The head of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce of (WBCC) says no elective office holder or candidate should be invited to speak to churches, clubs or groups, and family members if they’re unwilling to address issues directly impacting the Black community. “You will not get the Black community’s vote if you do not serve the Black community’s interests,” declared Reuben Hopkins, chair-man/CEO of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in a statement released Wednesday aimed at incumbent lawmakers and office seekers who have their eyes set on the coming spring primary and general elections scheduled for February 18 and April 1 resepctively. The focus of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce is Black business development and quality of life issues in areas where Black people live, work and play. Hopkins is of the belief political leaders who represent district’s within the Black community--and those who want to replace them--must go beyond “articulating the issues.” They must have doable, realistic plans and the commitment to push them to improve the economic, educational, health and social outcomes of the community. To that end, Hopkins suggests Black organizations, churches and other entities doing their best to improve conditions within the community send--with an invite to speak to them--a list of 10 questions he said every candidate should be able to answer if they want the Black vote (including incumbents). The 10 questions are: 1) What will you do to increase Black Business development in the places where Black people live, work and play? 2) Do you believe that Black people should be the largest employer of Black people? What will you do to help? 3) Where do you stand on the City of Milwaukee fully funding an effective Equal Rights Commission? 4) Where do you stand on the County of Milwaukee fully funding an effective Commission on Human Rights? 5) What Civil Rights legislation enforcement have you pushed and what happened to it? 6) The State of Wisconsin has failed to meet it's Minority participation goals year after year. How can the state do a better job and be held more accountable? 7) It was recently revealed that the City of Milwaukee's Housing Authority failed to comply with federal regulations on hiring low income workers for the $82 million Westlawn renovation project. Should someone be fired for this failure? Who is responsible for this failure? 8) Both Democrats and Republicans continue to fail the Black community. What political party do you think best servers the Black Community? What proof do you have? 9) Why is there no black organization that does micro lending in the black community? 10) (Add your additional questions here.) “Make sure these questions are part of any candidates forums or debates,” Hopkins said. “And make sure the candidate who is asking for your vote address these issues (if they are elected or reelected to office). But Hopkins stressed candidates just answering these questions in public or at a forum is not enough. He said voters should make the candidate commit to solving the issues the community faces in writing for the record. “Force them to answer these questions,” Hopkins said. Go to their websites and look at where they stand. Attend forums and ask questions.”
Lauri Wynn honored with CBC James H. Baker Award Educator, union leader and civil rights activist Lauri Wynn (seated far right) poses with family and friends after she received the James Howard Baker Award from the Community Brainstorming Conference for her work and commitment to the community. The event was held at the Radisson Milwaukee North Shore Hotel, 7065 N. Port Washington Road.
Jason Pitt – Midwest Regional Press Secretary Democratic National Committee
Governor Scott Walker continued to make excuses for his refusal to expand Medicaid coverage. Walker’s continued to rejection of federal Medicaid funds, will cost Wisconsin taxpayers $119 million and 120,000 people in his home state will continue
to be uninsured.
Wisconsin is tired of the excuses. When will Walker put people over politics and show some leadership?
Walker’s Decision To Reject Federal Medicaid Expansion Funds Will Cost Wisconsin Taxpayers $119 Million. Wisconsin Center For Investigative Journalism on the budget Scott Walker signed: “Additional amount state taxpayers will pay because of the decision by the Walker administration, backed by the GOP-controlled Legislature, to reject available federal funds for Medicaid expansion, as estimated by the fiscal bureau: $119 million.”
[Wisconsin Center For Investigative Journalism, 7/2/13<http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2013/07/02/the-state-budget-by-the-numbers/>;
Legislative Fiscal Bureau REPORT <http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/budget/201315%20Budget/Documents/Budget%20Papers/321.pdf>]
Walker’s Failure To Expand Medicaid Will Leave 120,000 People In Wisconsin Without Access To Affordable Health Insurance. [Press Release, WhiteHouse, 11/6/13<http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/medicaid-map>]
The Greater Milwaukee Human Trafficking Task Force claimed a victory earlier this week as they were one of several public and private entities instrumental in successfully persuading a Milwaukee Common Council committee in voting 5-0 against issuing an entertainment license to Silk Entertainment to open a strip club in the city's Third Ward. "One down...this victory shows that when we show up and speak out we are heard," said Dana World-Patterson, chairwoman of the Human Trafficking Task Force, in a statement. "But it doesn't stop here. This is only the beginning. World-Patterson thanked task force members and supporters who showed up for the hearing, as well as those who helped prepare testimony.
November 7, 2013 — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed the 2014 City Budget Thursday, a plan that invests in neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures, allocates money for new neighborhood libraries, hires 120 police officers, and increases funds to improve roadways through the high-impact street program.
The overall plan calls for spending $1.4-billion, $54-million less than last year. With a 1.4% increase in the tax levy, the average residential property will see taxes and fees rise $16.94. The Mayor signed the budget without vetoing any of the modest revisions passed by the Milwaukee Common Council.
“We have worked cooperatively with the Common Council to finalize a budget that protects taxpayers and keeps this government on a fiscally responsible track,” Mayor Barrett said. “I want to thank President Willie Hines, Finance Committee Chair Michael Murphy, and all the Council members for their thoughtful work.”
Mayor Barrett signed the budget in a city-owned, tax-foreclosed property at 3417 North Sherman Boulevard to highlight one of the most important initiatives in next year’s budget, the Strong Neighborhoods Investment Plan. This $11.7-million initiative uses a set of strategies to prevent and mitigate the negative effects of foreclosures as well as revitalize and renew impacted properties and neighborhoods.
“This is a beautiful house in a neighborhood with inherent strength. It ought to be a family’s home once again, and that is what my Strong Neighborhoods Investment Plan aims to accomplish here and at hundreds of other foreclosed houses in Milwaukee,” Mayor Barrett said.
The Mayor’s original proposal to hire 100 police officers next year was amended by the Council to increase that number to 120. The budget includes conversion of some federally funded police positions to local funding, and, with anticipated retirements, the overall number of police officers in Milwaukee will increase slightly.
The budget includes a significant financial commitment to neighborhood libraries. Funds are included to initiate replacement of both Forest Home Library and Mill Road Library, and the budget also includes funding for a renovation of Tippecanoe Library.
The budget includes infrastructure investments in bridges, streets, and lighting. It supports economic development efforts at Century City and the Reed Street Yards, and it includes health department initiatives to reduce infant mortality.
“We have thoughtfully managed our financial obligations so that important city services are provided, infrastructure is maintained, and we are not pushing debt or pension obligations off to the future,” Mayor Barrett said. “Milwaukee has a lot of strengths, and this budget builds on those strengths.”
By Brendan O’Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – A federal trial to determine whether Wisconsin’s controversial voter identification law discriminates against minorities is scheduled to begin on Monday in a case seen as a possible precedent for similar laws in other states.
Voter ID laws – which require government-issued identification before voting – have become a political and racial flashpoint across the United States. Democrats generally oppose the measures and many Republicans back them.
The trial in Milwaukee combines two federal lawsuits filed on behalf of dozens of individual voters by several organizations including the League of United Latin American Citizens, Milwaukee Area Labor Council and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“As the leading democracy of the world, the U.S. should work to keep our voting system free, fair, and accessible to all Americans,” said Penda Hair, a director at the Advancement Project, an organization that helped bring the suits to be heard by the federal court. “Yet we are witnessing the greatest assault on voting rights in decades.”
About three dozen U.S. states have passed laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls. Supporters say the measures prevent election fraud while critics contend the laws make it harder for low-income and minority citizens to vote.
In August, the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas, accusing state lawmakers of denying racial minorities the right to vote. During the same month, an appellate court blocked Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on similar grounds.
The Wisconsin measure, passed in 2011 by a Republican-controlled legislature, requires voters to present photo identification such as a driver’s license at polling places for federal, state and local elections.
Supporters say it prevents voter fraud by requiring would-be voters to prove that they are citizens and are registered to vote.
The law helps prevent fraud “by making it much more difficult for those who commit voter fraud to pose as registered voters or register under fictitious names,” said Republican Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in a 2011 memo to lawmakers before the law was passed.
The federal suit accuses the state of violating the Voting Rights Act, which bars voting practices that discriminate based on race.
According to one of the complaints, blacks and Latinos are “far less likely” than whites to have a drivers license and are less likely to obtain identification and “face difficulties in doing so.”
As a result, the law requiring voters to show identification to cast a ballot “makes it significantly more difficult for members of these groups to vote and thereby suppresses their vote,” the complaint said.
Altogether, four lawsuits have been filed against the voter identification law in Wisconsin, two in federal court and two in state court.
In one of the state cases, implementation of the law was blocked by a circuit court judge, though it is now on appeal. In the other state case, the Wisconsin Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the law, overturning a lower court ruling that struck it down.
It is not immediately clear how a decision in the federal trial will affect the state cases.
The voter identification law was not in effect during two key recent elections – the general election in November, 2012, nor the election in June, 2012, when Republican Governor Scott Walker survived an attempt to recall him from office.
November 1, 2013 – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking Governor Scott Walker to delay changes in the state’s BadgerCare program so that an estimated 92,000 people have a reasonable opportunity to enroll in a health insurance plan through the new Affordable Care Act (ACA). Problems with the new federal marketplace have created enrollment impediments likely to keep thousands of people losing BadgerCare coverage from finding alternatives. “The simple solution to this problem is to postpone implementation of all BadgerCare changes until March 31, 2014,” Mayor Barrett wrote to the Governor. “This action would be consistent with the intent of the Joint Finance Committee when it amended the Budget Bill.” That Wisconsin legislative committee previously called for such a delay if ACA enrollment was not proceeding as expected. The Mayor said BadgerCare recipients should not lose their coverage as the result of unforeseen circumstances. In his letter, the Mayor made it clear he is not arguing the merits of either the ACA or the decision by state officials to change BadgerCare. He said this is all about the well-being of vulnerable people who are likely to lose healthcare coverage. The tens-of-thousands of people across Wisconsin who are required to leave BadgerCare have until mid-December to find alternative coverage. That is the federal deadline for obtaining ACA coverage by January 1st. Federal officials have estimated the online enrollment problems should be resolved later this month, however, no firm date has been established for repairs to the system.
Madison—Wisconsin State Reps. Leon D. Young and LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee introduced Tuesday a bill (LRB 3309) for co-sponsorship that will benefit victims of human trafficking by allowing them the opportunity to petition the courts and have their records expunged when the charges brought against them are directly linked to them being trafficked. The following statement was released after announcing this newly proposed legislation: “Human trafficking is a growing concern in the state and it is time to start rethinking the issue and providing some relief to those who are unfortunately forced into this servitude,” Young said in a statement. “Our proposal is modeled after legislation recently passed in Florida and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott who labeled human trafficking a form of ‘modern day slavery.’ Young said Wisconsin recognizes the urgency with human trafficking and the need to tackle the issue from every angle possible. Senator Harris and Representative LaTonya Johnson have also circulated a bill (LRB 3168) for co-sponsorship, which seeks to change the definition of human trafficking. The state legislator added, under current law, prosecutors have too often fallen short of convicting traffickers due to the condition that prosecutors must prove the trafficking was done without the victim’s consent. “This is clearly problematic because there is often a substantial level of mental manipulation on behalf of the trafficker,” Young said. “With the successful passage of LRB 3309 and LRB 3168, I believe we will be in a better position to confront the practice of human trafficking. We can hold more traffickers accountable while deterring others, and we can also help rebuild the integrity of those trafficked, putting them in a position to help other victims.”
CITY HALL--The Common Council recently approved a resolution establishing Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week in Milwaukee every year during the first week in May. The resolution, authored by Ald. Milele A. Coggs, was recommended for approval by the Council’s Public Safety Committee on October 3. The measure--co-sponsored by Aldermen Joe Davis, Sr., Jim Bohl, and Robert Puente--sets the inaugural Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week during the first week of May 2014. Coggs said she was moved by the family of Vinencia Dawson, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 30 of this year (family and friends of Dawson testified on the resolution at committee and were in attendance when the measure was approved). “I think it’s important to not only establish Milwaukee as a leader in motorcycle safety, education and awarenss, but to also do what we can to help save lives and increase safety on our streets and roadways,” Coggs said. “In Vinencia’s honor and in honor of other motorcycle accident victims, I am hopeful that Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week will help reduce the number of motocycle accidents in Milwaukee by emphasizing how critical it is for drivers to be aware at all times of motorcycles on the roadways and to also recognize the importance of motocycle operator and passenger safety,” the alderwoman said. “I would like to sincerely thank the Dawson family for their willingness to publicly push for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week,” Coggs said. “I believe their wish to help create something positive for the community in the wake of the loss of their loved one, Vinencia, is truly admirable and worthy of our support.” According to the resolution, for the three year period of 2010-2012 there were 538 motocycle accidents in the city, including 14 fatal accidents. It also indicated that motocycle accidents have been on the rise in Wisconsin for the past several years.
Article compiled from a WITI Fox 6 News Report and a Neighborhood News Service article
Much-needed policy or heavy-handed lawmaking? That is the debate surrounding proposals to charge mothers with a felony if their children die while co-sleeping, and if it is discovered the child’s mother was intoxicated. Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan says it is simple. If an infant dies because she was co-sleeping, and the parent was intoxicated, criminal charges should be filed. “If this isn’t child neglect, I sure as hell don’t know what is!,” Ald. Donovan said Tuesday inwhich he called for the criminalization of co-sleeping. “We don’t need more restorative justice. We don’t need more hand-holding. We don’t need more parenting classes. We don’t need more free cribs. The answer – what we DO need – is pure and simple: JAIL,”
Donovan said in a press statement.
“There doesn’t appear to be the kind of outrage that I think needs to occur in this city. I will simply say this: if any one of those infants would have died in police custody, we would see the city turned upside down,” Alderman Donovan said. A few weeks ago Samantha Kerkman, a state representative from Kenosha County, proposed a state law that would charge parents with a felony if their kids died due to co-sleeping and the parents were either drunk or high. According to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, 13 babies have died in Milwaukee County because they were placed in an unsafe sleeping environment. The Medical Examiner’s office doesn’t distinguish specific instances of co-sleeping. Rather, they are included in the category of “unsafe sleeping environments.”
Infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments make up approximately 15 to 20 percent of all infant deaths in the city.
State statistics show that Black babies born in Milwaukee die at a rate that is three times higher than that of White babies. In some city neighborhoods, the infant mortality rate (death of a baby before it reaches his/her first birthday) is comparable to underdeveloped countries.
Clarene Mitchell at the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin (BHCW) says lawmakers behind the proposals are missing the big picture.
“There’s larger issues that – yes there should be outrage – but there should be outrage at the larger societal issues that are feeding into this,” Mitchell said in a Fox6 report Tuesday. Mitchell, who is the BHCW’s director of collaboration and communication, said co-sleeping isn’t the only culprit responsible for the high number of infant deaths the last several years.
She listed a number of factors that lead to infant mortality:
• The lack of affordable and decent housing
• Extreme unemployment
• Poor educational outcomes
• The lack of coverage and access to health care
• Prevelance and impact of violence in economically depressed neighborhoods
“Where you live, work and play impacts the quality of ones overall life and health,” Mitchell said. Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Health agrees with Mitchell. “We need to make certain that we come to the table with resources and other solutions other than criminalizing every process that we don’t fully understand,” Bevan Baker said on the television news report. For the last two years, Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin has been partnering with UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Partnership Program to implement a program encompassing Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Beloit that would address infant deaths. Called the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF), the program’s goal is to help reduce Black infant mortality in Milwaukee and the other aforementioned cities in southeastern Wisconsin.
The three key goals of the Milwaukee LIHF initiative is:
• Improving healthcare for African American families by expanding healthcare access over the “Life-course”
•Strengthening African American families and communities by increasing the fathers’ involvement
• Addressing social determinants of health by reducing poverty among African American families.
Alderman Donovan says the proposed law isn’t only about preventing future deaths, but is also about the infants who have already been lost.
“Is holding someone accountable for murder going to end all homicides? No, but justice is done,” Alderman Donovan said.
On Wednesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined two of Milwaukee’s leaders in safe sleep education, the Milwaukee Fire Department and City of Milwaukee Health Department, in bringing a message about safe sleep practices directly to Milwaukee residents.
“While we have made progress in reducing Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate, we continue to see a disheartening number of infant deaths in our city,” said Mayor Barrett. “Infant deaths related to unsafe sleep are preventable, and continuing our door-to-door effort will bring the safe sleep message directly into homes in our community.” The effort is part of Mayor Barrett’s goal to reduce the overall infant mortality rate in Milwaukee by 10 percent by 2017, while simultaneously reducing the African-American infant mortality rate by 15 percent in the same time period.