Borrowing from N. Carolina, Wisconsin Statehouse Votes to Undermine Democracy + a Report on Attacks on Journalists

Shameless WI legislature passes a raft of bills that erode the power of the newly elected Democratic Governor and Attorney General and utterly gut a wide range of heinous legislation. A hint of what could happen in 2020 when the Dems sweep the Senate and White and consolidate their grip on the House. Democracy Now! video captures it all.

KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, Dec. 8, 8:30am Retake Our Democracy with Land Commissioner-elect Stephanie Garcia Richards and Emerge NM Executive Director Ashley Sanderson. Find out how Emerge NM has become one of the pre-eminent programs explicitly designed to identify Democratic women with the potential for political leadership and provide support, training and access to a growing network of women in office. Her story of the success of Emerge NM grads in the 2018 election is extraordinary. Stephanie Garcia Richards, talked candidly about her plans as the first woman Land Commissioner. Definitely worth a listen. You can listen to past shows by going to KSFR.og.


Want to Get a Personal Tour of the Roundhouse with Senator Peter Wirth? Saturday, Dec. 8 at 12 noon, right after his League of Women Voters orientation to how to be an effective volunteer advocate at the Roundhouse (10am-12pm). To get a slot in the tour, you need to make a $50 donation to KSFR today or by making a $10 monthly pledge, right now, by going to and clicking on the donate button. When done, shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the list. Senator Wirth offered this up to KSFR listeners who were tuning in to our show some weeks ago. We’d like to boost the numbers, as KSFR is an invaluable community resource. The story that follows points to the critical need of public radio, open and free, and managed by our community.

For updated information on Actions & Opportunities in Santa Fe, click here to obtain information about trainings, events, actions, and opportunities to deepen your involvement in creating the community, state and nation to which we aspire.

Roundhouse Advocacy Toolkit.  The Roundhouse Advocacy Toolkit will be comprised of an array of guidelines, video, articles, and tools for helping you better understand how the Roundhouse functions and where you can plug in. It can be intimidating for the everyday person to raise their voice in a legislature (be glad we are not working in Wisconsin, see below). By the end of the day, the Toolkit will be found under the resources menu on our website and will include:

  • 30 Minute Video of a training delivered at our Nov 29 Roundhouse Advocacy Team Meeting from Clifford Rees, a 13 year veteran working as a senior Roundhouse Legislative Analyst, describe how the Roundhouse actually functions from bill introduction to veto or signing into law. He describes how committees work, where to access legislators and staff and how best and when to advocate effectively. Far from dry, Rees is an entertaining speaker with good stories to boot.
  • A one-page summary: Who is Retake? What is the Roundhouse Advocacy Team and What is the Roundhouse Rapid Response Team. In one page you can understand a bit of who we are, how we got where we are, what we want to achieve and how you can plug in.
  • A guide describing how to be an effective Roundhouse Advocate in 2019, describing how to provide comment at a Roundhouse Committee hearing, how to write the most effective email to your legislator, and how to track bills in the Roundhouse.
  • Our fourteen bill MUST PASS List. This is a list that will change over time as new bills are introduced, but we have fourteen bills identified, 12 have been introduced before and so there is more information available on these bills. But two are bills we know are coming, but can’t know the format just yet.
  • A template and guide for developing a Roundhouse Bill Summary.
  • Our Roundhouse Strategy. This is currently available. Click here.

In the coming weeks, we will include:

  • The video of our Dec 13 training on understanding how to use the website
  • A list of all the Senate and House Representatives and their contact information, over time the list will be annotated to highly the key swing representatives and those who are solid deep blue and can be counted on.
  • A Roundhouse Calendar with days, times and locations of all committee hearings
  • A template and guide for how to provide public comment at a Roundhouse hearing. This is covered in the Rees video described above, but you can’t take a video to the hearing room.

We have a growing number of volunteers working on all of these materials and tools. The intent is to make them easily accessible for those who can’t attend meetings or who live in distant parts of the state. Kudos to this growing number of volunteers making all this happen. Join us. We need you.

Extraordinary Day at Journalism Under Fire Conference

Roxanne and I attended the Journalism Under Fire Conference Wednesday and were blown away by what the Santa Fe Council on International Relations was able to organize. forty-eight international journalists. From the 10-12 journalists we saw on the panels we attended, most appear to have been either jailed, arrested, beaten or threatened. The stories told by the panelists was horrifying, the brazenness of the governments stunning and the degree to which it is effectively suppressing the media and dissent was frightening. We heard from journalists from all over the world and from the US. If you have the time, there are two days left in the conference at the SF Convention Center. Click here for info.

The assault on the press here in the US is a tad more subtle, for now, with Trump banning reporters from the White House, calling them the “enemies of the people” and denigrating three African American journalists repeatedly. One could surmise that this kind of disparagement is planting the seeds for more aggressive and hostile actions against the media. Indeed, in listening to Arbana Xharra and investigative reporter from Kosovo indicated that in Kosovo the threats against the media began with denigration and humiliation. So, the warning signs are there and it is important to be vigilant. As evidence that we are treading on thin ice, the t-shirt at left is for sale in the US.

As a result of what I heard, I decided to engage four of the journalists:  Jason Rezaian who spent 544 days in an Iranian prison, Arbana Xharra who was threatened with death and the death of her children, was beaten and had blood smeared on her door in Kosovo; Hannah Allam a national reporter for Buzzfeed who was a bureau chief in Baghdad and Cairo, and Jenni Monet a tribal citizen of the Laguna pueblo and investigative reporter who was arrested while reporting at Standing Rock. Each has agreed to appear on our radio show and I’ll begin recording these shows in the next few weeks and then air them one after another after the Roundhouse legislative session is completed.

Wisconsin Does Hatchet Job on Democracy

If you can’t win the vote, change the rules.  It worked in North Carolina, so Wisconsin is replicating the approach. Wisconsin had planted the seeds by ramming through, behind closed doors, the most outrageous gerrymandering work anywhere in the nation. As a result, in 2018 statewide Democrats outpolled the GOP 54-46%  and won every single statewide office. Yet the GOP won 64% of the State Senate and Assembly seats. With this advantage and having lost both the Attorney General and Governorship, the Assembly called a special session and passed bills to erode their power in unimaginable ways and to pass a litany of anti-democratic measures designed to prevent Democrats from doing the will of the voters. This is nothing less than a coup.

We purport to live in a Democracy and yet this kind of brazenly undemocratic practice is somehow legal and celebrated by the COP, viewing it as a win for them. What exactly was done? Convening a special legislative session in the dead of night that extended past dawn, the legislature passed bill to:

  • Reduce the time frame that cities of Madison and Milwaukee (Democratic strongholds) could conduct early voting period from 6 weeks to 2 weeks, an obvious effort to suppress the Democratic vote;
  • Prevent Wisconsin from withdrawing the multistate lawsuit to torpedo the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions.
  • Prevent the Wisconsin Attorney General from involving Wisconsin in any legal actions without approval from the Assembly, the gerrymandered 64% GOP Assembly)

I had gotten this far in ticking off all the other astonishing things that the Wisconsin State Legislature is doing when I took a break to watch Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!. Glad I did. While totally stunned by the scale and scope of this effort, the report below captures what is being done way better than I could and while I was appalled by the three actions above, what is reported on Democracy Now! goes well beyond the above.Wisconsin reporter, Ruth Conniff, does a brilliant job of outlining all the details.  I highly, highly recommend viewing the video below as it may well foretell the kind of strategies that a defeated Trump and his GOP cohorts could attempt. Sure the GOP Senate is parting ways with Trump over the Saudi Prince, but we all witnessed how they could circle the wagons to defend Kavanaugh. A 2020 election defeat may not be a pill the GOP will agree to swallow.

In solidarity,

Roxanne and Paul




Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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3 replies

  1. Paul,
    Your comments on the CIR meeting at the convention center were right on! Having the journalists you name on the radio show is excellent!
    Bob MacPherson

  2. These journalists have undergone so much for freedom of the press. Terrifying information. Fantastic that you will be interviewing four of them.

    On another subject: What is being done about the Dec. 10 deadline for the Public Charge changes?

    • I am way over my head right now. This is important. Could you poke around? As we near the RH session, I just can’t track everything/

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