Contemplating how Scott Walker's life is changing, new ways Wisconsin has embraced the Packers and how we all can make a difference this year
How much is Wisconsin’s new governor Scott Walker’s life about to change? Well, for starters, the self-proclaimed brown bag lunch eater and his family move into the lakefront executive residence in Maple Bluff. The governor’s mansion comes with both housekeeping staff and a chef most likely ready to whip up dishes a bit more highbrow than ham-and-cheese sandwiches. On top of that, before even taking the oath of office, Walker’s name had surfaced in appallingly early media speculation about potential contenders for the vice presidency in 2012. The website Politico.com dubbed Walker a “sleeper pick” alongside other governors considered “new faces from smaller states who’ll have to prove themselves after riding in on a wave of hype.” That part is most certainly true.
The ailing economy is one of the main reasons Republicans won control of both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate. And yet GOP leaders have indicated one of their first bills out of the gate in the new legislative session that starts this month will require residents to show photo identification when they vote. The goal is to tackle longstanding fears some have about voter fraud. Nothing about the proposal addresses the day-to-day concerns of people worried about jobs and the economic future of the state. If you asked people who decided to switch from voting for Democrats to backing Republicans in November, how many of them would have named alleged voting irregularities as their number-one concern?
If you want to know anything about this state, chances are good the answer is in the Wisconsin Blue Book. The thick volume published by the Legislative Reference Bureau is brimming with data and history, from the text of the state constitution to voting results from past elections (alongside photos of legislators that are long overdue for updating in some cases). The Blue Book is a godsend for reporters covering state politics, but the Legislative Reference Bureau also publishes a study guide for teachers to use the book in their classes, complete with quiz questions and answers, offering the chance to make sure future voters know more about our government and its leaders than what they learn from nasty campaign commercials.
A Helping Hand
This winter may not bring record snowfall, but even a small amount of the white stuff is more than some of our neighbors can handle. That’s where volunteers with the South Madison Coalition of the Elderly lend a hand. Volunteers with the nonprofit group adopt a senior for the season, preventing people from slipping and falling and suffering potentially severe injuries while trying to clear driveways and sidewalks on their own. It’s proof that it doesn’t take something big, costly or out of the ordinary to make a difference.
The number of women in the Wisconsin Legislature has increased since 2009, reversing what had been a downward trend. The Wisconsin Women’s Council reports that thirty-one women will take the oath of office this month to serve in the Assembly and Senate, an increase of just two lawmakers from the previous session. No matter the party affiliation, here’s hoping this bump in women legislators, however minor, is the start of an upward trend. Now, more than ever, we could use some different perspectives.
Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood
Whether the Packers make it to the Super Bowl (or go very far in the playoffs) or not, it feels like this is the season that fans of the team have fully embraced quarterback Aaron Rodgers (with a little help from some bizarre behavior by what’s-his-name). If anyone needs further proof that California-born Rodgers has embraced Wisconsin right back, consider how he likes to kill time while traveling to and from away games: playing Sheepshead with teammates. If fans who bleed green and gold haven’t already traded their tainted love for No. 4 to No. 12, what else do they need to know?
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