Ideology & The Edgewater
July 27, 2010 9:44 AM
There are a few people who seem to want to paint the Edgewater Hotel debate in more or less irrelevant and incorrect ideological terms.
Most recently Cap Times Editor Paul Fanlund took up the cause in his blog where he quoted a couple of people who want to see this as some sort of victory for the forces of commerce over the will of the people: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/madison_360/article_b9247866-962c-5e13-9dd6-2952207519b8.html. It's an odd argument since the will of the people got expressed after seven hours of public testimony in five different votes in which the project cleared two supermajority votes of the elected representatives of the people. The project is currently being held up by a lawsuit filed by two opponents.
And when we look at how the Madison City Council voted, it's hard to make any kind of left-right case at all. Moderates pretty much supported the project on each of the five votes. Liberals tended to split their votes. And since on two crucial supermajority votes the project got 16 and 14 votes respectively that means that it had to get there with a mix of left, right and center (the Council has 20 members). A principled conservative, Jed Sanborn, supported the project but voted against its TIF funding because he just opposes TIF in principle as a free market interference. I disagree, but fair enough. In fact, one of the most consistent opponents of each aspect of the project was the Council's most outspoken conservative, Alder Thuy Pham-Remmele. So, if this is such a victory for business and the right, how come conservatives voted against some of its most crucial approvals while liberal votes supplied the margin of success?
The truth is that the tired old left-right dichotomies just don't mean much anymore. I'm a proud liberal who believes that we need to grow the tax base to support the high level of services and public investments I want to make in the city. More on that tomorrow.