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Why Not

I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.

Advocacy Groups Decry Proposed Medicaid Changes

Finally some more coverage of the proposed Medicaid changes.

Walker wants to limit oversight from Legislature

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People First Milwaukee

People First Wisconsin ( is a group of self advocats who have really embrassed my sons participation in their group.  From the time Tyler walked into his first meeting, every member began engaging him.  Not just talking to him for a couple of minutes and than walking away, but really having a conversation with him.  What I liked about this experience for Tyler was that he was in an environment where his input was valued. At his last meeting, they would not move forward on their agenda until Tyler voted on the issue.

The group was so happy for Tyler to be there, that they changed the age to join the group to 12 to accomodate Tyler and his friends.  The group is comprised of adults with varying degrees of disabilities.  They have been looking for ways to get younger people more involved in the group and their hope is the group can grow by adding these younger individuals. Their hope is that through Tyler's baseball and basletball teams, more young people will become involved.

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Guest Blog: What Medicaid Changes Mean For The Disability Community

The following guest blog comes from Lisa Pugh, public policy coordinator at Disability Rights Wisconsin in Madison.

If you have been watching the national news you know that all is not right in Wisconsin. While the focus has been mainly on the issue of collective bargaining and benefits and wages for public employees, there are five pages tucked within Governor Walker’s 144 page budget repair bill that will have significant consequences for persons with disabilities. As it becomes increasingly clear that Wisconsin is a likely testing ground for ideas on state deficit reduction and Medicaid reform, disability advocates nationally should pay attention.

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Wisconsin Medicaid Programs

I have been focused on the Medicaid provision in the Budget Repair Bill.  When the subject has come up in conversations, a lot of people assume that they are only referring to the BadgerCare programs.  But the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has many other services.  Instead of writing about each one, here is a link to DHS Medicaid Programs.

My son is enrolled in the Katie Beckett Program.  There are other links within the Katie Beckett Program that have an impact on individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Transparency in Government

I enjoyed reading the article in Sunday's Journal entitled Experimentation, yes, but done transparently.  This is all that I am asking for.

In an interview with Mark Pitsch, Governor Walker states that he will ABOSULTELY  run the most open, transparent gubernatorial administration in the history of the universe. 

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My Thoughts on Running for School Board

As the April 5th Spring Elections approach, I thought it was time to give the community some of my thoughts as to why I am running for School Board.

With the uncertainty with what is going on in Madison, it is important that we maximize our resources.  These are public funds that we are talking about and we do not have any room to be wasting them. It amazes me when I hear about how far our kids are falling behind their international counterparts, but we continue to cut funding at both the Federal and State levels.

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Vital Signs: GOP bills to allow 'a la carte' health insurance policies to ignore state mandates

If you are not familiar with autism, I offer you the opportunity to walk in my shoes for 48 hours.

UPDATE: Update on Medicaid Provisions in Budget Repair Bill


It appears that other language may have been changed.

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Mike Manikowski Fundraiser

There is going to be a Dodgeball Tournament Fundraiser Event for Mike Manikowski (Mr. Mano). Mike was diagnosed with brain cancer last summer and was a big supporter for kids of Cudahy volunteering his time with various sporting events and as a substitute teacher.
The Dodgeball tournament starts at 9am. on Saturday April 2nd, 2011 at the Cudahy High School Field House.
Mary Schuster is organizing and running the concession stand for the Dodgeball Tournament event at the high school and she is looking to booster clubs, and local community organizations that Mike was involved in as well as friends of the family to help make a donation to the concession stand or general donation to the event. For the concession stand Mary is looking for items to sell such as: water, soda, gatorade, nachos and cheese, chips, candy, fruit, bakery items, etc. If you are interested and willing to donate any of these items to this event, please contact Mary by phone or email Mary. If you don’t have time to shop, and would like to make a monetary donation that would be fine too! Just let Mary know. She can be reached at 414 764-2644 or by email at

What: Mr Mano's Dodgeball Tournement

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Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network (DAWN) View on the Budget Repair Bill

From DAWN (

Disability advocates are wondering what the passage this week of the revised budget repair bill means for people with disabilities. The Governor signed the bill into law Friday, March 11, and it does make several significant changes to Medicaid.

  1. The bill gives authority to the Secretary of the Department of Health Services to make broad changes to any Medicaid program. Medicaid includes programs like SeniorCare, BadgerCare, Family Care, Katie Beckett, IRIS, children’s waivers and more.  The bill gives the Secretary permission to enact changes that could overrule existing state law.
  2. The full legislature would not have the opportunity to vote on any proposed changes enacted by the Secretary.
  3. The Secretary has authority in this bill to make broad changes to eligibility, benefit packages, reimbursement levels to providers, and other parts of Medicaid. One specific policy change expected to be proposed is to lower the eligibility for BadgerCare to 133% of the federal poverty level, which could result in thousands of Wisconsin citizens losing health coverage.
  4. The bill also eliminates the Wisconsin Quality Home Care Authority. The Authority was established in the 2009-11 biennial budget to match independent home care workers with people needing care. 

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Circles of Life Conference

The Circles of Life 2011 Conference ( is coming to Milwaukee April 28 & 29th at the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency.  This is Wisconsin's annual conference for families of children with disabilities and professionals.  The keynote speaker is going to be Cindy Bentley, whom I have written about in the past (

This will by myfamilies first Circles of Life Conference.  Beside hearing Cindy speak, a couple of other highlights for me will be:

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Reminder: South Shore Forum for Economic Development

Please mark your calenders for Wednesday March 16, from 6:30-8:00 at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (901 15th Ave  South Milwaukee)  Hear County Supervisors Patricia Jursik and Marina Dimitrijevic along with the Mayors of St Francis, Cudahy and South Milwaukee discuss economic development issues important to to our South Shore communities.

Some items to be discussed: 

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Cudahy High School Student Saves a Life

Kendall Corder, a student at Cudahy High School, was honored at the March 14 School Board meeting for his heroic actions in saving the life of a fellow student.

Kendall noticed a student was having trouble breathing and was turning blue, he performed the heimlich manuever on the student and was able to dislodge the item.  All reports show that Kendall's actions saved his fellow students life.

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Milwaukee County Supervisors Patricia Jursik and Marina Dimitrijevic will proudly co-host a South Shore Forum for Economic Development on March 16. The event includes participation from the two candidates running for Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele and Jeff Stone, as well as St. Francis Mayor Al Richards, Cudahy Mayor Tony Day, and South Milwaukee Mayor Tom Zepecki.

The topics to be addressed will include the Hoan Bridge, the possible extension of the 794 Lake Parkway, Airport and Aerotropolis, Mass Transit, Great Lakes Water Compact, Parks, the Lakefront, and other issues important to economic development.

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Disability Advocacy Day

Disability Advocacy Day is designed to connect you with your legislators so you can share your story with them. You are the expert in sharing how legislative policies affect people with disabilities in their everyday lives.

We will set up your visit with your legislator and brief you before you go to the Capitol. We will provide you with information and talking points about current issues before your meeting.

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DHS Seeks Public Input

The Department of Health Services is seeking public input from consumers, community partners, and providers at the first of a series of Town Hall Meetings:
Wednesday, March 23, at 1 p.m.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC)
2740 W. Mason St., Green Bay, Room SC132
Student Lecture Hall in the Student Center
The purpose of this town hall is for DHS to gather ideas from the public on cost efficiencies, savings, and improved outcomes to the state's Medicaid programs. These ideas will help the Department of Health Services develop plans aimed at improving overall consumer care, streamlining program delivery and stabilizing programs to ensure long-term sustainability.

Those who testify have up to three minutes to share their cost-saving ideas. People also can submit their written testimony at the meeting. DHS can gather ideas on all Medical Assistance programs, including SeniorCare, BadgerCare Plus, Family Care, IRIS (Include, Respect, I
Self-Direct) and other long-term care programs.

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Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin

At the bi-monthly meeting of the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) ( the Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin ( made a presentation.  I was surprised to learn how many brain injuries go unnoticed. Many times, unless there are visible signs of a head injury, it is not something that is often checked out. Like everything else in this world, no two people are alike and the results of the same blow to the head can affect each person differently.

Public awareness of brain injury has grown due in part to the significant number of blast injuries sustained by military service members, greater attention to sports related injuries and increased media exposure.

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World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  A day to raise the awareness and acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome.

Update: Mr Mano's Dodgeball Tournament

 Mr Mano's Dodgeball Tournament

A benefit for Mike Manikowski

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Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities Part 1

Over the next couple of days, I am going to share with you what the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities ( is all about and where I am coming from on issues that affect those with developmental disabilities.

The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) is the State's federally-funded Council on Developmental Disabilities.  The BPDD works to promote the independence, integration and productivity of people with developmental disabilities.  The Board identifies and addresses pressing needs, including inequities in employment, education, housing, transportation and health care.  The BPDD receives federal funding authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Act to support its work.  Seventeen of its 25 members (more than 60%) are people with developmental disabilities or family members.

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Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities Part 2

Community Life                                                                                                                                                            For anyone, community living means having the opportunity to participate in the community and make decisions about all aspects of life.  People with disabilities often need support to participate in the least restrictive and exercise their rights in their communities.

  • Know about all of their options regarding community living.
  • Live in inclusive communities in accessible integrated housing in safe neighborhoods of their choice with their choice of roommate(s) or live alone.
  • Engage in intimate relationships, marriage or civil unions.
  • Choose their freinds and support staffs.
  • Develope independent living skills.
  • Participate in faith communities, social activities, hobbies and recreations of their choice.

Pre K-12 Education                                                                                                                                                        A successful education experience is vital for individuals with disabilities to become independent, productive and contributing members of their communities.  Public education prepares all students to persue the benefits of a free society and to exercise fully their rights and responsabilites as citizens.  Education is a lifelong process.  Education for individuals with disabilities should be free, appropriate and inclusive.

  • Receive a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE)
  • Receive and education from highly qualified and effective regulare and special education staff.
  • Receive sufficient supports to enable individuals to learn.
  • Receive and education that provides a transition to full lives as adults, including integrated employment, and/or post secondary education.
  • Make reasonable progress as the individual moves from grade to grade in school.
  • Receive and education in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) among peers without disabilities from pre-school to post-graduation in inclusive school environments.
  • Promote understanding and friendships between students with and without disabilities.
  • Utilize evidence-based discipline and behavior management such as positive behavior interventions and supports (PBSI).

Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities Part 3

Employment                                                                                                                                                            Research has demonstrated repeatedly that individuals with disabilities want to work and can make a positive contribution to the community.  Employment for people with developmental disabilities is slowly changing from automatic placement in congregate settings to employment in community settings. 

  • Work at employment focused on the skills and abilities of the individual.
  • Work without discrimination.
  • Work in integrated environments among co-workers without disabilities.
  • Work with the provision of reasonable accomodations as needed.
  • Work at community jobs with competative and commensurate wages.
  • Access to on-going job training, coaching and education.
  • Work in integrated community jobs as the default in long-term care.
  • Access to information that helps individuals make informed choices about work. 

Health and Wellness                                                                                                                                               Good physical and emotional health is basic human needs. Safe environments and practices are vital to good health.  Good emotional health is supported by having networks of friends and providers and inclusive communities.

  • Access to available and affordable dental, medical, physical and psychiatric health care as needed
  • Opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise and information on nutrition.
  • Freedom from exposure to known environmental toxins, including tobacco (second hand smoke), lead and Bisphenol A.
  • Protection from injuries, such as wearing bike helmets when on bicycles and life jackets when on boats and safe storage of firearms.

Department of Health Services Seeks Public Input on Medicaid

The Department of Health Services is seeking public input from consumers, community partners, and providers at a series of Town Hall Meetings. These are the tentative dates and locations for the meetings:

•       Eau Claire – March 30 – Chippewa Valley Technical College
•       La Crosse – March 31 – maybe Western Technical College
•       Fennimore– April 5 - South West Technical College
•       Waukesha – April 14 – Waukesha County Technical College

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The Budget and How It May Affect Those with Disabilites Part 1

Governor Walker has released his biennial budget request for 2011-2013 as a first step in the state budget process. The request now goes to the Joint Committee on Finance. In April, the Finance Committee will hold public hearings about the budget request around the state.

This alert is the first of three alerts about items in the budget request affecting people with disabilities. This alert covers items included in the Department of Health Services (DHS) section of the request. The second alert will cover education and the third alert will cover transportation and other items.

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The Budget and How It May Affect Those with Disabilities Part 2

This is the second of three alerts. This alert covers education. A previous alert covered items in the Department of Health Services budget. The third alert will cover transportation and other items.

Early Care and Education: The budget request significantly reduces state funding for child care, Head Start and 4-year-old kindergarten.

  • Reduce funding for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program by over $112 million each year of the two year budget, achieved by implementing a waiting list, increasing co-payments, tightening eligibility, and adjusting payment rates to child care providers.
  • Reduce state funding that supplements federal Head Start by 10%, resulting in $6.26 million cut per year.                                                                                                          
  • Cut the start-up grants for 4-year-old kindergarten programs by 10%, freezing funding for existing 4K programs.
  • Modify the Youngstar Quality Rating and Improvement System by penalizing the lowest quality child care centers, and reducing the incentive payments to the highest performing centers.

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The Budget and How It May Affect Those with Disabilities Part 3

This is the last alert providing information about the Governor’s biennial budget request. This alert covers transportation and other items.

Transportation: Reduces funding for counties and municipalities for public transit by 10%. Also eliminates all public transportation from the segregated transportation fund and moves it into the shrinking general fund.

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Public Hearing Dates for Proposed Biennial Budget

The Joint Committee on Finance has announced the schedule for public hearings about the proposed biennial budget. This is your opportunity to make your opinions known about the freeze on Family Care expansion and cap on enrollment, cuts to education, and other issues. Check out the DAWN webpage at for a summary of the proposed budget.

The dates, times and location of the hearings are:

  •   Thursday, April 7 (10 am – 6 pm). UW-Stevens Point (Lee Dreyfus University Center (Melvin Laird Room) Stevens Point
  •   Friday, April 8 (10 am – 5 pm). Northwood School Richard’s Auditorium, Highway 53, Minong.
  •   Monday, April 11 (10 am – 6 pm). State Fair Park, Expo Center Hall A, West Allis.
  •   Wednesday, April 13. (10 am – 6 pm). Arcadia High School Auditorium, Arcadia.

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