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Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

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Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stu Levitan » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:31 am

I think the former mayor has gotten a little obsessive about the Landmarks Commission. His new posting is, again, replete with misrepresentations and lies. I guess he's still bitter about being fired.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:36 am

Kudos Stu on another shit title for a thread. I happen to agree with this comment in the article:

To solve this problem, Landmarks Commission rulings on the appropriateness of a project should be advisory to the Common Council, not binding.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:39 am

"To solve this problem, Landmarks Commission rulings on the appropriateness of a project should be advisory to the Common Council, not binding.

Amen
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:21 pm

Disagree.

If we're going to have a historic preservation function at all, we should take it seriously. Just because it's failed on mansion hill doesn't mean the other historic districts should be toast.

What if we got honest and dissolved (or reconfigured) the mansion hill one but decided to continue supporting the others, which mostly have worked as intended and raised property values within their boundaries?
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:27 pm

snoqueen wrote:If we're going to have a historic preservation function at all, we should take it seriously.


You are presenting a false choice. We can take historic preservation seriously without the Landmark Commission being more powerful than the city council. There may be some compromise adjustment.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:27 pm

Stebben84 wrote:Kudos Stu on another shit title for a thread.


Well of course Stu is testy about someone suggesting his power be limited. How dare anyone suggest that a group of unelected officials have less authority than the democratically representatives of the city of Madison.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:33 pm

Landmarks is not more powerful than the council for heavens sake. It can be overridden by a 2/3 vote.

Should it be changed to a bare majority?

Discussable. What's the difference in vote count?
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:44 pm

snoqueen wrote:Landmarks is not more powerful than the council for heavens sake. It can be overridden by a 2/3 vote.


How many Landmark commissioners does it take to pass a ruling in the first place? If it's less than 2/3 then yes, it has more power (in this specific area) then the council.

How often are Landmark commissioners selected and what is the reappointment process? Is there a simple way for citizens to remove said commissioners if they find their decisions to be onerous?

At best it should be a bare majority, though I think Stu's nemesis is probably correct when he says that it should be an advisory decision to the council of elected members. Possibly with a higher standard needed if the construction in question will directly affect a building or buildings (or the areas directly around them) that have specifically been deemed historic for reasons beyond mere age.

The difference in vote count is that it appears to be easier for the Landmark Commission to say no than it is for the elected council to say yes.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:47 pm

SInce the article questions the integrity of the Landmarks Commission, I do have a question Stu should be able to answer. 3 of the commission members are "adult citizens" What expertise do they bring to the table to make an informed vote on historic preservation issues. I also question the point of having a realtor on the commission, but it's better than just having an "adult citizen."

I wholeheartedly believe we need a Landmarks Commission. I recently watched a documentary on Penn Station that DC was referencing. I didn't know the history and it was unbelievable what happened. Unfortunately, the more I read about our commission, the more I think it needs to be revisited. I'm not saying watering it down, but I think we need to look at some of the guidelines for buildings(mainly the size issue) and also how and who we have serve on the commission.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stu Levitan » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:51 pm

Thanks for your question, Steb.
Two of the three adult citizen members absolutely have relevant expertise (which is why Mayor Cieslewicz appointed them in the first place). Christina Slattery is a Business Unit Leader in the Cultural Resources division of the architectural firm Mead Hunt. Erica Fox Gehrig studied historic preservation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has worked at the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. I believe having a designated realtor (currently Jason Fowler) is explicitly to have someone on the commission knowledgeable about property values and the real estate market. David McLean is a registered architect, as required by the ordinance. I hold the specified Historian position. I think you'll find there's more specific requirements for appointment to Landmarks than to most other city commissions. (All citizen voting members of the Plan Commission, for instance, are only defined as "adult citizen," with no stated requirement for understanding land use, transportation, economics, real estate, or any other relevant aspect.)
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:27 pm

Thanks for the clarification. I wondered if that was the case, but I found it odd that they were listed as "citizens"
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Huckleby » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:35 pm

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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby Stu Levitan » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:48 pm

Thanks for the plug, Huck!

Steb, "adult citizen" is the city's standard designation unless there are specific requirements.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:39 pm

Wow, when I saw Cieslewicz' column in the printed Isthmus yesterday, I honestly thought it was last week's column (which I read online). He's not backing down from his dumb arguments.

And this really gets my goat:
This is undemocratic because the commissioners are unelected and therefore unaccountable to the voters. It shouldn't take an extraordinary vote of the elected representatives of the people to overrule unelected commissioners.

It is maddening that a former mayor doesn't understand how our representative democracy works. Did you vote for Steve Cover, Katherine Cornwell or anyone else in the Planning Department? Did you vote for the police or fire chiefs? Did you vote for U.S. Supreme Court justices, who routinely strike down laws passed by elected representatives?

To make this argument, Cieslewicz is either being intentional misleading or ignorant.
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Re: Former Mayor to Landmarks Commission: Drop Dead

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:00 pm

I agree with that point and thought DC should never have made such a nonsensical argument.

He sounds like one of those right wingers who think the government bureaucracy is illegitimate because we don't directly elect positions like head of the IRS. He ought to know better.

Specific buildings designated landmarks always get that designation for reasons beyond mere age:

http://www.cityofmadison.com/neighborho ... vation.htm

Scroll down to the third major heading for a quick discussion. You might be interested to learn Indian mounds are among Madison's designated landmarks, which number 135 with national designation and 179 with local designation.

http://www.madisonpreservation.org/about/

(Not a city government site)

It's important stuff and the designation should not be easily attained. It has to mean something. That's why it hurt my head when Stu tried to protect one of the Gilman St properties under the reasoning David Clarenbach once rented it. That's really stretching.

Clarenbach has a place in Madison history (and his mother had a larger one) but if you're going to try saving buildings on the grounds he lived there once, you'll also have to save that big old yellowish house on the corner of E. Mifflin by the Market basket store, where I believe David lived for a longer time.

This stops making sense at some point. I'd rather be sure Tammy Baldwin's house and Richard Wagner's house are marked -- both are locations identified with the individual over a long period and both individuals have had longer tenure as important Madison political figures. A Landmark designation should not be issued as a move in some political feud. That cheapens the whole thing and is a sure way to push the whole committee and concept right into the dumpster of failed preservation policy.
Last edited by snoqueen on Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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