LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER

 

September 22, 2016

     

 

CONTACT ME


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

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

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

 

Website:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

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.

Oktoberfest Milwaukee
Date: Fridays and Saturdays now through October 1
Location: Glendale
Description: The party lasts all month at Old Heidelberg Park. Grab your stein and head over for music, dancing, and great food. There is a big selection of German beers, games for the kids, and parking is free. Do not miss Milwaukee's original and most authentic Oktoberfest. In fact it is one of the best in the country. This event is open on Fridays from 5 p.m. until Midnight and Saturdays from 3 p.m. until Midnight. CLICK HERE for more information.

Heidelberg Park (MAP)
700 W. Lexington Blvd. Glendale, Wisconsin 53217

 

MKE Oktoberfest
Date: Thursday  September 29 through Sunday, October 2
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting a four-day Oktoberfest celebration on Marcus Center grounds and Pere Marquette Park. This event is free and open to the public. It features authentic German beer, food, live music, and the Glockenspiel, a life-size replica of a cuckoo clock. Delectable food and drink will be available for purchase from Saz's Hospitality Group, which will feature a full bar and a concessions menu. CLICK HERE for more information, including location information, and music line-up.

Harvest Fair
Date: September 23 to 25
Location: West Allis
Description: Start this fall with a visit to Harvest Fair, a free event with more than enough to keep your family entertained for a day. In addition to the many vendors that will be there, the event will host kid-friendly activities like giant cookie decorating and pumpkin bowling. For more information CLICK HERE.
 

Wisconsin State Fair Park

(MAP)

640 S 84th St.

West Allis, WI 53214

 


Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women Walk

Date: Monday, September 26
Location: Milwaukee
Description: This year is the 2nd Annual Zonta Says NO silent walk, an event dedicated to raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence and remembering those who have died as a result. The walk will begin at 11:55 a.m. and will take about 30 minutes. This year has seen a drastic increase in domestic violence, in Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole, making now the time to show your support and say NO to domestic violence. For more information about the event, please CLICK HERE.

 

Milwaukee City Hall

(MAP)

200 E Wells St.

Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Simply Swing: Chris Mariani and the Radio Rosies with Swing Explosion
Date: Friday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Chris Mariani's sound stylishly blends early 40's Romance with late 50's Swing, meticulously crafted and enriched with an influence that is exclusively, Chris Mariani. Be drawn back in time as Chris is joined by the pure, sweet harmonies of The Radio Rosies, a three-part harmony vocal trio, and accompanied by Swing Explosion, an 18-piece Midwest big band. CLICK HERE for more information.

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
(MAP)
901 15th Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172

 

Head Start Dental Day

Date: October 1, 2016, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Children ages 3-16 from low-income families will have an opportunity to receive free dental exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments and emergency treatment at the Marquette University School of Dentistry. Approximately 200 volunteer dentals professionals, dental and hygiene students, and faculty, will participate in the Give Kids a Smile and Head Start Dental Day. Care is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the Milwaukee Public Schools Head Start Office for questions at 414.777.7850.

 

Marquette University School of Dentistry

(MAP)

1801 W Wisconsin Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53233

 

Sturgeon Fest 2016

Date: October 1, 2016

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Head to Lakeshore State Park in downtown Milwaukee for the 11th annual Sturgeon Fest on October 1st, 2016, to enjoy a day of free, family fun (and make a huge difference while doing it!). The festivities continue all day with games and activities for kids, kayak demonstrations, prairie tours, educational booths, delicious local food trucks, and more.

Sturgeon Fest celebrates Riveredge's 25-year partnership with the Wisconsin DNR to bring back Lake Sturgeon, a critically important species both environmentally and culturally, to the Milwaukee River, where they haven't been seen in over 100 years. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Lakeshore State Park

(MAP)

500 N Harbor Dr.

Milwaukee, WI 53022

 

2016 Milwaukee Canoes for a Cause
Date: Saturday, October 1from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: 2016 marks the 5th annual Milwaukee Canoes for a Cause -- hosted by Milwaukee Riverkeeper, the Urban Ecology Center, and Leinenkugel Brewing Co. The event will feature a clean-up and canoe ride along the Kinnickinnic River followed by a cookout at Steny's Tavern & Grill. For more information on this event or to get involved, CLICK HERE.

 

 

Milwaukee Film Festival
Date: September 22 through October 6
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The annual Milwaukee Film Festival starts this Thursday, September 22 and runs through October 6. This year's festival will feature over 170 films from around the world. To find a full listing of films, their locations, and times please CLICK HERE.

 

Trek 'n Treat at Grant Park
Date: October 16, from1 p.m. 4 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: An educational event for families, costumes optional. Trek through the trails of the 7 bridges area, answer questions about nature, visit historic Wulff Lodge and receive treats at 20 stations in the park. There will be a pumpkin painting contest, best nature costume contest, birding info and more. Registration is $2/participant. Handicapped accessible route available. CLICK HERE for more information.

Grant Park

(MAP)

100 Hawthorne Ave.

South Milwaukee, 53172


 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
It was great to catch up with some neighbors and friends at the Bay View Bash last Saturday. I heard a lot of concerns about barriers to voting and the direction Walker is pushing our state.

 

The November General Election is just around the corner. Early voting starts in Milwaukee this Monday. We have you covered with a section on early voting information in this week's report.

Casting your vote is important now more than ever as the integrity of our elections continues to be in jeopardy due to the flood of dark money pouring into state and local campaigns.

Speaking of dark money, by now, I'm sure you've seen the disturbing news about the leaked John Doe documents as reported on by the Guardian U.S. Read below for an in-depth look at the most appalling, unethical, immoral, and downright anti-Wisconsin schemes that have been uncovered. The leaked documents provide the clearest example so far into Walker's culture of corruption and greedy corporate favoritism.

 

As always, thank you for reading the Larson Report. Please feel free to offer any suggestions on topics covered in this report, or ones you may want to see covered in the future.
 

In Service,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Following the Dark Money Trail
"Appalling."

"Disgusting."

"Downright criminal."
 

These are the words I've been hearing over and over from neighbors after reading the hundreds of pages of documents that reveal what clearly looks like elaborate pay-to-play schemes by Walker and Wisconsin Republicans

The Guardian U.S. reported on nearly 1,500 pages of leaked documents from the halted John Doe probe into Walker's recall campaign. These documents contain a barrage of exchanges between Walker, campaign advisors, and big money donors -- including Donald Trump -- and show the cold-hearted truth to Wall Street, corporate money in our elections.

You can view the documents and the Guardian U.S. report, here.

As brutally shown in the documents, Walker's Wisconsin wasn't "Open for Business," it was "For Sale." However, before we get into the dark money trail that leads to Scott Walker and his culture of corruption, let's recap the John Doe investigation for perspective. 

John Doe "Fast Facts"
There have been many references to "John Doe" investigations in the media lately. Here's a quick refresher on John Does probes and, specifically, the one that has recently garnered widespread, national attention:

  • John Doe investigations have traditionally been a tool for judges to independently gather testimony and other evidence in order to determine if a crime has been committed and by whom. The probes are coined as "John Doe" because those being investigated are kept anonymous until it is determined if charges can be pressed.
     
  • The recent firestorm of news articles are in reference to a John Doe probe into Governor Walker's recall campaign. Specifically, whether or not the governor's recall campaign illegally coordinated with shadowy, third-party groups, such as Wisconsin Club for Growth.
     
  • The investigation into Walker's recall campaign activity was first launched in 2012. In 2015, the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the probe, raising more questions about the influence of big donor spending. The campaigns of two of the justices who sided with the majority in the 4-2 decision strongly benefited from the very groups being investigated. Prosecutors asked the justices to recuse themselves from the case due to the glaring conflict of interest, but the justices refused to do so.
     
  • Prosecutors appealed the decision to halt the investigation and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state Supreme Court decision. Notably, the state Supreme Court also ordered to have all of the documents destroyed, but later decided to have the court keep them after all appeals have been exhausted.
     
  • Showing the amazing lengths Republicans in Wisconsin will go to hide their culture of corruption, legislative Republicans betrayed the public trust and our shared values of good-government, by passing legislation that essentially exempts some elected officials from our state's John Doe laws. They also gutted our state's campaign finance laws to allow an unlimited avalanche of dark money to flow into state and local elections.
     
  • Using this change in law, GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a review of the halted criminal investigation into the governor's unethical and potentially illegal campaign schemes. In his filing, Schimel argued the recent law change now makes the alleged activity legal and prohibits the use of secret "John Doe" proceedings in investigating campaign finance violations. Getting caught doing something wrong, then changing the law still doesn't make it right.
     

  • The Guardian U.S. leaked documents and produced a report regarding the John Doe investigation, moving the case of Walker's immoral and potentially criminal schemes to the court of public opinion.
     
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide soon whether or not they will hear the case.

Click here for an in-depth timeline of the John Doe probe by the Wisconsin State Journal.

Campaign Dollars over Justice for Poisoned Children
I'm guessing most of us never thought that Wisconsin Republicans would go so far as to make it okay to poison our children without any legal ramifications. Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what Walker and legislative Republicans did.

In a heartbreaking example of betrayal, we need look no further than a GOP-backed bill that essentially made corporations who produced lead for lead paint immune from compensation claims for lead poisoning.

In fact, one of the leading producers of lead formally used in lead paint -- who donated $750,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth -- even helped to craft the language of the bill to make it retroactive, blocking pending lawsuits against them by 171 children who were made sick by lead paint.

The Guardian U.S. report puts the extent of the poisoning in perspective with the story of Milwaukee resident, Yasmine Clark. Yasmine was hospitalized twice, once at age two and again at age five, and at one point was found to have 48 micrograms per deciliter in her blood. The Guardian U.S. disturbingly notes: "To give a sense of what that meant, doctors in Flint, Michigan, sounded the alarm after children were found to have levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter from polluted water supplies -- about one-tenth of Clark's concentration." Lead poisoning can have heartbreaking, lifelong negative health consequences.

While the Republicans did pass the immunity and retro-immunity, fortunately, the retroactive language of this law was subsequently blocked by a federal court.

This is just one way the release of the leaked John Doe documents has given us a clearer picture of Walker's culture of corruption and just how far he and legislative Republicans will go to betray the public in order to secure their own partisan power.

Overall, in looking through the emails and other documents, it appears that wealthy donors were solicited and sweet-talked, for contributions for both Walker's campaign and the shadowy conservative political interest group, Wisconsin Club for Growth.

See painful evidence of this here and here.

Prosecutors who were heading the John Doe investigation were suspicious of Walker illegally coordinating with groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth. The leaked emails and documents by the Guardian U.S., strongly affirm that money was being funneled through Wisconsin Club for Growth to guarantee not only a Walker recall win, but also the victory of several Republican legislators also facing recalls. Here's one example of evidence that this was occurring: the memo line of a big donor check to Wisconsin Club for Growth read, "Because Scott Walker asked."

Read more about the coordination of Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth in this article by the New York Times.

While in the Legislature, I have fought against the backwards, harmful political policies of Walker and his Republican legislative allies. These documents begin to show the truth of why such a harmful agenda was pursued, regardless of the harm or damage to our people or state. That's why some of my Assembly Democratic colleagues have called for an investigation into the documents. The public has a right to know what laws were passed as payback to wealthy corporate buddies of Scott Walker.

See the press release by Assembly Democrats, here.

Culture of Corruption
While it is clear these documents must be looked at more thoroughly for links to campaign donations and laws that were pushed, when it comes to the governor, apparent pay-to-play schemes and other politically motivated games are nothing new. Here are just a few others that have been uncovered:

  • GTAC, an out-of-state mining corporation, cut a deal with the governor and legislative Republicans to change the state's mining laws so they could dig a controversial open-pit mine in Northern Wisconsin, without our historic safeguards and public oversight. It was later revealed that GTAC gave $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth.
     
  • After learning that over 60% of the loans given by the scandal-plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) went to Walker and/or GOP donors, it also came to light that there are hints of a pay-to-play aspect with a Walker campaign donor, who received $500,000 in tax subsidies. Walker -- who was Chairman of the Board of Directors of WEDC at the time the loan was approved -- said he didn't know about the loan to his donor. However, Walker again lied to Wisconsin as documentation and evidence was revealed that he was indeed notified. The unsecured loan was given to the struggling Building Committee Inc. in 2011, after top Walker aides pushed for its approval. Shockingly, even as WEDC was authorizing to extend the loan due date to August 2013, Walker aides were pushing to give the unstable company even more money -- $4.5 million. In fact, aides continued to seek millions for the company even after finding out the public money would be used to pay off debts, such as leases on luxury cars.
     
  • Walker came under fire after a heavyweight financial supporter of his was working to seal a deal with the Department Natural Resources (DNR) to quietly buy hundreds of feet of prime public lakefront property.
    The sweetheart scheme called for the DNR to sell 765 feet of frontage for $275,000 -- the "friends and family" low end of the land's appraised value -- to Walker mega-donor, Elizabeth Uihlein. Uihlein currently owns an adjacent 11-unit condominium complex that does not have direct access to the lake. When the land near the lakefront property was sold in 1994, state officials opted to keep the part of the property that had access to Rest Lake, preserving it as a opening to the public for fishing and other recreational opportunities.
     
  • Let's not forget the voter suppression law pushed by Walker and legislative Republicans in 2011. The law, which requires a photo ID be used in order to cast a ballot, was wrongfully deemed necessary because of the made up notion of "widespread voter fraud." Buried in the hundreds of pages of documents were emails with hints of the GOP photo ID for voting scheme. As previously discussed, two of the state's Supreme Court justices benefited heavily from conservative third-party groups. As the New York Times reported, "...as a tight race for election to the state's Supreme Court came to a close in April 2011, conservative leaders wondered aloud how to respond should Justice David Prosser Jr. --  a reliable opponent of legal challenges to the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican -- go down in defeat." A top official of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce offered an idea, stating, "Do we need to start messaging 'widespread reports of election fraud' so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should." One month later, Wisconsin's photo ID law for voting was passed.

 

 




Republicans React...Poorly
The revelations brought to light by these documents make it clear why Republicans seemed so determined to see these documents destroyed before they ever reached the public eye. In fact, while our neighbors and my Democratic colleagues stood aghast at the news and cynical exchanges contained in the documents, Republicans sat uncomfortably silent.

Instead of speaking up against the unnerving emails that were now capturing the attention of Wisconsinites across the state as more and more news outlets began to echo the Guardian's story, Republican leaders and GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel called for an investigation into the leak of the documents.

The Republicans' distraction game of "catch the leaker," brings their partisan hypocrisy to a new level when we remember that they were eerily silent and failed to express the same concerns when the Wisconsin Club for Growth director leaked John Doe information to the Wall Street Journal before some of the documents subsequently became public.

Read more about the Republican and attorney general response, here.

Democrats Fight to Restore Trust, Bring Back Transparency
These documents shred the last hope that somehow Wisconsin still held on to its good-government model. We deserve better, but we will not have it until we rollback all GOP legislation that was bought and paid for Walker's wealthy friends, sadly at the cost of our dignity, respect, and democracy.

I know that my Wisconsin neighbors are sickened and saddened when reading lines from the leaked emails that contain exchanges like "Because Scott Walker asked" and "Corporations. Go heavy after them to give" or "I got $1 million from John Menard today."

As if funneling money through outside groups to help secure an election isn't heinous enough, the glaring reality is that had these documents not been leaked, the public may have been permanently left in the dark about who is trying to buy elections in our state.

The people of Wisconsin and our economy are hurting because greedy corporations and the politicians bought and paid for by them only care about their own self-interest, not people like you and me. State leaders, especially those who betrayed the public's trust, have a responsibility to fix the colossal mess they have made with our campaign finance rules and stop the shielding of corrupt politicians from investigation and prosecution. The public has a right to know who is influencing lawmakers charged with representing them. It is woefully clear that is not the case under Walker's Wisconsin.
 

 

In Case You Missed It
Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and in our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
  • Slashing our investment in our once world-renowned UW System is continuing to have devastating impacts on the quality of education in our state. As the Republicans holding power in Wisconsin continue to devalue and undermine our higher education institutions, excellent educators are reluctantly having to accept positions out-of-state. See this Facebook post for more.
     
  • Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel wastes state resources to cheat workers out of fair pay. A new federal rule, which Wisconsin is now suing over, would make millions of moderate-wage, salaried employees eligible for overtime pay. See this article in the Cap Times for more information.
     
  • Superintendent Tony Evers delivered his annual State of Education Address. I was glad to hear him talk about common sense solutions that our state can and should be spearheading to ensure all of our kids are able to thrive and live a prosperous life. Evers highlighted the community schools model as a proven way to remove learning barriers, such as access to mental health care. Supporting this model will ensure schools are the center of communities across Wisconsin the way they were meant to be.
    Evers also pointed out that more and more of our communities are passing referendums to try and make up for the state's failure to fully invest in our schools. See this Facebook post to learn more about this issue.

     
  • Dane County is partnering with UW-Madison to study the effects of Wisconsin's voter suppression law that requires an photo ID be shown in order to cast a ballot. November will be the first time the law will be in effect for a presidential election. The study will focus on how minority and student voters are specifically impacted by the law. Click here for more information.
     
  • Wisconsin continues to experience the dangerous effects of climate change firsthand. Recently released data shows this summer as being the fourth wettest on record. Across the world, humidity has been going up over the past 25 years. You may recall the massive flooding that occurred in the northern part of Wisconsin this summer, which caused millions of dollars in damages. It is long past time Wisconsin leaders acknowledge climate change is a real threat and join global efforts to combat its effects. Read this Wisconsin Public Radio article for more.

 

Early Voting Starts Next Week In Milwaukee!

Voting is our cornerstone American freedom. Recent news stories bringing to light the role dark money plays in our election system are a stark reminder that we must make our voice heard by casting our vote.

In an effort to expand voting access in Milwaukee, the City will increase the amount of hours available for our neighbors to vote early. Over 700 hours are scheduled, starting next week and going until the Friday before Election Day.

Click here to view locations and hours for early voting.

The City of Milwaukee Election Commission -- like many communities across Wisconsin -- is looking for hardworking citizens that have a dedication to democracy and protecting voter rights to work at the polls. Election inspectors play a vital role at voting sites.

Click here for information on becoming a poll worker.

If you reside outside of the city of Milwaukee and are looking for opportunities to volunteer on Election Day or information on early voting in your jurisdiction, contact your municipal clerk.

To find out who your municipal clerk is and how to contact them, click here.

 

 

Neighborhood Survey

I want to hear from you! I created a 2016-2017 Neighborhood Survey asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. Your input is greatly appreciated and will help me prepare for session to resume in the coming months.

My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door-to-door as possible during the next couple months. Additionally, I have also made this survey available 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.

Click here to take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues! As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about any state or community matters important to you.
 

 

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