Weekly Update November 22nd, 2015

Join us December 9th for our Holiday Potluck
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Join us December 9th at 7pm for our Holiday Potluck at Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion.  

If you can bring a dish to share, please contact us to let us know at southwestdems@gmail.com
Hope to see you there!

RSVP here.

Make a contribution here.

December 9th at 7pm

Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion
10777 W Coldspring Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53228
Obama: U.S. Will Welcome Refugees ‘As Long as I’m President’
"As long as I'm president we are going to keep stepping up"

Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world “as long as I’m president.”

Obama commented Saturday at a learning center in the Malaysian capital that serves the poor, including some refugees. He met with boys and girls wearing crisp white and black uniforms and neckties as they sat at tables and worked on painting and puzzle projects.

Obama said the youngsters “represent the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris.”

Most of the children the president met with are Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape persecution by the country’s Buddhist majority, with many ending up in Malaysia, where Obama was attending a regional economic summit.

Obama noted that the world is currently focused on the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, where years of civil war have forced millions to flee to other countries to escape the bloodshed. But he said the world must not forget about some 60 million people who have been displaced around the globe.

Last week’s Paris attacks have led U.S. lawmakers to seek to halt or delay the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. out of concern that terrorists could try to slip in with them and carry out similar attacks. Obama has rejected that idea and pledged to veto any bill sent to him to block Syrians from entering.

Speaking of the children he had just met with, Obama said: “Anybody who had a chance to see those kids, hopefully you understood the degree to which they’re just like our kids. They deserve love and stability and protection.”

He said more and more countries are recognizing that they need to do more, vowing that “as long as I’m president we are going to keep stepping up.”

Read more at Time.
Marquette poll: Scott Walker's approval rating still hovers below 40 percent

Gov. Scott Walker has been out of the presidential race for nearly two months, but his approval rating among Wisconsin voters is largely unchanged.

Walker abruptly ended his campaign on Sept. 21 and returned home to an approval rating of 37 percent a little more than a week later. A Marquette University Law School poll released Thursday showed the governor's approval rating at 38 percent.

Since the end of his presidential bid, he has toured the state in an effort to reintroduce himself and rebuild support among Wisconsin voters.

Even lower than Walker's approval rating is that of Republicans in the state Legislature. Just 31 percent of voters approve of how Republican lawmakers are doing their job, while 60 percent disapprove.

Read more at Cap Times.

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WEDC May Have Violated State Law Issuing $21 Million in Tax Credits
Written by GBP Staff  

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting for the first time today that Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) may have violated state law in issuing $21 million in tax credits to companies when it likely lacked the legal authority to do so.

The finding by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau came in a private Aug. 19 letter to the WEDC. In addition, recent audits have found cases where WEDC staff continually violated WEDC’s own internal policies as well as state law.

Key findings of the audit found that:

  • Companies receiving state incentives were not always required by records to verify they actually created the required number of jobs. 
  • WEDC did not follow state law in awarding contracts and that WEDC officials did not properly vet applications for assistance to determine whether businesses met eligibility requirements to qualify for taxpayer assistance. 
  • WEDC staff also made questionable decisions in providing taxpayer dollars to corporations that went on to eliminate and outsource hundreds of Wisconsin jobs.

Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said the agency is too far gone to save.

“WEDC is beyond repair. Time and time again we see them ignoring state law," said Hansen referring to reports that claim WEDC may have given out $21 million in illegal tax credits.

Another recent report by Channel 27 found that in 2014 Johnson Controls received $1 million in state tax credits supposedly to create 266 jobs but on Friday the corporation announced it is closing the very facility and eliminating 277 jobs that it received the tax credits for.

“They have given millions in taxpayer dollars to corporations that sent Wisconsin jobs to Mexico, moved jobs from one Wisconsin community to another and closed plants and eliminated jobs. And we see it again with Johnson Controls,” said Hansen.

“This has got to stop", said Hansen. "Wisconsin workers should not have to pay to eliminate their own jobs nor should taxpayers be on the hook for commitments made by a rogue agency that continues to flout state law. It is way past time to admit that WEDC is a failure and shut it down.”

Hansen concludes “There is no way to re-brand WEDC. It is a failed agency with a flawed structure that has done nothing but invite corruption and the waste of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers and legislators from both parties should not settle for anything less than a complete tearing down of WEDC and a complete rebuild of our entire economic development program--including determining exactly what our state’s economic development mission should be.”

Read more at Green Bay Progressive.

Will the 'Efficiency Gap' End Gerrymandering?
A lawsuit in the politically riven state of Wisconsin suggests a solution for fair re-districting.

Wisconsin is finding itself a bellwether for voting rights issues. In 2013, Republican lawmakers destroyed electronic documents that the courts had ordered be preserved in order to review the fairness of the state's 2011 re-districting process; the documents were deleted, and a hard drive physically damaged, apparently to prevent their review. Government watchdogs and citizen activists have condemned the state's new map and the secrecy surrounding its development, and, in July, a group called the Fair Elections Project filed a lawsuit, Whitford v. Nichol, challenging it. The case describes Wisconsin's map as “one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history.” It also notes that fewer than four percent of state governments between 1972 and 2010 benefited a single party in the way that Wisconsin's districting plan does. This lawsuit, however, has the potential to impact states well beyond Wisconsin since it offers a way of measuring how fairly a given map treats the two main political parties.

For some time now, voting rights advocates have been struggling to address the new face of voter suppression. While some efforts, such as stricter voter ID requirements, clearly target low-income and minority citizens, others, such as gerrymandering, have a broader reach. As state legislatures re-draw voting district boundaries, in recent years, gerrymandering has returned to the national spotlight. Drawing “safe” districts has been credited with producing intense partisanship in Congress, but the GOP also sees controlling state re-districting processes as the key to keeping a Republican majority in Washington. A “safe” district has had its boundaries drawn so as to ensure that a candidate from a particular party wins. For example, a district drawn to include a voting base that generally casts 60 percent of its votes for Republicans and 40 percent for Democrats will be “safe” for a Republican candidate.

Read more at Pacific Standard.

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