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Issue of the Week: Paid Sick Days

Plus Winners and Jerks of the Week

Jul. 23, 2008
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Hopefully Milwaukeeans will be able to make this city a healthier, more prosperous one by making paid sick days a reality for workers.

The Paid Sick Days coalition, led by the working women’s group 9to5 Milwaukee, collected more than 42,000 signatures in support of a referendum that will likely be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot. If passed, full-time workers without paid sick days could earn nine of them per year; those working for small businesses could earn up to five days of paid sick days per year.

That will hardly break the back of businesses in Milwaukee, especially those that are run by huge, multinational corporations that don’t provide benefits to their (mostly part-time) workers.

Just think of the trade-offs. No more sick fast-food workers putting “flu in your soup,” as 9to5’s founder Ellen Bravo put it. No more sick kids sent to school because their parents couldn’t take a day off of work to tend to them. No more healthy students staying home from school to care for their sick sib lings—a problem rampant within Milwaukee Public Schools—because a parent couldn’t stay home. And fewer reliable workers being disciplined or even fired because they had to stay home due to their own illnesses or the needs of their sick kids.

As Amy Stear, 9to5’s Wisconsin direc tor, put it, no one should have to choose between being a good worker and being a good parent.

We couldn’t agree more, and we urge the Milwaukee Common Council on July 30 to place the referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Event of the Week:
Welcome Back Pastors for Peace Friendship Caravan to Cuba

Two Milwaukeeans who took medical supplies to Cuba—Merrie Felder and Oshiyemi Adelabu—will report back on the organization’s 19th caravan to Cuba. Joya Mosley, a Milwaukeean who attends medical school in Cuba, will also make a brief presentation. The event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba, and will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 30, at Central United Methodist Church, 639 N. 25th St. For more info, go to www.wicuba.org or call 273-1040 ext. 12. (To find more cool local events, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com.)

Hero of the Week:
The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS)

The WHS took over the Puppy Haven Kennel in Green Lake County, one of the largest dog-breeding facilities—otherwise known as “ puppy mills”—in the nation. They’re hoping to place more than 1,100 spayed or neutered dogs in good homes.

And they’re shutting down the facility.

Jerk of the Week:
WTMJ-AM’s Michael Savage

On July 16, the conservative syndicated host said this about autistic children: “In 99% of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’”

Blog of the Week
Scot Ross at One Wisconsin Now (www.onewisconsinnow.org)

Wanna Buy a Gramm? As a top adviser to predatory lenders, as well as John McCain, ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm [who resigned from the campaign last week] has been taking heat for calling people concerned about the tanking economy and the loss of homes, jobs and futures “whiners” experiencing a “mental recession.”

To be certain, in the hypocrite hall of fame, Gramm’s got his wing. [By professing a belief in] smaller government, except when it comes to giving taxpayer money to [his] corporate clients, Gramm made a career of railing against “guvment” spending.

Gramm once said, “I have a philosophy of free enterprise. I believe government is the problem.” Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until he was over 50 years old that Gramm finally cut the cord so that government wasn’t completely funding his existence.

Consider that Gramm was:

1. Born on a military base in a government-funded military hospital and raised by an Army master sergeant with a government paycheck.

2. Sent to a private school with the GI insurance received after his father’s passing.

3. Financed in his additional schooling with the National Defense Fellowship.

4. Paid his salary from the taxpayers as both a professor at Texas A&M and as a member of the U.S. House and Senate—a taxpayer-financed salary for 35 years.

And then he became a veep for UBS, which benefited greatly from his antipathy toward public accountability for corporations and his efforts to entirely deregulate the finance system and allow speculators to gouge the public.

Anyone who’s been exposed to Gramm for 14 seconds knows he is virtually character-free and willing to do whatever necessary to enrich himself or his corporate masters. He no doubt loved the Bush-McCain $5 billion tax cut for Big Oil and no doubt he guided McCain to push for another $4 billion [in tax breaks].

(To read more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.)


“We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.”

—Al Gore in his “A Generational Challenge to Repower America” speech


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