Alder Chris Schmidt
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service
What's on tap for tonight's Council meeting
Tonight's Council meeting include referral of Judge Doyle Square, but there are still other items that could keep us up late into the night. These four may or may not contribute to the length of the evening:
Capital Budget public hearing
The 2016 Capital Budget can be found here:
This hearing is the first time we formally take input on the Capital Budget before it goes back to Board of Estimates. I will be writing more about the budget at a future date.
Mad City Frites - override of Mayoral veto
Mad City Frites is a restaurant that sells Belgian frites (similar to French fries) and the owner wishes to sell bottles of beer before 11pm. Taylor Beebe, the owner, had stated publically back in the winter that she was going to seek this Class B Beer license. Since then other new licenses have been granted on or near State St, most notably HopCat, a brew pub. The Mayor contends that we have probably already passed a tipping point and changed the very character of State St to one vast outdoor beer garden, thus wasting tens of millions of dollars spent over the years making it a welcoming public space. We had a similar debate early last year and created an Alcohol Overlay District on the 500 and 600 blocks to address his concerns, and we were to receive annual reports on how that is functioning and if it is having the effect desired by the Mayor. Mad City Frites is at 320 State St and is a new local restaurant owned by a 23 year old entrepreneur. Shakti had previously occupied the space but the owner, Allan Ajaya, told the Wisconsin State Journal on October 24, 2013 that he closed the store because the Internet had cut deeply into his sales, silver prices rose (thus hurting his jewelry business), and many of his customers stopped shopping on State St. While the last item may be seen as a result of the climate of State St, it is more directly related to online shopping, two recessions in the last 15 years, the general decline of the middle class, and changing tastes. Increasing rents have been a factor in the departure of some retail, and they reflect a shift in the way people are spending their money. Traditional retail is having a very hard time in the face of Internet commerce, and that trend will not reverse itself because of our policy and license decisions. The Council has shown a willingness to work on these issues, but I, and I presume others, do not see the crisis the Mayor speaks of, no matter the "passion" with which he verbalizes it.
I've found no argument against Mad City Frites receiving a Class B Beer license. Rather, the restaurant does add something new to the area and the request is very modest as far as licenses go. I will vote to override the veto.
Authorizing the City of Madison to move all employees into the Deductible HMO-Standard PPO health insurance program option 4 and to provide annual wage increases for employees in certain compensation groups
This change has been worked out with City employees, but it represents an unavoidable fact of life in our country: Insurance costs keep going up. We are doing our best to minimize the impacts on employees but we can only do so much, between the legal requirements and the way the industry is structured. I wish we didn't have to do this, but an amended version is likely to pass tonight. The likely amendments are to deal with very recent changes that are beyond our control.
Creating the classification of "Deputy Mayor"
The Mayor has requested that four of his staff members have a title change to Deputy Mayor. He told the Common Council Organizational Committee that this came about based on how they have been received and perceived at meetings outside of the City and Wisconsin, that the title of "assistant" does not convey their authority to speak for him. As of this writing I am uncertain how I will vote.
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