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August 1, 2013












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:


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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. 


Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Now through Sat., August 10

Location: St. Francis

Description: Soulstice Theatre is proud to present the musical version of the Emmy Award-winning 1970s Saturday morning cartoon series by George Newall and Tom Yohe. Schoolhouse Rock! taught history, grammar, math, science, and politics through clever, catchy songs. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for students/seniors, and $12 for children under 10. They are available online or at the door. CLICK HERE or call (414) 481-2800 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Soulstice Theatre (MAP)
3770 S. Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 2
St. Francis, WI 53235


Garden District Farmers' Market
Date: Saturdays now through October 12

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Stop by this community market offering fresh produce from local farmers. The market runs each Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the area located just south of S. 6th Street and W. Howard Avenue. CLICK HERE for more information.



Milwaukee Comedy Festival
Date: Thurs., August 1 through Sun., August 4

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This annual event will feature professional stand up, improvisation, and sketch comedy from across the country. CLICK HERE or call (414) 278-0765 for more information.

Next Act Theatre (MAP)
255 S. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204



Milwaukee Air and Water Show
Date: Sat., August 3 and Sun., August 4

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This year's show features the return of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who are celebrating their 60th anniversary. Other exciting military acts include U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 128th Air Refueling Wing KC-135, C-130 Hercules, AV-8B Sea Harrier, and others. Civilian acts include the Geico Aerial Skytypers T-6 Team, the Red Bull Aerobatic Helicopter, Firebirds X-Treme Aerobatic Team with Bill Stein, AeroStars Aerobatic Team, Michael Goulian Airshows, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University featuring Matt Champman, and many more. As Wisconsin's number one air show, the Milwaukee Air & Water Show provides a wonderful source of entertainment for the entire family. CLICK HERE for more information.



African World Festival
Date: Sat., August 3 from Noon to Midnight

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Since 1982, African World Festival has been sharing the culture and heritage of all people of African descent. The festival includes a variety of ethnic food, shops around the marketplace, and activities for children. This year's entertainment features Immortal, Joe Jordan, Angie Stone, Charlie Wilson, Willie Clayton, Sir Charles Jones, Taj Weeks, James Fortune, and more. Admission is $12 in advance and $17 at the gate. CLICK HERE for more information.

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



Visions on the Lake
Date: Sun., August 4 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: "Visions on the Lake" is a free, one-day community event that will showcase local jazz musicians at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage at Henry Maier Festival Park. Created in partnership between Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and Milwaukee Jazz Vision, this afternoon event will give music fans the opportunity to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sounds of live jazz along the shores of Lake Michigan. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from select vendors. Milwaukee Jazz Vision is an organization of business and music industry professionals, musicians, teachers, students, and listeners working together with the goal of advancing jazz music in the Greater Metro-Milwaukee area. CLICK HERE for more information.

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


The Florentine Opera: Live at Peck Pavilion

Date: Tues., August 13 at 7:30 p.m. 
Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Florentine Opera Company reflects the highest musical and theatrical standards, while supporting community and educational programs. As a leader in Wisconsin's art community and the nation's sixth oldest opera company, the Florentine Opera seeks to establish a significant presence in the cultural, educational and civic life of the state of Wisconsin and beyond. Tickets for this event playing at the Peck Pavilion start at just $15. CLICK HERE for more information.

Peck Pavilion (MAP)
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
929 N. Water Street Milwaukee, WI 53202



Irish Fest
Date: Thurs., August 15 through Sun., August 18

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Celebrate the 33rd birthday of Irish Fest. Gaelic poetry readings, theater events, historical displays, book sales, entertainment, and more will be featured. More than 100 acts on 16 stages will be performing such as Sprag Session, Tallymore, Makem & Spain Brothers, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, and Finbar MacCarthy. Contemporary groups such as Red Hot Chili Pipers, Tom Sweeney, and Gaelic Storm will also be performing. Admission is $5 on Thursday and from 4 until 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Otherwise admission is $17 for adults, $12 for seniors (60 or over), and free for children 12 years or younger. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378 for more information.

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




Dear Friend,


Join me and other community members this weekend at the one year commemoration of the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek. I will be participating in their run/walk and hope to see you there. In addition to providing information about this event, this week's newsletter discusses the recent Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin fund raid, the sale of state property, changes at WEDC, and ALEC resuming its activities. Continue reading for more about these and other important community and state issues.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Join Me at Sikh Temple Commemoration

On August 5, 2012, our community's sense of safety was devastated by violence when a lone gunman entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek and opened fire. As we approach the one year anniversary of this tragedy, our community continues to show its ability to endure even the most tragic of circumstances and to push forward together with a new closeness and unification among diverse communities. In order to both remember those lost on August 5, 2012, and to celebrate how our community has come together, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek will be holding the first annual Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Commemoration, which will begin on Friday, August 2 and run through Monday, August 5, 2013.

In the spirit of bringing diverse communities together to overcome an unforgettable loss, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin will hold the Chardhi Kala 6K Memorial Run and Walk on Saturday, August 3. The phrase "Chardhi Kala" signifies the essence of unremitting optimism and exemplifies the way our community has worked through this tragedy. Furthermore, the run and walk will recognize the victims and everything they contributed to the community while also allowing for people of all faiths to unite over universal values such as unity and resilience. Join me at the Chardhi Kala 6K Memorial Run and Walk, which will be held at the Oak Creek High School Football Field with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.


Click here to register for the run/walk online.

The lives of those lost on August 5, 2012, will never be forgotten. I urge members of the community to stop by the Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Commemoration this weekend. Through these events, our community can honor those lost in the shooting, while also acknowledging the power our community has to heal and overcome such a tragedy by bridging cultural divides.


Click here to view the brochure for the event.


Click here for more information about the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin Memorial Commemoration weekend.


Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Fund Raid

In the past two budgets, Governor Walker has attempted to eliminate the popular Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program. In each of these cases, legislative Republicans have swooped in to save this successful, proven program in order to receive praise from Wisconsinites. Little did the public know that this act was all for show.

Unfortunately, it has come to light that legislative Republicans have not been investing in the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program as promised. Instead, they are raiding the program funds to cover the costs of a tax cut for the wealthy and expansion of the unaccountable voucher program statewide. In a recent Joint Finance Committee hearing, Republican members voted unanimously to break the promise made in the 2011-2013 Republican budget to invest in the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program by pulling the funds.

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a $200,000 grant program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. This comprehensive economic development program was designed to increase the local sales of agricultural food products grown within the state by supporting efforts of farmers to develop additional markets for agricultural products. In the first two years of the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, grants resulted in $2.7 million in new local food sales and $600,000 in new investment. Additionally, over 1,200 Wisconsin producers have benefited from the grants, and dozens of other jobs have been created and retained in the state.


Click here for more information about buying local from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

Farmer's markets are the most prominent example of the development of local and regional food systems. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, which annually catalogs all operating farmer's markets in the U.S., farmers markets increased nationally from about 2,900 in 2000 to approximately 6,100 in 2010. As of the 2010 survey, Wisconsin ranked 8th in the U.S. in the number of farmers markets it offers with 204.

Buying local is good for all of us, as it not only helps inject our economy with a much-needed financial boost, but it also increases job opportunities for our neighbors. In the end, buying local has benefits that greatly outweigh the costs. This commitment to buying local products and frequenting locally-owned businesses is exactly what Wisconsin needs during this time of economic uncertainty. This recent bait and switch by legislative Republicans to raid the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program is bad for local businesses and bad for our Wisconsin economy.



Start the Bidding at $1 for Donors

A provision contained in the recently enacted Republican budget allows the Department of Administration, with marginal Building Commission oversight, to sell or lease our state property without a competitive bidding process. The definition of state property is broad and encompasses UW dorms, state power plants, state prisons, and even state highways.

Changing the sale of state property procedure has been taken out of previous omnibus legislation. Considered too divisive, this provision was removed from Act 10 in 2011. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau noted in their research that Department of Administration staff indicated Secretary Huebsch has no immediate plans to use this new authority to sell state-owned properties that provide a public service like a campus dormitory, state highway, or state prison to a private entity. From the beginning, my colleagues and I have said if Republicans did not have plans to sell state-owned properties, then the question remains, why would the governor's Department of Administration need broader authority to sell or lease state assets? Furthermore, we raised the concern that the lack of a public bidding requirement is a clear sign this provision's central purpose is not to truly pay down the state's debts.


Recently, it has been brought to light that this provision may have been added to reward a specific Republican donor. According to a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, one of Wisconsin's largest real estate developers, contacted Governor Walker outlining a number of state buildings he wanted to buy. Included among the properties are the State Crime Lab, the main office building for the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Administration building, which the developer said could be leased back to the state afterwards. Campaign finance records maintained by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign show that the person seeking to buy state property has made political contributions of about $85,000 to Governor Walker and other conservative candidates.


It makes sense that developers would be interested in such a business venture as they would likely make a considerable amount of money at the expense of taxpayers. This can be seen first-hand in Arizona, where Governor Jan Brewer and the Republican-controlled Legislature sold the state's Capitol building for $81 million and then rented the building from its private owner. In 2012, Brewer reversed course asking the Legislature for $105 million to buy it back after realizing that they were on the losing end of the deal. This reckless decision would end up costing Arizona taxpayers well over $24 million. If we continue down the same path as Arizona, we may find ourselves in a similar position--paying rent on the Wisconsin Capitol building to wealthy political donors.

While legislative Republicans had several opportunities to remove this divisive provision that is widely opposed by the public, they failed to do so. As a result, if Governor Walker chooses to sell our state buildings to the lowest bidder, maybe a political friend, he will still be able to do so relatively easy with no input from taxpayers. Our precious state assets should not be fodder for Craigslist.


Small Steps at WEDC

Just last week, members of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Board of Directors adopted a common sense proposal to require private-sector level accountability at WEDC by authorizing the Board to hire and fire top WEDC officials. The same day the WEDC Board approved this measure, the governor finally signed into law just one of the many changes Democrats have called for to make WEDC more transparent and accountable. The law the governor signed, sponsored by Senate and Assembly Democrats, requires the WEDC Board members and staff to notify counsel if a conflict of interest arises with a company bidding, negotiating, or entering into business with WEDC. While these efforts were a good first step, they are not enough to fix the troubled agency.


A public-private entity, funded by Wisconsin taxpayers and tasked solely with fostering private-sector job growth, WEDC has been wrought with scandal from inception. From losing track of taxpayer-funded loans to wasting taxpayer dollars on Badger Football tickets, WEDC has failed Wisconsin's middle-class families. Despite the continuous and embarrassing problems plaguing WEDC, Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Reed Hall, was given a roughly 50% raise earlier this year as his salary increased from $120,000 to $185,000.


When WEDC was first created, Senate Democrats introduced many amendments to put common sense oversight and ethics standards in place to safeguard Wisconsin taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, Republicans opted to pursue changes at WEDC that only inches Wisconsin forward in the fight to turn our economy around, when we could be making leaps and bounds with the 'Middle-Class Jobs Now' package that Democrats presented in January. Senate Republicans opted to forgo major changes at WEDC and are instead focused on divisive social issues that do nothing to help Wisconsin's working, middle-class families.

While Wisconsin is still in the bottom half of states for job growth, Senate Democrats will continue to fight for more transparency and oversight at the failing, Republican-controlled job creation agency. Wisconsin families cannot afford to pay for a reckless, ineffective WEDC. Our top priority is the creation of family-sustaining jobs. Senate Republicans have the opportunity to do what is right and join us in following the wishes of Wisconsin taxpayers in further increasing accountability and transparency at WEDC.



ALEC Still Operating in the Shadows

On August 7 through August 9, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will be holding a conference in Chicago marking its 40th anniversary.

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 Tea Party conservative foundations and member corporations--corporations that reap the benefits of ALEC's initiatives.


During its 40 years, ALEC has long held undue influence in Wisconsin politics. Former Governor Tommy Thompson was significantly involved with ALEC, and his school voucher program is 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 couple of years. A watershed of special interest and anti-democratic legislation has been unleashed on the state by ALEC. The nonpartisan Center for Media and Democracy identified about 20 ALEC proposals introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature during the previous legislative session, 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.


ALEC has recently come under fire for efforts to help legislators serving as ALEC coordinators evade Wisconsin's Open Records Law, in an effort to keep their legislative pursuits secret from the public. Unfortunately, recent efforts to increase accountability and transparency were rejected by legislative Republicans. During the previous legislative session, Mark Pocan and I introduced the ALEC Accountability Act, which aimed to decrease the influence of ALEC and like organizations that draft and advocate for model legislation. In essence, the ALEC Accountability Act would have ensured 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 have made that possible.


Under this proposed law, organizations that pay for lawmakers' attendance at conferences would have been required to disclose the recipients of their funds as well as their corporate and individual backers. Additionally, the act would have prevented state office accounts from paying for membership in organizations like ALEC. Unfortunately, such legislation was blocked by legislative Republicans. As a result of this and their failure to comply with existing Open Records Laws, Wisconsinites will remain in the dark on what is discussed at the upcoming ALEC convention, and how the extreme, model proposals pursued will affect us when they reach the state of Wisconsin.



Wisconsin State Fair is Here

Today marks the first day of the 162nd Wisconsin State Fair. About 900,000 attendees from across the state will flock to Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis where many of the great things Wisconsin has to offer are put on display over the course of 11 days. For over 160 years, the State Fair has been the place for individuals of every age and walk of life to come together and share in some of Wisconsin's best food and family-friendly entertainment.

The Wisconsin State Fair is an opportunity to showcase Wisconsin's celebrated agriculture industry. The Fair gives children and adults a chance to learn about animal agriculture by touring the animal barns, attending a show or competition, or enjoying the excitement of a livestock auction. The State Fair provides vital exposure to those in Wisconsin who raise livestock, young and old. In addition to showcasing the state's livestock, the Fair is also an opportunity to display the proud plants and produce grown in Wisconsin's fields and communities. Fairgoers can take in beautiful bonsais, orchids, dahlias, and other colorful sculptured plants and flowers, in addition to viewing a myriad of textiles, canned goods, pies, cakes and other baked goods--all made in Wisconsin.

Fairgoers will have the opportunity to browse and purchase a wide range of products offered by hundreds of vendors located all over the Fairgrounds. Shoppers will more than likely find anything they are looking for at the Wisconsin Exposition Center, Bank Mutual Amphitheater, Central Marketplace, the Galleria in the Big Backyard, Westside Marketplace, Central Mall, Original Cream Puff Pavilion, and Mile Marketplace.

The State Fair is the place to be for family fun and entertainment. The Fairgrounds offers over 30 stages of free, live entertainment. The Main Stage will host headline entertainers from musical genres such as Pop, Country, Rock, and Contemporary Christian. Kids of all ages will love the new amusement ride and game area known as SpinCity. SpinCity will feature rides, games, attractions, and food vendors that have never been offered at the fair before.

No trip to the State Fair would be complete without indulging in the most unique and original food one could imagine found both on and off a stick. New items at the fair this year include Deep Fried Peanut Butter & Bacon Nuggets with Berry Weiss Jelly, the Elvis Sundae, Beer Donuts, and the Thanksgiving Waffle. Of course, fairgoers can treat themselves to the famous Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs. Cream Puffs, a State Fair icon, date back to 1924 when the Wisconsin Bakers Association introduced the special recipe, still used today. Last year, over 375,000 Cream Puffs were consumed.

The State Fair is one of the premier summer tourist attractions for southeastern Wisconsin. During the 11 days, over 1,400 people will be employed in jobs ranging from landscaping and maintenance to concessions and food vendors. Additionally, the State Fair brings new customers to local businesses in the area. A trip to the Wisconsin State Fair is an affordable venture with adult tickets costing $10 (ages 12-59); $7 for seniors (60+), military, and veterans with ID; $6 for youth (ages 6-11); and FREE admission for kids 5 and under. The State Fair runs from Thursday, August 1 through Sunday, August 11.


Click here for more information about the Wisconsin State Fair.


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: Is there any way to protect my phone if it is stolen.

A: At a recent Milwaukee Police District Five meeting, police alerted neighbors to the fact that smartphones are being stolen and resold at an alarmingly high rate. Therefore, they are recommending that local residents download a free app to help neighbors track down their phone if it is stolen.


The "Find My iPhone" app is recommended for iPhone users. If you misplace your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, or if your device is stolen, the app will let you use another iOS device to find it and protect your data. Simply install this free app on another iOS device, open it, and sign in with your Apple ID. Find My iPhone will help you locate your missing device on a map, play a sound, display a message, remotely lock your device, or erase all the data on it.


Click here for more information about this app.

Another app is available for Droid owners called "Where's My Droid." With this app, you have the freedom to track your phone from anywhere, either with a text messaged attention word or via an email. Where's My Droid can turn the ringer volume up and make your phone ring. The app can also get the GPS coordinates with a link to Google maps, if you're not near enough to your phone to hear the ringer.


Click here for more information about this app.


If your phone is stolen and attempts to track the phone are unsuccessful, these apps also offer a last resort "kill switch." Using this tool will shut down the phone and get rid of all your sensitive information on the device.


Should you have your phone or another electronic device stolen, feel free to contact the non-emergency number for your local police department. Here are the non-emergency numbers for our community:


Cudahy: (414) 769-2260

Franklin: (414) 425-7500

Milwaukee: (414) 933-4444

Oak Creek: (414) 762-8200

South Milwaukee: (414) 768-8060

St. Francis: (414) 481-2232


Did You Know...?

You may be aware that the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair has begun. But did you know that 89% of fairgoers reside in Wisconsin with 50% of those living in the Metro Milwaukee area?


The biggest draw at the fair is likely the food. According to recent statistics, the fair saw:

  • 355,478 Original Cream Puffs sold

  • 52,143 Real Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Sandwiches sold

  • 26,000 Mille's Sausage Sandwiches sold

  • 7,065 orders (or 35,325 pieces) of Deep Fried Beer sold at Budweiser Patio & Grill

Packers Prepare for 93rd Season

On July 26, our Green Bay Packers began training camp at St. Norbert's College in De Pere for the 56th consecutive summer. This 2013 season marks the Packers 93rd season in the NFL and eighth under head coach Mike McCarthy. As always, fans are welcome to watch our beloved Packers, and admission is free. Tuesday, August 27 will be the last day for fans to attend these practices.

The Packers are coming off an excellent 2012 season. Aaron Rodgers played exceptionally well, throwing for 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also led the league for the second year in passer rating. The Packers finished the regular season with an 11-5 record. We lost a few good players at the end of the 2012 season. Donald Driver, the Packers all time receiving yard record holder retired after his 14th season with the team. Additionally, Greg Jennings, a powerful wide receiver, and Desmond Bishop, an inside tackle, will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings in the upcoming season.

While there are multiple players that will be missed, the Packers had another great draft this year, bringing in exciting, new players. In 2012, the Packers used all but two of their draft picks on defensive players, but this season they were able to draft multiple talented players for both the offense and defense. In the first round, the Packers drafted Datone Jones, a defensive end who played at the University of California--Los Angeles. Then, in the second round, Eddie Lacy, a running back that played for Alabama was drafted. Because of these picks, the team should be equipped to play aggressively on both sides of the ball during the 2013 season. This year's team has all the necessary components to win the franchise's fifth Super Bowl and 14th Championship. Go, Pack, go!


Click here to visit the Packers' Web site for more information about training camp.


Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey

I created a survey for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door to door as possible before winter arrives. In addition, 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 save a stamp and take the survey online.

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



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.


Milwaukee County Free Days

The Milwaukee area is home to a plethora of museums, some of which can even be visited free of charge. Check out our local museums this summer on their specified Milwaukee County free days to really take in the culture our community has to offer. Below is a list of participating museums:

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

*Free every Monday (additional charges apply for the Humphrey IMAX Dome, Daniel M. Soref Planetarium & special exhibitions)


Click here or call (414) 278-2702 for more information.

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

*Free the first Thursday of every month (includes all special exhibits)

Click here or call (414) 224-3200 for more information.


Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (MAP)
524 S. Layton Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53215 

*Free every Monday from 9 a.m. until Noon (excludes major holidays)


Click here or call (414) 257-5611 for more information.



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