There were upsides to the tumultuous Wisconsin election in April. At that time, there was an unprecedented flood of absentee voting, with some significant missteps related to mail service. Many of the usual polling places were closed, leading to long lines at those that were available, amid extensive precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A photo from one Milwaukee polling place of a voter holding a sign proclaiming the situation “ridiculous” circulated around the world.
So what was that upside? A lot was learned about what to do and what not to do, the challenges of running an election in today’s circumstances were clear to the public, and there is a good forecast for an election this fall that will be well run, with good options for voting and good reason to be confident the results will be reliable.
That was the picture painted Wednesday by three people involved in overseeing how the election, featuring a presidential choice, is shaping up. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, and Brookfield City Clerk Kelly Michaels spoke with Mike Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, during a virtual “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program. Continue reading “Lessons Learned in April Will Lead to Smoother Voting This Fall, Election Administrators Say”
How does Lafayette Crump define success in his new job as the City of Milwaukee’s commissioner of City Development?
“I think it would be a disservice to this community if I did not view my success through the prism of how I am able to improve racial and economic equity in the city of Milwaukee,” Crump said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program. The interview, one of the “virtual Lubar Center” programs of Marquette Law School, was posted online on Wednesday, August 26.
Police are effective in reducing violence, according to Patrick Sharkey. “When there are more police on the street, there’s less violence, and we have very good evidence on that,” Sharkey said during a virtual “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on July 22.
But that is only part of what is needed to make communities safe, Sharkey said. The reliance on police to deal with safety in urban areas has left big inequalities and needs unaddressed. That’s one of the key factors behind the enormous wave of protests since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.
So Sharkey, a professor of sociology and urban affairs at Princeton University and an expert on the value of community efforts in increasing safety, has been calling in places such as the Washington Post and New York Times, for bold experiments in new ways to help neighborhoods.
As new Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley was being interviewed for an online “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program this week, viewers could see a message board behind Crowley with the phrase, “It’s a good day to have a good day.”
When Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, asked Crowley about it, Crowley said it was a motto in his family and he described himself as an optimist – in fact, he said, some say he is “recklessly optimistic.”
He maintained that tone, even as he discussed the enormous problems he faces in the job he won in the April 7 election. Milwaukee County government continues to struggle with large financial stresses and increasing demands for services. Add on the crises that Crowley faced the day he took office – responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp economic slump that resulted – and the urgent issues that arouse in late May in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and it would be easy to guess Crowley’s optimism had declined.
Can you offer a note of optimism when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mike Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, asked Jeanette Kowalik, the health commissioner of the City of Milwaukee, that question at the end of an online “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” interview on Wednesday, May 20.
Kowalik tried, but it was a challenge to put a cheerful face on the impact the virus is having on Milwaukee and most of the world.
“Definitely what’s happening right now is like Haley’s comet,“ she said. It was hard to anticipate “something at this level” as a health crisis, she said, saying the United States as a whole was experiencing “these astronomical numbers” of confirmed cases and deaths.
(This is a lightly-edited version of a column I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that ran in the Dec. 8, 2019, print edition.)
Dana Suskind is a surgeon at the University of Chicago whose specialty is providing kids who have little or no hearing with high-tech cochlear implants that allow them to hear much better. But she noticed about a decade ago that some of her young patients had much better outcomes than others after receiving the implants.
“It was a really painful experience to watch” kids who now could hear but weren’t thriving. She worked to find the reason. Her conclusion: The problem “had less to do with their hearing loss and more to do with the environment into which they were born.” Generally, their lives were shaped by poverty, instability, high stress and limited exposure to experiences that are intellectually and emotionally beneficial.
Much the same is true for millions of children who are born with normal hearing. By the time they reach kindergarten, they are nowhere near as ready for school as children who with better lots in their early years.
Suskind became founder and co-director of a project called Thirty Million Words. The name came from a study from several decades ago that concluded that, by the time they reached school age, low-income children had heard 30 million fewer words in every-day conversation than children from higher income homes. This limited their educational readiness. Continue reading “Fresh Thoughts on How to Close the Pre-Kindergarten Learning Gap”
Ten years ago, Marquette Law School sponsored a conference, “Milwaukee 2015: Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward.” Speakers at the conference, including Wisconsin’s then-Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, put forward a vision of Milwaukee becoming a world leader in water expertise with a Milwaukee area economy boosted by an influx of water-based jobs and companies.
On Nov. 5, 2019, a decade later almost to the day, the Law School convened a follow up conference (titled “Milwaukee 2025: Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward”) with some of the same speakers, as well as others, to ask how things have been going and what lies ahead.
How would you rate Milwaukee’s record on becoming a water hub? Mayor Barrett responded that the area has moved in the right direction. “I won’t give us an A plus, I’ll give us a solid B for moving in that direction,” he said. “We have changed the perception of Milwaukee in a significant way in the last 10 years.”
Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell, a major proponent of the emphasis on water, said the goal in 2009 was to make Milwaukee a global center of excellence for all things related to water, “something like the CDC for water,” a reference to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lovell said, “We have not gotten there yet; we are still striving to do so.” Milwaukee should be proud of what has been done, including the creation of The Water Council, the Global Water Center, and the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lovell said. Continue reading “Conference Gives Milwaukee a Good — But Not Great — Progress Report as a Water Hub”
Kelli Thompson admits she wasn’t entirely eager to become a lawyer, particularly the kind involved in courtroom work. As a student at Marquette Law School, “I probably did a very, very good job of staying far, far away from any kind of trial advocacy or litigation type of class. I think my thought was I would get the J.D. behind my name and just do something else. The something else, I have no idea what that was going to be.”
But, she said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on October 15, 2019, “In my third year of law school, I think it was killing my father that I was not even considering going into a courtroom.”
Her father, by the way, is Tommy G. Thompson, who, at that time in the mid-1990s, was governor of Wisconsin.
Kelli Thompson recalled, “At that point in time, he certainly wasn’t pushy, but he said, ‘Before you decide you hate it (courtroom work), you at least have to try it.’ . . . He said Marquette has wonderful clinical programs.” He told his daughter to pick one. “I said, ‘OK, you pick for me because I don’t know what I want to do’ . . . He said, ‘There’s no doubt, public defender, you should go there.’
As Rick Graber sees it, the Bradley Foundation operates “in a world of ideas, and we fund people who are in the world of ideas.”
That’s one way to describe the work of the Milwaukee-based foundation. But it is important to add a few things to that description: The Bradley Foundation is huge – it has an endowment of about $900 million and it makes grants of $40 to $50 million a year. It is influential – it has provided funding sparking big changes in American policy since it was launched in the mid-1980s. And it is conservative – its leaders have never hesitated in using that label to describe its support of limited government, free markets, traditional values, and other conservative causes. One of its signature issues is support of programs allowing parents to send their children to private and religious schools using public money.
Graber, president and CEO of Bradley since 2016, told an audience at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Thursday, October 17, that the foundation tries to do what two brothers, Harry and Lynda Bradley, would want them to do. The two were founders of the Allen-Bradley Co., and they were supporters of conservative causes. Both died more than a half century ago and the foundation is funded out of some of the proceeds of the sale of Allen-Bradley in the 1980s. Continue reading “Bradley Foundation Chief Describes Its Conservative Philosophy and Grant Making”
Paul Butler refers to himself as “a recovering prosecutor.” A native of the south side of Chicago, he graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for a judge, and went into private practice. He became a federal prosecutor with the hope he would part of solving problems in the criminal justice system that lead to so many people being incarcerated, especially African American men. He concluded that, as a prosecutor, he was part of the problem and not the solution. He left the job and is now the Albert Brick Professor of Law at Georgetown University and an advocate for major reform of the criminal justice system.
Do Milwaukeeans – or at least enough Milwaukeeans – appreciate what an amazing figure Bud Selig is? Not only in terms of changing baseball, but in terms of changing things that are now big parts of the fabric of American culture?
As Selig often says, baseball is a social institution. It’s a key part of American culture. The game is not called the national pastime without good reason.