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District 15

Alder Grant Foster

Image of Alder Grant Foster

Alder Grant Foster

Contact Information

Home Address:

3930 Anchor Dr

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Foster’s Updates

Gun Violence, Traffic Calming, Vote!! - D15 Update 8/10/20

August 10, 2020 12:41 PM

D15 Poll Map
Find your polling place on the map here.

Last Week

  • Gun Violence Continues - While this incident near Garner Park on Tuesday night received significant attention from the media, there were several more incidents of guns being fired from cars including this incident along Milwaukee Street on Friday night and this incident off of Walbridge and continuing along Thompson on Sunday.

With over 350 shell casings recovered in the last month and 11 people struck by bullets resulting in one fatality, this has been one of the worst months for gunfire in Madison's history.

I have heard a lot of frustrated residents asking what is being done. Some point their fingers at the police or the mayor or the common council and demand to know what others are doing to fix this problem. Some individuals are using the situation as a political tool to make the case for increased police funding, as if this gun violence were the result of insufficient police funding or that more funding will somehow make it go away.

We live in a nation that would not have come into existence without a heavy reliance on guns; in a nation that prioritizes the right of people to purchase and carry guns above the rights of people to be safe from gun violence; in a nation that has criminalized drugs and created a 'war' against them that has contributed greatly to an increase in gun violence; in a nation that tolerates such an enormous gap between those that have a lot and those that have very little. The problem with gun violence in our community in this moment of time cannot be taken out of that context and we will continue to struggle as a community without real reform at the state and national levels.

While it's reasonable to expect that those that you have voted for have a major role to play, the truth is that there are many complicated systems in place that make 'fixing' this problem extraordinarily difficult. There are layers of city, county, state, and federal jurisdiction that all need fixing in order to make meaningful progress in addressing the root causes of this condition.

Here are brief summaries of the authority and responsibility of various city officials:

  • Madison Common Council: The Common Council in Madison is made up of the mayor and 20 alders. The Common Council has broad responsibility to "have the management and control of the city property, finances, highways, navigable waters, and the public service, and shall have power to act for the government and good order of the city, for its commercial benefit, and for the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and may carry out its powers by license, regulation, suppression, borrowing of money, tax levy, appropriation, fine, imprisonment, confiscation, and other necessary or convenient means." In practical terms, the Common Council uses its taxing authority to raise money, its budget authority to allocate how that money is spent, and the power of ordinances to make city laws.
  • Mayor: In addition to being a member of the Common Council, the mayor's primary responsibility is to "be the chief executive officer" for the city, to make sure "that all city officers and employees discharge their duties", and to "take care that city ordinances and state laws are observed and enforced". While the Common Council can enact new laws or shift the allocation of resources, the responsibility for ensuring that laws are observed and enforced is primarily the responsibility of the mayor. That's a big order in a time like this and I don't envy that responsibility. Here is a statement released by the mayor last week.
  • Chief of Police: In Wisconsin, the chief of police is a city official that is hired by the Police & Fire Commission. "The chief of police shall have command of the police force of the city...The chief shall obey all lawful written orders of the mayor or common council..." Police officers are charged with arresting "every person found in the city engaged in any disturbance of the peace or violating any law of the state or ordinance of the city". Within the context of local and national Black Lives Matter protests, it's a particularly difficult time to carry out this responsibility. Our officers are being stretched thin trying to respond to situations caused by the frequent protests as well as the ongoing calls for service. The calls for police reform have many feeling defensive and unappreciated in what is (especially now) a very difficult job. 

I don't have any easy answers to offer District 15 residents, but I'm confident that pointing fingers and casting blame is not going to get us very far. We have some incredibly deep issues to work through as a community and things may get more difficult before they get better. Each of us is going to need to dig deep to figure out what we can do to contribute to building a safe and supportive community for each other -- it's a fantasy to believe that others are going to solve these problems on our behalf.

  • Tuesday's Common Council Meeting - I received questions from several constituents about an item that called for money for a Downtown Recovery program. This article by Kailea Saplan gives some good background to the issue and raises some of the complications with the proposal and the process. This has been a disappointing legislative item that has highlighted how much our systems are set up to support and protect those that already have power and influence. If we're serious about reckoning with the demands for freedom and justice for communities that continue to be left out, we are going to need to shift our business as usual approach.

  • Other updates: 

This Week

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