Wisconsin Weekly: Gerrymandering not so easy to fix

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Politicians fight redistricting changes; Journal Sentinel examines justice system; cost of extreme storms in WI rising; judge’s residency a mystery


Of note: This week we return to gerrymandering, a problem we highlighted in Wisconsin Watch’s 2018 series, Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People, that explored some of the troubling trends afflicting Wisconsin’s democracy. The New York Times traveled to Wisconsin to take a new look at gerrymandering, which is now firmly in the hands of states after the U.S. Supreme Court decided it had no power to stop politicians from drawing electoral district lines for their own partisan advantage. The Times found that in states like Wisconsin, enacting nonpartisan redistricting would be very tough. 

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In the war against gerrymandering, an army of voters meets a dug-in foe

The New York Times — August 15, 2019

When the Supreme Court concluded this summer that it had no authority to strike down partisan political maps, no matter how outrageous, Chief Justice John G. Roberts offered solace to those who call the maps dangerous to democracy. Maybe federal judges cannot outlaw gerrymanders, he wrote in the court’s majority opinion. But voters surely could. In March 2017, the county board of supervisors passed a resolution urging the state to create a nonpartisan panel to take over mapmaking from politicians in the state Legislature. That kick-started a movement that has now seen 47 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties — representing three-fourths of the population — issue similar resolutions. Atop that, voters in eight counties, including Lincoln, have overwhelmingly endorsed nonpartisan mapmaking in referendum voters. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Public, politicians pushing Wisconsin to enact nonpartisan redistricting to strengthen democracy

He was charged in the death of his brother, while the actual shooter went free: A look at the justice system through one man’s story

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — August 21, 2019

Two weeks after Curtis Fisher’s brother died in his arms, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office filed one felony charge of being a felon in possession of a gun against him. Prosecutors used his statement to police — that he moved a gun to the trunk — as the basis of the charge. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has followed his journey through the court system since last September, as the Army veteran’s life ground to a standstill until the court case against him was resolved. A year later, Curtis still cannot understand why no one but him faced any criminal charges, not even for disorderly conduct. The story is the fourth part of the newspaper’s series, Cycles of Violence.

The costs of extreme storms come into focus across Wisconsin, US

WisContext — August 21, 2019

Across northwestern Wisconsin, regular bouts of extreme rainstorms are wreaking havoc on public infrastructure that was engineered for what is increasingly perceived as a different era. But steep and repeated costs associated with the ensuing flood damage are hardly unique to one corner of the state. The issue of too much water in too short a time is contributing to mounting budgetary and, in some cases, existential crises for communities of all sizes around Wisconsin and the United States. In 2019, the problem is coming into greater focus.

Bice: 52-year-old Milwaukee County judge got appointment after saying he would live in parents’ house

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — August 13, 2019

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Dedinsky claimed one residence — with his wife and kids at their lakefront home in Waukesha County — when applying for one judgeship late last year. But then the 52-year-old lawyer turned around and gave another — his parents’ house in Milwaukee County — when applying for another judicial post a month later. This is how confusing the situation is: Dedinsky gave his Waukesha County residence when filing his income tax returns earlier this year but is using his parents’ place to vote in Milwaukee County.

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