Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Surf’s up, August 2018

When Democrats gathered from all over the state in Oshkosh for their annual convention, speakers rallied delegates for what they hope will be a new era in Democratic rule.

Over two days of speeches in June, they attacked Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans on everything from Walker’s failure to create the 250,000 new jobs he promised when he first ran eight years ago to his administration’s handling of roads, health care, public education and workers’ rights.

But with virtually every exhortation came warnings against complacency. “Are you ready for a blue wave?” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) called out to the crowd at the climax of her Friday night stemwinder. “Yeah!” came the reply.

“Well I’m telling you, we’ve got to part the Red Sea!” Moore admonished them…

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The Progressive: The Little School District That Could

The Progressive: The Little School District That Could

The Little School District That Could, March 2017

Photo by Victor Bjorkund.

Now, after stripping public employees of their union rights, squeezing the ability of public schools to raise revenues, and throwing open the doors for private schools around the state to get public money by expanding Milwaukee’s controversial school voucher program, the state’s Republican lawmakers had come back for more. In a measure aimed exclusively at Racine, the state legislature wiped out the Racine Unified School district’s long-standing tradition . . .

Milwaukee Magazine: The Aftermath

Milwaukee Magazine: The Aftermath

The Aftermath, January 2016

What has been lost, teachers say, is their voice.

“We bring a lot to the table,” says Biebel. “Our voice has always been involved in the workday. When you remove that teacher voice, you’re left with people making those decisions that don’t have immediate contact – they’ve forgotten the immediacy of being in the classroom.” Administrators “want what’s best for students,” she continues. “But they’re not the ones in the trenches.”

Membership in a union meant a degree of protection that some teachers say was good for teacher professionalism. In the current environment, “We’re a little unclear,” says Balcerak. “Does disagreement equal insubordination? For that matter, isn’t it healthy within an organization to have dissenting voices, to have some intelligent discourse? But teachers are nervous to disagree…”

Isthmus: Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare

Isthmus: Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare

Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare, December 2012

While Gov. Scott Walker’s administration continues to give Obamacare the cold shoulder, groups outside of state government are stepping in to work with federal officials implementing the law in Wisconsin.

Isthmus: Meet the New Tommy Thompson

Isthmus: Meet the New Tommy Thompson

Meet the New Tommy Thompson: Ex-governor Veers Right in his Senate Bid, February 2012

Tommy Thompson is in the grips of an identity crisis.

Always a conservative, the four-term Republican governor and former Bush administration cabinet secretary is now running in a political environment in which his brand of conservatism is suspect. Derided from the right as too moderate – and too “big-government” – Thompson is burnishing his credentials by, in some cases, backing away from positions that once helped him amass huge majorities at the polls and work effectively with a Legislature often controlled by Democrats…