Overturn Citizens United

Dear Editor:

Polls show a vast majority of Americans view our election system as corrupt. Special interest money has enormous political influence and everyday citizens feel they are getting no representation.

Nineteen states have called for a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. In Wisconsin, 115 communities, including Windsor and DeForest with 71 percent and 70 percent Yes votes, respectively, have already done so. Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

Two resolutions (AJR 53 / SJR 54) have been introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature by Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) to resolve this issue. However, Representative Scott Allen, chair of the Assembly Constitution and Ethics Committee, won’t allow a public hearing on AJR 53 that would let Wisconsinites vote on a statewide referendum on this core issue of our time. So far, Allen has refused a request to have AJR 53 placed on the public hearing agenda, calling the advisory referendum, “politics at its worst.” “Politics at its worst”…really? This is a cross-partisan issue. There are plenty of billionaires on both sides of the aisle, and campaign cash is being raked in by both parties. Money talks and the rest of us have no say. It’s outrageous that Chairman Allen won’t even allow this to be put on the agenda.

Please contact Scott Allen (608-266-8580 / Rep.Allen@legis.wisconsin.gov), and urge him to hold a public hearing on AJR 53 – demand that he let the people speak about the urgent need to proclaim, once and for all, that only people have inalienable rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

For more information on this issue, visit UnitedToAmend.org. United To Amend is a non-partisan, all volunteer citizens group.

Janet Mills, DeForest

Federal actions threatening rights of those with disabilities

I am angry. I am angry in a very powerful, motivated way. I hope you are too, or will be, after reading this letter.

Various executive and legislative actions at the federal level are threatening the very lives of our fellow citizens with disabilities. I have a brother with a developmental disability, so I actively follow proposed government actions that affect people with disabilities. I am deeply disturbed by the trend that I will describe as follows.

Included with the effort to repeal “Obamacare” is a proposal to drastically cut Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars. Medicaid helps pay for occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy in schools. These therapies help students with disabilities access their education. Medicaid also pays for direct care workers who fulfill many duties that significantly enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. Thus, Medicaid helps pay for critical services within our communities.

On top of this, the President’s proposed federal budget would entail numerous cuts to programs that directly serve people with disabilities. According to the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations, these include “…cuts to Social Security Disability programs, cuts to disability-related research and advocacy programs and overall cuts to safety net programs like food and housing assistance.” Furthermore, the Survival Coalition asserts “that Wisconsin should not be forced to dismantle its safety net for people with disabilities in order to pay the federal government’s bills.”

Another possibly devastating proposal this year is the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act. This would be a step backwards for the ADA that has been in place for 27 years. Basically, public entities would no longer be required to proactively ensure their buildings are handicap accessible. At a recent village board meeting, I shared that the people and businesses in DeForest care about people with disabilities and work hard to ensure inclusion and accessibility within our community. It would be an insult for the federal government to negate these efforts.

In conclusion, I am appalled and dismayed by the efforts of our elected officials to eliminate/cut programs for our fellow citizens with disabilities. A lot of progress has been made in the last 42 years. We should never retract those advancements. We should continue what makes America great by continuing to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities and the support they need. If you agree, please contact your legislators today.

Abigail Lowery, DeForest

Thanks to Agrace volunteers

Dear Valued Agrace Volunteers,

“It’s about how you live.” This theme for November’s Hospice and Palliative Care Month perfectly describes not only why people choose our compassionate care for their loved ones, but also why people like you volunteer with Agrace. Back in 1978, it was a group of volunteers who started the hospice and palliative care organization we know today as Agrace. They were bound by a shared mission: to help people in our community live betterwith life-limiting illness and die with dignity.

Forty years later, volunteers’ commitment to that mission remains rock solid. So far in 2017, Agrace volunteers have donated more than 60,000 hours! The majority of these hours are spent directly with patients, providing companionship. Like Alejandro who reads to a patient from “Sopa de pollo para el alma del Cristiano,” and like John, who sits vigil with patients who are actively dying. Or like our pet volunteers, Belinda and Iris, and their dog Gizmo, who bring great joy to everyone they visit. Some volunteers prefer to work behind the scenes, helping to raise money for our Care for All Program, helping customers at the Agrace thrift stores, tending the Agrace gardens or providing essential administrative support to our staff.

Each month, we welcome and train new volunteers from all cultures and communities. Their reasons for volunteering are often very personal. Many have held the hand of a loved one through their last days. Some are retired nurses and doctors who feel naturally compelled to help, and others are medical students hoping to learn more about death and dying. But most of Agrace’s 950+ volunteers came to us because they simply want to live their lives in service to others—to make their local communities stronger and better. And trust me, they do!

Agrace provides high-quality palliative and end-of-life care to people in 14 counties in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, and volunteer support is essential to all that we do for both patients and their families. As we celebrate Hospice and Palliative Care month in November, I want to thank you for choosing to serve through Agrace. We appreciate you and we are inspired by you every day!

Andy Boryczka, Director, Employee Engagement & Volunteer Services, Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care

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