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Front3Milwaukee – In September, 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

The 43 Mexican students who disappeared in southern Mexico were abducted by police on order of a local mayor, and then turned over to a gang that killed them and burned their bodies before throwing some remains in a river, the nation’s attorney general said.

The incident has sparked mass demonstrations throughout Mexico and an international call for justice.

Last week a solidarity demonstration was organized in Milwaukee calling attention to the incident.

Tony Picon, an organizer of the event stated that ” the main reason for creating this event, Manifestation against the Mexican government, was for two reasons: first, to show our Mexican fellows our solidarity with them and show them we share the same discontent with the current government’s failure to provide security, justice and well being to all Mexicans. Second, show our solidarity to the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, to show that even though we are in the U,S. and live here, we still feel the same need for change in our political system”.

Picon states that they wanted to send the Mexican authorities representing Mexico in this country via the Mexican consul, which was here in Waukesha this past Saturday, a clear message that they stand by their fellow Mexicans not only in Mexico but in the United States, more specifically in Wisconsin, they are in solidarity with their call for justice.

EVANGELIZE-HYINGMILWAUKEE – The Most Reverend Donald J. Hying has been appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.  The appointment, made by Pope Francis, was announced in Rome, today.  Bishop Hying will be installed on January 6, 2014.

“We will truly miss Bishop Hying’s spiritual and administrative leadership,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.  “While we are sad to see him leave, we are grateful for his service and know that he will continue to be a blessing for the people of Gary, just as he has been a blessing for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”

“Since his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in May, 2011, Bishop Hying has demonstrated his unceasing commitment to evangelization in southeastern Wisconsin,” Archbishop Listecki added.  “He has also worked tirelessly in support of youth and adult Catholic organizations and has been a living example and compassionate advocate for the sanctity of life. There’s no doubt that he has earned the admiration and respect of the clergy and faithful of the archdiocese. He is truly a fitting successor for the retiring Bishop Dale Melczek.”

“I am humbled, honored and excited to embrace the call to serve the Church in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana,” said Bishop Hying. “I am grateful to the Holy Father for his confidence and appointment, and I look forward to coming to know and love the People of God there.”

Bishop Hying was appointed to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Pope Benedict XVI on May 26, 2011 and ordained by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki as the 7th Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on July 20, 2011.  Hying was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1989, by Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland.

In addition to serving as Rector of St. Francis De Sales Seminary, from 2007 to present, Hying served as Temporary Administrator, St. Augustine Parish, Milwaukee, 2006; Dean of Formation, St. Francis De Sales Seminary, St. Francis, 2005 to 2007; Pastor, Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, Milwaukee, 1999 to 2005; St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee, 1998 to 1999; Temporary Administrator, St. Peter Parish, East Troy, 1998; Team Member, La Sagrada Familia Parroquia, Dominican Republic, 1994 to 1997; and Associate Pastor, St. Anthony Parish, Menomonee Falls, 1989 to 1994.

He is a native of West Allis, Wisconsin.  He was born to Albert and Catherine Hying (both deceased) on August 18, 1963 and is the youngest of six sons.  He attended St. Aloysius and Immaculate Heart of Mary grade schools, Brookfield Central High School, and Marquette University.  He earned his Masters of Divinity from Saint Francis De Sales Seminary. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, and is finalizing his thesis.

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112614 fp top pix1SJNN – Ferguson, Missouri – The town of Ferguson has seen rioting and looting after a jury decided not to bring charges over the killing of a black teenager.

Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on 9 August, sparking protests.

St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said rioters had fired 150 shots.

Many in the African-American community had called for Mr Wilson to be charged with murder, but after three months of deliberation a Missouri grand jury – of nine white and three black members – made no recommendation of charges.

President Barack Obama joined the teenager’s family on Monday in appealing for calm, urging Americans to accept the decision was “the grand jury’s to make”.

Authorities said more than 80 people were arrested amid chaos in several areas of St Louis overnight. Sixty-one of those arrests were in Ferguson, with charges including burglary and trespassing.

The fabric of the community, Mr Belmar said, had been “torn apart” in Ferguson, which is a predominantly black community patrolled by a mainly white police force.

As protesters charged barricades, hurling glass bottles, police responded with smoke and tear gas.

One protester, Charles Miller, told the media that while he did not advocate violence, he understood why people were angry.

“You can’t just go shoot an 18-year-old who’s unarmed on the street, despite what the story may have been,” he said.

Thousands of people also protested in other cities, from Los Angeles to New York.

In Oakland, California, they blocked traffic on a major highway in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mr Brown’s family said in a statement: “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.”

But they also appealed for calm, saying: “Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference”, and calling for all police to wear body cameras.

Mr Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, wept at news of the jury’s decision as she was comforted by supporters outside the police station in Ferguson.

Mr Brown’s family could yet file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Mr Wilson.

Meanwhile, a justice ministry investigation is still under way into whether the police officer violated Mr Brown’s civil rights.

Darren Wilson, 28, is currently on paid leave and has kept out of the public eye.

The ministry is also investigating practices at the Ferguson police department.

KENOSHA -A woman and a child were taken to a hospital after a fire in Kenosha on Tuesday night.

Kenosha police said officers were called to the home near 50th Street and 21st Avenue after a woman said someone had killed her baby.

Officers arrived and surrounded an apartment in the home while rescue personnel attended to a 27-year-old woman and her 11-month-old daughter.

The mother and daughter were taken to Kenosha Hospital where the infant was pronounced dead.

On Facebook, the police department said the baby’s death was a result of child abuse.

Officers on the scene said a man inside set fire to curtains while the building was surrounded, the man was eventually taken into police custody.

Significant fire damage to the first floor and basement occurred as a result of the fire.

The man, a 34-year-old resident of Kenosha, is the father of the child and is currently being held on a probation hold.

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fp 111914 pix2Milwaukee  — Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Charter School (MESCS) has begun implementing a model intergenerational learning program  for families in the community with a three-year, $175,000 grant from Toyota and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). The school joins four other organizations nationwide receiving Toyota Family Learning program grants in the second year of the program.

“The Toyota Family Learning Grant provides an avenue of hope and optimism for improving the lives of our students and their families, while transforming Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Charter School into a place where families become 21st century learners, stewards of the environment, and ambassadors for change within the community,” saidRoseann Lococo, Principal, MESCS.

Independent evaluations show Toyota Family Learning has yielded impressive results.

“Following year one, we are finding that participating families are interacting more often with their child’s school and using technology with their children for educational purposes,” said Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president of NCFL.

“Fathers and siblings are more involved in family learning. We’re seeing gains in parents’ organizational and leadership skills and involvement in their community.”

Families across the country, often first-generation immigrants, are already benefiting from the first year of Toyota Family Learning. Today’s announcement brings the total NCFL and Toyota grant amount to $1.75 million for programs in 10 schools, libraries and community-based organizations across the country (see below for list of grantees).

“Toyota Family Learning helps bridge the gap between classroom and lifelong learning,” said Mike Goss, vice president of external affairs for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. “We build on the success of intergenerational literacy programs that enable parents and children to learn alongside each other, by taking that learning outside the classroom in ways that are engaging and relevant to real life situations.”

Area families participating in the Toyota Family Learning program will:

•  Attend Parent Time and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®: Participating parents engage in guided learning with a focus on leadership. During PACT time, families learn together while engaging in activities including mentoring and service learning, using technology together, reading together, and taking family trips.

• Join in service learning activities: Reflecting Toyota Family Learning’s guiding philosophy, which is rooted in community service, families participate in at least three service projects.

• Engage in family-to-family mentoring: Building community networks is integral to experiencing life success following graduation from the Toyota Family Learning program, and the mentoring element teaches families how to share information with each other in an effort to foster self-sufficiency.

The community grants are just one facet of Toyota Family Learning – a six-year, nationwide initiative that also offers an online learning community called Family Time Machine, which helps parents and kids make better use of every moment in the day, and engages families in mobile learning adventures. Toyota Family Learning resources and information are available

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MissouriMilwaukee – There are those who say that it’s the kind of anxiety you feel when a Category 5 Hurricane is coming your way. You can’t gauge with certainty what will fall in its path, what will remain in its aftermath. You board up. And wait. That’s the way many residents of Ferguson, Missouri feel as the city waits for the St. Louis County grand jury to decide whether Officer Darren Wilson should stand trial in the shooting of Michael Brown. The grand jurors technically have until January, but the prosecutor’s office has said a decision could come in mid-November. In Milwaukee, protestors waiting for the grand jury ruling in Ferguson, Missouri are ready to march on the streets of the city. “The people that are concerned will come out,” said Tory Lowe, an organizer of the protest. Plans for rallies across the nation urge people to gather in “solidarity” of Ferguson. Here in Milwaukee, protests run parallel with waiting on a Dontre Hamilton ruling. Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed Hamilton after a confrontation in Red Arrow Park this spring. “Milwaukee still has a decision to make,” Lowe said. Lowe says the Michael Brown rally will start at Red Arrow Park at 5 p.m. the day of the grand jury decision. The crowd will then march to the Federal Courthouse. “We have to reach higher to get the justice we feel we deserve,” Lowe said. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has monitored the events in Ferguson and is prepared for anything. “There’s no winners in this,” Clarke said. “Everybody loses when these things happen. “The longer you wait to make a decision, the more pent up energy and anger and animosity and emotion starts to build.” Lowe said that protest in Milwaukee will be non-violent.


A Racine woman faces faces 171 misdemeanor charges related to conditions discovered inside the “Orphan Kanines” facility in Caledonia.

In addition, Debra Gray has also been charged with six misdemeanor counts of bail jumping and two misdemeanor counts of possession of an illegally obtained prescription. Early this summer, officials raided the Orphan Kanines facility in Caledonia and two of Gray’s residences (one in Caledonia, and one in Racine). Animals were seized from Orphan Kanines and Gray’s residences after officials found conditions “hazardous to both humans and animals alike.”

Gray posted $5,000 bond in that case, and signed away her rights to the animals. She was released from custody on the conditions that she not possess any domestic animals.

A criminal complaint was filed against Gray in which it states that officials executed a search warrant on a residence on Highway H in the Village of Caledonia — Gray’s  mother’s home.

There, the complaint indicates officials found a veterinarian conducting a surgical procedure on a cat in a makeshift surgical room. Officials observed surgical lights held up by bent metal hangers, and the ceiling tiles above the surgical table open — exposing spider webs, dust and open wiring. Officials also found many bottles of medication, needles and other surgical supplies throughout the basement.

Police found Debra Gray in that basement as the surgery was taking place — monitoring vital signs on a log sheet. Officials say Gray wasn’t wearing surgical attire or a mask.

The complaint says no medical license was displayed in the surgical space.

Officials allowed the veterinarian to finish the surgery — but when she asked to complete a second scheduled surgery, officials said no.

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Kenosha – A Kenosha soldier who went missing 47 years ago finally received the recognition and honor he deserved on this Veterans Day. Van Bendegom began his tour in July of 1967 at the age of 18.

He was injured and captured by Vietnamese soldiers. Fellow soldiers said Van Bendegom died of his injuries, but his body was never recovered.

The family’s search for answers and closure became the community’s search for a son lost but never quite forgotten.

But on Veterans Day 2014, Staff Sgt. James Van Bendegom came home to rest.

The military identified Van Bendegom’s remains in October.  He was flown home to Kenosha last weekend, and laid to rest Tuesday.

“To see total strangers standing out on the road with tears in their eyes, crying, literally crying, holding signs,” Mike Van Bendegom, James’ brother, said.

“Unless you experience it first-hand, you just can’t grasp the enormity of it,” said brother Gary Van Bendegom. “It’s hard to put into words.”

“Closure,” said family friend Rich Bowker. “Closure for us, too.”


Milwaukee – Cold bitter winds mark the start of the winter season as an Arctic blast of air chills 42 states this week, from the Canadian border down to the Gulf of Mexico, say forecasters.

It is being estimated that 200 million people are expected to be affected by the cold, with only Florida, Hawaii, and the Southwest being spared, according to forecasters.

Those states to feel the frigid temperatures this week will be states along the Canadian border and in the northern Rockies.

Winter storm warnings are in effect for Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota as they braced for a major snowstorm forecast for the leading edge of that Arctic blast, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is set dump up to two feet (61 cm) of snow in parts of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin by Tuesday, according to the service.

Monday also marks the start of two weeks of subfreezing temperatures in the Midwest, including Illinois and Missouri, forecasters said.

The cold is expected to dip into the Central Plains states by Tuesday, dropping the mercury by nearly 30 degrees (17 C) overnight in Oklahoma.

“The arctic blast will have the greatest shock over the central states,” said Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

For the Rockies and the plains, Tuesday and Wednesday will see low temperatures dipping below zero (-18 C), forecasters said.

The weather shift can be blamed on what forecasters call a polar vortex reaching into the United States from the north.

The polar vortex is a large pocket of very cold air, typically the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere, which sits over the polar region.

El Partido Republicano logró hoy la mayoría en el Senado al arrebatar al menos seis escaños a los demócratas en la Cámara Alta, haciéndose así con el control total del Congreso de la nación.

El de Carolina del Norte ha sido el sexto de los escaños que pasó de manos demócratas a republicanas, junto a los de Arkansas, Dakota del Sur, Montana, Virginia Occidental y Colorado, lo que otorga a los conservadores el control total del Congreso durante los dos últimos años de mandato del presidente Barack Obama.

La victoria republicana marca la primera vez, desde 2006, que ese partido controla ambas cámaras del Congreso y augura un difícil fin de presidencia a Obama, que hoy siguió la contienda desde la Casa Blanca.

“El presidente está siguiendo los resultados desde la Casa Blanca y ha hablado con candidatos a la Cámara Baja, el Senado y las Gobernaciones de ambos partidos”, dijo el portavoz de Obama, Josh Earnest, en su cuenta oficial de la red social Twitter.

Según la cadena NBC News, entre quienes hoy recibieron una llamada de Obama se encuentra el vencedor en Arkansas, el republicano Tom Cotton, que se impuso al senador demócrata Mark Pryor.

Además, los republicanos arrebataron escaños a los demócratas en los estados de Montana, Dakota del Sur y Virginia Occidental, cuyos senadores se retiraban y no tenían un candidato fuerte de su partido para reemplazarlos.

El primer escaño en cambiar de manos fue Virginia Occidental, donde la congresista Shelley Moore Capito se impuso a la demócrata Natalie Tennant, que trataba de conservar el puesto que deja el demócrata Jay Rockefeller, quien se retira tras haber representado a su estado desde 1984.

La política republicana, de 60 años, marcó otro hito al convertirse en la primera mujer en representar a este estado en el Senado federal durante más de medio siglo.

Además, según las proyecciones de las cadenas estadounidenses, Mike Rounds venció al demócrata Rick Weiland en Dakota del Sur; mientras que en Montana, el republicano Steve Daines venció a la demócrata Amanda Curtis.

Con la victoria en Colorado del republicano Cory Gardner, que desbancó al senador demócrata Mark Udall, los conservadores se quedaron a un escaño del control de la Cámara Alta.

“El pueblo estadounidense ha puesto su confianza en el partido republicano (…). Esto ha sido un rechazo de las políticas fallidas del presidente Obama y del Senado disfuncional de Harry Reid”, dijo en un comunicado el presidente del Comité Nacional Republicano (RNC), Reince Priebus.

Por su parte, el hasta esta noche líder de la mayoría demócrata, Harry Reid, reconoció la victoria de los conservadores y felicitó al senador Mitch McConnell, que a partir de enero ocupará su puesto.

En las elecciones de este martes se renueva toda la Cámara de Representantes, un tercio del Senado y 36 puestos de gobernador estatal.

Un total de 206 millones de ciudadanos conforman el electorado de estas legislativas, según los últimos datos de la Oficina del Censo, de los cuales sólo 145 millones están registrados para votar.

For more than one hundred years the south side was the home of Goldmann’s Department Store. Since closing seven years ago it became an eyesore and symbol of our deteriorating economy.

That will soon be changing as reports from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel say that the building was recently sold and will be converted into a medical clinic.

According to the Journal Sentinel the building has been sold for $550,000 to Phoenix Mitchell LLC, an affiliate of Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors LLC.

Goldmann’s closed in 2007 after 111 years of business on Mitchell St., where it served for decades as an anchor for the street’s smaller stores.

“Phoenix Mitchell is working with another local firm, Endeavour Corp., to convert the vacant two-story building into the new home of the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center”, said the paper.

That nonprofit medical clinic now operates at 1711 S. 11th St., about one block west of the Goldmann’s building.

The clinic serves around 2,000 lower-income people annually.

The new building will allow the clinic to expand its primary care services.

A representative at the clinic said that there are plans to add new services, including pediatric dental care and behavioral health care.

Construction could begin by January. The clinic is planning to sign a 15-year lease for the building to move into the new building by July 2015.


supervisor-westMilwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West and other local groups will draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Milwaukee County and the need for County funding for the homeless shelter system by spending the night in Clarke Square Park beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 8 and running until 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 9.

Romo West and community groups will build a tent/cardboard box city to draw attention to homelessness in Milwaukee County and to appeal for funding in the County budget for homeless shelters. They will also collect warm clothing for the homeless and served hot coffee and soup to those in need.

“Even though we in Milwaukee suffered through one of worst winters in history last year, there were no reports of the homeless freezing to death thanks in part to the extra funding provided by the County Board to support homeless shelters in Milwaukee County,” Romo West said. “This is something we should all be mindful of. Winter is a terrible time to be homeless in Wisconsin. For the County Executive to remove funding from the 2015 budget for homeless shelters is shameful, and that’s why the County Board will work to restore funding.

“We are willing to sleep outside to draw attention to the problem of homelessness and work to correct the County Executive’s removal of homeless shelter funding in his budget.”

Supervisor Romo West will be joined by members of Faithbuilders Church; LAMA Milwaukee; Milwaukee Mixtecas; Diamond Gurlz Milwaukee; Las Señoritas Lulac Council #1600 6; ALIVE and AFSCME District Council  48. The Spanish Journal, Lopez Bakery and Cat Daddy’s Too were proud sponsors of the event.

“Ending homelessness in Milwaukee County will be a community-wide effort, and I’m hopeful that this particular community effort will be a success, not only in drawing attention to the problem, but in helping to clothe and feed the homeless,” Romo West said.


KENOSHA — The upcoming election set for November 4th extends far beyond the race for governor. In the 1st Congressional District, Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan hopes to retain his long-held seat from Democratic challenger Rob Zerban.

This is the second time U.S. Representative Paul Ryan has faced Democratic challenger Rob Zerban in an election. Both ran for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2012.

In 2012, Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate.

Zerban has proven to be a formidable opponent to Ryan in the past. Ryan has held the seat since he was first elected to Congress in 1998, but during the 2011 election, Zerban came closer to winning than any of Ryan’s previous opponents. 12 percentage points separated the two.

Zerban is from Kenosha. Ryan’s hometown is Janesville.


Among likely voters Republican Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50% to 43% according to a new survey conducted by the Marquette University Law School.

This latest poll represents a huge change surveys done in the past indicating the race locked in a tie.

Walker’s gains were made among those voters who said they will be voting on Nov. 4. This group of voters is defined as “likely voters” in Marquette’s polling.

Marquette surveyed 1,164 likely voters from last Thursday through Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The race is much tighter among all registered voters — with Walker leading Burke 46% to 45%.

This survey shows a tilt among independent voters towards Walker, thus voting group was evenly split between the two candidates in the past but now prefer Walker 52% to 37%.

This is Marquette’s last pre-election poll. Marquette’s previous survey, taken Oct. 9-12, showed Walker and Burke tied at 47% among likely voters.

Democrats have won the past two presidential races in Wisconsin but lost the last two races for governor, in part because of turnout.

Walker said, “The only poll I’m concerned about is the one on election day,” he said.

Burke’s campaign released a statement that says: “Today’s poll confirms what we’ve known for months — it’s too close to call and going to come down to turnout. In the final 6 days voters face a clear choice. A new direction with Mary Burke where everyone willing to put in the hard work gets a fair shot. Or to continue on the failed path Gov. Walker has us on — which puts those at the top and special interests before Wisconsin families…”


MILWAUKEE— A large majority of voters support raising the minimum wage, which continues to undergird voter support for Mary Burke. Scott Walker refused to even consider raising the minimum wage, and his stagnant poll numbers remain well below 50%, according to the Marquette University Law School poll. Walker is up 46%-45% among registered voters ahead of next week’s election, but 59 percent support raising the minimum wage.

“Walker can’t even talk to us to find out what it’s like trying to live on our wages, but he’s going to hear us on November 4,” said Roman Fletcher, a fast-food worker who is currently homeless.

Walker’s administration was asked by Fletcher and dozens of other workers to consider raising the minimum wage because the current $7.25 an hour rate does not qualify as a “living wage” as required by state law. Walker refused, declared $7.25 to be a living wage, said the state “does not have a jobs problem,” and that the minimum wage “serves no purpose.” Fletcher and others have since sued the state alleging Walker broke the law in refusing to consider his valid, legal complaint, and asking a judge to force an increase in the minimum wage.

“It’s no coincidence that Scott Walker’s campaign has sputtered since he broke the law and refused to give workers a raise,” said Jon Green, deputy director of Working Families. “Scott Walker is not looking out for working people and middle-class families. It’s time for a change and the minimum wage issue will be what elects Mary Burke.”

The latest Marquette University Law School poll also found continued support for increasing Wisconsin’s minimum wage. A large majority of voters said they want to increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage, results consistent with previous polls.

“Voters know that increasing the minimum will boost Wisconsin’s economy from the bottom up,” said Raise WI Director Peter Rickman. “The vast majority of Wisconsin citizens agree with Mary Burke that it is time to raise the minimum wage, and that is why she has the momentum in the final days of the campaign.”

MOUNT PLEASANT —Authorities have charged a Wisconsin man who they say groped patrons inside a Mount Pleasant haunted house.

Daniel Rosmann of Kenosha is charged with three fourth-degree sexual assault charges, as well as disorderly conduct and lewd and lascivious behavior. Police say three people reported that the 51-year-old inappropriately touched them Sunday inside the Abandoned Haunted House Complex.

The haunted house manager says he received numerous complaints from people saying they were groped by a man. Two men and a woman identified Rosmann on Sunday as the person who molested them.

The sexual assault and lascivious behavior charges each carry a maximum sentence of nine months in jail. He faces up to 90 days in jail for the disorderly conduct charge.

Online court records didn’t indicate an attorney.


Milwaukee – The Southside Organizing Committee held a “Meet the People” convention this week at Serb Hall to discuss the upcoming election and a number of other issues including driver card program.

Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor attended the event, Governor Scott Walker was represented by Chairman of the Republican Hispanic Caucus, Joe Medina.

Medina gave campaign contribution to Democrat Jocasta Zamarripa to defeat the Republican candidate challenger Zamarripa faces in the coming midterm elections.

Medina gave a lack luster presentation and appeared that his mic was taken from him before he was able to finish his talk.

A number of other candidates seeking office attended the convention.

Steve Fendt, director of the Southside Organizing Committee stated, “This is a great opportunity for the candidates to hear what’s been bugging the near south side. It’s also a time for the candidates to share their ideas on how they can help”.

SOC has been working on is a driver card program.

SOC volunteers have collected letters from area residents and have given them to the gubernatorial candidates for governor. The letters are requesting a driver card program that would allow long-time Wisconsin residents to drive legally and insured.

65,000 Wisconsin residents are in need of assistance to renew or obtain a driver’s license. Many of those individuals live in the Southside.

The rise in residents having no drivers license stems from a law that only allows those who show proof of citizenship or have a green card to receive a driver’s license.



By Luisita Lopez Torregrosa 

The road to political victory in Florida is not just a metaphor, it’s a place: Interstate 4, the busy highway that cuts across the vote-heavy heart of the state from Tampa to Daytona Beach.

And the I-4 corridor, as it’s called, now runs through a swing-vote region undergoing significant demographic change.

Puerto Ricans have been migrating by the thousands to the area — part of the largest exodus from their island territory to the mainland since World War II. They currently make up about 10 percent of Central Florida’s population, and their numbers continue to grow.

A Pew Research Center report released in August shows that Orange County alone was home to nearly 150,000 Puerto Ricans in 2010, up from 86,583 a decade earlier, out of a total population of 1.4 million. The surge pushed it to No. 3 in a ranking of U.S. counties according to Puerto Rican population; only Brooklyn and the Bronx ranked higher.

“The I-4 corridor is the key to winning Florida: Win the area and you win the election,” says Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, pointing out that roughly 45 percent of the state’s registered voters live in the Tampa and Orlando media markets.

Yet some Floridians, including politicians, are still trying to figure out how to talk about the newcomers. Because many Puerto Ricans work at Disney World, Floridians dub them “Disney Ricans” or “Mickey Ricans,” labels they don’t find amusing.

And it didn’t go unnoticed when the chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee, Lew Oliver, blamed the “Puerto Rican influx” for a decline in registered Republicans and called the island territory “semisocialist” and a “basket case.” Under fire from various groups, Oliver issued an apology, saying his words were taken out of context.

The episode highlights the struggle the GOP faces in Central Florida, where more than 300,000 Puerto Ricans are concentrated in a region of 3 million to 4 million people. Though Republicans can still rely on the Cuban vote in South Florida, they’re falling behind in the vital I-4 corridor.

The change is part of a broader shift in the Hispanic politics of the Sunshine State. Historically, Cubans in the Miami area have been the majority of the state’s Hispanics and have leaned Republican. But that dominance is slowly eroding. Younger Cubans are increasingly turning Democratic, and the swelling Puerto Rican population seems to lean Democratic, too.

Puerto Ricans now number nearly 1 million statewide and represent 28 percent of Hispanic registered voters — closing in on a Cuban population of 1.3 million that comprises 32 percent of Hispanic voters.

With their sharply rising numbers, Puerto Rican voters could tip the balance of the Hispanic vote in the country’s third most populous state, a powerhouse battleground with 29 electoral votes.

“No question, the influx of Puerto Ricans has had an impact,” says Steve Schale, a Tallahassee strategist who was a senior adviser in President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and is an adviser to Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign. “Until a few years ago, Central Florida was reliably Republican. No more.”

The Puerto Rican vote could make a decisive difference in the upcoming presidential election. It may have already done so in 2012, when Obama won the state by 50.1 percent to Mitt Romney’s 49.13 percent. The difference was only 74,000 votes, the slimmest margin in the country.

Yet the Puerto Rican vote is no sure thing for the Democrats.

“It’s an up-for-grabs community,” says Andres W. Lopez, a Harvard-trained lawyer and national Democratic Party fundraiser who lives in San Juan and commutes often to Florida and Washington.

Puerto Ricans who have lived for long periods in the United States tend to register as Democrats, but those who came from the island recently are likely to be more independent and unaffiliated.

When Republicans and Democrats look at this “up-for-grabs community,” they see something they haven’t seen before. The new wave of Puerto Rican transplants — unlike the rural people who left the island for factory jobs in New York and other Northerncities in the 1950s and 1960s — includes a sizable number of doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, lawyers, managers and professors. They are upscale and highly educated, and they come to Florida to advance careers and improve lifestyles.

Lopez says many are fleeing the island’s dismal conditions — $70 billion in debt, a 15 percent unemployment rate, escalating crime, teacher layoffs and rundown schools. “The lingering images of this year have been the goodbye notes from people you thought would never leave,” he says.

“Puerto Rican communities in Orlando, Miami and Tampa differ substantially from their counterparts in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia,” says Jorge Duany, an anthropologist at the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. In his research study “Mickey Ricans? The Recent Puerto Rican Diaspora to Florida,” Duany finds that the Puerto Rican migrants of the 21st century have more financial resources and are better educated than their predecessors. They tend to live in middle-class and high-end suburban settings, like Coral Gables and Doral in Miami. “The current Puerto Rican experience in Florida is largely unprecedented,” he says.

The GOP believes these new immigrants could be its kind of people.

“No party has a lock on Hispanics,” says Alex Garcia, the Republican Hispanic Initiatives field director for Florida, speaking specifically about Puerto Ricans. Hispanics favored Republican Jeb Bush in earlier elections, Garcia points out.

In this election cycle, both Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his challenger, Charlie Crist, have Hispanic running mates. Scott recently made his first Spanish-language TV commercial, and the first televised debate between the two candidates — a fractious tit-for-tat on Oct. 10 — was hosted by the Spanish-language Telemundo network.

Both candidates have tried to tailor their message to Hispanic voters. Scott pitches jobs, low taxes and social conservatism (he’s against equal marriage and abortion rights, stands that likely appeal to Hispanic social conservatives). Crist emphasizes issues that, according to surveys, rank high with Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics: health care, Medicaid expansion, increasing the minimum wage, immigration reform.

One key issue for Puerto Rican voters of various stripes is statehood for their island territory.

As American citizens, Puerto Ricans can visit or migrate to the mainland freely, but those who reside on the island have no voting representatives in the U.S. Congress and are not allowed to vote in presidential elections. Many have migrated to the mainland partly out of frustration that they have no say in Washington.

A bipartisan group, aiming to capitalize on the new visibility of Puerto Ricans in the Sunshine State, launched a movement this month to pressure candidates and elected officials at local, state and federal levels to support statehood for Puerto Rico.

“If you want Puerto Ricans to come out and vote, react to our call today,” says Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Washington-based Latino Partnership.

Until now, however, Florida Democrats and Republicans have no official stance on the controversial issue.

That underscores something else about Puerto Rican political power: Much of it is still unrealized.

“The role of Puerto Ricans has never translated into economic and political might,” says Lopez, the Democratic fundraiser. “Puerto Ricans have a megaphone, yet they are still punching below their weight.”

In 2012, when Puerto Ricans had the opportunity to elect one of their own to the heavily Hispanic 9th Congressional District in Central Florida, they didn’t field a candidate. Alan M. Grayson, a Democratic former 8th District representative, won the vote.

Perhaps more surprisingly, there is only one Puerto Rican state senator in the Republican-led state legislature in Tallahassee: Darren Soto, a low-key lawyer whose grandfather left the Puerto Rican sugarcane fields decades ago to make a new home in New Jersey. A graduate of Rutgers University and George Washington University Law School, Soto was elected to the Florida Senate at age 29.

Soto blames low turnout in the midterm elections and primaries to explain why the legislature has such a small number of Puerto Ricans (there are three in the lower house). But Grayson was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, a presidential election year when Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics in Florida went to the polls in strong numbers.

“Our community is still maturing,” Soto says, adding that Puerto Ricans don’t have the financial clout to field many candidates and mount major campaigns.

Duany at Florida International University says that while Puerto Ricans have a higher political profile in Florida than ever before, “it hasn’t happened yet in terms of representation.” They’re divided internally, he says, with a significant minority voting Republican —especially those who enjoy higher socioeconomic status.

That trend is most notable in Miami, where Puerto Ricans tend to disperse and settle in higher-income areas rather than banding together in “Little Puerto Ricos” or similar ethnic-centric communities.

What’s missing in the Puerto Rican community is “a passion point,” says Nelson E. Famadas, a 42-year-old entrepreneur who has spent much of his life moving back and forth from the mainland to the island.

The Harvard-educated Famadas worked at MTV, started a couple of late-night Hispanic-oriented TV shows, moved to San Juan to handle his father’s real-estate business and landed back in Miami four years ago. He has since started up a pair of indie radio music and talk shows.

“We should be considered the ultimate swing vote,’’ he says. “It’s a huge opportunity for both parties. We cannot be taken for granted.”

Like many other Puerto Ricans in Florida, he zeroes in on the statehood issue. “We have to speak about political equality, about our human rights. … This issue will be solved, but right now we lack leadership to mobilize people.”

“We need to convey the importance of the status issue,” Famadas continues. “The question is: Do Puerto Ricans have the same opportunities to succeed while being second-class citizens in a territory? The United States is the poster child for human rights. … How can this issue be still unresolved? How can this issue not unite Puerto Ricans?”

Famadas hopes that rising Puerto Rican influence will eventually present a challenge to both political parties: “What are you doing about the status of Puerto Rico?” he says. “The answer will have to come. We’re not exercising our influence yet. But we will.”