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Madison Taxpayers Will Pay More For Policing Mifflin Street Party

April 9, 2012

In a time of budget constraints it is nice to read this morning above the fold in the Wisconsin State Journal that the beer-soaked, binge drinking Mifflin Street Party will cost Madison taxpayers even more this year to police.

How wonderful!

And what a waste!

Last year the drunken crowd created two stabbings, three sexual assaults, along with three officers being injured.   All that violence and mayhem cost the city $130,000 for police coverage.

Promises were made by Mayor Paul Soglin and others to shut the embarrassing party down.  The Mifflin Street Party is an annual stain not only on the City of Madison, but also on the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  This party is not the image the UW wants to be associated with, and I can clearly state it is not one the citizenry of Madison wants to be attached to either. 

While Soglin noted in the news story various ways Madison is moving to curtail the event by not allowing for food vendors or live entertainment, he also added “we are going to have well over 10,000 people coming down to Mifflin Street regardless of the plan.”

Someone has to police the event.  Equally important someone has to pay for the policing.  And since the UW-Madison is no longer willing to provide any officers to assist with policing the party that means more city resources will need to be used.

That is where the taxpayers come into the picture, and there are many who are not pleased, including the Madison police.

“Is this really the most responsible thing to be doing?” asked Officer Dan Frei, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association. “We had a year last year when the city was looking at cutting services. At some point, I’m envisioning the mayor coming back and saying we all have to tighten our belts.”

Frei also expressed concern for officer safety at the event.

For too long there has been a coddling of the drunk-fest along with the students who are hell-bent on making this mess a yearly event for Madison.   

One almost could laugh at the line in the news story about Alder Mike Verveer, whose 4th District includes Mifflin Street.  The story noted that Verveer has been working with students and Mifflin Street residents for years prior to the block party, but now believes the event got too big for the two residential blocks where it takes place.

That reminds me of the stories one reads about from time to about the over-weight person who eats and eats until finding out one morning being unable to wedge out the door frame to leave the house and is trapped inside.

At what point did it dawn on Alder Verveer that there was no more need to bring three cheeseburgers into the room when discussing ways to make the Mifflin Street Party work?

There are many who need to be held responsible for the mess that is now seemingly an unstoppable and out-of-control Mifflin Street Party. 

But lucky for the taxpayers of Madison, as we still get to pay the bill for the poor decisions made by those who were elected to be leaders.

10 Comments
  1. April 14, 2012 11:30 AM

    Angela,

    I very much appreciate the UW-Madison, and know what it means to the city and to the nation. Many fine and talented people graduate from this school and go on to make a real difference for many others. I for one attend many free lectures and partake in other events at the UW every year, and love it.

    However, there is no way that one can make a statement such as I did (and you did in a different way) and then argue that this party in some way is something we as a city should condone. That is just not logical.

    The party is not something to be proud of. It is a stain on this city, and by extension on the UW. That should not make you happy, and it clearly does not make me happy.

    My problem with Mike on this matter is that while it has been common knowledge for a long time that the party was out of control and even dangerous there was not a coming to Jesus moment when the alder said it needs to end. While the police and even this mayor want the party to cease we have Verveer wanting to find a larger location for it to be held (according to the WSJ).

    That is out of step with everyone, I suspect, except those who attend the drunken event and revel in a little violence as we witnessed last year.

    Mike needs to step up and act in concert with the other adults in this city who pay the taxes and are mindful of the image that this party casts on all.

    The students may have votes, but the taxpayers pay the bills.

    While I understand you are loyal to Mike, and as I stated before I have been the same in his trying times over the past years, I also find this issue one where he has not acted in the best interests of the whole city.

  2. angela permalink
    April 14, 2012 11:02 AM

    Deke, Mr. Verveer fully understands his duty to taxpayers and that is
    his #1 priority not, as you suggest, how many friends he can amass. I wish those that complain about cost of Mifflin would realize how many
    millions of dollars the students infuse into Madison every year; how many people have jobs because of them (20,000 on campus alone); that many property & business owners would not exist but for the need to house, feed, clothe and provide students with recreational activities. The cost of Mifflin to taxpayers is one tiny drop in the sea compared
    to the economic vitality brought to Madison by students.

  3. April 11, 2012 11:44 PM

    Angela,

    Thanks for the comment. I do however stand by my perspective on this matter. I too worked in government, and know that not every citizen can attend every meeting. There should be a better understanding by folks like Verveer who want to have so many friends that he also has a duty to the taxpayers who foot the bill for this drinking event.

    I have been a strong supporter of Verveer over the years but differ with him on this matter.

    P.S. Did he shed tears for the taxpayers who foot the clean up bill and the bill for police protection? Were you privy to that moment too?

  4. Angela permalink
    April 11, 2012 5:39 PM

    Your critism of Alder Verveer was uncalled for. Mike has for 17 years worked hard for all 4th district stakeholders. Last year’s decision by then mayor Dave and all other city staff to allow beer to be sold on Mifflin was a bad one that led to all the aberrant behavior. It was not Mr. Verveer’s decision. I know because I was present at many of the meetings. You did not see Mr. Verveer in tears over all the 2011 problems as I did when the party was ending. He and a group of all downtown stakeholders including students have been working with MPD for 4 months to make 2012 a safer and saner event and to figure out an alternative site for future years. I suggest before you condemn Mr. Verveer you walk in his shoes, attend on of the Mifflin meetings and deal with all the divergent citizen interests and problems he must.

  5. April 9, 2012 8:27 PM

    Solly,

    If everyone with an historic old house was allowed to let it run down to the point it was a “rat trap” so to sell it and allow for rich(er) people to then build—then there would be no historic districts. Middle class people like you and me would be driven from the areas we live. Might I add that it was middle class people who once lived in the homes I often champion. The homes I advocate for have proven historical backgrounds, and also potential for improvements and made for middle class families.

    Without knowing more details about the homes Alex writes I am not opposed to tearing down homes that have no historic purpose and building new ones. For example I am very pleased with the new apts on Willy Street, and also for the proposed new construction on what I think is the 800 block in the near future.

    You make it seem as if I take a blanket approach to this matter, and that is not the case.

  6. Solly permalink
    April 9, 2012 8:18 PM

    Capital idea Alex, except in Madison there would be a campaign to save the houses, no matter how much of a rat trap each one may be, our host blogger would probably be at the forefront of the effort. Altho we did get a critical comment about Verveer, that’s worth something.

  7. Alex permalink
    April 9, 2012 2:21 PM

    Another idea would be to approve all the new apartment buildings that a number of developers want to build on Mifflin Street, tearing down most of the old “single-family” homes in the process. In fact, I would predict that is how we finally get rid of the Mifflin Street Block Party–by getting rid of the Mifflin Street block.

  8. Solly permalink
    April 9, 2012 1:38 PM

    I think prohibiting food vendors is a dandy idea. Wouldn’t want that alcohol absorbed by food. “My eye hurts, here let me poke a stick in my eye to make it better.” I’m sure people travel from other states for the falafel on a stick……………….the brownies maybe, but not the food carts.

  9. April 9, 2012 1:04 PM

    Limiting keg sales might be one idea. Placing fines not only on students or those attening, but also on the owners of the homes.

  10. April 9, 2012 12:59 PM

    Other than sending over (and thus, paying for) the police, what else can the city do about this situation?

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