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Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012

Issue of the Week: Free Speech at Risk

Plus: Hero of the Week

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The Republicans in power in Madison have shown once again that they believe the state Capitol belongs to them, and not We the People.

In response to the routine protests in the Capitol, Gov. Scott Walker’s Department of Administration (DOA) developed a new “access” policy that reduces the public’s access to the people’s house and prohibits signs, banners and other forms of speech without the written permission of the DOA. As a result, a number of peaceful protesters holding nothing more threatening than a cardboard sign were arrested last week.

Even worse, Capitol Police Chief David Erwin and a DOA representative walked out on a meeting with state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) when her questions about the new policy grew too pointed. Taylor was merely asking them for a clear interpretation of the new rules so that the public could know what to expect. But instead of straight answers, Erwin and the DOA representative told Taylor that the DOA would decide its policy on a “case-by-case” basis, according to what Taylor has termed “subjective criteria and random enforcement.”

Our Founding Fathers and generations of Americans did not struggle and sacrifice lives to uphold the Constitution for more than two centuries merely to allow the government to permit free speech on a subjective, case-by-case basis—especially when that speech is being conducted in the People’s house, about the People’s business. Free speech and the right to petition our government are inalienable rights that cannot be limited by the very government that is being criticized. In essence, we are now being told to go to the government to ask if we could please criticize a particular policy. We the People cannot let this stand.

Event of the Week: Fighting Bob Fest 11

Fighting Bob Fest, the largest gathering of progressives in the country, will be held this weekend in Madison. On Friday, Phil Donahue and Norman Solomon will kick off the festivities with a screening and discussion of Donahue’s film Body of War. On Saturday, speakers include Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore, Juan Cole, Fighting Bob organizer Ed Garvey, Jim Hightower, Bill McKibben, Greg Palast, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and many more. Breakout sessions will focus on climate change, the real war on women and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). For more information, go to www.fightingbobfest.org.

Heroes of the Week: I Back Jack Foundation Family, Volunteers and Supporters

Sarah and John Bartosz of Hartland, Wis., founded the I Back Jack Foundation Inc. in 2006 after their son, Jack (Oct. 4, 2001-Aug. 27, 2012), was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive pediatric cancer. Few successful treatment options are available for pediatric cancers, and 1 in every 330 kids will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20, making it the No. 1 disease killer in children. This volunteer-run public charity supports pediatric oncology research by providing funds to medical and/or scientific personnel and institutions to help find better treatments and/or cures for diseases like Jack’s. The I Back Jack Foundation has raised nearly half a million dollars for the funding of new clinical trials and treatments since 2009, providing financial support for three new trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a brand-new trial at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The Foundation intends on supporting at least two additional trials at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in 2012 that otherwise wouldn't be available.

“We are honored that so many people have stepped forward wanting to help in both big and small ways to make the Foundation successful,” says Sarah Bartosz, president of the I Back Jack Foundation. “Everyone who has supported and will continue to support the I Back Jack Foundation is a hero of hope to the children and families unfairly and unknowingly chosen to battle cancer.”

Supporters over the years include Aaron Rodgers, the Brewers and NASCAR, as well as international industries, individuals across the globe and Jack’s classmates and friends, to name a few. In addition, WaterStone Bank has pledged to promote and support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September) by running a fundraising campaign in which WaterStone donates $5 to the I Back Jack Foundation for every “like” the bank receives on Facebook.

To learn more about I Back Jack and its incredible efforts, please visit www.ibackjack.org. Readers interested in volunteering or donating should contact Sarah Bartosz at sarah@ibackjack.org. The family asks that memorial gifts go to the Foundation. Gifts may be submitted online or mailed to P.O. Box 41, Hartland, WI 53029.

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