Alder Samba Baldeh,
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Baldeh’s Blog
Snow Emergency and More
As the snow falls and the city and nation celebrate the day commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is more important than ever that we all come together for the betterment of our community. Please know that however you are involved – whether it is as a driver for senior meals, a volunteer in your church, temple, or mosque, in a parent-teacher organization... helping your neighbor with snow shoveling - whatever you doing, it is valuable and important. The community is what we all put into it.
Tomorrow night I will introduce a resolution calling on our community to reject the recent negative comments from the White House about immigration directed at people from Haiti and the nations of Africa. As I am quoted in the press release, I strongly believe that our ideal of democracy is not limited to people who have had the good fortune of more stability or more resources. This day dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr., is an opportunity to hold up the value of every person's dignity. But we must work together to do that every day. We must recognize that our well-being is profoundly linked to that of others, and work to lift up the whole community.
Holiday Tree Collection
Please have your holiday trees on the curb tomorrow, Tuesday, January 16 at 7am if you want them picked up before spring brush collection begins. This second round of tree collection should be complete by February 1. Please help us protect city equipment by removing items that will damage the chippers: tree stands, whether they are wood or metal, any ornaments, lights, decorations, tree bags – any object other than the tree itself.
Reindahl Imagination Center Progress
I am very happy to report that planning for the Reindahl Imagination Center to include the library will begin soon. Community advocacy in support of this major and badly needed expenditure was extremely important and I want to again thank those of you who wrote to the Finance Committee, registered in support, and testified. We cannot simply leave it to government to do the right thing.
The Parks Department has resolved the question as to whether it is legally possible to locate the library at Reindahl. To guide the planning process, the city will hire an urban planner. There will also be a committee to include Public Works, Madison Public Library, Parks, and Traffic Engineering. This group should begin to meet within the next few months. I am committed to assuring that District 17 residents have significant opportunities to contribute to the planning process. We want the Imagination Center to be the kind of project people everywhere look to as a model for the future.
Upcoming Vote on Funding for Additional Police
The issue of funding for additional police officers is on the Common Council agenda for tomorrow evening. Two things are certain – Madison residents and District 17 residents all want to live in a community that is safe and stable. However, Madison residents and District 17 residents do not all agree that funding for more police officers will make us more safe and stable. I have received many, many emails from people on both sides of this issue – all of whom care deeply about the community they live in and want this community to be safe. There is likely to be a great deal of testimony on both sides of the issue, and I would like to share a few things that will be on my mind as I listen.
There is great fear of random violence. All over the world, these are violent times. Fear is emotional and so it is not usually helpful to address it with facts, but we cannot ignore facts if we want to live in a rational society. Violence is on our minds, it frightens us – and it should. However, in terms of facts, our community is fortunate to have a high degree of safety for most people most of the time. Where people are at risk, it is most often from someone they know, even someone with whom they have an intimate connection. I think it is very important to recognize that more patrol officers will not make these people who are most at risk more safe. What will make these people safer, is a stronger community – people looking out for each other, people not afraid to ask if something is wrong.
I will be weighing the impact of this decision on the city budget and other possible expenditures. Gun violence and crime are not the only forms of violence. I believe it is a form of violence that people in this community go hungry and unsheltered. Cannot get jobs to support their families or cannot earn enough to afford a place to live. Suffer from addiction. Addressing these forms of violence is also necessary to make our community safer. I am elected to pay attention to our resources and there is always an opportunity cost to what we spend.
I know there is a certain perception that the police study was a waste of money. I believe, however, that it is worth being very careful about how we spend 76 million dollars of your money every year. Whatever the outcome of this vote, the public deserves to know that its elected officials scrutinize such major spending. It is not our job to write blank checks to any city agency. In that regard about $170K of the money requested in this resolution is not budgeted for so there may be a possibility to redirect this fund.
The City of Madison has declared a snow emergency. This means alternate side parking restrictions will be in effect in the downtown/isthmus snow emergency zone as well as the rest of the City of Madison. This snow emergency will remain in effect until 7 a.m. on Wednesday, January 17.
The Streets Division crews along with heavy equipment contractors will begin plowing all city streets this evening. We expect plowing operations to start around 8pm on January 15 and it will take 12 to 14 hours for all streets to be cleared. Streets Division crews will maintain the city salt routes until switching to plowing residential areas. The combined plow force of the Streets Division and heavy equipment contractors will be approximately 150 pieces of equipment.
Madison residents are asked to remove all vehicles and trailers from the street if possible. Fewer obstacles in the road means crews the plowing operations will be safer, faster, and more complete.
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