Monthly Archives: January 2016

This week: Find out when and where your voting machine will be tested. Call your city, village, or township clerk.

Wisconsin voters: It’s time–the week starting January 25–to call your municipal clerk and find out the time and place for the pre-election voting machine tests. The tests demonstrate to the public that the machines have been set up properly for the February 16 primary–or discover that they haven’t been.

Citizen observation is important to help catch machine set-up errors, because in previous elections, we’ve found that only about half of the clerks check that the machines are counting both VOTES and BALLOTS correctly. A gentle reminder is usually all that’s needed if the clerk neglects to check the vote totals.


Citizen observers won’t be out of place because the laws require these tests specifically for the public. The tests usually take about two hours and are relatively relaxed occasions without the tension that surrounds Election-Day activity and recounts. Observing these tests is a great way to get to know your municipal clerk and his/her attitude about transparency and prudent voting-machine management.

Here’s a link to easy-to-follow, printable instructions.

Call your city, village, or town clerk today and find out when and where to observe the voting-machine test!

Intriguing new approach to grassroots organizing in Milwaukee and Eau Claire!

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has had enviable success in organizing nonpartisan grassroots activity in Milwaukee County, with an approach that’s new in Wisconsin: structuring the grassroots group as a member-owned cooperative — a “member-owned coalition of individuals committed to empowering more and more Wisconsinites to act in the public sphere to achieve social, economic, and environmental justice.”


Members are asked to commit to small monthly dues, which are used to hire an organizer who keeps the group organized, maintains communications, and assists the group in planning and pulling off civic actions related to the issues that concern them.

Building on the success of the co-op in Milwaukee, efforts led by Jeff Smith are now underway to organize a similar co-op in the Eau Claire area.

Share this post with friends and family in the Chippewa Valley area (Eau Claire, Menomonie, Chippewa Falls, Durand, Altoona, and environs) to make sure they have an opportunity to check it out and join.

This model of organizing–monthly dues and paid staff–isn’t the one used (yet) by the groups that cooperate through this Alliance or through the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, but there’s no downside to cheering them on and getting the word out about their efforts.

A Public “Telling” at the Capitol: Get the Money out of Politics – Thursday 10 AM, Capitol

The Wisconsin legislature has rejected holding a formal public hearing on a proposal that would give Wisconsinites the chance to voice their concerns, via a referendum, about Citizens United and money in politics.  So the Money Out, Voters In-Wisconsin coalition is convening a public telling.

On the sixth anniversary of the Citizens United ruling and at the start of a big election year, Wisconsinites deserve to be heard on the matter of money in politics and they deserve an opportunity to demand real solutions that address the growing special interest and big donor influence in our elections.

The public telling will convene from 10 AM-12 noon on Thursday, January 21, in the North Hearing Room at the State Capitol.

VoterINmoneyOutSpeakers include Congressman Mark Pocan, State Representative Chris Taylor, State Representative Lisa Subeck, and State Senator Dave Hansen. (The latter two have introduced a proposal to allow the voters of Wisconsin to declare their wish to amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn Citizens United.), along with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s Matt Rothschild,Kim Wright of Midwest Environmental Advocates, and Tom Thoresen, former deputy chief conservation warden for the DNR–and YOU, if you would like. Any concerned citizen can step up to the podium and speak out about money in politics. An RSVP is requested but not necessary.


A timely 53-year-old letter to community-minded good citizens – Re-read this today.

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds….”

October 1967, Birmingham, Alabama, USA --- Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

October 1967, Birmingham, Alabama, USA — Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Six years of dying democracy–Let’s party! Thursday night, 6:30 PM Brocach, downtown Madison

We need to keep our spirits up in this long fight, with a party to commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the disastrous Citizens United decision. Music and lively speakers! See you there!


Some damage can be fixed; other damage will be eternal. Save the Mounds: Tuesday, Noon, Capitol

The idea of destroying American heritage in the form of pre-Columbian cultural remnants (effigy mounds) so that a few already rich people can get even richer is practically the definition of obscene.

Join the Ho-Chunk Nation in protesting legislation that would allow the desecration of burial mounds (to prove that they are burial sites) and the desecration of effigy mounds (so that they can be demolished if they are found not to contain human remains)–Tuesday, Jan. 12, West side of Capitol Building in downtown Madison. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring homemade signs if you can.


“Education, Inc.” – important school privatization documentary and speakers: Wed. 13th, 7PM, Middleton

Wisconsin is the epicenter of the nationwide effort to privatize our public schools to benefit for-profit interests, under the banner of “school choice.”  Our schools are struggling for adequate funding to meet the students’ needs while state funding is going to support more private schools.


The Middleton Action Team is sponsoring an event for our community to learn more about this crisis, with a showing of the documentary, “Education, Inc.” This engaging film has striking footage from protests, meetings, and interviews with well-known educators, including Dr. Julie Mead, a Middleton resident and professor at the UW School of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Dr. Mead and Dr. Don Johnson, superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, will provide more after the film and will answer questions.

Details: Wednesday, January 13th, at Kromrey Middle School, 7009 Donna Dr, Middleton, WI from 7-8:30 pm. For more information, please email

Sign artistry! (Or just painting) Thursday morning in McFarland

Active McFarland is organizing a sign-painting at 9:00 AM at McFarland Lutheran Church on Marsh Rd. and Broadhead. Bring your wide-tip markers, rulers, sharp pencils, good erasers, letter stencils, etc. You might also want to consider dressing warmly. The room was chilly this morning! Some will be painting signs for Joanne Kloppenburg, but bring your own ideas for signs with community-building messages.


Park in the lot off of Marsh Rd. where you see the portico. Use that entrance into the church. Once inside, turn left, pass a few round tables with chairs, and locate the stairway on your left. At the bottom of the stairs, turn left and enter the first room. There are tables in a closed rectangle and lots of craft boxes behind them.



News for the new year: Inventory of independent journalism websites

On his Facebook page, local peace and democracy activist Brad Geyer compiled a fabulous list of independent news sources — something a lot of us have been longing for or attempting to do.  I’ve copied it here and added a few of my own.


Please help to update and complete this by commenting on either this post, on the Alliance discussion board, or on Brad’s Facebook post with any additions or comments.

If  you know of a similar list that has already be compiled (I cannot imagine there’s not one), please link to that, too.

Over time, I’ll keep editing this page to get the information organized and usable. Share this link!


Middle Wisconsin:
Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative:
The Progressive:
The Oshkosh Independent:
The Green Bay Progressive:
The Madison Times:
The Wisconsin Gazette:


Alternative Press Centre – Northfield, Toronto, Baltimore, Chicago –

Common Dreams – Portland, Maine – Independent, non-profit news center since 1997

Democracy Now – New York, NY – Funded by contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations

Free Press – Offices in Florence, MA and Washington, D.C. – Free Press advocates for universal and affordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, and quality journalism

Labor Notes – Offices in Detroit, MI and Brooklyn, NY – The voice of union activists

Mint Press News – Minneapolis, MN – Issue-based reporting, in-depth investigations and analysis of the topics facing our nation and its foreign policy

News Junkie Post – Articles and videos on U.S. and world news, political analysis, commentary and opinion

Project Censored – Cotati, CA – Teaching the role of a free press in a free society – and to tell the news that didn’t make the news and why

Think Progress – A project of the Center for American Progress –

Toward Freedom – Burlington, VT – Human rights, peace, justice, enlightenment, and freedom from oppression

Truthdig – Santa Monica, CA – Coverage of current affairs as well as a variety of provocative content assembled from a progressive point of view

truthout – Revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for trans-formative ideas –

yes! – Bainbridge Island, WA – Nonprofit, reader supported news

Z Communications – Woods Hole, MA – Resisting injustice, defending against repression, and creating liberty

Live Streams


Al Arabiya News Channel – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center

Al Jazeera – HQ Doha, Qatar; Broadcast from Kuala Lumpur, London, and Washington DC – Owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation

Asia Times – Hong Kong –

The Big Project – English and native language news

By Topic, Big Project – Mobile Version, Big Project:

Christian Science Monitor, World – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, MA – Does not rely on wire services, writers in 11 countries

The Guardian – Manchester, England – Currently owned by the Scott Trust Limited, via the Guardian Media Group

The Independent, UK – London  – “free from party political bias, free from proprietorial influence” – Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev, current owner along with Evening Standard

Independent Media Center – Indymedia was founded as an alternative to government and corporate media – News from actual people across the world

The Intercept – Fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues – Editor in Chief: John Cook | Founding Editors: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill

International Middle East Media Center – Palestinian territories –

Inter Press Service News Agency – Offices in Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Belgium and Uruguay – Non-profit international cooperative of journalists

The New Internationalist – Ottawa, ON, Canada – The powerful and the powerless worldwide in the fight for global justice.

Real News Network – Iwt Tv Inc Toronto, ON, Canada – Viewer supported

RT (formerly Russia Today) – Moscow, Russia – International and regional headlines from a Russian perspective

THIRD WORLD TRAVELER –  Archive of articles and book excerpts that seek to tell the truth about American democracy, media, and foreign policy, and about the impact of the actions of the United States government, transnational corporations, global trade and financial institutions and the corporate media…

Non Aligned Press Network – Voltaire Network, founded by Thierry Meyssan;  Beirut, Lebanon

One World Net – Worldwide network with offices in London, Washington DC, Abuja – Nigeria and Dakar – Senegal

People’s Weekly World – Offices in Chicago and New York – Member of the International Labor Communications Association

Prensa Latina – Agencia Informativa Latinoamericana – La Habana, Cuba



Idea for grassroots group action: Nominating petition party

Note to self for next election: Talk to local grassroots group about hosting a petition-signing party, at least when nominating-petition-circulating time coincides with the year-end holidays, when people are circulating nominating petitions for school board, county board, and other local offices.  I’m Facebook friends with a man who is trying to gather nominating signatures for a City of Milwaukee office, and a few days from the deadline, he is desperate to find places where he “can collect signatures without freezing to death.”


People often circulate nominating petitions at meetings of local grassroots groups, but mine doesn’t usually meet during the holiday season, and I assume many others are the same. I got some school-board signatures at a neighborhood Rose Bowl party yesterday, but the other holiday gatherings we attended didn’t have many people from my municipality. I was kicking myself that I didn’t think to host a holiday get-together for the grassroots group and any others we might want to invite–for fun and to circulate nominating papers.

It could be in a home, or in a bar or restaurant where we might be able to get additional signatures from other customers, if the owner didn’t object.