Posts Tagged ‘Marsha Rummel’

New Urban League office

February 23, 2010

When I ran into Marsha Rummel the other day she was pretty psyched about the new Urban League Center that just opened on Park St. For those of you who don’t know, the UL is a national organization that was founded as an advocacy group for black Americans but today offers a variety of job-training services to low-income people in communities all over the country. And apparently Mayor Dave is pumped too:

It was appropriate to have this event during Black History Month because there is no more American story than the story of African Americans. We think of ourselves as a nation where anybody who works hard and plays by the rules can get ahead. Well, African Americans worked hard and played by the rules only to find that they needed to work harder and play by more rules than anyone else. But theirs is a story of persistence, and today an African American who worked hard is President of the United States.

The problem is that this is not nearly the end of the story. Barack Obama’s success is historic but it won’t be complete until everyone who works hard achieves the success they have earned. The Urban League recognizes that, and so its new home isn’t just about some beautiful bricks and mortar. It’s about belief in the community and commitment to the very American idea that our system can work. For a people who have been given so many reasons to believe otherwise, this is truly cause for celebration and hope.

Marsha Rummel will save trees

February 19, 2010

Trees have always been a priority of Ald. Marsha Rummel. So it was no surprise when I ran into her today that she reminded me to keep up with her ordinance to protect trees in the city from construction projects. This is part of what Rummel wrote me in September, when she was first pushing the idea to hold companies accountable for damage to trees:

This summer, 5 trees were lost, mostly due to contractor error, on Spaight St in my district. Currently city policies do not include fines for contractors who ruin/damage trees. Currently the ‘specs’ for requests for proposals and subsequent contracts for street work don’t highlight the policies we do have in place for trees.

The anguish neighbors felt this summer encouraged me to request that Engineering and Parks to review our practices. As mentioned above, the city has improved practices over the years. Sidwalk ‘sawing’ is a recent innovation, a way to level sidewalks by shaving them instead of digging out and replacing but there is still room to improve. In Milw, the city forester visits every construction site to insure that contractors are taking care when sanitary laterals are placed near trees. It’s not just the curb/sidewalk work but the utility connections to each property that result in excavation potentially on three sides of a terrace tree that put trees at risk. Milwaukee also charges a LOT of money for trees that are damaged when not predicted to be at risk.

Apparently Rummel has reason to be giddy about this issue today. She’s received enough support for an ordinance to assess fines for tree damage as well as require a higher level of review for trees during the construction process. Unfortunately I can’t find the text on the city website, so anybody (cough, cough Marsha) who finds it would be very nice to send it my way.

Nevertheless, I’m surprised by the notion that damage to trees goes unpunished in Madison. Right here, 23.21 in the city’s ordinances:

No person, corporation, or association shall plant, cut, prune, or remove any living tree or shrub in a public highway in the City of Madison, or cut, disturb or interfere in any way with the roots of any tree, to the extent of causing serious injury to such tree, in such public highway, or spray any such trees or shrubs with any chemical or insecticides without written permit of the Board of Park Commissioners.

What’s missing? A penalty to make the ordinance worth more than the paper it’s printed on.

What do Madison alders do?

January 13, 2010

Brenda Konkel had an interesting post on what Ald. Marsha Rummel has done since she was elected to the Council in 2007. Konkel’s discussion of the issues Rummel has addressed highlights the nitty gritty of city politics, from tree protection to street repairs.

A good read for anybody looking to learn more about city hall.

Extra warning for parking during snow emergency

December 10, 2009

From Marsha Rummel:

Also the Snow Emergency has been extended for a third evening. Residents are asked to keep their vehicles off the street today and tonight if possible. If you must park on the street this evening you should park on the ODD house numbered side of the street. Details on winter parking restrictions are available at www.cityofmadison.com/winter. Violations of the alternate side parking restrictions during a snow emergency are punishable by a $60 fine.

Cars parked illegally on the following streets may be towed

W. Doty St.
W. Main St.
W. Washington Ave.
10-200 blocks of W. Gilman St.
E. Mifflin St.
W. Mifflin St.
N. Hancock St.
S. Hancock St.
N. Franklin St.
S. Franklin St.
N. Blair St.
E. Johnson St. (between Blair and Baldwin)
Wisconsin Ave. (200,300 and 500 blocks)
300 block of S. Henry St.
300 block of S. Hamilton St.
N. Bedford St.
S. Bedford St.
N. Henry St.
N. Carroll St. (300,400 and 500 blocks)
E. Dayton St.

Single Occupancy Residences for homeless

October 30, 2009

I had the pleasure of stopping by Rainbow Books last Friday for a chat with Ald. Marsha Rummel. I didn’t know she was one of the founders of the co-op, however, I suspected that if I didn’t find her there I’d at least find somebody who knew where she was. The Leftist conspiracy is a tight-knit one.

Rummel, one of the most vocal supporters of Madison’s homeless population, told me that what Madison needs is more Single Occupancy Residences (SOR). SORs are better than shelters, many of which are unsanitary and unwelcoming. “Many people prefer to sleep in their cars” than to go to the church or the Porchlight public shelter.

Rummel also told me that, in order to break up settlements of vagrants (see comment below) living in cars, she pushed for an ordinance to create two hour parking on the two concerned blocks of E. Wilson.

Madison needs new benches

October 5, 2009

Property assessors notice things that I don’t. I’m not surprised. However, in an interview with Ald. Mike Verveer, I was surprised to learn that apparently every property owner in the area, including businesses and residents, have a higher level of aesthetic appreciation than me.

Take benches, for instance. According to Verveer, replacing some of the old benches on the Capitol Square is a development priority worthy of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). He explained that some of the current benches, which have recently been adorned with controversial “dividers,” harken back to the 1970′s and 80′s, when Madison underwent a series of city planning developments centered on the exclusion of vehicular traffic from State St and the creation of Library Mall, both of which were given “brick designs.” The problem, according to Verveer, is that the architect was an out-of-stater who failed to appreciate the threat posed by the Wisconsin winter – and much of the brick, including the brick bus shelters, has since been removed. Moreover, the wood seating on the benches is old and prone to splinters. In sum, they’re ugly and unpleasant to sit on.

However, benches are only a smidgen of Verveer’s development ambitions for the area. He wants to redo the sidewalks, which he currently finds embarrassingly uncoordinated, plant more trees and redo much of the grass on the sidewalks, as well as renovations to the Children’s Museum. He projects his plan will cost a maximum of $1.8 million, and he is cautiously optimistic about its chances of approval next week.

Verveer plans to use TIF funding for the whole project. Anybody who has paid attention to development politics in Madison has noticed that the use of TIF has expanded far beyond its original intent, which was to prop up “blighted” areas through investments that would raise property values and therefore pay for themselves by increasing property tax revenue. In Madison there are currently three TIF districts that roughly coincide with the following areas: State St, South side of the Square and the North side of the Square. The Square itself does not fall into any of the districts, however, because of a state law passed several years ago, TIF can be used to finance projects within a half mile radius of an approved district. Hence, each part of the square qualifies.

Using TIF allows the city to spend without incurring general obligation debt, as most projects in the capital budget require. As stated before, community members have voiced confidence in the effect Capitol renovations could have on property values.

As mentioned in a recent Isthmus article on the subject, Verveer’s new benches would have no dividers, which makes them likely to win the support of advocates for the homeless, such as Ald. Marsha Rummel, who has been a vocal critic of development efforts that attempt to discourage transient populations from certain areas, such as the renovation of Peace Park, which is already a popular hang out for panhandlers. The Peace Park plan would include the installation of an ATM, which, because of a city ordinance, would make panhandling within a certain distance illegal.

Protecting trees in Madison

September 28, 2009

If you’ve ever seen any of the idealistic city plans for major metropolises in 20 or 30 years, there’s nearly always several striking features of the presentation that you can’t miss. First, there will be tons of windows, not only because they look shiny and cool in the plan but because it opens up the city dwellers to the outside and of course, allows for the use of solar power. Second, they’ll be some kind of prominent public transportation display, such as an above ground high-speed rail reminiscent of the Simpson’s “Monorail.” Last and not least, they’ll be trees and bushes – tons of them. They’ll be hanging from balconies (it will be in style, they promise), climbing up walls, and shading the citizens on the streets from the solar rays which are heating their homes.

So it was not surprising that Madison is looking to invest in some shrubbery itself. Last week the City Council held a meeting on “Preserving and Enhancing the Urban Forest.” Ald. Marsha Rummel headed the idea, and in an email response to some questions I had on the matter, explained how the city could hug trees enough to keep them from going away.

Currently city policies do not include fines for contractors who ruin/damage trees. Currently the ‘specs’ for requests for proposals and subsequent contracts for street work don’t highlight the policies we do have in place for trees. The city’s Forestry section has created a MOU/memorandum of understanding to make tree care more obvious. And when property owners are noticed about public hearings at the Board of Public Works for proposed street work, the risk to trees is not sufficiently emphasized as a possible outcome. Over the years, city forestry has implemented a tree inventory survey to identify and describe trees all over the city. It is not complete yet but when it is, the location of all terrace trees will be findable on GIS, just like underground utilities. this should help improve planning for street recons.

The anguish neighbors felt this summer encouraged me to request that Engineering and Parks to review our practices. As mentioned above, the city has improved practices over the years. Sidwalk ‘sawing’ is a recent innovation, a way to level sidewalks by shaving them instead of digging out and replacing but there is still room to improve. In Milw, the city forester visits every construction site to insure that contractors are taking care when sanitary laterals are placed near trees. It’s not just the curb/sidewalk work but the utility connections to each property that result in excavation potentially on three sides of a terrace tree that put trees at risk. Milwaukee also charges a LOT of money for trees that are damaged when not predicted to be at risk.

Sounds like a good idea. But as Ryan Masse would be sure to tell you, we can’t have a serious talk about urban forestry without including roof gardens in the discussion. I for one would like to see a roof garden on top of the Capitol. Lady Wisconsin can be standing in the middle of it, perhaps with a hoe in hand.

Madison’s official plastic bird

September 2, 2009

Is the Pink Flamingo. Ald. Marsha Rummel, who describes herself as “old enough to remember” the era of the pink flamingo, sponsored an ordinance to make it the official plastic bird of the Mad-town.

Dusty Weis:

Late in the 1970’s, a group of students at the University of Wisconsin staged a virtual coup of the student government. The Pail and Shovel Party got their name from campaign promises that they would convert their budget into spare change that would fill a giant sandbox that students could then dig in with pails and shovels. As far as I know, they never got around to that one, but they did embark on some of the goofiest, most ambitious pranks the UW has ever known, and their exploits have become the stuff of legends.

One of their less ambitious projects, but among their most iconic, was a very visible display of 1,008 plastic pink flamingos on the lawn of Bascom Hill. Pictures of the occasion can be found in bars, on post cards and hanging on the walls of proud alumni. There’s little in the world more garish than a plastic pink flamingo, but to see a thousand of them flocked on the majestic central campus mall… words fail to do it justice…

Perhaps most hilarious of course was Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele, who is known to bore other members to tears with long speeches about small details of policies, speaking in opposition to the plan, and predictably taking up more time railing against this “waste of time” than, as Weis writes, Rummel used to read the stupid thing.


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