February 9, 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


Web Site:












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. 

Grant Park Players Presents: Ordinary People
February 10 through February 19

Come see the Grant Park Players Community Theatre perform the production Ordinary People. This play, based on Judith Guest's 1976 novel, goes to the essence of a young man, his friends and family, their relationships and survival.
Tickets are available at the door. Prices are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. You can also purchase tickets by contacting the South Milwaukee PAC box office. CLICK HERE for more information.

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (MAP)
901 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
(414) 766-5049



Milwaukee Art Museum After Dark: Mardi Gras
February 17 from 5 p.m. to Midnight
Come in for a fun-filled evening to celebrate the festivities of Mardi Gras. No Mardi Gras party is complete without beads, dancing, stilt walkers, jugglers, psychics, and a parade. Kick-off the celebration with free samples of the Caribbean's finest firewater. You can also show off your Mardi Gras spirit by rocking your most colorful outfits.

CLICK HERE for more information.


Milwaukee Art Museum (MAP)

700 N. Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 224-3200



Food and Froth Fest
February 18 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Milwaukee was once considered the beer capital of the world. Raise a glass to our cityís history, and sample its legacy, at the Milwaukee Public Museumís 14th Annual Food & Froth Fest. Sample stout crafted halfway around the world, or pair a lager brewed across town with appetizers from a variety of area restaurants and caterers. CLICK HERE for more information

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 278-2702



Chill on the Hill Call for Bands

Now through February 18

If you compose your own music, are family-friendly, and have a Bay View connection, then submit your band info to the Bay View Neighborhood Association by Saturday, February 18. Chill on the Hill is a local summer music concert series held outdoors on Tuesday nights at Humboldt Park. This year's dates are June 5 through August 28. Opening acts start at 6 p.m. with main acts running from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Chill on the Hill was named Best Outdoor Concert Series by the Milwaukee Magazine in 2010, and is frequently noted by bands to be their favorite venue in which to play. Crowds can reach up to 3,000 people on popular nights. If you would like to play at Chill on the Hill, you must adhere to the list of requirements found by CLICKING HERE and submit your information to Carol Voss via email at or by mail at BVNA, P.O. Box 070184, Milwaukee, WI 53207.


Bay View Winter Blast

February 19 from Noon to 4 p.m.

Join me at this community festival featuring musical entertainment, family activities, and community group stands. Winter Blast also hosts Bay View' s only chili cook-off between multiple neighborhood restaurants.

South Shore Park Pavilion (MAP)
2900 S. Shore Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53207







































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Dear Friend,


Recently released documents show that Republicans corrupted Wisconsin's redistricting process in order to save their jobs, not yours. Continue reading for more information.


As usual, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or opinions you may have about our community or our state.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7




Republicans Focused on Saving Their Jobs, Not Yours

This week it was confirmed that Republican legislators have been more committed to saving their jobs, not yours, this session. Startling news was finally brought to light under court order detailing how Republicans 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.


How the Redistricting Process Works in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin State Legislature is required by Article IV, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution to redraw Senate and Assembly districts every 10 years based upon the results of the federal census to ensure districts provide representational equality for all potential voters.


Wisconsin currently uses a legislative redistricting process, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature, are voted on by the Senate and Assembly, and are then signed by the governor. If the Legislature cannot agree on a redistricting plan, as is usually the case with split houses, the Supreme Court steps in to finalize the new legislative districts. For the past 50 years, Wisconsin's elected officials have had to work together with bipartisan cooperation or leave the task of redistricting up to the courts. This was the first time in 60 years that one political party had complete control over the redistricting process.


Courts Condemn Secret Process for Drawing Maps

After legislators, advocates and neighbors voiced concerns over the new legislative district maps drawn and hurriedly passed by Republicans earlier this year, two former legislators and 13 others filed a legal challenge. The group raised concerns that the partisan boundaries violate the federal Voting Rights Act and the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because of the way they treat minority communities, break apart neighborhoods, and shift voters from one district to another.


In September a federal three-judge panel was assembled to hear the challenge. The panel, two of whom are Republican appointees, includes J.P. Stadtmueller of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Diane P. Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Robert M. Dow Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois.


Republicans introduced several motions attempting to keep the process used to craft the maps secret. Not only did the three-judge panel rule against these attempts, but they issued a scathing opinion saying the following:

"Quite frankly, the Legislature and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process."


The court went on to say that the taxpayers should not have to pay for the sanctions it issued and instead ordered the Legislature's attorneys to cover the $17,000 in costs accrued from that legal challenge because they are "those ultimately responsible for the sandbagging, hide-the-ball trial tactics that continue to be employed."


Click here to read the court's full decision.


Whose Jobs are More Important?

Wisconsinites remain frustrated at the lack of job growth that our state has experienced. Under Governor Walker's leadership, which began in January 2011, the number of jobs Wisconsin has created is quickly approaching zero as we have lost jobs every month since his budget went into effect. Over the past year, Governor Walker has created only about 1% of the jobs he promised.


Republicans have had a year to try and improve Wisconsin's economic outlook and focus on job creation, but failed to make any headway in two special sessions and the regular session. However, at the same time Wisconsinites were struggling to get by, Republican legislators spared no expense to hire attorneys with $400,000 in taxpayer money to craft a secret plan to protect their jobs and create a one-party monopoly in Wisconsin for at least the next decade.


The Future of Redistricting in Wisconsin
Recent events only help to confirm that our current redistricting process promotes gerrymandering, or manipulating the redrawing of districts to achieve political gain and help ensure the reelection of incumbents, by those in power. The majority of states still use a Legislative Redistricting Model, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature. However, many states are shifting to using bipartisan or nonpartisan commissions to draw up their maps in an effort to decrease partisanship as well as legal fees involved with the process. So far 21 states use some form of a Commission Redistricting Model. Below you will find a list of redistricting models currently used throughout the country.

  • Legislative: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. Once finalized, they are placed in a bill which must be passed by both houses and signed by the governor. This model is used in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and 27 other states.

  • Back-up Commission: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. If the Legislature does not finish by the statutory deadline, a bipartisan commission completes the process. This model is used in Connecticut, Texas, and three other states.

  • Advisory Commission: Maps are drawn by the advisory commission. These can be accepted or rejected by the Legislature. The Legislature must enact their own plan or the commissionís, before the statutory deadline. This model is used in Maine and Vermont.

  • Bipartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of bipartisan members. The plan must be approved by either the commission or the State Supreme Court. This model is used in Ohio, Washington, and 10 other states.

  • Nonpartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of nonpartisan members. If the Legislature rejects all three plans proposed by the commission, the State Supreme Court makes the final decision. This model is used in Iowa.

This past July, 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:

  • 90% of respondents oppose Wisconsin's current redistricting system, which has the Legislature draw the state's Senate and Assembly district maps

  • 84% of respondents believe Wisconsin's current redistricting system increases partisanship and political gridlock in the state

  • 83% of respondents believe Wisconsin should switch to a bipartisan or nonpartisan commission model

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 any future events that indicate a threat to our tradition of open government as they develop.



Programs Aimed at Creating Jobs, Training Workers

I signed on in support of two legislative proposals circulating this week that aim to increase jobs and the number of skilled workers across Wisconsin. Our state has been lagging behind the rest of the country and neighboring states when it comes to job creation, but I think these two proposals would serve as a positive step forward in showing the Legislature's commitment to helping get our neighbors back to work.


The Wisconsin Family Jobs Enhancement Act
The Transitional Jobs Demonstration Project was created by the 2009-2011 Biennial Budget and expanded with the passage of the Wisconsin Family Jobs Act in 2009 to help thousands of people across the state gain the skills and experience necessary to successfully re-enter the workforce. Unfortunately, Governor Walker's budget will put an end to this important, proven job creating initiative.


Therefore, it is crucial that we work to pass legislation to convert this successful project into a permanent program. If we are truly trying to focus on creating opportunities to get Wisconsin back to work and creating jobs when people need them most, we should make Wisconsin's transitional jobs program permanent and ensure its long-term viability for years to come.


Click here to view a copy of this legislation.

Wisconsin Quick Start Program
Many local Wisconsin businesses have expressed that they have family-supporting jobs available, but lack the qualified skilled workers to fill them. This proves that there is currently a disconnect between the needs of businesses that are looking to hire workers and the potential applicants' skill types and levels. While Wisconsin has many business incentives, it does not offer worker training as an incentive to move to or expand in Wisconsin.
Passing legislation to create a Wisconsin Quick Start program, which would be modeled after the highly successful Georgia Quick Start program, would go a long way in helping to resolve this problematic disconnect. The Wisconsin Quick Start program would allow the state to partner with businesses to provide customized workforce training through the Wisconsin Technical College System at a reduced cost to the business and worker. This new program would streamline training to the specific task needed at that business in a way that is not done currently. Additionally, the Wisconsin Quick Start program will encourage businesses to relocate and grow in Wisconsin and also provide unemployed Wisconsinites with the specialized skills and training necessary to become employed in these businesses.


Click here to view a copy of this legislation.




Encouraging Clean, Open Government

In an effort to increase legislative transparency and ensure the interests of Wisconsin citizens are fairly represented in state government, I am co-sponsoring the ALEC Accountability Act. This bill aims to decrease the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and like organizations that draft and advocate for model legislation.

Founded in 1973, ALEC is a national association that provides model legislation to dues-paying member legislators for introduction in their home states. ALEC pursues an extreme agenda, favoring corporate power and privatization over the interests of individuals. Its efforts are largely bankrolled by conservative foundations and member corporations--corporations that reap the benefits of ALEC's initiatives.

In essence, the ALEC Accountability Act ensures that organizations that function similar to lobby groups are subjected to the same regulations as actual registered lobby groups. Citizens have the right to know the outside influences on their Legislature, and this bill would make that possible. Under this law, organizations that pay for lawmakers' attendance at conferences would be required to disclose the recipients of their funds as well as their corporate and individual backers. Additionally, the act would prevent state office accounts from paying for membership in model legislation organizations like ALEC.

For over forty years, ALEC has long held influence in Wisconsin politics. Former Governor Tommy Thompson was significantly involved with ALEC, and his school choice and voucher programs are indicative of the organization's interests and influence. In fact, ALEC officials dubbed Wisconsin a testing ground for their ideological pursuits. However, little can compare to the impact ALEC has had in Wisconsin over the past year. A watershed of special interest and anti-democratic legislation has been unleashed on the state by ALEC. The Center for Media and Democracy identified about 20 ALEC proposals introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature last year, including ALEC influences in the concealed carry and voter suppression acts and legislative attacks on collective bargaining. All this was accomplished without the widespread knowledge of Wisconsin citizens.

The ALEC Accountability Act is a firm step in the direction of greater legislative transparency. It is vital that Wisconsin citizens know the full motivation behind the legislation that directly influences them. By applying the rules of lobbying to organizations that perform the actions of lobbyists, we can help ensure our State Legislature is an open government forum to address the concerns of everyday Wisconsinites, rather than a hotbed for extreme ideology and special interest gains.


Click here to view a copy of this legislation.



Efforts to Stabilize Milwaukee's Housing Market

This week Wisconsin formally joined a landmark $25 billion joint federal-state agreement with the nationís five largest mortgage lenders: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citybank, Ally, and JP Morgan Chase, over foreclosure abuses, fraud, and unacceptable nationwide mortgage servicing practices. The proposed agreement will help bring relief to Wisconsinites who were harmed by unfair mortgage practices by providing our state with approximately $140 million.

Further, under the agreement, the mortgage lenders will be required to follow new comprehensive "servicing standards." These standards will:

  • Prevent robo-signing and other improper foreclosure practices

  • Require banks to offer loss mitigation alternatives to borrowers before pursuing foreclosure

  • Increase the transparency of the loss mitigation process

  • Impose timelines for lenders to respond to borrowers

  • Restrict the practice of "dual tracking" where foreclosure is initiated despite the borrower's engagement in a loss mitigation process.

Additionally, this settlement does not do the following:

  • Grant any immunity from criminal offenses or affect criminal prosecutions

  • Prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases against the five lenders

  • Prohibit state attorneys general and federal agencies to investigate and pursue other aspects of the mortgage crisis, including securities cases

Of the money Wisconsin is expected to receive in the settlement, $31 million will be available for discretionary spending. The City of Milwaukee could benefit greatly if they are considered in the distribution of these fund, given that Milwaukee and its residents have been disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis in relation to the rest of the state.


Since 2008, 20,000 Milwaukee residents were notified that foreclosure action had been started on their homes. As a result of these housing foreclosures, costs have been shifted to Milwaukee taxpayers. Allocating a significant amount of this foreclosure settlement to the City of Milwaukee would be instrumental to its residents by helping to stabilize our ailing housing market.


I have signed on to a letter that will be sent to Wisconsin's Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, urging him to give Milwaukee adequate consideration when determining how much to distribute to each community from the anticipated foreclosure settlement.


While this agreement and the associated funds will be a positive step forward in helping our housing market recover, more needs to be done to prevent similar events from happening in the future. Next week we will discuss what actions can be taken to further protect Wisconsinites and their desire to live the American dream, which includes homeownership.


Study Committee Requests Submitted

This past Friday was the deadline for legislators to turn-in study committee requests to Legislative Council and Joint Legislative Council co-chairs. Study Committees typically meet once the regular Legislative Session has concluded, which is scheduled to take place on March 15, 2012, for the current session. These committees are intended to be bipartisan and comprised of legislators and local elected officials, advocates, Legislative Council staff, and members of the public. Study Committees are given the task of examining issues that are important to our state and recommending legislation that would otherwise have a difficult time getting through during highly polarized legislative sessions.


I have submitted requests for Legislative Council and the Joint Legislative Council co-chairs to create two Study Committees--one to examine ways to improve our ineffective drunk driving laws and the other to study Wisconsin's laws regulating recall elections. 


It is my hope that Legislative Council and Joint Legislative Council Co-Chairs Sen. Mary Lazich and Rep. Joan Ballweg, will give ample consideration to these requests and uphold the integrity and bipartisanship we have come to expect with Legislative Study Committees.


Click here for more information and to see records from past Study Committees.



February is Black History Month

Take a moment this month to remember the struggle and achievements of African Americans in our state and nationís history as we celebrate Black History Month.

Black History Month grew out of Negro History Week, founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1926 as a way to honor the achievements and struggles of African Americans in United States history. Woodson choose a week in February in honor of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two men that played a crucial role in African American history. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the celebration to the whole month of February, and Black History Month began. Since then each American president has recognized this month as Black History Month. The theme of this yearís Black History Month is "Black Women in America: Culture and History."


There are several events around our community and in the State Capital to help you celebrate. Information on these events are listed below.

Black History Month Program & Cultural Showcase
Wednesdays in February at Noon

Join the Wisconsin Legislative Black & Latino Caucus every Wednesday in February to celebrate Black History Month. This weekly event will include a display of African American art, speakers, and musicians who will highlight different parts of African American history. Neighbors and legislators will celebrate on the first floor of the Wisconsin Capitol in the Rotunda.


Click here for additional information.

Wisconsin State Capitol

1st Floor Rotunda
Madison, WI 53707
(608) 266-5810

Ozara Ode as Nina: A Tribute to the High Priestess of Soul
Friday, February 10 at 7 p.m.

Witness the works of Ozara Ode as she depicts the life of Nina Simone, a protest singer and civil rights activist. Guest performers will also be featured. Tickets are $10, $5 for College Students with ID, and free to Children 17 and under.


Click here for more information.

Wisconsin Black Historical Society (MAP)
2620 W. Center Street
Milwaukee, WI 53206
(414) 372-7677

Hidden Colors
Wednesday, February 15 at 7 p.m.

There will be a city-wide viewing of the acclaimed documentary Hidden Colors. Do not miss out on this documentary focusing on the real and untold history of people of color around the globe. The film is free and open to the public.


Click here for more information, including showing locations.


Sixth Annual African American Film Festival
Wednesday, February 15 and 22 at 7 p.m.

Join students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union Theater to watch two unique presentations centered around African American history. The show is free and open to the public.


Click here for additional information.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Theater

Student Union Building (MAP)
3400 N. Maryland Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211
(414) 229-4070

Black History Month Celebration
Saturday, February 18 at Noon

Attend this celebration hosted by the Milwaukee Urban League in conjunction with Handsome Barber Shop to help acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month. The book Great Black Inventors, as well as other door prizes and community resources, will be given away.


Click here for more information.

Handsome Barber Shop (MAP)
2701 N. Teutonia Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53206
(414) 455-1065



Celebrating Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14 is Valentineís Day so remember to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. Valentine Day celebrations are happening all over our community. Beyond roses, cards, and chocolate, celebrate this holiday by attending one of these events with family and loved ones.

Little Sweetheart Dance
Friday, February 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Celebrate Valentineís Day with the entire family by attending the Betty Brinn Childrenís Museumís Little Sweetheart Dance. The fundraiser features a DJ and dancing, craft activities, an ice cream social, a silent auction, and a raffle. Tickets are $18 per person for members and $22 per person for non-members. Reservations are required.


Click here for more information.

Betty Brinn Children's Museum (MAP)
929 E. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 390-5437

Isn't It Romantic
Friday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Join Florentine Opera Studio Artists as they present an evening of romance. The program will feature popular love songs from the great Viennese operettas to popular twentieth century songwriting teams such as Lerner & Lowe. Ticket prices range from $25 to $45.


Click here fore additional information.

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)
929 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 273-7121

Valentineís Sing-a-Thon
Saturday, February 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sing along with the Milwaukee Children's Choir this Saturday at the Bayshore Town Center as they put on a Valentineís Day Sing-a-Thon. The event will include performances by the entire choir, small group numbers, duets, and solos. Admission is free, but donations to support the MCC's educational programming are graciously welcome.


Click here for more information.

Bayshore Town Center (MAP)
5900 N. Port Washington Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217
(414) 963-8780

Romancing the Stars
February 12 through February 14

Explore the universe with your special someone this Valentine's Day at the Milwaukee Public Museumís Planetarium. Join other couples for this event, which includes a romantic tour of the universe and a look at star clusters considered to be "constellations of love." Couples will also receive a rose and chocolates. Tickets are $20 per couple and reservations are highly recommended.


Click here for additional information.

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 278-2702




See You in the Neighborhood

I created a survey that I am distributing to neighbors asking about various issues that are important to them, our community and our state. I have been distributing the survey door-to-door throughout our community and will continue doing so throughout the current legislative session. To return the survey, simply fold it, tape it, and affix a stamp.

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

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.


I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues. Hope to see you in the neighborhood soon!




Know Your Voting Rights

Scott Walker and Republican legislators recently enacted some of the most restrictive ID requirements for voters in the country. While they have been working to silence Wisconsin's voters, I have been working hard to keep Wisconsin's voters informed of their rights. I have created a simple handout answering some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding Wisconsin's new voter restrictions.


Click here to view this handout or visit my Web site,


Click here to view the same PDF in Spanish.




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