Alder Grant Foster
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Foster’s Updates
BLM, Policing, Taxes - D15 Update 6/22/19
Call the police? Several Eastmorland residents reported vandalism last night after "KKK" was spray-painted over the top of their BLACK LIVES MATTER yard signs. There was also a report of a large pro-Trump sign being stolen from the same area. Many neighbors expressed their frustration and anger on social media with some hoping that private surveillance footage might lead to the identification of the person(s) responsible so that they can be caught by police and held accountable.
While such a reaction in a mostly White neighborhood is hardly remarkable, it tugs at the heart of the movement for Black lives and at calls for defunding the police. What does it mean for people of privilege to instinctively look to our police force to address this problem for us? What are the implications of using our police force to investigate, arrest, and punish individuals who have vandalized $10 yard signs? What if police enforcement of vandalism results in a disproportionate impact on youth of color? If calling the police isn't the answer, what is?
While I've been very encouraged by the national awakening and apparent support for police reform, I've also wondered if the support will be sustained as actual reforms are contemplated. It's relatively easy to say that Black Lives Matter, but are those with privilege really prepared to accept the changes that the movement demands? What if defunding the police means that they will no longer respond to minor property damage or a drug deal on your street or a noisy neighbor? What alternatives are there for us as a community to deal with these issues aside from calling the police?
In this case, we can probably take a cue from some of the other suggestions that were shared in the same social media conversation: buying new replacement yard signs and getting even more in the ground, making a donation to organizations that are working in support of Black communities, continuing to speak up with our friends and families and coworkers in support of Black Lives and against hate.
If we're serious about shifting our limited public resources away from police enforcement and directing those funds to things that really improve public safety and welfare - secure housing, food, healthcare, education, family-supporting income - we're going to need to reimagine what problems we're going to continue to ask our police to address and which ones we aren't.
What happened at city meetings last week? The Transportation Policy & Planning Board asked staff to identify policy changes that would prevent the use of Metro buses for police enforcement actions; the Common Council voted to approve the workgroup charged with writing the ordinances to create MPD Independent Civilian Oversight; and the Alcohol License Review Committee created a subcommittee that will hear a complaint against Jo Beck's that could result in sanctions or revocation of their alcohol license. (You can find the Summons & Complaint here and I will share more info once a hearing date has been set.)
Did my taxes just go up: Postcards were mailed last week informing property owners of 2020 assessments. Assessments reflect the actual market value of property and are determined primarily off of comparable property sales in the previous year. The average value of a single-family home in Madison is now $315,200 (up 4.9% from last year's $300,600). These assessed values are used to calculate taxes once the tax levies are set by the City of Madison, Dane County, Madison Metropolitan School District, and Madison College (MATC). Tax levies are set independently by these taxing authorities through their budgets. An increase in the assessed value of your home is not the same as an increase in your property tax bill. You can find more details about the City of Madison tax base here.
Are the lakes safe to swim in? 'Tis the season for blue-green algae and other contaminants that can harm people and pets. Find out more about water quality results and impacts to area beaches here.
Capital Budget Requests Submitted: The Finance Committee will get a brief overview of the capital budget requests submitted by city agencies. These requests will inform the mayor's Executive Capital Budget which will be the basis of the draft budget that is put in front of the Common Council this fall. You can see the presentation here.
Transportation Commission: The Transportation Commission has a packed agenda that will include a number of topics of potential interest to D15 residents. You can see the full agenda here with links to provide comments or watch the meeting online.
Limited Public Computing at Libraries: Madison Public Library now has public computing available by appointment only. More details here.
Other city meetings: There are a number of other city meetings of possible interest this week including: Public Safety Review Subcommittees, Police & Fire Commission, Sustainable Madison Committee, Community Services, Housing Strategy and more: https://www.cityofmadison.com/clerk/meeting-schedule
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