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LTE sent 3/12/15 re upcoming school bond referedndum & teachers' issues

Letter-to-the-editor

 

Dear Sir:

 

Under the leadership of Superintendent Susan Borden, her staff, and our well engaged school board, we can look forward to a vigorous future in the DeForest Area School District (DASD): new and rejuvenated facilities, twenty-first century curriculum, professionally career oriented teachers.  Of the first two I am enthusiastic.  I am hopeful of the third.  Personally, I have never voted against a school bond referendum in my thirty-six year residency in DeForest.  I will vote for the referendum on April 7th.

 

The case has been made convincingly for the referendum.  The needs were well thought out over many months with many cooks stirring the stew.  We need not review them further here.  A sound public school system is the best investment a progressive community can make.

 

The facilities will augment the curriculum enhancement in science, technology, engineering, and math -- the famous STEM subjects we’ve been hearing so much about.  The new facilities will help to ground those emphases in the curriculum.  The new emphases bode well for solid economic development both individually as careers and jobs and collectively as business and industrial growth.  We can assume, as well, a corresponding development in the arts, citizenship, athletics and physical education – all hallmarks of a progressive public education system.  You can tell a lot about a community by its public schools.

 

The only reservation I have is the future professional career quality of our teachers.  There is serious unease among a significant number of teachers in the DASD.  Some career teachers have already left for more lucrative careers in other professions.  Others are contemplating such a move.

 

What good are professional quality facilities without an equally professional quality teaching staff?  It remains to be seen if the new micro-credential or “badge” system of teacher career development can match the old step-and-lane system.  Key to the success or failure of the micro-credential system will be pay scales that reward teachers enough to keep them on the job longer than five or ten years.  Will we continue to build a set of seasoned, dedicated, career-oriented teachers, or will we turn over our student body to a new set of less experienced teachers every year or so?  The new “badge” system is a gamble.  Without commensurate salary progression, career development is an exercise in futility in a community oriented, public school system. 

 

My own daughter thrived in the DASD system.  I attribute that success to the professional, career teachers and related staff in the DASD, teachers sustained under the old, tried and true career development system.  You who have been here awhile can call those teachers by name.  Will new teachers stay and make a career of it?  Will new teachers develop the same under the new micro-credential “badge” system?  Will they be paid what they deserve as they earn their badges?  Will they be paid enough to keep them here for the long haul, gaining experience and applying it in our DeForest schools?  Or, will they leave for other careers and better paying jobs someplace else?

 

We must pay teachers well, in order to keep them here, so that our students benefit from the experience their teachers gain only from years on the job.  Even if we need another referendum to approve exceeding the state caps on teachers’ salaries; even if we approve, say, another two or three million dollars on top of the forty-one million dollars for facilities; it will be worth it.  For what good are the buildings if we don’t staff them with in-it-for-the-long-term professional, career teachers?

 

                                                Sincerely,

                                                John Scepanski

                                                DeForest

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Ann Walsh Bradley Campaign Call for Volunteers

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS!

To DeForest/Vienna/Windsor Area Progressives:

The Ann Walsh Bradley campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is asking for office volunteers in these final weeks before the election.  Volunteers are needed for

  • Data entry
  • Phone calling
  • Letter and memo writing
  • Scheduling

 

Campaign headquarters are at Gateway Mall, 600 Williamson Street in Madison.  Shift times for volunteers to work are

  • 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays
  • 12:00 t0 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.

“We are always looking for phone bank locations and phone bankers as well.”

They will have literature available in a week or two for door-to-door canvassing.

Contact is Chris Chapek, 402-720-3576, chris@bradleyforjustice.com .

As most of you know, our local DeForest/Windsor area organizer is Janet Mills.  Janet says to contact her at 608-846-4472 or millsey77@charter.net .  Janet is always building her list of volunteers to call upon when elections come up.  Contact her if you want to be part of her ongoing progressives election volunteer group.

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Letter-to-the-editor of the DeForest Times-Tribune, 11/27/14

November 27, 2014

Editor

DeForest Times-Tribune

 

The letter-to-the-editor by Doug and Mary Hudzinski, which appeared in your November 27th issue, could not have been more true.  I agree completely with what they wrote.  The Hudzinskis’ letter touched on so many issues, it is difficult to itemize my support for their statements in this short space.  Let it suffice to list a few of them: health care reform, fair taxation, banking regulation, living wage, economic stimulus, unions and the right to collective bargaining, environmental stewardship, the corporate takeover of our representative form of government.  I hope your readers will return to the Hudzinskis’ letter in the November 27th issue to review it in detail.  It is worth a second reading.  

The Republican sweep of the recent elections surprised and disappointed me too, although I must say I was proud of voters in DeForest and Windsor, in that we supported the Democratic candidates with wins locally.  In DeForest and Windsor, Mary Burke defeated Scott Walker for governor.  Democrat George Ferriter defeated incumbent Keith Ripp in DeForest (although to be fair, Mr. Ripp won Windsor by fifty–one percent).  Mary Arnold defeated incumbent John Jagler in DeForest and Windsor.  Incumbent Democratic Assembly Representative Diane Hesselbein won by a lot over her challenger, Brent Renteria.  Even newcomer Michelle Zahn won by a large margin in DeForest over strong incumbent Senator Scott Fitzgerald.  Statewide, voters overwhelmingly approved referendums in support of BadgerCare/Medicaid and raising the minimum wage, both progressive ideals.

It gives me some comfort to know that DeForest and Windsor appear to favor Democrats.  That puts the DeForest area in good progressive company with the rest of Dane County, even though we were beaten overall statewide and across the country.  Doug and Mary and my fellow Democrats and progressive believers out there, do not lose heart!  Our turn will come again when the proverbial pendulum swings.

The progressive and Democratic approach took a hit in this election, even though we voters in DeForest and Windsor did our part to support it.  It is gratifying to know that voters in the DeForest area are in the progressive camp, even though it is going to be a long dry spell for our ideals.

Sincerely,

John Scepanski

DeForest

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Candidates' Forum letter-to-the-editor

Published in DeForest Times-Tribune 10/16/14

 

Dear Editor:

 

The fine candidates’ forum hosted by the DeForest Area Chamber of Commerce and the DeForest Area Library on October 8th highlighted the differences between the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates in the November 4 election.  It confirmed my resolve to vote for all of the Democratic candidates, including the Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke.

 

One of the differences between Democrats and Republicans is the future of education.  Democrats oppose spending public tax money on private voucher schools.  I agree.  We must rally behind our public education system and fund it well with public tax dollars.  Education is a community responsibility, not a business.

 

Another difference is voting.  Democrats support widespread voting rights and oppose repressive voting laws.  We should encourage voting, not discourage it.

 

The differences between Democrats and Republicans on environmental protection are stark.  Democrats favor local control over water and air regulation with a healthy dose of regulatory backup at the state level from a DNR that represents the people’s interests.  Republicans favor weaker water and air rules, so that environmental regulation will interfere less with business.  (This is an oddly new generation of GOP from the one that used to work for conservation.)

 

Another stark difference between Democrats and Republicans appears in response to making Wisconsin a “right to work” state.  Democrats favor employees’ right to a collective say in their compensation and work conditions through collective bargaining.  Republicans generally oppose collective bargaining.  As a long time Democrat myself, of course I lament the demise of public employee collective bargaining and the diminished influence of private sector unions.

 

The subject of minimum wage brings another difference to the fore between the candidates.  Democrats believe that more money in the pockets of wage earners means not only increases in family incomes but also boosts to local economies, as the increased wages are spent at local businesses.

 

I hope that in this election we can return the influence of the people’s party, the Democratic Party, to the Wisconsin legislature and governorship.  Not only is that influence crucial to public education, voting rights, environmental protection, workers’ rights and incomes.  It is important in a larger sense to how we see ourselves in community.  As Senator Elizabeth Warren says, Deep down, this is a fight about values.  We all do better when we work together and invest in the future.  That’s why I recommend that you vote for the Democratic candidates: Mary Arnold, Dianne Hesselbein, George Ferriter, Michelle Zahn, and Mary Burke for governor.

 

Sincerely,

John Scepanski

 DeForest

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Candidates' Forum letter-to-the-editor

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GOP's vote-suppressing militia

TUESDAY, SEP 23, 2014                Copied from Salon

GOP’s vote-suppressing militia: Why Scott Walker’s thugs are getting violent

Scott Walker may want to be president, but he's got to win statewide first. And he's pulling out all the stops

HEATHER DIGBY PARTON              

It seems like a long time ago but it’s actually been just a couple of years since a whole bunch of Wisconsin voters had second thoughts about the man they’d elected to the governor’s office and decided they couldn’t wait another two years to be rid of him.  That recall election was a national story, with public employee unions and other progressive types lining up against the conservative majority that beat back the recall. Now Scott Walker is beating back what seems like endless ethics charges and legal scandals and is fighting for his political life. The man who was once touted as the Great Midwestern GOP Hope is rarely mentioned anymore for the presidency. He may even lose his seat in November.

One of the most interesting stories of that recall election was the extent to which the Republicans were willing to engage in no-holds-barred vote suppression largely led by a national group of vote suppression experts, the “poll watching” group known as True the Vote.  Despite no evidence ever being produced to show that systematic voter fraud exists or that any election has been decided by people who are ineligible to vote, True the Vote has managed to create the illusion that challenging voters at the polls is all that’s saving the republic from an otherwise inevitable coup d’état led by a secret cabal of Democrats rigging elections with ineligible voters. Apparently, this is the only way they can explain to themselves that they are not universally popular.

All the vote suppressors are just pleased as punch that a panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit waited until Sept. 12 to overturn an earlier ruling that their pride and joy, the Wisconsin Voter ID law, was unconstitutional — and set off a last-minute scramble to ensure that voters are informed of the new law and have them in hand before Scott Walker faces the music. (Opponents have appealed to have the full 7th Circuit review but in the meantime, voter registration groups and state officials are having to work overtime to deal with the ruling.) And just to make things even more fun, the DMVs in 48 out of 72 counties are only open for five hours a day, two days a week. And that means voters in those areas without an official state ID only have 12 days to get them.

 

True the Vote generously noted on its Facebook page that the ID cards are free. Never say they didn’t do these voters any favors. Their followers were certainly thrilled:

The only people that don’t want this are the people who are trying to cheat the system. The same people that are screaming foul are the people that need an ID to get all their government handouts. I’m proud to show my ID when I vote because it means some union punk from out of state, or some illegal alien won’t be able to steal my vote. It also means that some libtard dumbocrat won’t be able to vote more than once.

In case you were wondering True the Vote calls itself nonpartisan.

So, now everyone can relax, knowing that there is no way that the thus far nonexistent voter fraud could ever happen in the future, right? Well, not exactly. It would appear that vote suppression may not entirely get the job done. Just because you have an ID doesn’t mean you should be voting and even if True the Vote is patting itself on the back for its success, there are still some good Americans out there who are willing to make sure that you don’t. This time they are going for full-blown voter intimidation.

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GOP's vote-suppressing militia

TUESDAY, SEP 23, 2014                Copied from Salon

GOP’s vote-suppressing militia: Why Scott Walker’s thugs are getting violent

Scott Walker may want to be president, but he's got to win statewide first. And he's pulling out all the stops

HEATHER DIGBY PARTON              

It seems like a long time ago but it’s actually been just a couple of years since a whole bunch of Wisconsin voters had second thoughts about the man they’d elected to the governor’s office and decided they couldn’t wait another two years to be rid of him.  That recall election was a national story, with public employee unions and other progressive types lining up against the conservative majority that beat back the recall. Now Scott Walker is beating back what seems like endless ethics charges and legal scandals and is fighting for his political life. The man who was once touted as the Great Midwestern GOP Hope is rarely mentioned anymore for the presidency. He may even lose his seat in November.

One of the most interesting stories of that recall election was the extent to which the Republicans were willing to engage in no-holds-barred vote suppression largely led by a national group of vote suppression experts, the “poll watching” group known as True the Vote.  Despite no evidence ever being produced to show that systematic voter fraud exists or that any election has been decided by people who are ineligible to vote, True the Vote has managed to create the illusion that challenging voters at the polls is all that’s saving the republic from an otherwise inevitable coup d’état led by a secret cabal of Democrats rigging elections with ineligible voters. Apparently, this is the only way they can explain to themselves that they are not universally popular.

All the vote suppressors are just pleased as punch that a panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit waited until Sept. 12 to overturn an earlier ruling that their pride and joy, the Wisconsin Voter ID law, was unconstitutional — and set off a last-minute scramble to ensure that voters are informed of the new law and have them in hand before Scott Walker faces the music. (Opponents have appealed to have the full 7th Circuit review but in the meantime, voter registration groups and state officials are having to work overtime to deal with the ruling.) And just to make things even more fun, the DMVs in 48 out of 72 counties are only open for five hours a day, two days a week. And that means voters in those areas without an official state ID only have 12 days to get them.

 

True the Vote generously noted on its Facebook page that the ID cards are free. Never say they didn’t do these voters any favors. Their followers were certainly thrilled:

The only people that don’t want this are the people who are trying to cheat the system. The same people that are screaming foul are the people that need an ID to get all their government handouts. I’m proud to show my ID when I vote because it means some union punk from out of state, or some illegal alien won’t be able to steal my vote. It also means that some libtard dumbocrat won’t be able to vote more than once.

In case you were wondering True the Vote calls itself nonpartisan.

So, now everyone can relax, knowing that there is no way that the thus far nonexistent voter fraud could ever happen in the future, right? Well, not exactly. It would appear that vote suppression may not entirely get the job done. Just because you have an ID doesn’t mean you should be voting and even if True the Vote is patting itself on the back for its success, there are still some good Americans out there who are willing to make sure that you don’t. This time they are going for full-blown voter intimidation.

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MARY BURKE PROGRESSIVE/PAINTING/PARTY/PICNIC

Picnic, Party& Painting In The Park

What: Painting and Picnic
Where: Firemen’s Park DeForest Wisconsin
When: September 6th and 20th 9:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M....
Why: To give voice where there is silence!
WHO: You and anyone you wish to bring with you!~
Please join us on September 6th and/or September 20th for a day of sign painting for Mary Burke.
We will be making “Mary Burke for Governor” signs.
Picnic at noon, on both days, so bring a dish to pass, and friends and family to help us paint as many signs as possible!!!
We will have a lot of materials, but donated materials are still appreciated and are needed, so if you will, please bring one or more of the Following:
A Dish to Pass, Containers for Paint, Paint Brushes, Paint sprayers, Paper towels, Posts, Rags, Saw horses, Screws, Screw drivers, Tarps, You, Your Friends, Zip ties.
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Honor to 350.org No Time to Waste

DTM big picture

Who We Are

 We are the Madison, Wisconsin, local action group of the international organization350.org. Started by Madison area climate activists in January 2012, we plan and participate in local, national, and international actions to raise awareness of the pressing need to address climate change.  We are helping build a global movement that is creating the political will necessary to pass international climate legislation that will effectively return our planet to a stable climate.  We help unite the message of many groups that are working for a livable climate into one specific goal:  we need to get below 350 ppm.

Our Mission

350 Madison Climate Action Team is dedicated to achieving a reduction in atmospheric CO2 below 350 parts per million (ppm) by working locally in concert with a powerful global movement.

Why 350?

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 400 ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

chart_400 2

(image courtesy of 350.org)

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Consumer Loyalty to Good Business Values Builds Community!

How We Ended Up With Corporations That Serve Shareholders, Not Customers

This first appeared at Robert Reich’s blog.

Market Basket assistant managers Mike Forsyth, left, and John Surprenant, second from left, hold signs while posing with employees in Haverhill, Mass., Thursday, July 24, 2014, in a show of support for "Artie T." Arthur T. Demoulas, the former chief executive of the Market Basket supermarket chain whose ouster has led to employee protests, customer boycotts and empty shelves, says he wants to buy the entire company. (AP Photo)
Market Basket assistant managers Mike Forsyth, left, and John Surprenant, second from left, hold signs while posing with employees in Haverhill, Massachusetts, July 24, 2014, in a show of support for Arthur T. Demoulas, the former chief executive of the Market Basket supermarket chain whose ouster has led to employee protests, customer boycotts and empty shelves. (AP Photo)

In recent weeks, the managers, employees and customers of a New England chain of supermarkets called “Market Basket” have joined together to oppose the board of director’s decision earlier in the year to oust the chain’s popular chief executive, Arthur T. Demoulas.

Their demonstrations and boycotts have emptied most of the chain’s seventy stores.

What was so special about Arthur T., as he’s known? Mainly, his business model. He kept prices lower than his competitors, paid his employees more and gave them and his managers more authority.

Late last year he offered customers an additional four percent discount, arguing they could use the money more than the shareholders.

In other words, Arthur T. viewed the company as a joint enterprise from which everyone should benefit, not just shareholders. Which is why the board fired him.

It’s far from clear who will win this battle. But, interestingly, we’re beginning to see the Arthur T. business model pop up all over the place.

Patagonia, a large apparel manufacturer based in Ventura, California, has organized itself as a “B-corporation.” That’s a for-profit company whose articles of incorporation require it to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment, as well as shareholders.

The performance of B-corporations according to this measure is regularly reviewed and certified by a nonprofit entity called B Lab.

To date, over 500 companies in sixty industries have been certified as B-corporations, including the household products firm “Seventh Generation.”

In addition, 27 states have passed laws allowing companies to incorporate as “benefit corporations.” This gives directors legal protection to consider the interests of all stakeholders rather than just the shareholders who elected them.

We may be witnessing the beginning of a return to a form of capitalism that was taken for granted in America 60 years ago.

Then, most CEOs assumed they were responsible for all their stakeholders.

“The job of management,” proclaimed Frank Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, in 1951, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly interested groups … stockholders, employees, customers and the public at large.”

Johnson & Johnson publicly stated that its “first responsibility” was to patients, doctors and nurses, and not to investors.

What changed? In the 1980s, corporate raiders began mounting unfriendly takeovers of companies that could deliver higher returns to their shareholders – if they abandoned their other stakeholders.

The raiders figured profits would be higher if the companies fought unions, cut workers’ pay or fired them, automated as many jobs as possible or moved jobs abroad, shuttered factories, abandoned their communities and squeezed their customers.

Although the law didn’t require companies to maximize shareholder value, shareholders had the legal right to replace directors. The raiders pushed them to vote out directors who wouldn’t make these changes and vote in directors who would (or else sell their shares to the raiders, who’d do the dirty work).

Since then, shareholder capitalism has replaced stakeholder capitalism. Corporate raiders have morphed into private equity managers, and unfriendly takeovers are rare. But it’s now assumed corporations exist only to maximize shareholder returns.

Are we better off? Some argue shareholder capitalism has proven more efficient. It has moved economic resources to where they’re most productive, and thereby enabled the economy to grow faster.

 

Robert Reich on the documentary Inequality for All
By this view, stakeholder capitalism locked up resources in unproductive ways. CEOs were too complacent. Companies were too fat. They employed workers they didn’t need, and paid them too much. They were too tied to their communities.

 

But maybe, in retrospect, shareholder capitalism wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Look at the flat or declining wages of most Americans, their growing economic insecurity and the abandoned communities that litter the nation.

Then look at the record corporate profits, CEO pay that’s soared into the stratosphere and Wall Street’s financial casino (along with its near meltdown in 2008 that imposed collateral damage on most Americans).

You might conclude we went a bit overboard with shareholder capitalism.

The directors of “Market Basket” are now considering selling the company. Arthur T. has made a bid, but other bidders have offered more.

Reportedly, some prospective bidders think they can squeeze more profits out of the company than Arthur T. did.

But Arthur T. may have known something about how to run a business that made it successful in a larger sense.

Only some of us are corporate shareholders, and shareholders have won big in America over the last three decades.

But we’re all stakeholders in the American economy, and many stakeholders have done miserably.

Maybe a bit more stakeholder capitalism is in order.

The views expressed in this post are the authors’ alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at UC-Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospectmagazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, Inequality for All, was released last fall. You can follow him on Twitter at @RBReich.
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