There is a
lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will
help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly
believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to
assist you, please feel free to contact us.
This Thursday, I had
the honor of being a part of a presentation produced by PBS Milwaukee and
WUWM radio that took a look back at the 2016 Sherman Park riot. Bringing
in elected officials, community leaders, residents of the district and
surrounding neighborhoods, organizers sought to address the reasons
behind the disturbance, the response and what is needed to move beyond
that period of unrest. Airing later in August, community members were
invited to hear a panel discussion and then discuss or provide comments
regarding what they believe played out last summer.
The riot occurred in August last year in response to the death of 23
year-old Syville Smith, during an officer involved shooting. The tensions
between the African-American community, in Milwaukee, and law
enforcement, mirrored much of what was happening around the country. The
audience was asked to discuss the underlying factors that contributed to
the property damage and ripped at the soul of this diverse Milwaukee
neighborhood. Housing, unemployment, education, community pride, and
police relations were all on the table.
A lot has been in response, to include $4.5 million in state aid to
Milwaukee, job creation opportunities for youth, grassroots efforts to
provide youth programming in the parks, and more. Personally, the work
that I have done for more than ten years on creating legislation in
response to officer involved shootings, or authoring the Community-Police
Relations Act intended to create real incentives for police to use
best-practices has been to improve community policing. By providing up to
$300,000 a year to police departments, located in minority areas, it is
hopeful that these additional resources will help reward plans that
positively change the tone and interaction with the communities they
serve. I am also currently working on my Officer Involved Deaths 2.0
package which will include four different bills that will institute a
variety of changes to our current system such as; requiring independent
investigators to cases of officer involved deaths so that they don't end
up investigating themselves, and requiring law enforcement to release
bodycam and dashcam footage to the families in a timely manner after an
officer involved death. This is truly important to me and I hope that we
can continue creating lasting change in Milwaukee.
for the Books
This week, I met
with representatives from Rosen Publishing to discuss their work in
educating children about the importance of urban agriculture. They have
been able to incorporate this into Preschool and K-12 curriculums through
publishing books intended to expose children early to the subject. Books
like "America’s Transition from Agriculture to Industry"
explore the evolution of the U.S. agricultural economy. Education in this
arena has often been overlooked, particularly in urban school districts.
However, the health, career, economic, and environmental benefits are
enormous to cities like Milwaukee. I have stressed the importance of
urban agriculture again and again during my tenure as a state senator.
It's amazing to see how urban ag programs have flourished in Milwaukee
public schools such as Harold S. Vincent High School, which has a program
that gives students access to a greenhouse, hoop house, animal room,
landscape equipment, aquaponics and outdoor study areas. It is my hope to
expand this educational opportunity to all students in the district.
Those Who Need it Most
On Thursday, I met
with Rep. Bob Gannon (R-West Bend) to address the high infant mortality
rates in Milwaukee, especially among minorities. Right now there are
barriers in our healthcare system design and it can be difficult to help
those who need it most. To address some of the system issues of service
delivery, I have been working on my LOVE & FAITH initiative and one
of its components to better assist infant mortality.
Based on a model originally introduced in Mansfield, Ohio as CHAP
(Community Health Access Project), the program has since been renamed the
Pathways Community HUB and versions exist in Toledo and Cincinnati. CHAP
originally opened its doors in "hotspot" areas where infant
mortality was high and such a model seems ideal for Milwaukee. This
program has the potential to create lasting change and could bring
substantial savings to the state. It's estimated that each dollar
invested in this program returns $3 in short term medical care costs, and
$5 in long term medical care costs. Over time, that will really make a
difference. My initiative is intended to create hubs throughout Milwaukee
that will provide important resources to the community. This program is a
game changer and I am excited about a chance to draft impactful
bipartisan legislation or policies to address this important issue.
This Sunday, I am
joining area residents in celebrating MICAH Day. MICAH stands for
Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope. MICAH is a
multiracial interfaith organization that addresses justice issues
affecting the community through education, advocacy, and action. Organizations
like this are critical partners in our work to address the problems that
have been plaguing our community. Grassroots movements have always been
our most direct and meaningful response to community problems. It is no
secret that Milwaukee has a disproportionate share of issues to include
excessive black male unemployment, disparate health, incarceration, and
education outcomes for communities of color.
MICAH has stepped up to offer responses and work alongside elected
officials at every level of government to address the issues. Whether
hosting issue-specific town halls, working to reduce the prison
population and recidivism, working alongside their additional allied
partners, or demonstrating the role the faith community can provide in
improving our neighborhoods, Milwaukee is stronger because of MICAH's
presence. I am proud to support MICAH Day and look forward to their
continued positive influence and commitment to public service.
Governor Walker made a deal with Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-based
electronics contracting company, to build a plant that would supposedly
employ 3,000 Wisconsinites initially and upwards to 13,000 within 6
years. The plant would make liquid-crystal-display screens for TVs and
other products. In theory, this should be welcomed news. After all, the
positive economic impact that Foxconn's presence could bring includes
jobs, construction projections and a strengthened tax base. Maybe. There
are a number of questions that remain unanswered as Republicans in the
state dangle between $1 to $3 billion dollars in taxpayer-backed
subsidies to cement the deal.
However, Foxconn has had problems living up to their end of the bargain.
In fact they've broken promises to at least 4 countries over the years,
including the US. Foxconn has yet to build a promised $30 million factory
in Pennsylvania. Due in 2013, that factory was never built. In 2014,
Foxconn promised a $1 billion investment in Indonesia and three years
later, nothing has happened. Foxconn has been getting hopes ups as far
back as 2007, in which a $5 billion investment in Vietnam was reneged on
And then there is the question of employment practices, worker treatment
and wages. Foxconn's plants in other countries have had employee riots,
high incidents of suicide, been accused of demanding excessive overtime
without pay and subjected workers to unrealistic production schedules.
Since our Republican colleagues worked to remove Wisconsin worker
protections via Act 10 and in making this a "right to work"
state, there are rightful concerns about worker's treatment. Forgive me,
but I'm a little wary of this deal and am listening as local economists
are questioning if the deal is "too pricey in terms of potential
economic benefit back to the state." I'm rooting for this to work
out and benefit Wisconsinites, but I'm going to ask the tough questions,
push for worker protections, and work to ensure that taxpayers are