May 2, 2013
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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.
Milwaukee's most exuberant and anticipated exhibition of emerging talent
returns in all MIAD galleries. Meet the artists and designers who
innovate for the economy and community, and discuss their capstone
projects from all of MIAD's 11 majors and 16 minors.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 291-8070 for more information.
Grant Park Weed-outs
Date: Sat., May 4, 11 & 18 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Help neighbors pull invasive garlic mustard to protect plant diversity in Grant Park. Meet at the tennis court parking lot (Area 1). CLICK HERE or call (414) 764-0612 for more information.
Grant Park (MAP)
100 E. Hawthorne Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI
Warnimont Park Clean-up
Date: Sat., May 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Description: Meet at the Kelly Senior Center parking lot for this community clean-up. Coordinators will provide gloves, bags, pick-up tools, water, and snacks for volunteers. Participation is welcome for an hour or the entire day.
Kelly Senior Center (MAP)
6100 S. Lake Drive
Cudahy, WI 53110
Milwaukee Bar Association's Law Day
Date: Sat., May 4 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Various libraries in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Bar Association will provide free, one-on-one meetings for
anyone, including Spanish speakers, needing legal assistance. This event
will be hosted at the following locations: Bay View Library, Central
Library, Center Street Library, and the Atkinson Library.
CLICK HERE for more information about this event.
Date: Sat., May 11 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Support South Milwaukee Middle School's Environmental Club by purchasing native, hardy perennials and garden vegetable plants. Prices start as low as $1 for 2.5-inch pots. Plants also make a great Mother's Day gift. This event will take place in front of South Milwaukee Middle School.
South Milwaukee Middle School (MAP)
1001 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
City of Cudahy Bike Auction & Rummage Sale
Date: Sat., May 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Description: Partake in the auction of bicycles and rummage hosted by the Cudahy Historical Society and Cudahy Police Department. Paddle sales begin at 9 a.m. with the auction starting at 11 a.m. A city rummage sale will occur simultaneously in the Historical Society Annex. CLICK HERE for more information.
Cudahy Historical Society (MAP)
4647 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue
Cudahy, WI 53110
This week's report takes a look at the negative effects of wasting tax dollars on unaccountable programs, including WEDC and vouchers. Continue reading for more information on these and other important issues such as the UW System reserve funds, suspicious deletion of redistricting files, and the upcoming Bay View Tragedy commemoration.
New Report Confirms Voucher Dollars Wasted on Inferior Schools
Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction released a report last week confirming what has been a familiar notion to many in Milwaukee County: voucher schools do not provide a superior education to our neighborhood public schools. Statewide test assessments taken by students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) and Racine's Parental Private School Choice Program (PPSCP) revealed that voucher students underperformed in mathematics and reading as compared to their local public school districts. The test scores reflect the reading and mathematics scores for students of all grades during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.
In Milwaukee, public school students fared 7.8 percentage points better in math during the 2011-2012 school year and 6.5 percentage points better in the 2012-13 school year as compared to MPCP students. MPS students also did better with reading proficiency, scoring 4.2 percentage points better in 2011-12 and 3.4 percentage points better in 2012-13.
Milwaukee Public School were not alone in their compared success to voucher school students. Students in the Racine Unified School District also did better in math and reading as compared to PPSCP voucher students. During the 2011-12 school year, public school students tested 0.9 percentage points higher in math and 8.1 percentage points higher in reading versus their voucher student counterparts. The same was true in the 2012-13 school year, where public school students scored 3.7 and 2.1 percentage points higher than voucher students in math and reading respectively.
The results of this recent report continue the previous trend that this unaccountable experiment on our children has failed. Scoring lower in math and reading than their public counterparts, voucher schools in Wisconsin have done a disservice to parents and future Wisconsin workers. After 20 years of report after report showing underperformance, the logical reaction would be to institute accountability measures to private schools receiving taxpayer funded vouchers, not expand them without reforms. As property taxes continue to rise while reading and math scores remain low, Wisconsin's middle-class families are the unlucky backers of a losing gamble with the education of our children.
Despite recent failures, the Republican budget allows for no new
spending--$0 dollars--for our traditional public schools but increases
spending for voucher schools by up to $1,414 per pupil. It is time for
all of us to do something about this misguided, nonsensical education
budget. Let the governor and Republican Legislature know that you oppose their misplaced education priorities. Tell them to support
public education and stop spending public dollars on unaccountable
private voucher schools by signing this new petition being circulated on SignOn.org. The petition states the following:
In 2011, Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature passed a budget
that contained the largest cuts to public education in Wisconsin
history--$1.6 billion gone from our kids' schools. Class sizes went up
drastically. Quality after-school programs were eliminated. Good
teachers were laid off.
UWM Education Protection Funds
Last week, University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly appeared before the Joint Committee on Employment Relations to discuss the recent disclosure of cash reserves within the system. UW System campuses maintain reserves, primarily from tuition, to pay for future and planned obligations. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau analyzed the reserves using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and found that the amount of reserved funds nearly doubled in three years at the same time tuition increased 5.5% per year. These funds are not all in one account, but rather spread among thousands of accounts that are largely controlled by chancellors at campuses. Further, as stated by President Reilly, many of the funds at these campuses have already been allocated for use. Such funds play a key role in a university's accreditation and ability to carry out approved strategic initiatives.
This is apparent when looking at the case of our own UW-Milwaukee, where many of these funds have already been committed to implementing the Milwaukee Initiative. This program was approved by the Wisconsin Legislature in the 2009-2011 Biennial Budget and invests in faculty, staff, and equipment associated with the new Zilber School of Public Health and School of Freshwater Sciences.
As of June 30, 2012, UWM had a total of $92 million in cash balances, representing 13% of the university's total revenue for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. However, $72 million of those funds have already been committed to the Milwaukee Initiative to fund aspects of this project including, but not limited to, the following:
a time when Wisconsin's working families are still fighting for
middle-class security, ensuring more students can afford higher
education at our best universities must be a priority. Over the past 10
years, the only predictable fact is that state funding will cover a
smaller and smaller portion of the university system budget. In fact,
funding for the UW System has decreased from 32% financial obligation to
18% during this time. For that reason, rather than waging a press
release war, jumping to conclusions, or prematurely pointing fingers, we
should sit down and have genuine conversations about the entire UW
budget, including those for each campus, and the appropriate level of
reserves to be maintained by the university system. My colleagues and I
have requested a tuition freeze during this time to ensure that
Wisconsin's students attending these institutions are our main priority.
Audit Shows WEDC Failure
This Wednesday, the nonpartisan
Legislative Audit Bureau released its findings on Governor Walker's
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
While Democratic legislators offered extensive suggestions to improve accountability and transparency when WEDC was created, most of these protections and safeguards were rejected by legislative Republicans. By refusing to adopt commonsense transparency and accountability amendments, Republicans provided the avenue for WEDC to waste our tax dollars and fail Wisconsin.
Given the findings of this audit, there is clearly a reason why Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation in job growth and 45th in wage growth. Legislative Republicans supposedly created WEDC to be the state's job creation agency and yet, because it does not have a clear plan, strong leadership, meaningful board involvement, and has ignored attempts at oversight, those efforts are failing. WEDC's problems have gotten so out-of-hand that even its CFOs are fleeing this sinking ship. Its third CFO in less than two years resigned last week after only one day on the job. If WEDC were a business, this kind of damaging audit would cause its stock to plummet.
|Suspicious Deletion of Redistricting Files|
This past Thursday, Representative Barca, Senator Miller, and I sent a letter to Senate and Assembly Republican Leadership requesting that they come clean and do whatever is necessary to assist in the recovery of deleted redistricting documents. This letter was sent in response to court documents released two weeks ago, which revealed that thousands of files were deleted from state computers "at suspicious times." Further, at least 55 redistricting documents were not turned over despite three court orders to release them. The public has the right to know what the court- protected documents would have shown.
The controversial redistricting process began when Republican legislators worked behind closed doors to craft the new legislative district maps and even signed a secret contract vowing to hide details of their redistricting plan from the public. When all was said and done, Republicans then stuck Wisconsin's taxpayers with a $400,000 tab to cover the fees for the private attorneys they hired to help them protect their jobs.
Republicans were then sued over their
controversial process after a panel of three federal judges found two
Assembly maps on Milwaukee's south side violated the voting rights of
Latinos. The court last year redrew those two maps. The litigation has
continued, however, because the plaintiffs discovered additional
documents that should have been turned over but were not.
This past summer, I gave neighbors the opportunity to participate in a survey about Wisconsin's redistricting process. Overall, more than 400 people responded with their perspective. The survey found that:
No matter which party is in control,
we need more accountability and transparency, not less. I will continue
doing what I can to promote good government policies, by forwarding
legislation aimed at keeping government actions open and accessible to
the public. I will also continue to keep you updated on the most recent
events and how the lawsuit over court- ordered documents on redistricting
Bay View Tragedy Event on Sunday
annual Bay View Tragedy Commemoration will be held on Sunday, May 5 at 3
p.m. at the Bay View Rolling Mills state historical marker site
to honor the 127th Anniversary of this
historic event. The event pays tribute to those lost in the tragedy of
May 5, 1886, when the State Militia shot into a crowd of some 1,500
workers marching in an eight-hour-day rally, killing seven in front of
the old Bay View Rolling Mills, then Milwaukee's largest manufacturing
plant. The Bay View Tragedy played a significant role in Wisconsin's
labor movement and the struggle of Wisconsin's workers to fight for
their rights and improve their employment conditions.
I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
Q: As someone who values our lakes and rivers, I would like to know more about the status of the S.S. Badger being allowed to dump waste in Lake Michigan. Do you have any updates on this issue?
As you may know, the S.S. Badger received a special permit in 2008 from
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue polluting
Lake Michigan under the condition that it would eliminate coal ash
discharges by December 19, 2012. After failing to meet that deadline,
owners of the ship asked the EPA for permission to continue dumping
dangerous toxins into the water.
Did You Know...?
You may know that this past Wednesday we celebrated May Day. But did you know that May 1 is also an important day in Wisconsin's labor movement?
A two-year campaign to urge all employers to adopt a standard eight-hour workday culminated on May 1, 1886, when all workers not yet on the proposed system ceased work until their employers met their demand. Eight-hour-day marches and strikes were strongest in industrial cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, and our very own Milwaukee. These cities played a major role in the U.S. adopting the eight-hour workday, a progressive idea that is now commonplace nationwide.
Legislative Internships Available
A legislative internship at the Capitol is an excellent way to gain valuable real life experience about everyday operations of the Wisconsin State Legislature and the state's legislative process. This internship is a wonderful opportunity open to both students and recent graduates. In addition to internships at the Capitol in Madison, there are also opportunities available at my new Milwaukee office, which is shared with Sen. Nikiya Harris.
Intern responsibilities vary, but include policy research, summarizing proposed legislation, and responding to constituent inquires. All interns also assist with general office operations, including answering the phone. In addition, there may be opportunities for interns to attend session days, sit in on committee meetings, and participate in in-district events.
Applicants must be able to work during
normal business hours, and dedicate a minimum of 10 hours each week to the
internship. All intern positions are unpaid.
To apply for an internship, please submit the internship application, a cover letter, and a resume electronically to Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov or mail them to Wisconsin State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707. Please specify which office you are interested in working at when you submit your application materials. Do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions about this internship opportunity.
Take My Survey Online
I recently mailed out a newsletter
district wide. This newsletter not only provided an update on a variety
of important legislative issues, but it also featured a survey. The
short survey provides me with a way to learn more about you and gives
you the opportunity to share your thoughts on how to move Wisconsin
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