Posts Tagged ‘Judy Compton’

Is it possible the Edgewater will fail?

January 19, 2010

If you want evidence that people in Madison, Wisconsin are much nicer than people in Washington D.C., just look at our city’s top political issues. How about the Edgewater? Although some Council members have expressed concerns about the debate being less civil and friendly than usual, I think that those of us accustomed to Hardball’s version of politics are surprised at the tolerance people on both sides of the issue show towards one another.

First the project was denied a certificate of appropriateness by the Landmarks Commission. Then the Council narrowly upheld the Commission’s findings because two potential (emphasis on potential) supporters of the plan were absent. Only five alders voted to thwart the plan (per se), but so far they have avoided the typical scorn that surrounds an irritating legislative minority.

And then the Council agreed to re-schedule the vote! So that the two absent members could get a chance to vote. No complaints from those who voted to uphold the Landmarks Commission’s findings. In fact, I talked with Ald. Marsha Rummel, who voted against the project in December, and she said she had nothing against re-scheduling, and that she understood why members were absent sometimes. This coming from an alder who has never missed a Council meeting in her life, and has never missed a committee meeting unless there was another committee conflict.

Then the re-vote was postponed again. It was agreed upon unanimously, and it seems as if supporters of the plan are going to be working behind the scenes to make the project more palatable for skeptics. But why, I’ve wondered aloud many times? The rumor is that Alds. Michael Schumacher and Judy Compton, the two who were absent at the original vote, intend to vote in favor of the project. Why not just get their votes and pass it quickly?

Three possible explanations:

1. The rumors are wrong. Compton will not vote to over-turn Landmarks. In an email to me, she said she could not tell how she will vote yet. I tend to assume she’s just being safe with those remarks, but I could be wrong.

2. Supporters of the plan want to change some things to make sure that the project is approved at later stages as well. Remember, the Landmarks Commission is only one of the many necessary steps for approval.

3. Policy makers in Madison are serious people who take each other seriously. They care about democracy, they don’t want to screw each other over, and they care deeply about the concerns of the community.

What do you think?

Why didn’t they refer it?

December 16, 2009

At Dusty Weis’ Edgewater Drinking Game last night, there were whispers that the Edgewater vote would ultimately be referred to the next meeting. With 54 speakers scheduled, the idea that the Council would nod off at around 2 a.m. sounded plausible. But what interests me is why supporters of the plan didn’t push harder to refer it so that Alds. Michael Schumacher and Judy Compton, who both supported the project, could be present to vote.

The Edgewater needed 14 votes and it got 12. It lost solely based on their absence. I can’t make this stuff up.

Does anybody know why Compton was absent? When I asked Schumacher several weeks ago he tersely replied that he had planned to be out of town. Fair enough – on just about any other day. But a $100 million project of the decade? How is this not being discussed? How did Mayor Dave let this stand? If anything, the absences of Compton and Schumacher seem to indicate that the mayor does not have the meticulous control over Council members that some allege he does.

UPDATE: Schumacher says he plans to ask the Council to reconsider its vote. I don’t understand how that would work, and the State Journal article doesn’t seem to know either.

Council rejects student voting rep on ALRC

September 1, 2009

The Common Council Organizational Committee approved adding two new voting members to the Alcohol License Review Committee, one alder and one citizen. In the process it rejected an amendment by Ald. Bryon Eagon which would have replaced the citizen appointee with a student representative. Currently there is a non-voting member of the ALRC, Mark Woulf, who you may remember as Eagon’s vanquished opponent in last spring’s 8th district aldermanic election.

The debate was long and confusing. The Council president, Tim Brueur, had to ask the members to re-vote on the various issues several times because some of them did not quite understand what they were voting on at times.

In summary Eagon won the support of Alds. Marsha Rummel and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff. That’s all I can say for certain. It was hard to understand who was voting against, although I do know that Alds. Michael Schumacher and Judy Compton, who asked that the issue be referred to the mayor, voted against.  Later Eagon explained that he was happy to see members support the “concept” even if they aren’t ready to commit to adding a student vote right now.

Among concerns raised were the age of the student rep who would be voting on alcohol issues. Would he or she be expected to be of legal drinking age? While Compton said that should be the case, and Eagon said he would expect the person to be 21, Bidar-Sielaff voiced skepticism of the legality of such a restriction to public office. After all, an 18 year old can serve on the council, how can there be more stringent restrictions on one committee?

Bidar-Sielaff also emphasized the potential of having an underage student representative, who could be a voice for the thousands of 18-20 year olds who often feel left out of the entertainment planning in the city. I expect she was implying that having an underage rep could be useful in pushing for liquor licensed establishments that also allow underagers in for non-alcoholic entertainment.

It was disappointing to see no presence from the Herald or Cardinal at the meeting. This would make a great story for the start of the school year. Whether or not people find Eagon’s request legitimate, this could have been a very important moment for students to increase their clout on city alcohol policy.