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August 23, 2012



Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487



Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707


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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. 


Posters of Paris

Date: Now through Sun., September 9

Description: Come check out the Milwaukee Art Museum's latest exhibition. The museum will transport visitors to 19th century Paris, when larger-than-life, brightly hued artistic posters with bold typography and playful imagery once covered the boulevards. Experience more than one hundred of the finest French posters. CLICK HERE or call 414-224-3200 for more information.

Milwaukee Art Museum (MAP)
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Mexican Fiesta
Date: Fri., August 24 through Sun., August 25

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Mexican Fiesta began as a neighborhood South Side street festival in 1974 and has grown to Wisconsin's largest paid entrance Mexican festival. Live music will be offered throughout the festival and will feature Pablo Montero, Tejano Boys, Belanova, and other internationally-known artists. Friday brings the Salarengue contest, while Saturday offers a dance contest. Those interested in the cultural costume contest, followed by the jalapeno eating contest, should stop by the festival on Sunday. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202



Eat Local Resource Fair

Date: Sat., August 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Get ready for the two-week Eat Local Challenge that runs during the first two weeks of September by stopping by the Eat Local Resource Fair. Learn some new tips to help you eat locally all year--even during winter months. The Eat Local Resource Fair will also provide you with the opportunity to buy food directly from local food producers, see cooking demos, and pick up menu and recipe ideas. CLICK HERE or call (414) 964-8505 for more information about the Eat Local Resource Fair and the Eat Local Challenge.

Urban Ecology Center(MAP)
1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211



Milwaukee Masterpiece
Date: Sat., August 25 and Sun., August 26

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Milwaukee Masterpiece car show will return to the lakefront at Veterans Park, bringing with it a display of hundreds of rare and classic vehicles. Tickets are $15 per day and $20 for a two-day pass during the presale period. Day-of ticket prices are $20 for one day and $25 for a two-day pass. All proceeds from the two-day event and will benefit Jewish Family Services, a 145-year-old organization that provides meals, counseling, development, and support to those in need. CLICK HERE for more information

Veterans Park (MAP)
1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202


St. Francis Days
Date: Thurs., August 30 through Sun., September 2

Location: St. Francis

Description: This annual four-day music festival is free and open to the public. Visitors should expect to see live musical entertainment, pony rides and a petting zoo, skydiving shows, helicopter rides, and movies. CLICK HERE for more information.

St. Francis Memorial Park (MAP)

3620 E. Lunham Avenue
St. Francis, WI 53235

Senior Celebration at the Zoo
Date: Fri., August 31 from  9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: There is fun to be had by all at Senior Celebration at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Enjoy entertainment by numerous bands, singers, and performers. Visitors can also expect to see Bingo, a wealth of information at the health and wellness expo, and all the wonders the Zoo has to offer. This event costs $7. Participants can also request an optional bag lunch for an additional $3. Meet at the Washington Park Senior Center. CLICK HERE or call (414) 933-2332 for more information.

Washington Park Senior Center (MAP)

4420 W Vliet Street Milwaukee, WI 53208



Third Ward Art Festival

Date: Sat., September 1 and Sun., September 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Stop by this nearby art festival located in the heart of Milwaukeeís thriving arts and fashion district. Exquisite artwork of all mediums including ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media, paintings, drawings, photography, printmaking, wood, and furniture will be represented at the festival. With a wide range of price points and an ample selection of artwork available for $100 or less, the festival offers something for everyone. The festival will be located at the intersection of Broadway and Chicago in the Historic Third Ward. Admission is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for more information, including a list of vendors.



































































































































































































































































































































Dear Friend,


Given that the first day of class is just around the corner, this week's newsletter will focus on the reality our children, their parents, and neighborhood teachers will face this school year.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7




Back to School

Our neighborhood schools are gearing up for the 2012-2013 school year. For  students, teachers, and parents this means buying new school supplies, planning the upcoming classroom curriculum, or ensuring parent-teacher conferences are on the family calendar. But with the release of state aid numbers for our local schools, we have also been given a stark reminder of just how different this school year may be compared to years past.


According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 10 of Milwaukee County's 18 school districts are bracing themselves for additional cuts to their state aid funding. These cuts have been estimated to total $7,415,941 for the 2012-2013 school year. Included in the schools that are expecting cuts are two school districts in our community--Milwaukee Public Schools and the St. Francis School District. The cuts for these two school districts alone are expected to reach $3,740,377.


This trend is not limited to our schools here in Milwaukee County, but can also been seen across Wisconsin. The Department of Public Instruction has released state aid statistics for all of Wisconsin's public schools, which show that 267 of the state's 424 school districts, or 63% of Wisconsin school districts, will face cuts to their education aid. This will amount to cuts of $79,443,087 for our children's schools.


Support for our children's education was put on the back burner during this legislative session as funding from our neighborhood schools was slashed in order to give away these taxpayer dollars to special interests and corporations. Under the Republican budget approximately $1.6 billion was stripped from education statewide. These decimating cuts hit some communities harder than others and have been especially detrimental to children in Milwaukee and the surrounding area. Below are results from the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrator's annual survey:

  • Wisconsin lost 4,000 educational jobs, leaving schools understaffed and children underserved

  • 4 in 10 students attend a district with larger class sizes in grades K-6

  • 40% of students are in districts that eliminated sections or increased class size for core subjects--English, Math, Science, and Social Studies

  • Districts are offering fewer art, music, physical education, Advanced Placement, and foreign language classes

  • The biggest cuts were to special education programs, which are followed by library and media center staff, reading coordinators, programs for at-risk youth, and drug and alcohol abuse programs

Similar results can also be seen right here in our own community. Here is how Milwaukee County's 18 school districts have been negatively impacted by sweeping education cuts:

  • Milwaukee County was left struggling with 1,719 fewer teachers, aides, and administrators in the most recent school years as compared to 2010

  • 1/2 of Milwaukee County school districts reported increased class sizes and higher student-to-teacher ratios

  • Cuts to support services, such as special education, were made in five of our 18 Milwaukee County School districts

Click here to view this annual Wisconsin Association of School District Administrator's survey and analysis by the Department of Public Instruction.

The choices we make regarding education in Wisconsin will play a significant role not only in the success of our children, but also in determining the economic success of our state and local businesses. Attacks on education do not represent Wisconsin's values and runs counter to our aim of increasing job creation and economic vitality. It is time that we work together on initiatives that invest in all levels of education and ensure that those education dollars are being spent wisely. As a member of the Senate Committee on Education and Corrections, I will continue to monitor the state of our community schools to ensure that we have a realistic, fact-based, and truthful understanding of how the success of our children and our local economy are being affected by continual cuts to education.


Education & Audit Committees to Meet

The Senate Committee on Education and Corrections, of which I am a member, has scheduled an informational hearing to address how 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, or the biennial budget, has impacted public education in Wisconsin. Some of the speakers who have been invited to testify include the Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, the National Education Association, and school district representatives. The hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 29 at 10 a.m. in room 411 South of the Wisconsin State Capitol.


Click here to view the Senate Committee on Education and Corrections' hearing notice.


The Joint Legislative Audit Committee, of which I am also a member, has likewise scheduled a public hearing to further discuss audits done during the 2011-2012 Legislative Session examining our FoodShare and Medicaid safety net programs. This public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 28 at 10 a.m. in room 411 South of the Wisconsin State Capitol.


Click here to view the Legislative Audit Committee's hearing notice.




Visiting Our Neighborhood Schools

To get a better idea of how our community schools have been affected by radical cuts made to education in the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget, I will again be making visits to various neighborhood schools. I hope to not only sit-in on classes, but also to talk to students, teachers, administrators, and parents to get a better understanding of the education our children are receiving and the challenges our schools may be facing.


If you are a teacher and would like me to stop by to visit your classroom, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up a tour.




Montessori Schools Expand in Bay View

Much to the delight of neighborhood parents, a new Montessori school is set to open for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has converted the former Tippecanoe school building located on East Howard, which became available after being vacated by Wings Academy--a charter school.


The conversion of Tippecanoe into the Howard Avenue Montessori School was approved unanimously by the full Milwaukee Board of School Directors committee on June 28, following a public hearing. Howard Avenue Montessori School will enroll 120 three- and four-year-old children in a half-day kindergarten program that will gradually add more student grade levels, and will be led by new principal Phil Dosmann, long-time leader of Craig Montessori School.

Bay View is fortunate to be the home of two other Montessori schools--Downtown Montessori Academy and Fernwood--these schools are in such demand that there is currently a wait-list of 139 three- and four-year-olds, according to the district. This is likely because many Montessori schools, including Fernwood, are MPS' top-performing schools. State test results show that in the last school year, Fernwood had more students scoring proficient or advanced in reading and math than the state average, let alone the average for MPS.

Students from all over the city can enroll at the Howard Avenue Montessori School, but MPS has indicated that enrollment priority will be given to students on wait-lists for other MPS Montessori schools, as well as students living near the school.


Click here for more information about the new Howard Avenue Montessori School.




Ask Chris

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: What can I, as a parent, do at home to prepare my children for being more successful in school?


A: As a new parent, this is I question I have as well. Below are just some of the recommendations I have heard from teachers that we, as parents, can try at home to help get our kids prepared for school:

  • Read aloud with our children. Reading aloud to our children is like giving them a scholastic vitamin. Besides strengthening literacy skills, reading aloud also helps children develop their imagination, encourage their curiosity, and increase their attention span. Further, it is best to help our children learn to love and appreciate reading now, as those who like to read and score well on reading tests tend to do better in school.

  • Limit our children's usage of television, computers, and video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children watch no more than one or two hours of television each day. This is because too much sensory stimulation can be detrimental to a child's developing brain. Additionally, children who heavily use electronics have more difficulty learning and can even exhibit sullen or aggressive behavior.

  • Play board games together. Doing this activity  as a family will help teach children the importance of sharing and taking turns, valuable skills that they may not have had the opportunity to develop.

  • Quiz them on vocabulary basics while doing everyday activities. Not only will such practices make daily routines more enjoyable, but it will also allow them to master their ABC's, counting, colors, and so on before they enter school.

  • Sit down and complete a puzzle or two. Putting together puzzles helps children develop small motor skills. Good fine motor skills will help our children build the physical strength and coordination necessary to complete everyday tasks crucial for learning, including writing.

  • Engage our children in outdoor activities. Studies show that outdoor activities improve the mental and physical health of our children as it decreases stress levels and lowers their risk of developing asthma or being overweight. It also increases our children's chances for educational success since students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages, and cause fewer classroom disruptions.



Did You Know...?

Labor Day is fast-approaching and while many of us are familiar with Wisconsin's deep roots in the labor movement, there are a couple of facts you probably do not know about Labor Day. For example, did you know that 99.44% of the time, the NFL plays its first official season game the Thursday after Labor Day? Additionally, Labor Day weekend is also the time when Prairie du Sac hosts the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throwing Contest.



Celebrating Wisconsin's Workers

As we celebrate Labor Day on Monday, September 3, we should take time to remember Wisconsinís deep labor history and the generations of workers and reformers who have made significant contributions to building a middle class across our state.

Our Community Fights for Worker's Rights
Our community played a pivotal role in Wisconsin's labor movement, which began over a century ago. Wisconsinís first unions were formed in Milwaukee--the bricklayers in 1847 and the carpenters in 1848. In the 1880s, as the eight-hour work day became a central concern across the country, laborers in Milwaukee formed the Milwaukee Labor Reform Association (later the Eight-Hour League) to advocate for the eight-hour day. Milwaukee workers fought for the eight-hour day with a five-day sweeping industrial work stoppage, halting production in factories throughout the city.

During the 20th century, Wisconsin's workforce continued to seek fair treatment and safe working conditions for all under Robert La Folletteís progressive movement. In 1911, the State Legislature passed the first workman's compensation law. Then in 1932, our first unemployment compensation laws were enacted. Wisconsin continued to support its workers by passing the Wisconsin Employment Relations Act in 1937, which provided workers with the right to organize.

The labor movement was vital to growing a strong American economy and a solid middle class. The ability to organize, receive fair treatment, and work in safe conditions are fundamental values that built our state and our country.

Celebrate Labor Day in Our Community
Annually, we celebrate our hard-working Wisconsinites and the Labor Day holiday with family-friendly neighborhood festivals. Join me in our community this Labor Day weekend as we celebrate Wisconsin's current workforce, as well as those that came before us and fought for better workplace rights for all. See a list of local Labor Day events below:


Oak Creek Lions Labor Day Festival
Friday, August 31 through Monday, September 3
Attend this annual event and enjoy music, food, rides, and fun and games for all ages at the 53rd annual Oak Creek Lionsfest. Indoor and outdoor stages will feature live music from over 20 bands all weekend long. The Festival kicks off Friday, August 31 with Seniorís Day.
Senior citizens are invited from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. for food, games, prizes, and dancing with lunch served from Noon until 2 p.m. New for this year will be a special Veteranís Recognition and Appreciation Day on Monday, September 3 from Noon to 6 p.m. with a free food voucher for all veterans showing a qualifying Veteranís Card. Also new this year will be the appearance of the Kohlsí Wild Theater during the Kids and Family event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

American Legion Festival Grounds (MAP)
9327 S. Shepard Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154


Click here for more information.


Labor Fest
Monday, September 3 from Noon to 4 p.m.
This family-oriented festival is the largest Labor Day event in southeastern Wisconsin. It has a children's area, a classic car show, a parade from Zeidler Union Square to the festival grounds, entertainment by various acts on two stages, and food galore. The parade kicks off at Zeidler Union Square behind the Shops at Grand Avenue at 11 a.m. Admission to this event is free and open to the public.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202




August is Water Quality Month

August is National Water Quality Month. Water quality is especially important here in Wisconsin where we have tremendous water resources, and this month is dedicated to reminding our citizens how crucial it is to protect these vital bodies of water. The level of quality for our water supplies and sources varies based on its intended purpose. For example, there is a big difference between water suitable for drinking as compared to water used for boating, swimming, planting, and so on.

We increasingly hear about alarming situations in which the quality of water is no longer suitable as a result of increased bacteria and micro-organism activity, sewage and oil spills, and pollutants channeling their way into streams, lakes, and rivers. Such growing problems are not without consequences, which can include causing illness to our family, friends, and neighbors, endangering plant and animal life, and causing excessive aquatic plant or invasive species growth.

Wisconsin boasts over 15,000 lakes, 32,000 miles of streams, 5.3 million wetland acres, and 1.2 quadrillion gallons of groundwater. It is our job, as stewards of this state, to help maintain and protect these resources. To accomplish this goal, we have developed Wisconsinís Clean Water Act Programs. The Federal Clean Water Act identifies water quality goals for the nation and outlines processes and legislation for monitoring and managing water protection. Using these guidelines, Wisconsinís Water Quality Standards define specific goals for each water body in the state by designating its uses, establishing criteria to protect its uses, and setting provisions to protect its water quality from pollutants.

Every two years, Wisconsin provides a Water Quality Report to Congress. This report summarizes the condition of our stateís vast water resources and describes our programs that manage and protect these vital resources. The 2012 report has not come out yet. The 2010 report, however, indicated that water quantity issues were amongst our bigger problems. Excessive groundwater pumping, for example, has has negatively impacted surface water bodies and springs by reducing the availability of good quality drinking water.


There are several steps everyone can take at home to help with Wisconsinís water quality preservation effort, including:

  • Help reduce water run-off by turning the downspouts of your rain gutters towards your garden and making sure your sprinklers are not watering the street instead of plants

  • Avoid blowing or sweeping lawn clippings and other debris into the street where it will eventually be washed into the local water supply

  • Reduce or eliminate chemicals when landscaping or maintaining your lawn by using environmentally friendly alternatives to pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides when possible

  • Try using permeable surfaces such as pavers, stone, and mulch that allow water to seep into the ground rather than being washed away into the street

Click here for more information on Wisconsinís water quality and easy steps to help conserve our water.




Help Support Neighbor Brian Murphy

Lieutenant Brian Murphy was the Oak Creek Officer critically injured during the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on August 5, 2012. Lieutenant Murphy's health status was recently upgraded to satisfactory and he was released from a Milwaukee-area hospital yesterday.

BMO Harris Bank has opened an account for the Oak Creek Police Association to benefit Oak Creek Lieutenant Brian Murphy and his family. The account is located at the M&I Branch at 8900 S. Howell Avenue in Oak Creek, but all M&I and Harris branches will accept donations.


Click here for more information.



Summer Activities in Our Community

Our community offers a wide variety of summer activities for families, children, and adults alike. Below are just a few activities that you can take part in this summer.


Point Fish Fry and a Flick
Enjoy a Friday night fish fry with an outdoor movie on Milwaukee's lakefront at Discovery World. Each night features a tasty fish fry and a variety of food options from many of the city's favorite food carts. Point Brewery will also offer an expansive beer and spirits selection. Movie admission is free of charge.

Discovery World (MAP)
500 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Click here or call (414) 765-9966 for more information, including a schedule of upcoming featured flicks.


Food Tours in Milwaukee
Take part in food tours that will have you discovering the sights and savoring the flavors of Milwaukee's most delicious and historic neighborhoods. Milwaukee Food Tours offers food tours in a number of different neighborhoods, such as the Historic Third Ward and Brady Street, and features a variety of themes. These one-mile walking tours usually last between two to 2.5 hours and make four to six stops.


Click here for more information or to book a tour.


Update on IDs for Voters

In March 2012, 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 was ruled unconstitutional and two separate Circuit Court judges ordered government officials to halt requiring voters to present a valid photo ID when casting their vote. It was stated in the ruling that 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 carried a severe risk of disenfranchising voters and was suspended based on the vital public interest at stake in allowing full participation in elections.

This controversial legislation also contains several provisions not related to presenting valid photo identification while voting, including changes to Wisconsinís laws regarding residency and absentee voting. These provisions are still in effect. While the merits of this law are being examined, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will continue to provide free state ID cards to Wisconsinites.

This court ruling remains in the appeals process, meaning that current procedures may change based upon whether the courts irrefutably determine 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 to be constitutional or unconstitutional. I will keep you updated on any changes regarding implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23.


Click here for more information from the Government Accountability Board's Web site.



Neighborhood Survey Available

I created a survey asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.


Click here to save a stamp and take the survey online.


I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!




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