Immigrants Need To Assimilate!

During the campaign and since the election of President-elect Donald Trump…as part of the undercurrent of the anti-immigrant rhetoric there has been the continued story that immigrants need to assimilate. That they don’t do that. But they do…they do it very effectively…even if it isn’t on the schedule that the right thinks is normal.

My paternal grandfather spoke German when he came to this country…but none of his children or grandchildren did (in retrospect I wish he had allowed a bilingual family). My maternal great-grandparents spoke German and Irish but none of their children or grandchildren did.

In the early 20th Century there were dozens of foreign language newspapers across the nation and I believe at one time Milwaukee had more German language papers than English. Those are all gone now.

So what is the fuss? Our memory is short. Many of the new immigrants will take on American culture as they add unique new aspects to it. It just might not happen as quickly as someone thinks it should.

But immigrants haven’t always been so good at assimilation. If they had you’d be reading this in Ojibwe right now!

Nancy Pelosi Has Got To Go

I have no axe to grind with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. I respect her accomplishments as a member of the House, as the first woman Speaker of the House, and most recently as minority leader.

But if we haven’t learned from the 2016 presidential election cycle, particularly from the insurgent campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and the eventual win of Donald Trump. that the electorate wants change, what are we doing here?

There is no way we can think about winning 2018 if we roll out the same ole some ole. We need new leadership. We need someone fresh who can take on the GOP majority. We need someone who can inspire the newly franchised, the newly involved. We need someone who will take on Donald Trump.

I don’t have a dog in this fight…other than Nancy Pelosi should not be re-elected to her house minority leadership position.

For another take on her leadership and her apparent plan to consolidate her power: Black Caucus member knocks Pelosi over leadership shakeup.

Sheriff Clarke Runs Amok, County Exec Abele Talks Sense, and a Judge Starts the Healing

Following the Sherman Park riots on August 13th and 14th, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke decided to close Milwaukee County park, Sherman Park, at 6 PM each day. The normal time for county parks to close is 10 PM. In the short term this made some sense but in the passing days and then weeks, the residents requested that the park be returned to normal. Obviously the neighborhood wanted to heal. And there were several weekly events held in the park that were being interrupted that were designed to help area youth and others.

Well Sheriff Clarke ignored the requests of neighborhood residents and kept the 6 PM curfew in place. That was common knowledge but nearly everyone in the city other than the sheriff were wondering why. What I didn’t know was the park was also enclosed in orange plastic snow fencing…an intimidating and extremely ugly presence in the park.

But then this Sunday it got more interesting!

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced Sunday that Sherman Park…would resume its normal operating hours, setting up a showdown with Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., who had imposed shortened hours in the wake of the unrest.

…he (Abele) reinstated the county park’s normal operating hours and had the fencing removed — only to have Clarke reinstall the barrier and threaten to arrest anyone, including Abele, who refused to leave the park after 6 p.m.

Acting on a legal opinion by the county’s top attorney, Abele on Sunday reinstated the park’s 10 p.m. closing time and ordered the removal of the fencing, calling it “a literal and figurative barrier standing in the way of healing in the Sherman Park neighborhood.”

Within hours Sunday, Clarke ordered his deputies to replace the fence, and said in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the park would remain closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a matter of public safety until he decides otherwise.

Well, not to let this rest, County Exec Abele then sought and gained a court injunction against the sheriff closing down the park again:

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher on Sunday issued a temporary restraining order barring Clarke from closing the park early, and he ordered the removal of bright orange snow fencing that has lined the park for all but a few hours since rioting broke out in the surrounding neighborhood over a two-day period last month.

Hansher ordered sheriff’s deputies not to impede public access to the park “in the absence of any genuine, bona fide reason related to maintaining law and order and preserving the peace.”

He also chastised Clarke for failing to appear in court and not sending an attorney, calling it “contemptuous of the civil proceeding and the public’s right to have a hearing.”

“The sheriff is not above the law,” Hansher said.

A follow up hearing is set for Wednesday…and someone from the Sheriff’s Department had better show up this time…although it’s even money the sheriff himself won’t show up.

Hansher scheduled a hearing on a permanent restraining order for 2 p.m. Wednesday. He said if Clarke attempted to unnecessarily impede access to the park, he would find the sheriff in contempt of court.

All of this is typical of the ongoing feud between the sheriff and the county exec.

But the really telling statement on this whole thing is the very last paragraph of the article:

“I feel like instead of acting like a bully, Clarke should come down and talk with us,” Major (Dee Major – an area resident) said. “There is nothing wrong here.”

So besides not evening listening to the requests of the neighborhood, the sheriff hasn’t even visited the area?

Sheriff Clarke is up for re-election in 2018…plenty of time to find a qualified candidate to run against him!

State Representative Jonathan Brostoff Arrested In Sherman Park

For many of you from Milwaukee this is now old news already…but for those of you outside of Milwaukee…well you may have seen it too since it made the national news.

But here are the particulars in a nutshell. Mourners continue to congregate in the area in Sherman Park where Sylville Smith was killed by a Milwaukee Police officer. Needless to say the neighborhood itself would like to return to as much as normal as it can following the riots that followed Mr. Smith’s killing. So to disperse the groups and bring quiet to the neighborhood, the MPD is called to the site. So this past Tuesday night, police asked the group to disperse and there were some issues. A number of people came to help resolve the issues, including State Rep. Brostoff. At some point in the evening police forced Rep. Brostoff to the ground, cuffed him and put him in a police van. He did not identify himself to the police before, during or after the arrest. When police were informed of his identity he was released.

So I have a couple of issues with this. The first is, the police need to find a better way to disperse the mourners and others who continue to gather. It’s going to continue for a while yet. I realize the neighborhood is under stress because of the constant stream of people day and night, and they deserve peace and quiet, but there has to be a better way.

Next, Rep. Brostoff shouldn’t have been released because he is an elected official. If this was a lawful arrest, he should have gone to jail just like you or I would have. There shouldn’t have been any favoritism because of his position.

Or wasn’t this a lawful arrest? There were 10 or more others arrested that evening. Were they lawfully arrested? Were they released? Or did they get booked and go to jail?

Meanwhile Rep. Brostoff is requesting a meeting with Mayor Barrett and Police Chief Flynn to discuss the incident.

Update: This piece was published by Rep Brostoff. It is worth the read!

Governor Walker Steps Up To The Plate

I am a few days late on this…but I need to give credit where credit is due.

Governor Scott Walker announced that $4.5 million in state and federal funds will be made available to Milwaukee for help with job training, business development and repairing/removing foreclosed homes. This all is coming in the wake of the riots in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee on August 13 and 14, 2016 after Sylville Smith was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer.

Now, $4.5 million isn’t a great deal of money when compared to the poverty and joblessness in Milwaukee’s minority neighborhoods…and at this point it is essentially just seed money. But it is the right thing to do and I thank Governor Walker for his efforts here. Although he will be hard pressed to do so, hopefully he can find additional funds in the next state budget.

Here is a break down on the funds:

The initial response, which does not need the approval of lawmakers, includes:

•$1.5 million in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money to work with city officials to run employment programs for those in need of jobs.
• $2 million to help the City of Milwaukee to demolish 50 foreclosed properties owned by the city and renovate 60 more. With matching dollars from the city, the money will help employ 200 young and unemployed area residents who will work on the homes as well as clean up all vacant lots, alleys and other blighted properties in the city.
• $1 million to Milwaukee businesses to help them train workers in the city.
• An effort by the Department of Workforce Development to send out mobile teams into distressed neighborhoods, where they’ll set up job centers in churches and community centers to give the unemployed better access to work.
• Work by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to see whether the state can use existing jobs programs to help businesses that were damaged or destroyed during the burning and looting.

Hopefully there will be full transparency in how these funds are used…and we will see this as just the start of a concerted effort to solve the problems facing Milwaukee.

Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel is Stone Cold Tone Deaf:

Per a recent state law, a third party agency must conduct the investigations of police involved shootings. Following the killing of a young man in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood by a member of the Milwaukee Police Department, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident. This shooting lead to the rioting and property destruction in Sherman Park on August 13th and 14th, 2016. And despite the fact that both the deceased and the police officer are African American, there is a lot of angst surrounding the incident and the follow up investigation.

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel is in charge to the Department of Justice and therefore the chief officer in the investigation. Needless to say there is distrust between the community and the police department and a lot of concern in Milwaukee on getting this thing right. So who is handling the case on behalf of the WI DOJ? Well apparently an number of DOJ investigators who are former Milwaukee police officers. Yup, that’s the ticket to instill confidence in the community that this investigation is being carefully and thoroughly examined. And I can’t think that there wouldn’t be enough non-MPD experienced investigators to handle this…even if it required some reassignments…but wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?

Well maybe not:

Wisconsin’s attorney general acknowledged Monday that former Milwaukee police officers, now working for the state Department of Justice, are investigating the fatal shooting of a black man by a Milwaukee officer that triggered two nights of violence.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said he doesn’t see a conflict in using former Milwaukee officers in the investigation into the Aug. 13 shooting of Sylville K. Smith.

“Milwaukee PD has about 2,000 sworn officers as I understand. The likelihood that there would be some relationship between a particular patrol officer, who’s going to be much younger than an experienced detective… is small. And if there is any relationship at all, that officer, that investigator would not be permitted to have any role in the investigation,” Schimel said at a news conference in downtown Milwaukee.

He said the DOJ hires many retired officers to work for the Division of Criminal Investigation in the region that they have previously worked. An agency spokesman later said DCI has about 100 officers statewide; of 18 field agents in the Milwaukee office, eight once worked for the Milwaukee Police Department.

It may in fact be possible for former Milwaukee police officers to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation.

But that doesn’t mean a damn thing…there are times when the appearance of possible bias is the determining factor in who performs the investigation. And in this case there shouldn’t be a single former member of MPD anywhere near this case.

WTF is AG Schimel thinking?

Where Was Governor Walker On Sunday?

Actually Governor Scott Walker was in Glendale (a Milwaukee suburb just north of the city) on Sunday attending a Support The Blue Day rally. I don’t have an issue with that.

But considering the events in Milwaukee Saturday night and his proximity to Sherman Park what he didn’t do is an issue.

He didn’t meet with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett…although according to the media he did talk to him about activating the National Guard per Sheriff David Clarke’s request…but I have found nothing about an actual meeting.

Likewise the media suggests he talked with the sheriff about the National Guard as well…no meeting.

Nor a meeting with the Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn nor Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton nor any other elected officials or community leaders.

He didn’t visit the Sherman Park neighborhood and observe the devastation nor the people from the neighborhood, city, county and neighboring areas that were cleaning up after the riots and holding person to person dialogues in the streets and parks.

As a man of faith he didn’t stop to join a variety of prayer circles organized by both city and suburban churches.

And he didn’t hear what the people most affected were saying about the events or their hopes or their needs.

He didn’t promise to bring some of his 250,000 jobs to Milwaukee’s northside. He didn’t promise state financial help to a beleaguered city of Milwaukee. He didn’t promise additional state aid for education in Milwaukee. He did not offer to find federal grants or aid to help rebuild Milwaukee’s crumbling inner city.

He didn’t for a single moment display any sense of leadership…

Newt Gingrich Wants to Shred the Bill of Rights:

Earlier this week when it seemed like he was still in the running to be Donald Trump’s vice-presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich decided to shred the Bill of Rights:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday that U.S. citizens “of a Muslim background” should be tested to see if they believe in Sharia law. (emphasis mine)

“And if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported,” he added, speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

Gingrich was reacting to the terror attack in Nice, France, that left more than 80 dead, including at least two Americans.

“I think you either kick them out of the country — People tell me, ‘We can’t do that to American citizens.’ We are in a war. We better rethink the rules, or we’re going to lose the war,” Gingrich told Fox host Sean Hannity.

Gingrich appeared to be defining Sharia, or Islamic law, by its strictest interpretation, such as that embraced by the Islamic State terror group in parts of Syria and Iraq. Gingrich pointed to Islamist groups burning women and beheading captives.

The ex-House speaker further called for the U.S. government to aggressively monitor mosques and to “be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are.”

“Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or al-Qaida or terrorist groups, that should be a felony. And they should go to jail,” he said.

“Everybody who watches this video: This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary and to tell us the truth. And that starts with President Obama,” he soon added.

So let’s see…freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, violation of due process, etc., etc., etc.!

But doesn’t it seem odd that he never once mentioned keeping guns away from them…so once again the second amendment remains sacrosanct and all of the other rights play second fiddle.

Thank goodness that Donald Trump selected someone else! But we still need to defeat Mr. Trump to prevent Mr. Gingrich from showing up elsewhere in a Trump administration!

And to be fair, not unlike Mr. Trump, when the levee broke, Mr. Gingrich tried to walk this back:

Gingrich started to walk back his comments Friday morning, saying on Twitter that the media distorted his views.

Direct quotes? Video? Results in distorted views? WTF?

Obama administration: schools must allow transgender bathrooms

This is a good step forward for transgendered students.

Public schools must allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, the Obama administration announced Friday, escalating the pressure on the contentious public debate over transgender rights.

The civil rights offices of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint letter to school districts asserting that limiting transgender students to facilities consistent with their birth sex or to single-stall facilities not required for other students violates the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, known as Title IX. Failure to comply with the directive would jeopardize districts’ federal funding under the law.

Education Secretary John B. King said Friday that the directive was issued in response to requests for guidance from school officials around the country.

“This was an attempt to provide clarity,” said King, who was en route to Wisconsin where he was scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Milwaukee Area Technical College on Friday evening.

“Fundamentally, the Department of Education is a civil rights agency,” King said. “We want to ensure that all of our students — whoever they are, wherever they come from — get an opportunity for a great education, free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

I expect this action by the federal Department of Education will be met with fierce opposition from conservative bigots who can’t accept or understand anyone who doesn’t fit into their narrow understanding of what it means to be a person.