Iron County Progressive


Wisconsin State AFL/CIO

Today, has been equal parts infuriating and inspiring. No voter should be asked to do what Wisconsin voters are doing today -- in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. It is the latest shameful example of the Wisconsin Republican Party and their allies in the courts putting naked partisan politics above the public interest.

No voter should have to choose between personal health and safety, and expressing our democratic freedom and constitutional right to vote in our American electoral process. Placed in this untenable position, Wisconsin voters bravely rose to the occasion.

Too many voters were left with impossible choices. Absentee ballots that were requested and never came. Deadlines and requirements that changed by the second. Self-isolating voters who couldn’t find a witness to sign their ballot. Young voters like my son, who turned 18 over the weekend, with no options to register and receive a mail-in ballot in advance.

The inspiring turnout in the face of unnecessary obstacles in no way diminishes this reckless disregard of public safety and our cherished democratic process. Republicans in Wisconsin pulled out all the stops to proceed with in-person voting during the COVID-19 public health emergency because they thought it was to their own, partisan advantage. They were willing to risk our lives for it.

Today was inspiring, because risking life, but not liberty, Wisconsin voters showed up. We waited for hours in lines that wrapped around city blocks, standing 6 feet apart. Sometimes in the pouring rain. We wore our masks, and gloves. We had our hands sprayed with sanitizer. Poll workers wore appropriate PPE and bravely served alongside the National Guard to give us direction and make attempts to keep us safe. While the resilience, courage, and determination of Wisconsin voters is unparalleled, we should have never been put in this position in the first place.

We sincerely hope no voter and no poll worker is infected at the polls today. But if anyone does get the coronavirus at the polls, Wisconsin voters will remember this day and know whose hands the blood is on.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President

Special Update from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair










No matter how the vote tallies wind up, the fact that Wisconsin Republicans forced an in-person election during a pandemic is unforgivable.

The last few days have been intense. Let’s talk about it. I’m writing to invite you to a conversation about what just happened, and what comes next, this
Thursday night at 7:00 PM, on Zoom at this link.

Here’s what on my mind as I write this.

There’s a concept in psychology called “moral injury.” It refers to the profound mental anguish of witnessing (or perpetrating, or failing to prevent) an action that violates your deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. It’s the feeling of wanting to scream from deep within when you experience something that is fundamentally wrong.

That’s the feeling that many of us—and many watching around the country and the world—had over the last few days.

When the GOP refused to postpone the election. When the state Supreme Court ruled on party lines that Governor Evers couldn’t postpone it. When the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the lower court judges were wrong, and even the six-day extension on absentee ballots had to be eliminated.

And then when we woke up yesterday and saw the videos on social media of lines, stretching far and yet farther still, of voters risking their lives to cast their ballots because, with righteous defiance, they refused to be suppressed.

Righteous but tragic. Because nobody should have to choose between risking their health and casting their vote.

Three sets of numbers will emerge from what just happened.

The first, between now and Monday, will be turnout: how many people voted in person, and how many absentee ballots arrived in the final day. People will try to game out projections for who won or lost. (Don’t put much stock in those.)

On Monday, we’ll get the second numbers: results. We’ll find out who won the Supreme Court race—and the 3830 other downballot races, the referenda, and the presidential primary.

The third set of numbers will take longer to unfold, and may never be quantified. That’s the number of people who get infected because they were exposed while trying to vote today, or because the personal protective equipment that would have saved them during a hospital shift was diverted to a polling place, or because their loved one voted and brought the virus back home. The downstream infections spread by those who caught COVID19 at the polls. Or the number of deaths that result from all those infections.

We might see coronavirus numbers rise in 2-4 weeks. Or maybe they’ll be lost in the general rising tide. But just because we might not be able to measure them won’t make the numbers any less real.

That third set of numbers—that set of human tragedies—should not exist. It did not have to exist. It was foreseeable, and foreseen, and a group of people in power decided that it was worthwhile to cause it to happen. We will not forget.

We will, however, thank those who have worked so hard—who made phone calls, sent texts, disinfected polling places, did all of the work in front of and behind the scenes to make democracy function and to make it as safe as possible. To those who put their names on the line and ran for office. To everyone involved in an unprecedented virtual organizing drive over the last several weeks, who adapted to the surreal reality we’re living in and rose to the moment.

This week’s events drove home just how high the stakes are in our work. Between now and November, we may face choices just as excruciating as the ones we faced this week. The best we can do is remain firm in our resolve, hold fast to our principles, and fight like hell for what we know to be right.

Proud to be in this party with you, no matter what comes our way.

Ben



From the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

On the ballot April 7 is a 10-year seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Who sits on the Supreme Court can impact our workplaces, including wage, hour, and safety laws, workplace conditions, and our rights as workers. Get involved with our union voter outreach campaign at wisaflcio.org/mobilize
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is proud to support Judge Jill Karofsky for Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • Judge Karofsky ensures working people are treated fairly in our legal system.
  • She’s a former prosecutor, and on the bench, she’s tough, fair, and independent.
  • Jill Karofsky will always fight to stop corruption and uphold the law.
  • Her opponent, Dan Kelly, was appointed to the Supreme Court by union-buster and former Governor Scott Walker.
Request an absentee ballot at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on April 2. Your completed ballot must be received by your municipal clerk no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, April 7. The postal service recommends mailing your ballot 7 days in advance. The City of Milwaukee has 5 locations where you can drop-off your completed absentee ballot.
Join us as we get out the vote for Jill Karofsky and all our union endorsed candidates. Visit wisaflcio.org/mobilize or click here to sign up for a WI AFL-CIO virtual phone bank. You can make calls to union households from the comfort of your home.
In Solidarity,
Stephanie Bloomingdale, President
Dennis Delie, Secretary-Treasurer


Weekly News from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair











We are in an unprecedented public health crisis. We are in an unprecedented economic crisis. And we are in a crisis of democracy—with an election in eleven days.

We have to tackle them all.

I'll write about the election fight in a moment. But first, a reminder: 
stay home, and stay safe. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or anxious right now. Support is available -- you can call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. The CDC has also provided guidance on how best to talk to your children about COVID-19.

And while you're home, don't just check the news and watch TV—volunteer to help win this election. You can sign up to join a local virtual phone bank at wisdems.org/2020. It's all hands virtually on deck.

Times of crisis are when our actions matter most. Let's pull through this, together.

Ben 






FIGHT on the Issues & FIGHT to Win



Request an Absentee Ballot Now!



Amid all the chaos, we still have an important election to win on April 7 for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We’re concentrating all of our efforts on mobilizing voters to request an absentee ballot online. If you haven’t already, you can request yours in less than 60 seconds. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Thursday, April 2 at 5:00 PM.

When you get your absentee ballot in the mail, you’ll need an adult witness to sign your ballot before you mail it back. If you live alone and are practicing social distancing (as we all should!), the Madison City Clerk has a few good ideas for getting that signature. Make sure to allow enough time for your ballot to get back to the Clerk’s Office by April 7 at 8:00 PM.






Gov. Evers Calls for Universal Vote By Mail



Today, Governor Evers called on the state legislature to pass a bill requiring that a ballot be mailed to every registered Wisconsin voter, to be returned safely by mail. Watch his video and share it here:






Make sure to call your legislators and tell them to support Gov. Evers’ plan. The continued functioning of our democracy depends on voting being safe and accessible to all. 

The legislative hotline is 1-800-362-9472!
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic National Committee have sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission to expand access to absentee voting. Already, we've won an extension on online voter registration to this Monday night, March 30. We filed again yesterday with our additional requests—most critically, to allow absentee ballot requests without requiring an uploaded photo of a voter ID and to extend the deadline for postmarking a ballot. Stay tuned for updates!





If you're having trouble voting, we're here to help. DPW launched a Voter Protection Hotline this week that will be staffed during business hours—and if you leave a message, we'll make sure to get back to it. Americans have fought and died for the right to vote—and we're going to keep fighting to exercise it!



STATE REPRESENTATIVE BETH MEYERS

First, I wanted to say thank you. We all owe so much to our health care workers, local and county officials, grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, public utility workers, and so many more you you who still have to work at essential businesses to keep us going. To everyone else, thank you for staying at home as much as you can. When you practice social distancing, you are doing the best thing you can for your community's health.

As your state representative, I also wanted to provide a brief update on the state legislature. Currently, we are waiting on Congress to pass the federal stimulus bill before we plan and move forward with possible complementary legislation (as of Friday morning, March 27th, the federal bill is awaiting passage in the House of Representatives). The Assembly and Senate are currently working on how to hold session safely. As far as I've heard, Governor Tony Evers and legislative leaders in both parties are working hard on bipartisan ideas to help Wisconsinites through this crisis.






As always, the best information on COVID-19 can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There is also great information to be found for all of the state of Wisconsin agencies at the governors website, govstatus.egov.com. For local updates, here are the county health departments in the 74th Assembly District:
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have been exposed, contact your doctor. In the meantime, stay safe, stay calm and stay informed.

Important note: The information in this update is relevant as of Friday, March 27th at 10 am. Things are moving quickly and bound to change. 






Governor's "Safer at Home" Emergency Order






This week, Governor Tony Evers issued the "Safer at Home" Emergency Order. The order states that all individuals present within the State of Wisconsin are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence.

Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but you should comply with the order and only leave your home for:
  • Health and safety.
  • To obtain necessary supplies, such as food, gas and household items.
  • Outdoor activity. Enjoy our parks and get some exercise, so long as you maintain social distance.
  • Performing essential work.
  • Taking care of others.
Non-essential business and operations must cease. Essential business are as follows:
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine.
  • Food and beverage production.
  • Restaurants and bars, but only for take-out and delivery.
  • Childcare facilities.
  • Charitable and social services.
  • Weddings, funerals and religious entities, limited to gatherings of 10 people or fewer.
  • Media.
  • Gas stations and transportation-related business.
  • Hardware and supplies stores.
  • Critical trades for maintaining homes and businesses.
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services.
  • Laundry services.
  • Businesses that sell supplies to work from home.
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, children, and/or people with disabilities, substance abuse disorders, and/or mental illness.
  • Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries.
  • Hotels and Motels, although gathering spaces such as pools should be closed.
If a business is deemed essential, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work. If you feel your business should be deemed essential but doesn't fall within the order, or you have further questions, visit the WEDC page on essential businesses.

If you have further questions, check out the Frequently Asked Questions here and the full text of the order here.

Yesterday, the governor's office also announced a donation and buy back program for personal protective equipment (PPE). Check out this website if you'd like to donate or sell any PPE you may have. 

Remember, this is a community effort! You may not be vulnerable, but this is about protecting the vulnerable and not overloading our healthcare system. We are all in this together. 






Travel and Snowbirds



Part of the emergency order requires Wisconsin residents to cancel or postpone all nonessential travel, including travel within the state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services:

"At this time, all international and domestic travel is considered risky, and all individuals who spend time outside of their home or local community have some risk of exposure to COVID-19. If international or domestic travel cannot be avoided, be prepared to remain away for an extended period of time if travel restrictions change or if you become sick. You should also be prepared to self-quarantine at home for 14 days upon your return."

For more information on travel restrictions, see the DHS homepage on COVID-19 and travel. 

This order includes those who are returning to their summer homes in Northern Wisconsin. While I understand the urge to escape more populated areas and return to the beauty and welcoming communities up north, you are endangering people if you do not self-quarantine.
If you are a seasonal resident returning to Northern Wisconsin, bring your own supplies and self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

That being said, I would ask that you reconsider returning at all. Please follow the emergency order and stay in your homes. Essential supplies and health care facilities are limited in Northern Wisconsin counties, and you must think of the health and well-being of those around you. 






Spring Election Updates and Deadlines






I've been hearing from clerks and concerned citizens throughout the district about the election. Unfortunately, unlike other states, we cannot use executive action to move the election, nor do we have time to change the means of the election through legislative action (again, as far as we know at this time, but things are subject to change).

Here is a link to a memo prepared by the Legislative Reference Bureau concerning the governor's emergency powers with respect to postponing an election.

Because of all this, Wisconsin's Spring Election and Presidential Primary is still scheduled to be held on Tuesday, April 7.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your community and the hardworking volunteers who staff polling stations is to request a mail ballot. You can still register online until March 30th.

In order to request a ballot by mail, please visit myvote.wi.gov or contact your local municipal clerk. 






Help for Small Businesses



Small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 may qualify for Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans. These disaster loans are another step toward providing much-needed assistance to Wisconsin's small businesses during this challenging and uncertain time.

The application to the small business loan portal can be accessed here. 

The SBA disaster assistance loans are: 
  • For up to $2 million;
  • For businesses under 500 employees;
  • Low-interest (2.75-3.75%), long-term (15-30 year) loans;
  • Available and funded 21 days after a completed application is submitted.
For more information, visit the SBA website here, or contact our local Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Development Director for Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Price, Douglas and Sawyer Counties, Lance Ausing, at lance.ausing@wedc.org or call 608.210.6824. There will also be web meetings hosted by SBA on how it can help businesses during the coronavirus epidemic and economic slowdown.

For those who are able, I encourage you to support your local businesses and restaurants. Here are some ways you can help out small businesses in our community: 
  • Purchase gift cards to local restaurants to use at a later date. 
  • Order delivery or takeout where possible. 
  • Visit the websites of your favorite local businesses, many are offering discounts or telling their customers how they can assist. Other businesses are offering services remotely or shipping merchandise to their customers. 
  • If you're online shopping, seek out local businesses to make these purchases.
Every dollar for your locally-owned businesses will help at this precarious time.