Madison City Council Correct Not To Ban Tear Gas

I was very much opposed to Madison Alderperson Juliana Bennett’s proposal to enact a ban on the Madison Police Department along with mutual aid agencies from using tear gas, mace, all chemical irritants, and impact projectiles for use in crowd/riot control within the city. It was a reckless and short-sighted proposal that was constructed with the aim to make for a progressive signature for an alder rather than concern about the greater needs of the city and the residents who reside here.

By the time of the city council meeting Tuesday night, a concerted effort was made to bridge a compromise so that law enforcement can still use those measures should they be required but mandates the city’s yet-to-be-hired first independent police monitor to do an after-action review of any use of tear gas. Police Chief Shon Barnes accepted the compromise and the matter passed the council 14-4.

Since I find the independent police monitor to be as needed as a third nipple I much agreed with the rationale of those who voted no on the after-action review. The Wisconsin State Journal reported “Alds. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, Charles Myadze, Sheri Carter and Tag Evers voted no. Those opposed said the police have been responsible in investigating tear gas use and that the reporting requirement was micromanaging or redundant because the independent monitor already has the capacity to do investigations.”

While police work to make sure protesters are safe when pressing their message, we should also want and expect law enforcement to be most determined to quell and stop the smashing of windows, the tearing down of statuary at the statehouse (!) and to stem the undermining of basic law and order. As such, I fully support the police using tactics that will meet the mission as needed. I wrote with much hope on August 28th on this blog that citizens should reach out and contact alders to demand a vote against the Bennett proposal. I know many people across this city did that very thing.

I am glad that pragmatism (for the most part) was the path chosen by the council on this matter. After all, the vast majority of those paying the taxes in our city have faith in the ones wearing blue and hired to do their professional jobs to keep us all safe.

Madison City Council Needs Mara Eisch, And Others Who Strive For Independence, Smart Ideas

As the days narrow towards the April Election, where a number of Madison City Council elections will be decided, I suggest voters think about more than just a particular race or candidate. It is just as important to look at the big picture about what is happening to the process of governing in our city. By seeing those larger needs we can make smarter choices in our local aldermanic election.

It should deeply concern us at the local level to learn that organizations such as Progressive Dane and the Greens require candidates to sign a pledge that they will support their platform 100%. That is what they require to get an endorsement. In other words, a candidate needs to integrate the platform of a special interest into their campaign and prove fealty to it. In one case, a group actually requires the candidate to assign a campaign liaison to them.

I am not sure where the average tax-paying homeowner who cares about the environment and social values are supposed to stand in comparison to the powerful groups who demand purity. All we can hope for, and work for, are those candidates brave enough, and yes, smart enough to not play into the political games now underway.

People simply must understand what these groups are engaged in, and grasp the fact they are no better than those we scorn on a national level. Recall how we feel when a Republican member of Congress faces a harsh primary all due to having the temerity to seek a working compromise with a Democrat. On an issue that would benefit all citizens! Groups like PD have no shortage of great rhetoric and lifting themes in public, but use the same tactics and troubling maneuvers just like the opponent they claim to be so unlike.

I have posted many, many times that passion in politics without pragmatism is the greatest pitfall when governing. And we see from the local elections that activists and extremists are making that point as it is clear they are attempting to shut down the middle segment of the city–a segment I should not need to add–where most of us reside.

Mara Eisch is one such example of independence and breath of hope for our city as she seeks election in the 10th aldermanic district. In fact, the reason I decided to post about her candidacy is due to the fact she had the needs of her voters in mind, as opposed to seeking the smoothest route to an election win. She correctly refused to fill in the questionnaires from those groups, not because she is not aligned with much or even most of their agenda, but knows her first duty, if elected is to have the ability and freedom to achieve what her district wants and needs. How dare some outside organization try to curtail or limit her effectiveness all in the name of purity for their causes.

It needs to be noted that Eisch did not need to sign a statement or give up her right to forge working compromises when she received the Wisconsin State Journal endorsement, or the police department endorsement. I can not imagine a candidate ever being able to stand in front of a mirror to shave, comb hair, or brush their teeth knowing they had made a solid commitment to a group that would silence their voice and temper their actions once elected. No victory is worth that price, and we need to ask why would any candidate seek to be controlled by outside interests?

This city has some truly important issues that demand independent and credible decision-makers be seated in the council chambers. (I am confident that Zoom meetings will end for this body as the pandemic wanes.) Topics from removing neighborhood impact in regards to development projects, or pushing spending (borrowing) to the point that sound fiscal policy is called into question are but two that must be addressed.

This city needs pragmatic leaders and determined independent voices–like Eisch–who are not obligated to anyone other than the voters who cast the ballots. A rather common-sense approach to governing, if you ask me.

And, I strongly suspect, one that the vast middle section of the city would also be in agreement with, too.

Therefore, it is incumbent that the sensible ones who care about our city and future ramp up our efforts and make sure calm and reasoned candidates are elected. We can leave the shouters and chaos for Washington. Madison, instead, should demonstrate how policy-minded folks can create a better place to live, and a stronger society.


And so it goes.

Alder Mike Verveer And The Wasting Of Taxpayer Money

I may differ with the tone of a few words here and there in David Blaska’s column but I absolutely agree with the foundation from which he stands when it comes to the wasteful use of $400,000 of taxpayer money and the continuing ridicule (and worse) of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

I think it hard to argue with the foundations of what Blaska wrote in this column.   The $400,000 should not have been appropriated in that manner, at that time, or for that reason. Those who led the charge in the council  and those who foolishly voted for it need to be held accountable.  I also have no warmth for Progressive Dane—everything they touch is tainted with shades of crazy.   Blaska makes that clear.

So is the entire legalistic offensive against Madison police. Progressive Dane bought a first-class ticket on the Black Lives Matter victim train and now they’re driving it.

Former Progressive Dane chairman and alder Brenda Konkel promotes the complaint on her blog and, more damnably, on Progressive Dane’s own website.

“Support our petition to support our Alders in filing a complaint with the Police and Fire Commission against Chief Koval,” it reads.

Which raises a juicy conflict of interest question. The president of the Madison Common Council, Mike Verveer, has appointed a subcommittee to review citizen-police relations.

Read the rest and ponder what might have been done with the money in this city other than placate the seriously flawed element better known at Progressive Dane.

Progressive Dane Plans To Take Over Dane County Democrats

Everyone knows what Progressive Dane is all about.  Their tactics smell. 

 Today The Critical Badger shines a light on the stench.  He writes the following.

Russell Wallace dropped off over 40 new memberships ($10/piece) to the Dane County Democratic Party last night, just before the deadline to ensure he will have a healthy majority in the race against Wayne Bigelow. A typical PDesque way to ensure victory.

Wallace and Bigelow are running for Chairperson of the Dane County Democratic Party. 

Wayne Bigelow understands that driving the car off a cliff does not encourage others to be passengers.  He cares about the county party and deserves to be elected again.

Russell Wallace is smart and energized, but the wrong choice for Democrats who wish for more than a litmus test on political purity.

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Larry Palm And Larry Pasha For Madison City Council

I have hesitated to write anything concerning the local Madison City Council races since the vast majority of my readers live outside of Madison.  But there have been two local races that have caught my attention the past couple of months, and as such I have a few points to make.   One might think I perhaps endorse anyone with the name Larry by the headline to this post.  I use to work with a man who spelled his version ‘Lary’, but would now have difficulty endorsing him for election should he ever run again. 

Larry Palm from Madison’s 15 District deserves reelection as he has voted the fiscal sensibilities of his constituents against the sometimes less fiscally responsible members of the city council.  He has also been an advocate of social justice but understands his primary role as a city alderman is making sure the streets are plowed, the garbage picked up, and the taxes kept in check.  He has passed the grade on all points, and therefore deserves the votes of his constituents in the April election.

In an “Isthmus” newspaper interview this campaign cycle Palm talked about his understanding that city budgets need to be in line with the citizen’s ability to pay the taxes. 

“I’m worried about property taxes. Senior citizens and working families are being taxed on the one thing that has the most value — their home — but pay with something they don’t have — disposable income. At the same time I recognize the positive impact that City programs have on the lives of all residents. I believe that setting priorities is the key to striking the right balance between responsible spending and reasonable taxes.

When I talk to my neighbors and constituents, I ask them where the city should be directing energy and resources, and their answers help me to determine the right priorities. I keep these priorities in mind when the Council is considering the budget. During the budget debate, I worked with other alders to find solutions that maximize resources without boosting tax bills, such as using existing police vehicles instead of purchasing new ones when adding officers. “

His opponent, Vicky Selkowe, is running an aggressive and well-funded race.  A voter from the 15th District penned the following about her campaign and sent it to me recently.

“Palm’s opponent is on track to raise $15,000.  She’s quoted in the State Journal as saying she’s not paying attention to how much she’s spending.  That exactly what the problem will be if she gets elected!   When she came to the door in Dec. for nomination signatures, she said Larry is paying too much attention to spending, like questioning coffee urns for the senior center.

I said didn’t that one cost a couple thousand dollars?   “um actually $2,500.”

The race in the 15th will go down to the wire, but Larry Palm will better serve his constituents.

Meanwhile in my backyard Larry Pasha is working to oust Paul Skidmore in the 9th District.  Skidmore and I live a very short distance from each other (less than a block), so one might assume that I would be on his mailing list for council updates.  One would think, but one would be wrong.  He told me a couple years ago that he has a mailing list but it consists of mostly those who reside in his condo association.  I asked to be added…….perhaps next month with the election of Larry Pasha a line of communication between the council and the voters can be established.  This complaint is one that I have heard often in our walks around the area, as we converse with other voters.

Skidmore and I have many differences of opinion on various issues that face the city but the one that tops the list for me is Skidmore’s lack of a true dialogue with anyone outside his home community.   If he were to actually listen to others in his neighboorhood he might find his ideas and votes are  often wrong.

Larry Pasha will better represent the voters, as he understands the need for a dialogue with those who would pay his salary to be an alderperson.

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David Blaska Nails Progressive Dane

If you live in Dane County, care about Madison politics, or talk with others who do, I am certain you have heard about the antics of Progressive Dane.  This tunnel vision group hijacked the local Democratic Party meeting recently and used their votes to swing city council endorsements for the upcoming spring elections.  They may feel pretty good right now, but a smack down is coming from the voters. 

This past week I voiced my view about the coup on this blog. The local blog world was ripe with posts, and I felt this was one of the better ones about the event.  

This afternoon while reading the Isthmus at a coffee shop I was delighted to spot this piece by David Blaska that hit the ball out of the ballpark.

(For my blog readers with a copy of the Isthmus please see page 8.)

As a proud liberal and Democrat I am most troubled with the lack of pragmatism and reality that surrounds Progressive Dane.  Blaska sums it up best by writing that the political group “demands totalitarian adherence to its one-size fits all approach.”  The method that this group chose in forcing itself into the Democratic meeting is proof positive that brash tactics are all they have to offer.  As Blaska notes the Democratic Party must drive this meddlesome group out of the party. 

There must be some Maoists in the city that PD can link up with……

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