Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for March 22nd, 2012

Just reviewed Jasper Fforde’s “Shades of Grey” at SBR

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Folks, if you are looking for a good novel of the dystopian sort, one that’s set in a world I’ve never seen before (except when looking into a mirror, dimly), you should go pick up a copy of Jasper Fforde’s SHADES OF GREY.  It’s a very fine novel of the satirical, dystopian sort; it features the disquietingly mundane Eddie Russet, and his struggles to figure out what he’s for, what his society is all about, and what he wants to do with himself, all in a world that seemingly has gone stark, raving mad.

Here’s the link:


Written by Barb Caffrey

March 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Three Judge Federal Panel Rules; Only Assembly Districts 8 and 9 Must be Re-Drawn

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Folks, I am disgusted.  After all the extra time the three-judge federal panel took — and all the really strong language the judges used in their past rulings — the only two districts the judges want re-drawn are those of Assembly Districts 8 and 9 — which are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  All of the other problems with the districts, while “unnecessarily secretive” according to the judges, do not qualify for a judicial (legal) remedy — so we’re stuck with horrible districts, thanks to the Wisconsin Republicans who controlled all three branches of government throughout 2010.

(Thanks a lot, WI Rs.  Really.)

Here’s a link to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:

Here’s a quote from the judge’s ruling, quoted in the same MJS article:

The judges – two appointed by Republican presidents and one appointed by a Democratic president – said the maps were clearly motivated by partisanship, and contrasted that with the almost even divide in the state between Republicans and Democrats.

“Regrettably, like many other states, Wisconsin chose a sharply partisan methodology that has cost the state in dollars, time and civility,” the court said. “Nevertheless, our task is to assess the legality of the outcome, not whether it lived up to any particular ideal.”

This also means that the people who’ve been moved from one state Senate district to another, where the Senator is an incumbent, may end up having to wait six years to vote for their new Senator due to the way the WI Rs re-did these maps.  The judges, while they obviously don’t like this problem, have said in their above comments that this isn’t something they can fix.

While many of the high-profile Dems now want the entire map-process to be re-done, there isn’t any wherewithal in Madison to do such a thing; the judges didn’t require it (all they required, as I said before, is that Assembly Districts 8 and 9 must be re-drawn), and as the Assembly is still solid red, nothing is going to get done.  The state Senate, even though at the moment is split 16-16 due to the recent retirement of Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), also doesn’t have enough oomph behind it to force the Rs to come to the table for the other districts; all they can do is fix Assembly Districts 8 and 9.  That’s it.

And as you might imagine, the Wisconsin Rs are crowing today about their “big victory.”  Scott Fitzgerald, who was on WTMJ-AM 620 in Milwaukee this afternoon, was almost oozing satisfaction as he said that the Rs “had done nothing wrong.”  (This is my best paraphrase of what Fitzgerald actually said; he went on and on for at least five minutes talking about how wonderful these maps are, how they’re not gerrymandering — please!, etc.  These were unctuous self-serving platitudes, and certainly didn’t make me think this process has been completed by any means.)

So that’s it; many people are still in districts they don’t understand, didn’t want, and don’t even know who their new legislators are going to be.  Many others who hold seats now either have to move districts (like Robert Turner, who will run in district 66 though he’s been the sitting district 61 Assemblyman for many years) or have to acquaint themselves with their newly-drawn one (Cory Mason from Racine is in this situation; he only has 10% of his original district after the new maps were fundamentally approved today by the federal judges), then get to know their new constituents in a big hurry.

And the judges’ decision left intact one of the biggest problems I’ve seen all along — that is, how the maps were drawn to benefit three sitting state Republican Senators, including my own Van Wanggaard.  District 21, where I now reside, has been re-drawn to include the rural parts of Racine and Kenosha Counties, which for the most part tend to vote Republican.  District 22, which I will now be in, has most of the Cities of Racine and Kenosha, which tend to vote for Democrats.  This means rather than two competitive districts, there will now be one district tilted heavily toward Democrats, and one district tilted heavily toward Republicans; I am not in favor of such a thing even though I strongly approve of District 22’s Senator, Bob Wirch (to the point that I worked to help him withstand recall last summer).

At any rate, I was hoping the judges would see this was wrong and do something about it.  They appear to have seen that it’s wrong, but decided that they couldn’t do anything about it.  What a sad, sad day in Southeastern Wisconsin . . . and what disgust I have for just about every last one of the Republican legislators — at least, for every one of them who signed a “non-disclosure” agreement which kept the public out of the redistricting process, as that was strongly against Wisconsin’s history of open and transparent government.

In other words: we in Wisconsin look like a bunch of ignorant hicks, mostly because of a bunch of jumped-up Republicans in the WI Legislature.  And we now can’t fix their mess until 2020, minimum — why should I be happy about this?  And why should any Wisconsin voter, as we’ve been shafted twice now — once by the Rs, and now by the courts?


Written by Barb Caffrey

March 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized