Wisconsin has such a schizoid personality. It has  initiated some of the most progressive social programs in history including unemployment compensation insurance and workers compensation. Wisconsin has  the highest rate of incarceration of African American males in the country.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a world-class education and research institution that complements the state's economic efforts. The state of Wisconsin has been steadily cutting the budget of the UW-Madison for the past 10 years. Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Republican Party, an abolitionist party that propelled Abraham Lincoln to the White House.  Wisconsin voters approve an advisory referendum to implement the death penalty in Wisconsin when the death penalty always disproportionately affects African Americans. Go figure.
      It's hard to figure out which Wisconsin personality is going to show up on any given day. Is it going to be progressive and promote a good life for all of its citizens or is it  going to be regressive and restrict the rights of its citizens?
      For the past 25 years, Affirmative Action has been under attack by conservative forces in this country. This has been particularly true as it relates to Affirmative Action in the admissions processes of universities and colleges beginning with the Bakke decision in 1978. Why higher education? It is because educational levels heavily affect one's class status in this country. Restricting Affirmative Action in higher education coupled with the continuous budget cuts and subsequent huge increases in tuition means that access to higher education is being squeezed and preserved for those with the financial means and those whose families have been there before.  After all, when Euro-American students file court cases against Affirmative Action, they file against the person of color who was accepted and is qualified to attend and not against other Euro-American students who were also let in and have test scores below the student of color and the student  filing the case. These anti-Affirmative Action cases are all about preserving status for those who already have it.
      Local real estate magnate Fred Mohs made an assault on Affirmative Action at the UW-Madison several years ago when he was on the Wisconsin Board of Regents. His efforts failed. Well, my internal alarms went off when I saw that he was on the Special Committee on Affirmative Action, which suddenly popped up this past fall. It is chaired by State Senator Glenn Grothman. The charge of  this committee is as follows:
       The committee is directed to review state and local government Affirmative Action policies, including policies in student admission to the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical College System and state contracting and hiring, to determine: (a) whether those policies are uniform in content  and administration throughout state and local government; (b) the effect of those policies on the public, and (c) whether these policies are  cost-effective.
      I find some of these  charges to be suspect. Clause (c) is of particular concern. What are the standards that are going to be used to determine cost-effectiveness? Affirmative Action does not produce widgets; it ensures equal opportunity      and a level playing field. For most of what Affirmative Action does in this state, it is due to federal requirements. Cost effectiveness is irrelevant  because it is about process. This clause signals to me that this special committee is all about enacting anti-Affirmative Action initiatives in this state.
      And then, when I see who has been invited to testify before the committee on December 19, the alarms really started going off. Ward Connerly, the former California Regent who has successfully spearheaded anti-Affirmative Action referenda in California, Washington, and, most  recently, Michigan, is scheduled to address the committee. I can think of   no reason to invite Connerly to speak except to facilitate efforts to place an anti-Affirmative Action referendum on Wisconsin's ballot.
      Connerly is an anti-Affirmative Action advocate. While others invited to speak before the committee were there to provide facts about Affirmative Action --  they aren't there to express their own personal views --  Connerly is the only advocate in the group of people testifying. I  don't think he has any facts to provide that haven't already been provided by the other people who have testified. Connerly is the only person who lives outside the state who will be testifying.
      My question is 'Why only Connerly?' Why wasn't Julian Bond, the chair of  the NAACP invited to testify?  Surely, he is an expert on Affirmative Action. Why isn't Professor Emeritus James Jones from the UW Law School on the list of presenters? After all, he is widely known as the  "Father of Affirmative Action." There are many others who are experts on Affirmative Action who have as much right or perhaps a greater right to speak and testify on Affirmative Action. This whole process doesn't pass the sniff test.  It smells very fishy. It is a backdoor way to give Connerly a platform and visibility in this state.
      Affirmative Action is needed now more than ever to ensure justice and equal opportunity in this state. Ironically, it is      also needed to ensure that our state remain competitive in tomorrow's labor market. An anti-Affirmative action referendum and the recently enacted Marriage Amendment are sending the wrong message about Wisconsin. In the future, when the baby boom generation starts to retire en masse,  Wisconsin will need access to as many qualified candidates as possible. As Wisconsin sends the signal that its environment is not amenable to some classes of workers, it may make us uncompetitive in the future because we were trying to preserve people's status today. Anti-Affirmative Action measures will affect the quality of all our lives and not just  people of color.
      Let's nip this effort in the bud. While people  won't be able to testify, a good turnout of observers will definitely send the right message. Your presence will count! Information about the committee meeting is posted below:

     
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION - Senator Glenn Grothman, Chair Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:30 p.m.  Room 411 South State Capitol Presentations by invited speakers: Lucia Nunez, Director, Department of Civil Rights, City of Madison. Ward Connerly, Chairman, American Civil Rights Institute
December 13, 2006
Articles/Columns


*
The Literary Divide: Republicans continue strategy aimed at undermining Affirmative Action,
by Dr. Paul Barrows

*
Sandburg Elementary School's El Centro Familiar,
by Laura Salinger

*
Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Cutting edge of history,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Vin Ncaus: Empowering Hmong women,
by Heidi M. Pascual
(
www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
Politicas de Hoy: Los comicios electorales en Latinoamerica fortalecen el bloque izquierdista,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

*
Simple things: Garages, piano benches, and closets -- hidden treasures,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

*
Voices: The Ibo landing,
by Dr. Jean Daniels

*
Campus Connection: Finding the right coat -- Politics, sex, and warmth,
by Keme Hawkins

*
Ghana Association of Madison, Inc. (GHAMA): Inauguration celebration,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Random Order Guest Column: Wisconsin and Affirmative Action,
by Cedric Lawson

* Una imagen para el futuro de otras iglesias,
por David Sedeno

*
Vickie Dansbury graduates at 57,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Prof. Richard Davis: Staying healthy and fit,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Latino Community Energy Resource Fair,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
New AA/EEO Planning for the 21st Century: Modernizing Affirmative Action,
by Jonathan Gramling

and  more!!
VOL. I NO. 19                             December 13, 2006
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
              The assault continues
Consumer Protection
The one-two punch at Regulation & Licensing