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
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
...Freedom is something that money can't buy. And most honorable of all are the ones who defend it...I am not sure who first said that, but hope you all had a very good July 4th holiday weekend and are enjoying summer weather, getting out and getting active to the best you want and are able.
I have had the opportunity to email with some residents, and the chance to speak to others, about the issue of additional funding for the City of Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee. I thought it made sense to communicate more of the details here and to address the controversy related to what was reported as my remarks at Common Council. But please read all the way through, because there is great news about the new library proposed for the Reindahl Park area too.
Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee.
At our June 7th council meeting we amended the work timeline and funding amount for the City of Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee and amended the 2016 Adopted Operating Budget to appropriate an additional $350,000 from the Contingent Reserve to the direct appropriation supporting the work of this committee.
I did get divided opinion emails on this prior to council and I did my best to respond to all of them. I take all of your opinions seriously on all issues, from garbage collection to public funding for Judge Doyle Square. The police review study will be a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of the Madison Police Department. It is an evaluation of what is being done well and what needs improvement. This is not an attack on the chief or the police department and should not be seen as lack of support for MPD either. This should be seen as rather an opportunity to find opportunities to make our Police Department better. Periodic evaluations are not supposed to be for businesses only; they are a good practice for government as well. I hope the results of the evaluation will lead many to believe that the money was well spent.
I ended up voting for the additional funding after listening to you (my constituents), an array of speakers at the council meeting, but also because the citizen committee that recommended it demonstrated that they had carefully and dispassionately researched the cost. The committee was chaired by a very well respected former MPD captain, Luis Yudice. Also the chief did not oppose the study, but did not think now was the right time and questioned whether the cost was worth it. With a police budget of more than $67 million in this city, we owe it to the taxpayers to find every possible improvement and this study could possibly pay for itself in one year. We just had to move $1.1 million more to our insurance premiums and a reason for this is recent and pending settlements on lawsuits involving police. This is also money that belongs to you, the taxpayers. This is how I ended up voting with the other 18 alders who supported the resolution.
During the same council meeting I had some back and forward exchange with the chief. I questioned his behavior (walking up and down the aisle shouting, hitting the table and interrupting Council members) particularly with a gun - I told him if any ordinary citizen behaves like that, they will not only be asked out of the chambers, but would have been arrested. Sometimes when you are in the moment things may not come out as intended. If anything, my intention was to raise concerns about his physical behavior, tone, and volume of remarks at the Council chambers, but also about what he said in his blog leading to the council meeting. Prior to talking about his behavior, I had said I have always spoken highly of Chief Koval as an individual and as a police Chief and that I have an excellent working relation with the two captains in the district. I worked extensively with the police prior to my election, facilitating dialogue between police and members of the African immigrant community.
Those who are interested in controversy and divisions may build mountains out of this, but for those who believe our society is not perfect; this is an opportune moment to improve our never perfect society.
The chief and I have since agreed that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We also agree that everyone should be open to other perspectives. We will not always agree on matters, but should always try to voice our disagreements differently in the future, allowing for robust conversation.
Madison Public Library Report –Strategic Plan for East Side Growth
Last month, Madison Public Library presented a report to its board members on a strategic plan for eastside growth, and the library board approved the plan. The goal of the very thorough report was to build a framework for future decisions and recommendations for eastside library growth. While this report is not finalized yet, it recommended in the short term to have a library at Reindahl, with the first related expenditures in the next city budget. The report will be shared as soon as it is finalized.
The library director Greg Mickells and staff will be presenting a brief summation of the strategic plan that was developed for delivery of service to the eastside of Madison to the Common Council on July 5th. My understanding is that the Mayor is very impressed with the scope of the report, especially the emphasis on gathering community input.
I would like to thank the Greater Sandburg Neighborhood Association and the residents who attended the meeting with the library director back in November and I am happy to see the association listed in the report.
The arrest of Genele Laird at East Towne Mall
The recent arrest of Genele Laird at East Towne and the fatal shooting on the near east side by the MPD has triggered more questions on citizen interactions with the police. At the same time, some residents have expressed concern about the overall security and safety of our community. The mayor, the police chief, and others have issued press releases and in some cases held press conferences in an attempt to explain what happened and how we should move forward together as a community and city.
In response to all these events there have been a number of proposals, recommendations for long and short-term reforms from the mayor to community leaders and a former police chief. The council is also looking at options and no doubt will be continuing to hear from city residents.
In the past I have worked with the Madison PD and so I believe a dialogue in the form of a community forum will be helpful while we wait for an overall Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review report.
In the meantime, in response to some constituent concerns about safety in the mall area, I reached out to the eastside captain for details on the Crime Update Report. As you can see, we are not experiencing an increase in crime.
People are concerned about panhandling though. I am continuing to hear from residents about this and right now it is challenging because this activity at intersections is not technically illegal. The city is looking at options to restrict this activity, but there are some downsides to that. Please stay in touch about what you are seeing and experiencing as this work proceeds.
It is indeed an honor to represent you and all of the residents of our district on the Madison City Council. If you have questions or concerns you can contact me at email@example.com or at Tel: 608-501-1424.
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