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Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature takes another crack at drawing maps before court does

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Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature takes another crack at drawing maps before court does


MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Senate is taking another shot Tuesday at passing a new legislative map before the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court does it.

It marks the second time in less than a month that the Legislature has tried to enact new Senate and Assembly boundaries before the court issues its order drawing the lines. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Legislature’s last attempt, which was based on maps he proposed but that made changes to protect Republican incumbents.

This time, GOP legislative leaders are talking about passing the Evers maps without any changes. When asked last week if he would sign his own maps, Evers responded “Why not?” while also voicing skepticism that the Legislature would actually approve them.

The political stakes are huge in the presidential battleground state, where Republicans have had a firm grip on the Legislature since 2011 even as Democrats have won statewide elections, including for governor in 2018 and 2022.

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Consultants hired by the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week said that maps submitted by the Republican Legislature and a conservative law firm were gerrymandered. They did not raise concerns about any of the four Democratic-drawn maps, including one submitted by Evers, but left the question of constitutionality to the state Supreme Court.

Analyses of the Evers maps show they would likely greatly reduce Republican majorities in the Legislature, which stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and 22-10 in the Senate.

The consultants determined that the four remaining maps were virtually the same, and that they or the court could tweak them to bolster how well each map meets certain criteria, including contiguity, political balance and the preservation of communities of interest.

The state elections commission has said the new maps must be in place by March 15 in order to meet deadlines for candidates running for office in November.

Litigation continues in more than a dozen states over U.S. House and state legislative districts that were enacted after the 2020 census.

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court also has been asked by Democrats to take up a challenge to the state’s congressional district lines. The lawsuit argues that the court’s decision to order new state legislative maps opens the door to challenging the congressional map. Republicans hold six of the state’s eight congressional seats.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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Wisconsin school district releases tape of Black superintendent’s comments that led to resignation

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Wisconsin school district releases tape of Black superintendent’s comments that led to resignation


The Green Bay school district on Wednesday released the recording of its first Black superintendent’s appearance on an Atlanta radio show in which he made blunt comments about race relations, criticized the community and derided one of the district’s principals.

Claude Tiller Jr. resigned on Saturday after a closed-door meeting with school board members.

On the recording, he is caught during a break from speaking on air during a WAOK-AM radio interview on Feb. 6 referring to a female principal as a “wicked witch” and using a disparaging slang word to describe her. Tiller was in Atlanta on a teacher recruiting trip.

During one of the breaks, the show’s host refers to Green Bay as “about as lily white as I have ever seen.”

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Tiller responds, “The lily on top of the lily.”

Green Bay, a city of about 100,000 people in northeastern Wisconsin, is about 72% white, according to U.S. Census data released in July 2023. People who identify as Black make up about 4.2% of the population.

The entire interview, including conversations Tiller had with the host during breaks, was livestreamed on Facebook. The host informed Tiller that his appearance would be streamed.

During the interview, Tiller was asked about his conversations with mostly white teachers.

“I’m a bald head man and I wear bow ties,” Tiller said. “So first all, they think that I’m a Muslim. They think I like to fix bean pies. And that’s furthest from the truth. So I have to go debunking some microaggressions before I even go into. They think majority of us we like fried chicken and watermelon. I prefer my chicken baked.” He added that, as “a bald head black man with a bow tie, they get my passion confused with anger.”

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Tiller’s comments about bow ties and bean pies were a reference to the Nation of Islam, a Black nationalist movement with roots in Detroit whose male followers often wear distinctive red bowties. Followers also often consume and sell food made from navy beans, including pies, which are promoted as healthy.

Tiller didn’t respond to a phone message left by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening. In a statement he issued following his resignation, he said his remarks during the interview were “specifically directed toward the broader systemic issues within public education that contribute to ongoing challenges.”

He added that he offered his perspective “with candor, anchoring my narrative in both my professional insights and personal experiences as an educational leader of color.”

“Simply put, I spoke my truth.”

The school district board’s president, Laura McCoy, didn’t respond to a phone message on Wednesday evening. Board Vice President James Lyerly declined to comment, saying Tiller’s resignation was “a human resources matter.”

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Tiller became superintendent in Green Bay in July. He had previously served as an assistant superintendent over high school transformation with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, according to a biography on the Green Bay school district’s website.

During one break he told the host that “mindset in Green Bay, Black and brown folks, it’s almost like stepping back in time. They don’t even realize it til I came along and I have people coming up to me crying saying ‘don’t leave’ because I’m giving voice to the voiceless.”

At another point during the interview, he said he applied for the job only at his wife’s urging, thinking that “no all white board is going to choose an African American male.”

____

Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Wisconsin AG among multi-state coalition aiming to uphold federal air regulations

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Wisconsin AG among multi-state coalition aiming to uphold federal air regulations


Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is joining 15 other Democratic attorneys general intervening in a case that challenges Clean Air Act regulations.

In November, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized changes on how states must meet clean air standards under the regulations. The updates govern state plans to limit air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The final rule set timelines providing a framework for states to develop plans that set and enforce emission standards for existing power plants. Kaul said the rule would allow states to adopt more stringent standards for facilities than what’s required under federal law.

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In January, West Virginia and a group of other states challenged the regulations in a federal appeals court. They argue the EPA is going beyond its authority with the proposed changes.

Kaul is defending the EPA’s regulations.

“The changes that the states challenging these regulations are seeking would weaken efforts to limit air pollution,” Kaul said in a statement. “We must not take a step backward in protecting clean air and combating the climate crisis.”

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The changes would also allow states more time to submit plans and update how states can engage with communities affected by power plants. The EPA plan also provides a process states can follow that allows facilities to meet less stringent standards based on their remaining useful life. Under that process, power plants may also receive more time to comply with the regulations.

The challenge comes after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2022 limited the EPA’s authority to issue regulations that would curb carbon emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act. The decision limited the agency’s ability to regulate pollution only at the facility through emission controls rather than considering other options, such as adopting clean energy projects.



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Rapper Yung Gravy is coming to Wisconsin State Fair’s Main Stage with Nicky Youre

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Rapper Yung Gravy is coming to Wisconsin State Fair’s Main Stage with Nicky Youre


After being a Summerfest MVP in 2023, Yung Gravy has his sights set on the Wisconsin State Fair in 2024.

The tongue-in-cheek rapper and University of Wisconsin-Madison alum will headline the Main Stage on Aug. 3, fair officials announced Wednesday.

Gravy headlined Summerfest’s Generac Power Stage last year — and then filled in at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater for a free show on July 6, after AJR cancelled its show because the band members and brothers’ father was ailing (he died in early July). AJR had been booked to fill in for Jimmy Buffett, who was ill and died Sept. 1.

Nicky Youre, a pop newcomer who had a big hit with “Sunroof” in 2022, will open for Gravy.

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Tickets, priced at $50 to $60, will include fair general admission Aug. 3, and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Members of Friends of the Fair will have presale access.

Gravy is the eighth Main Stage concert, out of 11, revealed for the fair 2024.

Tickets also go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias on Aug. 1, the fair’s opening day; Casting Crowns on Aug. 5; and Riley Green on Aug. 7.

Tickets also are available for Kidz Bop (Aug. 6), Lauren Daigle (Aug. 9), Foreigner with Melissa Etheridge (Aug. 10), and the Happy Together tour, led by the Turtles, on closing day (Aug. 11).



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