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Daily Bread for 5.29.24: Once More, With Feeling

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 68. Sunrise is 5:19 and sunset 8:25 for 15h 05m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 63 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Lakes Advisory Committee meets at 4 PM.

On this day in 1848, Wisconsin becomes the 30th state to enter the Union with an area of 56,154 square miles, comprising 1/56 of the United States at the time.

On this day in 1953,  Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay’s (adopted) 39th birthday.


Ah, persistence. Henry Redman reports Right-wing activists try for second time to recall Assembly Speaker Vos:


A group of right-wing activists enraged by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ failure to appease their calls for a more aggressive response to claims of election fraud and their demand that he fire the chief state election official, has for the second time filed signatures to force a recall election against Vos. 

The group tried to recall Vos earlier this year, submitting more than 10,000 signatures in support of the effort in March. However the effort failed because those 10,000 signatures did not all come from the proper district.

Which district the signatures should come from has caused some confusion among the recall petitioners and officials at the Wisconsin Elections Commission because the map under which Vos was elected have been declared unconstitutional, while the new map won’t go into effect until this fall’s elections. The recall group gathered signatures from the district Vos currently represents and the new district created under the new maps. 

The group also gathered signatures from various other parts of the state, which were immediately declared invalid. 

On Tuesday, the group announced it had gathered about 9,000 signatures. There must be 6,850 valid signatures submitted to force a recall election in the district. 

“We are highly confident we have the sufficient number,” former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman said outside the WEC offices Tuesday afternoon. 

Vos is the longest serving Assembly Speaker in state history. He’s served in the Legislature, representing a district outside of Racine, since 2005 and as the Speaker since 2013, presiding over the state Republican party’s decade-long stranglehold on legislative power. 

However right-wing activists have turned against Vos in recent years, claiming that he has not sufficiently responded to their allegations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. 

Vos brought this on himself. He schemed with schemers who were as persistent but twice as nutty, only to have them turn on him. Dante could not have devised a poetic punishment more haunting than Vos’s fate: to be stalked forever by Michael Gableman.

See also What Vos Wrought and If At First You Don’t Succeed…


Airplane turbulence: Has it gotten worse?:

Daily Bread for 5.28.24: Wisconsin’s Act 10 Collective Bargaining Restrictions Back in Court

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 68. Sunrise is 5:20 and sunset 8:24 for 15h 04m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 73.53 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board goes into closed session shortly after 5 PM and returns to open session at 7 PM. Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5 PM and the Whitewater Common Council at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1837, the first steamer to visit Milwaukee, the James Madison, arrives.

On this day in 1987, an 18-year-old West German pilot, Mathias Rust, evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane in Red Square in Moscow.


Scott Bauer reports Wisconsin judge to hear union lawsuit against collective bargaining restrictions (‘A Wisconsin judge is expected to weigh a union lawsuit against collective bargaining restrictions’):

A law that drew massive protests and made Wisconsin the center of a national fight over union rights is back in court on Tuesday, facing a new challenge from teachers and public workers brought after the state’s Supreme Court flipped to liberal control.

The 2011 law, known as Act 10, imposed a near-total ban on collective bargaining for most public employees. It has withstood numerous legal challenges and was the signature legislative achievement of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who used it to mount a presidential run.

The law catapulted Walker onto the national stage, sparked an unsuccessful recall campaign, and laid the groundwork for his failed 2016 presidential bid. It also led to a dramatic decrease in union membership across the state.

If the latest lawsuit succeeds, all public sector workers who lost their collective bargaining power would have it restored. They would be treated the same as the police, firefighter and other public safety unions who remain exempt.

No one should be surprised. From conservatives nationally in federal courts and the center-left statewide in Wisconsin courts, re-litigation has become the order of the day.


X2.9 flare. Sunspot AR3664 returns with major eruption, spits fire:

Daily Bread for 5.14.24: Absentee Drop Boxes, Reconsidered

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 60. Sunrise is 5:31 and sunset 8:10 for 14h 39m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 40.3 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1953, approximately 7,100 brewery workers in Milwaukee perform a walkout, marking the start of the 1953 Milwaukee brewery strike.


Henry Redman reports that the Wisconsin Supreme Court reconsiders legality of absentee drop boxes:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in a case that could once again allow the use of drop boxes for the return of absentee ballots. 

Drop boxes were prohibited by the Court in 2022 when the body’s then-conservative majority decided in Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission that state law only allowed for absentee ballots to be brought directly to municipal clerks, not to unmanned drop boxes.

Ballot drop boxes had been used in Wisconsin for decades, largely with slots or boxes at municipal buildings, however in 2020 they surged in popularity as voters searched for ways to safely vote during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Waukesha County voter sued the elections commission, arguing that it had given unlawful guidance to clerks on the permissibility of the boxes. 

Following the 2020 election, conservatives turned on the use of the boxes, arguing they were vulnerable to fraud and abuse. The boxes had been used all across the state, in both rural and urban areas, but conservatives argued they opened the state’s elections up to the possibility of “ballot harvesting.”

In the Teigen case, the Court found that because state law didn’t explicitly permit drop boxes, they’re not allowed. The decision prompted former President Donald Trump to again claim that he had won Wisconsin in 2020, stating that all ballots that had been dropped into the boxes were illegal and shouldn’t have been counted. 

Earlier this year, the national Democratic group Priorities USA brought a lawsuit challenging the Teigen decision, asking the now-liberal controlled Court to overturn its previous decision. Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul joined the case, arguing for the use of drop boxes, while the Republican-controlled Legislature joined to argue drop boxes should remain outlawed. 

The case now before the court is Priorities USA v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, No. 2024AP000164, L.C.#2023CV1900. Oral argument was yesterday at 9:45 AM. The question before the court now:

Whether to overrule the Court’s holding in Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2022 WI 64, 403 Wis. 2d 607, 976 N.W.2d 519, that Wis. Stat. § 6.87 precludes the use of secure drop boxes for the return of absentee ballots to municipal clerks…

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s prior ruling on ballot drop boxes was in Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2022 WI 64, 403 Wis. 2d 607, 976 N.W.2d 519.


Indonesia’s Mount Ibu spews thick ash cloud:

Daily Bread for 5.13.24: Conspiracists of Thornapple, Wisconsin Eliminate Electronic Voting Machines

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see afternoon showers with a high of 74. Sunrise is 5:32 and sunset 8:09 for 14h 37m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 31.7 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM, and the Planning Commission meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1862, the USS Planter, a steamer and gunship, steals through Confederate lines and is passed to the Union, by a southern slave, Robert Smalls, who later was officially appointed as captain, becoming the first black man to command a United States ship.


Molly Beck reports A small Wisconsin town eliminated its electronic voting machines, leading to a federal review:

A rural Wisconsin community’s decision to eliminate electronic voting machines has attracted the attention of federal investigators who are questioning how voters with disabilities cast ballots in the town of fewer than 1,000 people.

The vote by a small board overseeing the Town of Thornapple in Rusk County, population 711, to rely solely on hand counting paper ballots took place last year and caught the eye of state and federal officials after the April presidential primary election when advocates for voters with disabilities rang alarm bells.

The decision was made in June 2023, according to town supervisor Tom Zelm ? around the time of a discussion in the local newspaper over whether to abandon electronic voting machines and amid visits to the area by one of the nation’s most prominent purveyors of election conspiracy theories. Town officials would not tell the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exactly what prompted the vote, which could violate federal laws mandating accessible voting options, and have so far not responded to requests under the state’s public records law for minutes of the town board meeting during which the vote was taken.

But Thornapple voter and Rusk County Democratic Party chairwoman Erin Webster says she discovered the roots of the decision are in former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election.

In a recording made by Webster of an April 2 telephone conversation with town supervisor Jack Zupan that was posted to YouTube, Zupan tells Webster that the board voted to remove the machines because “we believe that there was a stolen election and the computers have to go because they’re full of error.”

Here’s Webster’s recording of Thornapple Supervisor Jack Zupan talking about eliminating electronic voting machines:

Erin Webster writes of her recording: “I called my Supervisor Jack Zupan after I voted and there was no voting machine at my polling location. The County clerk told me it was legally required per Federal ADA guidelines. I wanted to know why the town would not have the electronic machines, so I called him. I realized immediately I should record what he was saying.”

Here’s Zupan’s unfounded, conspiracy-based position about the 2020 election:

0:02: well we made that decision and we’re going to stand with it so why was that
0:08 we believe that that that there was a stolen election and and the computers have to go

Zupan’s full remarks are an example of motivated reasoning.

Thornapple, Wisconsin has work to do. But then, on far different matters closer to home, so do we in Whitewater, Wisconsin.


Plane lands safely without landing gear after circling Australian airport for hours to burn off fuel:

Daily Bread for 5.2.24: Did Trump’s Waukesha Visit Include a Mention of Whitewater? No

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 78. Sunrise is 5:45 and sunset 7:57 for 14h 12m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 37.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 2000, President Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.


Mr. Trump was in Waukesha yesterday.

Did Trump’s Wednesday visit include a mention of Whitewater (as his 4.2.24 Green Bay visit did)?

No. (The Republican National Committee press release announcing Trump’s Waukesha visit, however, did include an express reference to Whitewater. There was, therefore, reason to be attentive to his remarks.)

For now, Wisconsin’s rising nativist sentiment hasn’t brought yet another false, mendacious use of Whitewater’s conditions.

So much the better for this community that Mr. Trump kept the city’s name out of his remarks.

The state & national distortions of last fall & winter would prove slight as against state and national distortions this fall.


May 2024 Skywatching Tips from NASA:

Daily Bread for 5.1.24: Will Trump’s Waukesha Visit Include a Mention of Whitewater?

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 70. Sunrise is 5:46 and sunset 7:56 for 14h 09m 50s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 48.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Lakes Advisory Committee meets at 4 PM and the Whitewater Common Council meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the Asiatic Squadron of the United States Navy destroys the Pacific Squadron of the Spanish Navy after a seven-hour battle. Spain loses all seven of its ships, and 381 Spanish sailors die. There are no American vessel losses or combat deaths.


So, one reads that Mr. Trump will be in Waukesha today. Trump mentioned Whitewater by name while in Green Bay on 4.2.24. If he’s going to keep Whitewater in the headlines, another Wisconsin visit would be a prime opportunity for him to do so.

Will it prove true that Trump again uses Wisconsin’s Rising Nativist Sentiment [to] Keep Whitewater in the News?

Let’s see what happens.


Relocating bees from a Washington, D.C. backyard:

Daily Bread for 4.30.24: Another Product of Wisconsin’s Cottage Industry in Election Conspiracists

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 72. Sunrise is 5:48 and sunset 7:55 for 14h 07m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 60.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first President of the United States.


One person can make a difference, for good or ill. For ill (where ill means filing lawsuits with bogus allegations of fraud), one such person would be Peter Bernegger. Alice Herman reports How one Wisconsin man plagued election offices and stoked mistrust (‘Peter Bernegger has brought at least 18 lawsuits against election clerks and offices over alleged fraud – now he faces criminal charges’):

Peter Bernegger has spent the last three and a half years bombarding local election offices in Wisconsin with litigation and accusations of fraud. He’s brought at least 18 lawsuits against election clerks and offices in state court, and on social media, he has relentlessly promoted his litigation and circulated false claims about election fraud in the swing state.

His campaign has recently landed him in legal trouble – Bernegger now faces criminal charges for allegedly falsifying a subpoena in connection with a lawsuit against the state’s top election office.

It’s an escalation for the 61-year-old activist from New London, Wisconsin, who according to court documents, interviews with election officials and emails obtained by the Guardian, has drained election offices of already-limited resources and stoked mistrust in the electoral process in his years-long quest to uncover election fraud.

In the universe of activists who dispute the results of the 2020 election and have spent years searching for evidence of widespread voter fraud, Bernegger’s star power is small. He has not served on a Trump campaign team, no high-powered conservative law firms have taken on his cases and his media appearances are mostly relegated to interviews with fringe podcasts on the rightwing YouTube alternative Rumble.

But his efforts prove that in a country where election offices are chronically underfunded and heavily scrutinized, a single, relatively unknown person can exercise an outsize, and detrimental, impact on election administration.

In response to a request for comment, Bernegger did not address the claims raised in this article except to call them “false and misleading” and potentially defamatory.

A few people have spent a great deal of time pushing election conspiracies in this state (Michael Gableman most infamously), that, as a consequence, have taken up a lot of others’ time. Bernegger is one of them.


3 zebras captured, 1 loose after escaping trailer in Washington State along I-90:

Daily Bread for 4.29.24: Wisconsin’s Rising Nativist Sentiment Will Keep Whitewater in the News

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 69. Sunrise is 5:49 and sunset 7:54 for 14h 04m 51s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 70.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1861, Maryland’s House of Delegates votes not to secede, but to remain in the Union.


A nativist position — immigrants out, migrants out, etc. — is easier to hold if one ignores the economic cost of anti-labor-market policies. ‘Get them out’ trips off the tongue; explaining the value of a free-labor market that has made America the most productive nation in all history takes longer. Rob Mentzer reports Central Wisconsin farmers: Immigration crackdown, trade war affect our business (‘Farmers say US trade, immigration policy choices have direct effects on Wisconsin businesses’):

On immigration, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has promised mass deportations of those living in the U.S. without legal status.

Those deportations, if carried out, would likely hit Wisconsin dairy farms hard. Dairy producers rely on immigrant labor, often from Mexico and South America, to operate. While many workers come here with legal status through temporary work visas, that is not the case for all of the workforce.

“It seems foolish to just pretend that foreign-born workers aren’t here and that we don’t need them,” said Hans Breitenmoser, whose dairy farm outside of Merrill has about 460 cows. “We need a means by which their presence here can be legal and sustainable, and also provide them with the dignity that they deserve.”

Recent public opinion polling has shown a turn in favor of the crackdown advocated by Trump. An April 25 survey by Axios and The Harris Poll found a majority of Americans said they would support mass deportations

In Wisconsin, the most recent Marquette Law School Poll found 30 percent of Wisconsinites said undocumented immigrants currently working in the U.S. should be deported — a figure that has nearly doubled in the last two years.

Closer to Whitewater: egg farmers, too, one can guess.

Whitewater, regrettably, may find herself under both a general and a specific immigration focus between now and November. The general focus will be simply as one Wisconsin city among many where an anti-immigration position gains adherents.

A specific focus, made possible because Whitewater’s officials themselves raised immigration as an issue, would name the city expressly in campaign literature and campaign stops. Whitewater has come to the attention of Mr. Trump (or, at least, his campaign aides):

“Does anybody know Whitewater after being inundated with Biden migrants? This tiny town now has a budget shortfall,” Trump said. “Their public schools are straining with hundreds of new migrant students who don’t speak a word of English.”

Earlier this year, Whitewater officials told WPR the influx of immigrants had strained city resources, but they were doing everything they could to help them become integrated into the community. Officials believe the migrants started arriving in early 2022, and didn’t arrive all at once.

Here’s the relationship between general polling and Whitewater as a specific reference: as statewide and national polls show increasing nativist sentiment, then Whitewater will likely be a convenient topic (however misused and falsely described) in statewide and national conversations this fall.


Drone video shows aftermath of deadly Oklahoma tornadoes:

Daily Bread for 4.28.24: Hundreds of Millions in Wisconsin Campaign Spending

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 67. Sunrise is 5:50 and sunset 7:53 for 14h 02m 20s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 79.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1947,   Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.


Robert D’Andrea reports Campaigns will spend ‘hundreds of millions’ in Wisconsin, party chairs say (‘Republican chair pledges to use all ‘things that are legal and on the books,’ including early voting’):

Political campaigns will likely spend hundreds of millions of dollars on elections in Wisconsin this year, agreed the state chairs of both major political parties at a forum in Madison on Thursday. 

Democrat Ben Wikler and Republican Brian Schimming would not commit to a specific dollar amount, but they agreed spending will be high for contests up and down the ballot. 

Wisconsin is a pivotal state in the presidential race. There are also competitive races for the U.S. Senate, two congressional seats and new state legislative districts

Could spending in Wisconsin indeed be in the hundreds of millions? Yes. Campaign spending in the 2022 Wisconsin gubernatorial race was $164 million, campaign spending in the 2022 U.S. Senate race was $205 million, and spending on 2022 Wisconsin legislative races totaled $41 million.


The World’s Oldest Hat Shop:

Daily Bread for 4.25.24: Wisconsin & Arizona Investigations into Fraudulent 2020 Presidential Electors

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 59. Sunrise is 5:55 and sunset 7:49 for 13h 54m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Community Development Authority will hold a housing roundtable at 9 AM.

On this day in 1898, the United States Congress declares that a state of war between the U.S. and Spain has existed since April 21, when an American naval blockade of the Spanish colony of Cuba began.


The Washington Post reports that in Arizona

Eighteen of former president Donald Trump’s associates and allies have been indicted in Arizona for their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by trying to award the state’s electoral votes to Trump instead of Joe Biden, who won the state by 10,457 votes.

The group includes Trump’s final White House chief of staff and six aides or attorneys who worked on or supported his 2020 campaign. One is now advising his 2024 presidential campaign, and another is a senior official at the Republican National Committee. Also indicted were 11 Arizona Republicans who signed paperwork on Dec. 14, 2020, that falsely purported Trump was the rightful winner and then transmitted it to the federal government.

All defendants appear to have been charged under each count of the indictment. The charges are as follows: conspiracy, fraudulent schemes and artifices, fraudulent schemes and practices, and forgery. All are felonies, with the most serious being fraudulent schemes and artifices, which carries a standard sentence of five years in prison.

Wisconsin, too, had fraudulent presidential electors. In our state, an investigation into those electors is ongoing, although there has been a settlement in a lawsuit from two legitimate electors against the fraudulent ones. Patrick Marley reports that

Investigators for state Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) have interviewed Chesebro as a possible witness as part of an ongoing probe. Other details about the investigation have not been made public. Separately, [Atty. Kenneth] Chesebro, Trump attorney James Troupis and the 10 Wisconsin Republicans who posed as electors recently settled a lawsuit brought by two of the state’s legitimate electors. As part of the deals, they publicly released records about their efforts and withdrew their false filings from the National Archives. In addition, those who acted as electors agreed not to do so again this year or any time Trump is on the ballot. Troupis paid an unspecified amount of money to those who brought the suit.


Sky over Athens turns orange under Sahara sandstorm:

Daily Bread for 4.19.24: Barca Declares for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District (Yeah, That’s Not What Extreme Looks Like)

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be windy with a high of 53. Sunrise is 6:04 and sunset 7:42 for 13h 38m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 83.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1775,  the Revolutionary War begins with an American victory in Concord during the battles of Lexington and Concord.


One reads that Democrat Peter Barca announces bid for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District (‘Barca stepped down as secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue earlier this month’):

Democrat Peter Barca, a former state representative who served in Congress 30 years ago, announced a new congressional run Thursday. 

Barca will attempt to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil of Janesville, a Republican, to serve Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Barca most recently served as the secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue, but he stepped down from that role earlier this month.

….

Barca previously served as a U.S. representative for the 1st District from 1993 to 1995. 

The Kenosha resident spent a total of nine terms as a representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly. That included a stint as Democratic minority leader before he stepped down from that role in 2017.

The GOP offered a typically calm & understated reply:

In response to Barca’s announcement, Mike Marinella, spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Barca would be “too extreme for Southeast Wisconsin.”

“Peter Barca has consistently put his out of touch policies ahead of Wisconsinites, and Bryan Steil will have a resounding victory this November,” Marinella said in the statement. 

Barca as extreme would only make sense to people who haven’t seen or heard of Barca. Marinella’s reply is tailored to low-information diehards who think every last person who’s not bright red is, definitionally, an Extremist-Radical-Leftist-Marxist-Socialist-Rastafarian-Syndicalist-Epidemologist.

If anything, Barca is too mild in manner and too tepid in rhetoric for these times. Steil, by contrast, will say whatever he needs to get his base to the polls. If Barca gets the nomination and makes it a close race, then the 1st Congressional District (and Whitewater, especially) can expect Steil to say anything whatever to motivate the conservative populists of the district. If that means falsely describing Whitewater as a dystopia, then Steil (like Trump in Green Bay on 4.2.24) won’t hesitate.

See also The Local Press Conference that Was Neither Local Nor a Press Conference.


Mount Ruang eruption in Indonesia sparks tsunami fear as hundreds evacuate:

Mount Ruang has repeatedly erupted since Tuesday and officials fear it could collapse into the sea and cause a tsunami, as happened in 1871. The alert level for the volcano, which has a peak of 725 meters above sea level, was raised from three to four, the highest level in the four-tiered system

Daily Bread for 4.9.24: Competitive Legislative Races Return to Wisconsin

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 60. Sunrise is 6:20 and sunset 7:31 for 13h 10m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1860, on his phonautograph machine, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville makes the oldest known recording of an audible human voice.


Wisconsin has new legislative maps, and although maps do not elect candiates, there’s reason to believe that the extreme gerrymandering begun in the Walker years will give way to a more representative set of legislative districts. In the New York Times, Julie Bosman reports (open link) Fierce Races Loom With Wisconsin’s New Political Maps (‘The new legislative maps reflect a near split between Republican- and Democratic-leaning districts. For more than a decade, earlier maps had helped Republicans hold power’: 

Yee Leng Xiong, a 29-year-old nonprofit executive, has been an elected official in Wisconsin since he was a teenager. From a north central county known for ginseng farming and downhill skiing, he has served on the local school board, the Marathon County Board and the village board of trustees in Weston, population 15,000.

But he is a Democrat, and running for a seat in the State Legislature in a solidly Republican district had always seemed a little outlandish.

Until this year.

In February, new legislative maps in Wisconsin were signed into law after more than a decade of partisan wrangling and legal battles. The new maps undid the gerrymander that had helped Republicans keep control of both state legislative chambers since 2012. The 85th Assembly District in Marathon County, where Mr. Xiong lives, is no longer a Republican-leaning seat: It is a tossup.

“This idea came to reality when the maps changed,” Mr. Xiong said in an interview last month.

….

The state’s residents have long been a close mix of Democrats and Republicans, which makes Wisconsin a crucial swing state in presidential elections and means statewide races are often fiercely contested. The reshaping of the maps is expected to suddenly return many legislative races to the realm of true competition as well.

After more than a decade of languishing in the minority in the State Legislature, Democrats are now in a position to vie for political power with the Republicans, who currently hold about two-thirds of the seats in both the Senate and the Assembly.

Competitive races do not assure outcomes — they are, after all, competitive not prohibitive races. And yet, and yet, competitive races can work their will on candidates, forcing them (if they wish to win) to take positions acceptable to the more balanced electorates in their districts.

It’s been a long time since most WISGOP legislative candidates had to compete earnestly in their districts. They’re going to have to learn compromise and persuasion all over again.

Not so easy for those legislators who’ve lived a troll’s life for a decade.


Daily Bread for 4.3.24: The Easily Predictable, Unsurprising Local Election Results for Whitewater

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of 37. Sunrise is 6:30 and sunset 7:24 for 12h 53m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Lakes Advisory Committee meets at 4 PM and the Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1865, Confederate soldiers abandoning Richmond accidentally kill several people and burn down much of the city:

After a long siege, Grant captured Petersburg and Richmond in early April 1865. As the fall of Petersburg became imminent, on Evacuation Sunday (April 2), President Davis, his Cabinet, and the Confederate defenders abandoned Richmond and fled south on the last open railroad line, the Richmond and Danville.

The retreating soldiers were under orders to set fire to bridges, and supply warehouses as they left. This included exploding the Powder Magazine in the early AM of April 3, at the Shockoe Hill Burying Ground, where the Alms-house was also located. The explosion killed several of the paupers who were being housed in a temporary Alms-house, and a sleeping person on 2nd St. The concussion shattered windows all over the city.[8] The fire in the largely abandoned city spread out of control, and large parts of Richmond were destroyed, reaching to the very edge of Capitol Square mostly unchecked. The conflagration was not completely extinguished until the mayor and other civilians went to the Union lines east of Richmond on New Market Road (now State Route 5) and surrendered the city the next day.


Yesterday’s Spring General Election in Whitewater, for local races in the city and school district, ended predictably. 

In races for the Whitewater Common Council, Greg Majkrzak won an at-large seat over Keith Staebler (786 to 532 votes), Brian Schanen was elected unopposed in the city’s 4th District (359 votes), and Orin Smith was elected unopposed in the city’s 2nd District (63 votes). These are all unofficial (yet decisive) totals.  

In the race for two seats on the Whitewater Unified School District Board to elect two boardmembers, the results were similarly clear (and predictable): Maryann Zimmerman received 1636 votes, Jeff Tortomasi 1562, and Larry Kachel (on the ballot but not seeking re-election) received 919.

While I think Zimmerman would have had a good chance of re-election in any event, various claims and actions against her (a self-injurious cease-and-desist demand from the district superintendent or others’ accusations against her that were irrelevant to her voting record) didn’t prevent Zimmerman from becoming the top vote-getter in all three counties of the district.

Honest to goodness: it’s closer to the truth to say that a few current & former officeholders proved — not for the first time — that it is they who don’t know what they’re doing. 

Update, Wednesday morning: Boardmember Zimmerman’s concerns could (and should) have been addressed promptly and openly between December 2023 and January 2024. The failure to do so, and the serial mistakes this board president, superintendent, and sundry others made could have been avoided.  Secretive, yes. Inept, most definitely. 


Moment huge earthquake strikes captured on cameras across Taiwan:

Daily Bread for 3.13.24: Has Vos Escaped MAGA to Scheme & Plot Another Day?!?

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 63. Sunrise is 7:07 and sunset 7:00 for 11h 52m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 14.3 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1930, the news of the discovery of Pluto is announced by Lowell Observatory.



Legendary Wisconsin schemer and plotter Robin Vos may have escaped the latest MAGA recall attempt against him. Anya van Wagtendonk and the Associated Press report Elections review shows recall targeting GOP leader falls short of signatures needed (‘The fate of the recall effort will likely be decided by the state Supreme Court’): 

Matthew Snorek and other activists said Monday that they submitted about 11,000 signatures to force a recall election of Vos, the powerful Rochester Republican who has frequently sparred with former President Donald Trump. Under state law, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has said it would take 6,850 valid signatures to force a recall election.

But those signatures must come from voters who live in the district Vos represents, which recently changed after Wisconsin’s old legislative map was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His new district lines were part of a map that passed the Legislature, which was drawn and signed by Gov. Tony Evers.

According to Wisconsin Elections Commission staff attorney Brandon Hunzicker, recall organizers turned in a total of 9,053 valid signatures, but only 5,905 of those come from Vos’ previous district, the 63rd Assembly District. That would fall 945 signatures short of the total needed.

A memo prepared by Hunzicker for members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission found that just 32 signatures would fall within the boundaries of Vos’ new district, the 33rd Assembly District, which would fall well short of the required threshold. Even when combined with signatures collected from a third district containing territory previously represented by Vos, the organizers would still come up short. 

The Elections Commission has asked A.G. Josh Kaul to request a ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

So MAGA is chasing Vos and Vos may need a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling to save himself from a recall. 

Someone might want to push a little kibble sprinkled with Xanax under the bed while Vos awaits a determination beyond his control. 


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