Posts Tagged ‘Cap Times’

Old progressives

September 10, 2009

Interesting post at One Wisconsin Now on this weekend’s Fighting Bob Fest.

Fighting Bob Fest is this weekend, but some are joking that when it comes to the speaking program, Generations X, Y and the Millennials are expected to be like Buster Bluth at the Milford Academy: Neither seen nor heard.

One Wisconsin Now bought a table, so we’ll be there to join with our friends in the progressive community and we hope you will come by again and take our annual survey to help set One Wisconsin Now’s agenda for the year.

But with all due, how can a credible discussion be had about the progressive movement and the challenges facing those of us born after 1964 if one generation dominates the dais?

For instance: Who will be talking about the crisis with higher education and the future financial impact of the nearly-criminal student loan system?

Through depressing of the buying power of the minimum wage and by the ungodly explosion of tuition costs, university and technical college students become virtual indentured servants to a late 20th century economic epidemic: 20- and 30-year student loans simply to get an education. Banks made more money available, so universities and colleges jacked up tuition while state governments got more comfortable with letting students pick up more and more of the tab that used to be the shared responsibility of the public.

Frankly, I think that description could be used for more than one progressive establishment, especially in the local liberal progressive media, such as the Cap Times, which focuses an enormous amount of editorial energy evoking nostalgia from different times, rather than researching progressive solutions to today’s problems.

Brunch Links

September 3, 2009

“And then there is Jack Craver, a light-hearted and gregarious fellow who authors the widely read and frequently updated The Sconz.” We will address the context of that quote later today.

Good morning Madison! Today should be beautiful, with a high of 76, but don’t count out long pants – it’s going to get down to 36 at night.

Question of the day: In case you didn’t notice, the Badger Herald is not printing the rest of this week because its registration issue came out yesterday. Should the Herald continue its tradition of starting the year with a reg edition – a huge paper that tries to cover everything that happened over the summer – or should it simply start reporting the news daily at the beginning?

First off, Dane County is rejecting a settlement offer by the family of Brittany Zimmerman, the UW student murdered last year. Is this going to show that Kathleen Falk is a “fiscal conservative” Eric Schmidt?

The new UW code of conduct is going into effect, but I can’t get the Daily Cardinal site up so you’ll just have to believe me. More on that later.

UW is worried about the flu. is looking snazzy! Seriously, check it out. Nevertheless, I think the design is more appropriate for a bank or a software company – not a news site.

Home owners are going to see a tax increase to fund Madison public schools.

One in nine Wisconsin blacks cannot vote due to a felony conviction. The number for whites in one in fifty. The Cap Times is making the case for giving freed felons the right to vote again in Wisconsin.

The State Journal blasts the state for neglecting to investigate a child-care worker who lived in a mansion and drove a Jaguar, all on taxpayer money. I once had a principal who drove a Jag.

Barbara Lawton on the campaign trail: small businesses have been left out of the stimulus.

Cap Times must want Feingold for governor

August 19, 2009

Seriously, why not? Although it is nice to a have an idealist or two in Congress, the task of restoring Wisconsin politics to basic standards of decency sounds more realistic than reforming Washington D.C. It is plausible for Whitewater to elect reasonable human beings to public office, whereas it is absolutely unimaginable for the state of Mississippi to do so.

The Cap Times editorial board penned a “Memo to would be governors,” scolding Gov. Jim Doyle for being an utterly unspectacular governor, while encouraging future candidates for governor to return Wisconsin to its “bold progressive” roots. The board put down three priorities, including “real campaign finance reform,” “real ethics reform” and, perhaps the most predictably unspecific, “real ideas.”

There is only one Wisconsin politician of “gubernatorial stature” who could represent such confidence in government.

There are only two members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation who turned over complete personal financial records to the press – Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold. There is only one I can think of who voluntarily submitted to spending limits during a campaign – Russ Feingold (although he unfortunately changed course the following election). Feingold is one of a select few members of Congress who favors prosecuting government officials who broke the law, and he is a member of an even smaller elite who criticized President Obama’s decision to forgo public financing during last year’s campaign.

Would Feingold be a good governor? Hard to say. Perhaps he was born to be a legislator – or maybe just a professor. However, there is likely no potential candidate for office who knows more about the state than him. He recently held his 1200th town hall meeting since taking office in 1993. He spends an enormous amount of time touring the state, and besides being the favorite of liberal intellectuals, he is a skilled advocate for Wisconsin interests in Washington.

One thing I will say for him is that he can win. He can definitely beat Scott Walker. Walker would have to be a formidable campaigner to prevail over the trust Feingold has earned throughout the state. Neumann, who barely lost to Feingold in 1998, would still have a decade’s worth of name recognition to regain.

The only political science course I’ve taken at UW, “State Government” with Prof. Dennis Dresang, began with the near-retirement age professor discussing the slow dissent of Wisconsin politics into the culture of corruption and partisanship that defines Washington D.C., as well as other state governments. “We used to be called Squeaky-Clean Wisconsin,” he said. A government scandal when he was a kid involved a lawmaker’s child making personal telephone calls from his dad’s office. This was back when a moderate Republican Party existed in Wisconsin – before the Reaganites took over and enforced the philosophy that a stupid man who can shout “small government” is a more worthy public servant than one who understands how government actually works, or one who is interested in making government work better. The backlash against the right wing extremism of the 1980’s put equally unsavory elements of the Democratic Party in power.

OK, so Russ Feingold’s not going to run. But just for the hell of it, why don’t a few people ask him to?

Should the Edgewater project get tax aid?

August 11, 2009

Pretty soon Madison is going to have to change it’s nickname to “The Terrace City.” It seems like the only way this city can think to make money is to give people more and more opportunities to drink beer on a lake.

The Cap Times had an interesting editorial today about the Hammes Company’s bid for Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) for their proposed renovation of the Edgewater Hotel.

TIF, in case you’re not familiar, is what cities often use to finance development projects that will increase the property value in the surrounding area. The idea was originally conceived for developing poor or underdeveloped neighborhoods or areas, however, in recent history it has become a standard request from any developer. Hammes is asking for $16.8 million of TIF funding.

The Cap Times argues that TIF funding should only be granted for the Edgewood project if the developers can guarantee that the terrace will be open to the public at all times, and not merely another venue for high-roller cocktail parties. The Edgewater, which has been an institution among the Madison bourgeoisie for decades, will become even more prone to exclusive gatherings of the elite after a $100 million renovation. Resentment, resentment, resentment.

The Cap Times makes a fair point that will undoubtedly appeal to its readership. The logic also coincides with the original intent of TIF. But the hotel should probably not be completely restricted from holding private events – weddings, charity events, Philip Morris benefits – the kind of things that can also be reserved at Memorial Union. Believe me, when I stopped by the Union the other day to check out an art exhibit there was a very inviting table of imported beer at a 40th anniversary in the room next door. It hurts, but it brings in crucial revenue – at least I hope it does. Ideally, the Edgewater will provide a Union-like terrace, which will become a cherished summer beer garden.

In a couple hours I will be interviewing several (I think several) members of the Hammes development team. I hope to gain some insight on the project itself, as well as some of the political and public relations controversies that have surfaced in recent days. Stay posted.

Poor Cap Times editorial knocks Assembly Dems

July 23, 2009

The Capital Times editorial board delivered a much-needed piece highlighting the hypocrisy of Speaker Mike Sheridan’s claims of instilling “ethics” in the Assembly.

The Assembly speaker declared this week: “Assembly Democrats are fully committed to clean government, and earlier this year, made a sweeping change to campaign finance practices. We prohibited members from fundraising for their individual campaigns during the budget process, and we now see that rule was incredibly effective.”

Spare us the hyperbole.

Good to see the Times on top of one of the biggest dilemmas facing Wisconsin’s political system. Nevertheless, I can’t decide which is worse, Mike Sheridan or the editorial criticizing him. It’s incredible how much the board left unsaid on such an important issue. It could have mentioned, for instance, that despite banning “individual campaigns” from accepting campaign contributions during the budget process, the ban allows party committees to raise money, which the Assembly Democrats so crassly took advantage of in June, and tried to exploit once more but was deterred by a media fire-storm.

Speaker Sheridan and his team implemented a minor reform. For this they deserved and got credit at the time it was implemented. Now they need to get serious about real reform.

It might have been more convincing to the reader if the board had taken the time to explain what  the “real reform” it supports means. The Times criticizes politicians for accepting contributions before and after the budget, but what does it suggest to remedy the pay-to-play? Public campaign financing? The idea has a strong intellectual backing – an articulate argument in its favor would have been a worthy read.

The Cap Times has in many ways admirably adapted to a changing media climate. Its weekly edition generally has interesting feature stories and its political and policy analysis generally bests the competition from regional dailies, most notably the State Journal. Although I admit to being a relatively new reader (last couple years), I sense that the Times more enthusiastically embraced its progressive label after it changed to a weekly. However, those credentials will not be respected until its ed board beefs up its articles, and stops leaving gaping holes in their arguments for obnoxious bloggers like me to point out.