State of the City 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - 6:47am

Madison - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz presents his State of the City address for 2008 today. He will give abbreviated versions of the remarks that follow at tonight's Common Council meeting and tomorrow's Downtown Madison Rotary meeting.

Key new initiatives in the Mayor's State of the City address include:

• Exploring the use of Community Service Officers in the police force, who could deal with a variety of issues to give our residents better service while not taking the time of our sworn officers.

• An annual scientific customer satisfaction survey of Madison residents in relation to city services.

• An accelerated 5-year plan for the reconstruction of key City streets to reduce the number of substandard miles by two-thirds.

• A study to consider merging the City and Dane County housing authorities, as part of a regional approach to the need for affordable housing.

• A proposal to make resources from the $4.1 million Affordable Housing Trust available countywide.

• An initiative to ensure that the City is prepared for the likely arrival of Emerald Ash Borer, including an inventory of all City trees.

• Possible inclusion of one or more Project Manager positions in the 2009 budget, to help manage major economic development initiatives such as the Capitol Gateway/East Washington Avenue Corridor and University Research Park.

• Developing an implementation strategy by this fall for the new economic development plan, and connecting the recommendations of that plan with the Healthy City economic development blueprint and the Economic Development Commission's report on the City's business climate.

• Determining by July how to proceed with the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance.

(Full text of the Mayor's State of the City address follows.)

State of the City
April, 2008
By Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

It's hard to believe, but 100.7 inches of snow later, winter is finally behind us. It was a tough winter for all of us, and I just want to take a moment to thank Streets Superintendent Al Schumacher, his staff, and all of the other City staff who worked long hours, nights and weekends to keep our streets safe.

This is the fifth time in my five years as Mayor that I'm offering an annual address in April. April is a good time for us to take stock of our community. It marks the 152nd birthday of the City of Madison, and for the new Council this April is the midpoint of their two-year term. April is five months after passage of the last City budget and seven months before we adopt our next one - enough time to evaluate where we are in the current year and to set broad goals for the next one. And April is the start of spring - its time to think about renewal and to be optimistic and look to the future. So, let's begin with a simple and true observation:

The state of our City is good. Consider:

• Our 3.5% unemployment rate is the lowest of any city in Wisconsin and among the lowest in the nation.

• In two short years, we have turned the annual Halloween event from a black eye to a multi-faceted celebration called Freakfest that is bringing in revenue, reducing costs and becoming just plain fun.

• Ridership on our Metro Transit bus system is approaching record levels, with nearly 13 million rides in 2007.

• The financial performance of the Goodman Pool is improving dramatically, with a city subsidy in 2007 that was only half of what it was in 2006.

• Violent crime was down 14% in 2007 and we continue to have one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.

• Crime in Allied Drive has been cut in half, and we've approved a comprehensive plan for neighborhood redevelopment.

• I count no fewer than eight civic building projects that are near completion, prepared to start or developing as concepts: Villager Mall, Warner Park stadium, Sequoya Library, Garver Feed Mill, Central Park, the Public Market, Central Library and a new downtown hotel.

As we consider ways to strengthen the state of the City into the future, I want residents and visitors to Madison to be able to say seven things about our city.

• Madison is safe.

• Madison has excellent basic services at a fair price.

• Madison has great public schools.

• Madison is open, accessible and connected to the world.

• Madison is a leader in green efficiency.

• Madison is progressive and pro-business.

• Madison is building a great city.

All of our work should be about making those seven statements true. Because if they are reality, then we will be the healthiest city in America, we will be providing the high quality of life our residents expect, and we will be living up to our reputation as one of the best cities in the nation.

I would like to spend a little time reporting on where we've been and where we're going on each of these seven goals.

First, public safety - While our crime rate remains among the lowest in the nation and violent crime is down 14% from last year, we can't deny that public safety is a real concern in our community. Unfortunately, this is especially true today in the wake of the tragic murder of Brittany Zimmermann, only months after the murder of Joel Marino. Our police department is working night and day to solve these and other unresolved crimes. As I told community gatherings this weekend, nobody wants to find those responsible more than the leadership, detectives and officers of the Madison Police Department.

Last summer I went to eight neighborhood meetings attended by about 2,500 residents. I listened closely to their stories and we took action.

In 2007, I launched a Downtown Safety Initiative that put more cops on the street during key weekends like football Saturdays. The rash of incidents downtown decreased markedly - from 112 robberies in 2006 to 58 in 2007 - and I asked the City Council to continue the program this year.

In January, the Common Council and I passed the Southwest Neighborhood Plan, which focuses on improving the safety and quality of life on the southwest side. City Departments are hard at work on many of the plan's recommendations, including: enhancing community policing efforts; exploring the development of a southwest side community center; and increasing activities for both youth and seniors in the neighborhood.

We also put in place a successful plan to gate and ticket the Halloween event, now known as Freakfest. In 2007, that resulted in $100,000 in reduced costs and $70,000 in increased revenues. Arrests were down from 235 in 2006 to 175 in 2007. In 2008 we'll continue to build on that success so that we can turn what was a black eye into the coolest music-with-costumes event in the nation.

In September, we passed a nuisance abatement ordinance that gives the City Attorney a new tool to get after bad landlords. That tool is being used to good effect. The property at 902 W. Badger Road, for example, has been an ongoing concern for neighbors and police alike. A chronic nuisance action was filed on this property in January. As a result, police calls and neighbor complaints at this address have all but ceased.

In November, the Common Council passed all of the public safety initiatives in my 2008 budget. We added 30 new police officers, twelve of which started in an accelerated academy last month. They will be on the street in June while the remaining 18 will join them in January. This brings to 56 the total number of new police officers added in the last five years. That's over 11 per year compared to an historic average of only five per year before 2003.

To ensure that we are also working smarter to prevent crime, we will soon add two new crime analysts, tripling our staffing in that area. We are also making significant new investments in law enforcement technology, thanks in large part to federal assistance secured with the support of Sen. Herb Kohl.

Soon we will release a patrol staffing study. This study will be a tool to help determine the appropriate allocation of our patrol resources based on the needs of our community. We will no longer use a rough population ratio to guide our staffing levels. Instead, we will evaluate the data each year and modify our patrol schedules to allow our officers to work with our citizens as effectively and efficiently as possible. For example, thanks to the staffing study, we already know that the police department is probably overstaffed in the early hours of the morning and understaffed in the afternoon. The staffing study will allow us to adjust resources to fit demand.

But because public safety is a full community responsibility, we didn't stop with more police. We added more building inspectors to use in concert with the nuisance abatement ordinance. We added another graffiti removal team. We bolstered after-school programs and other initiatives to get at the root causes of crime.

And we continued efforts to improve troubled neighborhoods. In January, the Council approved a proposal by Ald. Brian Solomon and me to redevelop Allied Drive. Crime there is down by half since the City acted on my initiative to buy 20% of the housing there. Now we're starting to see millions of dollars of private reinvestment there, which was exactly what we intended when we bought the property. Private developers Bryan Olson and Dave Malin are actually selling condos on Allied Drive now because, as Bryan said, the City's investment gave him the "confidence" to take a chance on that neighborhood.

But we are also attempting to do two things that have not been tried much anywhere in America: we are trying to improve Allied Drive without driving out low-income working families and we are trying not to simply force problems into other neighborhoods.

Along those lines, we are working on Ald. Tim Bruer's initiative to develop the Neighborhood Indicators pilot project. Inspired by a program in Charlotte, North Carolina, this is a set of statistics that is designed to alert us to early warning signs of stress in a neighborhood. Armed with that knowledge, we can go to these neighborhoods and using quick-access resources like the Emerging Neighborhoods Fund, which I doubled in my 2008 budget, to attack a problem before it gets out of hand. By being smart we can spend a small amount of resources in the short run to avoid spending much more in the long run.

We will also be exploring the use of Community Service Officers. These would be City employees who could deal with a variety of issues to give our customers better service while not taking the time of our sworn officers. Working with Chief Wray and the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, we will identify specific areas in which a CSO-type employee could be beneficial and introduce a pilot program during the remainder of my term. In addition to allowing us to provide more efficient service, CSO programs also afford an opportunity for individuals interested in becoming police officers to learn more about the job and gain experience before entering the police academy.

Alcohol remains a significant public safety and public health issue for the community. We need to strike a balance between encouraging a vibrant entertainment and music culture and getting serious about issues related to alcohol abuse and its consequences. The ALRC, with support of our Alcohol Policy Coordinator, is looking to find the "sweet spot" that balances these two interests with a comprehensive approach to alcohol issues in our community. I am especially grateful for the leadership of ALRC member Ald. Michael Schumacher on this issue and for the six years of leadership that ALRC Chair Stephanie Rearick has shown. I also appreciate County Executive Kathleen Falk's willingness to address the broader issues related to alcohol abuse in our society.

Second, we need to be able to say we have excellent basic services. Two years ago I launched a program called "Madison Measures." The idea is to measure the things that really count, like crime rates, unemployment rates, pavement conditions on City streets, the length of time it takes to respond to a fire call, or how long it takes to clean up after a snowstorm. In all, there are over 100 measures covering every City agency.

We set goals and track our progress, good and bad. For example, we saw an increase in graffiti and responded by adding an abatement team to the Streets Division and hiring additional building inspectors. We are expanding the Sequoya Library branch to meet user demand. We stepped up capital investments to maintain and repair our high volume arterial streets.

We will add two new fire stations over four years when Station 12 opens on the West Side early next year. This comes after we had not added a single new station in the previous 25 years. And my plans call for us to add our second new paramedic unit in five years in 2010, after not having added a new unit in 15 years before that.

As you know all too well, this last winter was a very tough test for City government. Despite the record snows, I believe our City employees and managers performed well, but we can always do better. So, the Snow Team I created last year is analyzing our work over this past winter and they'll make recommendations on what we might do differently in the future.

We also have a pothole program - the "Pothole Patrol" - and a program to improve the care of our medians and parks. These things are not trivial. How well we take care of our streets, medians and parks sends a signal - fair or not - about how we will take care of our City. Overall, my goal is that one day it can be said that we take care of our City as well as Fred Mohs takes care of the Kennedy Manor.

Of course, the long-term solution to high-quality streets is reconstruction, not filling potholes. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has been instrumental in winning federal assistance for the reconstruction of key infrastructure, such as East Washington Avenue and State Street. At the City level, we are going to accelerate our locally funded efforts to rebuild aging city streets. This will include a special five-year initiative to significantly improve the quality of Madison's key arterial streets, reducing by two-thirds the miles of street that are substandard.

The long winter has also demonstrated the need for a better, more customer-friendly system of accessing city services. So, I have requested a report at the urging of Ald. Satya Rhodes Conway and

Ald. Tim Bruer on the feasibility of creating a "311"-type hotline for municipal services and information. This will provide residents and visitors with a one number portal to access all city non-emergency services.

And in October, we will - for the first time in twelve years - begin an annual scientific phone survey of our customers/ our taxpayers to track their satisfaction on a dozen City services.

And, of course, we have been hard at work addressing issues related to our Water Utility. Our Interim Manager City Engineer Larry Nelson has done a fantastic job in rebuilding morale and professionalism there. Our goal is to have a permanent new manager in place by the Fourth of July. In the meantime, we are proceeding full speed ahead with investments to improve key infrastructure, from water main replacement to a new security system, to a request to our congressional delegation to help us purchase three additional manganese and iron filtering systems.

While making all of these needed investments, we also need to keep a close eye on the bottom line, to make sure we provide the highest-quality services at a fair price. I have worked hard each year to introduce a budget with a property tax increase at about the 15-year average. Given rapid increases in costs we can't control, such as fuel and health insurance, and with state aids flat, this has not been easy for a growing community like Madison.

One way we have kept costs under control is through TRIM - Taxpayer Relief through Innovative Measures. TRIM is about using innovation and efficiency to get a lot more done without a lot more resources. For instance, automated recycling allows us to serve more households without increasing staff. So we save money on staff, vehicles, and fuel. And to top it all off, the level of service offered by automated recycling is substantially higher than under the old system. More things can be recycled, which is good for the environment, saves us money through reduced landfill fees, and lengthens the life of the county landfill. Other TRIM initiatives include sidewalk shaving, chip-sealing streets, and our enterprise software initiative to make city government more efficient.

Third, we need to be able to say that Madison has great public schools. I understand that we elect a school board to be responsible for our schools, but I also know that the quality of the schools is the first thing that young families look at when they buy a home. Public schools are probably the most important single factor in the success of a city. So, the City needs to find a way to be appropriately involved. I am grateful for the leadership of Superintendent Art Rainwater, and I look forward to working with Dan Nerad who has been so impressive in my early conversations with him. We also need to continue cultivating remarkable role models such as the late Milt McPike who inspired countless young people during his tenure at East High School.

But I am concerned because, as I have pointed out in every one of the annual addresses, the poverty rate in our schools has risen rapidly. So, I believe we need to do at least four things.

First, we need to work closely with the schools to make sure that every school is safe. We have Educational Resource Officers in each of our high schools and we are lucky to be able to work with former Madison Assistant Chief Luis Yudice in his role as head of security for the schools.

Second, we need to be dedicated participants in a strong, formal partnership among all of the institutions that have an interest in the quality of our schools. I and Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway propose a new partnership made up of community leaders such the School Superintendent, the School Board President, the Mayor, the City Council President, the County Executive, the County Board Chair, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, the head of the United Way, the UW Chancellor and the MATC President to focus on the schools and to coordinate our collective efforts to make them the best in the nation.

Third, we need to work shoulder to shoulder with the schools in the legislature to reform the state revenue caps that are strangling public education not just in Madison but all over the state.

Fourth, we need to make sure that all communities in Dane County have low-income housing opportunities. The research is clear that, while a reasonable level of income diversity is good for our schools, excessive concentrations of poverty in individual schools have a negative impact on academic performance. Low-income housing is not just Madison's responsibility but also the responsibility of the entire region. So, we should explore merging housing authorities with Dane County, making the resources of our $4.1 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund available for projects throughout the county, and finding a dedicate regional funding source for the Fund.

Fourth, Madison should be open, accessible and connected to the world. We are becoming more diverse and, thus, more like the world around us. It is important for Madison to reach out to the rest of the world. Since becoming Mayor, I have had the privilege of representing Madison in Italy, Jerusalem, Japan, and later on this year will travel to Germany. Building relationships with government, academic and business people all over the world makes us more competitive and literally puts us on the map. These relationships are very real: I got into a taxi in Tokyo and right in front of me were holders containing all sorts of brochures. One was for TomoTherapy, the highly successful Madison-based maker of high-tech radiation machines that treat cancer.

Beyond being an effective tool for cultural exchange, the Sister City program can inspire us with ways to enhance our local economy and reduce the environmental impact of our region. Our friends in Freiburg have taught us that you can build livable, sustainable neighborhoods like Vauban, a former army base that has been transformed into a super-green neighborhood. They have shown us advantages of collocating business that develop and service alternative energy systems like the Solar Info Center.

While visiting Obihiro, Japan, I learned about a jointly operated center for research and development. The Tokachi Foundation's primary role is to develop new agricultural products that benefit the region. I also saw an example of very successful restaurant incubators that would be a perfect fit for Madison, perhaps as part of the Public Market that has been proposed. So, the Sister Cities program, far from being attacked as it has been in the past, should be maintained and perhaps even expanded with private funds.

Closer to home, the Department of Civil Rights has been very active in its first full year of operation. In an effort to make city government better reflect the diversity of our community, the Department's recruiter attended nearly two dozen job fairs in 2007.

In the area of supporting local businesses that have traditionally been underrepresented in contracting with the City, the Department actively worked to certify small businesses, minority businesses, women businesses and disadvantaged businesses. Nearly $5.8 million worth of City contracts were obtained by these businesses in 2007 as the result of this program.

The Department also was active in working to educate the public on equal rights issues such as open housing laws, fair employment practices and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Department staff conducted numerous workshops, presentations and one-on-one trainings with a wide range of employers, community groups and others. They also organized three town hall meetings throughout the City to discuss issues of diversity in the community.

But as Urban League President and CEO Scott Gray would point out, the real key to equality is economic progress. So the City is also going to pursue a new initiative through our Department of Civil Rights to enhance the job and business economic opportunities for small companies, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses, as well as people with disabilities. The initiative will leverage the City's major public infrastructure investments and "match" local contractors with City projects, working with local banks and others to overcome financing challenges and other potential barriers.

The City has pledged $1 million to jump start the Urban League's capital campaign for its new Center for Economic Development at the Villager Mall, which will allow the League to expand its workforce development programs and business development services and build a road to economic success for those who have been left behind. The City has also worked closely with MATC to develop their Small Business Resource Center.

The City is supporting a variety of efforts aimed at creating employment and job training opportunities, including Diana Shinall's Madison Apprenticeship Program on Allied Drive; the Building Trades' START program for apprenticeships; and Best Value Contracting, a program championed by Ald. Zach Brandon which requires contractors who do business with the city to offer apprenticeship programs.

Before moving on, I do want to ask that you all keep Lucia Nuñez - the City's first Director of Civil Rights - in your thoughts. As many of you know, she has been dealing with some health challenges lately, and we are hoping to have her back with us soon. I am grateful to Larry Studesville for filling in so ably during this time.

Fifth, Madison needs to be a leader in green efficiency. "Green efficiency" means doing what's right for our environment in a way that does what's right by our taxpayers. Our administration has launched: the Green Capitol City Plan to make our City functions more energy efficient; the 100 K Challenge and, with the help of Gary Wolter and MGE, the Mpowering Madison Campaign to get the entire community to pitch in to reduce global climate change; The Natural Step to incorporate an environmental ethic into all City services including green purchasing guidelines, an inventory of all City-owned buildings and a priority list for improvements to save energy and taxpayer dollars (such as the LEED-EB certification at Monona Terrace, which has resulted in a more efficient building that is being effectively marketed to green-themed conferences and organizations); rewriting our zoning code to encourage sustainable development; a Smart Growth Plan to encourage infill development and new urbanism to reduce sprawl; and the MadiSun program to maximize our use of solar power.

For another year, Madison has been designated a "Tree City" but the Emerald Ash Borer is on our horizon. This invasive insect has decimated ash tree populations in other Midwestern states, and experts tell us it will reach Madison sooner or later. Thirty percent of the City's trees are ash, and could cost over $6 million to replace. We are creating a response plan that will have the least impact and cost to our citizens. As part of the response plan, we have implemented a street tree inventory. To date, 11,000-plus street trees, valued at $18.1 million, have been inventoried. Public education about the Emerald Ash Borer is vital as citizens are key to early detection.

We also need to protect the quality of Madison's air. This year, an unprecedented study is getting underway to chart the future of Madison's coal-fired power plants. The study is a partnership between the City, the state and the UW, and its findings will have a major impact on our air quality and our energy generating capacity for years to come.

This spring, we launched Yahara CLEAN, a new collaboration with Dane County and state government to make real improvements in the quality of our lakes, our most important natural resource. In addition to developing long-term solutions, we are also investing in immediate improvements such as additional funding for shoreline cleanup. Lake levels must be part of that discussion because lower lake levels mean more flood control capacity, healthier wetlands, and cleaner water. And Dane County's work on a regional manure digester might be the most important single initiative of all.

New legislation at the federal level has the potential to help us advance even further towards our sustainability goals. The new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program would provide up to $2 billion nationwide for flexible grants to local governments to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The creation of the Fiscal Efficiency Auditor and the Sustainability Manager positions have made all this possible. We are saving energy, reducing our carbon footprint, becoming more efficient and saving taxpayers lots of money in the bargain. So a small investment in two positions is leveraging significant savings for the City.

Sixth, we need to be able to say that Madison is both progressive and pro-business. We have worked steadily to create a strong business climate and improve the level of customer service that is offered by City government. This process started in 2004 with my "Healthy City" economic development vision. Working closely with our private and public sector partners, we have accomplished much of what we set out to do in that plan, such as: strengthening our bio-science sector through development of the Bio-Ag Gateway on Madison's southeast side; supporting the local foods movement through the creation of new farmer's markets throughout the community; expanding support for the work done by the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the city; promoting entrepreneurship by supporting creation of the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the African-American/Black Business Association; and collaborating in new and creative ways with our regional neighbors through organizations such as Thrive and the Dane County Cities and Villages Association.

We followed up the Healthy City blueprint with a report later that year from the Economic Development Commission on ways to improve the City's business climate. We have been hard at work putting many of those recommendations in place, such as: creation of a one-stop shop to make it easier for developers and others to do business with the City; improvements to City permitting and review systems with a new "enterprise software" initiative; and creation of a cabinet-level Economic Development Director position.

Now, we are just completing our first new City economic development plan in 25 years. That plan tells us that we're doing a lot of things right. We're rewriting our zoning code, hiring a new
economic development director, focusing our TIF policy on job creation, establishing new tax incremental districts to revitalize the Stoughton Road and Park Street corridors, continuing promotion of the Bio-Ag Gateway, advancing the Medical Main Street concept along Park Street, hosting a third small business conference next year, revitalizing the south side with the Arbor Gate redevelopment project, and working to improve the customer focus in our interactions with business. Looking forward, we need to better coordinate the roles of the Community Development Authority, Community Development Block Grant and Tax Incremental Financing so that all of our economic development tools are being used to their fullest potential.

But in addition to following through on what we've already promised, we need to take new initiatives. For example, if our budget allows, next year I plan to create new project management positions to help shepherd through important projects like the East Rail Corridor and the new University Research Park.

By the end of this year, we should integrate the recommendations of the economic development plan with the Healthy City blueprint, TIF policy and other initiatives so that we have a complete and comprehensive view of economic development going forward.

We will miss the vibrant and creative leadership of Chancellor John Wiley who has overseen a major expansion of University facilities throughout the community. I am committed to continuing to work closely with the new University leadership, and build upon the "One Wisconsin" concept that the University is making incredible contributions to our quality of life and economy. Given the vital role the University plays in our state, it deserves the enthusiastic support of state and local leaders.

We also know that, in addition to the issues of public education I noted earlier, transportation and housing are major issues for our work force. We need to take a close look at the track record of the Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) ordinance and ask if it can be improved. I've asked the IZ oversight committee to give me their recommendations for the program by July.

We need to continue supporting initiatives such the small cap TIF program, which provides resources for the conversion of worn rental housing stock into renewed, owner-occupied housing. In the Vilas neighborhood area, we should also continue our work with the University and hospitals on our workforce housing initiative which would support the creation of moderately priced housing for the many staff employed at those institutions. These initiatives can revitalize neighborhoods while they reduce congestion on our streets by creating more housing close to where people work. At the federal level, Senator Russ Feingold has proposed a national affordable housing trust fund, which I hope will come to pass in the next Congress. I am also going to work closely with Senator Feingold and the rest of our congressional delegation to address new federal rules that may threaten the financial stability of our public housing in Madison.

We also need to recognize that increased use of mass transit is going to play a major role in protecting the quality of our air. Thanks to a combination of our strong support for Metro Tran


  • George Twigg(608) 266-4611