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Madison City Council declares ‘Ho-Chunk Day’

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 11:45pm

Madison City Council declared Tuesday a city holiday honoring the Ho-Chunk Nation.

In their meeting, they also discussed labor work for homeless and investing in the Madison Public Market Foundation.

Nov. 24 was officially named “Ho-Chunk Day” to honor the Ho-Chunk Nation, as they are the original inhabitants of Madison.

Alder Arvina Martin, District 11, said she felt the holiday would give a needed emphasis to the tribe.

“The city of Madison recognizes the historical trauma and how it still reverberates today so that healing can take place and progress can be made,” Martin said.

Dane County Board approves plans for new $76 million jail amid protestsAmid intense protest, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to proceed with plans to consolidate jail operations Read…

After the recognition, the meeting moved to discuss the measures that have been taken to employ the homeless in nearby cities. 

Sarah Lim, a Community Development Specialist for the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development said the staff contacted four communities that were using day job programs to conduct research. They found similarities between the implemented programs.

“Nonprofit agencies would normally drive around the city in a van frequented by panhandlers, or people experiencing homelessness, and would respectively ask ‘would you like to work today?’” Lim said.

If the panhandlers agreed, they would go in the van to the work-site without much screening, Lim said. These day jobs consisted of manual labor.

Lim noted these jobs paid between nine and 11 dollars per hour in their respective cities. The staff put their own work to the test, and conducted a survey of panhandlers in Madison.

“In Madison, strong indicators for need of panhandlers-specific programs were not identified based on the survey,” Lim said.

Lawmakers introduce bill to increase minimum wage for Wisconsin workersTwo Democratic legislators, Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, and Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, introduced a bill Friday to increase the state Read…

Lim said the CDD staff concluded that such programs should not be implemented at this time, but perhaps in the future when there is more of a need.  

The staff provided recommendations for the Council if they were to decide to implement such programs, Lim said. These included targeting single, homeless individuals instead of those who are panhandling by creating a partnership with downtown Madison businesses.

Lim also recommended that the council focus on increasing resources for housing solutions to help end homelessness.

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Categories: Local Media

Student Council unanimously approves ASM internal budget

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 11:42pm

Associated Students of Madison met Tuesday to vote on the its internal budget for fiscal year 2019, as well as hear a updates about current and future construction projects on campus for recreational sports facilities.

The $1,384,284 budget, amended by the Student Services Finance Committee last week, passed with two amendments.

The first amendment proposed by SSFC, which reduced ASM’s budget supporting students with disabilities from $10,000 to $8,000, was reversed by student council.

Members of SSFC argued that the budget line was excessively high, with only $3,300 of the budget spent each year on average

Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair Alexandra Hader, who proposed the amendment, recognized the low usage rate as unfortunate but said the director of the McBurney Disability Resource Center advised her to keep funding at $10,000.

The fund provides support to students with disabilities who are seeking to participate in extracurriculars, an area which the McBurney Center does not cover, according to ASM’s website.

To ensure the resource is used more frequently, the Center for Leadership and Involvement has been working to make certain it is being advertised properly, Hader said.

SSFC deliberates ASM internal budget for fiscal year 2019Student Services Finance Committee met Monday to discuss the Associated Students of Madison’s internal budget for the fiscal year 2019. Read…

“I really want to make sure it is being used by students who need it,” Hader said.

The SSFC amendment that afforded a $1,707 salary to the Rules Committee chair, a position primarily focused on ensuring committees follow bylaws and the constitution, was also voted down in a vote of 15-3-2.

Rep. Jeremy Swanson, although initially in favor of the measure, argued that paying a Rules Committee chair was unnecessary.  

“I believe that both chair and the ASM staff that are at every meeting qualify as experts in our bylaws,” Swanson said.  

Rep. Dylan Resch, who originally proposed the amendment as part of SSFC and sits as current chair of the Rules Committee, spoke to its importance.

The Rules Committee is “essential to all of ASM,” Resch argued, and without pay the position will likely be vacant next year. The bylaws are rules, not suggestions, and most people participating in student government have not read the constitution, he said.

With a vote of 18-0-0, ASM’s internal budget passed.

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John Horn, the Director of the Division of Recreational Sports, also spoke to student council about construction projects underway on campus.

The $89 million renovation of the Southeast Recreational Facility is on schedule to be completed in October of 2019, Horn said, and a pre-design study of the Natatorium remodel has been completed.

“This master plan that was initiated by students, being designed by students and pushed forward by students…it’s happening,” Horn said.

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Categories: Local Media

Crickets may be answer to environmental sustainability

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:53pm

Crickets and other edible insects are the pathway to an increased economy, a healthy environment and sustainable agriculture, PhD student Valerie Stull said.

Wisconsin Union Directorate Cuisine hosted Stull to discuss how crickets can be effective in cultivating a better environment for the U.S.

Stull is the co-leader of the Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects, where they believe insects are one of the best practices for sustainable food sourcing. Climate change, agriculture and human health are all affected positively by insect consumption, Stull said.

Climate change is the biggest health threat and will effect food supply and security and agriculture negatively, based on the world’s current climatic activities, Stull said. In order to feed the estimated 9.7 billion people by 2050, the world will need to produce 60 percent more weight in agriculture than produced in 2005.

“[The human race] has to think about the processes and the management of our agriculture,” Stull said.

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Stull believes entomophagy, the act of eating insects, is a viable means of combatting hunger, while uncommon in the U.S., 2 billion people regularly eat insects in over 130 nations. Insects can also provide an important income.

The equivalent of $39 to 59 million are raised in insects in South Africa alone, Stull said. Thailand, for example, also has an increasing entomophagy culture with about 20,000 small cricket farms.

Stull believes the U.S. hasn’t adopted insect-eating regularly yet in part of a “fear factor.” From a historical perspective, Stull said Europeans tended to favor domesticated foods over primitive ones, and insects were categorized as primitive foods.

“Insects are often preferable over meat. And it’s not just poverty, that’s not the reason people eat insects,” Stull said.

Stull said many people associate eating insects as a means of last resort to succumb starvation. But, this idea is a “cultural taboo.”

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Insects can often be found in abundance during the right harvesting season. She said insects are ubiquitous across the globe and because of that, there are no hunting regulations on insects.

But hunting insects can be problematic. Stull said some people have cut down trees in order to access insects, and this creates deforestation.

Moreover, Stull said when too many insects are harvested, it will upset their natural ecosystem and the species who live among them.

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But, there are more benefits to consuming insects, especially with insect agriculture, Stull said. Harvesting increases an all-year access and ensures food safety.

Insects are low-tech and require low-cost mechanisms. Because insects are ectothermic, they don’t experience pain when being put to death like other animals. Therefore, Stull said it’s a more humane process.

“Insects are nutrient dense and widely available,” Stull said.

Stull said she believes the U.S. can import a cricket, or insect culture by erasing taboos and making insectivores part of the culture.

Crickets are nutrient-dense foods and could create a better economy and agriculture for the United States, Stull concluded.

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Categories: Local Media

Lawsuit filed against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 6:02pm

A conservative law firm filed a lawsuit Monday directly to the state Supreme Court against State Superintendent Tony Evers.

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is claiming Evers and the Department of Public Instruction are refusing to follow the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, according to The Wheeler Report.

The REINS Act was passed last summer and gives the state Legislature more oversight when it comes to regulations imposed by agencies. Any rule that would cost Wisconsin businesses and taxpayers more than $10 million requires legislative approval.

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Last year, a similar case against Evers was brought to the state Supreme Court, and the court ruled in his favor, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. WILL is asking in the lawsuit for this ruling to be revisited.

Evers is also one of the Democratic candidates looking to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in the 2018 election.

Evers’ spokesperson Tom McCarthy said the case has no merit and the earlier decision by the court was clear, according to the MJS. McCarthy believes the lawsuit shouldn’t succeed.

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Categories: Local Media

UW freshmen forced to return stolen tree to Frances street

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:29pm

A group of University of Wisconsin freshmen were forced to return a Christmas tree they stole Friday afternoon.

The tree, which was reported to weigh 150 pounds, was stolen from the 500 block of N. Frances St by a group of UW freshmen men sometime last week, according to a Madison Police Department incident report. 

The tree was placed there as a part of Shine on Madison, an effort by the Madison Central Business Improvement District to decorate the downtown area with lights and other trappings in preparation for the holiday season.

From security cameras near the tree, the thieves were identified as a group of UW freshmen boys. MCBID did not pursue criminal charges against them.

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Instead, Madison Police Department officers ordered the boys to move the $400 tree back to its original spot on N. Frances St.

No charges were filed against the freshmen, who claimed the entire ordeal was meant to be a prank.

In the creatively written incident report stylized in the form of the famous “‘Twas a Night Before Christmas,” an officer informed the freshmen of the $691 fee which accompanies theft citations and encouraged them to make better choices in the future.

The post UW freshmen forced to return stolen tree to Frances street appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Lawmakers introduce bill to increase minimum wage for Wisconsin workers

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:17am

Two Democratic legislators, Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, and Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, introduced a bill Friday to increase the state minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.

Under this bill, the minimum wage would gradually increase to $15 each year over a five-year time period. After the five-year period ends, the bill will require the Department of Workforce Development to adjust minimum wage income annually to match the trends of the current economy.

Sargent said this legislation was necessary because everyday Wisconsin citizens are struggling as they continually work low-income jobs and live in impoverished conditions.  

“We need to go back to one of our very core principles as a country, and as a state, [which is] if you work hard, you should be able to get ahead,” Sargent said. “We write in our tax codes to benefit the rich and the wealthy and the connected, and if we can afford to do that, we certainly can afford to invest in everyday ordinary folks in the state of Wisconsin.”

Sargent cited a Center on Wisconsin Strategy study which revealed one in four Wisconsin workers currently have poverty-wage jobs.

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Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS and one of the lead authors on the study, said these numbers represent only some of the issues low wage workers face in Wisconsin.

Dresser said these workers often are working full-time, but are still unable afford base transportation and housing costs. By increasing the minimum wage, she said workers will be more committed to their jobs which could decrease turnover and increase worker productivity.

The federal minimum wage, however, has not been raised since 2009. Since then, 29 states have made the decision to raise their minimum wage above the federal level, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Minimum Wage Tracker.

Dresser said some of those states, like Washington and New York, have the most dynamic economies in the nation right now and are already moving towards implementing these minimum wages levels in their state.

“This would dramatically change income at the bottom of the labor market in the state,” Dresser said.

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The two Democratic lawmakers introduced a similar bill together in the last legislative session, but it did not pass.

Sargent admits the bill faces a partisan legislature, but she argues introducing these types of bills can “change the fabric of the state” even though they might not pass because it allows people to think and talk about issues that matter to them.

“The people of Wisconsin are asking for this [minimum wage] bill to be introduced,” Sargent said. “Folks are overwhelmingly saying ‘It’s time to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.’ It’s my job as a legislator and people’s servant to hear the voices of the people and bring what is that they find important [into] the building to discuss.”

The co-sponsorship period for this bill ends Dec. 1. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.

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Categories: Local Media

Dane County Board approves plans for new $76 million jail amid protests

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:12am

Amid intense protest, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to proceed with plans to consolidate jail operations in a new $76 million facility.

County Executive Joe Parisi included in his October budget introduction plans for a $76 million prison renovation. Amendments to Parisi’s budget were debated by the board at Monday’s meeting.

Under the plans introduced in Parisi’s budget, jail operations in Dane County would be consolidated under one building. Currently, county jail operations are split among the sixth and seventh floors of the City-County Building and the Ferris Center.

Supporters of the new jail said the poor conditions at the current facility within the City-County Building have mandated the construction of a new facility.

Sup. Maureen McCarville, District 22, said the poor conditions of the current jail open the county up to potentially expensive lawsuits and do not meet legally-mandated standards.

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“That antiquated jail is unsafe,” McCarville said. “It contains asbestos, lead, and outdated technology that routinely does not work and causes people to be trapped in their cells until deputies can find a solution to get the doors open.”

Other supervisors pointed to the expanded medical and mental health services which would be included for inmates in the new jail as other reasons for their support.

Sup. Ronn Ferrell, District 15, called the construction of a new jail and the services it would offer a “win-win.”

“The new jail facility will have space and facility to give people that are in there the help they need — help to get them out of the jail, and more importantly, help to keep them out of the jail,” Ferrell said. “This is a win-win.”

Opponents of the new jail, however, said the massive expenses of the project and the adverse implications it would have for communities of color make it an inappropriate use of funds.

Sup. Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, introduced an amendment removing the $76 million jail consolidation project from the executive budget.

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“This is a really big deal, and I don’t think the time is right to be investing this amount of money into a broken criminal justice system,” Wegleitner said.

Wegleitner said jails are not mental health centers, and the county should invest in alternatives to jailing if it is serious about providing mental health services to individuals who need it.

Other opponents of the jail pointed to the disproportionate implications the jail’s construction would have on communities of color in Dane County.

Sup. Carousel Bayrd, District 8, said the new jail would be representative of the wider criminal justice system, something which she described as racist.

“The criminal justice system is racist,” Bayrd said. “The jail is an instrumentality of that criminal justice system, so it is an instrumentality of a racist system.”

Community members give input on proposed new Dane County jailMadison community members gathered at the City County Building Tuesday to give input about building a new county jail. Many Read…

These sentiments were echoed by protesters at the meeting, who disrupted proceedings several times and ultimately overpowered the board’s voices.

The protesters were with Derail the Jail, a coalition which seeks criminal justice reform and advocated against the construction of a new jail.

Chants of “Derail the Jail” and “Black Lives Matter,” among others, were heard throughout the meeting, both inside the board’s chamber and outside in front of the City-County Building. Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan was repeatedly ignored by protesters as she asked them to step out of the chamber if they wished to protest.

.@BadgerHerald Scene from inside the Dane County Board as it debates new $76 million proposed jail

— Pey David (@peydavid44) November 21, 2017


The board’s members were ultimately forced to vote with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” as their voices could not be heard over the chants of the protesters.

Despite these protests, the board ultimately voted to proceed with the construction of a new, consolidated jail facility as introduced in Parisi’s budget. Amendments both to remove and expand the the existing jail construction proposal were rejected by the board at Monday’s meeting.

Shouts of “shame” were hurled at board members as they exited the chamber following Monday’s vote. Protests continued in the chamber after the meeting concluded.

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Categories: Local Media