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Elected City officials midterm report card

Please limit discussion in this area to local and state politics.

The City government is:

Poll ended at Sun Mar 14, 2004 11:01 am

Totally off the wall liberal wackos
3
23%
About what I expected
7
54%
More conservative than I anticipated
3
23%
 
Total votes : 13

Elected City officials midterm report card

Postby Jattpw » Mon Mar 08, 2004 11:01 am

It is about one year since the last City election and as daily page members it is our duty to report on how folks are doing. (Please keep brandon bashing to a minimum, I think we have already gone there.)

So how is your alder person doing? What about Mayor Dave? Any surprises?

One surprise I have is the seemingly leftward leaning of holtzman. Supporting IZ. Supporting gay mairriages. Delivering a compromise on the wyou. Sponsoring the antismoking legislation.

Some one who seemed ready to step up as the conservative leader with bochardt leaving is turning into a spokesperson for liberal causes?

Who else has surprised or done a particularly good or poor job?
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Re: Elected City officials midterm report card

Postby Daisy » Mon Mar 08, 2004 1:46 pm

[quote="Jattpw"]
So how is your alder person doing?[/quote]Mike Vervee's my alder and I think he's done a fine job asc ouncil prez. Esp. given the tough budget, a new administration coming in, the "personnel issues" of last spring, etc. It wasn't the easiest year. [quote="Jattpw"]What about Mayor Dave?[/quote]I'm hardly objective on that topic, so I'll just say that coming in as not only the new mayor, but from outside city gov't, getting through this budget and passing your most ambitious campaign initiative during your first year in office isn't a bad start.
[quote="Jattpw"]One surprise I have is the seemingly leftward leaning of holtzman. Supporting IZ. Supporting gay mairriages. Delivering a compromise on the wyou. Sponsoring the antismoking legislation.

Some one who seemed ready to step up as the conservative leader with bochardt leaving is turning into a spokesperson for liberal causes?[/quote]I agree with the first part, and have been pleasantly surprised at his votes. I don't think, however, he was ever presumed to be Borchardt's replacement. He's taken some liberal votes in the past. [quote="Jattpw"]
Who else has surprised or done a particularly good or poor job?[/quote]I think Austin's been the most impressive of the rookies. He's very bright, personable, and delivered a well deserved beat-down to the UW Chancellor days after taking office. He's also mathematically gifted and will make a great addition to BoE in the near future.

I'm surprised that Webber & Benford, both of whom I like a lot, haven't asserted themselves more. Robbie has much to contribute on the subject of land use and transit, and I hope she'll take more of a leadership role on those.

With the exception of Brandon, who's bright and works hard, the conservatives are a completely inffective, disorganized clusterfuck. I can't think of a single other one with a basic level of political acumen. Not only are they nowhere near passing an agenda of their own, but they haven't been particularly effective opposing progressive initiatives. Which is fine by me.

Whatever others may think of her politics, Brenda's amazing. She works as hard as anyone in city gov't, and has done a good job transitioning from a gadfly/backbencher to, essentially, being the progressive floor leader on that body. It's not easy going from opposition to governing, and she's also been a very effective point person for the mayor's office on the council. Without her, Dave's first year would have gone significantly less well.
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Postby Jattpw » Mon Mar 08, 2004 2:38 pm

It is true that the conservatives are lacking a united front but that just may be because they don't predetermine their votes and actions before each meeting.

When you include the mayor with them, there seems to be a political machine shoving stuff down everyone elses throats.

The liberal dimentia that the actions of the City Council will change the world seems to be going strong. This is a good thing. As long as some alders keep passing meaningless legislation they will not be messing up our fair city.

What I have not seen much of is the alders someplace in the middle, rising up to add a bit of sanity. There must be some alders who are not the nay sayers that the conservatives are but not wacked out leftist. Where is the middle? And why are they just sitting on their asses passing what ever the mayor and that Konkel woman keep throwing at them.
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Postby PopeOnFire » Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:10 pm

"That Konkel woman?"

I guess you are right.

That Konkel woman worked her ass off on IZ.

That Konkel woman helped push through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

That Konkel woman has truly made a difference in this city as an advocate for those that need help the most.
Last edited by PopeOnFire on Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jattpw » Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:20 pm

[quote="PopeOnFire"]"That Konkel woman?"

That Konkel woman helped push through the Affordable Housing rust Fund.

[/quote]

Is this related to the lead pipe issue?
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Postby PopeOnFire » Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:26 pm

That's pretty funny!


Thanks for making me laugh.


[quote="Jattpw"][quote="PopeOnFire"]"That Konkel woman?"

That Konkel woman helped push through the Affordable Housing rust Fund.

[/quote]

Is this related to the lead pipe issue?[/quote]
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Postby Daisy » Mon Mar 08, 2004 5:40 pm

ââ?¬Å?It is true that the conservatives are lacking a united front but that just may be because they don't predetermine their votes and actions before each meeting.ââ?¬?

Please confirm the following for me, so I don�t make fun of you in error:

Were/are you really on the edge of your seat with suspense over how Compton, Thomas & Co. might vote on IZ, the minimum wage, etc? Is it your view that conservatives are more contemplative, open-minded, and less ideological than progressives?

Nor should they be. As someone who doesnââ?¬â?¢t bemoan ââ?¬Å?partisanshipââ?¬? as a bad thing, believes in vigorous debate and advocacy from both sides, and doesnââ?¬â?¢t worship at the altar of attention-starved politicians stampeding towards whatever banality defines ââ?¬Å?the middleââ?¬? at a given moment, Iââ?¬â?¢ll grant them the courage of their convictions. I commend them for acknowledging they have some, which is totally honorable. But Iââ?¬â?¢d like to know whether you honestly believe the votes of people like Brenda are any more ââ?¬Å?predeterminedââ?¬? than those of their counterparts on the right. Please advise.

ââ?¬Å?When you include the mayor with them, there seems to be a political machine shoving stuff down everyone elses throats.ââ?¬?

What you see as ââ?¬Ë?shoving stuff downââ?¬â?¢ peopleââ?¬â?¢s throats, I see as following through on what he promised people during the campaign. Surely you werenââ?¬â?¢t hoodwinked into thinking he was a mouthpiece for the Chamber of Commerce who turned out to be a stealth progressive? Heââ?¬â?¢s governing from the very platform he campaigned on, and a strong, mandatory IZ ordinance and a minimum wage increase were part of that. Of all the supporters I met during the campaign, few elected him because they wanted him to be timid or compromise more than he has to.

ââ?¬Å?The liberal dimentia that the actions of the City Council will change the world seems to be going strong. This is a good thing. As long as some alders keep passing meaningless legislation they will not be messing up our fair city.ââ?¬?

Go easy on the phosphorous ban. It may not have the direct and critical impact on peopleââ?¬â?¢s lives that the ability to afford housing or groceries does, but itââ?¬â?¢s not bad legislation. And the mayorââ?¬â?¢s and council progressivesââ?¬â?¢ efforts to bring incomes and housing costs closer together for many Madisonians are hardly considered ââ?¬Å?meaninglessââ?¬? by the latter.

I imagine that your equating of liberalism with "dementia" leaves you pretty miserable in Madison.

ââ?¬Å?What I have not seen much of is the alders someplace in the middle, rising up to add a bit of sanity.ââ?¬?

So unless you figure out where the middle is and position yourself there, youââ?¬â?¢re ââ?¬Å?insane?ââ?¬? Some of us like having actual choices in elections, and arenââ?¬â?¢t itching to live in a single-party universe.

Although it�s an easy way to get attention and make yourself important, the centrist posturing that had been so in vogue for a while requires neither courage nor intelligence. Just the desire to have people prostrate themselves before you.

ââ?¬Å?Where is the middle?ââ?¬?

They were smoked out by the new mayor who, unlike his predecessor, actually leads on issues and forces people to indicate where they stand on them. Heaven forfend!! Can�t have politicians taking positions on things, can we? They must be left undisturbed with their private political calculus, so they can triangulate their way to importance!
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Postby PopeOnFire » Mon Mar 08, 2004 5:55 pm

"They must be left undisturbed with their private political calculus, so they can triangulate their way to importance"


Well said. Well said.
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Postby Jattpw » Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:48 pm

Medical marijuana week and pro tyson striker resolutions are what I would call meaningless legislation.

Considering that the conservatives are more likely to break ranks and vote individually, it seems that they are less coordinated. It seems like pd alders (king, konkel, benford, mccubbin and olsen) are much more likely to vote the same way than conservatives are. It seems predecided even if it isn't. I have an issue with any elected official that votes according to 'how he is supposed too" or who doesn't bring up issues because it is someone elses turn. Perhaps they all just agree on every single issue?

Nothing against the mayor for pushing his platform or for those who support it from doing the same. My point was that there was supposed to be this "triangulating" middle that is more of a flat line than a triangle so far. If there has been "triangulation" going on than the public has not known about it. So I guess good job mr. mayor but is it best for the rest of us?
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Postby Daisy » Mon Mar 08, 2004 7:20 pm

I understand what you mean re: medical marijuana and tyson strikers, in the sense that it's not the same thing as filling potholes or providing police services. I don't think, however, that it's unacceptable for officials to use their positions to raise awareness for something they deem worthwhile and/or which affects people in our city. It's not like these are the things that eat up a lot of staff time or city resources.

In addition to the people you cited, Verveer, Webber and Cieslewicz are also PD members. This group doesn't agree on everything, but admittedly on most stuff. If you don't think party discipline makes you more effective, please contrast the crap the GOP has been ramming through Congress versus the Democratic health care clusterfuck of '93. It's not, in my view, a matter of being an unthinking, ideologically rigid, rubberstamping automaton, but the recognition that legislative victories tend to come to that side which has its act together. Given that "politics is war by peaceful means," I'd liken the coordination/cooperation of likeminded legislators to a military campaign. An army's not going to be very effective if every buck private is off doing his own thing, pulling up his canoe at Normandy on D-Day. And the dude who runs back and forth between opposing trenches with a white flag usually gets hosed down with bullets from both sides.

As for what's "best for the rest of us," that's obviously open to debate. Your opinion's as valid as anyone else's, and we usually hold elections to settle the matter.

Good post, though. Caught myself nodding along with you a couple times, tricky fucker. :)
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Postby snoqueen » Mon Mar 08, 2004 11:48 pm

Or else a new, practical reality has set in that finds Madison with a council of moderates and leftists, with the few remaining conservatives being ineffectual wackos just because that's what American conservativism has largely turned out to be in the 21st century. Perhaps the range of political opinion on the council currently is what's natural given the politics of voters here.

Having a few thoughtful conservatives who know their way around a budget and can toss cold water on idealism when it runs amok is good balance and I'm still waiting to see it. The Madison council isn't supposed to look like the state legislature though, or god forbid like Congress.

This is why we have a desirable place to live, overall. Places with progressive governments often have a high quality of life.

As a regular citizen not a downtown insider, I'd give pretty good marks to the council and the mayor's office so far. It's a relief to feel like somebody's working to accomplish some goals in city hall not just toddling in and out trying to look busy but being basically overwhelmed.

What I like to see is a very diverse group of reasonable people brought in to work co operatively. Then differences can be negotiated instead of just stomped out by a bunch of bullies. People are so used to the latter they've almost forgotten there are other ways to get things done.

But the devil is in the details:

I'd like to see IZ work, but if the developers finally get the picture and realize affordable housing sells, we're halfway there. It'd be nice to have it codified and enforceable.

I agree about State Street, and I'd say the same for the whole downtown commercial area -- it's on the edge or already down the tubes. The place is going to look like West Towne Mall without the roof if we don't get ahold of things fast.

I used to walk State Street and do business several times a week, but I almost never go there any more. Everything I find of interest today is to the east instead. Downtown we have whole blocks offering nothing at all to regular citizens -- they're entirely given over to conventioners and hotel guests. The human-scale features that made the square/campus area unique and homelike are nearly gone and cannot be put back with cutesy architectural tricks. I'm waiting to see if State Street will retain any personality at all or be entirely eaten up by the Overture Center mentality so it becomes the same kind of wasteland the south side of the Square has become.
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Postby roguequijote » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:24 am

ââ?¬Å?I think the biggest problem with Madison right now is the absence of any decent conservatives to govern from the opposition. So-called progressives can't get rid of their grins at the moment, but wait until some of this stuff doesn't pan out as anticipated and they'll have to shoulder all of the blame.ââ?¬?

I wish I believed most voters had high enough interest and long enough memories to make your warning plausible. I used to advocate that point of view; so much so that I said ââ?¬Å?let McCallum win and let him discredit the entire Thompson legacy of encouraging prison building and lengthening sentences while cutting social services and cutting taxes.ââ?¬? I really thought that Thompson and McCallum had created such a terrible budget mess that whoever took the reins was doomed to be a 1-term governor who gave the seat to the opposing party in the next election. I feared that Doyle would have to steer to the center and cross the center line frequently in order to accomplish anything at all.

Then I thought some more. Did we learn our lesson from the bad economic policy of Ronald Reagan? Cutting taxes remains wildly, irrationally, exuberantly popular. Vast increases in defense spending also remain more popular than providing essential services to the elderly, the disabled or veterans. I was in 6th grade in 1984, and I did not appreciate the Orwellian grimness of Regan�s willingness to increase prison sentences, cut death-row appeals and increase the share of the budget going to war apparatus which can only be used to let the proles destroy one another. If we could have re-elected Reagan without amending the Constitution, we would have. Instead, we fired George H.W. Bush for having the balls to admit we had to raise taxes. This probably contributed to Tommy Thompson�s unwillingness to tell people that truth in sentencing would increase incarceration costs, particularly when paired with reduced funding for prisoners� education and drug treatment. Over the objections of many district attorneys, judges and conservative establishmentarians, truth-in-sentencing provisions went into effect about seven. Since the average prison term was a shade over eight years at the time, we have barely begun to see the forthcoming phenomenal increases in prison populations. Every correctional facility in the state is at least 15% over capacity right now and the worst is yet to come.

Never fear, Tommy was so bold as to break the cycle of poverty by introducing W2 during a time of record low unemployment. After he left office, he admitted that W2, even in the best of times, would cost much more than AFDC. Single parents who cannot legally leave children unattended will need child care that costs far more than the typical entry level job pays. Job growth tends to concentrate in places that people living in scarce affordable housing cannot reach unless they have subsidized transportation. Workers facing eligibility requirements have to tell employers ââ?¬Å?donââ?¬â?¢t raise me from $8.10 to $8.30 because I could lose food stamps, Section 8 vouchers and child care subsidies. Just save my raises until I can make $13.50 per hour and afford to pay for what I will lose.ââ?¬?

There are plenty of important debates about what government should do and how. Some of the most popular policies of Reagan and Thompson and King George II are the least defensible. If we follow Bill Hobbs�s theory about voters booting progressives for failed initiatives, Thompson and Bush II should be far less popular.
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Postby Jattpw » Tue Mar 09, 2004 10:43 am

Party affiliation can be a method for moving an agenda forward or it can be a scape goat behind which week representatives can hide. A prime example is the School Board where the majority of representatives depend on teachers union money to run for office. Sort of makes the debate a bit one sided before they even take office.

The city council may include a number of individuals that are following partisan leaders rather than exploring issues and looking for ways to help their constituents themselves.

What this council seems to be missing is a true fiscal conservative. No council member said they voted against IZ because it is going cost the city gobs of money to implement. Even brandon missed his cue on that one. A true fiscal conservative should have at least brought up this issue.

Individually most of the new alders have proven ineffective. Other than the referendum on student fees and the phosphorous ordinance have any of them really done anything (that succeeded. :wink: ).
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