Sounding Like a Candidate, Clarke Asks, Where’s the Plan for Milwaukee?

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at Marquette
3 Comments »

He said hardly anything about running the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department or the controversies he is involved in within county government. The policy area he talked about the most was education. And he spoke a lot about the Milwaukee of his childhood and the Milwaukee of the future.

No, David A. Clarke Jr. is not a stick-to-my-own-business law enforcement agency head. Milwaukee’s sheriff since 2002 didn’t say he was going to run for mayor during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday at Eckstein Hall, but he sure sounded like a candidate.

“What’s the vision for the city of Milwaukee?” Clarke asked, faulting Mayor Tom Barrett for not putting one forth. “What’s the plan” for getting better student outcomes from Milwaukee Public Schools? A $1.2 billion a year operation ought to get better results, no matter how many problems kids have due to their lives outside of school, he said. “I think they’re mass producing illiteracy,” he said. Read more »

Print Friendly



“You Betcha” and Other Wisdom from Education Conference at Eckstein Hall

Posted by:
Category: Education & Law, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

Can we expect kids living in impoverished central cities to have the same levels of educational success as other kids?

“You betcha,” answered Michael Casserly.

I’m reluctant to reduce three hours of insightful conversation about urban education to two words, but more than a week later, that phrase is among several that sticks with me from “Lessons from Elsewhere: What Milwaukee Can Learn from Work on Improving Urban Education Systems Nationwide,” a conference at Eckstein Hall sponsored by Marquette Law School and Marquette College of Education.

Nobody among the speakers nor in the audience minimized the challenges of raising the overall achievement in schools in Milwaukee. But there was a widespread feeling of commitment to taking on the job, and even some optimism that it can be done. Read more »

Print Friendly



Burke Zings Walker, Touts Herself as Pro-Business Candidate

Posted by:
Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Who’s the real pro-business, pro-jobs candidate in this year’s election for governor of Wisconsin? Mary Burke, who is mounting a major campaign as a Democrat, used an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Tuesday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall to say it’s her.

Her visit provided her first public comments on her long-awaited economic development plan, which was released late Monday night. With the presumption that jobs and the economy will be the central issue, Burke said she’s the one with specific plans that will create a better business climate in Wisconsin.

Burke held up a four-page position paper on the subject from Walker’s 2010 race for governor and said, “I’ve seen eighth grade term papers that frankly had more work put into them.” She said that in terms of job creation, Wisconsin still ranked 35th in the country and ninth among 10 Midwestern states after three a half years of Walker as governor. Wisconsin also ranks 48th in business start-ups, she said, and she criticized the track record of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker created to succeed the state Commerce Department that Burke headed under Gov. Jim Doyle a decade ago.

Read more »

Print Friendly



Ribble and Pocan: Political Opposites Find the Attractions of Working Together

Posted by:
Category: Congress & Congressional Power, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

Reid Ribble says that when Mark Pocan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Ribble was told by some Republican legislators in Madison he should reach out to Pocan.Ribble said then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin did the same for him when he was elected in 2011.

So Ribble contacted Pocan, and the two developed a friendship that has seen them work together in friendly, civil ways, including in the work of the House budget committee, on which they each serve.

What’s so unusual about that? Only this: Ribble is a Republican who represents the Appleton-Green Bay area in Washington. He is a self-described conservative with a libertarian bent. Pocan is a self-described progressive liberal Democrat who represents the Madison area. (For that matter, Baldwin, who helped Ribble on his arrival and who is now a senator, is one of the most liberal members of Congress.)

You just don’t do that cross-the-aisle stuff in the divisive, highly partisan atmosphere that surrounds Congress.

Or do you? Ribble and Pocan are now leading figures in a growing effort called the No-Labels Problem Solvers, which brings together members in the House and Senate from both parties in informal social settings, just to get to know each other. Ribble was one of the four initial members of the group, which has grown to more than 90, including two other Republican representatives from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy and Tom Petri.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Monday at Eckstein Hall, Pocan and Ribble described the effort and their hopes that it will change the way Congress handles many issues and raise the low-opinion so many Americans have of Congress. Read more »

Print Friendly



Hallows Lecture Examines Little Noted, but Pivotal Civil Rights Decision

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Legal History, Public, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

“Remarkable but relatively obscure” – that’s how Judge Paul T. Watford of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit described the 1945 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Screws v. United States. In presenting Marquette Law School’s annual Hallows Lecture on March 4, Judge Watford aimed to lift the decision from some of its obscurity and increase awareness of “the birth of federal civil rights enforcement,” as the title of his lecture put it.

The case began with the vicious and fatal beating of Robert Hall, an African-American man, by M. Claude Screws, the sheriff of Baker County, Ga., and two of Screws’ deputies. Judge Watford said the circumstances of Hall’s death provide a window into how African Americans of that era had to live with the “ever-present reality” of unwarranted violence against them by white law enforcement officers. Even given the many witnesses to Hall’s death, Georgia authorities declined to prosecute Screws and his deputies. But, in what Watford described as an unusual development for that time, a federal indictment was issued against them for violating Hall’s civil rights.

Ultimately, a splintered Supreme Court did not do all that civil rights advocates would have wanted, but the justices upheld the application in situations such as this of 18 U.S.C. § 242, prohibiting violation of civil rights by someone acting under the color of law. The majority of justices rejected the argument that civil rights violations were a matter to be left to the states, although no single opinion commanded a majority.

“Had Screws come out the other way, and been decided against the federal government, federal civil rights enforcement would have been stifled,” Watford said. “Instead, it was given new life, and that helped change the course of history, particularly in the South, in the second half of the twentieth century.”  Read more »

Print Friendly



New Speaker Series in Labor and Employment Law

Posted by:
Category: Labor & Employment Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

I am excited to announce the kick-off of a new speaker series in labor and employment law, sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Program at Marquette University Law School.

We are really starting the program off with a bang.

On March 17th, Sam Estreicher (NYU Law) will be debating yours truly on his new labor law reform proposal, “Easy In, Easy Out” (details about that proposal here). You can register here.

On March 27th, in conjunction with the Third Annual ERISA National Conference at Marquette, Assistant Secretary of Labor and head of the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) Phyllis Borzi will be speaking about the Affordable Care Act. You can register here.

Finally, on April 8th, Professor Takashi Araki, former Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Tokyo Law School and Visiting Professor this semester at Harvard Law School, will be coming to speak about contemporary topics in Japanese employment law.  You can register here.

All events are scheduled at noon and include lunch. Read more »

Print Friendly



Impact of Reductions in Poverty-Fighting Increasingly Affecting Policing, Flynn Says

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

“Think big, folks,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn urged a full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall on Tuesday. And Flynn did that himself during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program, taking a broad view of the role of police in protecting and enhancing the quality of life of people and communities in the city.

Flynn’s perspective focused frequently on how police have become the ones dealing with a gamut of social problems, as well as criminal problems, as public investment in programs aimed at helping people, especially those in poverty, have declined across the United States.

Over the last 25 years, Flynn said, “we have seen a consistent and unrelenting disinvestment in the social network, OK?” He gave mental health as an example: “Right now, the response of our society to issues of mental health is the criminal justice system. I’ve seen this for years and it’s becoming more so. . . . If you have a mental health problem, we can guarantee you a jail cell.” He said substance abuse problems are another example. “What is our social network dealing with substance abuse? Jail.”

Flynn, who is in his sixth year as Milwaukee’s police chief, said, “I’ve got 1,800 men and women out there who are being asked to deal with virtually every single social problem that presents as an inconvenience, discomfort or issue. . . . It is this one group that right now has the weight of every single social problem on it. And maybe we should start asking ourselves, do we need to double back and see what else we’re doing?” Read more »

Print Friendly



Young, Educated Users Fueling a Surge in Narcotics Use, Drug Prosecutor Says

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Public, Speakers at Marquette
2 Comments »

Generational amnesia – that’s the term Bridget Brennan uses to describe one of the causes of the recent rise of heroin use. It is as if today’s culture has no memory of the devastating toll the drug took on those who used it a generation ago.

And who is using the highly addictive narcotic today? In many cases, it is educated younger people living in middle class or blue collar suburbs, Brennan said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Thursday.

Brennan is a prominent figure in the fight against heroin and other narcotics. She doesn’t take on those individual users. Rather she aims for those at or near the top of the pyramid as she put it, of illegal narcotics trafficking. A Milwaukee native, she has been the special narcotics prosecutor for the city of New York since 1998. Her office averages 3,000 indictments a year, many against those leading or working in drug trafficking networks. She has worked with law enforcement at many levels and across international boundaries. Read more »

Print Friendly



Norquist Lets Zingers Fly in Eckstein Hall Program

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

“I wish you wouldn’t hold back,” Mike Gousha told former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist at the end of an hour-long “On the Issues” conversation at Eckstein Hall on Feb. 5. That got a big laugh from the audience of about 200 because Norquist held back little in giving zinger-filled opinions on a range of subjects.

In nearly four terms as mayor, from 1988 through 2003, Norquist was known for speaking his mind. If anything, he is even more willing to speak out now that he’s a decade removed from that office. A few examples from his session with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy:

On Waukesha’s request to get access to Lake Michigan for its water supply: Given the way some Waukesha officials have treated issues of importance to the City of Milwaukee, Norquist said, “If I were one of the elected officials, I’d be tempted to say, ‘you want our water, that’s too bad, you can dry up and blow away.’ ” Read more »

Print Friendly



Historian Tells “Difficult Truths” About Slavery and American Colleges

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Public, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette
2 Comments »

“The task of the historian is to tell difficult truths as honestly as we can and to tell help the reader understand both the complexities and the disturbing realities of the past.”

Professor Craig Steven Wilder, head of the history faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offered that thought as part of describing his new book, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities, during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday. The book serves the purpose he set forth, describing the painful and long history of involvement of colleges and universities in the American colonies and in the United States with slavery and promotion of “scientific racism,” pseudoscience that promotes the superiority of white people.

Wilder described, both in the book and to the audience at Marquette Law School, how major institutions such as Harvard and Yale had long and close relationships with the slave business. That included recruiting the sons of slave traders and plantation owners as students, benefitting from large donations from very wealthy businessmen who were involved in slavery, and promoting thinking that black people and American Indians were inferior and should be suppressed. It also included the fact that many students in the slavery era brought their slaves with them to campus, including in the north. Read more »

Print Friendly



Single Sixteen-Year Terms Would Build Confidence in State Supreme Court, Task Force Members Say

Posted by:
Category: Election Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Supreme Court
Leave a Comment »

The idea of the judiciary as independent guardians of the rule of law has taken a beating in Wisconsin in recent years, amid highly contentious state Supreme Court races and the widely publicized divisions within the state Supreme Court.

What plan with a realistic chance of being enacted could help restore respect for the judicial branch of state government as separate from politics?

That premise and that question shaped the work of a four-member task force of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and what the task force recommended recently is a plan that would be unique in the nation: Election of state Supreme Court justices to 16-year terms, without any opportunity to run for reelection.

The four members of the task force described how they settled on that proposal in a recent “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. Read more »

Print Friendly



Truth in Sentencing, Early Release Options Both Have Appeal, O’Hear Says

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Judges & Judicial Process, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

While truth in sentencing is highly popular with Wisconsin voters, some options that could allow prisoners to be released before serving their full sentences also have majority support, Marquette Law School Professor Michael O’Hear told an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” audience last week. Wisconsin may want to give renewed attention to such ideas in the pursuit of prison policies that are both morally appealing and fiscally wise.

O’Hear, who is associate dean for research at the Law School, summarized Wisconsin’s trends in incarceration in the last four decades, including increased prison populations, abolition of the parole board, and adoption of “truth in sentencing,” which makes a judge’s sentence close to the final word on how long a prisoner will serve. Changes that eased the truth in sentencing practices, including creation in 2009 of an Earned Release Commission, were largely reversed under Gov. Scott Walker in recent years.

The number of people in the Wisconsin prisons went from about 2,000 in 1973 to about 23,000 in 2004, O’Hear said. The total has leveled off since then. Strong political momentum to get tough on crime, including not letting prisoners out before they served their full sentences, underlay the trends, and Wisconsin’s boom in prison population was in line with what occurred in much of the nation, O’Hear said.

Read more »

Print Friendly