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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Rusk Dems July Meeting


July Meeting: Thursday, July 18th
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 18th, starting at 6:30 pm at the courthouse. From 6:30 to 7:00 will be the usual meeting minutia and then for the next hour, 7:00 to 8:00 pm we will view a video from the Mueller Book Club – a dramatic and actual reading of the Mueller Report, that was broadcast a couple of weeks ago. With the Mueller testimony being moved to the following Wednesday, July 24th, watching this video will be good preparation for next week when Mueller goes before Congress.

Here is a copy of the July meeting agenda.

July 2019 Newsletter



Dear Rusk County DEMs,

July Meeting: Thursday, July 18th
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 18th, starting at 6:30 pm at the courthouse. From 6:30 to 7:00 will be the usual meeting minutia and then for the next hour, 7:00 to 8:00 pm we will view a video from the Mueller Book Club – a dramatic and actual reading of the Mueller Report, that was broadcast a couple of weeks ago. With the Mueller testimony being moved to the following Wednesday, July 24th, watching this video will be good preparation for next week when Mueller goes before Congress.

While we didn’t have sufficient time to discuss the immigration issue, that is really heating up with the humanitarian crisis at the border and planned ICE (U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement) raids in Democratic cities on Sunday, we will come back to that topic next month.

Please also check out the new website (www.ruskcountydems.org) and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RuskDems) for updates and upcoming events.

Mueller Report
Our ad, “Findings from the Mueller Report and Criminal Investigation into Donald Trump” was published two weeks ago in the Ladysmith News and we’ve also had several letters to the editor published in the last few weeks concerning the criminal investigation into Donald Trump.  I would really like to keep this going, to remind Rusk County folks of the crimes that this man has and continues to perpetrate on the American public. If you are able to submit a letter, please do. If you haven’t had an opportunity yet to read the report, you can download a free copy, or read a copy on-line at: https://www.muellerbookclub.com. Also, remember to watch Mueller’s testimony, scheduled now on Wednesday, July 24th.  

Summer Parades and Drum Line
As of Sunday, the 14th, our drum line will have been featured in two parades – Sheldon and Bruce. We can still use more folks though – especially for the upcoming parades: July 21st – Mardi Gras; July 27th – Glen Flora; August 4th – Ingram; September 1st – Weyerhaeuser; and September 2nd – Hawkins. The sign-up sheet will be available at the meeting, or email me or Chrysa (costenso@gmail.com) to let us know in which parade(s) you are interested to participate.

Rusk County Jr. Fair – August 9th thru the 11th
We have our usual location at the Rusk County Fairgrounds for our DEMs booth. We are in need of volunteers to work, in three hour shifts to help out: Friday evening: 6-9, Saturday: 9-12, 12-3, 3-6, 6-9, and Sunday 9-12, and 12-3. Set-up will be Friday afternoon starting at 4:00 p.m. We’ll have our button-making machine at the fair and other literature to hand out. Please let me know what shift you’ll take (715 452-5315 or nancykraft@centurytel.net).

Fair Elections/Redistricting Project and Gerrymandering
While we received and distributed Fair Maps signs around the county, the prospects are a little gloomy now with the June 27th decision by the Supreme Court that ruled in cases from two other states that it was up to the states – not the courts – so decide when maps were too helpful to one party. A quick timeline of how we got here:

                     The judicial fight began in 2011 when WI Republicans used their legislative majority to draft district maps in their favor.
                     Republicans in other states were able to do the same thing, thanks to GOP sweeps in the 2010 elections.
                     A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in 2016 the maps were drawn favorably for Republicans that Democratic voters had their representational impact diminished. (A case in point – Democrats won 54% of the vote for the state legislature, but only took home 36% of the seats).
                     The lawsuit filed by Democratic voters went to the supreme Court in 2017, but was sent back. The court ruled the voters hadn’t shown they had legal standing.
                     June 27th, the Court ruled in cases from two other states that it was up to the states – not courts – to decide when maps were too helpful to one party.
                     That likely spells the end for the WI case, which had been scheduled to go to trial in July.

Except this time, after the 2020 Census, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will have a chance to try to block maps put together by Republicans. That could mean the two parties reach a compromise on the maps or – perhaps more likely – go to court with competing sets of maps.

According to a July/August 2019 Mother Jones article – Eric Holder, former Attorney General under President Obama has a plan to fight for fairer maps in 2021 and beyond. His new strategy is to elect down-ballot candidates who can deliver fairer maps and voting laws, which have suppressed the vote, especially in minority communities. With Republicans controlling the state Senate 19-14 and the state Assembly 63-36, this will be a steep curve, but possible with the next election.

News from the DEMs State Office
While Gov. Tony Evers signed the state budget, he used his veto power with multiple line-item vetoes, exercising his broad constitutional authority to address areas where the Legislature failed to do the right thing or padded the budget with earmarks to buy votes. The budget is a down payment on the People’s Budget and the priorities of the people of Wisconsin and highlights are:

                     Education – while the budget doesn’t come close to measuring up to what was proposed, the budget now provides a significant increase in funding for special education, ensuring state aid for the specialized services that students need by investing almost $100 million, the largest increase in special education funding and the first since 2008. (Through Evers’ vetoes, the budget provides nearly $330 million, the largest nominal increase in state general education aid since the 2005-2007 biennium; and provides the largest revenue limit adjustment for all school districts in a decade).
                     Criminal Justice – improvements: $4.7 million over the biennium to provide more than 30 additional DA’s; 7.4 full-time crime lab positions to address the state crime lab backlogs; increasing correctional officers starting pay and addressing staffing shortages; adds an additional $1 million annually for the Treatment, Alternatives, and Diversion programs (providing substance abuse treatment and case management as an alternative to jail or prison for nonviolent offenders)
                     Environment – adding 5 DNR positions to monitor CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
                     Transportation – a $6.6 billion investment for transportation needs to fix the roads.
                     Taxes – significant middle-class tax relief ($518 in individual income tax relief, targeting lower and middle-income earners).
                     Healthcare – while Medicaid expansion did not happen, the budget funds $30 million more for nursing homes, $37 million for personal care workers, $27 million for direct caregivers, and $30 million for aids to children and families. Behavioral health services are expanded, including increased investments in both mental health and substance abuse.

However, upset with Gov. Tony Evers veto power and how he was able to add more money into the education budget using his veto power, the Republicans are trying to pass a constitutional change to end “write-up” vetoes. (The attached handout from Wisconsin Eye summarizes what’s going on in Madison between the Governor and the Republican party.)

Affordable Care Act
Under Scott Walker’s administration, WI was the 2nd plaintiff after TX in the case for a full repeal of the ACA. While WI was able to get out of the case under our new AG, Josh Kaul, this case will go forward to the Supreme Court. With Attorney General William Barr saying he won’t defend the ACA law and a conservative majority on the Court, it could mean the full repeal of the ACA – or they could say it is up to the states. With a Republican majority that wants to get rid of the ACA, even though they promised during the campaign to protect pre-existing conditions and healthcare, the ramifications would be:
                     852,000 to 2.4 million in Wisconsin with pre-existing conditions would no longer be covered
                     The insurance companies would find ways to kick people off of their insurance plans
                     There would be cost discrimination for those who were sick, could be charged much more
                     Preventive care coverage would be gone
                     Females would be charged more (for pregnancies)
                     Seniors would be charged more
                     There would be lifetime limits on how much healthcare you could receive
                     153,000 Wisconsinites could lose their healthcare
                     Children up to age 26 could no longer be on their parents’ health insurance plan

If the inevitable happens, there is currently no bill by the Republican majority in Wisconsin to replace the ACA. Democrats are beginning to work on multiple bills to protect the people in the state. Contact Jerry Petrowski (29th Senate) at 608 266-2502 and James Edming (87th Assembly) at 608 266-7506 to let them know they need to be working on healthcare bills to protect the healthcare needs of Wisconsinites if the worse case scenario occurs.

July Meeting
Please attend the July 18th meeting, starting at 6:30 pm

Nancy Kraft, Rusk Dems Chair
715 452-3515

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rusk Dems May Meeting

  May Meeting: Thursday, May 16th
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 16th,, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Courthouse. Alex Pond, the Regional Organizing Director for Northwest and North Central Wisconsin with the Democratic Party will be joining us. Here is a copy of the May agenda. We hope to see you on May 16th!

May 2019 Newsletter



Dear Rusk County DEMs,

May Meeting: Thursday, May 16th
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 16th, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse. Alex Pond, the Regional Organizing Director for Northwest and North Central Wisconsin with the Democratic Party will be joining us. We will also try something new at the next meeting – from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. we will spend time on Party business, primarily on items requiring action. The agendas will include the minutia for those unable to participate. We want our meetings to be dynamic and more than information dumps but rather opportunities for members to share/debate perspectives they have regarding multiple issues facing all of us, some of which might be controversial – but this only goes to show that the DEMs are the “Big Tent” with multiple ideas and perspectives.

From 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. will spend time discussing/debating issues and topics. If you check out the new website (www.ruskcountydems.org), thanks to Anita Dearhamer and Cindy Pohlman, who have worked with the web page designer of the Barron County DEMs website, you will notice a link to Issues that include: Climate Change, Public Education, Work and Wages; Drug and Opioid Crisis; Redistricting Reforms; and Infrastructure At the April meeting individuals signed up to develop background information about these issues that will be posted eventually on this page.  We will be populating this issue page with data/statistics and background information to showcase multiple perspectives and Democratic positions. Our eventual goal is to host “townhall” meetings around the county to share information about these issues and solicit input from others.

At the first meeting we will be discussing two topics that Joy Baye brought to our attention at the April meeting: 1) the Knights of Columbus, and 2) Abortion Alternatives and a Woman’s Right to Choose. I will bring copies of the articles to the meeting.

State Democratic Convention: June 1st – 2nd
The state Democratic Convention will be held in Milwaukee. Delegates elected at the last meeting include Jim Wheeler, Linda Detra, Chrysa Ostenso, Kerm Morgan, and Nancy Kraft.

Summer Parades and Drum Line
A decision was made at the April meeting to share the responsibility for participation in summer parades in the county which include: June 9th – Sheldon; July 14th – Bruce; July 21st – Mardi Gras; July 27th – Glen Flora; August 4th – Ingram; September 1st – Weyerhaeuser; and September 2nd – Hawkins. Members are being asked to commit to participation in 2 to 3 of the 7 scheduled parades so the Rusk Dems can have a presence. Please let Chrysa (costenso@gmail.com) know in which parade you are interested to participate.

The Drumline, which will be featured in several of the area parades, is becoming a wonderful reality. The next practice session will be Monday evening, May 13th at Chrysa’s (902 Menasha Ave. W) at 6:30. All are welcome and no experience is necessary!

Fair Elections/Redistricting Project
The Fair Elections project is doing a yard sign project around the state this summer to promote fair redistricting to stop map-rigging and gerrymandering that have corrupted our democracy and made it harder for our state government to do the people’s business. Partisanship and corruption are corroding the bonds the people of Wisconsin have traditionally had with each other. With a goal to end partisan gerrymandering we will decide if we want to participate in this project, order and display signs. See: www.wisdc.org/redistricting_resources.html#local to see which counties have already passed fair maps resolutions and referenda.

News from the DEMs State Office
State budget: With several Republican legislators defecting and considering compromise concerning Medicaid expansion in WI, a sudden and desperate vote was taken last week by the Joint Finance Committee with votes consistent across party lines. According to a WI Public Radio report, 130 provisions from Gov Evers’ budget were deleted including: redistricting reform (even though there was no fiscal effect of this provision) and Medicaid/BadgerCare Expansion. According to Citizen Action of Wisconsin, “Until the governor signs his budget, it’s not final. It’s going to be a long debate and there’s still plenty of time for the public to be heard.” Now is the time to keep up pressure on every legislator who is ignoring the will of the people. Contact Jerry Petrowski (29th Senate) at 608 266-2502 and James Edming (87th Assembly) at 608 266-7506 to let them know you support Medicaid expansion, which the vast majority of Wisconsinites support. To learn how Medicaid expansion would impact Rusk County check out: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02410-rusk.pdf.

May Meeting
I hope to see you at the May 16th meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Nancy Kraft, Rusk Dems Chair
715 452-3515

A copy of this newsletter can be downloaded here: May 2019 Newsletter

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Rusk County Fact Sheet - DHS Budget Proposal

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has devised a budget that tries to reflect individual counties unique population and needs. To see what DHS's budget proposal will do for Rusk County, click here and download DHS's fact sheet. If you would like to see what the proposal will do for other Wisconsin counties, click here.

DHS proposal in the news: