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Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:22 pm

jman111 wrote: Says you. Based on former mayor Dave's playing of the "elected official" card, it would seem relevant to the discussion.
DC wrote:The Landmarks Commission isn't charged with taking into account the broader picture, so it should not be the de facto decision-maker on any project. That should be left to responsible, accountable elected officials whose job it is to weigh all of the public policy issues involved.


I see your point, DC's argument might also be applied to the Planning Commission. You might reasonably ask what is different between Planning and Landmarks that justifies different powers. I expect he has an answer.

I don't know of any problem of the PC having too much power. The problem with the LC was made evident.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:25 pm

Huckleby wrote:
green union terrace chair wrote:They don't pull a number out of their asses. It's in the ordinance. Do you not understand that? The commission applies the ordinance to development proposals. The ordinance was written and passed by the city council. If the council wants to change the ordinance, they can.

Sounds like we don't a LC in the process at all. Why are we having this discussion?

You are implying that it was impossible for the new Edgewater to be built because of existing law. (I don't know the details of how the waivers or whatever were exercised, but clearly your implication is wrong.)

Lets cut the baloney: the Landmarks Commission played a critical role in blocking the Edgewater development. They nearly succeeded, but were barely overriden.

According to ordinance, yes, the Edgewater was not appropriate for several reasons (which we've all heard). But within the framework of law, the city council was able to (and did) approve it. I still think it was for the wrong reasons, but that's what our elected officials chose to do. So be it.

We have so many committees and commissions because our alders are part-timers and defer a lot of power out of necessity. We could have an alternative where there are fewer, full-time alders and far fewer committees and commissions. Individual alders would become much more powerful but we'd lose a lot of the professional expertise from our volunteer, appointed committees and commissions. What would you prefer?
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:26 pm

gargantua wrote:
Huckleby wrote:For sake of discussion, I'll give you one or the other. If you had to choose between Historic Districts or Supermajority protection, which would you keep?

For sake of discussion, I'd keep both.

Sure, nice power if you can get it.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Zoti Bemba » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:31 pm

Huckleby wrote:You get to decide what constitutes too big in a giant swath of the downtown.

Really? Does that "swath" happen to include the three enormous holes on or just off State Street that are currently being filled with multiple luxury and/or student apartment towers? Because I truly wish that there had been one quarter the discussion that the Steve Brown Gilman Street proposal has generated before those were approved. And by discussion I mean both of the aesthetics and practical angles of the particular projects and of "the long term growth interests of the city as a whole" that you claim the Landmarks Commission is somehow thwarting. Personally I think that ex-Mayor Dave's low-bar lazy guesstimate standard of "Is it better than what it is going to replace?" is a far greater threat to this city than adding some consideration of neighborhood history and development to the approvals process in a few iconic areas.

I very much appreciate the Landmarks Commission's function of enforcing the rules that our non-expert elected representatives seem to find all too easy to ignore, especially when the harm falls outside their districts. Which is why the 2/3 override rule makes sense -- a proposal that's bad enough to generate concern from the Landmarks Commission deserves something better than a low-bar lazy guesstimate "yes" from a politician whose district is miles away, might get a small piece of the theoretical benefit but will never have to deal with any of the real world consequences.

Just my 2 cents' worth.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:36 pm

green union terrace chair wrote: We have so many committees and commissions because our alders are part-timers and defer a lot of power out of necessity. We could have an alternative where there are fewer, full-time alders and far fewer committees and commissions. Individual alders would become much more powerful but we'd lose a lot of the professional expertise from our volunteer, appointed committees and commissions. What would you prefer?


I'm not calling for a revolution. When you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make with anyone anyhow.

I support the Landmarks Commission. I want to trim their sails just a skosh. A little nip & tuck. I'm sure a brilliant jurist like Stu will rarely have trouble persuading a majority of the council.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:51 pm

Zoti Bemba wrote:Which is why the 2/3 override rule makes sense -- a proposal that's bad enough to generate concern from the Landmarks Commission deserves something better than a low-bar lazy guesstimate "yes" from a politician whose district is miles away, might get a small piece of the theoretical benefit but will never have to deal with any of the real world consequences.


I don't agree that the Landmarks Commission is wiser and smarter than the Council. I believe that the Council will respect and fairly weigh recommendations from Landmarks.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:06 pm

Huckleby wrote:
Zoti Bemba wrote:Which is why the 2/3 override rule makes sense -- a proposal that's bad enough to generate concern from the Landmarks Commission deserves something better than a low-bar lazy guesstimate "yes" from a politician whose district is miles away, might get a small piece of the theoretical benefit but will never have to deal with any of the real world consequences.


I don't agree that the Landmarks Commission is wiser and smarter than the Council. I believe that the Council will respect and fairly weigh recommendations from Landmarks.

Let me try to make the argument this way: Alders have to be generalists in a lot of different areas. Most of them are one or two-termers and simply don't have time to become experts in every aspect of city history and law.

City commissioners / committee members are tasked with a focus on a much narrower set of ordinances. They can spend a lot more time analyzing the issues before them and making rulings. Many of them have a great deal of practical and professional experience in their subject matter. They may very well be wiser and smarter than the Council on their specific topics.

It is the responsibility of alders to both respect that expertise as well as feel the gravity of their decision whether or not to overrule it.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:21 pm

green union terrace chair wrote: They may very well be wiser and smarter than the Council on their specific topics.

yes, and its the Council's job to be wiser on weighing broader interests.

green union terrace chair wrote:It is the responsibility of alders to both respect that expertise as well as feel the gravity of their decision whether or not to overrule it.

A 2/3 rule makes it nearly impossible for the council to exercise their responsibility.

Just like in the U.S. Senate, where filibusters tie the hands of the body. A 2/3 rule is even more disempowering.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby jman111 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:45 pm

Huckleby wrote:A 2/3 rule makes it nearly impossible for the council to exercise their responsibility.

But, as stated earlier, a majority vote rule essentially relegates the LC to advisory status.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Detritus » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:50 pm

Huck, you (and the ex-Mayor) seem to be proposing a solution for which there is no problem. The only "blocked" project you point to is the Edgewater which, I hope you realize, went through in spite of the recommendations of the Landmark Commission. In the meantime, the developers had to address concerns that the then-Mayor and a certain alder wanted to ignore, and the whole issue of the use (and abuse) of TIF funding was brought out into the light.

Frankly, it looks to me like the process worked just fine. The council, in its generalist wisdom, voluntarily limited its ability to ignore the recommendations of the LC by requiring a 2/3 majority. After a LOT of public debate, the 2/3 majority voted in favor of the project. What is the problem here? You got what you wanted, didn't you?

As to the LC having a 2/3 majority requirement for over-ride, that makes absolute sense to me. If a project really is a wise move that is being irrationally obstructed by the LC, then there should be no problem finding a 2/3 majority of the council to over-ride. On the other hand, this is an area--unlike, I would argue, the Plan Commission--in which deference must be made to preservation and restoration over development. Once something is gone, it is not coming back, whereas redoing a strip mall incompetently just means it has to be done again. The LC provides a balance of interest against development wiping out historical buildings and neighborhoods, which could themselves serve as a resource in the future--but only if they haven't been torn down.

Furthermore, defenestrating the Landmark Commission would set a terrible example for other citizen committees that render decisions the elected officials disagree with. We have enough problems getting the city and the developers to pay attention to the neighborhood plans, for example. Yes, the pace of development is slowed down when we have to consider more than business interests. So fucking what? Why should they weigh more than the rest of us, especially when they're using our money to shape our city?
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:49 pm

jman111 wrote:
Huckleby wrote:A 2/3 rule makes it nearly impossible for the council to exercise their responsibility.

But, as stated earlier, a majority vote rule essentially relegates the LC to advisory status.


What is wrong with advisory status?

I might be able to support a 2/3 rule for a Landmarks Commission that was tasked with identifying and protecting certain structures with special significance. In other words a Landmarks Commission that concerned itself with landmarks.

With the rubric of the artificial "historic districts", the LC becomes Overlords of Appropriate Taste for large sections of the city. There is zero justification for taking-away the power of the council to have the final say. The LC, as currently empowered, is a mechanism for a dedicated minority to impose their conservative tastes on the whole population.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Detritus » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:01 pm

Huckleby wrote:There is zero justification for taking-away the power of the council to have the final say. The LC, as currently empowered, is a mechanism for a dedicated minority to impose their conservative tastes on the whole population.

For the last time: the council has the final say, NOT the Landmark Commission. You can say the opposite all you like, but it is not true, as evidenced by your hobbyhorse, the Edgewater. If what you said were true, there would be no construction going on at the bottom of Wisconsin Avenue where it meets Langdon.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:02 pm

Detritus wrote:Frankly, it looks to me like the process worked just fine. The council, in its generalist wisdom, voluntarily limited its ability to ignore the recommendations of the LC by requiring a 2/3 majority. After a LOT of public debate, the 2/3 majority voted in favor of the project. What is the problem here?

The process demonstrated how difficult it is to achieve a 2/3 majority on such a subjective issue. No justification for so disempowering council.

Detritus wrote:On the other hand, this is an area--unlike, I would argue, the Plan Commission--in which deference must be made to preservation and restoration over development. Once something is gone, it is not coming back, whereas redoing a strip mall incompetently just means it has to be done again. The LC provides a balance of interest against development wiping out historical buildings and neighborhoods,

I was with you up until "neighborhoods." We don't have historical neighborhoods, that is phony. The 30-square block district that Edgewater was part of is not a historical treasure.

Detritus wrote:Furthermore, defenestrating the Landmark Commission would set a terrible example for other citizen committees that render decisions the elected officials disagree with.


Just because the LC is not more powerful than the Council does not mean they have been thrown out the window. You are presenting ye olde false choice.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:05 pm

Detritus wrote:For the last time: the council has the final say, NOT the Landmark Commission

The "say" of the Council is what a simple majority of the Council thinks.

For the last time, a 2/3 majority rule muzzles the council, makes the LC more powerful.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Madsci » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:43 pm

Huckleby wrote:
Detritus wrote:For the last time: the council has the final say, NOT the Landmark Commission

The "say" of the Council is what a simple majority of the Council thinks.

For the last time, a 2/3 majority rule muzzles the council, makes the LC more powerful.

We can only hope Huckster, we can only hope...
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