Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison Guest Speaker

Milwaukee to Host Democratic Convention in 2020

submitted by Jessika Kasten; photo by Pete Christianson

Alex Lasry 10 23 2019

Alex Lasry pictured here with Club President Andrea Kaminski

This week, Alex Lasry, who led the bid for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Milwaukee, spoke to the Downtown Rotarians about his experience and what this bid can mean for Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. Alex was initially inspired to promote Milwaukee for the DNC bid after realizing that Milwaukee was never considered for the Amazon HQ2 location. He knew all that Milwaukee had to offer and believed that if we could bring people to the city and state, there would be positive downstream impacts for years to come.

The group hired the consultant who won the last two bids, submitted their RFP and did some grassroots work to highlight Milwaukee in Washington D.C. They made top three finalists (along with Miami and Houston), and then went on to raise double the amount of money for the convention than their competitors. Supporters from all political backgrounds came from all parts of the city, community and state to back the bid.

Alex’s main takeaway was that this is an opportunity not only for Milwaukee, but the entire State of Wisconsin. He believes that it is now our duty to develop opportunities and attractions to pull the 50,000 people coming to the convention over to Madison while they’re here. We can work together to provide venue space, attractions, lodging and more in effort to show off our community.

Alex believes that the measures for success are not around the DNC itself, but instead the impact the DNC has on the state’s economy years into the future. But in order to do that, we need to give people a reason to come back.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering or registering a venue with the host committee, visit www.milwaukee2020.com.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here.

  

Journalism at Risk

submitted by Jocelyn Riley; photo by Pete Christianson

Andy and Dee Hall 10 2 19   Andy and Dee J. Hall took turns Wednesday telling Rotarians about the mission and accomplishments of The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the nonprofit and nonpartisan organization they co-founded in 2009.  The Center’s three guiding principles are displayed prominently at the top of its website, WisconsinWatch.org:  PROTECT THE VULNERABLE · EXPOSE WRONGDOING · EXPLORE SOLUTIONS.  An independent media group such as theirs is necessary, the Halls argue, because traditional media outlets like newspapers are weakening and dwindling and “no news is bad news for our democracy.”  The Center has won many awards for its rigorously fact-checked investigative journalism and is increasing the reach of its work through an extensive paid internship program. To date, 48 former interns and fellows have moved on throughout the country and the world using skills and insights they gained at the Center.  The Halls cited stories from Wisconsin exposing human trafficking, inmates in solitary confinement (in one case 27 years in a cell the size of a parking space), and concerns about football concussions as examples of the kinds of investigations their Center can conduct free of pressure to make a profit.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here.

Creating Meaningful Conversations About Immigration

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Margaret Murphy

Karen Menendez Coller 9 25 19Karen Menendez Coller, Centro Hispano of Dane County Executive Director, shared how recent policies affect the Latino community.

Dr. Coller started with an overview of the state’s Latino community.  Seven percent of the population is Latino, and 27 percent are foreign born.  One fourth are K-12 students, and 34 percent live in poverty.

Opportunity barriers:  segregation, poverty, language, mobility, single parent households, housing cost and education.

Coller shared three policies impacting Latinos and our economy she hopes Rotarians will talk about with their networks.

Drivers’ Licenses for all is the first policy Coller highlighted.  The bill has support from the business community as it will increase safety and bring needed employees, especially on dairies where half of workers are Latino. Coller shared the story of Mario, from Honduras.  He is now a herdsman in DeForest with a close bond to his employer family.  He needs a license to drive to the farm.

Public Charge laws are the second policy Coller is concerned with.  These laws are designed to make it harder for families who use government benefits 12 out of 36 months to get citizenship. Coller shared the story of Jennifer, a legal permanent resident originally from Colombia, now a certified doula.  Jennifer has used government services and just wants to improve her family’s life.

In-state tuition is the third policy Coller would like to offer deferred action students, i.e. those who are citizens but with undocumented parents.  They are forced to pay the $40,000-$45,000 out of state UW-Madison tuition rate despite graduating from a Wisconsin High School having citizenship. Coller shared the story of Gilberto, a dreamer working three jobs.

Coller urged Rotarians to vote and learn about the estimated ten percent of Wisconsinites who are undocumented.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

US Rep Mark Pocan Addresses Club

submitted by Jessika Kasten; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Mark Pocan 8 28 2019

From left: Club President Andrea Kaminski; UW Rep Mark Pocan and Mike May

Today, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan shared updates and insights from Washington D.C. Rep. Pocan began by giving some background on the Second Congressional District which is much larger than most assume, including Dane County as well as more rural counties surrounding Dane. This array of both metropolitan and rural areas greatly impacts Rep. Pocan’s areas of focus in Washington.

This fall, Rep. Pocan is hopeful to see movement in a few major areas: investment in infrastructure, prescription drug pricing (more generic drug equivalents) and gun violence prevention (background checks). He also anticipates that there will be a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would bide leaders some additional time (November/December) after the September 30 fiscal year end to develop an omnibus house appropriations bill and hopefully avoid a government shutdown.

Rep. Pocan finished by answering some submitted questions from Rotarians, including:

Q: What opportunities to do you see for bipartisanship?

A: There are a few areas called out above where we could see movement ahead of the Presidential election cycle. The biggest threat to bipartisanship is gerrymandering, which creates non-competitive districts. Competitive districts would force candidates to speak with all of the district constituents, encouraging additional voices to be heard.

Q: How do you feel Medicare for All would work?

A: The U.S. is the only industrialized nation to not offer universal healthcare. He believes we should focus on the value of having healthcare for all first, and then dig into the how best to accomplish it. Healthcare is the number one concern of his electorate.

Q: Why hasn’t Congress started impeachment proceedings?

A: Congress has requested testimony from those involved, but invitations have been declined. They have now begun an impeachment investigation in order to compel witnesses to come forward and share their honest stories. After these testimonies, next steps will be developed.

We thank WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Wisconsin Gay and Lesbian History Revealed in a New Book

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff

Dick WagnerWho knew about early Wisconsin’s gay history?  Really, no one.  But now, thanks to Richard Wagner, this story is out of the closet with his new, scholarly, and extensively illustrated book, We’ve Been Here All Along (Wisconsin Historical Society Press).

In a surprise-filled presentation Wagner summarized Wisconsin’s remarkable story from 1895 to 1969.  During most of these years, being gay in Wisconsin was downright dangerous.  Gays were almost universally regarded as criminals or suffering from organic illness or a psychiatric disorder, and this interpretation was upheld by the police, the courts, and even universities.  Men convicted of sodomy were routinely sent to prison or an insane asylum.

Not until the 1930s and 1940s did a few academics begin to view homosexuals as a legitimate subject for research.  For example, a UW professor interviewed prisoners at Waupun who had been convicted of sodomy and from this experience came a series of books and articles that softened society’s harsh caricatures.

Wagner noted that Madison gays and lesbians played significant activist roles by forming social clubs, creating gay bars, and forming organizations such as the Homophile League.

Curiously, Wisconsin society lavished a more benign interpretation upon lesbians describing them as “domestic friends.”   In 1962 when the UW-Madison launched a purge of homosexuals, lesbians escaped, thanks to Dean of Women Margaret Peterson, who was a lesbian.

Wagner began collecting documents for his book 40 years ago but did not begin to write it until 2008.  A second volume, Coming Out, Moving Forward, covering the period from 1969 to the present will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Press in 2020.

Our thanks also to Wisconsin Eye for videotaping our meeting this week and to the Wisconsin Historical Society Press for selling copies of Wagner’s book.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Brad Hutter Talks About Sharks at 4th Annual Bring Your Child/Grandchild to Rotary Day

submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Mike Engelberger

group 72419

Fellow Rotarian Bradley Hutter, “The Accidental Shark Diver”, gave an illustrated talk (lots of pictures and video!) about his unique experiences while scuba diving with sharks, including Tigers, Bulls, Hammerheads and Great Whites.

Brad Hutter 7 24 2019   Brad got into swimming with sharks “by accident” — he was scuba diving in Stuart Cove, Nassau, Bahamas, and was asked to be a safety diver by the staff of the Discovery Channel who were there filming sharks in the area.

Brad shared that sharks are typically shy and avoid humans. Sharks are in the fish family and half the species are under 39” long; some sharks can rotate their eyes backwards but they cannot swim backwards – so if they are coming towards you, just guide them along past you; some sharks have up to 30,000 teeth in a lifetime; and some deep cold water species can live to be 1,000 years old!  Sharks are apex predators and are very important to sea life balance.

He gave the audience some “tourist based shark rules” to follow if we ever find ourselves in the water with a shark nearby:

  • Don’t swim away, in fact, lean forward, even just a little bit.
  • Put your hands up in a blocking mode.
  • Look the shark in the eye! If you avert your eyes you become vulnerable; Respect sharks.
  • Swivel your head while keeping your eyes on the shark’s eyes.
  • Don’t swim in cloudy water – you may be mistaken for something sharks actually like to eat, like a seal.
  • Avoid dolphins as sharks may be in the area and about to feed on them.

Brad shared that on average, 10 people per year are killed by sharks (because the shark mistook the person as food they eat or the person got in the way of sharks feeding) and by comparison, 725,000 people per year are killed by mosquitos and 25,000 are killed by dogs.  Humans kill ~100,000 sharks per year and some species are down to 5% left.

Mismanaged plastic waste is a big concern for our oceans with China being the biggest polluter. Work needs to be done to stop countries like China from putting plastics in the ocean and laws are needed to outlaw fishing for fins.

Brad has enjoyed learning about sharks over the past seven years as he’s worked with experts seen regularly on Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”, National Geographic, and Animal Planet. It’s a family affair as Brad’s daughters are now avid shark divers themselves.

Brad has a saying – “Live every week like it’s shark week.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

How to Make Time for What Matters…

submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Mike Engelberger

Zeratsky

From let: Club President Andrea Kaminski, John Zeratsky and Past President Jason Beren

How many times have you thought what happened to my week?  Why didn’t I accomplish what I wanted?

John Zeratsky would say that defaults have taken over your life.  It’s not your lack of self-control or willpower.  It’s all of the electronic distractions, calendars, meetings, etc…the defaults that prevent you for making time for what matters.

Taking your guilt out of the picture, Zeratsky shares his journey from list maker- organizer extraordinaire to living a life making time for what matters.

He highlighted his personal journey from Green Lake to UW-Madison to the high-tech Google world.   He and his partner wrote a book sharing methods for getting out from under the daily milieu, “Make Time.” The book shares 87 tactics to make time everyday for what’s important.

Four Daily Steps:

  1. What’s the highlight of your day?  Write it down on a sticky note.  What’s your top focus of activity today?
  2. Create barriers to distraction.  For example, put that phone away.  Turn off or delete aps that demand your attention.
  3. Build energy to enjoy the moments and interactions that matter.
  4. One day at a time.  Each day you can choose to spend time differently.

Feeling a need to disconnect from the world of carryout, Uber and Amazon, he and his wife then embarked on a sailing adventure from SF south through the Panama Canal and then up through the Caribbean to Key West.  On this trip, they were able to disengage from their frenetic world and decided to begin again in Milwaukee…”relearning the value of belonging.”

Zeratsky ends his presentation describing his journey in “self-care” (on their voyage) to the realization that his greater need was contributing to the bigger world.  He ends with “the threads of connection can’t replace that feeling of belonging – that you are meant to be somewhere.”  In his case, Milwaukee.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.