First, I want to start by thanking the DailyKos community, as well as bloggers around the country that have joined us to fight back against Governor Walker's assault on middle-class families, our shared values and our democracy. Bloggers have been the tip of the spear in the battle to bring openness and transparency to this fight and with my first entry today, I look forward to working with you through 2012 and beyond.
I'm writing to you today because rather than working together to create jobs for middle-class families, Governor Walker's rubberstamps in the state legislature are holding a "hearing" on their plan to protect their own jobs through redistricting.
They've already spent $300,000 of taxpayer money to secretly draw up these maps with partisan lawyers and they've written themselves a blank check to spend millions more while at the same time denying concerned constituents access to legal funds and technology.
But what they don't realize is that every time they pull a blatant partisan political stunt or dirty trick to seize power for themselves and their wealthy special interest friends, our grassroots network of volunteers and online activists becomes that much more determined to fight back.
If you haven't had a chance to look at these maps yet, you can view them on the Wisconsin LTSB website.
Local and national Republican leaders know that working Wisconsin families have rejected their extreme, polarizing agenda. That's why they've pulled out all the stops to restack the deck to protect their majorities and hold onto power for themselves and their wealthy special interests.
The Republicans' congressional maps show that they know that Wisconsinites have rejected the GOP-plan led by Congressman Paul Ryan to destroy Medicare. That's why they've worked overtime to shore up their congressional districts at the expense of longstanding communities of interest like Milwaukee County and the Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids alliance that have been in the same district for 100 years.
Their state Senate maps illustrate how desperate Republicans are to maintain their majority. In my hometown of Kenosha, they've decided to give up on trying to defeat my popular colleague, Sen. Bob Wirch, by completely drawing him out of his district.
And they didn't just do this in my hometown. They've also completely drawn Nancy Nusbaum and Rep. Fred Clark out of the Senate seats that they are seeking and they even went as far to cut the 2nd Senate District a half a block from Nusbaum's house!
In the 8th Senate District they went out of their way remove Democratic areas and add Republican voters to shore up Sen. Alberta Darling's district because they know Rep. Sandy Pasch is an extremely strong candidate there.
It gets even worse in the Assembly. To protect their jobs, Republicans have split communities in every area of the state such as Marshfield, Beloit, Sheboygan and others into different districts, once again splitting communities of interest and raising constitutional questions.
Further showing their willingness to do anything to protect their jobs, Republicans are violating state law and destroying Wisconsin's tradition of local control by releasing their partisan maps before local municipalities have finished drawing their own wards. If their plan passes, hours and hours of hardwork and public hearings across Wisconsin communities will have been pointless. Also, taxpayer's money used for this purpose will have been wasted.
But we're not going to let the Republicans and their wealthy special interests get away with dismantling our democracy through sloppy partisan tricks without a fight.
In the state Assembly, I've co-sponsored Rep. Brett Hulsey's common-sense redistricting reform bill that is modeled after Iowa, where redistricting is done in a non-partisan fashion -- out in the open, with significant public input and reduced costs.
We will also point to non-partisan redistricting maps, like the ones created by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, that clearly illustrate that we can create competitive districts that respect communities of interest and minority rights without millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on high-priced, partisan attorneys.
As Wisconsinites around the state continue to go to the polls over the next few weeks to recall Republican legislatures who rubberstamped Governor Walker's assault on working, middle class families, we'll expose them for who they really are: reckless and extreme politicians who are more interested in protecting their own jobs than standing up for the interests of Wisconsinites.
And we won't stop fighting until we've restored our shared Wisconsin values and preserved our democracy for future generations.
Hundreds of constituents from across Wisconsin will be making their voice heard at today's hearing and through letters and calls to members, but we need to double our efforts to expose the Republicans' divisive, partisan redistricting plan and fight back now. Please help spread the word to your friends and family in Wisconsin and urge them to contact their state legislators by phone, email or through Facebook and Twitter today.
I'll be in and out of the redistricting hearing today, but I'd love to answer some of your questions. I will be back at 6:00 PM CST to answer the five most recommended questions from the DailyKos community. Looking forward to answering your questions! You can also watch today's hearing on WisEye.com.