Waukesha and Racine Mayors Stake Out Opposing Positions on Water Diversion Application

Posted by:
Category: Environmental Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Water Law
2 Comments »

Does Waukesha’s application to divert water from Lake Michigan represent the only reasonable option to provide its residents with clean, safe, and sustainable drinking water, or will it cause adverse environmental impacts and set a negative precedent leading to dozens more “straws in the lake”?  That was the subject of conversation between Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly and Racine Mayor John Dickert during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program before a capacity crowd at Marquette Law School.

Waukesha diversionThe Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between Wisconsin and the other Great Lakes states, generally operates as a ban on new and increased diversions of Great Lakes water outside the Great Lakes basin, with certain limited exceptions.  One of those exceptions allows communities located outside the basin, but within counties that straddle the basin line, to apply for a diversion.  Waukesha is the first community to apply for a diversion under that exception.  Its application has drawn close attention locally and nationally.  The Compact sets out strict requirements for such applications.  To succeed, the City’s application must demonstrate that it has “no reasonable water supply alternative,” that its need cannot be reasonably avoided through the efficient use and conservation of existing water supplies, and that it will cause no significant adverse impacts to the quantity or quality of the water used, among other legal requirements.  Under the terms of the Compact, all eight Great Lakes governors (or their designees) have veto power over the application.

During the “On the Issues” program, the two mayors agreed on the importance of regional cooperation on water and other pressing issues (although both lamented the absence of that cooperation in this particular case), but not on much else.  In a respectful but pointed discussion, they staked out opposing positions on the pending application.

Read more »

Print Friendly



Common Ground: Seeking Wins for People at the Grassroots

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

Suddenly, Keisha Krumm, a strong, smart, confident community organizer with a record of impact, hit a point where emotion welled up.

Speaking at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday, Krumm was answering a question about what motivated her to become the lead organizer for Common Ground in Milwaukee.

She said she grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and she was caption of the girls’ basketball team at her high school. They lost every game. She didn’t like it and it still galls her. But there was a bigger context in the circumstances of her life.

“In my neighborhood, we lost,” Krumm said. “When it came to opportunity for our men, we lost. We lost a lot in life.” She paused, looked down at her hands, and continued in a thicker voice.

“I’m sick of losing. And Common Ground teaches people how to win in life where it matters, to get the things done in their neighborhood that if they had a billion dollars, they would never have to worry about. So I’m committed to teaching people how to win in life.” Read more »

Print Friendly



After a Six-Year “Break,” Feingold Makes His Case for Returning to the Senate

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

“The people of this state told me to take a break.”

But Russ Feingold wants the break to end, and he used an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Tuesday to convey his enthusiasm for winning a race for a United States Senate seat that is shaping up as one of the most significant in the country this year.

Feingold served as a Democrat in the Senate for 18 years before being defeated in 2010 by a Republican candidate who was then a newcomer to politics, Ron Johnson. This year’s race is slated to be a re-match between the two. The two differ sharply on a wide range of issues and the outcome could be a key to which party holds a majority in the Senate, come 2017.

Feingold conveyed to a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall not only his enthusiasm for returning to office, but the consistency of his positions over the years, with a few adjustments and tweaks as he positions himself for the campaign. Read more »

Print Friendly



Metcalfe Fellow Calls for Renewed Pursuit of Martin Luther King’s Goals

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Poverty & Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

A grim assessment of current realities in central cities and some optimism about how things can and ultimately will get better.

That is what Sheryll Cashin, a professor of law at Georgetown University and Marquette University’s 2016 Ralph Metcalfe Fellow, offered in a talk last Thursday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall. The session was part of Marquette’s observance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.

“The thing I liked about Dr. King is that he always appealed to our betters angels. I believe there are a lot of better angels out there,” Cashin said in response to a pessimistic question from an audience member.

“Change is inevitable,” she said. “Nothing is permanent.”  She urged people not to limit their imagination of a better future for the nation and for those whose lives now are shaped by “a nasty othering” at the hands of those with power and wealth.

Cashin, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, focused on a set of lectures that Dr. King delivered in 1967 on Canadian public radio. She compared what King said then to circumstances now, saying little has improved in central cities, and some things have gotten worse. Read more »

Print Friendly



Judge Maxine White: Aiming to Provide Well-Run, Fair Courts, not Oprah Episodes

Posted by:
Category: Judges & Judicial Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Court System
1 Comment »

What can you expect from the courts in Milwaukee County?

A system that does everything well, from the ultimate decisions down to the way people are received at the security points at the entrances to buildings.

A system that is well run and staffed by well-trained people in every role.

A system where people feel safe in the courthouse and people, especially crime victims, are treated with respect.

A system that handles cases of all kinds in a fair way, providing a fair forum without politics .

A system that does all it can to be sure civil cases as well as criminal cases, small claims as well as high-profile  major crimes, are handled effectively, professionally, and as promptly as possible.

Those are among the goals set out Wednesday by Judge Maxine White, who recently became chief judge of the first judicial district of Wisconsin (which is to say, Milwaukee County). She spoke at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School. Read more »

Print Friendly



Bucks President Offers Big Visions of Success On and Off the Court

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

With new design plans for the Milwaukee Bucks arena to be unveiled in the next several days, Peter Feigin, president of the professional basketball franchise, exuded nothing but enthusiasm during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday about the future of the team and what its impact will be not only in Milwaukee and statewide but across the globe.

“Awesome,” he said. “This is going to be miraculous.” But that will come to pass only with hard work, not only on the basketball court but throughout every aspect of what the does, Feigin told a large audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall.

Milwaukee? Feigin said the team wants to do all it can to connect with the city, including connecting its players with the youth of the city and increasing its philanthropic work focused on youth, wellness, and education. And the new arena and the team’s operations as a whole will mean several thousand full-time jobs in the city.

Wisconsin? The Bucks want to be “Wisconsin’s team” in the way the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers have become Wisconsin’s teams in their sports. Read more »

Print Friendly



America’s Public Libraries Are Important, Changing Pillars, Conference Speakers Say

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Wayne Wiegand is a prominent expert on public libraries who titled his book, published this fall, Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library.

How big a part of our lives are libraries? Wiegand summed up key themes of his book by telling a conference at Marquette Law School on Thursday that libraries “are much more important than we previously thought they were.” They are vital parts of boosting the lives of millions of people and of America as a whole.

Those were key themes also of the packed-house, half-day conference, titled The Future of the American Public Library, in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall. Leading figures on the past and future of public libraries in America and in Milwaukee specifically described the past, present, and future of these often low-profile but central pillars of American life.

The conference had an underlying tone similar to a pep rally for libraries. Many in the audience were themselves librarians who applauded the depiction of libraries as places that adopt to and serve important community needs — inspiring young people, providing valuable information to everyone from job seekers to the curious, bringing together neighborhoods, and sometimes providing warm, reassuring places to those who need them. Read more »

Print Friendly



Petri and Obey Urge More Involvement — and More Problem-Solving — in Politics

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

One is spicy and one is mild, but two formerly-influential members of the United States Congress were united in serving the same flavor messages Wednesday at Marquette Law School:

Young people should step up to get involved in politics and the political system needs to function in ways that serve the broad needs of the country.

David Obey is a Democrat who represented northern Wisconsin for 42 years and Thomas Petri is a Republican who represented central Wisconsin for 35 years before each retired. Each held major committee chairmanships that put them at the center of momentous decisions.

The two have joined in making appearances around Wisconsin in what they call “a civic dialogue tour” encouraging engagement in politics, and that brought them to an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. Read more »

Print Friendly



Kleefisch Advocates for Walker’s Positions During “On the Issues” Session

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

The only formal duty of a lieutenant governor stated in Wisconsin’s  constitution is to become governor if a vacancy occurs in that office.

“My constitutional duty is succession.  I know my job and I understand my constitutional duty,” Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Wednesday.

The question asked by Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, was whether Kleefisch wanted to be governor at some point in the future. Her answer dodged that question – and that points to the informal main duties of a lieutenant governor:  Don’t make trouble for the governor, don’t get out on a limb, and always speak up for the things the governor is doing. Read more »

Print Friendly



New Cristo Rey High School Has High Career Aims for Students

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

For Maritza Contreras, the Cristo Rey experience began with seeing high school kids in her neighborhood on the way to school all dressed up. She was about nine at the time and the idea of going to school in your best clothes was “the weirdest thing I ever heard of.” But she was attracted to it.  She made it her goal to go to Cristo Rey High School, a private school in her Chicago neighborhood where teens were required to work part time in real jobs in real work places and to aim to go to and succeed in college so that they could become adults working in places like the ones where they did their student placements.

For Contreras, Cristo Rey meant being asked for the first time about her college plans. It meant learning a set of skills and expectations that opened avenues for her, including small but important things such as how to shake hands firmly while making eye contact with someone.

And it meant enrolling in Marquette University with major scholarship support, graduating cum laude with a degree in nursing, and setting aside her nursing ambitions “for now” to get involved in helping the community as director of administrative management services for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin.

Cristo Rey has grown also. Starting in 1996 with the school Contreras attended, there are now 30 Christo Rey schools across the country. A local school, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, opened this fall with 129 ninth graders, almost all of them low-income and benefitting from the state’s private school voucher program. The school is based in a church in West Milwaukee, just south of Miller Park. Read more »

Print Friendly



In Eckstein Hall Session, Schimel Emphasizes Fight Against Opiate Drug Abuse

Posted by:
Category: Health Care, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Law & Legal System
Leave a Comment »

Drug overdose deaths don’t usually make big headlines. But ask Brad Schimel about his priorities as Wisconsin’s still quite-new attorney general (he took office in January) and they are at the top of his priorities. Here’s a powerful reason why:

More people die each year in Wisconsin from overdoses of opiate drugs, the kind issued through prescriptions at drug stores, than die from breast cancer, traffic accidents, hand guns, or heroin combined, Schimel said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Sept. 23.

Seventy percent of heroin addicts got addicted to prescription pills first, Schimel said, and seventy percent of the prescription drug addicts got pills from friends or family members, Schimel said.

Schimel announced in mid September a campaign called “A Dose of Reality” to increase awareness of the extent of prescription drug abuse in Wisconsin. He said the medical community of the state was cooperating in promoting education and more precautions not only in the general public, but in medical jobs that involve providing such drugs. Many in the medical sector are not aware of how widespread the problems of abuse are. Schimel said in announcing the campaign.

Schimel told Gousha he met many times with families of those who died of such abuse while he was Waukesha County district attorney, his job before becoming district attorney. He said it was myth that those who died were “bad kids.” Schimel said, “I’ve yet to find a parent who had the bad kid. These are good kids.” They came from a wide range of backgrounds and lifestyles. And those who die, in general, come from all parts of the state, rural, suburban and urban, and grew up in homes across the spectrum of income levels, he said.

The Dose of Reality campaign is aimed at promoting drug treatment and effective law enforcement work, as well as public education.

In his conversation with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, Schimel also touched on other issues the attorney general’s office is facing.

He agreed that there appear to be conflicting provisions in federal rules related to whether Wisconsin can require people who receive public aid to purchase food to undergo drug tests. Republicans in the Legislature passed such a law this year, but it is being challenged in court.

“Ultimately that’s what courts do, they decide when there is a conflict of laws,” Schimel said. “We’re going to have this resolved there.”

Schimel also stood by his firm position on maintaining Wisconsin’s strong record of open government and access to public records. Schimel, who won office as a Republican, said sometimes it is necessary to go against the wishes of Republican law makers. In this instance, some Republicans tried to push through substantial changes in open government rules several months ago. Schimel’s opposition was a factor in those changes being pulled off the table after initially getting support.

Schimel also discussed Wisconsin’s participation in fighting tighter air pollution laws backed by the Obama administration and the slow start to a planned joint state-county-city effort to crackdown on gun crimes in Milwaukee. He commented in general terms on the John Doe investigation related to campaign activities on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker, but he did not give a direct answer to a question on whether he thought Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm engaged in a “witch hunt,” as some Republicans have said.

Video of the one-hour program may be watched by clicking here.

Print Friendly



Urban Neighborhood Expert Gives Hopeful Message to Milwaukee

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Yes, there are good things happening in even some of the poorest neighborhoods in urban America.

Yes, there are ways to use data, research, and good policy decisions to strengthen the quality of life in such neighborhoods.

No, it’s not easy and there are no quick solutions.

That can be seen as a summary of a two-day visit to Marquette Law School by one of the most influential figures in America in urban research, Robert Sampson, who is Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and director of the Boston Area Research Initiative. Sampson’s 2012 book, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, is playing a significant  role in a surge of big-data projects aimed at thoroughly assessing the strengths and weakness of neighborhoods in cities and using that knowledge to shape more effective ways of preserving and improving neighborhoods.    Read more »

Print Friendly