Government Much Needed In Times Like Explosion In Madison

The postal employee who delivers our mail was at the East Washington location early Friday morning preparing for her route when she heard a loud bang, and then another one as she felt the blast under her feet.  One of her fellow workers went outside to see what had happened, and in seconds returned with orders to evacuate the building.  Everyone was quickly hustled off to the Milwaukee Street facility.

In minutes of the powerful explosion at Madison Gas & Electric’s downtown substation scores of the finest among our municipal employees, fire fighters and police, converged on the blaze and towering smoke to combat it and deal with myriad traffic issues. The Truax Fire Department from the airport was called to the scene to add their expertise given the type of foam needed to combat this type of a fire.

Living on the isthmus, and just a few blocks from the fire and chaos, I witnessed some of the public employees at work under sweltering conditions.  Being professional and determined they kept traffic out of impacted areas so not to impede the first responders, and then later the on-going investigation.

I was proud of the efforts made by our local and state agencies to make sure that air quality was monitored and the fire retardants were pumped from sewers. Governor  Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in Madison and authorized the activation of the Wisconsin National Guard to assist if needed.

In times of crisis and high drama–be it on the Madison isthmus last week or any place in our state should the need arise–all the partisan sniping at government officials, office holders, and public employees comes to an end. As it should. There is full recognition that the common good is what government is designed to protect.  That was most evident from the firefighters at the substation, to the employees who made sure cooling centers were operating city wide with water bottles ready for distribution. 

I was mighty proud of how Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi handled the pressures of the day, along with the layers of agency interaction which is required when something of this magnitude occurs.  Making it all look seamless, and more importantly, actually produce the outcome needed for the citizens who are impacted, is due to dedicated public employees who take their jobs seriously each and every day.  To allow for the good ending to a day which started so horribly, was because countless public employees had trained hard and knew the role they had to perform when things turn south.

Thanks to all of them!

It was another lesson as to why government is essential in our lives, and the ones we pay to do this work are most deserving of our deep appreciation.

Pot Fee Too High For Buying Some Mary Jane?

I had to smile while reading about the decision that Dane County Executive Joe Parisi wants to take regarding the fine for buying pot.  I smile because I too saw the irony in the matter and am glad Chris Rickert makes everyone aware of it in his newspaper column.

Parisi wants to lower the financial penalties for certain low-level offenses, and thereby lessen the possibility that poor people — who in Dane County are disproportionately people of color — get caught up in a vicious cycle of unpaid fines, extra penalties and jail that can do some serious damage to their life prospects down the line.

Befuddling to me, though, is why Parisi would kick off his effort by lowering the fine for getting caught with small amounts of marijuana to no more than $10, which for anyone with the resources to drop a couple hundred dollars on a bag of pot isn’t much more than a modest user (so to speak) fee.

As one really believes that pot is a gateway drug and has many qualities that makes it unhealthy I am not in favor of lowering the fine people should be required to pay if caught with the illegal substance.   But to see the irony in writing of the fee being somehow so onerous in relation to the cost of the drug is priceless.

Thanks to Rickert for making it clear to all.

“The Complete Dismantling of The Conservative Movement In Dane County”

What a difference a Spring Election can have.   Thanks goes to Governor Scott Walker–we may not have been able to do it without you.

Meanwhile, downtown at the Italian Workmen’s Club, a lively crowd of more than a 100 progressives ate pasta and drank beer to celebrate what Dane County Executive Joe Parisi referred to as “the complete dismantling of the conservative movement in Dane County.”

Dane County Board Chair Scott McDonell said he did have some fear before Tuesday that progressives could be headed into a “big headwind” with presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spending money on TV ads to turn out the Republican vote in Dane County for the GOP primary.

But that fear proved unfounded, as progressives in the non-partisan County Board races picked up five key seats, giving them an insurmountable 28-9 advantage on the 37-member board.

The dip below 10 conservative members is key, as it breaks apart what Parisi referred to as the “tea party 10.”

Progressives cited the political turmoil stemming from a year of Republican rule at the Capitol as a key factor in the loss of conservative seats.

Those who won, including Dye and Pertl, described the party base as “energized,” leading to thousands of volunteers who were willing to knock on doors to get their candidates’ messages out.

Can Anyone Bring Concealed Bowie Knife To Dane County’s Vilas Zoo?

Can my ludicrous question that headlines this post be any more ridiculous than the actual news that took place in the State Capitol on Wednesday?

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved  a concealed carry bill on a 3-2 Republican-majority vote.  The full Senate will consider the measure in the future. 

The most perplexing part of this truly outrageous proposal is that no training or permit would be required under the terms outlined today.  In addition, and for good measure, the bill allows anyone to possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. 

Walk down any street in Wisconsin and tell me how many of the people you meet should be carrying a concealed gun.  Rattle their cages a little, get them angry in rush-hour traffic, and let them have a beer or five.  (This is Wisconsin, after all.)  Lets see the concealed gun owners in action.

What is alarming to ponder are the numerous places that one might encounter someone who could be packing heat.  Think about it for any length of time and it soon becomes clear that this is most unsettling.

Consider Dane County’s Vilas Zoo where you might want to spend a sunny summer afternoon.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi is rightly concerned about this matter, and is hoping that some serious minds might inject some rationality into the concealed carry measure before it winds up in front of Governor Walker.   The governor has indicated he will sign any concealed carry measure that reaches his desk.   

Once again Walker has failed the leadership test.  By not taking a position on how a bill should look, or the requirements that he wishes to see included, Walker has instead just allowed the extreme far-right wing elements of the GOP to sail the ship into the rocks.

For now all that those like Parisi can try to do is convince elected officials that  banning guns at the zoo, outside the airport, and any large event such as Brat Fest is the family friendly way for society to operate.

All of Wisconsin should hope that the likes of Parisi win this battle.

If Only Eileen Bruskewitz Would Have Had More Campaign Cash!

One of the most troubling parting comments from a losing candidate on Tuesday night came from  Eileen Bruskewitz, who was defeated for Dane County Executive.  State Representative Joe Parisi had a nearly 30% margin over the conservative county board supervisor.

When it came time to assess what made her campaign so dreadfully shy of votes on Election Day she offered one explanation.

Bruskewitz said her fundraising was hindered by business owners who fear retribution for donating to a conservative candidate after people boycotted places whose executives donated to Walker, a Republican. 

What!

Am I to understand that if only Bruskewitz could have bankrolled a few more bushels of campaign funds that her conservative rhetoric would have been more easily digestible to the Dane County voter?   Am I to assume she thinks that more TV ads and perhaps a few more slickly made fliers would have allowed people to forget her cozy ties with Scott Walker and the Republican Party?  How much campaign cash would it take for voters to have collective amnesia?

Truth is there was never going to be enough money to put  Bruskewitz into the county executive office.  She was selling what Dane County was not buying.

Instead of looking outward at why she lost perhaps she might question herself.

What made her think that in the midst of a Madison mayoral race she had any chance of seeing daylight in this election cycle in Dane County?  Does she not understand the way electoral math works in Madison and Dane County?

Really, sometimes I wonder about candidates and…..

2011 Wisconsin Spring Election Predictions

Posted at 5:24 A.M. April 5th…..

After all the back-and-forth from the candidates, lots of  hard work, and endless campaign ads on television for Wisconsin State Supreme Court comes the fun part for the arm-chair politicos.  Election Day and the time to make some predictions is at hand. 

I offer the following for fun……after all politics should be fun.  Often we forget that.  Right or wrong CP has fun on days like this!

The level of energy that is being demonstrated by voters in Wisconsin, especially in Madison and Dane County, is breathtaking.  If the projections hold true Madison will be near 60% turnout, and Dane County over 40% turnout.  With numbers like these it is possible that part of the headline on Wednesday will be that Dane County helped in large measure to elect the next member to the Supreme Court.  Milwaukee County, due to a much publicized county executive race, will also make a huge impact on the totals.

My prediction is  JoAnne Kloppenburg defeats David Prosser by 2%.   I also predict that no one will call the Chief Justice a “bitch” in the next term of the court.

In Dane County the most perplexing question that still has not been answered is why in the midst of a race for Madison mayor did Eileen Bruskewitz enter the race for county executive.  While CP strongly encourages candidates from both parties to enter political contests, it seems odd that someone desires to be a sacrificial lamb in the way Bruskewitz has done.

Joe Parisi will defeat in a massive way Eileen Bruskewitz with at least a 20% margin.

The high number of voters in Madison thus far for absentee voting has left me wondering how this plays out for the Madison mayor’s race.  Though CP has endorsed Dave Cieslewicz I sense an upset coming.   Part of the reason is that in trying times Madison may feel an urge to go back to the elder leader and let his skills be used against the Walker forces.  Since the huge turnout is being created due to the Walker factor, it seems logical to think it extends to the mayor’s race.

Paul Soglin edges Dave Cieslewicz, with the isthmus neighborhoods being the key to the election.  Soglin by less than 2%.

For Madison City Council Marsha Rummel defeats  Jan-McMahon in the 6th District but the most interesting race might be in the 2nd District where Sam Stevenson will defeat incumbent Bridget Maniaci..  Maniaci forgot her constituents when she started carrying water for interests that ran counter to the wishes of her neighbors.

Eileen Bruskewitz Voted Against State Workers And Collective Bargaining

There will be a snowstorm in Madison on July Fourth before Eileen Bruskewitz is ever elected county executive.  A major blow-out election is about to take place in favor of Joe Parisi.  And rightly so.

But just in case there are any who are not aware of Eileen Bruskewitz’s inner thoughts about the chaos that has taken hold of Wisconsin due to Governor Walker and his assault on workers let this serve as a reminder.

From the start of the current struggle over Walker’s proposals, Parisi has been in the forefront of the defense of worker rights in the Assembly and on the streets.

Bruskewitz has stood with the governor.

In February, Dane County Supervisor Melissa Sargent led a group of supervisors in proposing a resolution that declared: “The Dane County Board of Supervisors supports the Wisconsin worker and supports the right to organize and collectively bargain. We stand opposed to Gov. Walker’s attack on the middle class and on the rights of Wisconsin workers.”

The overwhelming majority of supervisors, from across the political and ideological spectrum, voted “yes.”

Bruskewitz voted “no.” At the same time, she issued statements defending the governor’s wrongheaded proposals and authoritarian approach.

Dane County Democrats Release Poll On County Exective Race

Needless to say this is not a scientific poll, but still perhaps an important one as liberals in this county will have much to say about the winner of the county executive race.

Last night the Democratic Party of Dane County had 140 people attend a Dane County Executive Candidates Forum.  Attendees were impressed with the caliber of all four of the candidates who attended: Zach Brandon, Scott McDonell, Joe Parisi and Joe Wineke.
 
At the meeting, a straw poll of current party members was held for the candidates.  The results were:
 
Scott McDonell  53 votes (52%)
Joe Parisi          26 votes (25%)
Joe Wineke       15 votes (15%)
Zach Brandon      8 votes (8%)