Marsha Rummel Interview For State Assembly

Providing insight into her past years of public service Marsha Rummel converses about what skills she brings as a candidate for state assembly in the August 11th primary. From gun control measures to how best to deal with a pandemic Rummel covers many topics.  She even chats about baseball with podcaster Gregory Humphrey.

Listen to the podcast interview.

Marsha Rummel.jpg

Podcast Photo Doty Land



Marquette Neighborhood Assn. Bd. Perfecting Bad Governance

Once again the Marquette Neighborhood Association Board showcased their disdain for a proper process of governance.  This time they couched their shameful antics in the guise of a pandemic urgency.   At least they are staying current with the times as an excuse for their behavior.  They usually just act rashly with no cause given.

The agenda notice for Monday night’s meeting, which was sent to the membership via the listserv with about 12 hours advance notice, contained a most disturbing item.

“Motion to have our two appointed board members serve the full term of the board members they are replacing. (See attached)”

That there was not an attachment provided at the time is par for the course with this group.

This evening the news flashed around the neighborhood of what this blogger had expected all day.  The MNA Board voted to extend the appointment of Lynn Lee and Jen Plants for another year rather than open their positions for a vote in October.  In addition, the Board turned down the suggestion that their appointments be kept to one year as specified in the By-laws.  It needs to be noted for my readers that what was offered was not a suggestion it is the law. 

And the law was not followed!

Limiting the appointments to one year would have made for 8 seats up for election in October. With this decision, the two appointed seats will not be open for a vote by the membership in October.

To the heart of the matter is the fact this motion is in direct contradiction to the By-laws.  The two Board members were appointed by the Board President.  That was due to the most embarrassing fiasco of a general membership meeting in the history of the organization.  That is not hyperbole, but words that came from the lips of a very long-term citizen of this neighborhood.

In 2019 Board President Lynn Lee was defeated for his bid to remain on the Board. But with machinations that would make an autocrat proud he was appointed to the new Board.  The tally from Madison alderwoman Marsha Rummel, an impartial counter at the election, shows the results from the membership balloting.


While the sitting president can make appointments the By-laws only permit the appointment until the next annual meeting.

“(g) have authority, in the event of a vacancy on the Board of Directors due to loss of qualification to be a board member, resignation, removal or death of a board member during his or her term, to appoint a new member, whose household or business is a member of the Corporation, to fill the vacancy until the annual meeting next following the date on which the vacancy arose, provided that: …”

The ‘reasoning’ for the unprincipled motion was based on COVID, which in part reads,  “WHEREAS, stability and continuity of MNA business is best served by having the appointed Directors serve the full term; this being especially urgent as MNA confronts the crisis caused by a global pandemic.”

One might think this Board, based on their own words, are staffing emergency rooms and holding hands of the infected.  They have instead set up a front lawn sculpture contest and tonight held forth at the meeting on the idea of a summer scavenger hunt.  The use of a pandemic which has killed 140,000 in our nation, so to further their aims with this motion is deplorable. 

The spin of the Board about the need to deprive the membership of their right to vote based on COVID is complete hogwash, as my grandfather might term it.  That is because of the fact a two-year term was already being discussed at the Board meeting in December 2019 where the two people were appointed.  As was noted in an on-line comment today from the December regular meeting:  “She [Board President Anita Krasno] has decided to that for now their terms [the two appointed Board members] are one year each, but there may be some reasonable adjustment to that to get us back on track.”

As with so much that takes place with the Board, it all comes down to the contortions and spinning that they feel needs to be taken at any given moment so to make their undermining of governance seem less galling.

Over the years this neighborhood has witnessed the norms, practices, and standards of the MNA Board continually lowered, to the point there is a loss of faith in the organization, and open derision and scorn of some of the sitting members.  That is a very sad outcome.  Using the pandemic to further foster unprincipled and egregious actions of the kind resulting from the 2019 annual meeting, now adds to the dismay many feel about this current Board.

What is sad to so many is that as of late the outcomes from this Board are as likely to culminate in something bad for the neighborhood as it will in something positive. We need to have better batting averages from our local association!  When an item like this motion lands so late for public notice that it does not allow for full vetting by the membership it underscores why there is a growing awareness that the power being exerted by some on the Board is for personal gain, and not for the betterment of the neighborhood, which we all thought was the reason they wished to be on the Board in the first place.

We read about illiberal democracy—as it is termed—in places like Italy, Poland, Philippines,  Brazil., and even in our nation, and wonder how the undermining of a governing process and diligence to standards and norms ever are allowed to grow to the point they make for national and international headlines.  We now can see with the actions and antics that took place today—in our own neighborhood–how it starts.

This area prides itself on idealism and some higher values, but that is all just malarkey as at the end of the day we allow for this chicanery (and worse) to prevail.  Denying that By-laws exist for a reason has consequences.  Some folks may see what happened today as a small thing, and those who carry water for the interested party tonight will try to fluff this all off.  But for the rest of us, we have had a front-row lesson on how the larger headlines about illiberal democracy begin.

And so it goes.

Madison Assembly Candidate Marsha Rummel Interviewed On Doty Land

Providing insight into her past years of public service, Marsha Rummel, Democratic candidate for the 76th Assembly District, converses about what skills she seeks the nomination. From gun control measures to how best to deal with a pandemic Rummel covers many topics.  She even chats about baseball with host Gregory Humphrey.


WI 76th Assembly District Candidates Provide Interviews


Three candidates for the Wisconsin 76th Assembly District gave interviews this week to the local podcast Doty Land: Conversations From The Madison Isthmus.   Heather Driscoll, Marsha Rummel, and Nicki Vander Meulen are featured in separate interviews which are linked below.

An interview request of the Republican candidate, who is also circulating nomination papers, did not result in a response.

Each episode is approximately 20 minutes.  Doty Land can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts…Apple, Google, iHeart Radio, Spotify, etc.  (or below!)

Heather Driscoll

Marsha Rummel 

Nicki Vander Meulen

When the headlines are not encouraging there are three reasons to be hopeful and inspired.   They are with the three women above.

Podcast Photo Doty Land

Marquette Neighborhood Association Board’s Secret Emails Shine Light On Cloudy Process

Today the Marquette Neighborhood Association listserve had the following message posted from a resident.  We can be glad that someone made an error in sending the email out, and that it landed in the box of a person who then alerted the rest of the community.

I post it in its entirety, as this once again goes to to the core concerns I have about the MNA Board.  Lack of an open and fair process regarding matters which take place in the neighborhood.  The email dialogue that was hidden from the membership–until now–about matters than impact the place we call home.

I woke this morning to a chain of emails—I am not certain that I was meant to be reading along since I am not generally ‘in the loop’, but what I did get was disturbing.  I am struck by the notion that we need good, clean, fair elections where the results are respected in every level of government, including at the neighborhood level.  Read along with me as I break down what I saw this morning.

My Analysis:

Below is a recent string of listserv/email communications.  I find this string troubling in the following respects:

  1. When the MNA Board communicates with the Alder, should those communications be private?  (As you get toward the bottom, that issue seems to be the main concern on the part of at least two Board members.)  If a Board member is communicating as a member of the Board, that member is communicating on behalf of the neighborhood, so the neighborhood is, in my opinion, entitled to know what is being said.  (I remind people also that everything sent to Marsha is subject to an open records request.)  As a side thought, is the MNA Board under the impression that Marsha is just another member of their elite club and not responsible to her constituents?
  2. Call it what you like, but how much bullying should Board members be able to engage in?  Jack has done this before (think P&D “has become a temperance movement”), without any apparent censure from the Board, or at least not any effective censure.
  3. To what extent should committee chairs be required to add items to the agenda?  Lynn, back when he was still president (and a member of the executive team, which he isn’t currently? ), said:

I reminder to everyone on the [P&D] committee, 

Jack Kear is Chair of the committee and as chair,

he is the one responsible for setting the agenda, adding to it,

and is responsible for sending it out to the neighborhood.

This is how all the MNA committees are run.

  1. Is the neighborhood having a say at Landmarks important?  In the past, Landmarks was more responsive to neighborhood concerns than the Plan Commission – though that may have changed under the new Comprehensive Plan.

On March 12, Linda posted the following on the listserv:

The former MTI building on the 800 block of Williamson is proposed for demolition.  The developer, Brandon Cook, is looking to replace the MTI building with a 3-story mixed-use building.  This also requires the combination of 2 lots (totaling 97.5 feet of frontage on Willy).  24 apartments (8 efficiency, 13 one BR, 3 two BR), 1,040 sq ft of commercial space, and 18 underground parking stalls.

This will be at the Landmarks Commission on Monday, 3/16.  It has not had any neighborhood review.  The P&D chair said on Monday that “I spoke to the architect on Friday and they are not prepared to join our agenda tomorrow evening [3/10] so we will see them in April …”  Yet, they were able to submit revised plans to the City that were added to Legistar on 3/11.

On March 13, Jack sent the following to Marsha, with copies to Anita Krasno and the developer (Brandon Cook of John Fontain Realty)—though one has to question why he sent this to Brandon:


I have just been informed of comments Linda has made on the listserv:

The former MTI building on the 800 block of Williamson is proposed for demolition. The developer, Brandon Cook, is looking to replace the MTI building with a 3-story mixed-use building. This also requires the combination of 2 lots (totaling 97.5 feet of frontage on Willy). 24 apartments (8 efficiency, 13 one BR, 3 two BR), 1,040 sq ft of commercial space, and 18 underground parking stalls.

This will be at the Landmarks Commission on Monday, 3/16. It has not had any neighborhood review. The P&D chair said on Monday that “I spoke to the architect on Friday and they are not prepared to join our agenda tomorrow evening [3/10] so we will see them in April …” Yet, they were able to submit revised plans to the City that were added to Legistar on 3/11.


When she writes “It has not had any neighborhood review” she is blatantly lying. Brandon Cook came before the P&D committee not once but twice (July ’19, Sept ’19) and his visits were to not only present possible designs but to take input from neighbors on what people wanted to see become of that space. It was for many committee members a rare consideration from a developer. Furthermore, Linda’s statement about them submitting revised plans added to Legistar on 3/11 implies that there is some kind of backroom agreement between them and myself postponing neighborhood interaction. In fact, I gave the development team 4 days notice of our committee meeting and the architect was going to be out of town that evening. Simple. 

This project is on the agenda for us next month. It is unfortunate that we cannot hear it prior to Landmarks but that happens with many proposals. 

I wanted you to know this because the spin is quite biased. With this project, Mr. Cook has already demonstrated good faith to the neighborhood, not the other way around. We look forward to hearing his more complete plans in April.

Thank You,



On March 17, Linda was made aware of this email and sent the following to Jack, with copies to Marsha and the MNA Board:


Let’s see … I am “blatantly lying” and I am implying “that there is some kind of backroom agreement between [the developer] and [you] postponing neighborhood interaction” and my spin is “quite biased.”  Wow.

Yes, Brandon came and had a general discussion with P&D.  (I only find that Mr. Cooke was at the July P&D meeting – he was not on the September agenda.)  Did P&D review actual plans?  No.  Did P&D have the opportunity to comment on the plans submitted to the City that were due to come before Landmarks this past Monday?  No.  (Not that it matters at this moment since Landmarks was cancelled.) 

Should the neighborhood have a chance to review the actual plans before a City Commission meeting?  I would say yes.  If a developer cannot get a representative to the meeting, should P&D discuss the matter anyway?  I would say yes.  And Jack, I quoted your language:  “they are not prepared to join our agenda tomorrow evening.”  So if the architect could not attend, there are other architects in the firm, or Mr. Cook could have attended.  By not having a neighborhood perspective to provide to the Landmarks Commission, the neighborhood loses a good opportunity to try and get a project that is a good fit for the neighborhood.  And, Jack, based on your explanation of “they are not prepared”, it certainly seemed odd that they could file updated plans the following day.  I certainly was not implying that you had any backroom deal.

Perhaps next time before besmirching a neighbor, you, as a Board member, could take a few minutes and think about whether there is a perspective different from your own that might have its own validity.  The one thing I said that you took issue with is “it has not had any neighborhood review.”  And I stand by that –the plans did not have any review.  As to your statement that many proposals go before Landmarks without being heard by the neighborhood, I disagree.  I cannot think of a major development that went to Landmarks without neighborhood review – and they should not.


On March 17, Lynn sent the following to Marsha, with copies to Linda and the Board:

If I am following this correctly, Jack sent his concerns to Marsha,

and Marsha forwarded his email to Linda?

Is this correct Marsha?

This matters, the MNA Board cannot trust if we send our concerns to our Alder, 

they will not be shared.

On March 17, Jack sent this to Lynn and Linda, with copies to Marsha and the Board:

Oh Linda, you will spin anything any time. I stand by my statements.

Marsha, the board now knows everything we need to about communicating with you.

On March 17, Marsha replied to Jack, Lynn and Linda, with a copy to the Board:

I did not forward Jack’s comments to anyone. I responded to him and thanked him for the background info he provided and let him know I had met with Brandon and his architect and set up a neighborhood meeting.  That’s it.

On Monday, I emailed Brandon and Preservation Planner Heather Bailey to say that I agreed with staff recommendation for referral at Landmarks and due to Covid-19 crisis, I was cancelling the neighborhood meeting and asked that the referral be indefinite until I could conduct a proper neighborhood meeting. I will share that email with all of you.


Canopy Nightclub, Cacophony Gearing Up For Williamson Street Neighborhood

When it comes to 924 Willaimson Street there are not many fond memories for the residents of the neighborhood unless they recall back prior to the arrival of Plan B, a gay bar where music blared too loud, and drunken crowds roamed the streets.  What was not to love?

Many residents recall with fondness the camera store that had been a business anchor on the block.  But then a change started to come to that portion of Willaimson Street.  For some of the ‘bright lights’ among the business crowd, it seemed easier to make bucks selling drinks than creating ideas about how various small shops could be assembled to add to the residential aspect of the neighborhood.

Let us be honest. Plan B was a public nuisance.  For the families in the area with kids in bed early at night, and parents needing to be alert come the start of another day, the nightclub was clearly a very bad decision made by the local neighborhood association along with the city.   After a number of years the drinkers and dancers tired of their playground, and the establishment underwent a name change.  Nothing, however, could salvage their business plan and the place closed.

Needless to say, the locals who are homeowners or renters were pleased.  The sad men who use Grindr, not so much.

Recently the neighborhood learned that a new business team, wishing to cram 375 drinkers into their nightclub, is filling out the paperwork and pressing the flesh with movers and shakers in the right offices and social circles. They seem intent on opening Canopy Nightclub within weeks.  Barring the process of a conditional use permit, which can slow any proposal down severely, noise and parking problems are soon to again be a part of this neighborhood.

In 2008 Madison Alderwoman Marsha Rummel wrote the following to the Plan Commission.

I support the application with conditions -some from the meeting held on Monday- and others from talking with staff, immediate neighbors, and MNA Board members. I think the applicants will create an instant hit with their vision and I think it could be an exciting addition to the neighborhood.

She then added this truth.

But there is a significant minority who are opposed to the proposal because of concerns about impacts on the quality of life. Most think the capacity is too large and some are alarmed by recent incidents of alcohol/bar related violence downtown. The calls and emails I’ve received since Monday have been largely opposed.

All are now aware, as should be the alder, that placing a nightclub into a residential neighborhood is like slapping a medium-rare steak onto the plate of a vegetarian.  Nothing good can follow. 

Former Marquette Neighborhood Association President Lynn Lee, living a block away from the booming bass music emitted from the club, even went so far as to paint canvasses of art to sell at a local festival so to raise money to ensure Plan B remodeled their roof.  At the time I still respected Lee and bought a print for $200.00.  But no one in the area should have to hawk his or her wares just to get a good night’s sleep!

The owner of the property, but not the proposed new business owners, is Chuck Chvala, the former state senator who was convicted in the state Capitol caucus scandal.

Your voice is needed if you feel that bar crowds and children sleeping at night do not mix.  You should express yourself if you feel, as a renter, you should have a parking place at the end of your day as opposed to it being taken by a vehicle for a nightclub drinking spree.  You should alert city officials if you feel, as a taxpayer, that your need to sleep peacefully should not be hindered from car noises and rowdy folks who are tanked.

Here is some information that will lead you in the directions that will be most meaningful when you reach out to raise your objections.  Thanks.

Upcoming Canopy Nightclub Review Meetings

Meeting by the new owners of the proposed bar, Canopy.

Wed, Jan 8, Time? Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

MNA P&D Meeting

Tues, Jan 14, 5:30 pm. Wil-Mar

To sign up for the agenda and announcements, write: Jack Kear <>,

ALRC  Alcohol License Review Committee

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 at 5:30 pm.

City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 201

Marquette Neighborhood Association Board Meeting

Mon, Jan 20, 7pm. Wil-Mar

Plan Commission (?)

Agendas and minutes:

MNA Board Missed Jed Bartlet Moment Of Truth, Dodged Personal Responsibility

A  sizable and vocal crowd gathered Monday night on the Madison isthmus for the monthly meeting of the Marquette Neighborhood Association. Over the past several weeks there has much rancor over the events that took place at the yearly membership meeting when board elections were held.

Collen Hayes, a current board member sought re-election at that meeting, having her letter of intent read to the membership as she was absent.  Then things got needlessly murky.  After the balloting for this quasi-governmental board was completed word reached the members gathered at the Wil-Mar Center that Hayes had somehow decided not to serve another term.

Later that evening I was informed via telephone that of the seven members up for election, Board President Lynn Lee received the fewest number of votes.  Madison Alderwoman Marsha Rummel was in the room at the time of the balloting and took a phone picture of the final tally.  With Lynn losing the election, and a sudden reversal of intent from a candidate after the members had cast their ballots, meant a local Rubicon had been crossed.

20191025_214848 (002)

Within 48 hours concerned members of the neighborhood started working on a strategy at a local home where many folks assembled.  For transparency to my readers, I was one of those seeking redress to the election.

I have pressed the Board, during the term of President Lee, to create a cleaner, more open, and transparent process of conducting business.  In fact, it was a year ago in October I wrote on the public list-serv in our neighborhood that the vote tallies for the annual meeting should be made public.  Lee, in one of his usual defensive modes, stated that no such data would be made public.  One has to wonder why.

Had there been an open process at the membership meeting regarding the tallies from this year the members would have known that Lee received the least votes cast.  And it would have placed the self- removal of Hayes into a better perspective for the membership to consider.

In the days after the voting results became known this sorry story devolved into a discussion of executive abuse when the MNA president (Lee) threatened those seeking redress with the withdrawal of MNA financial support for the Willy Street Park.  The email with his words is truly unsettling.

At Monday’s meeting, a motion was put forth from the board to attempt a remedy to this mess.  It read as follows.

Motion to treat Colleen Hayes’ withdrawal as a candidate for the MNA Board of Directors as a resignation and to take appropriate action according to Section 6.02(g) of the bylaws to fill the seat. And to direct the MNA Vice President to implement the process.

When asked by a lawyer in the crowd for the board to read the letter submitted from Hayes, so to have a factual definition of what she actually stated, and also what time the letter was written and received, there was a stonewalling that would have made Richard Nixon proud.  The board was not going to engage in any attempt to clarify the matter and stated several times for the good of the various projects underway, the work in committees, and the greater needs of the neighborhood they wanted harmony and a forward look.

Had the audience been super quiet the words of Bill Clinton could be heard from 1997, ” I need to go back to work for the American people.”

One member in support of the board, and a family member to the president, stood and tried to explain that the members of the board were super busy at the October meeting as they were putting on a chili supper and running the meeting at the same time.  They could not be expected to know all that happened over the Hayes matter.   And from the Monday night meeting, it was most clear they were not either curious enough to find out or mature enough to admit a glaring problem and take personal responsibility.

Which leads me to President Jeb Bartlet on NBC’s drama West Wing. When he offered to be censured by Congress for less than candid answers about his health and MS condition, he told his White House Chief Of Staff that no one in Washington takes the blame for anything anymore.  Therefore no one is ever held responsible for anything that goes wrong.  As such he stepped up to the front of the line and endured the political punches by doing the right thing on the award-winning TV drama.

If only the MNA Board could have mimicked television last night. More often than not when there are serious lapses in judgment, as occurred at the October meeting, there is much finger-pointing and artful dodges along the way.  But little in true accountability ever surfaces.  We learn of the mistakes but rarely hear, as Bartlet said, anyone taking any self-blame.

The motion passed on a unanimous vote.  Based on the performance of the Board at the membership meeting, and the refusal for anyone to take personal responsibility last night, means close attention to the actions of the board will need to continue.

There are no Jed Bartlets on this MNA Board.


Absurd Purity Demands From Some In Madison Regarding Police

Label me in a bitchy mood.

Tonight I read that a conservative citizen in Madison has had her comments on a listserv “reported” for God knows what reasons.  As a liberal who knows First Amendment rights are essential, and political purity is rank, I feel more than compelled to respond.

Dorothy Borchardt started a thread posting on NextDoor about the need for additional police officers in our city.  The matter was voted on by the Madison City Council this week and blazed to passage 17-2.  For the record I am also very much in support of our city police and added my comments to the thread as well.

But over the past few days all of Borchardt’s comments were ‘reported’ to the moderators of the listserv as somehow not meeting a certain criteria. I find that most troubling.  We all should!

Earlier this week Borchartd posted the following comment.

Why was it taken down? I know nextdoor is receiving a lot of complaints about post. I never make any complaints or vote to remove a post unless it a commercial or attacks people. I may not agree with a lot of post but that is okay…a lot of people don’t agree with what I post. I think we should be discussing political issues that affect our neighborhoods…the key is to never get angry…if you do…don’t post.

I was sparse with my comments apart from the ones related to the need for the additional officers.  Today, however, following just pure BS from purists I suggested that if people were not pleased with the workings of the council they might consider running for alder.  I was told that 2/3rds of Alderwoman Marsha Rummel’s emails were opposed to the additional officers, to which I responded that the council president (Rummel) was not able to sway any votes Tuesday so perhaps agreeing with constituents is not the only thing that matters.   The implication of my wording was that Rummel is not a leader.  In the case of the additional officers I am glad she has limited skills in governing–it helped MPD!

It was after that comment that a purist decided to no longer be a part of the forum.  I just hope the disgruntled one does not protest by blocking all traffic on a major thoroughfare in our city!  “I WANT MY WAY!!”

Afterwards I read from Dorothy that all her comments were reported and following that there was no way not to spell out my frustration to the readers of the listserv.

I want to say thanks to Dorothy for her work, and ask for some maturity. I have been to this site months back with a found cat issue and landed here again as I felt our police needed an added voice. In other words this is not my hangout. So I am dumbfounded that people are “reported” for posts–for the record I was too. I was not aware that posting on Dorothy’s and then posting on my own was taboo. But now to hear that Dorothy is being reported for all postings makes me wonder what we are turning into. For the record I am liberal and support MPD and Dorothy is more conservative and supports MPD. And there is the POINT! Do we not wish to have the level of political civility where we can come together and unite on an issue knowing we see many other issues from differing perspectives. So to have the ‘reporting’ and juvenile behavior just runs counter to what I would hope we could rise to in this city with a university and scores of intelligent and civic-minded citizens. Call me on my soapbox but someone needs to say it.

And so it goes.