Posts Tagged ‘Madison’

Want to know why Progressive Dane is struggling?

January 7, 2012

Take a look at Progressive Dane’s Twitter account. The average high school cheerleader has more followers than the political party that once held a plurality of seats on the Madison Common Council. It is currently following three accounts and has 90 followers.

In PD’s defense, its Facebook page has attracted much more attention, with over 500 “likes.”  PD co-Chair Mike Johnson says overhauling social media is a priority for the coming year.

That priority should have been set much earlier. As a result of PD’s neglect of social media, it missed an epic opportunity to gain party members during the winter protests, when seemingly every state progressive who wasn’t out in the streets was glued to the #wiunion updates on Twitter. Putting that hashtag at the end of all of my tweets gained me many times more followers and readers than PD’s entire current following. Especially the younger crowd on campus.

The irony is that the leaders of PD are Johnson, a young guy who knows about this stuff, and Brenda Konkel, a prolific blogger.

The Dane Dems Twitter account is equally wretched. They have the exact same number of followers as PD! However, their laziness is more excusable, since the Dems have a statewide organization that keeps fans in the loop.

Throughout the battle for labor rights, many criticized the Democrats for running lackluster campaigns devoid of the progressive passion that defined the winter protests. If Progressive Dane had been front-and-center of that effort on social media, it would probably have a larger crop of young, energetic members.

The Sconz buys privilege to pay more at Willy St Co-op

December 31, 2011

Blacklight it, X-Ray it. There's no question: It's legit.

There she is. My official Willy Strett Co-op owner card.

This means most of what I buy at the local food cooperative is merely expensive, instead of outrageously expensive. Of course, how our definition of “expensive” is largely based on skewed expectations of what we should pay to eat in this country. As Michael Pollan has noted, Americans spend a much smaller portion of their income on food than ever before. Hence, interactions such as this one, with my WTDY co-worker Shawn Prebil:

Craver: “Check out my official Willy Street Co-op membership, son. Here, you can look, but don’t touch.”

Prebil: “So you say you can’t afford cable TV but you can afford to shop at Willy Street Co-op?”

That’s right.

French offer solution to Nails’ Tales

December 29, 2011

Doug Moe thinks we ought to get rid of Nails’ Tales because it’s ugly. So does Citizen Dave. Truth be told, I never even noticed the damn thing. Mrs. Sconz apparently did. When I asked her what she thought of it, she responded, “I don’t know, it’s phallic. I don’t have a strong opinion on it either way.” Apparently she got the message the artist intended, according to Chris Rickert, who supports the monument.

“They didn’t say they wanted a phallus,” Lipski told me of the conversations he had with UW-Madison officials as he was coming up with ideas for the piece.

But they did want something with “power” and “dynamism,” he said. They wanted “if not something phallic, but something that was very male and dominant.”

I think we should keep it. Women are taking over college campuses and a giant penis in front of a football stadium is the best way to remind people that there is one domain in which men dominate.

Moe is not a philistine for opposing a seemingly ugly symbol of male virility, but he does lack a sense of history. As any student of architecture knows, many Parisians pushed for the demolition of the Eiffel Tower after it was showcased at the 1889 World Fair. Sure, they acknowledged that the tallest man-made structure at the time was impressive, but it obstructed the historic Paris skyline and served no practical purpose. The World Fair was over. What were they going to do? Keep the thing forever?

Landmarks don’t have to be pretty. All they have to do is have a story behind them. Lipski failed to do that. But that doesn’t mean somebody else, such as the UW Student Section, couldn’t come up with one for it. Perhaps with a profane chant.

Wilco to become Madison citizens

February 25, 2010

Sorry for the lack of brunch links today folks. I thought this piece of legislation would suffice as a replacement.

WHEREAS, Wilco has visited Madison and played concerts here at least thirteen times since 1995 (including a show at Club DeWash in February of 1995); and,

WHEREAS, Jeff Tweedy says of Madison: ‘We really like it here’; and,

WHEREAS, Wisconsinites generally have a love/hate relationship with all things from Illinois but the sold-out show at the Overture Center on February 21, 2010 (sic) had only love for this band from Chicago; and,

WHEREAS, at least one member of the Common Council attended the show and can attest to its excellence; and,

WHEREAS, The Isthmus called Wilco ‘America’s shiniest rock object’; and,

WHEREAS, Duluth, MN may be cool, but we would not want it said that either that fine city or its mayor are cooler than Madison and our mayor (even if Mayor Dave is not sure who Jeff Tweedy is); and,

….You get the point. A point of order: is it proper to refer to the mayor by his first name during official city business? And practically the only thing I know about Duluth, MN is that it is a tad bit cooler than Madison, WI.

Take notes…Brenda’s watching

February 23, 2010

I’ve never been much of a note-taker myself, and I firmly believe that many students who take meticulous notes do so at the expense of retaining the information in their heads. It’s especially obvious when you somebody writing down something that the professor has said five times before. However, one very good reason to take notes is that it flatters the professor. Especially in a small setting. Teachers resent students who think they’re too good to write down what’s being said.

So it’s not surprising that Brenda Konkel noted (no pun intended) under Mean Girls “Gossip and Rumors” that Amy Supple, Hammes Co.’s project manager for the Edgewater renovation, had brought pen and paper to the last meeting of the Plan Commission.

Typically, no one from the “team” is taking notes. Others dispute that and say that she was just passing notes. I didn’t see, so I can’t say which it was.

Good idea Amy. Just make sure they don’t find out you were really writing “I hate these people, I hate this council, I hate this fucking city!” If Brenda found that, she’d definitely post it, but not under the “Gossip and Rumors” section. Brenda also returned to one of her favorite themes, her successor Ald. Bridget Maniaci:

Alder Bridget Manaici didn’t get there til 8:30, she was at the Tenney Lapham Neighborhood meeting trying to prevent them from taking a vote to express their concerns about the Edgewater. It was a tied vote, with Linster breaking the tie for them to remain quiet.

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.

Why Eagon supports Yahara Station

February 16, 2010

Ald. Bryon Eagon, who has not made good on his New Year’s resolution to blog more, nevertheless provides a comprehensive statement of support for a downtown(ish) station for the proposed high-speed rail line coming to Madison.

Economic Development. The hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money is meant not only to spur investments in transportation infrastructure, but also aims at spurring economic growth.

Smart Transit. This site currently hosts something like 14 bus connections.

Location. Location. Location. This about this: You’re coming to Madison from Milwaukee or Chicago. Where is your destination? Probably not the Dane County Regional Airport.

The post is much longer and his explanations much more thorough, but I’ll let you read them chez Eagon so you can give him a kick in the ass and get him to post more.

Here’s another question I will be looking into in the coming weeks: who in Madison opposes a downtown station, whether Yahara or a similar location. Will there be some contrarian alder who thinks the airport would be more practical, or that funds used for a downtown station would be better used elsewhere?

TIF and the Edgewater

February 15, 2010

I’ve seen a whole gang on interesting points made on the Edgewater in recent days, so I’d like to share a few of them with you.

First: Brenda Konkel brings up an interesting motive for supporting Tax Incremental Financing for the renovation: schools. According to Brenda, the proposed changes to the TIF district (which you need to be a part of to receive TIF funding) include James Madison Park (which Ald. Bridget Maniaci has lobbied for), as well as the Lincoln Elementary School.

For those of you unfamiliar with the jist of TIF, the city pays a subsidy which it expects will be paid back through increased property tax receipts that result from the increased property value in the area. It is in the interest of public schools, who are the largest beneficiaries of property taxes, to support plans to increase the property tax base.

Although Brenda seems to use this point to illustrate a sinister scheme by the schools, I see it as a valid point in favor of TIF. The public sector can benefit as well as the private sector. And please no comments about Kelo v. New Haven!

Forward Our Motto, another Edgewater renovation opponent, points out that Madison has been inconsistent with its allocation of TIF money. For instance, Epic, the Madison-based software firm, moved to Verona years ago in an apparent attempt to find a more business-friendly climate. Lukas points out that Verona gave them $14 million of TIF money, which is $2 million less than we’re giving the Edgewater people. Lukas correctly points out that Epic represents a helluva lot more jobs than the Edgewater.

In response I would make two points. First, it doesn’t look like Epic ever applied for TIF funding from Madison. Did they want to stay here anyways? They rejected sites in Madison and Fitchburg before settling on V-town. Take a visit to their headquarters sometime and you’ll understand that the vision their CEO had likely wouldn’t have been possible within the city limits. If Epic approached Madison with some kind of offer and the city told them to go to hell, well, that was very short-sighted. But I doubt that’s what happened. Secondly I would make the somewhat predictable point that the Edgewater is taking place during a recession and we’re desperate for any kind of investment we can get.

Who makes money in Madison?

February 8, 2010

At least 20 members of city government. The following are the 20 highest paid city employees. Anything surprise you? Something sticks out to Brenda Konkel, and it’s not just that a bus driver made $160k last year.

John Nelson, Bus driver, $159,258

Dean Brasser, Comptroller, $151,551

Noble Wray, Police chief, $143,585

Michael May, City attorney, $143,434