Post by Emily Mills on 4/17/2013 3:17pm
Updated with disclosure at 3:53 p.m.
The Department of Justice went on the defensive Wednesday morning in the first hearing of a lawsuit against rules regulating speech and assembly at the state Capitol.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin on behalf of UW assistant professor Michael Kissick. The group argues that the newly enforced rules requiring permits and banning signs, among other things, have had a chilling effect on First Amendment rights. Kissick participated in protests at the Capitol until last fall, when incoming Capitol Police Chief David Erwin began strict enforcement of the rules.
Kissick has never been ticketed or arrested. “I have always attempted to follow the law while expressing my political views,” Kissick said in an interview with the ACLU. “I resent being treated as a criminal for speaking freely in a public forum.”
Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar defended the actions of Capitol Police, noting that the requirements for seeking permits for demonstrating in the rotunda have been in place for years and were not created in reaction to recent protests. The recently released rule set only “codified” those requirements, she said.
Judge William Conley seemed thrown for a loop when, in their opening statement, the state argued that even a single individual demonstrating on behalf of a cause at the Capitol would have to apply for a permit under the current rules.
Conley also asked if a permit would be necessary if he and a friend entered the rotunda while “discussing Shakespeare animatedly.” The state said yes.
Post by Christie Taylor on 4/2/2013 7:00am
Updated: 11:30 a.m.
Today is election day in Wisconsin (and the last of a flurry of more than a dozen elections since 2010), and state residents will take to the polls to elect a superintendent of public instruction, a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge, and dozens of circuit court judges.
In Madison’s contested races, voters will elect new alders and Madison School Board members, and vote on an advisory referendum asking whether the state Legislature should eliminate same-day voter registration. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell originated the referendum, saying he hopes to send a message to state Republicans contemplating removing that ability. In addition, voters in Dane County will be asked to choose between two candidates for the Dane County Circuit Court. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, running for re-election, and candidates for several other seats remain unchallenged.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., and registration at the polls is easy, and requires only proof of residency. Photo ID is not required to vote.
The Government Accountability Board-run My Vote Wisconsin page can help you find your polling place, confirm your voter registration status, and generate a sample ballot so you know which races to research.
After the break, we’ve included links below to candidate guides from Isthmus and the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (LWV), and more information about who’s running in which race.
Post by Adam Schabow on 2/21/2013 4:30pm
I also interview postal worker Perry Frank (National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 507-Capitol City Merged-Trustee), where he discusses the Carrier Alert Program, collective bargaining before the Wildcats Strike, service cuts and the elimination of Saturday delivery, why email is not as damaging to the U.S. Postal Service as everyone thinks, and how, thanks to the 2006 Postal Enhancement Act, retirement prefunding is the actual reason for the office's fiscal troubles.
Post by Christie Taylor on 2/18/2013 9:30am
For a state that's had nine elections in the last two years, it's time for a tenth and eleventh before we get to take a full year off. Tuesday marks the primary for April 20th's nonpartisan general elections, and as is typical for spring primaries, the Government Accountability Board is predicting less than 10 percent turnout statewide for an that will determine which of a slew of candidates for mostly local offices appear on the ballot for the April 2 general election.
The only statewide race this spring is for the Wisconsin Supreme Court: incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack is defending her seat against challengers Ed Fallone and Vince Megna, in a race that is widely predicted to get extremely expensive. The top two candidates on Tuesday will proceed to the general election. The Wisconsin League of Women Voters has compiled profiles of all three candidates, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered a debate among the three in early February. The Isthmus also summarizes a debate between challengers Fallone and Megna (Roggensack was invited, but absent), who cited perceived dysfunction in the court as reasons they were running.
Post by Christie Taylor on 2/14/2013 3:00pm
The agenda for Wednesday night’s Alcohol License Review Committee was filled with big items, none of which went quickly: while many items were passed easily on the consent agenda, committee members spent the meeting’s first forty minutes on a potentially controversial plan for a volleyball court at the Essen Haus. Significant chunks of time also went to a check-in on Plan B’s noise complaint woes and on the operating status of now-closed T Sushi’s operating status--the last one with a surprise ending. In more routine news, Cooper’s Tavern will expand to its second floor, One Barrel Brewing now has a 21+ entertainment license, and Point Cinema plans to begin serving beer and liquor as part of a multi-million-dollar upgrade to its entire facility.
T Sushi closed, in uncertain legal straits
Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy said she had originally called for a discussion of the State Street sushi restaurant T Sushi--shuttered, according to Alcohol Policy Coordinator Mark Woulf, now for more than a month--because she had received information from the state Department of Revenue that the business might be operating illegally as a different entity, one other than owner Teddy Stevens’ sole proprietorship. Zilavy said her office had not been able to contact Stevens, whose last appearance before the committee was in October of 2012, when his application to expand to the second floor of 301 State St. was referred, then later placed on file without prejudice.
A man named Jason Richardson appeared in Stevens’ place, saying he was an independent restaurant consultant who had worked with Stevens, and that he was working to acquire power of attorney so he could reopen the restaurant under different management. Richardson said because Stevens was not communicating about what was going on with the restaurant, Richardson had shut the restaurant down, and fired the entire management team, with the intent of reopening under new management as soon as March 8. The restaurant's website is also currently down.
Post by dane101 on 2/6/2013 7:00am
Today is February 5, 2013. On this day in 1945, Bob Marley was born.
Post by Christie Taylor on 1/29/2013 10:30am
A state Republican wants to allow government entities to charge members of the public for the cost of redacting records obtained under the state's open records law. Rep. Gary Bies, R-Sister Bay, began the search for sponsors for the bill on Friday, saying he wanted to save taxpayers the cost of municipalities spending time to make the necessary deletions of confidential information.
The Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists responded to the proposal with a statement Monday morning, calling redaction fees "a tax on public information" that would discourage members of the public from seeking information, and limit government transparency.
"Maintaining, reviewing and redacting records is a government function for which tax dollars are already allocated," the statement read.
And Journal Sentinel managing editor George Stanley told the Associated Press that charging for redactions would allow lawmakers to hide records by making them too expensive to retain.
Under the state's open record law, information is presumed to be available to those requesting it.
Post by Christie Taylor on 1/23/2013 9:58am
State Republicans are holding a public hearing beginning at 9 this morning on the reboot of last year's controversial Assembly bill to streamline iron mining in the state. AB/SB 1 -- the first legislation of the new, even more Republican-dominated session -- has been described as "nearly identical" to a bill that opponents last year complained would allow a host of threats to water quality in areas where mining occurred.
The Capital Times is also reporting that wetland mitigation language has been added to this year's bill, lowering hurdles for companies that want to fill in a wetland with, for example, mining waste materials. Bill proponents, meanwhile, argue that streamlining the mining process is the only way to attract new projects that will bring job opportunities to struggling rural communities.
The hearing is the only public one the bill will receive, despite the protests of northern Wisconsin communities and the Bad River band of Chippewa, who would be affected by any potential return of the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine in the Penokee Range.
WisconsinEye will provide live video of the hearing, Capital Times reporter Jessica VanEgeren and Wisconsin State Journal science reporter Ron Seely will report on Twitter, as well as other attendees on the hashtag #wismine and #wimine. The Capital Times will also run a live blog of the event.
The hearing begins at 9 a.m. in room 411 S. of the Capitol.
Post by Cynthia Schuster on 1/17/2013 5:56pm
The city's Alcohol License Review Committee met Wednesday for the first time in the new year.
On file or referred:
The committee was expected to follow up on a matter pertaining to T Sushi's (301 State Street) liquor license, but the item was referred to the Feb. 13 ALRC meeting.
The Change of Licensed Premise application for Punta Cana Restaurant (2705 W. Beltline Hwy) was placed on file without prejudice.
The 21+ Entertainment License application for Soga (508 State Street) was placed on file without prejudice.
Bonfyre American Grille - 2601 W. Beltline Hwy
The managing staff of Bonfyre American Grille wish to expand their licensed premise by revamping part of its establishment. Currently, this space operates as The Beacon Cafe, which is only open in the mornings and serves items such as coffee and sweet rolls. It hasn't proved to be a profitable venture, they say, so they hope to give the space a facelift and re-open it as The Beacon Lounge. Bonfyre owner Sean Baxter, at the meeting Wednesday with general manager Patrick Qinlan, said the lounge would be a restaurant predominantly serving food and liquor, and it would be open for lunch. There's also an atrium space available for private events, which he's recently discovered isn't licensed for serving alcohol. Under their proposal, Bonfyre's outdoor capacity would not change but the indoor capacity would increase slightly.
Post by Jesse Russell on 1/4/2013 3:40pm
The House passed $9.7 billion in Superstorm Sandy relief earlier today in a vote of 354 to 67. Among the 67 Republicans voting against the relief funding were all of Wisconsin's Republican members of the House with the exception of Rep. Reid Ribble. Reps. Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan, Tom Petri, and Jim Sensenbrenner voted against providing the much needed emergency relief.
In the past the representatives have all been advocates of securing emergency relief when it means the federal funds will be provided to voters in their districts.
Sensenbrenner was one of the leaders in an effort to secure aid for Wisconsin when flash floods impacted part of his district in 2007. He wrote, "The addition of Jefferson County, a portion of which is in the 5th Congressional District, is welcome news and will provide residents of Jefferson County the help they need as a result of flood damages. This aid will offer some relief to Jefferson County residents who have endured great losses."
After portions of his district were hit by severe flooding in 2008 Ryan said, “I have been inspired by the support and compassion demonstrated by Wisconsinites who have reached out to help their neighbors in need. To supplement this tremendous community support, I have worked to help secure additional assistance from the federal government."
When flooding impacted Northern Wisconsin in June of 2012 Duffy toured the region and vowed to make sure his constituents would recover with help from government disaster relief, "I'm going to do all that I can to make sure I'm gathering all the data, so if the resources are available, I'm going to fight to make sure we get them."
Photo from Talking Point Memo's Sahil Kapur.