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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Contact Information

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

District 19 Blog

National Voter Education Week, Public Safety Items on Tonight's Agenda, Prescribed Burns, Task Force on Government Structure

October 6, 2020 8:59 AM

Celebrate National Voter Education Week

The Madison City Clerk's Office encourages voters to celebrate National Voter Education Week, October 5-9.

Monday – Be #VoteReady
Verify your voter registration at . If you have moved since you last registered, even if it is to a different unit in the same building, you will need to update your voter registration.  Registering early gives you more options should you need to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 as Election Day approaches.

If you have a Wisconsin driver license or Wisconsin ID and your address is updated with the DMV , you may register online at .  Otherwise, you may register at the following locations with proof of address:

  • City Clerk's Office -- weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Memorial Union -- 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday
  • Union South -- 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday
  • Library Dream Bus
  • Goodman South Madison Library, Lakeview Library, or Meadowridge Library -- 12 – 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday
  • Hawthorne Library, Monroe Street Library, or Pinney Library -- 12 – 3 p.m. Tuesday or Thursday

Tuesday – Be #MailReady
If you would like to receive your absentee ballot via mail, submit your request now via , an e-mail message to, or a written request mailed to the City Clerk's Office.  If the Clerk's Office doesn't already have a copy of your voter ID on file, you will need to attach a photo or scan of your ID.

If you have already requested an absentee ballot, track the status of your absentee by visiting  and selecting "Track My Ballot" at the top of the screen.

Wednesday – Be #VotePlanReady
Review your options and create your Safe Voting Plan.  The Clerk's Office has created a checklist PDF  you can use to determine which options work best for you.

Thursday – Be #BallotReady
Find out which offices are on your ballot, and research the candidates.  To see your sample ballot, visit  and select "What's On My Ballot" at the top of the screen.

Friday –  Level Up Your Voting Engagement #Weready2020
Search for the Madison Votes podcast series on Apple Podcasts  or Google podcasts  to learn more about how your ballot will be counted, voting accessibility, COVID-19 safety precautions at the polls, and election security.

Public Safety Items on Tonight's Agenda

Tonight's Council Meeting will have three items on the agenda I talked about in an August blog post:

  • Item #16: The Council will approve appointments to the recently created Civilian Oversight Board. 
  • Item #63 & 65: The Council will be debating two pieces of legislation related to the use of non-lethal options for MPD.

I am a co-sponsor of item #65: "SUBSTITUTE. Prohibiting the use of tear gas as of February 2, 2021, and requesting a study of alternatives by the Madison Police Department." [Legislation File #61265]. I'm supportive of this legislation because tear gas has been banned in war for almost a century by the UN Geneva Protocol of 1925, as well as by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. I don't believe MPD should be using this tool. We also need to understand the circumstances in which it has been used and hear how those situations will be handled in the future.

Item #63: "Creating Section 5.17 of the Madison General Ordinances to prohibit the Madison Police Department from using tear gas, mace and impact projectile devices" [Legislation File #61250]. The original version of this legislation just proposed this prohibition in crowd control situations, but a newer version changed it to all situations. I do not support this legislation. While I noted above that I support banning tear gas, I don't believe banning the additional items is smart policy. I recognize the value of officers having options besides guns in some situations. Nationally, we've seen some misuse of non-lethal weapons. It's incredibly important for the department to have good training and use of force policies to prevent unnecessary injuries. I think this legislation carries the possibility of unintended consequences that we need to better understand. It is my preference that the Independent Police Monitor and Police Civilian Oversight Board help provide important reviews of the use of these tools to better inform any policy decisions we may need to make.

  • Item #64: ALTERNATE - Creating Section 5.18 of the Madison General Ordinances to establish procedures for the Madison Police Department to obtain property from the Defense Logistics Agency under the 1033 Program

I am a co-sponsor of this item. The National Defense Authorization Act, through its 1033 Program, allows law enforcement agencies to acquire military property for the cost of shipping. Primarily, MPD uses this program for items such night vision equipment, robotics, flashlights, respirator masks and first aid kits. Over the past six years (2014-2019), the average annual value of items received was $160,138. MPD estimates the impact of a prohibition would be $25,000 in annual operating supply funds (i.e. respirator masks, medical tourniquets, etc.) and $100,000 in annual capital funds for larger equipment (i.e. robotics, optics/night vision, etc.).

I believe that police departments across the country have become militarized to an unacceptable extent that has implications throughout our criminal justice system. I also believe that as we battle COVID-19 and deal with incredibly challenging budget issues, it would be reckless for us to outright ban all 1033 acquisitions. This alternate legislation is based on similar legislation that failed in July in the US Senate. Although that legislation failed, it was endorsed nationally by a long list of organizations.

It prohibits the department from obtaining tear gas, bayonets, grenade launchers, grenades, and explosives, armor-piercing firearms and ammunition, tracked combat vehicles, and weaponized drones. It also requires authorization by the Council for use of new items obtained via the program that is valued at over $50,000 and will provide the Council with a bi-annual report on all property received from the Defense Logistics Agency under the 1033 Program. The banned items aren't items the department has sought from the 1033 program any time recently or in some cases use at all, but I believe that codifying this restriction is a step toward ensuring our department does not become further militarized. I've spoken with Chief Wahl who is OK with this prohibition.

Feel free to e-mail me feedback and/or sign up to speak at tonight's meeting.

Engineering Prescribed Burns Fall 2020 : Spring Harbor Area

This year, the City of Madison Parks Division and Engineering Division will be conducting prescribed burns on areas of existing native vegetation. Prescribed burns are an important management tool for Wisconsin's native plant communities.  Typically these burns occur in the spring, however given uncertain conditions surrounding the pandemic this past spring, most burns were not completed as planned.  The timeline for these burns to occur will be between October 19 and November 30.  Fall weather is difficult to predict, so burns may not occur at all if correct weather conditions do not arise.

Prescribed burns that will occur in our area include:

Indian Hills Park Bioretention Basin

Indian Hills Park Bioretention Basin

Spring Harbor Beach Bioretention Basin


These burns will be conducted by certified staff with a permit from the Madison Fire Department. The burns will only take place under specific weather conditions in order to manage smoke and minimize impacts to neighbors. In addition, the burn professionals will install appropriate road signage on the day of the burn.

A list of project contacts and more information is at:

Special Council Meeting on Task Force for Government Structure Report

The Council will meet on Thursday at 7pm to discuss key recommendations related to Council from the Task Force for Government Structure [Full Report]. These recommendations are:

  • Madison should transition to a full-time Common Council
  • Madison should reduce the size of the Common Council to ten (10) members elected concurrently with the Mayor.
  • Madison should increase Common Council member pay to 80% of the area median income for a single parent with two children (approximately $67,000).
  • Madison should maintain geographic aldermanic representation.
  • Madison should increase aldermanic terms to four (4) years.
  • Madison should impose term limits of twelve (12) consecutive years.

The Council heard a short presentation about these items on 9/15. The items bolded above require approval via referendum. The Council will discuss how the recommendations came about and what a referendum would look like on Thursday. 

Feel free to e-mail me feedback and/or sign up to speak at tonight's meeting.


As always, if there is anything I can do to help, feel free to reach out:

-Keith F

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