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Alder Scott J. Resnick

Alder Scott J. Resnick

Home Address:
661 Mendota Ct # 1404
Madison , WI 53703

Phone: 608-807-7962
Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Budget Amendments: Body Cameras for Police Officers, Tech Purchasing and No Fare Increases for Wifi

November 6, 2014 1:46 PM

Body Cameras

Last August, I introduced a resolution for the Madison Police Department to study the use of body cameras to ensure transparency and accountability for officers. The outcry of support for this resolution has been tremendous, as seen by editors in the campus papers here and here.  Elected officials in Dane County have received hundreds of emails following the events of Ferguson, MO demanding body cameras. Today, after consultation and assistance from Police Chief Koval, I will be introducing a budget amendment to pilot body cameras on officers in one district being early next fall.

Body cameras have been shown to be a tool to hold both officers and the public accountable for their actions. In cities where body cameras have been deployed, use of force and accusations of police abuse plummeted, creating cost savings for both departments and the public. Democrats and Republicans alike have been able to agree on support. Similar proposals for body cameras on specific deputies have been proposed at the county by my counterpart on the County Board of Supervisors, Leland Pan, and will be taken up by the county's finance board on Monday. Madison is a community that embraces innovative police practices and transparency, and many in the community, including myself, believe cameras are a next step.

My proposal is to spend $75,000 in capital and $30,000 in operating expenditures to pilot body cameras in one police district starting early next fall. This amendment will cover the cost of the purchase of approximately 50 camera units. Budgetary reductions were also proposed to the operating budget to reflect the increased expenditure so this program will not have an impact on our tax levy.

Between now and the purchase of the cameras, the Madison Police Department will have time to work through questions of privacy and usage policy alongside elected officials, union representatives, and members of the public. Representatives from the police union and department have raised critical questions that we must answer as a community; however, I can ensure that everyone will be invited to the table to have their voice heard.


Rethinking Government Purchasing

Most Madison politicos acknowledge that our budget process is cumbersome and far from transparent. Budget details are embedded in PDF files, and even alders struggle to navigate hundreds of spreadsheets, charts and columns. I was encouraged to see budget spent on transparency software, yet questioning why to contract with a vendor outside of Madison before looking local first. Groups like 100State, HackingMadison, and BuildMadison provide our local coding community to build open source and novel programming tools for a fraction of the cost.
In my proposal, I am modifying language to leverage our community to build this application on behalf of the city and decreasing the funding that would otherwise be spent on a vendor. Before outsourcing, let's see what our community can build.

A good example of this type of open data project is Look at Cook County. For almost no cost to Cook County, IL, two local developers were able to create a visualization of department budgets using open data provided by the county. It shed light on cost increases and what's not working within the system. From their simple web tool, anyone could readily understand the County's budget without any previous knowledge. This code was re-purposed by other communities, including the City of Whitewater, shortly after. Here is another great example from Oakland, CA:

We need to create more spaces within our budget for innovation and engage within our citizens to solve problems before the city. Modifying the focus of these resources allows residents to reinvest in themselves and provides outsiders to City Hall a unique insight into Madison.


No Wifi in Exchange for Fare Increases

The Mayor's Executive Budget calls for wifi to be added to all Metro buses for upwards of $100,000 in capital costs and $78,700 in operating. I am undecided on the importance wifi on buses with widescale advances in 4G LTE. Now, more than ever before, many commuters have access to the internet through personal devices. Even for those who do not have mobile access to the internet, there are many other locations I'd prioritize for capital and operating spending before Metro. I am neutral to the decision. 

However, I am distraught that this funding is being generated by a called fare increase to our unlimited rideshare program. Every several years, the University partners with ASM, UW-Housing, and UW-Transportation negotiate contracted services for the 80 bus routes and student's unlimited bus passes. These services are negotiated on a multi-year basis and rates are determined through averages. Although 80 services and bus passes are free for students, they are paid for by fees. So far, ridership has not plateaued, and most years ridership increases. Metro services are critical to campus safety, and I have fought alongside students to protect funding. I know if you were to ask the generate question on campus what is more important, better 80 bus service or wifi on buses, the answer would come back with better 80 service.

While the final decision for any fare increase is the responsibility of the Transit & Parking Commission, I would not like to see wifi used as leverage for price increases. Although these increases are nominal and may not radically impact services this year, with looming cuts in transportation funding, I believe it would be more prudent not to spend our resources on wifi.


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