Elections Administrator Stands Firm: “I know I Have the Facts Behind Me”

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Meagan Wolfe has been under a lot of pressure since the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin. As the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, she has been a prime target of criticism from those who think there were irregularities and misconduct behind Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow win over Republican Donald Trump. There have been calls from some Republicans for Wolfe to be fired, along with attacks on her integrity and competence.

But in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Dec. 3, 2021, Wolfe firmly defended the work of election officials across Wisconsin and showed no sign of backing down from her position that the election was run well and by the rules.

“It’s always difficult when your integrity is questioned, but I know I have the facts behind me,” Wolfe told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. “I stand behind the great work that I know I did, that I know my team did, that I know local elections officials did.” Continue reading “Elections Administrator Stands Firm: “I know I Have the Facts Behind Me””

In an “On the Issues” Interview, Rep. Kind Warns of “A Very Perilous Time” for Democracy

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Ron Kind says he wants to leave the United States House of Representatives after 26 years on a hopeful and optimistic note. But that is hard in the current political environment, he made clear during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday (Dec. 1, 2021).

The state of American democracy is “very fragile,” he told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. He said that on Jan. 6, 2021, the nation was “a majority away” from having an armed overthrow of the government when people stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Joe Biden from being formally declared to be the president. He said that if Republicans had been in the majority, there likely would have been a major constitutional crisis.

More generally, Kind, a moderate Democrat who has represented western Wisconsin in the House since 1997, said, “Unquestionably, our politics have gotten very toxic in recent years.” That is hard for someone like him., he said, because he has always tried to have good relationships with members of Congress from across the spectrum. Continue reading “In an “On the Issues” Interview, Rep. Kind Warns of “A Very Perilous Time” for Democracy”

On the Issues: Some Personal Respect Amid Big Differences Over Redistricting

Posted on Categories Election Law, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on On the Issues: Some Personal Respect Amid Big Differences Over Redistricting

On one thing, Jay Heck and Joe Handrick agreed: They each respect the other for doing what each thinks is best for Wisconsin voters.

But during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program, posted on Marquette Law School’s web site on Tuesday (Oct. 26, 2021), the two disagreed on just about everything that involved policies and practices involving voters. That included differences on a list of issues related to elections, especially the hot current disputes over how to draw new boundaries for political districts.

Heck has led Common Cause Wisconsin, a non-profit organization based in Madison, for more than 20 years. Handrick, a former Republican legislator from northern Wisconsin, was recently named to head Common Sense Wisconsin, also a non-profit organization.

Their differences can be summarized by noting that Handrick helped draw up the Republican-backed 2011 map of legislative districts in Wisconsin and Heck called that map one of the five most partisan gerrymanders in the last 50 years of American politics.

Or it can be shown in the way Heck spoke positively of the work of a citizen’s commission, appointed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, which recently proposed “nonpartisan” maps for legislative districts for the next decade, while Handrick sharply criticized that commission’s proposal and spoke positively of maps proposed by Republicans in the state legislature. Continue reading “On the Issues: Some Personal Respect Amid Big Differences Over Redistricting”

“On the Issues” Programs Give Contrasting Views of Political Gravity Around Voting Issues

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You can feel the “gravitational pull” of the political forces that are trying to make it harder for people to vote, Marquette Law School Professor Atiba Ellis said during a recent “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program. He and Molly McGrath, a voting rights attorney, advocate, and organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights project, called for resisting that pull through broad efforts to make voting accessible and easy for the maximum number of people.

Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), also can be seen as someone with a strong sense of gravity around voting issues. But the pull he feels leads him and the influential conservative law firm and think tank he heads to take positions that differ with those of Ellis and McGrath. In a separate “On the Issues” program recently, Esenberg described WILL’s work on a range of issues, including on voting issues. The pull Esenberg described was toward observing the law and judicial decisions in ways that likely would put more limits on ways to vote.

The pair of programs, conducted virtually and posted on the Marquette Law School web site, continued the “On the Issues” focus on voting issues. The programs are hosted by Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. Continue reading ““On the Issues” Programs Give Contrasting Views of Political Gravity Around Voting Issues”

School districts that use pandemic funds wisely may see payoff

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on School districts that use pandemic funds wisely may see payoff

This appeared as a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 25, 2021.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. It won’t really accomplish anything.

Both opinions are widely held as schools across the country plan for what to do with a huge wave of federal funding intended to boost both students and schools as a result of the pandemic.

“This is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children,” Keith Posley, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, said during a Marquette Law School program posted online July 21 on how the money will be used. Posley added, “Our children deserve these funds and even more to make sure they are able to truly get the quality education that they deserve and live that American dream.”

But you need look no farther than the state Capitol in Madison to find opposite views. In late May, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The amount of federal money that is going to school districts is overwhelming. It’s really kind of obscene in many ways.” The new state budget kept a tight limit on school spending across Wisconsin largely because of Republican opinions of the federal aid. Continue reading “School districts that use pandemic funds wisely may see payoff”

Sports Law Experts See Major Changes Coming Soon to College Sports

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Will this summer be a turning point for college athletics?

The full answer to that is complex, multi-faceted, and, of course, still to emerge. But two experts in sports law summarized their responses concisely during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program, posted on the Marquette Law School web site on May 27:

“I think so,” said Steve Ross, Lewis H. Vovakis Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Penn State University and Executive Director of the Penn State Center for the Study of Sports in Society.

Are we at a watershed moment for college sports?

“I think we are,” said Professor Matt Mitten, executive director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School. “We’re coming to a crossroads within the next month.” Continue reading “Sports Law Experts See Major Changes Coming Soon to College Sports”

Can a Task Force’s Agreement on Controversial Ideas Spur a Better Tone in Politics?

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She’s a D, he’s an R. But State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, a Democrat from Madison who is Black, and State Rep. Jim Steineke, a Republican from Kaukauna who is majority leader of the Assembly and who is white, also are friends who have confidence that the other will act in good faith.

If you expected them not to work together in leading the Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities, created by the Republican leader of the Assembly, Rep .Robin Vos, and if you expected the task force not to come to agreement on a proposals for legislation focused on law enforcement issues that have stirred controversy, you were wrong.

In an “On the issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on the Marquette Law School web site on May 19, Steineke and Stubbs were optimistic that the 18 proposals from the task force would become law before the end of June. They also expressed hope that the way they worked together could help change the contentious tone of so much that goes in Wisconsin politics. Continue reading “Can a Task Force’s Agreement on Controversial Ideas Spur a Better Tone in Politics?”

From Diverse Standpoints, Experts Agree on the Need for Re-energizing K-12 Education

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This story about the discussion during a program of the Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy and Civic Education appeared initially in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 2, 2021.

Pedro Noguera and Rick Hess talk to many school superintendents and principals around the United States. In general, they don’t find them to be oriented toward the sharp partisan divides that dominate education debate.

“When you talk to people who lead school systems, they are less ideological,” Noguera said. “They focus on practical matters.”

By “practical matters,” Noguera meant the daily things that lead to kids getting good educations, things like good teachers, good learning practices, and school cultures that offer warmth, safety and stability. Those are things he hopes will be given renewed priority as education recovers from the COVID pandemic.

“If there’s a silver lining to come from this experience with respect to education, I hope it’s a return to a focus on education that stimulates and inspires kids,” Noguera wrote in a book, co-authored with Hess, that came out several weeks ago. Continue reading “From Diverse Standpoints, Experts Agree on the Need for Re-energizing K-12 Education”

Author Describes Amazon’s Boom – and the Downsides of What It Does to Communities

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Enormous selection, good prices, quick delivery, the safety and comfort of shopping from home – what’s not to like about Amazon?

Mike Gousha put that question to Alec MacGillis, in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on the Marquette Law School’s web site on April 21, 2021.

“There’s a lot not to like,” MacGillis answered. He spells out what he means – as well as the reasons so many people love Amazon – in a broad and deep look at the company and its impact in his new book, “Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America.” And he described much of what he found in researching the book in his conversation with Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. Continue reading “Author Describes Amazon’s Boom – and the Downsides of What It Does to Communities”

Want Politicians to Prioritize the Greater Good over Partisanship? Change Election Rules, Speakers Say

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You want to do something about the partisan polarization that puts the United States Congress into frequent gridlock? Katherine Gehl and Austin Ramirez say there is a solution that has nothing to do with any specific policy or how people define themselves when it comes to partisanship: Change the way Congress members are elected.

“It turns out what really matters is the system, the rules of the game,” Gehl said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on the Marquette Law School web site on April 8, 2021. The game she referred to is the way politicians get re-elected. Single-party primary elections motivate them to take highly partisan positions that play to small, but decisive blocks of voters within their party.

“Currently the system pushes – forces — the sides apart,” Gehl said. What’s best in the big picture doesn’t count the way that it counts to do what’s best for winning a party primary or keeping others from launching primary challenges.

“Our task is to make keeping the job the same as getting results for the country,” she told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. Continue reading “Want Politicians to Prioritize the Greater Good over Partisanship? Change Election Rules, Speakers Say”

State Economic Development Leader Sees Growth Ahead, but Problems to Solve

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation generally focused on larger projects aimed at building up the state’s economy, which is to say, the quasi-public agency made about 300 grants a year.

But with the impact the coronavirus had on economic life in Wisconsin, “we had to invent a bunch of tools to help businesses,” Missy Hughes, the secretary and CEO of WEDC, said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on Marquette Law School’s web site on Wednesday (March 18, 2021).

The result? WEDC has made more than 60,000 grants during the pandemic period, the large number of them to small businesses seeking federal money intended to help those businesses stay alive.

As much as the grants have helped  and as much as business owners and operators have shown grit, resiliency and creativity in what they are doing, Hughes told Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, that she was concerned that 20 percent to 30 percent of small businesses statewide would not survive the pandemic. Continue reading “State Economic Development Leader Sees Growth Ahead, but Problems to Solve”

Commitment to working on improving police accountability is strong at Law School conference

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Commitment to working on improving police accountability is strong at Law School conference

There was unanimous concern about the overall issue. There was unanimous willingness to work together. There was open and substantial conversation. But it will take time to see what will actually happen when it comes to progress on how to police communities and how to achieve good  accountability when things related to police go bad.

That summarizes a two-hour conference on policing and accountability hosted by the Marquette Law School and the Marquette Forum, a university-wide set of efforts to address major issues. Participants included major figures involved in controversies over the subject and in the aftermath of several police shootings of black men. The conference was posted on the Law School’s web site on March 10, 2021.

“Ideologically, we want to live in a city where we all feel safe, where we feel heard, where we feel protected,” said Amanda Avalos, a new member of Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission. “And people’s ideas of how we get there are different.” Continue reading “Commitment to working on improving police accountability is strong at Law School conference”