Dave in DC
October 23, 2009 3:23 PM
I'm just wrapping up my fall trip to Washington, and I'd like to give a quick update on what has been a packed couple of days.
Last June I was invited to the White House where the President announced a new initiative to find the best innovative ideas from nonprofits around the country. I came home and asked for suggestions and, boy, did I get them. We got about two dozen ideas, and on Thursday morning I returned to the White House and dropped off our list with David Agnew and Derek Douglas from the President's staff. They were especially interested in projects related to the dramatic decline in African American infant mortality in Dane County and in our ideas about urban agriculture.
Afterwards I had lunch with Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute to talk about the next Mayors Innovation Project meeting in January. The MIP is a group of mayors that I organized six years ago to share policy ideas. It's run by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy at the UW, and Brookings has been a great partner.
Next I met with Senator Herb Kohl's new chief of staff and Senator Russ Feingold about some of the items on our list for the 2010 Federal appropriations process.
Then we were off to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I was happy that Joel Plant of my office was there since Joel focuses on public safety issues. It was a very fruitful discussion with exciting prospects. The director described a new program that would provide $125,000 a year for five years to build stronger communities to fight drug use. It's the kind of comprehensive approach that might help bolster projects in places like the southwest side. We're going to follow up with an application. It was great to find that a young Madisonian and Northsider named J.D. Stier is working in that office.
We finished the day on Thursday with a visit to Joe Szabo, the new Federal Railroad Administrator, to talk about some issues related to high speed rail should that come to Madison in the near future.
Today, I met with our Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Jim Oberstar, the respected Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee along with Trek President John Burke. There are all kinds of exciting things happening in transportation from City road projects to high speed rail to bike enhancements.
I'm on a plane heading home at 7 Saturday morning (the cheapest alternative) and after a productive trip, I'm looking forward to being back in the office come Monday.