Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The State: In Brief

Women's Health
Last Friday, in an effort to avoid media, Governor Walker signed SB 206 (now Act 37) into law. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have successfully prevented Act 37 from going into law . . . for now. There will be more court dates, and the women's healthcare will continue to be the source of nonsense from legislators bound by campaign contributions and an extremely small extremist base.
Penokee Hills Mining
GTec is at it again. After a corporation rewrote state statutes to mine without environmental regulation, enabling the pollution of drinking water and destruction of our northern landscape, GTec now has paramilitary defense around the site. Images have been circulating, as have stories.
(Small) Kudos to Walker
He vetoed bounty hunters. It's not as big as devastating public schools, women's health, huge corporate giveaways, a more regressive income tax or subsidizing religious education through tax incentives, but it's something.
Walker Is Optimistic About Jobs
Our economic outlook is still being choked by legislators making sure people are kicked off BadgerCare, women are second-class citizens, government approved religion being accepted by all and a quasi-private economic development system that has proven waste, fraud and abuse exist within Republican government programs. But don't worry, Walker Is feeling optimistic.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Doublespeak from Sen. Mike Ellis

Mr. Ellis, Which Side of Your Mouth Votes?

Vouchers were a heavily debated part of the budget process. I attended listening sessions held by Reps. Bernard Schaber & Hintz where they answered questions about the program without resorting to name calling, fact falsification or anger. I also attended a session with Rep. Bernard Schaber & Sen. Ellis where I cannot say the same thing about his behavior. While he threw accusations at Rep. Bernard Schaber & left visibly upset, yelling at the voters, he did make one thing clear: He did not support Special Needs Vouchers. That was good, but not the end of the voucher issue in Wisconsin.

Sen. Ellis has also made comments saying he supports an expanded voucher system:
"What we need to do when we're done with this bill is modify it so that a segment of the school district may move into this program and not the whole district," Ellis said in the recording from 2012. "Green Bay East is fine, West is fine, Preble's a sewer. They have the poverty possum." 
Sen. Ellis has also made comments saying he opposes an expanded voucher system:
‘Here's the bottom line: The voucher program stinks,’ Ellis says. (Milwaukee JS, May 4, 2013) He clarified this statement in a letter included in the link, saying he did not mean the systems in Milwaukee & Racine. Make no mistake, Ellis thinks an expanded voucher program stinks. 
By the first week of June the rhetoric had changed"We've worked out a compromise on the voucher subject," Ellis said. "I am satisfied with the plan. I do not anticipate a breach in the Republican ranks."  
Where does Sen. Ellis fall? He says the voucher program stinks. He has awful things to say about Green Bay Preble showing just how out of touch he is with reality & a complete lack of decency. Will the real Mike Ellis please stand up? Then we get to earlier this month & Ellis shows his true color by hedging his bet. He says a compromise is reached. That compromise ultimately results in expanding vouchers to every school in Wisconsin. How many sides does his mouth have?

But perhaps I'm being too rash in my conclusion, too abrasive in my characterization of a public education butcher. He has said he opposes school voucher expansion. But then again he had said he opposes Act 10. His rhetoric seems pleasant. But we know where his votes have been. Ellis did vote for Act 10.

Sen. Ellis has suggested a public referendum be held before expanding vouchers, but voted against a Democratic amendment to the budget allowing exactly that. Mr. Ellis, which side of your mouth votes?

He nominally worked to negotiate a limited voucher expansion system that would prevent vouchers from affecting his district but completely sold out students, teachers, administrators, parents & taxpayers in Menasha, Kaukauna & Hortonville who were below the initial threshold. Mr. Ellis, which side of your mouth votes?

In a completely phony effort to distract voters, Ellis argued for priority funding of public education, yet the token increase in public education spending is made even more meaningless by the vast expansion of the voucher program & the drastic, unnecessary public education cuts Ellis voted for in the last biennium budget & efforts by the Democrats to increase the funding were turned down by public education butchers. Mr. Ellis, which side of your mouth votes?

Sen. Ellis seems to have a history of saying he's on the side of people, but ultimately crawling back to march in perfect timing with the extremist Republicans running the state government. Two years ago, Ellis was critical of Act 10, but when push came to shove, Ellis voted against his word & with the Republicans. Ellis was critical of many aspects of vouchers but when it came time to cast a vote, which side of his mouth voted?

Ellis goes around saying he'll defy Republicans with their extreme views but does he act on that rhetoric? Absolutely not! He's too scared to represent the PEOPLE of Neenah, Menasha, Winneconne & Appleton.

Do not let his empty rhetoric make a fool of you the way it makes a fool of him. Ellis is afraid to stand up to the special interests that fund his campaigns. Ellis is afraid because his votes are so terrible for his district & Wisconsin. Ellis is afraid because he can't vote for his district & maintain his leadership position. Ellis is afraid because his time in office is coming to an end.

But maybe I'm wrong about that.

Perhaps Sen. Ellis had his mind changed by intelligent discussion, civil discourse & honest debate. I doubt it. It would certainly not be in line with Sen. Ellis' behavior on SB 206 or in his conversation about GB Preble.

Perhaps Sen. Ellis was convinced by the pro-voucher billboards depicting him as Pharaoh. If that's the case, where is his backbone? Who does he really represent?

Perhaps Sen. Ellis decided he needed to insulate himself from a primary on the right.

Perhaps Sen. Ellis is just a bad legislator.

I think that last point is it. Ellis is a bad legislator. He doesn't represent the people of the 19th Senate District. Ellis has put on the same charade that we've grown used to. Which side of his mouth votes? It's certainly not the one he uses to talk to constituents. He says one thing in-district but when it comes time to further his career, he always listens to where the money comes from, not the voters & he listens to what the Republicans tell him to do, not the voters.

Koby Schellenger
Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Parochial School Tax Deductions

I'm pretty sure April 15th is the best day for accountants, calculator sales, the Postal Service & headache medicine! There are tax deductions (Wisconsin taxes specifically) for everything from home mortgage interest, property taxes, rent, medical & dental expenses to charitable donations & more. That's just for individuals. When you start to add in deductions businesses can take some really funky numbers come up. (Just wait until the Manufacturing & Agricultural Tax Credit is implemented & the proprietor of Pacur pays 0.15% tax on income). 

These tax deductions (as well as their counterparts on the Federal side) are often created to help people keep more of their income to pay for things that are needed, like medical care or rent. Some, like the American Opportunities Credit (originally proposed by President Obama) help families afford college tuition & fade out as income surpasses certain levels. This phase out helps concentrate the credit on working families. (Cue the menacing movie music)

Republicans in Wisconsin have pushed a budget provision that allows a tax deduction for private school tuition (K-12) in addition to funding private schools at the expense of public schools. Now Wisconsin is far from a pioneer in offering a tax benefit for private school tuition, but it is pioneering the charge in giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest while gutting public education & sticking it to the working class. 

Eleven other states offer a tax deduction but they are all limited in the amount provided to a level far lower than Wisconsin & most have a requirement that the scholarship goes to low-income students. Rest assured, Wisconsin Republicans won't be followers! They are leaders in sending education off a cliff. The proposed credit offers a $4000 deduction for elementary school kids & $10,000 for high school students. Unlike the American Opportunities Credit, which phases out as income rises, Republicans are offering this to anyone, regardless of how much they make. Should someone making $1,000,000 receive a deduction that amounts to $765 because they choose to send a child to a private high school while these same legislators are gutting public education through the "Act 10 Tools" & funding private school vouchers?

Sure, it's easy to say Republicans have added $150 per pupil in spending to public schools. But make no mistake, this comes on the heels of Republicans slashing spending by $550 per pupil in the last Biennium Budget Campaign Contribution Payback. It comes on the heels of cutting Wisconsin's Homestead Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, a laughable $2 per week tax cut for working families, a flatter tax system, handouts left & right for big, corporate businesses while using WEDC to make redistricting look transparent & fair by comparison. 

Do we need more giveaways to the wealthy? Do we need more money pulled out of our state coffers to fund private schools? 

Did I mention that the latest estimates of the budget show a $500 million DEFICIT? So much for fiscal responsibility-it's about rewarding wealthy donors, Anti-Choice groups & self-preservation of politicians. 

Koby Schellenger
Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wisconsin Nice =/= Mike Ellis

Below is a video of the conclusion of the 6/12 Wisconsin Senate debate on SB 206. My comments on the bill were noted on Monday. Wednesday, Senate President Mike Ellis proved beyond a shadow of a doubt just how classless he is, just how out of touch he is & just how much he MUST be replaced. 

There's a longstanding tradition of "Wisconsin Nice" that is recognized nationwide. Sen. Mike Ellis is an extreme ideologue who, when faced with opposition to his tinted vision, can do nothing but bang his gavel & yell at Democrats. Listen to what he's saying & read between the lines. He's telling Democratic Senators that their constituents don't matter. He's telling women they don't even get a full debate about the future of their health care decisions (even though this decision was made by a majority of men). 

So where is "Wisconsin Nice" in state government? Perhaps it's in Representative Michael Schraa's new gun bill which prevents local law enforcement from enforcing federal laws & allows the manufacture & sale of ANY firearm in Wisconsin. Or maybe we should look at his Twitter feed where he insults constituents regularly. I doubt that's "Wisconsin Nice". Maybe the nice part comes when you aren't the one with the weapon that is illegal in 49 states & every industrialized nation in the world but Rep. Schraa says it's ok for the other person to have it. That's when you play nice. 

I don't think we're going to find "Wisconsin Nice" by continuing to examine the right wrong side of the aisle. 

So you're upset that women's health is ignored. 
So you're upset that 40 years of upheld Supreme Court rulings are ignored so Scott Walker can pad his Presidential resume.
So you're upset that respect & dignity have left OUR Capitol quicker than Ellis lost his temper.
We are canvassing in Neenah, Menasha & Winneconne Saturday June 15th & June 17th-23rd in a display of "Wisconsin Nice" to contrast Sen. Ellis' outrageous & embarrassing behavior. 

Send me an email & tell me you know what Wisconsin Nice is all about & you want to canvass or make phone calls. Don't get mad, get nice!

Koby Schellenger
Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SB 206: Please See Dr. Big Government, Referal by Small Gov't Republicans

The claims by prominent Republicans of the value of small government or local control have been made for years. But the legislative agenda hasn't always matched up. Sure, state Republicans have limited or eliminated tax credits for working families, food share benefits, unemployment benefits, educational opportunities & social justice issues. But at the same time they have been more than willing to give manufacturers a tax credit which will require a 0.15% tax rate on profits (1/28th that of a min. wage worker), fight to retain the "Vegas-loophole" to retain corporate welfare in Wisconsin & create two sets of rules for our schools that comes along with public money funding private schools.

Senator Mary Lazich (co-sponsor Representative Michael Schraa) & her extreme cohorts have introduced SB 206 which falls right in line with the Republican idea of small government: No government for businesses, massive intrusive government for actual people. SB 206 creates a litany of unscientific hurdles to accessing abortions in Wisconsin. Make no mistake, this is not a bill designed to protect anyone or make anyone safer. It is the work of extremists who believe that their position is superior to that of a Supreme Court ruling that has withstood 40 years of perpetual assault. Among other things, SB 206 infringes upon the ability of a woman to control her medical care by:

  • Requiring an ultrasound to be performed before obtaining an abortion. 
  • Requires the technician to impose a series of diagnostic information putting the State Government directly between the patient & her doctor during an ultrasound including (directly from the bill text):
    • Display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them
    • Provide a medical description of the ultrasound images including the dimensions of the unborn child and a description of any viewable external features & internal organs of the unborn child
    • Provide a means for the pregnant woman to visualize any fetal heartbeat
    • Requires that as part of the information a physician must provide a pregnant woman at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed or induced.
  • Requires any physician to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles. (This will force Planned Parenthood to close it's facility in Appleton)
These draconian coercion tactics by Republicans are abhorrent. There must be an educational process before obtaining an abortion but not before getting a concealed carry license. There is a waiting period for medical care, not grounded in medical research but in subordination of our system of government, but Republicans will fight to the end to ensure you can walk out of a gun show with a firearm that day, no background check, no questions asked. They will scream until they are blue red in the face about (& flush with PAC contributions) about waste, fraud & abuse in Medicaid but are forcing unnecessary procedures on women. 

Hypocrisy, thy party is Republican. 

What this comes down to, is do we have a right to our own medical care? Are you going to sit & watch the state government pop their head into the exam room to check up on you? To coerce women into holding the same morals as Mary Lazich? I'm not. I'm calling Senator Mike Ellis today & telling him we will not stand for this. Call Sen. Ellis at 608-266-0718 NOW!

Koby Schellenger
Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair

Monday, June 10, 2013

Post Convention Debrief and Rejuvenation

The speakers are some and they were great!  The resolutions debated, caucuses met, hospitality suites reunited old friends and brought new ones together. The elections are over. Now what?

Now we get to work. If there's one thing we learned from the speakers last weekend it's that none of them got where they are without help--be it Russ Feingold or Tammy Baldwin, Julian Castro or Sheila Stubbs. Today is the day Winnebago County Dems starts helping our Sheila Stubbs our Julian Castros, our Tammy Baldwins and our Russ Feingolds!

Come to the June meeting at 7pm at the Delta in Oshkosh or call Koby Schellenger at 920-420-6787.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The WCDP Is Asking...Are You Answering?

We are looking for people who can contribute a couple hours a month to strengthening the Winnebago County Democrats. We need people to join the membership, volunteers & event committees. 

The Membership Committee works to remind members when their membership is due as well as finding new members in the community. Membership is the backbone of a strong party!

The Volunteers Committee maintains our strong voter contact program & sets the table for success in 2014.

The Events Committee organizes parades (which means candy!!!) the corn roast & other events as necessary.

We are asking for a few hours a month. Please fill out the form below & you will be connected with the committee to begin propelling us to victory in 2014!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Special Meeting: April 24th

Upon the written petition of 10 members, a special meeting has been called by the County Chair, Koby Schellenger. The meeting will be held on April 24th at 7 PM at the Delta on Sawyer St. Per Article XI, Section 2 of our Constitution, the petition is to include a specific agenda. The petition read as follows:

"Petition to hold a special meeting for the second reading of the Constitution in two weeks."

For those unable to attend the General Membership meeting on April 10th, we read & ratified the Constitution that was recently passed out of committee. We are required to read & ratify the Constitution at two consecutive meetings before sending it to the State Party for final approval. 

Members who were unable to attend the last meeting & would like to obtain a copy, you may email Koby Schellenger. Amendments must be submitted in advance of the meeting to the County Secretary, Kara Anderson winnebagodemocratswi@gmail.com. Amendments will only be considered that are received by 5 PM on April 24th, contain the full text of the section or subsection for which you are proposing an amendment. If you have any questions, feel free to email Koby or Kara or call Koby at 920-420-6787.

-Koby Schellenger
Winnebago Democrats County Chair

Friday, February 1, 2013

Democratic Jobs Bill

Yesterday, Democratic Leadership in Madison set out a Jobs Package to correct the total jobs failure of the Republican Leadership & Scott Walker. Despite promises to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term, Scott Walker has dragged Wisconsin down to 42nd in job creation. The time for action is NOW. We can't sit around waiting any longer.

Republican Leaders ignored bipartisan jobs bills last session & the partisanship demonstrated on such a fundamental issue to so many of us makes the Democratic package that much sweeter. To make matters worse, Republicans abandoned true jobs bills in favor of massive special interest giveaways & ideological crusades which have no impact on the jobs market.

It's a good day to be a Democrat. It's great to have leadership that understands that we have to work hard to close the skills gap for employees which has widened under Scott Walker. It's empowering that the Democrats plan will make it easier for Wisconsin companies to get investments allowing existing small businesses & manufacturers to stay open, stay in Wisconsin & expand. Opening up investments means Wisconsin is more attractive for businesses to relocate or small businesses to start up here.

Don't let this day go to waste. Tell your friends, neighbors & papers why you support the Democratic Jobs Package!

February 13th-WCDP Meeting, 7pm, Delta
February 19th-State Supreme Court Primary
March 9th-Indigo Dinner (buy your tickets now)

Friday, December 21, 2012

January 19th: Day of Service

Members & Friends of the Winnebago County Democrats, our President has called for a day of service on January 19th, two days prior to President Barack Obama being sworn in for a second term.

During the campaign, our candidates spoke about how they want to improve citizens lives with sensible, honorable & helpful policies. We supported equal rights, financial accountability & oversight, access to health care & more. At our last meeting I asked for a collection of children's toys & non-perishable food to help our community during the holiday season. Our effort was outstanding! But improving our community doesn't end with a can of soup or a game of Battleship. We must continue to lead by example.

We are putting together service opportunities within the community for January 19th & are looking for help. I know this is a tough time of year to put something on your calendar, but this is our first post-election chance as an organization to live up to the promises we spoke of for months leading up to the November 6th. Do you know of an organization that could use a few extra helping hands? Can you lend a hand & be a leader? Email me at koby.schellenger@gmail.com if you commit to helping out!

Thank you!
Koby Schellenger

Authorized and Paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party – Evelyn Rieckmann, Treasurer