Alder Chris Schmidt
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alternate side parking begins, meeting preview, budget recap, other updates
If past is prologue we're in for a classic El Nino winter this year. And if past is prologue the Council meeting will have some vigorous debate about Police body cameras and Judge Doyle Square on Tuesday night.
Alternate Side Parking
The annual ritual of alternate side parking has begun and will continue until March 15, 2016. The alternate side parking rules are in effect seven days a week from 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. regardless of weather conditions for most of the City of Madison. Alternate side parking restrictions require that Madison residents park on the odd house numbered side of the street between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on odd numbered days and on the even house numbered side of the street between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on even numbered days. The only area where the rules are not in effect every day is the Downtown/Isthmus Snow Emergency Zone (none of which is within District 11). Winter parking information is available by calling 261-9111 and on the City's winter web site, www.cityofmadison.com/winter where residents can sign up to receive an e-mail notice and/or a text message whenever a snow emergency. You can also sign up to receive Snow Plow Update e-mails that will let you know what our plans are for snow plowing salting and sanding operations.
Alternate side parking is enforced regardless of whether there is snow on the ground or not, the latter of which could be often if winter proves to be mild and dry.
Tuesday, November 17th Council meeting
I would like to say that the "v5" is an exaggeration, but if anything it undercounts the number of major revisions and restarts on this project. Version 1 dates back to 2009/2010 at the Transit and Parking Commission and consisted of 2 decks of underground parking with a generic top upon which further development could occur. Along the way the parking has extended as far as 6 levels down and the project has at various times contained the public market, a bicycle center, a hotel, a corporate headquarters, residential space, restaurants, the dreams and hopes of many, and maybe a unicorn (though I cannot find record of that). At this point the Council is considering how to proceed given that Exact Sciences has chosen to locate at Research Park. The path forward prescribed in May was to turn to the other 3 applicants and potentially choose one of their proposals, however that resolution envisioned that negotiations with the selected developer would reach an unresolvable impasse or the results thereof be rejected by the Council during the summer. The Board of Estimates (BOE) has recommended we open the process to anyone who wants to apply, and sets a January deadline for submissions. Additionally, BOE forwarded the Mayor's and Staff's recommendation that various terms reached with JDS and Exact Sciences be carried forward. Council will need to decide who to consider for the project, what to require, and on what timeline.
During the budget discussion last week I put forward an amendment that would put us back on the "v1" path of building the parking and leaving the development on top for later. The counter argument is that we limit the potential of the site by developing those things separately, and some, particularly potential applicants, will argue that having the City own all of the parking and operate it through the Parking Utility is infeasible. It promises to be a fun debate.
In last year's budget and through ensuing legislative actions the Council created a task force to examine the issue of body cameras and to make a recommendation regarding whether to implement them and if so, how. Body cameras have been seen as a no-brainer in some communities, however it quickly became apparent that not everyone sees them as a benefit. Broadly speaking, some groups argue the cameras are necessary to protect the public and preserve their rights and others argue that cameras will act to dissuade cooperation with the police. Those viewpoints emerged from the experiences of different minority groups. That led the Community Policing and Ad Hoc Body Camera Committee (CPAHBCC) to recommend that concerns with the cameras be addressed first, that appointments to committees that deal with the concerns outlined in their report be made, and that if the determination to pursue body cameras is made by the Council, the CPAHBCC be reconvened to work on implementation. The Public Safety Review Committee has instead recommended that body cameras be implemented. It isn't clear what the lead recommendation is in this case, but the central debate will be whether to go forward with the cameras now, study the issue more, or set it aside.
Back in August I wrote about a new proposal to ban registered lobbyists from serving on City Committees. The argument for this action was that it limits influence from paid lobbyists and the entities they represent. The original version was a straightforward ban on lobbyists serving on committees, whereas the alternate from the Ethics Board requires a 2/3 vote and that the Mayor explain why he or she is recommending the appointment and why the matters that the citizen attempts to influence as a lobbyist are unrelated to those matters considered by the committee/etc to which the person is a member or a candidate for appointment.
Setting aside the overly-simplistic view of committee appointments that ignores the ability of the Council to make direct appointments via resolution, the Council President to create committees and make appointments via an order, and of committee chairs to appoint sub-committees, this version achieves the same goal as the first version: It puts into ordinance the furtherance of an antagonistic relationship between the City and some of its citizens. It labels certain individuals as untrustworthy in their efforts and words. We know who the registered lobbyists are and what they registered for. If we don't feel they are appropriate for a committee, we simply don't appoint them. I'm not going to participate in stigmatizing people.
Just this past summer we passed two new protected classes in our Equal Opportunity Ordinance that give some modicum of protection to non-believers and the homeless, on the principle that creed (or lack thereof) and housing status should not lead to discriminatory practices, and that comes from the basic philosophy that everyone is created equal and worthy of respect. That applies to the people living on the streets and it applies to the people who get paid to talk to us. Furthermore, registered lobbyists are a small subset of those who argue for one thing or another. There are a number of people who lobby for causes or organizations that they have some relationship with, but they don't qualify as registered lobbyists. Are they "better" because we see them as being "pure"? I know lobbyists I would trust with my life and others I avoid speaking to at all, I know activists I would stand by through anything and others I steer clear of. An individual's actions and character matter, not their job title. And no matter what, everyone deserves respect and the opportunity to participate in our government.
2016 Budget recap
Last week the Council adopted the 2016 budget. A theme that emerged, in large part perhaps because I've been making a point of it, was that given our limited resources we must focus on basic services first. Examples of those services are things like garbage collection, clearing snow, police and fire protection, parks, and our libraries – things that the City does and does well. Following the budget the Mayor made comments regarding the evolution of basic services, and he is correct that they do evolve – recycling was not a basic function of our services not so long ago. But I fear there will be an ongoing push to define new basic services, and an effort to redefine existing services to justify budget cuts to pay for the new ones. In particular, the Police may be the target of those cuts. Certainly the best practices for policing are evolving as they always have, but I suspect we'll see that argument used to move toward a slowdown in hiring, which will lead to a drop in the ratio of officers to citizens as our city grows. We may see the same applied to our roads and road maintenance. I highlight those areas as they are two where Madison has repeatedly created structural deficits, only to have to rush to fill those deficits at a later date. I hope we do not repeat that particular bit of our history as we pursue improved services for the public.
Some other budget highlights include:
Midtown Station is on schedule for construction in 2016-2017. It will open with partial staffing in January 2018 and be fully staffed by June of 2018.
Monroe St reconstruction will occur in the 2018-2019 timeframe, with planning in 2016 and 2017.
The Public Market is in the budget for approximately 2018, pending securing $9.5m in funding from non-City sources. It will occupy our current Fleet Services building on First St and thus follows construction of a new Fleet Services facility at Nakoosa Trail, which will occur in 2017. The debate focused on the economic benefits of the public market, of which there are some. I believe, however, that the original motivation for the market – to improve access to healthy, local food for everyone, especially those of limited means – has eroded somewhat and even the best single-site market will not water our food deserts. Getting people to the food or the food to the people is still going to be a challenge.
$50k in funding for the Tenant Resource Center to hire a new employee was denied. I voted against this because we have a process, as imperfect as it may be, for funding community services, and TRC participates in that process. We have generally said no to community service agencies that seek funding "out of cycle". I agree that TRC provides an important service, but I cannot support a line-item for them. I also felt that this amendment would not have received much consideration if it had not been promoted by a well-known former Alder. Other organizations in need that also provide important services would not even bother to ask for a line-item appropriation because they've learned to expect no for an answer. My colleagues who voted yes on this amendment were clearly concerned about the people affected, but a budget night line-item appropriation for a specific organization is a road we should not go down, no matter who does the asking and/or the righteousness of their cause.
In 2013 we provided $35k in emergency funding to a child development organization that was in financial trouble, going against the principle stated above. I was not enthusiastic about it but I did vote for it. That organization has since seen its work picked up by another. The City's money did not have the desired effect.
The UW-Madison campus planning staff will be holding a "2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Initial Alternatives" presentation at 7:00 PM on Monday, November 16, 2015. The meeting will be held at Union South (check for room location in the "Today in the Union" schedule). The presentation will be approximately 45 minutes with questions and comments to follow. The most current presentations and newsletters can be located on the official Campus Master Plan Update website. You can sign-up for the mailing list by sending an e-mail request to: email@example.com
WisDOT is doing a planning and environmental linkages study of the Beltline, which is the first step in the multi-year planning process for major Beltline reconstruction. The reconstruction is several years away. WisDOT is holding public information meetings on the project that present results of the process to date, which are mostly possible changes that might be made to add crossings and modify existing interchanges:
Monday, November 16, 2015: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., presentation at 6:00 ?p.m., Madison Central Library, Room 302, 201 W. Mifflin Street, Madison
Wednesday, November 18, 2015: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., presentation at 6:00 p.m., Monona Community Center, 1011 Nichols Road, Monona
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