Saturday, April 11, 2020
|Voters wait in line to cast ballots in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Reuters|
The state’s holding of a primary during a pandemic is just the latest example of Republicans’ naked bid to keep power at all costs
emergency request from the governor, Tony Evers. With Covid-19 cases in the thousands, Evers implored the lawmakers to delay in-person voting for the state’s presidential primary and mail a ballot to every voter in the state.ess than 72 hours before polls opened in Wisconsin on 7 April, the state legislature convened to weigh an
It was a meeting only in name. Republicans, who control 63 of 99 seats in the state assembly, sent just one member. He brought the session to order and then immediately ended it without taking up the governor’s request. It took just 17 seconds. In the Republican-controlled state senate, the same thing happened, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It took even less time.
The legislature’s defiance was a naked display of unabashed power – an elected body refusing its governor’s request and turning its back on its constituents in a time of crisis.
The Republican lawmakers who didn’t even bother to show up for the emergency session on Saturday knew that their re-election was guaranteed because of a successful party effort over the last 10 years to entrench themselves in power. Even in a state at the center of some of the most hard-nosed fights over voting, it was a stunning series of events.
That assault on democracy began in 2011, when Republicans drew new lines for political districts in Wisconsin. It was part of a national Republican effort, called Project Redmap, to capture state legislatures and, with those victories, to gain control over redrawing the lines of each district. The goal of Redmap was to conjure districts that would advantage Republicans and disadvantage Democrats – a process called gerrymandering. The writer and author David Daley called Project Redmap “the most audacious political heist of modern times”.
Karl Rove, former senior adviser to George W Bush announced the redistricting effort in the Wall Street Journal, claiming, rightly, that whoever controls redistricting also controls Congress. Later, according to the New Yorker, when Rove addressed potential funders of Redmap in Dallas, he said “People call us a vast rightwing conspiracy. But we’re really a half-assed rightwing conspiracy. Now it’s time to get serious.”
For $1.1m – a small sum in campaign dollars – Republicans won the state legislature and went on to curb Democratic power by passing a strict voter ID law, making it harder for minorities and students to vote, and later stripped statewide elected officials of some of their authority.
“I don’t think many people who are aware of what’s going on, and are tuned into politics and government in this state, would say that it’s anything even resembling a democracy,” said Jay Heck, the executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of Common Cause, a government watchdog group.
On Tuesday, voters risked their lives to go to the polls, waiting hours in line in Milwaukee. So far, turnout looks like it will be a fraction of what it was in 2016, and that is believed to benefit Republicans, who were seeking to maintain control of a seat on the conservative-leaning state supreme court. It was the state supreme court who voted along partisan lines to overrule Evers’ last-minute effort and to allow the election to move forward.
This is the dumbest question I've ever heard.@Yamiche says people are "offended" by the Surgeon General saying "big momma" and "pop pop" and asks him to address those he's "offended." pic.twitter.com/yLePXzw0zd— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 10, 2020
Friday, April 10, 2020
2 GOP senators warn of 'revolt' and 'civil disobedience' against stay-at-home order. Evers calls rhetoric 'not helpful.'
Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|GOP Sens. Steve Nass, left, of Whitewater and Duey Stroebel, right, of Cedarburg. (Photo: Journal Sentinel files)|
MADISON - Two conservative lawmakers are warning of "civil disobedience" and "revolt" against restrictions imposed by Gov. Tony Evers' administration to curb the spread of coronavirus — comments the governor suggested could damage the state's effort to contain the virus.
State Sens. Steve Nass of Whitewater and Duey Stroebel of the Town of Cedarburg said Friday the latest order by Evers to close dozens of state parks could result in significant pushback if Evers' orders to stay at home, which have closed scores of businesses, bars and restaurants, continue.
Both also suggested it's unfair that public employees are not being subject to pay cuts as owners and employees of private companies are losing work — an idea Evers also rejected Friday.
"I hope the Governor and other officials in the administration understand the closing of 40 state parks for dubious reasoning at best is only one flashpoint in a growing revolt to how the Covid-19 response has been handled in Wisconsin," Nass wrote in an email to Evers' legislative liaison.
"This week has been a turning point in how the public now views some of the decisions made by this administration under the Governor’s Emergency Declaration and the uneven exercise of those emergency powers," he said.
Some hospitals are hit hard by coronavirus patients, others are not. But officials won't share data, leaving residents in the dark.
Raquel Rutledge and Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Raquel Rutledge and Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It’s a thought that has crossed many minds in recent weeks: What if I get sick with coronavirus and need to go to the emergency room?
Where should I go? Which hospital will treat me quickly, and will it have a ventilator if I need one?
With the peak surge estimated to be less than two weeks away, residents of Milwaukee and across Wisconsin have no way of knowing.
Hospitals and the state Department of Health Services have refused to release information about how many patients with COVID-19 each hospital has, how many patients are on ventilators and what each hospital's remaining capacity is for intensive care beds or the potentially lifesaving machines.
The lack of disclosure makes it impossible for the public to see the surge approaching in small neighborhoods or metropolitan areas. It also makes it difficult to spot disparities within communities.
“These are really important facts and figures that we need,” said Jaime Lucas, executive director of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals. “We have to know what’s available. We have to have some confidence in the system that is set up to care for us. I think we all deserve that.”
Specific hospital data from Milwaukee County could also help determine if critically ill patients will have to be transported to hospitals in Waukesha and Ozaukee counties — or farther — when the number of patients peaks.
Read more: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/04/10/coronavirus-hitting-wisconsin-hospitals-but-no-way-know-which-ones/5129987002/
Goddamn the government keeping important information from us. Someone needs to remind them that we are supposedly a free and open society. "Protecting" us from vital news is unconstitutional.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
John Steppe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
John Steppe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|Gas price at BP gas station is $1.39 per gallon on Thursday, March 26, 2020 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Gas prices of other gas stations dropped down to around $1 per gallon in Elkhorn. (Photo: Zhihan Huang, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)|
Gas prices are dropping as low as 98 cents per gallon in the Milwaukee area as people spend less time driving during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Clark station in Waukesha registered as cheapest in the area on Wednesday, per price tracking site GasBuddy, at 98 cents per gallon.
A couple of stations in the area are at 99 cents per gallon, including the Woodman's in Waukesha and Costco locations in Pewaukee and New Berlin.
The average gas price in the Milwaukee area is $1.40, per AAA data. The average is $1.23 per gallon in Green Bay, $1.14 per gallon in Appleton and $1.38 per gallon in Madison.
Statewide, the average price for a gallon of gas is at $1.40, down from $1.54 at this time last week and $2.27 at this time last month, AAA data shows. The national average dropped to $1.91.
This blog is appearing late because I forgot about it. The coronavirus has destroyed my daily routine. I don't remember what day it is anymore. I've been sleeping a lot. I think that's my way of avoiding the madness. You can't pick up a newspaper or go online without being inundated with coronavirus "news." I want to talk about something else, anything else. Let's talk about the weather.
Yesterday was warm and wonderful. Today is nor supposed to be as warm, but you can tell that spring is in the air. Thank God. I hate winter; er, ah, I hate snow and cold and ice, whenever they appear. Every winter I think about moving to Florida. I may be stuck here just out of habit. I think being a snowbird would be ideal, but I worry about my business and clients suffering from my absence. Who am I fooling? I'll never move. I love Racine, even if it is politically corrupt. Criminals run the city, but the people are wonderful. At least, most of them.
Well, we had an election yesterday. I have no idea why that was allowed to happen. All I can say is that one political party may have hoped to benefit from a low turnout, something that already happens in primary elections. If you read the comments on the Journal Times' site, you can see how divided people are in Racine. The Republicans and Democrats literally hate each other. There is little room for clear dialog, but plenty for venom and bile. The worthiness of a post or idea is unimportant; all that matters is screaming at your "opponents." Just like in real life. How sad for all of us.
It kind of reminds me of Mr. President Trump's daily COVID-18 briefings. It also reminds me of a quote from William Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." That sure sounds like Mr. President's briefings. Oh my.
I've noticed that the coronavirus has not slowed down road construction in Racine. Anywhere you drive in the area, you will run into orange barrels and 5 guys looking down into a hole where 2 guys are working. How do you get one of those "looking down into the hole" jobs? I'm pretty good at doing nothing. Am I hired?
Here's a little video about all those who lied to us early on in the coronavirus pandemic:
Don't you just love it when public figures and media outlets mislead you on the seriousness of a matter? These are the people who are supposed to "lead" us. Like Mr. Mayor Cory 'Butterball' Mason, who publicly whines about the virus, but secretly conducts City Council meetings by himself. I wonder if he's laid off his myriad of assistants? I don't know if he can exist without them . . .
Well, that's it, kiddos. I just got up and whipped this out. Now I have to make breakfast and prepare for another boring day. I may go to the store today. Oh boy! What fun.
I love you all and thank you for reading my blog. Don't forget that we are family. If you have a problem, please contact me:
Please be sure to respect one another. It's our best hope for peace.
Please donate: paypal.me/jgmazelis If you don't like PayPal, send me a note at email@example.com and I'll send you my street address so you can send a check or money order. Thank you.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Live coronavirus updates: Officials prepare to open facility at State Fair Park to handle overflow patients
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Read more: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/04/07/coronavirus-wisconsin-latest-updates-cases-cancellations/2959900001/
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
6:15 p.m.: DMV implements new restrictions on in-person services
The Department of Motor Vehicles is implementing more restrictions on in-person services because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Until further notice, the service centers will be closed to all in-person transactions except for commercial driver licenses, voters needing identification who need to use the identification card petition process and new Wisconsin residents who need a driver’s license or ID for voting. And those services are available by appointment only.
To make an appointment for one of these services during the Safer at Home order, call the DMV Communication Center at (608) 264-7447.
People can still perform all vehicle-related transactions including renewing registration or obtaining titles for vehicles and changing addresses by mail, through third-party providers or online - wisconsindmv.gov
Also, all driver license and commercial driver license renewals are extended 60 days and emissions testing requirements have been deferred. Registration renewals should still be completed by mail or online by the renewal date.
And all non-commercial driver license skills tests have been canceled until further notice.
- Meg Jones
6 p.m.: Officials prepare to open coronavirus facility at State Fair
As projections show coronavirus cases in Milwaukee County will likely peak by mid April, officials are close to opening a facility to handle overflow patients at State Fair Park.
Dr. Ben Weston, Director of Medical Services, Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said a request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to open a coronavirus facility at State Fair “is moving forward quickly.”
Army Corps of Engineers officials have given authorities here “positive feedback that it will happen soon,” Weston said at a Tuesday afternoon media briefing.
A team to operate the facility is being put together and officials are working to identify the criteria for patients to be housed at State Fair, said Weston.
- Meg Jones
5 p.m.: Amazon hires 700 new employees in Wisconsin to meet surge in demand
Amazon said this week it has hired more than 80,000 employees to meet the surge in demand from people buying items online and having them delivered.
The digital company, now one of the world’s largest retailers, said it has hired more than 700 new employees in Wisconsin.
“The new hires in Wisconsin fill a range of roles, including picking, packing, and shipping customer orders and delivering packages from delivery stations to meet the needs of the COVID-19 demand surge,” Amazon said in a statement.
Many of those who were hired have been “impacted by layoffs related to COVID-19 and come from a variety of fields and life situations, including restaurant cooks, bartenders and servers, flight attendants, teachers, business owners, personal trainers, valet drivers, rideshare drivers, retirees, part-time workers whose jobs are now on hold, and people ‘who just wanted to help out,’” according to the statement.
Amazon says it is continuing to hire. Interested candidates can visit www.amazon.com/jobsnow to apply.
The jobs “start with minimum pay of $17 per hour through the end of April, which is an increase of $2 per hour since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and come with company benefits on day one, for full-time and some part-time positions,” according to the statement.
— Joe Taschler
4:20 p.m.: County buses in Milwaukee will be limited to 10 people
Starting Thursday, Milwaukee County buses will allow only 10 people onboard because of the need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
County Executive Chris Abele announced the change Tuesday afternoon and said the county is putting more buses on busy routes to handle passengers.
If a bus already has 10 people on board, it will not stop to pick up passengers.
“I apologize to people who have to wait longer,” Abele said.
He reiterated concerns about overcrowding in the confined spaces of buses and said they should be used only for workers who need to travel to essential jobs or used to go to medical appointments.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, buses are “not there just for a convenience,” said Abele.
- Meg Jones
12:55 p.m.: Wisconsin National Guard sets up isolation facility for homeless
The Wisconsin National Guard has set up an isolation facility for the homeless in Milwaukee County on the grounds of the St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis.
The facility plans to be manned with 10 medics and 15 other "citizen soldiers" to provide 24/7 support to those who want to be safe from the coronavirus or protect themselves from infecting others.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department and Milwaukee County Housing Division designated Clare Hall at the property as the isolation facility for referrals from the area homeless shelters and health care facilities that have individuals who are struggling to find stable housing.
The National Guard expects to house individuals in the facility later this week.
— Ricardo Torres
10:01 a.m.: Is alcohol business suffering? Molson Coors says it is
Even as alcohol sales have risen during the coronavirus pandemic, Molson Coors warns that its overall business could be harmed by the shutdown of bars, restaurants, sporting events and festivals.
A weakened economy alone could encourage consumers to buy cheaper drinks, said the Chicago-based brewer with a large presence in Milwaukee in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
“Under difficult economic conditions, consumers may seek to reduce discretionary spending by forgoing purchases of our products or by shifting away from our above-premium products to lower-priced products,” Molson Coors said in the March 27 filing.
The bigger impact could be from lost sales at bars, restaurants, sporting events, festivals and other large gatherings. “We expect that such closures may increase as COVID-19 continues to spread globally,” the company said.
Molson Coors warned that its business in 2020 could be “significantly affected” by the impact of COVID-19.
Still, U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55% in the week of March 21, according to the most recent figures from market research firm Nielsen, largely as consumers rushed to fill their pantries amid the fear of shortages.
Spirits like tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails led the way, jumping 75% from a year earlier. Wine sales were up 66%, while beer sales rose 42%.
— Rick Barrett
7:50 a.m.: Waukesha church hosting emergency blood drive
Due to the overwhelming needs of the community, Fox River Christian Church is hosting a blood drive from 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the church, W46 W24130 Lawndale Road, Waukesha.
The church is also holding a food drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Easter Sundayat the Waukesha location as well as the Muskego campus, S67 W19491 Tans Drive. The food drive is a drive-thru and drop-off event. All events adhere to the COVID-19 protection guidelines
— Debi Eimer
6:45 a.m.: 2 sheriff's employees, including deputy, test positive
Two Milwaukee County sheriff's employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement from the sheriff's office late Monday night.
“We continue to see the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community and now into the workplace," Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said. "We will continue to take every precaution to ensure the safety of the members of the Sheriff’s Office, the people entrusted to our care and the community we serve.”
These cases mark the first two positive cases of coronavirus in the department. The sheriff's office has conducted an internal contact tracing to determine if either member had contact with other members of the sheriff's office.
According to the release, the officers include a deputy sheriff in the Court Services Division and a stores clerk in the Milwaukee County Jail, and both are in self-isolation.
The deputy, assigned to the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center, was sent home April 1 after experiencing symptoms of the virus. She later was tested and found to be positive for COVID-19. The deputy’s daily assignment did not involve contact with in-custody youths or members of the public.
The stores clerk, assigned to the property room at the Milwaukee County Jail, was sent home March 26 due to an elevated temperature. The clerk was later tested and found to be positive for COVID-19. The clerk’s duties and responsibilities do not involve any contact with the public or persons in custody.
UPDATE: The first version of this entry indicated that two sheriff's deputies had tested positive instead of one deputy and one stores clerk