the kind of anti-bullying lesson Butler has to offer.

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NRA Dismisses ‘Connecticut Effect,’ Suggests Grief Over Newtown Tragedy Will Be Short-Lived

What pat of “National tragedy” do those folks at the NRA not understand?  The Newtown shooting took place in mid-December.  The tragedy in Newtown is not going away…

Think Progress

The National Rifle Association will wait until the “Connecticut effect” has subsided to resume its push to weaken the nation’s gun laws, according to a top NRA lobbyist speaking at the NRA’s Wisconsin State Convention this weekend.

Though the NRA had been tight-lipped about how the Newtown tragedy would affect their efforts, lobbyist Bob Welch, who represents the Wisconsin NRA group, was anything but during their yearly meeting.

“We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the ‘Connecticut effect’ has to go through the process,” Welch, a former Republican state senator, told the Wisconsin’s NRA State Association during the legislative update. The group’s president, Jeff Nass, had previously mentioned that they would push the Republican-controlled legislature to pass a Stand Your Ground law, the likes of which became famous following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Welch went on to bemoan the fact that the public’s focus on Newtown was preventing the NRA from pushing such bills through the legislature, but his remarks soon turned to braggadocio about the NRA’s legislative influence. He relayed an anecdote about how, following the Connecticut shooting, a pro-gun Democrat in the legislature had mentioned his desire to close the gun show loophole. “And I said [to him], ‘no, we’re not going to do that,” Welch boasted. “And so far, nothing’s happened on that.”

WELCH: We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the “Connecticut effect” has to go through the process. [...] What’s even more telling is the people who don’t like guns pretty much realize that they can’t do a thing unless they talk to us. After Connecticut I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature—he was with us most of the time, not all the time—he came to me and said, “Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?” And I said, “no, we’re not going to do that.” And so far, nothing’s happened on that.

Listen:

One of the ways the NRA remains so effective is through a massive level of political spending. Last year alone, the group spent $32 million in an effort to weaken the nation’s gun laws, including $6 million on lobbyists. Such an onslaught of political spending gives Welch the belief, whether true or not, that even those who advocate for stronger gun laws “realize they can’t do a thing unless they talk to us.”

In reality, however, the NRA is much more of a paper tiger, and its weak record in elections hardly justifies the kind of deference lawmakers pay toward the gun lobby. An analysis of the NRA’s spending revealed that “NRA contributions to candidates have virtually no impact on the outcome of Congressional races,” and recent polling suggests voters are more likely to punish a candidate for having NRA backing than to reward allegiance to the gun lobby.

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Walker starts to get cold feet on electoral scheme

The Maddow Blog

Over the weekend, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) offered cautious encouragement to Republicans hoping to rig the 2016 presidential election by changing how his state allocates electoral votes. The conservative governor didn’t explicitly endorse the idea, but Walker called it “interesting” and “worth looking at.”

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Republican was far more circumspect.

Gov. Scott Walker says he has a “real concern” about a Republican idea to change the way the state awards its electoral votes, conceding the move could make Wisconsin irrelevant in presidential campaigns. [...]

“One of our advantages is, as a swing state, candidates come here. We get to hear from the candidates,” said Walker in an interview Saturday at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s good for voters. If we change that, that would take that away, it would largely make us irrelevant.”

That’s a far cry from what Walker was saying over the weekend, and it’s a welcome change. What’s more, it’s worth noting that the governor happens to be correct — if Wisconsin changed to a system in which electoral votes are dictated by gerrymandered district lines, the state would immediately go from key, contested battleground to campaign afterthought.

Indeed, that applies to any of the other states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida) where the election-rigging scheme has been discussed — candidates and their campaign teams wouldn’t have any incentive to invest time and energy in states where the outcome is predetermined.

So, does this mean Walker is against the idea?

It remains unclear — he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he’s “qualified” his comments from the weekend, and he’s “not embracing” the scheme, at least not yet.

Walker added, “The most important thing to me long-term as governor on that is what makes your voters be in play.” And if that’s true, this plan is a non-starter, since it would do the exact opposite.

This would, incidentally, put Walker at odds with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, a long-time ally of the governor who’s also from Wisconsin and who’s endorsed the scheme.

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Michigan Governor Snyder Slammed For Sneaking Through Anti-Union Rules

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will surely feel the blow-back from his unethical actions last week…

Alan Colmes’ Liberaland

The Detroit Free Press, which had endorsed Rick Snyder for governor, went after him for pushing through a right-to-work law, calling it a “failure of leadership” and a betrayal of voters.

For two years, we supported Snyder as he took painful steps to restore Michigan’s fiscal stability and confront a crisis in which plunging tax revenues and mounting obligations to retired workers threatened to cripple the state’s cities and school districts.

We criticized the governor for signing legislation that burdened a woman’s right to choose, condoned discrimination against gays, and beggared colleges and universities to pay for business tax cuts.

But we also indulged many compromises Snyder maintained were necessary to advance his pro-growth agenda. And when ideologues on the right and left mounted campaigns designed to hamstring state government by limiting its authority to raise revenues, regulate labor relations, and fund critically needed infrastructure, we joined the governor in opposing them.

In short, we trusted Snyder’s judgment.

That trust has now been betrayed — for us, and for the hundreds of thousand of independents who voted for Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone more independent, and more visionary, than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Florida’s Rick Scott.

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Why John Boehner Has Gerrymandering to Thank for His Majority

Many uninformed voters and political pundits believe that the GOP led Congress had a mandate this election, hence their retention of a majority inin the United States Congress.  Not so…

Mother Jones

In November 2010, I reported that GOP control of all elements of state government in key swing states—including but not limited to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania—could ensure a “Republican decade” in control of the House of Representatives. The Democrats’ massive 2010 losses couldn’t have come at a worse time for the party. Because the census was taken in 2010, GOP control of state legislatures and governors mansions around the country gave Republicans the power to draw congressional district lines largely as they chose. They seized that chance, aggressively gerrymandering so as to protect Republican incumbents and endanger any remaining Democrats. The Dems would have done the same thing, of course, had they won control of these crucial states in 2010. But they didn’t.

On Tuesday, the GOP cartographers’ hard work paid off. Despite sweeping wins for Democrats in US Senate races and a broad Electoral College victory for President Barack Obama, it was clear early in the night that Republicans would hold on to the House. As Slate‘s Dave Weigelnoted, “ridiculous gerrymanders saved the House Republican majority.” In many states the president won convincingly, Democrats elected a minority of the House delegation. Here are the numbers for states that Obama won or came close and where Republicans drew the congressional map:

  • North Carolina, which Obama lost by around 2 percentage points: 9-4 GOP
  • Florida, which Obama won by around half a percentage point: 17-10 GOP
  • Ohio, which Obama won by nearly 2 percentage points: 12-4 GOP
  • Virginia, which Obama won by around 3 percentage points: 8-3 GOP
  • Pennsylvania, which Obama won by more than 5 percentage points: 13-5 GOP*
  • Wisconsin, which Obama won by 6 percentage points: 5-3 GOP
  • Michigan, which Obama won by 8 percentage points: 9-5 GOP

It goes to show that when you get to choose the ground on which electoral battles are fought, you’re very likely to win them.

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3 ways Hurricane Sandy complicates Mitt Romney’s path to victory

The Week

Mitt Romney is rewriting his itinerary for the final days of the campaign thanks to the storm’s rampage. Will that hurt his chances?

Mitt Romney sits on his campaign bus on Oct. 29 en route to a rally in Avon Lake, Ohio: The Republican presidential nominee canceled his campaign events Monday and Tuesday due to Hurricane Sandy.

Mitt Romney canceled several campaign events Monday and Tuesday “out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy,” his campaign said. The GOP presidential nominee was scheduled to attend a Tuesday event in Ohio dedicated to hurricane relief, but he has towalk a fine line, say experts, keeping his campaign going while avoiding any suggestion that he’s scoring points off the storm(which is no longer technically classified as a hurricane). “It’s a very difficult situation for the challenger to strike the right note to not look too political but to also [be] empathetic with the victims,” says Mary Kate Cary, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. How has the monster storm that hammered the Northeast made Romney’s final push toward next week’s election more difficult? Here, three obstacles it’s thrown in Romney’s path:

1. Romney has ceded the spotlight to Obama
Romney has been trying not to completely “cede the mantle of leadership to Obama,” say Jim Huhnhenn and Steve Peoples at The Associated Press. He has spoken by phone to officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Homeland Security Department, and the National Weather Service, and publicly warned those in the storm’s path to expect extensive damage. “In the competition for attention, Obama held the edge, however,” going on cable TV, live, to call for people to heed evacuation warnings and pull together. “Such is the advantage of incumbency, provided things don’t go wrong.”

2. This undermines Romney’s final pitch in Virginia and New Hampshire
Romney is tied with Obama nationally, but he still needs to eke out gains in a few critical swing states, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, if he hopes to collect the 270 electoral votes he needs to win. It’s “next to impossible to say how or whether the storm is going to impact [his] ability to persuade a relative handful of undecided voters” in the battlegrounds, but it’s distinctly possible that he could “lose the race because he’s unable to campaign in Virginia and New Hampshire in the final days.” On the other hand, he’s left with “an extra couple of days in Ohio,” which could be “a blessing in disguise” if it improves his chances of winning there.

3. The storm derailed Romney’s bid for Wisconsin
With Obama still favored in Ohio — the swing state many expect to decide next Tuesday’s election — Team Romney was making a compensatory play for the long-reliably blue state of Wisconsin. Now-post-tropical storm Sandy “may be a safe distance from Wisconsin,” says Matt Taylor at The Daily Beast, “but the Frankenstorm has upended Mitt Romney’s late push to claim [its] 10 electoral votes.” The GOP nominee “was compelled to ax an event in suburban Milwaukee, a GOP stronghold, Monday evening,” and his team “apparently decided to stop politicking with flooding, power outages, and even deaths on the horizon,” leaving Obama in command in Wisconsin, according to the latest polls.

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