OWR Statement on Tomahawk School Board Decision on Mask Mandate

Sept 14th, 2021

The state board of Our Wisconsin Revolution(OWR) would like to share our disapproval of the recent controversy that led to the Tomahawk School District’s reversal of a planned masked mandate for its students and the resignation of a pro mask administrator that followed this decision. The wearing of masks remains a critical public health measure to help prevent the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection. The enforcement of masks is sound policy, supported by numerous clinical studies, public health agencies in the United States such as the CDC and NIH and international organizations such as the WHO. The decision to rescind the mask mandate puts students, teachers, and other school staff who may have a variety of medical issues as well as individuals without known medical problems at risk. Wearing masks provides both source control of infected individuals and confers reduced risk to those not infected through protection. In the absence of regular COVID-19 testing, and in the incompletely vaccinated communities the Tomahawk School District is in, requiring masking should not be controversial, but common sense.

 Children who attend Tomahawk schools should not become casualties of the far-reaching politicization of masks, vaccines and social distancing we continue to see in this country. Already we have seen 13 school staff die in Florida and multiple students in other states during the short period school has been in session from COVID-19.  OWR calls on the Tomahawk School Board to resist calls by some in the community to recall board members who support masks and resume the initial plan for a mask mandate. The freedom of children and educators to not become infected from COVID-19 is more important than yielding to the reckless demands of community members who put their “freedom” above the health of kids. Students and staff need to live to have freedom.

Richard McGowan MD

OWR State Board 


11 Run for OWR Board

Eleven Our Wisconsin Revolution members are candidates for six seats on OWR’s state board of directors. The board election will be conducted immediately following the state convention, which is being held remotely online on Saturday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Current OWR members are eligible to vote in the election. Eligible members will be emailed their ballots after the conclusion of the state convention and ranked choice voting using a secure digital voting service will continue through Saturday, July 3 at 11:59 p.m. Results will be announced in early July.

A co-chair of the board will be chosen in the election. Three at-large seats also will be filled. In addition, representatives on the board for two of Wisconsin’s congressional districts — the 3rd and 4th districts — will be chosen.

Candidates for the co-chair position include current co-chair Sarah Lloyd, Lisa Jo Hubacher and Mia Maysack.

Candidates for the three at-large seats on the board that need filling include current board members Nino Amato and Mary Kay Baum as well as Joni Anderson, Greg Geboski, Peter German, Mia Maysack, Kevin Solomon and William Walter.

Candidates seeking election as congressional district representatives on the board include Joni Anderson in the 3rd district and Jeff Perzan in the 4th district.

Below are descriptions of the candidates in their own words.

Nino Amato, Madison — Candidate for at-large seat

Why I’m Running For The State OWR Board!  Jim Crow Laws killed Voting Rights For Over 100 years and now Trump Republicans in Wisconsin and in other states are once again suppressing voter rights — repeating the ugly Jim Crow history, with Jim Crow 2.0.

This is the most important issue of our time and why the State OWR Board of Directors, in collaboration with OWR local chapters — need to focus on grass-roots advocacy; getting out the vote; and hold peaceful demonstrations and discussion groups, in every State Senate District, controlled by the WI Republicans.

As OWR moves forward in preparation for the 2022 mid-term elections and the 2023 local, nonpartisan spring elections, I intend to devote the vast majority of my OWR State Board Time, assisting and working collaboratively with OWR staff and local OWR Chapters, if I’m fortunate to earn your support and am re-elected to the OWR State Board.

Equally important, as a Bernie Sanders True Believer in community organizing, its time to put aside any personality related internal issues — and focus our collective time — taking back the GOP Controlled WI State Legislature; Defeating Ron Johnson; and hanging onto the current State Constitutional Offices in the 2022 Mid-Term Election and electing Progressive OWR Candidates.

Joni Anderson, Adams — Candidate for 3rd congressional district representative; at-large seat

First and foremost, I am committed to working toward necessary and positive change in our state. Something many of our legislators are not. Listening to the people of Wisconsin is one of the main things that is not being done. Because a roadway has not really been mapped out, or supported for the many issues that face Wisconsinites today. 
With more and more people becoming disenfranchised with the two party political system in Wisconsin, and the two moving further and further apart, more time and energy is being spent fighting each other, thus preventing a clear path to success.

As an organization, we need to provide clear and steady communications to all members. No matter where they are located within the state. I believe a regular newsletter would benefit OWR immensely. Other organizations that work on statewide issues provide this to their members/email list. I believe it keeps people informed, as well as gives them opportunities to stay involved. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, or both.

Non-Partisan Redistricting, Medicaid expansion (Badger Care for All, or the ultimate M4A), Our environment to include clean water, the pipelines, air, our state and national park system, clean energy, mining. Voting issues. Workers rights which include, all people being able to belong to a union, raising the minimum wage, PFMLA/ Personal leave/ sick leave/ Workers Comp laws that are a little easier to work thru. Legalization of both medicinal/recreational marijuana, Criminal Justice Reform, Public School funding.

Developing candidates to run for all levels of government is also a priority. Over the years, OWR has been good at supporting it’s endorsed candidates. But I think they could do better. Depending on the lines, and where you live, and sometimes how you are willing to bend, depends on what kind of support you will receive from the party you identify yourself with. This has been a tough year because of the Pandemic. Now we need to move forward. Work together as organizations in this state. The people in Wisconsin are depending on us.

Mary Kay Baum, Ridgeway — Candidate for at-large seat

I grew up on a farm and was radicalized by farm closures.

In Madison I learned to knock on doors and form ward organizations. On the County Board I became the first city supervisor who formed alliances with the rural supervisors.

I am ever mindful of the lessons I learned during delegations El Salvador during the war on the peasants.  For safety of our hosts, it was essential that we practice active listening and conflict resolution. We needed to trust we would follow instructions from our hosts…like scattering on the ground so a US fighter jet above us would not detect us. 

Our biggest job was what we would do back home – our testimony to more people to change US policy.

We also learned bring the aide of a Congressional Representative with us when visiting our sister city, sometimes from a Republican Congressional office! No ambushes or strafing happened while we were there.

I joined the Wisconsin Alliance of workers, farmers and students.  After a great start, it fell apart by internal conflict and rigid efforts to “be more radical than thou” with some believing that the only strategy worth doing was ALL becoming factory union organizers. 

As a young lawyer I set up a Menominee Legal Committee during and after the Abbey Takeover,  I would often stay in a group home for native youth to avoid its being shot at by Posse Comitatis on snowmobiles. 

My Menominee brother-in-law was shot in the back by the Sheriff. I am considered Grandma of several Menominee children today.

I want to be in a Wisconsin organization dedicated to political revolution…where we listen to each other, and express our differences, and follow through with what we plan together.  I want to work with people I can trust under fire.

Greg Geboski, Madison — Candidate for at-large seat

In addition to my work with other organizations, including the Madison Democratic Socialists of America and Reshaping Madison Together, I am a member of the executive board of the Dane County chapter of OWR. I was one of the handful of members who worked with then-organizer Ashley Hudson to get the Dane chapter going again in 2020 after it had been reduced to two active members. Since then, we have been an unapologetic activist chapter, organizing rallies for immigrant and worker rights, confronting the rightist turn during and after the November 2020 elections, and fighting the fight for Medicare for All. Chapter members, including myself, are working with the leadership of physician and current state board member Dr. Richard McGowan to pass resolutions in support of Medicare for All in jurisdictions across the state. And the Dane OWR team and the regional organizer were singled out by endorsed candidates who appreciated the all-important support given them after endorsements came through.

But in the actions I take and will take, I keep the larger goal in mind. This organization has revolution in its name and it should not be afraid to live up to it. It was born of a campaign for a socialist president and I will not be afraid to fight for a Wisconsin that reflects it. We must be an activist organization that is not afraid to be confrontational, and that is not afraid to take it to the streets.

As there will be a lot of work to do, I favor expanding the state board schedule from the current quarterly to (at least) monthly meetings until OWR is stabilized and growing again.

Peter German, Madison — Candidate for at-large seat

I am running for an At-Large Delegate position because I genuinely believe that there is a lot that Our Wisconsin Revolution has to offer voters and I would like to help us live up to our fullest potential. When I look around our state, I see a lot of young people who have given up, people who look at the impending climate crisis and see the way our government is unwilling to act and can no longer see a way forward. Groups like OWR are uniquely suited to offer them something else. As a former Political Lead of a campus chapter of Sunrise, I’ve seen firsthand the power of offering a message that shows that not only is there a path forward, but that we can work towards a better future, that together, we can build our own little Wisconsin Revolution. If elected, I would like to to use my existing experience as a campus organizer for Sunrise Movement and Badgers for Bernie and as a member of the Dane County chapter of OWR to build strength for OWR on campuses across Wisconsin.

Lisa Jo Hubacher, Madison — Candidate for co-chair

I am relatively new to OWR, having thus far only served on the Healthcare Committee which successfully lobbied for passage of a nonbinding resolution in support of Medicare For All before the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Having played a role in that endeavor made me realize that perhaps I can make an impact for the better in other ways in our little corner of the world; so my relative newness might actually be beneficial –new blood/fresh perspectives.

As a member of the board, I advocate we target, strategize, and present Medicare For All resolutions to county boards in all 72 counties of our state. We already have successes in La Crosse and Dane Counties, with Milwaukee County pending, that we can learn from and build upon to be successful in other areas.

I would also focus on direct community actions for OWR causes to elevate even more OWR’s presence across the state. Being present in as many areas as possible in Wisconsin, raising awareness of our causes, as well as focusing on recruiting members and/or volunteers would make us more of a force with which to be reckoned in the state legislature as well as with our federal representatives and senators.

As Senator Sanders said, “When we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing we cannot accomplish.” I stand with OWR to make Wisconsin a place where we can all live and thrive.

Sarah Lloyd, Wisconsin Dells — Candidate for co-chair

I am running for reelection to Co-Chair of OWR. I have been involved with the organization since its inception and would like to continue to work with the Board, staff and members, towards our goals of a Wisconsin that truly supports people, our communities, and the land. We still have work to do to reach our full potential as a group. This year we saw increased activity in OWR Chapters, thanks to the hard work of our staff and members. As Co-Chair I want to build on that and continue OWR’s work building local power with a focus on supporting candidates in local elections. I feel that this is a real niche area of activity for our organization. As Co-Chair, I feel my most important task is to make sure that we can bring stability and collegiality to our efforts. We are all in this together! There is lots of drama in the world, we don’t need it in our organization. My background is in facilitation and organizing and that is what I bring to the task of Co-Chair. As a small organization I also think it is important that we work with other groups that share our values. I want to work with the Board, staff, and members to think strategically about our network of collaborators, so we can build power for the changes we want to see. Another core function of the Co-Chair is to ensure financial stability and oversight. I look forward to working with the Board, staff, and members to draft and enact a long-term plan for continued financial sustainability. We are in good shape now, so let’s look to the future and make sure we have the resources to do all the great things we want to do. I would appreciate your continued support.

Mia Maysack, Madison — Candidate for co-chair; at-large seat

When I reflect upon the journey that led me to now,  I’m faced with the realization that I never intended or even necessarily wanted to be a Leader… 

After a near death experience at age 10,  I led by harnessing the power of a second chance–  demonstrating maturity/wisdom beyond my years and managing to steer clear of peer pressure and the falsity that is being invincible..

As a result of this same grave encounter,  I’ve lived with intractable (incurable) pain ever since-  this has demanded rising from ashes many times:  navigating the treachery of chronic illness presented the challenge of seeking purpose through struggle,  thus I grew to carry the hurt proudly as an honorable badge and have/continue to inspire others to do the same.

Throughout my Family and social circles,  I’m one of the first to acknowledge the need for intergenerational healing and model follow through on accepting responsibility and taking ownership of it,  while witnessing the uplifting domino effect take shape within my loved ones as well… 

After successfully operating classrooms, along with nursing units and multiple entrepreneurial businesses,  I find myself in the most important position yet:  as a Freedom Fighter out on the streets..  To me,  not much of anything is more important because I understand the relevance as it pertains to every single aspect throughout society..  I’m equipped with the knowledge as to how imperative it is for me [specifically as a radical caucasian person] to assist in education as well as proceed in the way I always have which is leading by example; demonstrating what unconditional acceptance, forgiveness, inclusivity, kindness and tolerance look like, perhaps more important now than ever before and is symbolic of an equitable future I’ll spend the duration of my life battling for.

Jeff Perzan, Milwaukee — Candidate for 4th congressional district representative

I joined OWR in December 2016 shortly after its founding and am actively involved in a number of different OWR efforts.

I live in the fantastic city of Milwaukee (4th CD). I’ve had the good fortune to work closely with the Milwaukee Chapter, helping to plan and participate in events such as our bi-monthly Food Drives, collecting food for Food is Free MKE and providing bags of food for those in need. During the pandemic, we also passed out free OWR masks at these events. I also participate in the Endorsement Committee and helped to develop the process and procedures we utilized to endorse local candidates. Going forward, I would like to intensify our efforts to build stronger coalitions on an issue-by-issue basis, gaining trust and respect from these groups to enable OWR principles to become the bedrock of a progressive future in Wisconsin.

On the state level, I am currently Treasurer and also co-chaired the Bylaws Committee. Fiscally, we’re in great shape, supporting the hiring of an Executive Director and four Regional Organizers, who in addition to their organizing efforts, have put together a number of great programs to educate and engage not only OWR Members but the public in general. I’ve also helped plan our June 26th State Convention. As your Board Member, I will work closely with Chapters and others on the Board to advance OWR principles throughout the state. Personally, I’m a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion, having a disability since I was four and work extensively as an advocate for disability rights within Wisconsin, both legislatively and in legal matters. Healthcare should be a right, freely available to everyone.

Kevin Solomon, Milwaukee — Candidate for at-large seat

Hi there! My name’s Kevin Solomon [he/they] and I live in Milwaukee. I’m a Coordinating Committee Member of the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign, an apolitical fusion of poor folks challenging systemic poverty and racism, and the Deputy Director of Organizing for Rise, a student-run non-profit leading organizing and lobbying campaigns for free college. 

I grew up in Florida, surrounded by palm trees, mosquitos, and humidity. My mom and dad were deeply loving, yet flawed, abusing alcohol, drugs, and me. Early in life, I internalized the violence of poverty: the pernicious binge-shame-binge of alcohol, the indescribable loss of my mom at 12, the embarrassment of my dad being arrested in front of neighbors, and the daunting piles of debt that slowly stole my home.

Upon finishing high school with friends, I moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University. I graduated summa cum laude, organizing with students to Ban the Box on employment applications, disability advocates to win a Disability Cultural Center, and BIPOC tenants to win $750,000 in community-owned housing. In short, I sharpened my analysis of poverty in NC, having already learned its trauma in FL.

I’m running for the OWR Board at-large because I believe in OWR’s unique potential to take on systemic injustices. Collaborating with Larissa, Nancy, Andre and Mike, OWR’s multi-issue scope and emphasis on centering those most impacted distinguish it in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, I feel confident there is room to grow, and ways in which I could be a productive Board member: bolstering deep canvassing to better represent folks, convening diverse coalitions, removing barriers to participation that restrict accessibility, and honing our political analysis to not just educate but systematically build power.

William Walter, Milwaukee — Candidate for at-large seat

Hello! My name is William Walter, and I am running for an at-large position on the Our Wisconsin Revolution Board of Directors. As a 2020 Bernie Sanders National Delegate, I understand the struggles the progressive movement is facing. Not only must we contend with authoritarian fascists from the right, but we must also fight our supposed “allies” in the Democratic Party who answer only to the establishment and their big-money donors. I am running for this position because I firmly believe we must attack the status quo on multiple fronts. We must fight for progressive values from both within and outside the parameters of the party if we wish to elevate the working class. The powers that be have controlled the narrative for far too long, organizations like ours must be at the forefront of change as the system will not change itself. I am a proud member of OWR Milwaukee as well as the co-host of the Our Wisconsin Revolution Podcast with my friend Andre Walton. I hope I am able to utilize my talents and experience to benefit our already accomplished board members. Together, we can create a powerful movement capable of usurping the powerful corporate overlords that have victimized society for so many years. Thank you.


Join or support the Wisconsin solidarity caravans to stop Line 3

People from across Wisconsin are answering the call to come to the Treaty People Gathering from June 5-8 in northern Minnesota to support the First Nations-led resistance to the Line 3 pipeline. This gathering is about supporting direct action to stop the Line 3 pipeline.

Solidarity caravans will depart early on Friday, June 4, from stops in the southeast and northeast parts of the state, meeting in Chippewa Falls and then heading north for an evening rally in Duluth. The next day they will head to the Treaty People Gathering to Stop Line 3.

To learn more about the caravans from Wisconsin or to be a part of one of them, sign up here:

Camping and food will be available at the gathering. For those who can’t or don’t wish to camp, there are lodging options in the area. Find out more and sign up at

About the Wisconsin Solidarity Tour

We now have three legs of the Wisconsin Solidarity tour tentatively set to start in Kenosha, Fond du Lac, and Green Bay. Current plans are for these caravans to converge in Chippewa Falls around 1 p.m. on Friday, June 4, and travel to Duluth together. Exact locations will be given as that information becomes available at

We plan to travel to Duluth as one caravan, arriving for a rally around 5 p.m. Friday. Most people will spend the night in the Duluth area, but some may drive on to other accommodations. We will leave Duluth around 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, for the Treaty People Gathering. The exact location of the gathering is not public information yet.

All caravan participants will have access to the tour stop schedule and locations, so if a party becomes separated from the caravan, they will be able to find the caravan. You can stay at the gathering for the duration (June 5-8) or leave at any time. Many people will be driving back to Wisconsin on Monday evening, June 7.

Tentative Tour Leg Schedules

All information below is subject to change, Please consult with schedules that will be posted at before coming to a tour stop.

Southeastern Leg

City/StopArrive TimeDepart Time
Kenosha5:15 a.m.5:40 a.m.
Racine6 a.m.6:20 a.m.
Milwaukee7 a.m.7:20 a.m.
Madison8:40 a.m.9 a.m.
Black River Falls11:10 a.m.11:30 a.m.
Chippewa Falls1 p.m.1:40 p.m.

Fox Valley Leg

City/StopArrive TimeDepart Time
Fond du Lac7 a.m.7:10 a.m.
Oshkosh7:40 a.m.8 a.m.
Appleton8:30 a.m.8:50 a.m.
Stevens Point10 a.m.10:20 a.m.
Wausau11 a.m.11:20 a.m.
Chippewa Falls1 p.m.1:40 p.m.

Green Bay Leg

City/StopArrive TimeDepart Time
Green Bay8 a.m.8:20 a.m.
Keshena9:30 a.m.9:50 a.m.
Wausau11 a.m.11:20 a.m.
Chippewa Falls1 p.m.1:40 p.m.

Most stops will be under 20 minutes long. (Exception: lunch in Chippewa Falls we will take a 40 minute lunch break at 1 p.m.)

Each stop will provide:

  • A welcome and send-off by local supporters
  • An opportunity for more people to join the caravan
  • A live stream video to Facebook and photo taking opportunities
  • Sharing of letter/postcard writing opportunity with local supporters
  • An opportunity for people on caravan to use restrooms and stretch
  • A collection will be taken at each stop to support Line 3 resistance work

People joining the caravan will be encouraged to decorate their vehicles and windows with messages such as “Stop Line 3,” “Water is Life,” “Honor the Treaties,” etc.

If you are interested in helping with organizing or promoting a leg, a stop, or any aspect of this tour, please call Tim Cordon at 608-630-3633.


Democracy in the Crosshairs

An article of faith among those who control today’s Republican Party is that the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy.

I was raised on my family’s dairy farm. More often than not farmers are Republicans, and I grew up among them. In all the years as I grew to adulthood on the farm, I never once heard any of my Republican neighbors say America is not a democracy.

In the early 1980s, I got a job at the Capitol working as a legislative aide in the state assembly. In those days, Democrats and Republicans not only negotiated and compromised on the issues of the day, they socialized once the day’s work was done. We frequented the same taverns. We were in bowling leagues and softball leagues together. Never once in those days did I hear a single Republican say the U.S. is not a democracy.

On June 6, 1984 Ronald Reagan gave a speech in Normandy honoring those who gave their lives there in the fight against the Nazis. Reagan said that day that “some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that I started to hear Republicans talk about a republic and a democracy as if they are mutually exclusive. Rush Limbaugh was among the first I heard insist that America is not a democracy. Soon enough, that claim became a Republican mantra.

It’s worth remembering that when Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was famously asked: “Well, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?” He was not asked: “Well, what have we got – a republic or a democracy?” A republic is the opposite of a monarchy, not the opposite of a democracy.

One dictionary defines a republic as “a state in which the sovereign power resides in the whole body of the people, and is exercised by representatives elected by them.” Another defines it as “a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.”

The term “democracy,” on the other hand, is defined as “government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”

Under these definitions, a republic and a democracy are one and the same. What our nation’s founders established is both a republic and a representative democracy.

It’s commonplace to hear today’s Republicans reject this understanding and reject Reagan’s belief that democracy is the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised. They are not only saying the U.S. is not a democracy, they are acting accordingly. Without a shred of evidence, they continue to dispute the clear and decisive and verified and judicially reviewed outcome of last year’s presidential election. They continue putting voter suppression laws in place all across the country. They continue to scheme to draw tortured district boundaries enabling them to hold the most seats in state legislatures and congressional delegations even when they do not win the most votes in those states.

American democracy is being brutally assaulted. It can no longer be taken for granted that it will survive. It will only if it is defended as aggressively as its enemies are attacking it. Democracy will survive so long as we realize it is more verb than noun. It’s not so much something we have, it’s something we do. We’ll have democracy as long as we do democracy.

Mike McCabe

May 20, 2021


Ungranted Wishes

The other day the Wisconsin Legislature’s budget-writing committee stripped nearly 400 items proposed by the governor out of the state’s fiscal plan for the next two years. In so doing, the Joint Finance Committee blew a three-and-a-half-billion-dollar hole in the budget.

Republicans who control the committee call the items a “liberal wish list.” The items reflect Wisconsin’s wishes, not those of liberals alone. More than two-thirds of Wisconsin residents want the state to take available federal funds to expand access to health insurance coverage under Medicaid, known here as BadgerCare.

Our state stands to gain $1.6 billion in federal funds to insure close to 100,000 additional people. Accepting this federal money also would reduce Wisconsin taxpayers’ share of the cost of the BadgerCare program. The Republican-led finance committee voted to turn down the federal funds and reject BadgerCare expansion. If this decision stands, state taxpayers will pay more to insure far fewer people.

Majorities nearly as large as those supporting BadgerCare expansion also favor raising the state minimum wage. Those in charge of the finance committee removed the proposed minimum wage increase from the budget. Similar majorities in Wisconsin favor legalizing marijuana. Wisconsin stood to gain $165 million a year by taxing legal sales. The finance committee took that out of the budget, too.

The people of Wisconsin also want fair taxation, they want the richest among us to pay their fair share. When you total up all the state and local taxes we all pay, the wealthiest 1% pay the lowest overall tax rate. The reason for that is earned wages are taxed at a higher rate in Wisconsin than unearned income like capital gains and inheritances.

There were proposals in the budget to do something about this injustice. An obscure tax break known as MAC benefiting a few thousand of the richest people in Wisconsin was to be scaled down so the super-wealthy would pay more than $487 million in taxes they are currently escaping. This giveaway’s acronym fits. It’s a loophole big enough to drive a Mack truck through. The finance committee rescued it. Changing current tax policy shielding capital gains from taxation would have brought in $350 million. Republicans in charge of the finance committee nixed that proposal as well.

Those rewriting the state budget are ignoring the wishes of the majority of people in our state to cater to the wealthiest few. If they succeed in the end, fewer people will have health insurance, people working for wages will pay more of the cost of state government, and people who sit on their back sides watching their money make more money will pay less.

There’s still time to change the final outcome. The decisions made in recent days can be reversed. We all have our work cut out for us. We need to keep raising our voices and insisting on budget policies that are fair and just and reflect the wishes of the majority of Wisconsinites.

Budgets are not just financial blueprints. They are moral documents. Wisconsin’s state budget as it stands at the moment is immoral.

Mike McCabe

May 12, 2021


Tell Tammy Baldwin to protect Wisconsin’s only national forest

Wisconsin’s only national forest, the Chequamegon-Nicolet, is under attack. Aquila Resources, the same company behind the Back Forty mine on the Menominee River, has been granted a Metallic Mineral Exploration License by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The company wants to mine the Medford-Bend Copper/Gold Deposit in the the Chequamegon-NicoletNational Forest in Taylor County. This area is a Wisconsin natural treasure, featuring the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Even worse, the U.S. Forest Service is conducting a hydrogeology survey of the North Fork Yellow River watershed near the Bend ore deposit in Taylor County. The hydrogeology survey will be completed by May 1, 2021, with mine exploration drilling as early as June — laying the foundation for open-pit metallic sulfide mining in Wisconsin’s only national forest.

We can’t let that happen — and there is a path to stopping it on the federal level.

H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, is currently being considered in Congress, where it has passed the House and is in Senate committee. While in the House, the bill was amended several times to protect national treasures in other states. Members of Congress from Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Virginia, and North Carolina all appended legislation to H.R. 803 that expressly protects their national forests, national heritage sites, scenic rivers, watersheds, and more from mining interests.

Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest should be on that list. Please ask Sen. Tammy Baldwin to introduce an amendment to H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, that would protect the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from mining.

The metallic sulfide mining being explored in Taylor County presents a clear and present danger to the ecosystems of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Toxic mine waste would be stored behind a “tailings dam” structure that has failed around the world – with disastrous results. A tailings dam collapse in Brazil was one of the most deadly environmental disasters in that country’s history, killing 270 people and poisoning the Paraopeba River for almost 200 miles.

We can’t let that happen here. Please tell Sen. Tammy Baldwin to protect Wisconsin’s only national forest from metallic sulfide mining. Our national treasures deserve just as much protection as those in other states.


Help us stop the latest attempt to mine near the Menominee River

In 2002, minerals tycoon Tom Quigley drilled test holes just across the Menominee River in Lake Township, Menominee County, Michigan. His discovery of traces of zinc and copper led to the formation of Aquila Resources, which ever since has been trying to construct the open pit Back Forty metallic sulfide mine.

So far, unrelenting public opposition has helped to prevent the Back Forty from getting the permits needed for construction. But that hasn’t stopped Quigley or Aquila.

Now Quigley, doing business as Great Lakes Exploration Inc., has applied for mineral leases on 1,640 acres of public land in Holmes Township, Menominee County, just north of where the Back Forty was slated to operate.

Wisconsinites need to tell the Michigan Department of Natural Resources we oppose these mineral leases. We live just across the Menominee Rover from where this new mining would take place. Our water is at stake.

Metallic sulfide mining poses a clear and present danger to the waters of the Menominee River. Toxic mine waste would be stored next to the river behind a “tailings dam” structure that has failed around the world – with disastrous results.

tailings dam collapse in Brazil was one of the most deadly environmental disasters in that country’s history, killing 270 people and poisoning the Paraopeba River for almost 200 miles. We can’t let that happen here.

Here’s how you can oppose the latest Quigley mining project:

> CALL the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Mineral Leasing Division at 517-284-5850

> WRITE to the Michigan DNR, Minerals Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, Michigan 48909

> EMAIL Ken Babcock at

Here are talking points:

1 – You oppose the application by Great Lakes Exploration Inc. to lease 1,640 acres of public land in Holmes Township, Menominee County, Michigan, for mineral rights.

2 – Those 1,640 acres of state land belong to the taxpayers of Michigan for camping, hiking, snowmobiling, and simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of the outdoors.

2 – You request a public hearing on the matter.

If the Michigan DNR doesn’t hear public opposition to this lease, they are likely to grant Quigley’s application. So call, write and/or email them today!

The deadline for receiving comments is Sunday, April 25, 2021.

Featured image: Menominee River Heart Art by Dave Parrett


Why Do Self-Styled Fiscal Conservatives Sign So Many Blank Checks?

Wisconsin’s legislature is run by drunken sailors.

The Republicans who currently control both the state senate and assembly market themselves as stingy with a buck. They insist they are all about fiscal responsibility and budgetary discipline. Their party’s actions don’t match those claims.

At the federal level, Republicans have been far from the deficit hawks they profess to be. A fondness for cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals coupled with a lack of spending restraint regularly makes deficits balloon during Republican administrations.

The federal deficit doubled on Ronald Reagan’s watch. It was less than $79 billion at the beginning of Reagan’s presidency and more than $152 billion at the end of it. The deficit nearly doubled again with Republican George H.W. Bush in the White House, mushrooming to more than $290 billion the year before he left office. Spending exceeded revenues by $255 billion in the final year of his term. Democrat Bill Clinton managed to eliminate the deficit and by the time his presidency ended there was a $128 billion budget surplus.

Republican George W. Bush started his presidency with that surplus, but there was an ocean of red ink by the time he left office in 2009—a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion. Democrat Barack Obama cut the deficit by more than half during his eight years as president, leaving office with the annual deficit whittled down to $585 billion. His successor, Republican Donald Trump, departed after four years with federal spending outpacing revenues by $3.3 trillion, a deficit more than five times larger than it was when he first took office.

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which allows federal budget deficits or surpluses, Wisconsin’s constitution requires state budgets to be balanced. Fiscal recklessness takes a different form at the state level. It’s the number of blank checks that get written.

In budget-speak they are called “sum sufficient appropriations.” Unlike “sum certain appropriations,” which are fixed, sum sufficient ones are estimates of what will be spent but are not binding. Whatever the cost ends up being, the bills get paid. The check is effectively signed when the budget is passed, the amount gets filled in later.

There are 200 sum sufficient appropriations in the state budget. A few sprinkled throughout the budget are for repayment of state debt. Other blank checks written in the budget are for the cost of operating the legislature, the governor’s office and the courts. That’s right, the legislature doesn’t make itself stick to a budget like any household has to. Then there are the so-called “entitlement” programs. Their cost varies depending on how many people qualify for public assistance. Republicans disparage entitlements, but then authorize dozens of sum sufficient appropriations for them when they craft the state budget.

Among their favorite entitlements are private school vouchers. It’s a well-kept secret that there is a sum sufficient budget appropriation to use public funds to subsidize private schooling. Wisconsin’s voucher program has been around for 30 years and has never boosted student achievement the way supporters promised it would. Students using vouchers to attend private schools do no better than their peers in public schools, and by some measures actually do worse.

But those in charge of the state senate and assembly quietly keep signing blank checks for more vouchers. No matter how many of these subsidies are handed out, sufficient funding is guaranteed even if what Wisconsin taxpayers get for their money is neither sufficient nor guaranteed.

Mike McCabe

April 8, 2021


Indigenous-Led Resistance to Extraction Industries: Sustainable Saturday Night – Links and Resources

More than 100 people attended Indigenous-Led Resistance to Extraction Industries: Sustainable Saturday Night, focusing on resistance to Enbridge’s Line 3 and Line 5, carrying tar sands oil from Canada to and through Wisconsin, and Aquila Resources’ Back Forty metallic sulfide mine next to the Menominee River.

Organized by the Green Bay / Wolf River Chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution and co-sponsored by Building Unity, the event took place Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. If you missed it, you can check out our Facebook page to find the full livestream event.

Speakers included:

  • Singer-songwriter Larry Long, who discussed his project to record an original song about Line 3
  • Kristin Welch (Menominee), executive director of Waking Women Healing Institute, on the connection between missing and murdered indigenous women to fossil fuel resource extraction
  • Paul DeMain (Oneida & Anishinaabe), board chair for Honor the Earth, on Line 3 and divestment
  • Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, on the Back 40 Mine and social license to operate
  • Patricia Hammel, attorney and activist, on legal aspects of Line 3 and Line 5
  • Rev. Jonathan Barker, Jill Ferguson and Joe Cardinali from the Wisconsin 7, who just completed a 22-day fast for climate justice

The event was introduced by Tim Cordon, social justice coordinator at First Unitarian Society in Madison, and moderated by Justice Peche (Oneida), OWR board member and Green Bay chapter leader, who recently returned from a Line 3 resistance camp.

Here are the links, information, and action alerts that we shared for each speaker during the town hall:

Action alerts

Here are the action alerts that we shared throughout this event. We hope you will follow them and take as many of these actions as you can:

Take an action to #DefundLine3:

  • Donate, join, or follow the front lines
  • Call or email the banks funding Line 3
  • Send #DefundLine3 postcards to bank executives
  • Jam the calendars of bank executives

On-ramps for the movement to stop Line 3:

Join the National Day of Awareness to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – May 5th

Tell President Biden to Stop Line 3

Oppose the Back Forty mine tailings dam on the Menominee River

Tell the Michigan Public Service Commission to take climate into account on Line 5

Sign the Call for a Just Wisconsin Budget

Justice Peche (Oneida), OWR Board member

Find out more about Line 3:

Why defunding Line 3 is a matter of climate justice

Learn more about indigenous-led resistance to Line 3:

Learn more about the indigenous-led fight to stop Line 3:

Sign the Pledge of Resistance to get updates and calls to action:

Larry Long, singer-songwriter

Video: “George Floyd (Say His Name)”

Video: “Living in a Rich Man’s World”

Here is more about “No More Pipeline Blues (On This Land Where We Belong)”

Learn more about Larry Long:

Like Larry Long on Facebook:

Kristin Welch, founder and executive director of Waking Women Healing Institute

Learn about the Waking Women Healing Institute

MMIW: Understanding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis

Sign up for the Waking Women Healing Institute’s newsletter

Like the Waking Women Healing Institute on Facebook:

Learn about Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act

Paul DeMain (Oneida and Anishinaabe), board chair for Honor the Earth

Learn more about Honor the Earth:

Honor the Earth’s Stop Line 3 campaign:

Sign up for Honor the Earth’s mailing list:

Like Honor the Earth on Facebook:

Follow Honor the Earth on Twitter:

Learn more about Paul DeMain’s background as a journalist:

Save this to watch later: Ojibwe elder Joe Rose talks with Paul DeMain about battles past and provides a traditional context to today’s debates

Reflecting on News from Indian Country with Paul DeMain

Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Presentation Slides: Back Forty Mine (pdf)

Learn about the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Learn more about the Back Forty mine and the social license to operate

Learn more about Menominee resistance to the Back Forty mine:

Like the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council on Facebook:

Patricia (P.K.) Hammel, lawyer and organizer on mining and pipeline issues

Presentation Slides: Regulation of Mines and Pipelines (pdf)

Interactive Line 3 map:

Wisconsin DNR page on Line 5

Line 5 Relocation map

Mashkiiziibii Natural Resources Department’s Line 5 brochure

Wisconsin 7 – Rev. Jonathan Barker, Joe Cardinali, Jill Ferguson

Learn more about the Wisconsin 7 and why they went on a fast for climate justice

Here’s new coverage about the Wisconsin 7’s 22-day fast for climate justice

Read Rev. Jonathan Barker’s book, Jesus Would Demand a Green New Deal

Read the Call for a Just Wisconsin Budget

Support the Wisconsin 7’s T-shirt drive:


Janesville Gazette Guest Column – March 18, 2021