Thursday, July 18, 2024

Recall Vos group misses state deadline for campaign finance report

From The Journal

Scott Williams

Yard signs turned up in Racine County earlier this year in support of a recall effort targeting Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

UNION GROVE — The group behind a recall effort targeting Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has missed a deadline for reporting who financially backed the failed campaign.

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission said the recall group will receive a warning and possibly a $100 fine for missing the reporting deadline, which passed at midnight Monday.

Under state law, the Union Grove-based group is required to report who has donated money and how the money was spent.

Recall organizer Matthew Snorek said he was aware of the deadline, but he said others in the group were responsible for campaign finance reporting.

Snorek referred questions about the missed deadline to Conrad Reynolds, a Republican from Arkansas who traveled to Wisconsin to help run the recall petition drive. Reynolds could not be reached for comment.

Reynolds was working on the campaign finance report, Snorek said, but there was some confusion about when it was due.

“I have no idea how that stuff works at all,” he said.

Vos, a Republican who is seeking re-election in November, said the missed deadline is an example of the recall group’s disregard for laws and rules.

“Their lack of reporting is especially concerning given we’re probably talking about at least a million dollars in spending from out-of-state special interests,” Vos said. “Everyone in Racine County deserves to know who funded this effort.”

The recall effort sought to remove Vos from his state legislative seat after the Assembly speaker refused calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election.

The group registered with the state ethics commission in January under the name “Recall Vos,” and again in March under the name “Racine Recall Committee.”

In two separate efforts, the group fell short of the number of signatures needed on a petition calling for a recall election in Vos’ legislative district.

Both groups were required to file campaign finance reports by Monday.

A candidate or committee can claim an exemption from the reporting requirement if they collect and spend less than $2,500. The deadline for claiming the exemption was June 30.

Under the ethics commission rules, the missed deadline will count as a “first strike” against the group. If future reporting deadlines are missed, the penalties could become more severe.


Sunday, July 7, 2024

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Bice: How badly does Tammy Baldwin not want to talk about Biden? Let us count the ways.

From JSOnline:

Daniel Bice
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MARINETTE – Want to see a veteran politician dance on the hottest issue of the moment?

Here is U.S. Sen Tammy Baldwin on Friday at A Place for Coffee, a Marinette eatery nearly 200 miles away from the capital city of Madison, where President Joe Biden was simultaneously speaking to supporters.

Biden was telling his crowd that he had no plans to drop his reelection bid, despite his disastrous debate performance against former Republican President Donald Trump last week.

"They're trying to push me out of the race," Biden said. "Let me say this clearly as I can: I'm staying in the race."

For her part, Baldwin — a Democrat, like Biden — spent 20 minutes telling 50 or so adoring supporters about her childhood, her political history, her most important pieces of legislation and her opponent, Republican millionaire Eric Hovde.

About everything, it seemed, except Biden.

Afterward, she met with TV and print reporters for a little more than two minutes.

But still, no Biden talk.

"I will tell you that I am focused on my own campaign," she said.

Told that Hovde had accused her of hiding behind her staff when asked about Biden, the second-term senator still ducked the question: "It's not my decision."

The Biden campaign announced Friday that it is going to be airing $50 million in ads this month in Wisconsin and other battleground states, but Baldwin declined to say if the TV spots will be a help or a hindrance to her campaign.

"I've been putting up my own political advertising," she countered. "I'm focused on traveling the state (and) meeting people where they are. And that's my focus."

I then pointed out that we've known each other for more than 30 years, going back to when she was my Dane County supervisor in the early '90s. Mostly, Baldwin has been straightforward and forthright in her comments over the years.

So for old times' sake, would Baldwin just express some opinion — any opinion — on whether Biden should run for reelection or step aside? Her response: "It is his decision."

So Baldwin's political dance continues.

Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 313-6684 or Follow him on X at @DanielBice or on Facebook at


Saturday, July 6, 2024

Absentee ballot drop boxes reinstated, Wisconsin Supreme Court rules

Biden refuses to say whether he'd take independent cognitive test and make results public

From JSOnline:

Elizabeth BeyerMichael Collins

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden insisted Friday he doesn’t need a cognitive or neurological test and appeared to dismiss reports that he has suffered mental lapses.

In a 22-minute interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Biden refused to say whether he would be willing to take an independent cognitive or neurological exam and release the results to the public.

The job of the presidency and running for re-election are their own sort of cognitive test, he said.

“I have a cognitive test every day,” he said.

Biden did not directly address reports that claimed his mental lapses were increasing. “Can I run 110 flat? No," he said. "But I’m still in good shape.”

The interview was Biden's first with a television network since his disastrous debate with former President Donald Trump last week. During that faceoff, Biden spoke in a raspy voice and at times was unable to complete his thoughts or finish sentences. His performance has raised concerns among some Democrats that he will lose to Trump in November and is not mentally fit to serve another four years in office.

Pressed by Stephanopoulos on whether he would take a cognitive test or neurological assessment to reassure the American people of his ability to serve another term if he were reelected to the White House, Biden said Americans should watch him at work and on the campaign trail.

“So, the answer is no,” Stepanopoulos said.

“I’ve already done it,” Biden responded.


Thursday, July 4, 2024

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'I screwed up': Joe Biden addresses debate performance with Milwaukee radio host

From JSOnline:

Lawrence Andrea
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden in a Milwaukee radio interview on Wednesday said he “screwed up” during the debate with former President Donald Trump last week — marking some of the first public comments from the president since the event.

“I had a bad night," Biden told Milwaukee radio host Earl Ingram in a pre-recorded interview set to air Thursday morning. "And the fact of the matter is that I screwed up. I made a mistake. That’s 90 minutes onstage, look at what I’ve done in 3.5 years.”

The comments, made during an interview with Ingram Wednesday, are among the first from the president following a shaky debate performance that highlighted questions about Biden's age and led some Democrats to call to replace him at the top of the ticket. Biden has said he plans to stay in the race.

About one minute of select clips from Biden's interview was provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Ingram, a longtime Biden supporter, told the Journal Sentinel he spoke with the president for 20 minutes. The full interview will air 8 a.m. Thursday on WAUK-AM(540).

During the interview, Biden also touted his efforts to engage minority communities and noted his work appointing Black judges, according to the short clips.

"I picked a Black woman to be my vice president. I've appointed the first Black woman to be a Supreme Court justice," Biden said. "I've appointed more Black judges, more Black women judges, than every other president in American history combined."

He attacked Trump for recent comments the presumptive Republican nominee made about Black workers.

"I'm sorry to get so worked up," Biden said. "But he is just — he's terrible things in the community, and he has about as much interest and concern for Black, minority communities as the man on the moon does."

Biden is set to visit Madison Friday.

The interview was recorded the same day Biden met with 24 Democratic governors from across the country as he sought to tamp down concerns from within the party about his place at the top of the ticket. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was the only Democratic governor to miss the meeting.

"(Evers) didn’t attend the meeting because he’s focused on moving forward and winning Wisconsin," Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback wrote on X. "He supports President Biden - his comments in support of the president over the last week speak for themselves, and he looks forward to campaigning with the President on Friday."

Several governors after the meeting indicated they remained behind Biden.

“He has had out backs through COVID, through all of the recovery, all of the things that have happened,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told reporters. “The governors have his back.”

“A path to victory in November is the No. 1 priority,” Walz added. “And that’s the No. 1 priority of the president. So that’s what we’re trying to get done.”

Milwaukee is set to host the Republican National Convention starting July 15.

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed from Milwaukee.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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Biden ally Jim Clyburn seeks to reassure Milwaukee voters after debate struggles

From JSOnline:

Hope Karnopp
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn campaigned in Milwaukee Monday in support of President Joe Biden's reelection as many Democratic voters worry about the president's age and ability to inspire enthusiasm after a rough debate performance last week.

Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat whose endorsement of Biden in 2020 was instrumental to his campaign, met with faith leaders, voting rights activists and local officials for a roundtable discussion at Coffee Makes You Black, a Black-owned business and community space.

Clyburn, a top Biden ally, has stood behind the president after the debate, as have local officials like Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Clyburn has said he recognized "preparation overload" as soon as Biden answered the first debate question.

"Nothing is wrong with his brain. The people who looked at those answers from both (candidates) came to the conclusion that on substance, Joe Biden was the winner far and away," Clyburn said. "Joe Biden has never been a show horse, he's always been a work horse. Just the opposite is true with his opponent."

Clyburn said he has not spoken to Biden since the debate but will speak with him "in the next day or two" and tell him to "stay the course."

NBC News included Clyburn in a list of senior Democrats in Congress who have privately expressed concerns about Biden's viability, despite all publicly backing the president. A spokeswoman for Clyburn said any reports alleging Clyburn "has expressed anything other than firm support of President Biden are completely untrue."

Clyburn's visit comes days after Maryland Gov. Wes Moore visited Wisconsin with similar goals, including rallying Black voters in Milwaukee who have expressed little enthusiasm for a rematch of the 2020 election between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Like Moore, Clyburn and County Executive David Crowley sought to draw a contrast between what Biden has delivered for Black voters and Trump's tone during the debate, including his comment about undocumented immigrants taking "Black jobs" or "Hispanic jobs."

Crowley called out Trump's comment at the beginning of the roundtable, saying his "Black job" allowed him to open new pickleball courts for the county earlier in the morning. He also backed Biden during the roundtable conversation.

"The appearance does not matter when you look at the substance of what was being talked about," Crowley said. "There's a stark contrast related to governing under Trump and governing under Biden ... (Biden is) speaking to the future. He's speaking to the soul and spirit of America."

Leaders at the roundtable said voters need to understand the connection between Biden's presidency and policies that affect them, like reduced insulin costs and funding for construction projects and lead service line replacement.

In a statement, Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Matt Fisher suggested voters will instead be thinking about inflation and immigration. Republicans have also been taking steps to engage Black voters in Milwaukee, including opening a new office in the Harambee neighborhood to boost outreach.

“Jim Clyburn’s coronation of Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic primaries opened the door to four years of rising prices and open border policies. This November, Wisconsinites will close that door and restore American prosperity and security," Fisher said.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found that turnout among Black voters in Milwaukee has significantly lagged white voter turnout during presidential contests, with the exception of 2012 — when then-President Barack Obama's reelection bid triggered unprecedented levels of voting in the city.

Black voter turnout fell in 2016 to around 58%, and then again to around 51% in 2020. Black voters carry the voting power to deny Democratic victories if turnout in the city's Black neighborhoods is down. And voters interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this cycle didn't express broad enthusiasm for Biden.

Enthusiasm could be a key problem for Biden, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll released before the debate last week. Biden and Trump were tied at 50% among registered voters in Wisconsin, but voter enthusiasm benefitted Trump.

"Here's a path for Joe Biden to lose this election pretty badly, is that he's failed to inspire his supporters," poll director Charles Franklin said. "They're unenthusiastic about him and his campaign, and they're much less likely to vote than those who are very enthusiastic, who overwhelmingly are for Trump."


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Dangerous currents in Great Lakes claim lives every summer. Here's what you need to know about them.

From JSOnline:

Siddhant Pusdekar
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wednesday night, Mohammad Hassan, a 17 year old Oak Creek Resident, drowned at Bender Park Beach. What should have been a pleasant evening out on the beach ended in tragedy.

Fatal drownings like the one that occurred yesterday are especially common in the summer. A spate of them occurred in 2021 when there were a shortage of lifeguards. Closed in 2020 after several fatalities, McKinley beach will reopen this year. Despite the added safety measures, the redesigned McKinley beach may not have many life guards this summer.

Since 2016, there have been an average of about 25-30 fatalities on the Great Lakes due to dangerous currents, according to Dave Benjamin, co-founder and executive director of Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Had Hassan checked the National Weather Services that night, he would have see a moderate swim risk warning. Nothing too concerning.

But that is when most deaths occur, Benjamin said, because the waters may appear safe.

Rip currents can be deadly and can catch people unaware. Here's what you need to know about them.

What are the dangerous currents on Lake Michigan?

Rip currents are most likely when the wind is blowing towards the shore and the waves appear chaotic.

When heavy winds blow waves toward the shore, the water needs to find a way back out. So it forms a fast flowing channel out and away from the shore. That is a rip current, JJ Wood a meteorologist with the National Weather Service explained.

There are some misconceptions about rip currents. People often call them rip tides, which gives the impression that they have something to do with tides. But they can occur even when there are no tides.

Another dangerous current to be wary of is a structural current. When the wind blows parallel to the shore, the current can take swimmers towards a jetty, or pier, where the water whirlpools around the structure before pushing away from the shore

Both types of currents can push you away from the shore very quickly.

What to do before you go to the beach

The National Weather Service tracks the wind and the waves for large areas of water and puts out a general beach hazard statement. But on the night of the June 27, the hazard level for the Milwaukee area was only moderate.

That is why Benjamin says the National Weather Service levels are not the best bet, because conditions at specific beaches can vary a lot. "The only way that you can get an accurate assessment of your local beach conditions is if you have lifeguards there," he said.

Life guards will put up flags of different colors depending on the safety level at the beach. Green for waves less that two feet, yellow for waves between two and four feet and red for waves above four feet. If your local beach has a life guard, the surest way to know the safety of the waters is to check those flags.

But many beaches do not have active life guards, updated beach hazard signage or public rescue equipment, Benjamin said. Even if a beach has active life guards they may not always be around.

In his work educating the public on water safety he recommends that "it's best to swim at a lifeguarded beach during lifeguard hours, otherwise your risk goes up exponentially."

What to do if you find yourself in a rip current

Swimming against a rip current can be very hard and the current can easily pull you away from the shore. What can you do if you get caught in a rip current?

It is also important to know your swimming ability. Even though a lot of people know how to swim, they may not best practices for swimming safety.

Instinctively you may want to swim back to shore, or you may have heard that you should swim parallel to the shore. But according to Benjamin, those solutions will only deplete your energy.

A 2021 video put out by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue project recommends a "flip, float and follow" strategy. That means getting on your back and floating with the current, while trying to regulate your breathing. Benjamin said this will help to reduce panic and conserve your energy before you swim parallel to the shore and find your way back or call for help.


Saturday, June 29, 2024

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I have no reason to post this other than the fact that my parents were Latvian immigrants to the U.S.A. in the late 1940's and they both lived in Riga, Latvia during the time of the atrocities documented in this video.  They never spoke to me about this.  My father used to discuss these times with a fellow Latvian drinking buddy of his.  They spoke in Latvian and I heard the name Ulmanis mentioned many times.  It appeared that my father's friend liked Ulmanis and my father did not.

Btw, I wasn't fluent in Latvian because my father felt heavily discriminated against because of his immigrant status and therefore he didn't want me or my sister speaking the language.  I know a few words in Latvian, but I'm not like other Latvian children in the U.S.A. who have a full command of the language.  I've always regretted this. 

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Is there a summer wave of COVID cases in Wisconsin?

From JSOnline:

Maia Pandey

Most of the country, including Wisconsin, is seeing a summer uptick in COVID-19 cases — but experts say the numbers are not yet a cause for concern and consistent with seasonal fluctuations in the virus.

As of June 18, the number of infections was growing or likely growing in 39 states and territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates there is about a 95% chance case numbers are growing in Wisconsin. No states are seeing cases decline.

The increase in cases also comes as a new strain of the virus becomes the most dominant in the country: the KP.3 variant accounted for 33.1% of cases as of June 22, up from 25.9% in early June, according to the CDC. The variant outpaced JN.1 as the most dominant in May and has been on the rise since.

What are COVID levels like in Wisconsin?

Both the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services no longer track individual COVID cases, but rather estimate transmission based on emergency department visits and hospitalizations or wastewater testing. In Wisconsin, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID went up 14% between June 9 and June 22. 

More specifically, hospitalizations are climbing in northeast, north central, western and south central regions of the state, according to DHS. The north central region saw the highest increase, with COVID hospitalizations rising 43% in June. The southeast region, which includes Milwaukee, saw no significant change in COVID hospitalizations throughout June.

As of June 22, wastewater testing across the state also shows a slight uptick in levels of COVID detected, with seven of the collection sites reporting a “significant increase.” But take these numbers with a grain of salt: the levels of detected virus are still far below the highs detected in 2021 and 2022, and virus levels have been decreasing overall since January.

Most Wisconsin cities are seeing historic low levels of COVID, especially compared to the winter surges in the virus, according University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Sandra McLellan, whose lab works with the state on wastewater testing.

“When you’re in low numbers, a few increases can make it look like it’s doubling and tripling, when, in fact, it’s just kind of the variability you might expect,” McLellan said.

The slight rise in COVID is consistent with what experts have seen in past summers, with virus levels rising in August 2022 and 2023, she added. 

“That might be that people are gathering — there’s a lot of outdoor festivals, there's a lot of mass gatherings going on,” McLellan said. “But it’s not near what we see in the wintertime, when it can really spike up.”

How will the Republican National Convention affect COVID spread in the city?

In Milwaukee, the Jones Island test site reported a moderate level of COVID, and the south shore test site reported a low level. But this data, which was last updated June 26, doesn’t account for potential cases during the second and third weekends of Summerfest and the upcoming RNC.

McLellan said the lab anticipates increases in the virus during large events in most cities: for example, cases usually tick up in Green Bay during the first couple Green Bay Packers games, she said.

For the RNC, however, the lab plans to increase its testing from twice weekly to daily during the week before, after and during the event — which it has not done previously for other large events. An estimated 50,000 people will come into the city for the four-day convention.

Though the data will likely not be available before people leave town for the convention, McLellan hopes it encourages people to refer to the state’s COVID data more often and monitor the spread of the virus in their city.

“We really encourage people to look at the dashboard,” McLellan said. “I think that really is helpful as people are deciding, ‘Do I want to go to gatherings with a lot of people, or do I want to take some extra precautions?’”


Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave unexpectedly dies Friday morning

From The Journal

Ryan Patterson

RACINE — Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave died unexpectedly Friday morning.

Delagrave was first elected county executive in 2015.

County Executive Jonathan Delagrave


County Board Chairman Tom Kramer will assume the duties and responsibilities of county executive until the position is filled, according to a Racine County statement.

In the statement, Racine County expressed “deepest sorrow and profound compassion” at the death of the “beloved” Delagrave.

“This tragic loss has left our community in a state of great sadness, as we mourn the untimely departure of a remarkable leader, devoted public servant and cherished friend,” the statement reads. “Jonathan’s unwavering commitment to improving the lives of all those within our county was truly inspirational, and his compassionate approach to governance touched the hearts of countless individuals. In this difficult time, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Jonathan’s family, friends, colleagues, and the entire community.”

The county statement asked for privacy for Delagrave’s family members “as they navigate through this tremendous loss.”

Delagrave was born and raised in Racine County and lived in the area his entire life. He began working for Racine County in 2003.

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave hands out flags during Racine's 2023 Memorial Day Parade. Delagrave died unexpectedly Friday morning.

In a statement, Racine Mayor Cory Mason said he has known Delagrave since they were 14 years old and Case High School classmates.

“As mayor, it has been an honor to serve alongside him in his role as county executive,” Mason wrote. “Jonathan was an amazing leader for Racine County. We are all at a loss from his passing. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

In a statement, Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, said she was “devastated” by Delagrave’s death.

“I am heartbroken for his family, friends, loved ones, and especially his two children,” Neubauer wrote. “Throughout his service to our community, he has been an incredible leader and champion for Racine County and its residents. I was lucky to have a personal friendship with Jonathan and to be able to collaborate over the years — I will deeply miss him. His impact will be felt around Racine County for years to come. We will all remember him as a community leader, public servant and friend.”

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave delivers his 2023 State of the County address. Delagrave, who was born and raised in Racine County and lived in the area his whole life, died unexpectedly Friday morning.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, wrote on Twitter that Delagrave was like a little brother and had “a great, positive spirit.”

“It was never ‘can’t do’ with Jonathan, it was always ‘how can we do,’” Wanggaard wrote. “The emphasis was on the ‘we.’ I will miss you, my friend.”

Ritu Raju, Gateway Technical College president and CEO, said in a statement that the college community “is deeply shocked and saddened” by Delagrave’s passing.

“He worked closely to collaborate with Gateway on many different programs and was a champion for education,” Raju wrote. “I personally appreciate his work with myself and the college, and he will be deeply missed by all.”

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave speaks in support of wetland restoration at the project's launch in August 2023 at Cliffside Park. 

Delagrave, who died unexpectedly Friday morning, was first elected county executive in 2015.

State Rep. Robert Wittke, R-Racine, said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Delagrave.

“Jonathan was an honorable man who served the residents of Racine County very well for nearly a decade,” Wittke wrote. “I appreciated his governing style and certainly each and every discussion we shared about the needs of Racine County and its residents. He will be missed. My deepest condolences to his family during this time.”

David DeGroot, Mount Pleasant Village Board president, said in a statement that Delagrave’s “visionary leadership” will be missed.

“Jonathan was not only a trusted advisor, collaborator, partner, and friend of the Village, but was personal friends with many of us as well,” DeGroot wrote.


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