The 2011 valedictorians and salutatorians of the various MPS high schools don their caps and gowns for the official group portrait. Congratulations to the 2011 graduates!
by Patti Wenzel, Third Coast Digest
he Joint Finance Committee has finished their work on the 2011-13 biennial budget, making alterations to Gov. Scott Walker’s original proposal. And while the Republican-dominated committee kept and even expanded some of Walker’s proposals, they did reverse some of the cuts.
The completed document didn’t come easy. Thousands of citizens attended four public hearings around the state, including protesters who disrupted a committee last week. At the meeting, a group of protesters (including several prominent community leaders) took turns reading the state and federal constitution while being dragged from the meeting room by state police.
Voces de la Frontera, a immigrants rights group, put out a call for more protesters throughout the week.
“It is imperative for us to return to the Capitol to continue to take action against the passage of this destructive budget,” the group’s website read. “The action yesterday is a call to you to join us at the Joint Finance Committee meeting today and every day that it reconvenes.”
Walker sought to expand school choice in Milwaukee by lifting enrollment limits, expanding income eligibility limits and opening up the program to all private schools within Milwaukee County. The JFC carried through with these proposals by increasing the income eligibility for Milwaukee Parental School Choice from 175% of the federal poverty line for new students ($38,937 for a family of four) and 225% of the FPL for continuing students to 300% of the FPL across the board. That translates into an annual income for a family of four of $75,000 being able to attend a choice school and receive a taxpayer voucher to do so.
Then the committee voted along partisan lines to also expand choice into new districts – Racine and Green Bay. Students in the Racine Unified School District (essentially the eastern half of Racine County) will be able to enroll in private and parochial schools beginning this fall at taxpayer expense. During the first year enrollment will be limited to 250 students; in year two enrollment increases to 500; in year three and beyond enrollment is unlimited.
Parental School Choice could also start as early as this fall in Green Bay if advocates can gather signatures totaling 25 percent of the student population of the district. The enrollment plan would be the same as Racine’s and income eligibility would be the same as Milwaukee’s.
Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee), one of four Democratic members of the JFC, questioned the idea of moving more money into the school choice program when public education funding is being cut by $700 million statewide.
Racine Unified School District Superintendent Jim Shaw said he doesn’t want choice in his district, saying that it will reduce the educational opportunities for children.
“School vouchers have been call ‘a dagger in the heart of public education’ and I think there’s some truth to that.”
He cited the March 2011 report that demonstrated Milwaukee choice students did no better than Milwaukee public school students academically. He added that the $6,000 voucher payment is taken away from the public school district, which hurts the students left behind and district taxpayers.
But JFC Co-Chair Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said even the Democrats didn’t eliminate school choice when they were in power.
“School choice is not a panacea, but it is better than the status quo,” he added.
Walker originally called for $800 million in public school aid cuts, including the elimination of school nurses, Advanced Placement courses and extra science, technology and math classes. The JFC restored $100 million of funding over the next two years, with no direction as to where the funds should go. Vos called the action “the restoration of public education funding.”
Walker also proposed breaking UW-Madison away from the UW System, making it an independent university with its own board of regents. That move would have allowed the school to independently control tuition, contracts and costs. The proposal was met with resistance from other UW schools and politicians, who said the move would lead to a two-tiered public university system across the state and make it more difficult for Wisconsin residents to enter the state’s flagship school.
Instead, the JFC adopted a block grant system for all UW campuses allocated by the UW Board of Regents. Each campus could spend the funds as they choose. Vos said any savings the individual schools would realize, such as energy savings, would be kept by the individual campuses.
UW System schools as a whole will still see $250 million in cuts as proposed by Walker, but the block grants will spread the cuts around to all the campuses more evenly. The Board of Regents would also be blocked from raising undergraduate tuition by more than 5.5 percent in each of the next two years.
Democrats were pleased to keep the university system intact, but worried that the $250 million cut would make it difficult for the system to maintain its academic standards.
“We’re saying (the system is) exceptional right now, so we need to be careful about how we’re treating it,” Grigsby said.
On a party-line vote, the JFC gave more to veteran public safety workers, by extending the exemption from pension and health insurance contributions to non-union police and fire fighters, typically management level officers. But those same non-union workers would not be able to bargain for the choice or design of their health insurance plan.
Then the JFC swung away from Walker’s complete exemption of police and fire fighters from the collective bargaining cuts, by requiring all newly hired public safety officers or officers who take a promotion when transferring to a new department to be under the same bargaining restrictions of other state and municipal employees.
They also proposed that any arbitration between public safety unions and communities put the greatest weight on local economic conditions when determining contracts.
Wisconsin Works (W-2)
Walker’s proposal to reduce the monthly W-2 payment by $20 (to $653 per month) made it through the committee along with a reduction to 24 months for participation in the program. The current federal time limit to receive benefits is five years.
The JFC also adopted the proposal that would allow the state to cut benefits without explanation to W-2 participants who violate work or education requirements; cut benefits without determining whether the participant is simply refusing to do so or has a good cause for violating requirements; eliminate any grace period when removing someone from the W-2 rolls, and reduce the amount of hours allowed in the educational programs to 12 per week.
The committee restored the W-2 job ready category to the program, where participants could receive job search assistance but no monetary payments.
Opponents to the job-ready category say the poor economy makes it even harder for people to find employment, even if they have an education or job history.
The JFC also maintained the Governor’s proposal to cut $20 million from Wisconsin Shares, the state’s child care program.
They also would require that the Department of Children and Families reward counties, agencies or tribes that identify fraud in the program, prohibit a Wisconsin Shares recipient from any gains made by a child care provider to attract clients (such as payments to place a child in a certain care service) and prohibit payments of subsidies for a child who is also a parent of a child.
Child care providers will also be required to submit to fingerprinting, which the Department of Justice submit those prints to the FBI to verify identity and criminal records.
Vos and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) forwarded a provision that would provide individual and business tax credits for property assessed as manufacturing or agricultural. They said this will encourage people to “come to Wisconsin and make things.” The credit would be phased in over the next five years, with the state seeing reduced tax collections of $360 million.
The committee also approved Walker’s proposal to cut the Earned Income Credit from 14 percent to 11 percent for families with two children and from 43 percent to 34 percent for families with three or more children. The Wisconsin Council of Children and Families provided an example that a married couple with two children earning $32,500 annually would see a reduction of $162 in their EIC.
Grigsby referred to this move as “Robin Hood in reverse,” while committee co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said this will allow more funds to go towards corporate tax credits.
Darling added that corporate tax credit “is a major economic engine for the state and very much in keeping with our agenda” to create jobs.
Walker proposed eliminating all state funding grants for recycling, while keeping the mandate in place requiring all municipalities to continue the program. Objections to that idea came for community leaders on both sides of the aisle. Vos said that was a mistake and in response, the JFC restored $19 million to the recycling program.
A proposal not originating from the Governor’s office made it through the JFC to alter child labor laws. Currently, minors who work as domestics, farm laborers or election inspectors may not work more than 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week or during the time they are to be in school. The new provision would remove the occupation provisions and simply restrict minors from working during school hours, eliminating the cap on the total hours of work.
Grothman and Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade) received approval on a party line vote to prohibit the use of public funds to pay for abortions at UW Hospitals and Clinics. There are exceptions for medically necessary abortions to save the life of the mother, prevent long-term physical damage or victims of incest or rape. All four Democratic members of the JFC voted against the measure, saying the hospital has never done abortions and that it was a waste of time.
Darling inserted a provision to provide $6 million to the National Soldiers Home located in Milwaukee as part of the state’s building program. The building was constructed during the Civil War to care for wounded veterans.
The GOP-led committee approved a motion declaring Feb. 6 as Ronald W. Reagan Day to honor the late president as “a promoter of freedom and democracy throughout the world.”
Even though Mac Weddle didn’t found Northcott Neighborhood House Community Center, after spending his career there and becoming the ‘face’ of the Center, most people don’t know that it was actually founded by a woman named Wilma Hampel.
Weddle caught and embraced the vision that Hampel had for Northcott Neighborhood House, and carried out the seed that she planted more than 50 years ago. Today Northcott Neighborhood House, though most famously recognized as the coordinator of Juneteenth Day, serves more than 10,000 people a year in every capacity from operating Head Start Centers for children to get an early start on education, to offering a Fresh Start program to increase low income family home ownership and provide employment opportunities for the Milwaukee area. Northcott Neighborhood House also provides community Services that provide food, clothing, a computer lab, GED education, and summer activities for families.
One of Weddle’s most proud moments at Northcott Neighborhood House came when he witnessed former Governor Jim Doyle sign a proclamation making Juneteenth Day an official holiday in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is home to one of the largest and longest-running Juneteenth Day celebrations in the country, thanks to the tireless efforts of Weddle and his staff. Juneteenth Day started here in the 1970s and has grown over the years to an all-day festival that attracts thousands of people.
As executive director of the Northcott Neighborhood House, Weddle has been a major sponsor of Milwaukee’s annual Juneteenth Day celebration and worked diligently to get the holiday officially recognized for years. Weddle believed making the day an official holiday in Wisconsin was an effective way to spread information about black history throughout the state. But Weddle also understood it would be a tougher sell for smaller Wisconsin communities without significant black populations.
Thanks to Weddle’s diligence and commitment to Juneteenth Day and to the community, he has left Milwaukee with a legacy that will live on for years—one of the largest Juneteenth Day celebrations in the country.
Barbara Wyatt Sibley
Barbara Wyatt Sibley is a long-time civic and community activist; making her mark in the nonprofit and government sectors. A creative and thoughtful consensus-builder, Sibley currently serves as executive director of the Milwaukee Christian Center.
Sibley has held a number of high profile positions throughout Wisconsin. She worked as a regional manager for Time Warner Cable, and served as president and CEO at the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee. In 2006, former Governor Jim Doyle appointed her to the post of Deputy Secretary of the State of Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing.
Sibley has a degree in education from Alverno College, and she uses her teaching skills, business prowess and keen understanding of coalition building, to serve on the boards of Alverno College, Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton’s Wisconsin Women Equals Prosperity, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the WMCS 1290 Scholarship Fund and Community Care for the Elderly.
Sibley has received numerous accolades and awards for her tireless service, including the Service/Leadership Award from Alverno College, Volunteer of the Year at the YWCA and Community Leaders of the Girl Scouts of Milwaukee Area, Inc.
Speech (Todd Thomas)
Todd Thomas, better known by his stage name of Speech, is a homegrown two-time Grammy winning rapper who founded the 1990s group Arrested Development. One of the reasons that Arrested Development achieved such international stardom is that they offered a more positive, community-conscious, afro-centric alternative to negative rap music. The group respects women, promotes family, spirituality and male responsibility.
The group was the first African – American artists to donate money to Nelson Mandela and the ANC to help South Africans; they also donated $20,000 to UNICEF for relief in the Congo, they’ve done charity for homeless organizations, inner city youth organizations, women’s prisons, anti – human trafficking groups, schools, and universities across the globe.
Arrested Development’s debut album, “3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…” , pays homage to the length of time it took the group to get the album produced. It generated a number of hits, including “Tennessee,” “People Everyday” and “Mr. Wendal.” The inaugural album, which sold more than four million copies, won the group MTV music and video awards and Grammys for Best Rap Album and Best New Artist. Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed the group Band of the Year in 1993.
After graduating from Rufus King High School and relocating to Georgia in 1987 Speech attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. He later toured with US Vice President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton in the South during the 1996 United States Presidential election. Speech was also invited to and attended the inaugural celebrations. In November 1996, he toured with Hootie and the Blowfish.
With all of his success, Speech never forgot his roots. He grew up in Milwaukee and spent his childhood here and in Ripley, Tennessee. His mother, Patricia Pattillo, publisher of the Milwaukee Community Journal and his father, Robert Thomas, an entrepreneur most famous for Robby’s Roasted Corn at Summerfest, kept him grounded while encouraging him to spread his wings. In fact, when his father suffered a stroke several years ago, Speech stepped in to work at the Robby’s Roasted Corn concession stand, then changed clothes and performed on the Summerfest stage. Speech continues to work at the Summerfest concession stand, even planning his travel schedule around Summerfest when he tours with Arrested Development in the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia and the Middle East
Speech released his first book on September 18, 2009, called “What Is Success?” through Vagabond Records and Tapes (publisher). The book gives a practical guide for spiritual success based on Biblical scripture and personal experiences. And, last but not least, he helps lead a vibrant arts ministry called The Greater Atlanta Church of Christ (GACC).
Speech’s legacy goes beyond Milwaukee as he shares his talent, creativity, social consciousness and spiritual knowledge with the world.
Wisconsin first in nation to conduct statewide health check-up
The Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), is the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s new statewide research project. Every year, SHOW meets with Wisconsin residents from all over the state to measure their health. This summer, the survey teams will visit households in the Milwaukee area.
SHOW surveyors will knock on the doors of randomly selected households to complete a multi-step in-person health survey. SHOW combines personal interviews, laboratory tests, physical measurements, and community environmental measurements to gather important information on our health. The information that SHOW compiles will be made available to researchers who are interested in Wisconsin’s public health issues.
In order for SHOW’s health measurements to be truly representative of Wisconsin’s population, the survey randomly selects households from throughout the state. Roughly 1,200 households from neighborhoods around Wisconsin are invited to participate each year.
“SHOW aims to present a picture of the health of people in Wisconsin,”
said Dr. F. Javier Nieto of the University of Wisconsin’s School of
Medicine and Public Health and Director of SHOW. “Our vision is that the
information SHOW collects through the years will play an important role
in monitoring the health of Wisconsin people, and in guiding community
and statewide health services.”
Study participants will be interviewed in their homes,
and later have some brief physical measurements taken. All the individual information collected by SHOW will be kept confidential.
“SHOW will provide us with current health and prospective clinical
information never before available in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Henry
Anderson, Chief Medical Officer for the state Bureau of Environmental
and Occupational Health in the Division of Public Health. “The results
of this survey and clinical examinations will measure the current health status of all Wisconsin residents. This survey will make us better equipped to develop initiatives that will help make Wisconsin healthier than ever.”
The SHOW research project is modeled after the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which has provided key health information about the nation’s health for over 40 years. With the launch of SHOW, Wisconsin will be the first state to monitor the health of its residents with a survey of this magnitude. Using NHANES as a guide, SHOW is specially designed for the Wisconsin population by including regionally important health measures, such as local environment assessments and Great Lakes fish consumption.
SHOW is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute and by the University of Wisconsin’s Partnership for a
Healthy Future, which represents a far-reaching commitment by UW School
of Medicine and Public Health to greatly improve the health of people in Wisconsin for years to come.
The NMSBank staff and bank president at the Granville-Brown Deer location.
North Milwaukee State (NMS) Bank and WISN TV has fostered a successful working relationship throughout the years.
Recently, the television station acknowledged its appreciation in a delightful and savory way.
Last month, NMSBank was honored as WISN TV’s Business of the Week. NMSBank has had a relationship with WISN TV for nearly 10 years.
The station chose to honor NMSBank and show its appreciation of the existing relationship by delivering breakfast to the bank’s staff on May 13, to its Granville-Brown Deer location.
Moya Baylis, an account executive for the television station, stopped by the branch to meet and eat with staff. NMSBank Management Trainee Tiaira Johnson states, “Working with WISN TV has been one of the best professional experiences I’ve ever had.
“The staff members are very personable. I especially enjoyed working with the station’s sales and production team.
“They made my first production project at the station fun, while really developing the vision we had for our commercial. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”
NMSBank and WISN TV has already produced three television commercials together.
The collaboration of these two powerhouses appears to be a formula for success, creating brand recognition and an end product that NMSBank will be proud of for many years to come.
Milwaukee area residents seeking help with getting to and from a job took a first step towards achieving that. They participated in a financial literacy session for the Ways to Work Program.
Two dozen working men and women took part in the workshop conducted at the Social Development Commission (SDC) Richards Street facility that was conducted by Dan Sweeney of M&I Bank.
Financial literacy is a key component of Ways to Work, a national program coordinated in Milwaukee County by SDC. The women and men interested in participating in the Ways to Work program learned during the financial literacy session about budgeting, operating a checking account, and how to manage credit.
Ways to Work provides low interest loans to low and moderate income working families who meet eligibility requirements.
The goal is to help those families be able to obtain reliable transportation that will allow them to get to and from jobs. It has been found that many of the available jobs locally are found in areas not served consistently by public transit.
The financial literacy session was videotaped by a FOX 6 News crew to be coupled with interviews of program participants for a news story to be aired in the near future. To learn more about the Ways to Work Program, visit the SDC website at www.cr.sdc.org, click on the “Programs” link and then on the page for Ways to Work. Or call the program at 414-906-2822.
Free and low-cost programs provide supervised fun
Milwaukee Recreation is celebrating its 100th summer of providing the city’s youth with safe, supervised recreation and enrichment activities. Many of the programs are free or low-cost, giving children a better alternative to “hanging out” on the streets. These summer programs are listed in Milwaukee Recreation’s Summer 2011 Activity Guide, which was mailed to every city of Milwaukee household. The activities are also listed at www.MilwaukeeRecreation.net. Spaces are still available for many classes and activities. The public is invited to call (414) 475-8811 for details. Media representatives are encouraged to highlight these programs in an effort to direct children toward positive summer activities.
Milwaukee Recreation coordinates Summer Stars, the evening recreation program for teens. Free for youth between the ages of 13 and 17, Summer Stars will be open from 6-9:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday from June 21 through August 11. Activities include sports leagues, enrichment classes, field trips, swimming, video games, weight training, teen chat, computer classes, and organized games. Summer Stars will be held at the following community centers: North Division (1011 W. Center St.), South Division (1515 W. Lapham Blvd.), and Washington (2525 N. Sherman Blvd.). For more information, see the inside front cover of the Summer Activity Guide or call (414) 475-8811.
Milwaukee Recreation’s free summer playgrounds will open June 20 for youth ages 5-17. The playgrounds provide supervised activities, including kickball, dodgeball, box hockey, champ bowling, basketball, field trips, craft projects, and more. Many playgrounds are also free lunch sites. On days when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees, the city of Milwaukee connects industrial-strength sprinklers to several playground fire hydrants to create Cool Spots. For more information, see page 24 of the Summer Activity Guide or call (414) 475-8811.
In addition to the free programs listed above, Milwaukee Recreation offers a wide assortment of low-cost activities. Popular programs include swim lessons, sports camps, art workshops, music, dancing, cheerleading, cooking, outdoor education, Summer Recreation Enrichment Camps (SREC), and Community Learning Centers. Every activity is carefully supervised and designed to allow youth to learn and grow in a safe, respectful environment. Everyone is welcome to participate, and accommodations will be made for individuals with disabilities.
Milwaukee Recreation is a department of Milwaukee Public Schools, established in 1911 to provide the entire community with affordable and enriching recreational activities. Throughout 2011, Milwaukee Recreation will celebrate a century of service by posting archival photos, films, stories, and games at www.MilwaukeeRecreation.net.
For more information, contact Brian Hoffer at (414) 475-8938.
By Allen Orr
Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — The Supreme Court on May 26th upheld an Arizona law that requires all businesses to ensure that all new workers are authorized to work in the United States. The court said that as long as states follow federal guidelines for the definition of immigration status and rely on federal programs to make the determination, there is no federal conflict with the state law requiring employers to use E-Verify.
E-verify is a federal web-based system that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of a new hire based on information provided on the employee’s Form I-9. The system has received mixed reviews since its creation in 1996, then called a “basic pilot program.”
In 2008 the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) was amended by Executive Order to require all government contractors and subcontractors to use the E-verify system for both new and existing employees working on federal contracts. Some black businesses were exempt from this regulation based on the nature and size of the contract. This regulation is different from Arizona law, as it is the federal government and not a state government imposing an immigration restriction.
Opponents of the Arizona law claimed the bill infringes on federal laws and that the E-verify system is flawed. While the E-verify system is imperfect, the Supreme Court has made it clear that states may now begin imposing its usage on all businesses. In the past, states were limited to imposing it on government contractors and public businesses.
The trend in local and state immigration enforcement is on the rise. More than 13 states have established or plan to establish some form of immigration enforcement law. Now that the Supreme Court has cleared the way for Arizona-style laws, businesses should be prepared for new licensure requirements by states.
Allen Orr is the founder of Orr Immigration Law Firm PC, a minority-owned firm based in Washington, DC, and focusing on US corporate compliance as well as global representation and assistance on immigration issues. Mr. Orr previously helped to build one of the leading immigration practices at a global law firm, where he developed a network of immigration practitioners, government officials and business leaders. Mr. Orr received a BA in Philosophy from Morehouse College and a JD from Howard University’s School of Law. He is an active member of the DC, Virginia, American and National Bar Associations.
While millions of people worldwide will be focused on the NBA Finals and superstars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki playing the game of basketball with grace and fury for a championship at the highest level, area gyms around the nation will be filled with kids and weekend warriors hooping it up with the same intensity but for completely different reasons.
The CBL offers 12 different types of leagues for youths and adults including the semi-pro Exposure League (E-League), which will offer a preparatory opportunity for basketball players wanting to play at the collegiate or professional levels. “We’ve taken the recreation league concept to the next level so that neighborhood basketball isn’t just about the competition on the court, but it’s equally about the community and local businesses.”
Of course it all starts with competition. “It’s such a quality experience for our players,” Johnson boasts. Players from all skill levels actually get drafted to a team in the CBL. After 18-20 season games and playoffs with enforced equal playing time rules, a ceremony is held and championship rings are handed out to the winners. Player registrations are free at www.CBLHoopsUSA.com.
“LeBron left Cleveland to play with his friend (Wade) on the Heat in Miami and now they’re playing for an NBA title,” Johnson points out reinforcing that even the ‘pros’ value the comradery that comes with playing sports. Lifelong friendships are formed with childhood teammates and Johnson says adults play in the CBL with that in mind. “I’ve had men and women join the league because they loved basketball, were new to town and wanted to make some friends quickly.”
But it’s the focus on the community that Johnson says sets the CBL apart from any other recreation league, regardless of the sport. “In these tough economic times, we’ve created a professional game atmosphere,” he continues, “so that when players bring their friends and families to the gym, they’re treated to the on-the-court action and a live DJ playing music. It’s a full entertainment production.” Johnson believes this festive approach and attendance numbers are why local businesses are flocking to CBL games to set up booths and sell products or advertise their services.
Additionally, school districts all over the country are facing budget cuts, so Johnson is happy to reveal the rental fees for the use of the gym facilities have become another source of revenue for local schools.
However, Johnson wants the Playbook Classes sponsored by the CBL to leave a longer impression on the communities than an entertaining game or gym rental fees. The subjects covered in the weekly workshops range from career development to time management and networking. “They’re not just for the players,” he clarifies, encouraging community members to attend the free life skills seminars.
NBA Commissioner David Stern is running an entertainment business so he’s likely pulling for huge ratings for the NBA Finals which will bring in more revenue for his league. The various successes of the current CBLs are why investors are talking to Johnson about his plans for a $2 million nationwide expansion, but he actually longs for a different type of goal.
“I want there to be a ‘CBL Effect’ for the communities we’re in,” he states, referring to the so-called “Oprah Effect,” which some experts say boomed sales for little-known companies or brought national attention to a topic when mentioned on Oprah Winfrey’s former TV talk show. “When the CBL comes to your town, I want the impact to be so overwhelmingly positive for players, local businesses and the community that there’s a noticeable change on the streets,” Johnson explains.