Two views on sign issue
How many city bureaucrats does it take to screw a small business owner? Apparently, in Madison, we have plenty ("Garden Sign Draws Fine," 7/24/09).
Instead of legal action about a minuscule sign (which no one notices or cares about), the city of Madison should be paying Jake Goeller, an extremely talented and unassuming gardener, and the owners of Art Gecko for providing this absolutely beautiful garden for the public to enjoy.
This tiny plot is filled with an enormous diversity of plants and artifacts. It is an absolute jewel. I've often marveled at the plant sense - and great expense and effort - that has gone into that garden.
Whoever thought this legal action was useful should do a little weeding and watering in this lovely little spot on Monroe Street. This is a shameful and unwarranted ordinance enforcement.
Yes, Art Gecko's garden is an asset to the community, but its sign is not. Each time I passed by, I enjoyed the flowers but resented that sign. Regardless of how tasteful it looked, it was an ad, and it was on public property. I'm glad someone reported it. We need more people who take this type of civic action.
There has been a proliferation of illegal ads cluttering our city, advertising mattresses, weight-loss programs, bread companies, saw sharpening and so on. For a while, home improvement and realty signs even appeared along our bike paths! These have lessened, perhaps due to citizen calls.
Yes, there are many less tasteful signs than Art Gecko's, but allowing any is a huge mistake. I'm glad our city has laws protecting us from overly zealous merchants.
Judge picks defended
Although I was an unsuccessful candidate for appointment to the Dane County circuit court, I am compelled to respond to the suggestion in the July 24 issue that campaign donations played a significant part in the recent appointments to those posts ("Follow the Money," 7/24/09).
Most if not all of the  candidates were highly qualified. I have worked as an administrative law judge in the same office with Peter Anderson, who was appointed. Judge Anderson has approximately twice as much legal experience as myself and has argued cases before both the Wisconsin and United States Supreme Courts.
I have known Amy Smith over several years, including during her tenures at the Dane County DA's office and the Department of Justice. Smith also has more years of legal experience than myself. While I know almost nothing about Nick McNamara [the third appointed judge], I refuse to believe he was chosen simply because he gave money to the governor's campaign.
I am confident, based on my personal knowledge, that Anderson and Smith will prove to be excellent jurists in the fine tradition of fairness and independence that we have come to expect from our Wisconsin circuit court judges.
Robert G. Pultz, Brooklyn, Wis.
I was surprised at the nave statements made by people in "Tammy's Time" (7/31/09), and the apparent nave attitude of the author. Tammy Baldwin is one of 435 members of the House. She can't "deliver" universal health care. No one politician can do that. Real change is opposed by powerful and wealthy interests, including insurance and drug corporations. Real change can and will be thwarted by those Blue Dog Democrats in the Senate who represent a tiny fraction of the people in this country.
It makes no sense at all to scapegoat Tammy Baldwin, who after all is one member of a body of 535 legislators, just because she has the courage to make health care her signature issue. Why doesn't Joe Tarr go after Ted Kennedy next? It would have been much more helpful to the public to provide a piece on just how complicated this issue is, which explains why one legislator cannot be the "hero" in passing a bill.
A horrific ordeal
Thank you for publishing the wonderful article on Ahmed Abu Salama and his mother, Karima ("Madison Hosts Gaza Victim," 7/31/09). Unfortunately, when Ahmed and Karima return to the Gaza Strip, the conditions that made it necessary for Ahmed to get care elsewhere are still in force. Because of the siege there is a lack of nutritious food, medical care and resources necessary to treat Ahmed and other Gazans who have been injured during Israeli incursions or who simply suffer from the lack of employment and materials kept out by the siege.
Please email us at health-MRSCP@sbcglobal.net, or write to MRSCP Health, P.O. Box 55371, Madison, WI 53705. In addition please call or write your congresspeople and ask their cooperation in ending the siege that is preventing so many Palestinians like Ahmed and his family from living the life they deserve to have.
Kathy Walsh, Michele Bahl, Donna Wallbaum, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project health committee
I am grateful to Isthmus for publishing the recent piece about Ahmed Abu Salama. This boy and his family have been through a horrific ordeal. In some ways he is one of the few fortunate victims of the turmoil resulting from the military occupation of Palestine. Thousands of other children and adults in similar circumstances have not received such good care. Due to the cultural, religious and racial biases of the mainline media, we Americans do not often see this side of the story. But Americans are directly involved. Our taxes pay for the weapons that are used to commit these atrocities. Our taxes pay for the blockade of food, medicine, water and fuel to these people. The occupation could not go on without the complicity of all of us.
It is not cool
Ruth Conniff, in her opinion column "Let's Declare a Crime Wave" (7/31/09), played naysayer to David Blaska's usual alarmism. Trouble is, just because some people are always crying wolf doesn't mean there aren't wolves out there. Clearly, R.C. doesn't live or shop in my neighborhood, take my usual bus routes, use my library branch, or send her children to my local schools. I've been accepting of all kinds of people throughout my life because that's how my parents and public schooling showed me to live. Unlike R.C. however, I don't let people's ethnicity cloud my judgment when it comes to behavior. It is not acceptable to stroll across others' property, shouting, urinating and vandalizing along the way. It is not cool to crank up car stereos at all times of day or night. It is not okay to lace your language with loud "mofos" in public. And it is not reasonable to shout racist epithets just because you're a member of a minority.
I would have thought someone who writes for The Progressive would think a little more critically than to just accept a police department statistical report as proof that Madison is once again a magical land of ponies, unicorns and the upper middle class. R.C. and others like her need to pull their well-meaning heads out of their collective keister and come down here to the south side and live in my shoes for a while.
Fist in the air
I appreciate Kenneth Burns' article recognizing the new domestic partner registry as not being "good enough" ("A Big Gay Thanks But No Thanks," 8/7/09). Am I allowed to comment as an ungay person? Just as marriage excludes homosexual couples, the new domestic-partner registry excludes heterosexual couples. I realize that as part of a heterosexual relationship, I do have the choice of getting married if I so desire. My question is, why would anyone want to embrace any institution that is exclusionary and elitist? Where is all of the indignation and anger? I'm still outraged with my fist in the air, unmarried and loving it, shunning the American Dream.