July 6, 2010 10:07 AM
The stuff you think about as mayor is…interesting. For example, I have taken pictures of sewer access covers ("manhole covers" in less enlightened towns) all over the world. You may not have noticed, but ours are particularly nice, emblazoned with a beautiful image of our state capitol in what really should be the new city logo.
Here's another interesting thing you pay attention to in this job: sewer backups. We keep track of how many sewer backups we have in a given year in an annual report we call Madison Measures. In 1993, there were about 380 sewer backups over almost 3 million linear feet of pipe. Last year there were less than 50 on almost 4 million linear feet. That's due to investments our Sewer Utility has made in rebuilding sewers, in regular inspections and cleaning and in main repairs.
And we reported earlier this year that pothole complaints were down by half compared to last year. Keeping track of these kinds of nitty-gritty services is one way to measure progress we're making on taking care of the basics. I came by this information in my quarterly meeting with the City Engineer, and I thought it was worth mentioning here since much of the spring and early summer have been taken up with big picture initiatives like high speed rail, the Edgewater, a new Central Library and now Overture. It's good to have some vision and these big projects are important for the long-term health of the city, but you can only do that if you've taken care of the basics first. We hold ourselves accountable for that, and there's evidence that we're making progress.