April 23, 2014

The war on poverty continues in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) includes several agencies creating local opportunities for economic self-sufficiency. Executive Director Bob Jones says poverty is not a partisan issue. He says the discussion about poverty and the role of government needs to be objective.

“What we want to do is to be able to make sure — to start, anyway — to be able to make sure that debate is an objective one, that it looks at the reality of what poverty is, and it becomes a constructive debate about how to attack it, and doesn’t get sucked into all the partisan morass of everything else that’s going on right now.”

The association celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. This milestone is a chance to focus on how members can raise awareness about poverty and provide value for years to come. Jones says the concept of member agencies is to provide low-income residents equal opportunity, but he says, not necessarily equal outcomes.

“Give them the tools so they can do these long term. Now, our agencies certainly engage in short term emergency services. Those are very important, they are very valid. You have to eat; you have to have a full stomach so you can look for a job or hold your job well. So we have food pantries, clothing shelters, bill payment assistance for energy — all very important. But the major flux is to get them the tools they need so they can get out of poverty, not stay in it.”

Tools, he says, like weatherization for homes to reduce utility bills for the long term and better paying jobs to help make ends meet.

They’ve had a lot of success in the war on poverty, but he says, “When you fight a war, you also need ammunition.” Resources include federal and state, local and private, human and material, but Jones says, it’s a battle to keep the funding alive.

AUDIOJones says there has been a lot of success, but “when you fight a war, you also need ammunition.” He says it’s a battle to keep the funding alive. :57

In 2013, WISCAP’s network reduced or eliminated more than 578,000 separate and distinct conditions of poverty that create barriers to economic security and community well-being. Funding comes from various sources — 60 percent from the federal government, the state, local government, and private sources also contribute.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:51

The WISCAP annual meeting is scheduled for May 8, 9 in Madison.

Representatives of the agencies of WISCAP were captured on WisconsinEye touting their accomplishments and future goals.

Hidden camera suspect charged with child porn possession

The Waukegan, Illinois man charged in connection with the cameras found in the women’s locker room at the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex has been charged with possession of child pornography in Lake County, Illinois, and the investigation in Wisconsin has expanded to another location.

Karl Landt, 36, appeared in Kenosha Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing on 11 counts of conspiracy to capture images of nudity. He waived that hearing, and entered a plea of not guilty. He had been free after posting a $10,000 bond, however, that bond was increase to $50,000 based on the new charge from Illinois.

Pleasant Prairie police say the child pornography charge stems from a file found on Landt’s computer during their investigation, and is not related to the RecPlex case, however, it’s now believed that cameras were also planted in a locker room at Uline’s corporate building in the village. The department is working with company officials in the investigation. A Pleasant Prairie woman is also facing charges in the case.

Janet Hoff, WRJN

Unemployment rate is better, not good enough

The state’s jobless rate is below 6 percent, but that’s still not good enough for one advocate for the poor.

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) is the statewide association for several agencies whose focus is to eliminate poverty in Wisconsin. Executive Director Bob Jones is encouraged by the lower unemployment rate of just 5.9 percent, but he’s not celebrating just yet. “I’m old-fashioned. When I grew up, there was a crisis if the unemployment rate was over 4 percent.” Wisconsin hasn’t seen jobless rates below 6 percent since 2008. “That’s still too high, in my opinion; I think it’s going in the right direction.”

Jones says it’s important to take into consideration all the workers who would love a job but stopped looking. Also, he says, the quality of the job is important. People need to be able to earn enough to get by. “If you work 40 hours a week, you should not be in poverty,” he says, “It doesn’t matter if the unemployment rate is 2 percent; if the jobs we’re creating don’t pay living wages, don’t provide people a step out of poverty … it doesn’t matter.”

The state’s unemployment rate got as high as 9.2 percent in 2010.

In 2011, more than 367,000 low-income and working poor residents turned to association members for assistance, striving for economic self-sufficiency.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:21

Governor signs CBD bill


AmyLynne’s son, Nic. (PHOTO: family photo)

Cannabidiol, or CBD, comes from the marijuana plant. It is touted as a breakthrough treatment for kids suffering seizure disorders. Amylynne Santiago Volker played a big role in getting the legislation passed. Her 9-year-old son Nic experiences multiple seizures each day, rendering him unable to participate in everyday activities, such as having friends and attending school.

“I’m amazed and extremely grateful to have the law passed now. It’s an opportunity for our children to have a new treatment option and a new hope. Not only for the kids, but all the families of kids with seizure disorders.”

Volker, who lives in Dane County, heard about the benefits of the cannabis extract and brought it to the attention of her state representative. “We’re hoping that it will essentially cure Nic of his seizures at some point. That would be the best outcome.” Though, she adds, “Even if it gives 50 percent relief from his seizures, that would be remarkable.”

While the oil comes from the same plant that produces pot, the drug has no hallucinogenic properties of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Governor Walker says the substance will be very controlled. “The bottom line is, this is very narrowly crafted. This is not medical marijuana. It is certainly not legalized marijuana.”

The legislation (AB-726) was introduced by Representative Robb Kahl (D-Monona) and Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) and received bipartisan support in the legislature. The bill passed the Assembly last month on a voice vote and was later concurred by the Senate.

CBD oil is illegal under federal law. The F-D-A would have to approve its use before it can be made available in the Badger State.

The efficacy of Cannabidiol as a medical treatment received a significant boost last year, when neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his position on medical marijuana and documented the medical benefits of marijuana in his documentary, “WEED.”

Governor Scott Walker signed 55 bills into law today in private ceremonies at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:39

Dying with dignity

Governor Walker proclaims today, April 16, Healthcare Decisions Day in Wisconsin.

It’s about dying with dignity, explains Attorney Ben Adams, who is an adviser to the State Bar Elder Law Section. “As Ben Franklin famously said, ‘The only two certain things in life are death and taxes.’ So that’s why April 16th was selected to be National Healthcare Decisions Day,” he says, “So that you can file your taxes on the 15th and then think about the end-of-life decisions that you might want made on the 16th, and plan for that.”

All individuals older than 18 are being urged to complete an advance directive, which documents their preferences about issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, including deciding to accept or refuse medical treatment, and whether to be an organ and tissue donor.

“If you don’t appoint a decision maker,” Adams explains, “someone that you feel confident will know what your values are and will be able to advocate for you if you can no longer make decisions, then who is going to make those decisions?”

Many folks feel their spouse can make their decision on their behalf, though that’s not the case in Wisconsin. Arguably, it would be easier just to die peacefully in one’s sleep, but that’s unlikely. Adams explains approximately 80 percent of people die from a lengthy illness, many of whom don’t have a health care directive.

AUDIO: The case of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in Florida made national news in the right-to-die battle several years ago. :47

According to Adams, an estimated 80 percent of Wisconsin residents have not completed an advance directive. If you want your wishes to be met at the end of your life, it’s important to have both the documents and the conversation with family and agents.

A consumer guide can be downloaded at no charge for just one week on the State Bar’s website, starting today. Keep those documents in multiple locations — with your family, agent, medical system. If you’ve got a health issue, you might want to keep copy of your directive in your glove compartment or briefcase. Also, he says, some software allows you to make wallet-sized information to keep in your purse or wallet.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:29