Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Dave’

Mayor Dave shafted…again

March 8, 2010

If I knew more about movies I would make a reference to somebody who got shafted at the Academy Awards last night. But I don’t, so all I can say is that Mayor Dave probably sympathizes from the dozens of oscar nominees who went home empty-handed. The other night his patented “Mayor Dave Chili-a-vitch’s Award Winning Chili” lost its bid for the “Men Who Cook” award at the annual Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority benefit.

I know that all Madisonians will join me in their indignation at this horrible injustice. My entry this year was my “award winning” chili, which despite its obvious award winning qualities won no awards.

I’m disappointed too Mayor Dave. If only you had a picture of the chili I would gladly promote it in brunch links.

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.

Mayor Dave plays hardball with Scott Walker

February 17, 2010

As has been widely reported, Scott Walker has publicly opposed the JFC’s acceptance of more than $800 million (not $8 million Herald) in federal stimulus money to be invested in high-speed rails between Madison and Milwaukee, and Milwaukee and Chicago. And Mayor Dave is pissed about it.

Although Cieslewicz praised Doyle’s support on securing the funding, he criticized Milwaukee County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker’s disapproval of the project.

“If you’re a friend of labor or anyone who wants to work in the economy, you’ll understand Scott Walker just doesn’t get it,” Cieslewicz said.

If it is the case that the only stop in Madison ends up being at the airport, I’m not sure approving the funding is as obvious as the Democrats want to make it seem. Without a stop in downtown Madison, a high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee could end up actually being a “rail to nowhere,” becoming more of a burden than a benefit to the state in the long run.

Spotted at the Union: High speed rail politics

February 5, 2010

Valued Sconz commenter Paul Axel is eating a ranch-chicken wrap, drinking a diet raspberry snapple and telling Ald. Bryon Eagon why Madison needs a high speed rail station downtown. It appears he’s preaching to the choir, but he’s introduced some interesting points on how to frame the argument in favor of a downtown stop instead of one at the airport.

Eagon: “When you think about people coming from out of town, Chicago, Milwaukee –– the last place you want to go is Dane County Airport.”

Now the two candidates for a downtown station are Yahara Station, at First and East Washington, and Union Corners, which is also on East Washington.

The mayor supports both an airport stop and a downtown stop. However, Kathleen Falk favors the airport. According to Eagon, at first Mayor Dave was reluctant to support the downtown option for fear of starting a city-county squabble that would scare off the feds in control of the stimulus money. However, now that the contract is official the debate can begin.

Axel is very eager to get as much community collaboration on this project as possible. He wants to talk to Analiese Eicher, WISPIRG, even the College Republicans! Axel believes Republicans can be brought on board if supporters of the plan frame the rhetoric in terms of benefits to small towns and small businesses.

Remove the supermajority rule on Council?

January 8, 2010

Most ordinances require a simple majority to pass the Council. However, as we saw with the vote on the Edgewater renovation project, overturning the finding of some committees requires a super-majority of 14 out of 20 (more than 2/3). Joe Tarr writes on Ald. Paul Skidmore’s hopes to change that rule, so that the finding of all city commissions will be advisory, and all decisions will ultimately be up to the Council (on a simple majority basis).

“We should treat this the same way we treat all committees and boards. They’re advisory to us. And we make the decision,” says Skidmore. “I don’t think the Landmarks Commission should have veto power over the council.”

City Attorney Michael May says a number of actions require a two-thirds majority vote on the council, including one regarding decisions by the Plan Commission concerning conditional-use permits. And state law requires that a supermajority is needed to overturn some zoning decisions.

Not everybody thinks undercutting the power of city commissions is a smart move.

“Making it easy for council to willy-nilly overrule things devalues the work of the commissions and makes it more likely we’ll be less efficient,” says Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Rhodes-Conway’s opinion is shared by Mike Verveer, who told me before the first vote that he believes the authority of the experts on the Landmarks Committee is there for a good reason. It will be interesting to see what the mayor says about this idea.

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.

Brenda Konkel vs. Mayor Dave

December 10, 2009

From Brenda Konkel’s Facebook:

Just decided the Mayor is nuts. If he wants the Landmarks Comm. to be advisory, does that mean CC approves all Cert. of Appropriateness?

This is the same debate that defined the bus fare increase last Spring. Mayor Dave wanted to raise the fare by 50 cents to fund Madison Metro deficit, but the Transit and Parking Commission only approved a 25 cent increase. He then got approval from the City Attorney to ask the Council to overturn the Transit Commission.

Mayor Dave: less salt on streets?

December 7, 2009

Mayor Dave:

“After a storm the streets will not look as good in Madison as they will in the suburbs. That’s a good thing, and here’s why.”

It’s rare to hear an elected official use such frank language. I predict the candor will have a mixed response. Those with broken tail bones at the end of another hellish winter may see the mayor’s honesty as salt on their wounded asses. For those who come away from winter with nothing but close calls, the no-salt policy may seem like the only way to preserve the lakes we enjoy so much when it’s not winter.

And, we’re always looking for new ways to reduce the use of salt. We’ve found, for example, that mixing it with water and creating brine works pretty well. We’ve also looked at beet juice (too pricey) and a new product called “ice slicer” which uses less salt to achieve the same purposes (also expensive, but less is needed).

Although I do believe in the environmental arguments in favor of reduced salt, I think it’s imperative that the city use the salt that it does allow more wisely and focus it more on areas of high risk to pedestrians: especially cross walks. And for God’s Sake, salt the hell out of Bascom Hill. The number of times I’ve seen people, one after another, fall on one particularly nasty spot of ice, is unacceptable for somebody who’s only lived here three years.

Verveer: Edgewater should re-apply

December 2, 2009

In an interview with me, Ald. Mike Verveer said he could not make a prediction on the prospects of the Edgewater renovation that was rejected by the Council Landmarks Commission on Monday. However, Verveer noted that there was a circle of Council members, including Council President Tim Brueur, President pro tempore Mark Clear, and Ald. Bridget Maniaci, who have been working with the mayor and potential Edgewater developer Bob Dunn to get the project approved.

According to Verveer, Brueur and Clear – neither of whom have districts near the Edgewater – have become the mayor’s point men on getting the project approved. Maniaci, whose district does cover parts of the concerned neighborhood, has cited support from her constituents as the reason for her voting to approve the renovation. As of this time, Maniaci has not responded to an email in which I asked her if she believed the project would be moving forward.

Verveer is reluctant to override the Landmarks Commission’s rejection of the renovation plan. “Never in 30 years has a certificate from the Landmarks Commission been overturned. I have a hard time believing the Council, in all its wisdom, should overturn the decision made by the experts on Landmarks,” he told me. In addition, he cited historical preservation as a priority. However, he emphasized his hope that the project would live on, and that it would change its plan to fit the expectations of the commission.

Dunn has until noon tomorrow to decide whether he wants to try and push the project through the Council. Bruer says he believes the project is dead.

Meanwhile, the mayor is strongly urging the Council to resurrect the renovation, emphasizing the public amenities (the improved lake view), the job opportunities and the tax revenue. On his blog he criticized the commission’s interpretation of the zoning restrictions on height.

Crime in Madison – better, not worse

November 18, 2009

Whenever people want to talk about solving crime, they usually precede their solution with: “Crime has gotten out of control.”

But they usually don’t bother looking at the numbers. Mayor Dave gives us a good reminder of how much Madison has actually been improving for over a decade:

• Comparing the first three quarters of 2008 to the first three quarters of this year, violent crime is down 9% and property crime is down 10%. This is not an aberration. It continues the trend comparing all of 2008 to all of 2007, when all crimes were down 14% and violent crime was down 10%.

• Crime is way down over the last two decades. Madison was ranked the Best City in America and Best Mid-Sized City in America by Money Magazine in 1996 and 1997. For the first of these two years, there were 56 crimes per 1,000 people in Madison. For the second year, there were 54 crimes per 1,000 people. But, there were less than 47 per 1,000 in 2008. So crime is lower today than it was when we were rated the Best City in America.