Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey to Speak at Reform Forum on October 28th

Press Release
October 22, 2013

Common Cause in WI Public Forum at UW-Stevens Point to Focus on
Redistricting Reform and Other Political Reform Issues

Former Congressman Dave Obey will be among Panelists
Monday Evening, October 28th

6:30 - 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Dreyfus University Center - Laird North (Alumni Room)
1015 Reserve Street
Stevens Point, WI

Wisconsin has experienced tumultuous change over the last couple of years in the way we conduct elections and consider public policy. The core political fabric of Wisconsin – once heralded as a national model – has been dramatically transformed.

Are these changes detrimental to our state’s political process or were they needed and will they improve it?

In 2011, Wisconsin endured the most secretive, partisan and expensive (over $2 million) redistricting process in state history – resulting in dramatically less competitive voting districts for the Wisconsin Legislature, and not a single U.S. Congressional district in which voters have a real choice. Should a measure that takes redistricting out of the hands of partisan legislators and puts that process into the hands of a non-partisan entity get – at the very least – a public hearing?

Tens of millions of dollars were spent by outside interest groups on largely negative advertising leading up to last year's general election. But the citizens of Wisconsin are still in the dark about who was really behind much of this avalanche of “outside” campaign cash and the constant barrage of special interest group “phony issue ads” during the election.

Does this lack of disclosure protect "free speech" or is it a perversion of democracy? Do citizens have the right to know who is trying to influence their vote? Or, are these “anonymous” communications a form of protected speech?

And what about Wisconsin’s photo voter ID law – one of the most extreme and restrictive such measures in the nation? It has been blocked by the courts, but may return in a new form soon. Is requiring a photo ID at the polls needed? Is there really voter fraud or is this a voter suppression measure?

Prior to 2011, public financing of statewide and legislative elections helped ensure that our legislators and our state’s highest court were somewhat beholden to the public rather than completely funded by private interests with deep pockets. Yet in 2011, Governor Scott Walker gutted the state’s public financing system, while at the same time, increased the limit on individual campaign contributions to Supreme Court candidates from $1,000 to $10,000.

With so much outside money flowing into Wisconsin's Supreme Court races, should we continue to elect or consider appointing our State Supreme Court Justices?

And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups (and their "Super PACs") to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to flood our airwaves with negative messages, giving them far greater influence on the outcome of elections. How has the Citizens United decision affected Wisconsin and does it matter?

These vital reform issues will be the focus of discussion in Stevens Point this coming Monday evening during one in a series of "reform forums" held across the state by Common Cause in Wisconsin:

"What Ever Happened to Good Government
in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"
Panelists will include:

Former Congressman Dave Obey (D-7th District, 1969-2011)
State Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point)
Republican Strategist and Common Cause in Wisconsin Board Chair Bill Kraus
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin
State Representative Scott Krug (R-Town of Rome) *Invited*
State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) *Invited*

Political Science Professor Dennis Riley of UW-Stevens Point will serve as Moderator.

Please join us for what we anticipate will be an informative and lively discussion.

Full details can be found here.

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

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