Click HERE to view this email in your browser
Thursday, November 4, 2021
A former Lutheran Church found new life as the Martel Town Hall. •  Reader photo by Sarah Nigbor
Want to see your photo featured as our weekly header image? Submit your own to!

Racine Sheriff Refers Charges Against Wisconsin Elections Commission, Is Quickly Slammed With Criticism

  • Republican Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Wednesday recommended felony election fraud charges against five of six members of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), a continuation of the GOP's ongoing effort to undermine the public's confidence in the nation's electoral system.
  • Last week, Schmaling publicly claimed the WEC, which is tasked with administering the state's elections, committed election fraud when it temporarily suspended a requirement that poll workers visit nursing homes before residents could be sent absentee ballots. The suspension was issued during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many nursing homes were not allowing visitors.
  • In a statement, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul called Schmaling's actions a "disgraceful publicity stunt" as well as a "transparently political effort and an abuse of authority." It was not immediately clear if Racine County District Attorney Tricia Hanson, also a Republican, will accept Schmaling's referral and formally charge the WEC members, who have refuted the sheriff's accusations. 
  • Schmaling has also drawn criticism from disability and elderly advocates for accusing—without referring charges—a local nursing home of committing fraud because family members of some residents who voted in 2020 claimed their relatives were not mentally well enough to vote. Only a court ruling of incompetence can bar a person from voting; just one of eight voters Schmaling outlined had such a ruling.
  • "Older adults do not lose their right to vote when they move (short- or long-term) to a care facility," the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources said in a statement.
—Reported by Jonathon Sadowski
(Screenshot via Facebook)

Rep. Sortwell Limits Facebook Comments, a Potential First Amendment Violation, After Report of His Alleged Child Abuse Surfaces

  • Days after the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported on a child abuse investigation involving Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), Sortwell has restricted who can comment on his official Facebook page. Courts have ruled such an action, when taken by elected officials who use their account to conduct government business, is a violation of the First Amendment
  • Eight years ago, Sortwell, who was not an elected official at the time, left five 4-inch bruises on his child, Green Bay investigators found. Police recommended charges of felony child abuse, but the Brown County District Attorney’s office did not pursue them. Sortwell’s office chalked up the incident to a “disgruntled family member,” and he subsequently restricted his Facebook comments.
  • US District Court Judge William Conley ruled in January 2019 that Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and former Rep. John Nygren of Marinette had created a public forum on Twitter and that they had violated One Wisconsin Now and other liberal groups’ First Amendment rights by blocking them. UpNorthNews contacted Sortwell’s office to ask whether he believed the case could be applicable to his actions on Facebook, but did not receive an immediate response.
  • Two weeks ago, Sortwell spoke out against censorship at a committee hearing on a bill he authored that would prohibit social media platforms from censoring certain content. "Americans, including journalistic enterprises, are increasingly finding that their speech is being blocked, being hidden, being subverted by the very public forums that they use most often to communicate," Sortwell said. 
—Reported by Christina Lieffring
Follow us on social media for even more news and content not found in our newsletter!
(Graphic by Morgaine Ford-Workman)

River Falls Resident: Legislature's Proposed Maps Do 'Completely the Opposite' of Fair Representation

  • Until recently, Don Leake wasn’t really interested in politics; it was more his wife’s thing. But that changed when he learned more about political redistricting and saw how gerrymandering, or the drawing of political maps to benefit one party over the other, could affect his own state Assembly district.
  • Leake, a retired UW-River Falls math professor, said he was discouraged by the stark changes in his Assembly District 30 under new political maps proposed by the Republican-led Legislature. The proposal is a far cry from the current map, which Leake finds agreeable: It's compact and competitive, obeys all the redistricting rules, and keeps River Falls all in one district. 
  • “It turns out that this redistricting cycle does completely the opposite of that nice district that I had before,” Leake said. “It’s less compact. It splits River Falls. It takes a competitive district and turns it into a Republican-leaning district and all for political purposes.”
  • Leake was one of more than 150 people who testified during the course of 10 hours last week before a joint committee hearing over the proposed maps. Other than Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), none of the commenters spoke in favor of the Legislature’s proposed maps. 
Reported by Christina Lieffring 
These crops and others are grown as part of the Bad River Food Sovereignty Project on the Bad River Reservation near Ashland. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Community Garden Serves as Key Hub, Food Source for Bad River Reservation 

  • A community garden on the Bad River Reservation east of Ashland not only provides sustenance for people in need but is a training ground for people to raise their own healthy food.
  • The Bad River Food Sovereignty Program also serves as a way to gather those who live on the reservation and others from the surrounding community. Such gatherings are organized around meals made with food grown as part of the program.
  • “It creates such a community feeling, a sense of camaraderie,” Loretta Livingston, program coordinator, said of meal gatherings. “Food really brings people together.”
  • A variety of foods, from corn, tomatoes, beans, berries, and even tea and plants used for medicinal purposes, are raised as part of the program. State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski, who toured the program site last week, said such efforts are an important way to provide local communities with nutritious, affordable food. 
Read more from Julian Emerson at our website.

Picture Your Mug

Unplugged? Yes.

Uninformed? No way.

Uncaffeinated? Never!

Get your UpNorthNews coffee mug and other merchandise at the UpNorthNews Shop

(Sorry, view of Lake Wissota not included.)
Share Our Newsletter With Your Friends

Did you get this newsletter forwarded to you from a friend? 
Sign up for a subscription of your own at our website.
Copyright © 2021 Courier Newsroom/UpNorthNews, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp