It is nearing 4:30 A.M. Wednesday morning as I write and post this blog entry. This painful time in our city demands leadership. The first step forward is for Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to do the only honorable thing left to her. She must resign her office. She is in a job that is over her head and has proven not able to protect our city.
I never took for granted the feelings while walking to work at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The grandeur of the building while approaching it, the history within its walls, the rotation of plants and blooms, and the hope the structure holds for citizens of each political party. Late Tuesday night this blogger had tears in his eyes when just hearing the first news of what had happened.
The pictures punched so deep I reached out to a friend who had also worked in the building, in fact had been my predecessor in the office. (All the photos used on this post are from various news outlets in the state.)
Those images are simply painful to see. Statutes were ripped down, large flower pots wrecked, wonderfully old-type lights busted, and graffiti all about.
The statues of Wisconsin’s motto “Forward” and of Col. Hans Christian Heg were chained and dragged away. Heg was an anti-slavery activist who fought and died for the Union during the Civil War. His nearly 100-year-old sculpture was decapitated and thrown into Lake Monona.
How many times over the 30 years, while living in this city, have I taken visitors on a guided tour of the Capitol and stopped at the base of the Heg statue? Tonight this is what was left before pushing it into the chilly lake.
I worked in a ground floor office, and when looking out my window towards State Street “Forward’ stood proud and tall. Jesse Jackson had used our office for his coat, and those of his campaign staff, prior to speaking to a large Madison crowd the night before Primary Day in 1988. He would have looked down the iconic view towards State Street and seen the statue in the late afternoon sun.
That statue was ripped down and dragged through the streets.
The original Forward statue was first placed in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol in 1895. Tuesday night a replica commissioned in the 1990s was destroyed. Forward is “an allegory of devotion and progress,” according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Police were no where to be seen during this period of rampaging. The city demands answers and quite frankly there is only one thing Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway can do at this point. That is to resign her office by sundown on Wednesday. The damage she has allowed to take place on too many nights in this city can not in any shape, manner, or form be allowed to continue. Taxpayers can not afford to continue to foot her bill for repairs.
But more importantly the damage she has done to the spirit of our populace by not demonstrating an ounce of leadership or resolve to protect our city can not continue. A board of directors would not even wait to brew the coffee for the crowded conference room attendees. They would simply dismiss someone outright for a such a colossal and unmitigated disaster as which took place in Madison.
We can endure a lot as a city. We can put up with bureaucratic sloppiness over a raft of issues and pay the tax increases for projects not totally thought out. But we can no longer accept or pretend there is a shred of competency in this mayor, or any regard for the best interests of Madison.
Tuesday night Mayor Rhodes-Conway crossed her rubicon. She must now resign her office for the best interests of Madison.