UP: Heroin. Smack is back. The Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force reports that 14 local people died of heroin overdoses in 2008, up from just four such deaths in 2005 and 2006 and eight in 2007. Last year, the drug accounted for 77% of all local overdose deaths, compared to 38% the year before. These figures, of course, do not include deaths from drinking too much alcohol.
DOWN: Madison and Wisconsin. The city and state brace for tough times to get even tougher. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz imposes an immediate hiring freeze and other budget trims to address anticipated shortfalls. And Gov. Jim Doyle warns that state agencies and schools should prepare for across-the-board 5% cuts, which will doubtless put upward pressure on local property taxes. Curses!