May 16, 2013
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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.
Date: Now through Sun., May 19
There is a reason Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is the most popular ballet of
all time. It is one of ballet's most powerful stories of love and
deception. Milwaukee Ballet's dramatic production promises to showcase
the company's strong classical dancers, while the Milwaukee Ballet
Orchestra performs this timeless classic with passion and grace.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-7206 for more information or to
Grant Park Weed-outs
Date: Sat., May 18 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Help neighbors pull invasive garlic mustard to protect plant diversity in Grant Park. Meet at the tennis court parking lot (Area 1). CLICK HERE or call (414) 764-0612 for more information.
Grant Park (MAP)
100 E. Hawthorne Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
BVNA Bloom & Groom
Location: Bay View
Description: Join the Bay View Neighborhood Association at the Humboldt Park Pavilion to get a head start on your garden planting. There will be great deals on annuals and perennials at this special event.
Humboldt Park Pavilion (MAP)
3000 S. Howell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207
City of Cudahy Bike Auction & Rummage Sale
Date: Sat., May 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Description: Partake in the auction of bicycles and rummage hosted by the Cudahy Historical Society and Cudahy Police Department. Paddle sales begin at 9 a.m. with the auction starting at 11 a.m. A city rummage sale will occur simultaneously in the Historical Society Annex. CLICK HERE for more information.
Cudahy Historical Society (MAP)
4647 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue
Cudahy, WI 53110
Bay View Historical
Society Yard Sale
Location: Bay View
Description: Stop by this annual yard sale to benefit the Society. Refreshments are available for purchase on the grounds of the historic Beulah Brinton House. The yard sale itself will be held on the grounds and inside the house. CLICK HERE for more information.
Beulah Brinton House (MAP)
2590 S. Superior Street
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Description: Join the Wisconsin Bike Federation in enjoying the Hank Aaron State Trail. Bikes and food will be available for purchase. There will also be free trail biking and walking tours. This is a great opportunity to discover the trails in your own back yard. CLICK HERE for more information.
Wisconsin Bike Federation (MAP)
3618 W. Pierce Street
Milwaukee, WI 53215
Memorial Day Parades and Ceremonies
Date: Monday, May 27
Location: Multiple locations in the Milwaukee area
Join your fellow neighbors in celebrating Memorial Day, where we honor
those that bravely fought for our country.
St. Francis, 8:30 a.m., ceremony at the St. Francis War Memorial located at 4230 S. Nicholson Avenue
Milwaukee, 2 p.m., parade begins at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, proceeds towards the War Memorial Center, and ends with a ceremony at Veterans Park.
In light of all the problems at WEDC, Democrats have taken charge to introduce reforms while WEDC has failed to even acknowledge the problem. This report also discusses the passage of anti-local control legislation against Milwaukee County, supporting our local farmer's markets, and a bill banning FoodShare recipients from purchasing cheese. Continue reading for more information about these and other important community and state issues.
Democrats Propose WEDC Reforms
Job creation is imperative as Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation in job creation and dead last in short-term job growth. Yet Governor Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has made our state a running joke across the country in this area. The people of Wisconsin are at their breaking point with this agency Republicans hastily-created two years ago to replace the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
This public-private agency has had
persistent problems since its inception in 2011. These include
circumventing Wisconsin's fair and competitive bidding process and
ignoring federal and state laws when giving out grants. The final straw
was losing track of over $50 million in loans, including about $12
million that were overdue.
In fact, WEDC's reported problems are likely impeding much-needed job growth in Wisconsin. Their attempt at creating flexibilities within the agency have actually created a free-for-all that has left even prospective businesses confused about what programs are offered, the qualifications for each program, and how to apply. While Republicans have been failing to properly address this festering problem and WEDC's inability to track millions in taxpayer dollars, Democrats announced a plan this Wednesday to help put Wisconsin's job creation agency on the right track. Continue reading for more information about the two proposals announced by Democrats.
Allowing Proper Board Oversight
Currently, WEDC's governing board is relatively ineffective as its authority is crippled by its chair, Governor Walker, and the autonomy of the agency. Therefore, my Democratic colleagues and I will be introducing a legislative proposal that aims to give the board the tools it needs to properly oversee the floundering WEDC. The major provisions related to WEDC's board included in this proposal are listed below:
Accurate Facts and Honest Reports
This is WEDC's last chance. Change
needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. Losing track of taxpayer
dollars, especially during difficult economic times, is unacceptable. We cannot allow WEDC to continue this fraud, waste, and abuse at a time when
neighborhood schools are not able to spend a single new dollar in the
classrooms and 90,000 Wisconsinites are being cut from BadgerCare. Until
accountability and transparency measures are enacted, no new taxpayer
dollars should be wasted at WEDC. This is the least we owe taxpayers
who have been paying the cost for WEDC's missteps from the beginning.
Anti-Local Control Bill Sent to Governor
Earlier this week, the Senate and Assembly passed legislation, Assembly Bill 85, that is an outright attack on local control. This is only the most recent in a series of Republican-sponsored legislative attacks on their political enemies. This time, the victim is local government in Milwaukee. This big government move mandates the micromanagement of local government in our community, and leaves us wondering: who is next?
Below are just some of the concerning provisions contained in this bill, which has now been sent to the governor for his signature:
How the Milwaukee County Board Compares
The Milwaukee County Board is
comprised of 18 supervisors, each representing between 50,000 and 55,000
neighbors, which is the same size as most State Assembly districts.
Additionally, the County Board employs about 38 full-time staff members,
including constituent service professionals, committee clerks, auditors,
and budget analysts. Having a board and professional staff of that size
allows supervisors to remain informed about county issues, be responsive
to neighbors' concerns, and provide legislative oversight of the county
executive and sheriff.
While this bill makes enormous changes to the Milwaukee County Board, it leaves the County Executive Office completely untouched. With the long history of Milwaukee County Executives abusing their power, this proposal sets us on a dangerous course in the wrong direction. Milwaukee County has seen past executives, as recently as 2006, attempt to sell off our valued and profitable state assets, which include the Milwaukee County Airport, the Milwaukee County Zoo, and even our neighborhood parks.
By preventing the board from continuing its watchdog role of the county executive, he will now have the ability to continue where others left off with regards to selling our assets. Hopefully the people of Milwaukee county will see past the smoke and mirrors and realize that this bill is less about supervisor salaries and more about hampering oversight and removing the necessary checks and balances in local government to concentrate power in the County Executive Office.
Ignoring the People of Milwaukee
Further, while this bill allows Milwaukee County residents to vote in a referendum regarding the pay of county board supervisors, that is the only provision of the passed bill that residents will be able to vote on. They will not be able to vote on increasing the power of the county executive, decreasing the budget for the board overall, or reducing term lengths by two years.
Additionally, rather than putting the limited referendum to a vote during a major election, Republicans chose April 2014, an election where not all municipalities will even have major races and thus have significantly lower voter turnout. The main proponents of this legislation is an out-of-county special interest group, the county executive, and former supervisors that will not be affected by the changes. Clearly the residents of Milwaukee County were not the main consideration for furthering this bill.
Republicans Continue Their Attack on Milwaukee
This bill continues what we have already seen: a calculated attack on the city and county of Milwaukee. This attack has become so brazen that a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline even asked: "Is the GOP-run state Legislature at war with Milwaukee?" Considering the proposals introduced this session, the answer appears to be yes.
In addition to passing this anti-local control measure against Milwaukee County, while leaving other counties untouched, for now, legislative Republicans have also pursued legislation or proposals to:
What Republicans seem to be forgetting is that city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County play a pivotal role in the overall economic success of our state. In reality, as goes Milwaukee, so goes the rest of the state. Instead of continuing an unfair attack on our only world-class city, Republicans should be focusing on how to better support this economic engine.
Restore Public Schools Cuts
Last Thursday, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released adjusted budget projections, which show that Wisconsin will have an additional $500 million. Unfortunately, while my Democratic colleagues and I are calling for all of this money to be reinvested in public schools for our children, the governor has said that this money should be used for such things as tax breaks and building our rainy day fund.
Republicans seem to have forgotten that two years ago they passed a budget that implemented the largest cuts to education--$1.6 billion--in our state's history. While the additional $500 million only covers a portion of these cuts, it is a significant improvement over the $0 increase per student that Governor Walker's budget proposes.
These record-breaking cuts and the diversion of $92 million in additional education funding into voucher schools has put our children's future in a precarious position. Wisconsin's public schools are at their breaking point, having been forced to cut valued staff, vital programs including art and music, and educational opportunities. Further, these cuts have left some Wisconsin schools facing increased class sizes of 30, 35 and even 40 students.
It is imperative that we put this $500 million back into our neighborhood, public schools to provide future generations with the best education possible to compete in a 21st century economy. Remember, it is Wisconsin's future generations that will determine our state's economic success for years to come. Our children's success is our success.
Make Your Voice Heard
Farmer's Markets Almost Here!
Support our local economy this summer by frequenting one of Wisconsin's many farmer's markets. According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, there are many benefits to buying local for producers and consumers alike, including:
Stop By a Local Farmer's Market
Wisconsin is home to plenty of farmer's markets that can be found all across the state. We are fortunate to have many of them located right here in our community. Please see the list below to find a farmer's market near you:
Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Faces Chopping Block
Unfortunately, we have learned that Governor Walker is attempting to use his 2013-2015 budget to eliminate the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, which would threaten the success of our local farmer's markets. Earlier this week, the Joint Committee on Finance voted to restore funding for the program in full. My colleagues and I hope this program will remain intact, however, it could still be altered or removed from the budget with an amendment on the floor or potentially by governor's veto.
This is not the first time he has tried to do away with this popular and successful program. He also cut the program completely in his 2011-2013 budget proposal, only to have 90% of the funding restored by the Joint Finance Committee, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans alike recognize how crucial this program is to Wisconsin's workers and local businesses.
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
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.
Recently, a Republican representative introduced legislation he claimed would prevent FoodShare recipients from purchasing unhealthy foods, like soda and candy, with their swipe card. Unfortunately, this bill has instead become a prime example of what can happen when a legislator introduces legislation without fully considering the unintended consequences.
As a result, the Legislature must now consider a bill that flies in the face of our Wisconsin values. Not only does this bill ban certain types of milk and cheese, but it also limits organic foods, which are free of chemicals and pesticides making them widely considered to be healthier than their non-organic counterparts. For example, under this bill, FoodShare recipients would be prohibited from or limited in their ability to purchase Swiss cheese, organic milk, and white rice to feed themselves and their family. On the other hand, this same family would be allowed to buy mild cheddar and brown rice.
This relatively arbitrary classification of acceptable versus unacceptable foods has caused this bill to receive widespread disapproval from Wisconsin's farmers and businesses. In fact, while nearly 20 groups and businesses have registered on the bill, including Kraft Foods Group Inc., Wisconsin Agribusiness Council, Wisconsin Grocers Association, and Wisconsin Retail Merchants Association, there is still not a single group or business registered in support of this bill.
Grocery and convenience stores, for example, are largely in-charge of enforcing FoodShare restrictions. Should this bill go into effect, it would make it challenging for these businesses tasked with approving or rejecting foods for purchase with FoodShare swipe cards as there are thousands of food options, many of which are not on the "approved list" or "banned list." Additionally, this legislation may also negatively impact the bottom line of companies in Wisconsin, including family farms, and as a result, lose valuable Wisconsin jobs.
While I think we all can agree that more needs to be done to improve the health of all Wisconsinites, I think it is fair to say that this bill does not achieve the goal it set out to do.
Did You Know...?
You may have noticed that automobile races and car shows are now common place in Wisconsin and across the country. But did you know that Wisconsin hosted the nation's first automobile race in 1878?
The state offered $10,000 to the inventor of a machine that could move from Green Bay to Madison under its own power. With an average speed of 6 mph, it took Alexander Gallagher of Oshkosh approximately 22 hours to win the race and the money.
May is Stroke Awareness Month
May is Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke
is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is currently the
number three killer in Wisconsin and a leading cause of serious,
long-term disability. Stroke does not discriminate as it affects people
of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. About 795,000 Americans each
year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke
occurs every 40 seconds.
Another easy way to remember the signs
of stroke, and what to do, is by the acronym "F.A.S.T." If you think you
or someone else is having a stroke, follow the National Stroke
Association's F.A.S.T. test:
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