Press Release: Parisi Betrays Dane County Workers

CONTACT: Matt Kozlowski, Co-Chair (715) 571-1577 –   11/21/14  For Immediate Release: Yesterday, November 20, 2014, in a late email to County employees, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that the County will cancel negotiated contracts for 2015 and 2016. This announcement, made after the County budget was adopted earlier this week, is a betrayal of trust for our union employees, and a violation of Dane County’s legacy of standing up for workers’ rights. The email, copied below, cites legal concerns raised by the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer where the Court established the need for a firewall between labor unions and contract negotiations. Continue reading

Press Release: MG&E Should Retract Rate Increases, Misleading Statements

  MG&E Should Retract Rate Increase and Misleading Statements CONTACT: Matt Kozlowski, Co-Chair                   (715) 571-1577 – 10/9/14 For Immediate Release: Today, October 9, 2014, the Public Service Commission will host a public hearing on Madison Gas & Electric’s proposed rate increases. Progressive Dane is calling on MG&E to withdraw its rate increase proposal and to retract the misleading information in its letter to ratepayers last week. “The rate case proposal is an affront to the values of this community, where people invest in conservation and prioritize equity,” said Progressive Dane Co-Chair Matt Kozlowski.  “Rather than working with the community to come up with a rate structure that would encourage clean energy investment and reward conservation practices, MG&E has decided to reward big energy consumers at the expense of those taking responsible steps to reduce their energy impact.”  MG&E’s proposal has been widely criticized by Repower Madison and other community groups for punishing conservation and providing a “volume discount” for larger users, while hurting renters and lower-income residents.  People who consume less energy will be subsidizing the consumption of people who use more. Continue reading

Maternal Depravation Studies at UW Face Serious Criticism

PD Supervisor Al Matano Stands Up for Animal Rights Written by Matt Kozlowski, Co-Chair The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dane County has a long and controversial history when it comes to the intersection between animal research and animal rights at the state’s flagship university. The latest continuation of this controversy centers on Dr. Ned Kalin’s proposed maternal depravation study. The experiment will utilize newborn primates to study the impacts of intentional separation from the animal’s mother on the monkey’s mental state. Continue reading

MG&E Rates: Make Your Voice Heard!

Submit your comments online! Visit PSC's website and file your testimony before October 7th. Background Earlier this year, MG&E announced major changes to Madison's utility billing structure. This proposal would result in massive increases in the energy bills of average homeowners and renters while providing huge breaks to big consumers and industries. These changes, currently being considered by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), would raise fixed administrative costs on consumer's energy bills in order to finance decreases in variable rate costs (charges based on the amount of energy consumed). For more information, see our fact sheet below. Continue reading

City of Madison to Uber/Lyft: Obey the Law or Face the Consequences

On Tuesday, July 1st, Madison's City Attorney sent ride-sharing companies Uber/Lyft a letter (see below) requesting that the companies come into compliance with our laws and regulations within the next 10 days, or the City will take additional steps for enforcement. Continue reading

Stoughton Advocates Battle TIF for Wal-Mart

In Stoughton, engaged city residents continue to ask hard questions about the proposed Kettle Park West development.   In January, Stoughton’s Council approved a developer agreement with Forward Development Group of Verona (also Kettle Park West LLC) for a parcel at the intersection of Highways 51 and 138.   Approval was granted two weeks after the big box store tenant was revealed to be the Wal-Mart Super Center.  The developer maintained that agreement with Wal-mart had required the secrecy to that point.   Stoughton already has a Wal-Mart, but not a Super Center. The new store would be four times the size of the existing one and would be one among about four retail tenants.   Continue reading

MMSD Student Senate Raises Questions with Budget

Published in The Cap Times, June 9th, 2014 Students in the Madison Metropolitan School District are urging school board members to cut funding to initiatives introduced by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and put more money towards maintaining school buildings and covering health care insurance for teachers Continue reading

Fighting TIF Abuses

Tax Incremental Financing in Dane County has traveled a long way from its statutory purpose to address blight.   It has increasingly been a way to create much-celebrated “public-private partnerships” in which the public contributes resources but has no controlling interest, and in which the risk of investment is transferred to the public.    Proposed developments in Dane County – Madison’s Judge Doyle Square hotel, and Stoughton’s Kettle Park West project – which includes a 153,000 square foot Wal-mart Super Center, do not address blight, do not address serious local needs and are far from a sure bet in terms of profitability. Fortunately, democracy and grassroots activism are not so far gone that we have to accept these proposals. Citizens Against Subsidized Hotels (CA$H) kicked off an ambitious drive on May 1 to collect more than 16,000 signatures in favor of a referendum to restrict TIF spending in excess of $10 million to those projects the public approves at the polls.  PD members are already circulating petitions, and one need only be 18 years of age and a city resident since April 1 of this year to sign.   Any Wisconsin resident can circulate petitions, which can be downloaded, along with instructions, at    Once enough signatures are collected, Common Council can choose whether to adopt the ordinance or put it on the November ballot for approval by the city’s voters.     A majority of yes votes would require a subsequent ballot measure on the Judge Doyle Square hotel, presumably in April of 2015.   The language of the proposed ordinance reads: Binding Referendum. Prior to providing City financial assistance in the aggregate amount of Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000) or more for a private development project, the Common Council shall submit to the electorate a binding referendum for approval of the City financial assistance. Failure of the binding referendum shall preclude the City from financing the project. The wording of any referendum shall provide the amount and specific use of the City financial assistance and the terms under which the assistance is being provided, the name of the private entity receiving the City financial assistance, and a description of the private development project. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to preclude or limit the City from exercising its role in the planning, design or other regulatory approval of such publicly financed projects.  Continue reading

Newsletter Sneak Peak: Public Subsidy for Wal-Mart in Stoughton?

A Look at Next Month's Feature Article - Written by Sue Pastor, Policy Co-Chair The City of Stoughton and Mayor Donna Olson’s plans to subsidize a development at Kettle Park West including a 153,000 square foot Wal-Mart Super Center are on hold, pending an independent analysis of its economic impact.  The analysis is a requirement of the city’s “big box” ordinance.   On January 28, with about half of its members in opposition, the city council approved a developer agreement between the city and Forward Development Group/Kettle Park West LLC.  The Wal-Mart Super Center  - about four times the size of the city’s existing Wal-Mart, was revealed to be the anchor tenant only about two weeks before the vote, and the council had previously approved the required zoning changes without knowledge of the anchor tenant.  Three more retail enterprises are supposed to comprise the commercial section of the development, which will include housing as well, and is located at the intersections of U.S. 51 and Highway 138 on the city’s western edge. Continue reading

Spring 2014 Election Recap

Victories for Progressive Candidates, Concerns for Community Involvement - Written by Matt Kozlowski, Treasurer Over the course of the past several months, Dane County finished up another County elections cycle. However, if you didn’t notice, we can hardly hold it against you given the lack of candidates on the ballot--more on that later. Before examining other aspects of this election cycle, let’s take a look at the results. Progressive Dane Endorsed Races:D2: Heidi Wegleitner, Incumbent (Unopposed)D4: Kyle Richmond, Incumbent (Unopposed)D6: John Hendrick, Incumbent (Unopposed)D11: Al Matano, Incumbent (Unopposed)D18: Michele Ritt (Unopposed)D5: Leland Pan, Incumbent - WINNER! (279 Votes, 54.7%)       - Opponent: Chris Hoffman (223 Votes, 43.7%)D27: Dorothy Krause, Incumbent - WINNER! (528 Votes, 58.1%)       - Opponent: Patrick Stern (377 Votes, 41.5%)Other Contested Races:D21: Andrew Schauer - Winner (834 Votes, 60.7%)D22: Maureen McCarville, Incumbent - Winner (1003 Votes, 56.8%)D28: Abigail Wuest - Winner (1541 Votes, 56.6%)D30: Patrick Downing - Winner (1361 Votes, 66.6%)D32: Mike Willett - Winner (1770 Votes, 58.3%) Continue reading