November 17, 2011



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. 


Children's Art in the Garden Exhibition
Now through December 4

Join the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum for a vibrant exhibition of children’s art inspired by the Villa’s Renaissance Garden and created by students from Milwaukee-area schools. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display until December 4. Children’s Art in the Garden is free with paid admission to the Museum, which costs $5 for adults; $3 for students, seniors, and veterans; and is free for members, children under 12, and active military. CLICK HERE for more information.


Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum (MAP)

2220 N. Terrace Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 271-3656



Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Now through January 1
Kick-off the local holiday season at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 17 with the Holiday Lights Kick Off in Downtown Milwaukee. This event will feature more than 500,000 lights, 360 wreaths, 35 animated sculptures and 17 Moravian stars. This six-week long holiday celebration will also offer hundreds of activities. CLICK HERE for more information.



85th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Parade
November 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Enjoy the start of the holiday season with the 85th annual Milwaukee Holiday Parade in Downtown Milwaukee.
The parade will feature family-friendly entertainment, including: lavish floats, live animals, high school bands and, of course, Santa Claus. The Holiday Parade is also an opportunity to help feed the hungry in our local community. Parade-goers are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation, which will be picked up along the parade route. The Milwaukee Holiday Parade will begin at the corner of Kilbourn and Prospect Avenues. The parade will continue west on Kilbourn and turn south on Old World Third, ending in front of the Shops at Grand Avenue at approximately 11 a.m. For additional information, please CLICK HERE.

Annual Heritage Place Tree Lighting

November 19 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Enjoy music, warm beverages for purchase, and a visit with Santa at South Milwaukee's Annual Heritage Place Tree Lighting Celebration. The event will take place at the northwest corner of 10th and Milwaukee Avenue in South Milwaukee.

One-Man Cirque Show

November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Watch one of the most gifted physical comedians in the world, Tomáš Kubínek, as he brings his internationally acclaimed one-man cirque performance to the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center on November 19. Tickets to see this self-proclaimed "certified lunatic and master of the impossible" are available for $25-$40. Senior and student discounts are available. CLICK HERE for more information or to purchase tickets.

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


Family Free Day at Zoo
November 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

All visitors receive free admission to the Milwaukee County Zoo on this day, although the parking fee remains in effect. For additional information on this event or the Milwaukee County Zoo, please CLICK HERE.

Milwaukee County Zoo (MAP)
10001 W. Blue Mound Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 256-5466



South Milwaukee Parade and Old Fashioned Christmas
Sunday, November 27 beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Enjoy holiday festivities in South Milwaukee this year by stopping by their parade and Old Fashioned Christmas. The parade kicks-offs at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of 12th and Milwaukee Avenues later ending at the South Milwaukee City Hall and Community Center. The Old Fashioned Christmas will feature children's crafts from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a scheduled visit from Santa from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Other family-friendly activities include

stockings, a movie, and food for sale. There will also be a city tree lighting at 5:30 p.m.



Environmental Short Films
November 30 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Join student filmmakers from UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and MPS for a screening and discussion of several "green" short films. Each film focuses on a different issue facing Wisconsin. The discussion will investigate and expand on what makes a film "environmental." Cost for adults and accompanied children is $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. For more information about the Urban Ecology Center and this event, please CLICK HERE.

Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park (MAP)
4145 W. Lisbon Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53208
(414) 344-5460






















































































































































Dear Friend,

Last week I shared survey results with you detailing how Governor Walker's cuts have harmed our children's futures. Today we look more closely at how those cuts have adversely affected school districts in Milwaukee County, including those in our very own neighborhoods.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7




Survey Shows Governor Out of Touch with Education Cuts

Members of Milwaukee’s Legislative Caucus, including myself, voiced concerns this past week about the state of Milwaukee County neighborhood schools after results from a recent survey were released detailing how Governor Walker’s detrimental $1.6 billion in cuts to education have negatively impacted children attending Wisconsin public schools.

Wisconsin has been a top academic state with a stellar reputation, boasting some of the highest graduation rates in the country, with three-quarters of high school graduates continuing to post-secondary education. However, results of a recent survey distributed to school districts across Wisconsin show that our state’s educational legacy is now in jeopardy and Milwaukee County may be the most adversely affected.

Effects of Education Cuts on Milwaukee County
According to the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) survey, Milwaukee County’s 18 school districts are now struggling with 1,719 fewer teachers, aides and administrators this year compared to 2010. Nearly 99% of these cuts are have been located in our own local school districts of Cudahy, MPS, Oak Creek-Franklin and St. Francis (South Milwaukee did not respond to the survey). These staggering cuts have resulted in increased class sizes and higher student-to-teacher ratios in half of all school districts in Milwaukee County. This means that our children will no longer be receiving the personal attention needed to reach their full potential. Educating our children is not like riding a bike. If you fall off you cannot just get back up. Our children only have one shot at early education and developing the skills they need to succeed.

Governor Walker’s budget cuts have also begun slashing many vital support services in our neighborhood schools. Special education programs received the biggest cuts, followed by library and media center staff, counseling staff, reading coordinators, programs for at-risk youth, and drug and alcohol abuse programs. Such cuts were made in five of our 18 Milwaukee County school districts. This includes the St. Francis School District which had to make cuts to or eliminate many of their support service programs, including special education, art/music/physical education sections, and foreign language courses. St. Francis also needed to increase class sizes in their core classes of English, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Unfortunately, the most disturbing news to come from the survey is that most school districts in Milwaukee County expect to make the same or deeper cuts to balance their budgets for the next school year, with only one of the 18 school districts reporting that they expect to make fewer cuts next year compared to this year. The Oak Creek-Franklin School District, for example, expects that they will need to make more cuts next year compared to this year. The harsh reality our children and schools are facing is a direct result of Governor Walker’s budget cuts, a loss of one-time federal dollars, and the siphoning of funds away from our neighborhood schools and directed towards the expansion of the Milwaukee Voucher Program.


Similar Damage to Education Seen Statewide

The survey results for schools in Milwaukee County come a week after the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released the initial statewide survey results. The statewide survey results showed similar trends that resulted from recent budget cuts, including that schools were forced to cut staff, eliminate vital support services, reduce course offerings, increase class sizes and narrow educational opportunities. Below is a list of how children across Wisconsin were affected by the $1.6 billion in cuts made by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans according to DPI's survey analysis:

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

  • 2/3 of responding school districts expect to make the same or greater cuts next year as a result of no longer receiving one-time federal dollars

  • 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 the core subjects of English, Math, Science and Social Studies

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

  • Roughly 3 in 4 students attend school at a district that reduced at least one essential support program

  • 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

  • Cuts to education far out weighed the savings from increased pension and insurance contributions.

Governor Walker’s misplaced priorities have left our children and educators struggling to get out of an impossible situation. His actions have also jeopardized the future economic success of our state and limited opportunities for our children.



Make Your Voice Heard

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) will continue taking public comment on the possible addition of a bike and pedestrian lane to the Hoan Bridge until Wednesday, November 30. This is the final opportunity to  make your voice heard on this issue before DOT makes their final determination on the proposed project.


Please send any comments you have on this project to Carolynn Gellings, Wisconsin DOT Project Manager.



Send a letter:
WisDOT’s Southeast Regional Office
P.O. Box 798
Waukesha, WI 53187-0798
Attention Carolynn Gellings


I would also like to thank the 250 neighbors that joined me at the DOT public hearing to including a bike and pedestrian lane as part of the Hoan Bridge reconstruction project. The hearing began with DOT discussing the various plans for the project, which can be viewed by CLICKING HERE, and was followed with a Q&A discussion where our neighbors offered thoughtful questions. To watch video from the public hearing, please CLICK HERE.



Better Connecting People to Jobs

I am supporting legislation that will be introduced shortly to provide for a more open and efficient unemployment insurance system that will further aid Wisconsin's displaced workers.

Under current law, when Wisconsinites apply for unemployment insurance, they must also register with the Job Service Center at the Department of Workforce Development as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits. The state job center then works to help displaced workers get back on their feet by providing career planning, job placement and job training information.


Under the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998, local Workforce Development Boards were established throughout the state to provide similar resources. In addition to these resources, the local boards have a close relationship with community businesses. As a result, some employment opportunities may be known only to the local agency and not the state agency.

LRB 3053/2 would require the Department of Workforce Development to share contact information of any unemployment insurance applicant with both the state Job Service Center and local Workforce Development Board for the community in which that applicants resides. Through this legislation, displaced workers will have better access to employment opportunities. This bill will also maximize resources for displaced workers by enhancing communication between job seekers and employers. Through increased coordination between local agencies, state agencies and employers, this bill will help in getting our family, friends and neighbors back to work.

Job creation and promotion is of the utmost importance and this bill increases our ability to connect qualified workers with needy employers. For this reason, I will be wholeheartedly supporting LRB 3053/2.


To view a copy of this bill, please CLICK HERE.




Protecting Our Great Lakes

Rep. Cory Mason and I sponsored a briefing for the Great Lakes Caucus, a group of Wisconsin legislators that represent communities surrounding or impacted by the Great Lakes. This briefing was on the recent landslide in Oak Creek. The agenda focused on recounting what occurred, addressing efforts being made to minimize environmental damage, and ensuring similar events do not happen in the future.

I am reassured that extensive efforts are ongoing to safeguard the public's health and am relieved to learn that substantial progress has been made in resolving this situation. Long-term monitoring will be ongoing to safeguard water quality. While the immediate environmental impacts of this event are being managed, our community was fortunate that serious environmental and health problems appear to have been avoided. As we move forward, this event will serve as a reminder of the importance of environmental and health impact studies when pursuing future projects.


I will keep you updated and informed on any new developments as we monitor the response to this situation and will share lessons we learned to help protect against future events like this.




MATC Celebrates 100 Years

This past week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 100-year celebration of Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). The visionary idea for the college began in the early 1900s with Charles R. McCarthy, commonly recognized as the "Father of the Wisconsin Technical College System," who advocated for a post-secondary education that would additionally provide job training.


Since 1912, MATC has had a positive and innovative influence on our community and has provided exceptional, practical tools for its students. The college serves more than 50,000 students every year at its four campuses in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Mequon and West Allis. It offers 200 associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates, and apprentice programs, plus nearly 400 transfer options for students hoping to ultimately seek a bachelor’s degree.


Considering that about 90% of graduates become employed within six months of graduation or continue on to four-year universities, MATC boasts an exceptional success rate for its graduates. Their efforts to provide a skilled workforce that reflects the changing job market and accommodates the needs of Wisconsin's employers has been a standard at MATC. Since its inception 100 years ago, MATC has used an innovative education model to grow the region and benefit students - a legacy that continues today.


CLICK HERE to learn more about MATC.


Photo: Courtesy of Sue Ruggles of MATC




Meet for Coffee in the Neighborhood

Friday, November 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Thank you to all of those who attended office hours in the district this past week There is one more coffee scheduled for this Friday in St. Francis. This is your chance to talk in person about any questions, concerns or opinions you might have about our community or state. No appointment necessary. Feel free to call my office for additional information.


Friday, November 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Fixx Coffee House (MAP)
3558 E. Sivyer Avenue
St. Francis, WI 53235



Remembering Admired Journalist Dick Wheeler

Dick Wheeler, one of the most well-known and admired members of the Capitol Press Corps, passed away last Friday. Dick Wheeler was a 67-year-old journalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the legislative process and a commitment to truth. He was known by everyone who met him to be a man of integrity who never once thought of his job as work.


One of Dick's lasting accomplishments was creating The Wheeler Report – a comprehensive internet service loaded with news and information about the State Legislature. His online, widely-read report was the eyes and ears of the Wisconsin people in the Capitol.  The Wheeler Report has become known as a respected, impartial news source. Dick set the template for making sure Wisconsin gets the real facts about what happens in their government. In Dick’s own words the mission of those at The Wheeler Report “is to cover the office, not the person.” 

Over 500 people attended his memorial service in the Capitol Rotunda earlier this week. Past and present legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle were in attendance to remember our dear friend, Dick Wheeler. Despite Dick’s passing, The Wheeler Report will continue to publish unbiased reporting from the Capitol, with his daughter, Gwyn Gunther, and her husband taking the reins.  Dick’s commitment to truth will be missed by the people of Wisconsin and those working inside the Capitol. My condolences are with his family.




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 through the month of November and hopefully into December. To return the survey, simply fold it, tape it, and affix a stamp.

To save a stamp and take the survey online, please CLICK HERE.

You can also 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.


To view this handout please CLICK HERE or visit my Web site, You can also CLICK HERE to view the same PDF in Spanish.




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