Something does not meet the smell test when it comes to the way Mayor Paul Soglin is acting in relation to the beer-soaked, and always trouble-prone Mifflin Street Block Party. Last year’s annual event was one of the worst displays this city has seen in a long time. When it was over Soglin, Madison police, and key alders all seemed to be on the same page.
Enough was enough. The Mifflin Street Block Party would have to come to an end.
Well, not so fast, according to the actions of Mayor Soglin these past weeks.
To solve the problem of the unruly Mifflin Street Block Party, Mayor Paul Soglin is turning to an unlikely source: the rabble-rousers themselves.
Soglin has asked students to work with city officials to tame the annual drunk-fest — which turned especially ugly last year.
A committee is meeting once a week to develop a plan for the end-of-the-school-year party on May 5. Their deadline is mid-March.
Last year’s event was totally out of control due in large part to the lifting of the ban on open alcoholic beverages in the streets. If anyone needed to think more than a nano-second on the folly of that idea might be the first clue as to whether or not they have any leadership capabilities.
Paul Soglin, when speaking to the Daily Cardinal prior to last years event, applauded the new way the event was organized.
Soglin stated, “Just when we thought there were no new ways of having a block party, we’ve found a new way,” Soglin said. “This is a rather different and much improved effort to celebrate spring.”
Soglin had a change of heart, however, after the many crimes and incidents of violence including stabbings, sexual assaults, batteries, thefts, police officers hurt, robberies and drug deals in downtown Madison during and after the party. After the mayhem, a police report, and public input there was a different tone from the mayor.
In May 2011 we heard tough words from Soglin, and a leading member of the Madison City Council, Mike Verveer.
Mayor Paul Soglin vowed to end the process of issuing a permit for larger events, known as a picnic beer license, without formal approval from the mayor and City Council. A picnic beer permit now requires only an administrative review by the city clerk’s office.
“In retrospect, the issue of a beer permit was a tragic mistake,” Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, said. “I should have realized when we got the advice from the city attorney’s office that there was no way to ban carry-ins, the deal should have been off.”
“The sheer quantity of beer and liquor being carried into the event was obscene,” Verveer said. Allowing open consumption “gave a sense of entitlement, invincibility, to partygoers, like there were no rules,” he said.
Soglin, who on Sunday called for an end to the event, acknowledged Monday that change will take time.
This year Mayor Soglin decided the best way to move forward is by talking to the rabble-rousers themselves! Leadership from city hall is an amazing thing to witness!
The taxpayers, voters, and residents of Madison have watched year after year as this annual embarrassing drunk-fest is allowed to continue. The tough words and conviction that Soglin showed the media last spring seems to have ebbed away. But the desire of the citizens and taxpayers to be heard on this matter remains.
The drinking party that has been a yearly spectacle for this city, and a continuing embarrassment, must come to an end. Clearly there is no other reason for the crowd to assemble then to booze it up, create refuse, fill detox centers, needlessly cause city resources to be used, and create bedlam.
Are you still in agreement, Mr Mayor?