November 26, 2014

Rally in Madison in wake of Ferguson decision

blacklivesmatterHundreds took to the streets in downtown Madison Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.

Up to 500 participated in the rally, hosted by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, which released this statement:

We are not surprised that Darren Wilson was not indicted for the racist killing of Michael Brown. We are also not surprised that Dane County is leading the country in disproportionate incarceration of Black people, and still wanting to build a new jail. We are also not surprised that though the state continues to be violent towards us, that we are asked not to protect ourselves and fight for freedom.

Ferguson teaches us that there will be no change unless youth take to the streets. We are Young Gifted and Black, and we will take to the streets until we get liberation. We demand:
1) No new jail– Immediately abandon and denounce the proposal of a new jail. We instead propose human rights solutions that make jails obsolete. Some of those are implementing the Human rights of housing, food, education, and health care for Black people
2)Immediate release of people incarcerated due to crimes of poverty-We understand that poverty is a form of state violence, and that in Dane County 75% of Black children are living at or below the poverty levels, and that almost 5% of the population is Black and yet the jails are over 50% Black. We know these are related. Therefore we demand the immediate release of all people who are incarcerated for crimes of poverty.
3)Investments in initiatives led by young Black communities so that we can create change, and liberate ourselves.

The rally began outside the jail and eventually some 500 people took to the streets, halting traffic adjacent to the jail before moving on to the Capitol Square and returning to the jail. The rally was entirely peaceful.

Attorney General-elect Schimel picks transition team

Brad Schimel

Brad Schimel

Wisconsin’s incoming attorney general has named a transition team to help with the switchover in the Department of Justice when he’s sworn in this coming January.

Attorney General-elect Brad Schimel, who will replace outgoing Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, has named attorney Andrew Cook to serve as his top deputy at the agency. Cook will also lead the transition team, which members include Lieutenant Governor Margaret Farrow, state Justice administrator Brian O’Keefe, and former Milwaukee Judge Michael Brennan, along with ex-Public Service Commission chair Ave Bie, UW-Madison vice chancellor Ray Taffora, and the U.S. attorney’s civil division chief Mark Cameli.

Schimel won the office earlier this month when he defeated Democrat Susan Happ in the November 4th election.

Push for Obamacare enrollment

openenrollMonday saw a push for Obamacare enrollment in Madison and Dane County, with the deadline approaching for people to sign up or shop for a new plan at Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin – who while serving in the U.S. House helped to write the Affordable Care Act – said Obamacare has been a success in Wisconsin, with 139,000 people signed up as of May of this year.

“This time we did something different with the website. First off, we made sure it worked,” joked U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, refering to the well-documented problems with the federal website. “It is faster, it is simpler, it is more intuitive.”

Oma Vic McMurray, a family daycare provider in Madison, shared her Obamacare story. “The Affordable Care Act isn’t just improving my access to health care. It has made my life much more humane,” she said.

With the second year of sign ups for the Affordable Care Act underway, Wisconsin residents who don’t have insurance are being urged to take advantage of the federal marketplace. Even if already signed last year, you can go onto  to shop for a better plan this year. The deadline is December 15th.

Madison attorney points to benefits of immigration reform

White House

White House

Individuals, businesses, and the economy would benefit from President Obama’s executive order on immigration. So says Quarles & Brady immigration attorney Grant Sovern.

The Madison lawyer notes millions of undocumented immigrants working in the United States without legal authorization would temporarily get that permission under Obama’s action to delay deportation. “And this will be huge for them; it will also be huge for employers who have employees who might have worked there for eight or ten years. The employees have been worried about their own status, the employer may not even know about them.”

Sovern says high-skilled immigrants are needed to fill STEM jobs — science, technology, engineering, and math. He says foreign workers become researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs. They create ideas and jobs that might not otherwise exist. He says giving them a work visa is a “net gain” to every part of the economy.

“In Wisconsin with our great university system we’ve got all sorts of spin-off companies and efforts and researchers who are coming up with great new ideas, but we don’t have an immigration system that supports great new idea companies or individuals.”

Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans want to file a lawsuit to stop Obama’s plan, saying it amounts to amnesty and it’s illegal. In Florida last week during the Republican Governors Association, Walker said he’d take it “to the courts,” which he said is better than a government shutdown.

Milwaukee immigrant rights’ group — the League of United Latin American Citizens — estimates up to 24,000 Wisconsinites are eligible for work permits and protections from being deported.

Baldwin says House can still act on immigration

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says the House can still act on immigration reform – if chooses to. The Wisconsin Democrat said President Barack Obama acted on the issue because House Republicans chose not to.

“Today marks the 512th day since the U.S. Senate passed, on a bipartisan basis, comprehensive immigration reform, and so any cry of ‘not enough time’ strikes me as disingenuous,” Baldwin said.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan told the Washington Post that House Republicans only needed a few more weeks. “We’ve gone to the president and said, ‘Give us time to do immigration reform, to work on the issue this year. We want to get this done.’ And this is the reaction he has to that? He had two years with a super-majority of his own party, and he didn’t lift a finger. And now he won’t give us a few weeks?”

“We still have some days left before the end of the year, and I would certainly urge the House of Representatives to act,” Baldwin said. “These are prioritizations that the president has announced. But the only real solution – as he said – is for Congress to step up. It’s time for the House to act.”