Wisconsin – Gerrymandering, the Pandemic, and the Jan. 6 Select Committee

Newsletter from Grassroots North Shore, an independent Political Action Committee (PAC) registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. (https://www.grassrootsnorthshore.com/weekly_emails)


Grassroots North Shore
Dear Sonny —

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday break. Starting next week, though, there will be an increasing volume of important stuff to do. And Grassroots North Shore is counting on you to help win the elections that will be coming our way in 2022.

There is no Events List this week. So I’m using the newsletter to cover four important topics: the criminal justice reform work being undertaken by a Grassroots North Shore Issue Team, gerrymandering, the pandemic, and the Jan. 6 Select Committee in the House of Representatives. I hope you’ll find the information helpful.

Action in the Criminal Justice Reform team is about to heat up. And I encourage you to get engaged. Paul Geenen, who is spearheading this group, is arranging for a meeting with Senator Alberta Darling to discuss a bill that has recently been drafted. Here are its main provisions:

  • Establishes a statewide criminal justice data system that closes the gaps in our state’s information silos.
  • Costs $3 million over two years, funding a full time data analyst, and ensuring 4-5 years of continuity.
  • Data would be used to address a number of justice issues in our state, including opioid and meth usage, alternatives to incarceration, violent crime, racial disparities and bail bond practices.
  • It will be housed in DOJ Criminal Justice and Data Council, with the data sharing sub-committee from DOJ, DOC and state courts providing guidance.
  • Includes language that protects Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as an incentive for local agencies to be more comfortable in sharing data.

To prepare for the meeting with Senator Darling, Paul has set up a Zoom for everyone interested in lobbying on this issue. This pre-meeting will be held on January 6 at 12 CST. Please contact Paul directly for a full copy of the bill and for the link to the pre-meeting Zoom.

Gerrymandering Action: Electoral maps can have enormous influence on both national and state election outcomes. Because states must redraw their maps to account for shifts in population revealed by the US Census conducted in 2020, gerrymandering (i.e., rigging electoral district maps to favor one party) is now going on all over the country. Although there has lately been some argument about the proposition, Democrats generally fear that Republicans can and will gerrymander their way to a majority in the House of Representatives. Professor Hasan’s Election Law Blog has a thorough discussion of a column by Eric Levitz that claims the new maps are not as skewed as all that. So why does this question matter? Aside from the fact that Republican redistricting is resulting in significant impacts on minority representation at all levels of government, that is. Hasan concludes with a paragraph making a strong case for the reforms embedded in the two voting rights acts currently stalled in the US Senate by the filibuster. It’s worth taking a small amount of time to write our senators — Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson by email. When there is enough of it, public pressure — can have an effect.

Ditto at the state level. Matt Rothschild of the Wisconsin Democracy Project has the TAKE ACTION initiatives we need. He urges people to write letters to the editors of media outlets (while offering help and training), to contact your state legislators to support Senate Bill 389 and Assembly Bill 395, and to contact the chairs of the Senate and Assembly committees that should hold hearings on the bills to establish a “fair, independent, nonpartisan and transparent way to draw new voting district maps.” You can also find a succinct summary of the three court cases about electoral maps filed in 2021 on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s website.

Pandemic information: As you are certainly aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in Wisconsin, and will likely be exacerbated by gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. The spread of disease has seriously disrupted some major sporting events: college bowl games cancelled, the National Hockey League “paused,” and the NFL postponing games. Broadway shows have also gone dark. Several Milwaukee events have also been cancelled. And we’re just at the beginning of the Omicron wave here. According to today’s news, “roughly 2 in 5 recent Wisconsin cases sequenced in a lab have been the fast-spreading omicron variant.” Masks are an important part of your efforts to reduce the spread and protect yourself and others, but not all masks offer adequate filtration and apparently there are lots of counterfeit masks around. To make sure you get bona fide N95 masks, consult Project N95, a site that evaluates sellers of masks so that you can order the genuine articles.

The severity of the Omicron variant is STILL not conclusively measured, but today’s New York Times has a particularly helpful analysis, complete with easily understood graphs, about who was dying from COVID in late fall. “[W]hile for much of the pandemic, older Americans and people of color were more likely to die from the virus, the demographics of those dying from Covid have shifted too, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How the arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variant will affect these trends remains to be seen, since the current data on deaths is reliable only through late November.” The article notes that “Covid-19 now accounts for a much larger share of all deaths for [middle-aged white people] than it did before vaccines were widely available.” Wisconsin fares reasonably well compared to such hotspots as West Virgina, Kentucky and much of Florida. Still, three weeks ago, Wisconsin NPR reported that “Wisconsin hospital leaders are sounding the alarm as the state endures another COVID-19 surge. The seven-day average of new infections is over 3,500 — the highest it’s been in a year.” The current data shows 1,672 currently hospitalized (up 39 from a week ago) with 405 in a Wisconsin ICU right now.

Investigating the Insurrection: The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection was a major news story before the holidays and promises to be so again as it resumes work next week. Some aspects of the events leading up to and on that day have been well covered, especially the rallies on Jan. 5 and 6, but Talking Points Memo has striking new information on a third rally that was planned for 2pm on Jan. 6 in front of the Supreme Court building, right across the street from the Capitol Building. That rally was scuttled once the assault on the Capitol began to unfold. In a second essay in TPM, Josh Kovensky takes a stab at explaining why the planners might have wanted a rally there. The context, he writes, includes a lawsuit Sidney Powell filed in Texas in hopes of prompting Justice Alito, who covers emergency filings there, “to halt Biden’s certification. Had there been more of a delay, Powell suggested, Alito might have had time to intervene.”

And the Jan. 6 Select Committee “has signaled it intends to explore potential criminal wrongdoing by former President Trump, marking a significant escalation for the investigation” as reported in The Hill on Dec. 26. As an article in the Washington Post explains, “Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview that of particular interest is why it took so long for him to call on his supporters to stand down, an area of inquiry that includes obtaining several versions of a video Trump reportedly recorded before finally releasing a message 187 minutes after he told his supporters to march on the Capitol during the rally that preceded the attack.” Criminal referrals from Congress don’t carry any special weight with the Department of Justice, but “Trump’s actions could amount to criminally obstructing Congress as it sought to certify the election results.”

Finally, just FYI, since most of you will not be able to vote in this race: there seem to be eight current candidates to become the next Mayor of Milwaukee:

State representative Dan Riemer originally declared his candidacy but recently dropped out. And today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Senator Chris Larson is seriously considering a run. The candidates’ websites will undoubtedly have links to their donation pages as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The primary will be held February 15 with the election on April 5, 2022.

May 2022 bring a healthier, happier New Year.

other important links

Milwaukee County Democratic Party

Ozaukee County Democratic Party

Wisconsin Dems Best Fundraising Month Yet

Fund Raising Wisconsin

Thanks to Democrats like you, and in response to Republican attacks on democracy in Wisconsin, we just had our best fundraising month of the 2022 cycle.

Here’s a live look at our donation data:

November was our best fundraising month yet

Right now, Republicans in Wisconsin – and nationwide – are waging a multilateral assault on our democracy. From amplifying Trump’s Big Lie to pursuing politically-motivated legal action against our elections commission, the GOP is doing everything they can to rig the rules of our elections.

WisDems’ staff is working overtime to stop them. We’re making massive investments in year-round voter protection programs and fighting to elect Democrats that will protect the sacred American freedom to vote.

I’m humbled by the fact our organization is people-powered. We’re able to fund these programs because we have an army of grassroots Democrats like you on our side, chipping in whatever they can afford out of genuine belief in our mission.

I need you to know that every single donation the Democratic Party of Wisconsin receives – even if it’s just $1 – goes a long way to fund our critical defense of democracy. Because grassroots Democrats stepped up in a huge way last month, we have the support we need to stay grounded in our mission to defend democracy.

So thank you for funding this fight to protect our democracy.

Ben Wikler


In Wisconsin, Fight for Fair Voting Maps Continues

Fair Maps Wisconsin

On Oct. 31 the Joint Committee on Government Operations held a 9 hour hearing on the latest gerrymandered maps proposed by the Legislature in SB 621. Over 200 people from across Wisconsin came and 100 testified, many waiting hours. NOBODY testified in favor of the maps except Vos and LeMahieu.  North Shore Fair Maps testified about our work with The Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP). WIMAP was formed by a group of citizens from across the state to monitor public map sites and analyze the quality of maps submitted using widely accepted redistricting  criteria, namely proportionality, competitiveness, minority opportunity, compactness, and county splitting.  We found that the Legislature’s Assembly map was the worst of any map submitted in 3 of 5 categories, and it fared worse than the People’s Maps Commission map in every category.  You can view a summary of WIMAP’s findings at https://piercecountygro.org/wimap/#nov-4. A detailed memo was sent to every legislator by their own constituents and WIMAP prior to the votes. These maps deny Wisconsin voters the freedom to cast a ballot that matters.

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Senate voted to approve the maps on Monday, Nov. 8. The Assembly is expected to do the same on Thursday, Nov. 11. Governor Evers has promised to veto the bill, and it will go to the courts. But our fight goes on. We need to continue to build public awareness and pressure that the courts can’t ignore. And we need to continue to press for a public hearing and vote on SB389/AB395, co-sponsored by Rep. Deb Andraca and Sen. Jeff Smith, to establish an independent nonpartisan process for drawing voting maps in order to permanently fix this problem. See Sunday’s Journal-Sentinel excellent editorial on this issue. https://milwaukeejournalsentinel-wi-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=3c9637d9a

Sign Up For Wisconsin Voter Registration

Wisconsin State Map

Many of you have asked about opportunities to volunteer in Wisconsin voter-related efforts for the 2022 midterm elections. Please READ MORE look at the information below from Milwaukee voter registration group, Supermarket Legends. This is the well-established, well-organized group we worked closely with on the DMV voter registration effort. They are involved with various programs that we think offer opportunities to make a real impact. Questions? Please contact Linda Tate and/or Bob Best at: bobbestbike@gmail.com.

Phonebank for Voter Protection

Phonebank/Friendbank for Voter Protection

Join the Wisconsin Dems Phonebank/Friendbanks recruiting poll workers! Protecting voting rights in Wisconsin starts with you. We welcome out-of-state volunteers in all our Phonebank/Friendbanks!  Register HERE

You’ll start by making calls to people to talk about why voting rights matter and to get them involved as a Poll Worker, and then we’ll give you the tools in the fight for voting rights. Right now, our focus is recruiting Poll Workers to nominate for the 2022 elections to ensure that every polling place in the state is open.

Training is offered at every event, and no need to prepare anything in advance–we’ll provide scripts & resources, so all you need is a computer and a phone.

Kirk Bangstad’s Last Email – for the Summer

On January 4, 2021, the Minocqua Brewing Company officially launched the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC in response to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and our Northern Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany voting “no” to the $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package that provided long-overdue financial relief to the bars, restaurants, brewpubs, and breweries in Wisconsin.

I had already closed my brewpub in September after it became torturously apparent that Mitch McConnell was using this SAME relief bill passed in JUNE by the democratic-controlled House as a political football–letting restaurants like mine twist in the wind after being on our backs, through no fault of our own, since March.

But this betrayal, on December 22, right before Christmas, made me so angry that I decided to fight back and start a Super PAC. If the Koch brothers could do it, so could I.

Little did I realize that two days later, on January 6, the mission of the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC would become so much more important than a small business taking a stand against jerks willing to let us get screwed.

These same two men that voted to sacrifice the entire service industry of Wisconsin at the altar of their demented ideology had now just assisted an attempted coup to overthrow our government by voting against the results of the presidential election and repeating the Big Lie that incited a mob attack.

Senator Ron Johnson and Congressman Tom Tiffany had just become traitors to our country, and now the Minocqua Brewing Company was going to do our damndest to never let Northern Wisconsin forget it.

This email will be the last one I write for awhile as I take a break from politics for the month of August, but it seems so fitting that my last missive will come after we collectively watched the damning testimony of those Capitol police officers who protected our lawmakers and essentially, our democracy, while being savagely beaten by the Trump Cult.

All the emotions I felt on January 6 came flooding back after watching clips of these officers vividly describe getting bludgeoned by metal objects, fearing for their families while they thought they’d be killed with their own guns, and their disgust for the lawmakers who now claim the violence that happened to them didn’t actually happen.

Blue lives matter?  Apparently not if those blue lives don’t fit into a narrative meant to manipulate Americans into choosing authoritarianism over democracy.

So on this day, in honor of the heroes that protected America who are being sabotaged by the ungrateful Trump Cult in Congress, I’m going to re-dedicate the Minocqua Brewing Company to make traitors Ron Johnson and Tom Tiffany pay dearly at the ballot box in 2022, and to do whatever we can to create a more progressive environment in our neck of the woods to never elect guys like them again.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has filed our first report to the FEC, and in that report we will announce that we’ve raised over $221,000 in six months and the average contribution has been $32.

Read that again.  The average contribution that raised over $221K has been $32.  If that doesn’t make you feel good then you might be made out of stone:)

The report will also show that we’ve spent over $130K of your money on billboards, radio ads, phone calls, and podcasts to shine a light on the lies that the Trump Cult are telling voters in Northern Wisconsin, our state, and the rest of the country.

Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but unfortunately our local media in Northern Wisconsin is weak and too many of our neighbors digest a steady stream of Fox News and insane conspiracy theories online.  Until Congress passes an updated Fairness Doctrine to prevent nefarious media companies from spreading misinformation, we need money to broadcast the truth in media deserts like Northern Wisconsin.  And as I’ve said time and time again, making Northern Wisconsin more progressive is key to keeping Wisconsin, one of only 9 swing states in the country that affect the outcome of our presidential elections, blue.

But spending money to counteract terrible local media is not enough.  We need progressives to organize and RUN FOR OFFICE in the Northern Wisconsin counties that have been neglected by progressives for too long.

Because of your contributions this past month, we sent another big check for $20K to Wisconsin Progress as a down payment to hire a Northern Wisconsin organizer to help recruit and train progressives to run for county boards north of Wausau.  This wouldn’t have happened without your donations and without you buying our beer.

We owe them another $20K to complete our commitment to pay a large part of this person’s salary, but this down payment allows them to start the hiring process and start organizing now for county board elections happening next April.

So in this last email of the summer, I’m gonna ask you to dig deep and separate yourselves from a few shekels.  I won’t bug you for a month, but I’d like to put another $10K into the coffers for this future Northwoods community organizer.

Please consider donating to this effort.  We think it’s important and can help move the needle in this neglected part of Wisconsin.

How do you donate?  The easiest way is to simply buy our beer or merchandise.  5% of the profits of everything you buy goes towards our Super PAC, including this effort.

If you want your money to go further, please donate directly to the Super PAC here.

If you hate Super PACs or don’t trust us, please donate directly to Wisconsin Progress here.  The link earmarks all money donated to fund this particular position.

Have a great August, and thanks for believing in our shared mission to “Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer At A Time.”

Kirk Bangstad, Owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC

Republished without permission. But it’s probably ok with Kirk.

Help Fund Staffer – Wisconsin Northwoods

Wisconsin Progress

Wisconsin Progress alongside the Minocqua Brewing Super PAC want to change the future of Northern Wisconsin. Help us today to fund a new full time staffer to recruit, train, and elect progressives all over Wisconsin’s Northwoods!

Wisconsin Progress envisions a Wisconsin that is a better, more equitable place to live, work, and raise a family.

In pursuit of this goal we recruit, train, elect, and develop progressive candidates for local and state legislative offices. We are the progressive recruitment arm of the Assembly and State Senate, we not only recruit candidates to run for office throughout the state- we win elections.

Help fund a new full time staffer

Let’s Avoid Becoming a Mad Max Movie

Wisconsin Progress
Last week, President Biden called the fight against restrictive voting laws the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” and directed furious ire at those continuing to spread the “Big Lie” that Trump won the presidential election with the question– “have you no shame?”

We know the answer to that.  They don’t.

Two of America’s worst “Big Liars” are Wisconsin’s own Senator Ron Johnson and Congressman Tom Tiffany.  They, along with the spineless Republican rubber-stamping automatons in our state legislature, have joined the chorus to suppress our vote because they know conspiracy theories alone can’t manifest electoral victories.

Voting is how we avoid civil war.  Instead of fighting each other in a “Mad Max”-like Hobbesian dystopia, we cast ballots.  Voting is the root of civilized society.  Nothing is more important than fair elections, and they’re trying to take that away.

What do you think will happen if they take voting away from us?  The obvious and terrifying answer is civil war.

So we have to fight against that.  Progressives have to fight, parents have to fight, students have to fight, small businesses have to fight, and yes, breweries have to fight.

We hope our loud voice joining Wisconsin’s Fair Maps Coalition to end the gerrymandering that enabled a lunatic like Tiffany to represent us makes a difference when the new decade-long lines are drawn later this year, but we can’t count on that.

Given the infuriating trepidation of the few Democratic U.S. senators who refuse to kill the filibuster and pass voting protections (Manchin/Sinema), the uncertainty we have of our state and federal courts to rule impartially on gerrymandering after having been unfairly packed with conservatives, and the short-sighted defensive posture our own state Democratic party too-often takes that translates into zero funding for progressives #upnorth, we have to assume we’re on our own.

And that’s why the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC exists. We’ve raised over $200K so far to help fight for oft-forgotten progressives in Northern Wisconsin, and our latest campaign is to raise $40,000 to fund a community organizer to help recruit and train progressives to run in county board elections next Spring.

The best way fight is to build a local progressive bench of county board supervisors throughout Northern Wisconsin who will ultimately be ready to run for state and federal office when the time is right, and we need your help to build that bench.

We’ve partnered with a group called Wisconsin Progress that specializes in candidate training and recruitment and together, we raised a total of $7,000 in last week’s launch email.  Once we hit the $20K mark, Wisconsin Progress will start the candidate search.

Please consider donating to this effort.  We think it’s important and can help move the needle in this neglected part of Wisconsin.

How do you donate?  The easiest way is to simply buy our beer or merchandise.  5% of the profits of everything you buy goes towards our Super PAC, including this effort.

If you want your money to go further, please donate directly to the Super PAC here.

If you hate Super PACs or don’t trust us, please donate directly to Wisconsin Progress here.  The link earmarks all money donated to fund this particular position.

Thanks for believing in our shared mission to “Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer At A Time”

Kirk Bangstad, Owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC

Reposted from Minocqua Brewing Company owner and northern Wisconsin activist weekly email

The field of Democrats is taking shape for next year’s race for U.S. Senator in Wisconsin.

On the local election front, we currently have seven contenders for the Democratic nomination for US Senate, a number that is bound to grow. Here’s the Journal Sentinel’s introduction to those who have announced so far. As the year advances, Grassroots North Shore plans to hold at least one and probably more events to introduce candidates and to give each serious contender a chance to highlight his or her campaign message. So keep an eye peeled for those events, starting next year.