A Better Place

In this update: 1. Imagine democracy. It isn’t hard to do. 2. Greased pig 3. Court races getting increasingly political A Better Place

Email date: 10/30/07

In this update:
1. Imagine democracy. It isn’t hard to do.
2. Greased pig
3. Court races getting increasingly political

Imagine being a single mother, waiting tables for $3.18 an hour, plus tips. Imagine getting elected to the state legislature. Try imagining it happening here in Wisconsin. Try imagining it happening anywhere.

Now meet Deb Simpson. Single mother. Waitress. Working for half of her state’s minimum wage. Meet State Representative Deborah Simpson. Elected to the legislature in 2000. Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

In Maine.

Thanks to Maine’s system of full public financing of state elections, Deb Simpson’s story is possible there. There’s some serious work to do to make it possible in Wisconsin.

Governor Jim Doyle doesn’t seem interested in taking the lead anymore. A commitment to call a special session on reform has been withdrawn. A spokesperson for the governor says it was all a misunderstanding. Sorry, there was nothing equivocal or ambiguous about what the governor’s chief of staff told the Democracy Campaign and Common Cause in Wisconsin 10 months ago. . . . Special session. Campaign finance reform. This fall.

Special session or no special session, leadership from the governor is essential if Wisconsin is to get to a better place . . . a place where people like Deb Simpson could have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of competing for a seat in our legislature. The governor needs to hear that. Please make sure he does.

Leadership from top legislative leaders is essential too. New Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker and Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch have the power to make campaign reform a reality. Go here and here to contact them.

Your own state legislators also need to step up. Take a minute to contact them. For a directory of e-mail addresses for senators, go here. For an e-mail directory for assembly representatives, go here. If you are not sure who your legislators are, go here to find out.

Speaking of imagining a better place . . . the Democracy Campaign will be joining dozens of the nation’s leading electoral reform, media reform and voting rights organizations for the Claim Democracy conference November 9-11 in Washington, D.C.  In the event you can make the pilgrimage to our nation’s capital, the deadline for "early bird" registration is tomorrow.

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One of the casualties of this year’s state budget fiasco was Judy Robson, who was ousted as Senate majority leader in favor of Joint Finance Committee co-chair Russ Decker. It appears Decker’s first act as Democratic leader will likely be to throw a bone to AT&T. It looks like Decker will orchestrate a vote in the Senate on the company’s cable TV bill as soon as tomorrow.

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An article in Sunday’s Washington Post focuses on how judges who are supposed to be above the political fray are being compromised across the country by increasingly partisan, corporate-financed election campaigns. Wisconsin is no exception to this rule. The Democracy Campaign has exposed how the supposedly nonpartisan nature of judicial elections in Wisconsin has become a farce. And we documented record-shattering spending in the most recent state Supreme Court race. Early signs point to a repeat performance in next April’s high court election.