Suing to Save Public Schools, a Trip to DC, and a Beer Garden

Suing to Save Public Schools, a Trip to DC, and a Beer Garden

Ok folks,

There’s a lot to cover this week, but let’s start with the most important stuff.

It appears that we might be able to re-litigate the awful things that have happened to Wisconsin’s public schools and our public-school teachers over the last 14 years if we elect a progressive candidate for Supreme Court justice on Feb 21 (primary) and April 4 (general).

In last week’s Up North Podcast, I spoke with Wisconsin Teacher’s Union President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen and Dr. Julie Underwood, Professor Emerita of Educational Law and Policy Analysis and former Dean of the UW-Madison School of Education.

In short, these conversations convinced me that Wisconsin is not living up to its constitutional obligation to provide a regulated and uniform system of public schools around the state. The gerrymandered Republican legislature and former Republican Governor Scott Walker systematically underfunded public schools over the last decades, and through an unfair voucher system and school funding formulas, have created vast inequities between school districts.

And by forbidding teachers to collectively bargain under the hugely unpopular ACT 10, which in turn created a political environment that removed dignity from the teaching profession, Walker and his cronies drove a generation of wonderful teachers out of Wisconsin that may take decades to repair.

Dr. Underwood argued that these draconian public school funding decisions and legislation were illegal under the Wisconsin constitution, and by shifting the balance of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court to a 4-3 majority of justices NOT in the pocket of the Republican Party, we could undue these bad policies in court.

And of course that means we have to encourage progressives to go to and figuring out how, when, and where to vote (in 9 days) for Judge Janet Protasiewicz. She’s the clear progressive frontrunner in this race and the woman you’ve helped introduce to Wisconsin by chipping in to fund our statewide billboard campaign.

While the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is doing what we can to help elect Janet in this all-important race being watched around the country, I’m going to Washington DC next week to meet with leaders of reproductive rights groups to see how the Minocqua Brewing Company can help raise awareness and funds with our new wine called “Choice.”

We made this Sauvignon Blanc in partnership with Equality Vines out of Sonoma, CA, and I think it will be a great tool to educate Americans about how restricting abortion really only hurts poor women without the means to travel to a pro-choice state. I also believe that by sharing some of the profits of the sale of this wine, we can support those groups on the frontlines who are helping women get reproductive rights back. If any of you reading this email knows any reproductive rights leaders in DC that you think I should meet with, please reply to this email.

And of course, if you’d like to buy a bottle of this superb wine whose previous vintages have won awards, please go here.

And here’s the last bit of news that hits a bit closer to home. The Minocqua Brewing company has been harassed by the Town of Minocqua and Oneida County ever since we hung a huge Biden sign on our building in October 2020—a month before the most important presidential election of our lifetimes.

We embarrassed them when we pointed out that they couldn’t fine us for hanging a sign that was larger than the county ordinance allowed. Why? because they forgot to check their SCOTUS history, in which the 2015 Reed vs. Town of Gilbert decision forbade municipal government from regulating the size of political signs.

Well, ever since then, they’ve put up every roadblock imaginable to force us out of business—annexing land in front of our new tap room, forcing us to build a parking lot where a parking lot couldn’t fit, and delaying a decision for over 7 months on whether or not we could build a beer garden so people could relax and drink beer on our property.

Without going into the legal details, we’ve recently put a lot of pressure on them to finally do what is right and allow us to serve beer on our own property, which is perfectly legal under our federal and state brewing permits.

We expect a decision next week, and we’re hoping you can email the following “officials” and remind them of all the support we have from potential tourists across the country—who would not only drink beer at our taproom, but spend tourism dollars throughout the region.

Scott Holewinski—County Board Chairman who has punted every zoning request we’ve made back the unincorporated Town of Minocqua that has no jurisdiction on county zoning issues.

Karl Jennrich—County Zoning official who has not only stalled the zoning process every step of the way, but has also illegally singled out our business by issuing or threatening to issue bogus zoning citations.

Mark Hartzheim—Chairman of the Town of Minocqua who has no jurisdiction over our zoning requests, but has emailed Jennrich countless times to insert unbearable regulations and illegal zoning requirements with the hopes of putting us out of business.

John Thompson—Town Board Supervisor that encouraged members of a Facebook hate group to come en masse to a town board meeting and intimidate me—a direct and illegal violation of due process.

While this EXTREMELY local and somewhat private issue is not nearly as important as protecting American democracy and getting women’s reproductive rights back, it is indicative of the type of extreme right-wing governance, at all levels, that threatens to veer our country over a cliff.

Thanks always for your support, and thanks for sticking with the Minocqua Brewing Company. Together, we can stop right-wing extremism from infiltrating our local, state, and national government—one beer and sip of wine at a time.

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC

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