Official Government Communication

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my email newsletter. 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.

Here to serve,

      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District

Milwaukee Summer Reading Project funding moves forward

Recently, without a lot of attention, the Assembly Education Committee approved one of my bipartisan bills. This bill is simple, but has the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of our kids. Assembly Bill 332 would pump over $1 million into the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project (MSRP) over the next two years. From the very beginning in 2010 I worked with former Milwaukee Public School Superintendent Howard Fuller and others on the creation of the MSRP. It is a program that is near and dear to me. It is also a program that is critically important for Milwaukee right now.

You may have heard the statistics. 1.5 million Wisconsin adults are functionally illiterate and 84 percent of our Milwaukee kids read below grade level. But what do these numbers mean for our community? They mean we have our priorities out of order. Wisconsin has the highest African American incarceration rate in the nation while also having the lowest literacy rate in the nation for black fourth graders. Our babies will grow up to be adults. If they can’t read they can’t learn, and if they can’t learn it is very hard for them to succeed. That’s where the MSRP comes in. In its five years of operation, this program has reached over 900 kids with 725 of them completing the program. Last year 81 percent of those kids improved their reading by almost a full grade level. Let that sink in. That's almost a full grade level in just six weeks.

This project already has some great financial supporters including Dwayne Wade and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. It is my hope that, through this bill, the state of Wisconsin will add its financial support as well.

 

Demond Means named commissioner of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program

Yesterday, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced that Mequon-Thiensville school superintendent Demond Means will serve as commissioner of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program. While I disagree with the policy that created the Opportunity Schools program, like it or not, it’s law now. I must say that County Executive Chris Abele couldn’t have made a better choice than Demond Means for the job. As someone educated in the Milwaukee Public School System himself, Mr. Means knows the challenges we face here very well. His background as an educator and a member of our community will help him deal with the divided politics that created this bill and will help Milwaukee heal from its consequences. Ensuring our kids get a first-class education is one of, if not the top issue for me. I trust Mr. Means to handle this difficult task in a fair, responsible manner.

 

Assembly Bill 220 makes mandatory minimums the law in spite of our best efforts

On Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker signed a number of bills into law. Among those bills was Assembly Bill 220 which establishes a mandatory minimum period of three years confinement for a person who has been convicted of certain violent felonies and who is found carrying a gun. I am disappointed in this new law. While it sounds good to be tough on crime, there's one glaring problem with this law; it won't work. The law fails to address issues like policing, offender rehabilitation and crime prevention. Supporters of AB-220 argued that mandatory minimum sentences would reduce racial disparities by doling out equal punishment. They seem to have forgotten that people of color—like Latinos and African-Americans—receive a disproportionate number of sentences in the United States. “Tough on crime” only works if policing is fair to begin with. Instead of signing bills that sound good at first but ring hollow in action, we should turn our attention to methods that have been proven to reduce crime in Wisconsin. Racine, formerly Wisconsin's murder capital, converted foreclosed homes in high crime neighborhoods into Community Organized Policing Houses. These and other efforts have reduced violent crime by about 70%. For more on why I don’t think mandatory minimums are the right way to go about fighting violent crime, see my previous guest columns here and here.

 

Walker stands by his ridiculous cop-killing rhetoric

In September, I issued a statement expressing my deep frustration with Governor Scott Walker’s claim that President Obama is responsible for a dramatic rise in anti-police rhetoric. It was clear to me that Governor Walker was using police shootings primarily for his political gain, which I think everyone can agree is wrong. What upsets me even more is that on Friday, in light of further developments, he said that he “wouldn’t back down” from his claims. Even though one of the high profile cop killings Walker cited at the time has now been ruled a suicide. Authorities in Illinois recently announced that Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who was hailed as a hero, was actually embezzling thousands of dollars from a youth program. Authorities now know that he staged his death to make it look like he was killed in the line of duty. Additionally, the numbers don't lie. The number of officers killed on the job has actually declined under every president since Ronald Reagan. Governor Walker says that these new developments do not diminish his argument. I say they make it look that much more ridiculous. To this end I have renewed my call for an apology regarding these comments, and now it’s up to Governor Walker to do the right thing or completely ignore it—again.

 

 

 

 

Stay in touch:

     Email: Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov

    Milwaukee:  414-342-7176

    Madison:     608-266-5810

 

   

   

Community Events:

Three upcoming opportunities to join me at community events!

Turkey Giveaway: November 18th, 4-7pm at St. Gabriel's Church of God, 5363 N. 37th St, Milwaukee

Coffee with the Senator: December 7th, 8:30-10am at Colectivo Coffee, 5735 N. Bayshore Dr, Glendale

"Let's Talk": December 9th, 5:30-7:30pm at the Senate District Office, 2602 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee. Bring your questions, concerns and issues to Senator Lena Taylor.

City of Milwaukee Job Opening: Milwaukee is accepting applications for the position of Community Service Officer. Details here.

Growing Power's Winter Farmer's Market: Every Saturday this winter (except after Christmas and Thanksgiving.) 13111 W. Silver Spring Drive, Butler WI 532007. Enjoy breakfast or lunch from local vendors!

Senate Scholars Program: The Senate Scholars program will be accepting applications from academically exceptional high school students no later than January 3rd, 2016. Further information here.

Pieces: In My Own Voice play presented in partnership with NAMI, AKA and MISRRC to educate and deliver information on coping with mental illness. Novemeber 17th, 7pm Centennial Hall 733 N. 8th St. Free and open to the public, RSVP here.

 

 Quote of the Week:

 "How important it is for us to recognize our heroes and she-roes!" -Maya Angelou

This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.