Pictures: Madison’s Spaight Street Residents Angry Over Tree Damage From City Street Project

I speak for the trees, as the trees have no tongues.
Dr. Suess


Call the Mayor’s office at 266-4611 and urge his attention to this matter.  The whole city needs to be concerned as when the trees in the terrace die all the citizens will be paying the cost for removal, and planting of  new trees.  266-4611.


Dinner had just ended when the door bell sounded.  “Have you heard what is happening to some trees on Spaight Street,” a friend asked.  “Get your camera and take some pictures before the sun sets.”  Portions of that Madison street is in the midst of a major construction project that has been going on for many weeks, with no sign, as some residents told me, that there is any end in sight.  So with a new battery in the camera I went to see what was happening.

What I found as I wandered down Spaight Street were some very upset people.  As I was taking pictures residents came out of their homes to talk, and show me more tree damage from the very large construction equipment that was brought in for a narrow city street, given all of the trees that grow here.  They showed me trees that had the roots destroyed.  At least one huge tree will be cut down, another is in jeopardy of being lost.  A woman had me into her home to see the new crack that runs down the center of her dining room ceiling from the reverberations of the construction equipment pounding this spring.  Suffice it to say there are some very unhappy citizens, and voters in this area.  And for damn good reason.

Talking with residents illuminated several points.

First, a person who previously worked in road construction, and lives on the street, told me that too large of equipment was brought in for a project that required due to the narrow street smaller and perhaps more time consuming equipment.  He told me that smaller equipment would take longer to finish the project, but would be more appropriate for the street size and the trees.  The large powerful equipment shook the ground, and created cracks in the foundations of the old wonderful Victorian homes that populate the neighborhood.  There was no consideration taken into account for the old homes in the area when the street project was planned.  I have already noted that there was no historical consideration taken for the carriage stoops in the neighborhood.  The lady who had me into her home to show her ceiling was beside herself with frustration.  She told me, “This is what I have been putting up with all spring and summer!”

Second, the numerous chunks of bark that have been stripped from the trees are astounding.  Tree after tree, up and down the area under construction, shows the result of the large equipment.  It was noted to me tonight that smaller equipment would have allowed the crews to get closer to the curbs without mutilating the roots of the fabulous trees.  People in this neighborhood take great pride in the trees, and deserve credit for caring!  I applaud them.

Third, I heard from more than one person about the frustration they had with the construction crew.  “They come in and do whatever for a job, take the paycheck, and care nothing about the neighborhood.”  Since I do not know anything about the work crew,  I can’t judge that comment.  I can only look  at the results.  After all, even the utility poles got damaged!

Fourth, it was brought to my attention tonight that cities like Milwaukee have a policy where construction crews pay a fine for damaging trees.  When you see the pictures below I think it important to wonder what these trees will suffer in the years to come from lack of roots, and wounds to the bark.  As someone asked me tonight, “Where is the accountability?”  Indeed, where in the hell is it? 

With the lighting it is not always easy to see, but I think most of the pictures make the point of the concerned citizens and voters of Spaight Street quite clear.


This tree is to be cut down after the roots were destroyed by the constuction crew.  It was trimmed today for the removal.


You will note that some limbs that were cut from the tree to be removed still hang in utility lines near a home, and as such pose potential problems.   Shoddy workmanship.


Tree after tree throughout the construction zone have had serious damage to the roots.


These are the type of tree roots that have been dug up on Spaight Street.

On top of the root damage are the scores of injuries to the trees with bark being removed by large equipment and carelessness.







We Must Agree That Westboro Baptist Church Has A Right To Free Speech

If there was one group I would very much like to shut the heck up, it would be the demented and hate-filled group from the Westboro Baptist Church.  They have rallied all over the nation to such an extent, and protested so many military funerals, and other events that we all know what they look like, and how their mean-spirited signs read.  They are despicable.   They can all rot in hell.


And yet…. they have a right to free speech in order to spew forth the rot they contain. 

Some across the nation are confounded why the U.S. Supreme Court did not inject itself into the case concerning the church protesting at military funerals.  Rightfully, the Supreme Court remained silent on the matter.  As deplorbale as it is to have anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church protesters at the funeral of anyone, there is a need to make sure the Constitution is not undermined by pulling back on free speech.   

Concerned about the disruptive effect of such protests on the sanctity and dignity of burial ceremonies, lawmakers in Missouri passed a law banning protests at funerals.

The church went to court to block enforcement of the state law, claiming it violated the church’s free-speech right to spread its message to mourners at exactly the moment church officials believe them to be most receptive.

A federal judge refused to block enforcement of the law. But a three-judge panel of the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The appeals court said the government had no compelling interest in protecting individuals from hearing unwanted speech in public areas such as outside a church or at a cemetery.

The panel quoted a 1999 Eighth Circuit decision: “We recognize that lines have to be drawn, and we choose to draw the line in such a way as to give the maximum possible protection to speech, which is protected by the express words of the Constitution.”

It also said: “We conclude that [the Westboro Baptist Church] is likely to prove any interest the state has in protecting funeral mourners from unwanted speech is outweighed by the First Amendment right to free speech.”

The appeals court did not declare the Missouri law unconstitutional. Instead, the court action prevents enforcement of the law pending any judicial decision on the constitutionality of Missouri’s funeral protest ban.

I am in no way concerned that anyone is swayed by the Westboro Baptist Church.  They are clowns.  Have you seen the leader of the clan? 


While I feel deeply for those who are taunted and smeared at funerals by the boorish behavior of this group, it is necessary that we not allow these anti-gay zealots to inflict a change to the free speech laws of this nation. We are strong minded enough to turn away from the Westboro Baptist Church, and ignore their presence.  As a result the protesters fail to get the attention they crave, and the First Amendment remains strong.

Video: Dolly Parton Extends Heartfelt Words “Treat Every Day As Our Last”

Dolly Parton is on my “A” list, and more proof of why that is the case is here in a quick video.

Evangelicals Upset With GOP Sex Scandals

Apart from the specifics about Governor Mark Sanford, and his sexual relationships with women other than his wife, there is a larger issue to think about.  What about evangelicals who got into the political bed of the Republican Party, but find they are with bad company?   That is the question I find most interesting, and worthy of attention.

A series of sex-related scandals over the last few years has undercut the (GOP) party’s assertions of moral authority and, worse, may serve to reinforce the doubts that many evangelical voters have traditionally harbored about the unholiness of the political realm.

“If we place our hope in a political party or a politician, we’ll be let down,” said Brandt Waggoner, 25, a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., who said he spoke for many young evangelicals. “My hope is in God and not in the government.”
There are, of course, plenty of Democrats who have, like South Carolina Gov. Sanford, broken their marital vows and lied to the public about their actions.

“The fact is, within any group you’re going to have some people who make mistakes,” said David Winston, a GOP pollster in Washington, who cautioned against painting Democrats or Republicans with too broad a brush. “It’s not systemic to any one party.”

In general, however, Republicans have been far more active in reaching out to religious voters, not just through conservative positions on abortion, school prayer, and lately same-sex marriage, but also by promoting an image of greater virtue and more godliness.

That makes it all the more damaging when prominent figures in the party — especially those espousing Christian values, like Sanford and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada — are caught transgressing.

Their back-to-back confessions of marital infidelity place the two men in a lineup that includes, in just the last few years, former Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in an incident in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis airport; Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who was identified as the client of a Washington prostitution ring; and former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who resigned after sending sexually explicit e-mail messages to male congressional pages.

“Episode after episode like this makes it relatively difficult for Republicans to say with a straight face that they’re a party that stands on moral issues that evangelicals care about,” said Dale Kuehne, an associate political science professor at Saint Anselm College and a pastor in Nashua, N.H. “You look at Mark Sanford and Larry Craig and say, ‘Is there anyone we can trust?’ ”

Margaret Feinberg, for one, has grown increasingly skeptical of all politicians. The thirtysomething evangelical author from Colorado doesn’t differentiate between parties; she’s turned off by all of the seamy revelations of low-life behavior in high-flown places.

“The . . . rumors and sexual details make me want to avoid the voting booth altogether,” Feinberg said. “My head says that every vote counts, but my heart aches at the impropriety. How can I trust someone to uphold the laws of the land when they can’t uphold their marriage vows?”

Historically, evangelicals have cycled through periods of political engagement and withdrawal from the electoral scrum. The latest activism began in the 1970s, when liberalism had evidently run its course and religious leaders like the late Rev. Jerry Falwell galvanized Christian voters and turned them into a force for conservative values and political change.

“We may be coming to an end of [that] cycle,” said Corwin E. Smidt, a pollster andpolitical scientist at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, Mich. If nothing else, Smidtsaid, scandals like the Sanford affair make religious voters “more likely to second-guess themselves . . . and certainly increase disillusionment.”

At the very least, some Republicans say, the party’s politicians need to lower their voices and show some humility when addressing issues of morality and personal responsibility.

A sudden and overwhelming shift of Christian conservatives from the GOP to the more secular-minded Democratic Party appears unlikely. As Laura Olson, an expert on religion and politics at South Carolina’s Clemson University, put it: “The Republican Party is still going to be, at a minimum, the lesser of two evils.”

But in politics, subtraction can be just as important as addition. If large numbers of evangelicals were to stay home on election day, or channel their activism into outlets other than politics, the GOP could suffer grave consequences; over the last generation, devout churchgoer voters have become an increasingly vital part of the shrinking Republican base.

No More Franks, Elvises, Or Beatles

I have stated it before on this blog, but reading the following line in Newsweek tonight hit hard.

True, for a while he (Michael Jackson) was the king of pop—a term apparently originated by his friend Elizabeth Taylor—and he’s the last we’re ever likely to have. Before Michael Jackson came Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles; after him has come absolutely no one, however brilliant or however popular, who couldn’t be ignored by vast segments of an ever-more -fragmented audience.

Rather sad, I think.