Alder Juliana Bennett
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Bennett’s Blog
DISTRICT UPDATE 07/13/20
The census data continues to reflect a dismal student population in Madison. COVID-19 has been a massive disruption in our lives, but unfortunately, the census is going to continue, so making the most of it will be crucial. Below is a link to a guide on census participation for UW students that you should use and that you should get your friends to use as well.
CAMPUS-AREA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION (CANA)
The Campus-Area Neighborhood Association has gone fully operational and is now meeting tentatively at 7 PM on Mondays.
CANA is meeting tonight for a public safety forum with the Madison Police Department. The meeting starts at 7 PM, and you are highly encouraged to attend if you are feeling unsafe or are worried about safety where you live. Zoom link on the agenda!
All important updates will be posted on the Public Health Madison & Dane County's (PHMDC) Coronavirus page so make it a habit to check it every so often. www.madisoncovid.com is always a useful resource if you don't know where to start.
Please get tested if you are able. Getting tested multiple times with enough space in between is a best practice, and any amount of social distancing and individual action you take to mitigate risk is saving someone's life.
There is now a mandatory mask order in place. Please follow accordingly.
As of right now, it looks as if UW-Madison students will be coming back to Madison in the fall. There isn't much detail about what hybrid instruction would look like, but familiarizing yourself with the "smart restart" plan wouldn't be a bad idea. A few notable decisions were to: not reduce tuition, not allow guests in residence halls, and mandatory testing for students living in residence halls. There doesn't appear to be much on off-campus students, so County Supervisor Haasl and I are working diligently to find a plan that will mitigate risk for this cohort.
UW-Madison has joined the lawsuit against student visa changes. I am fully committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our students with visas, and I know County Supervisor Haasl does as well. We're both working with UW-Madison to find some solution.
There are two upcoming elections in Madison: August 11th (Partisan Primary) and November 3rd (General Election).
You can request your absentee ballot, register to vote, and more at www.myvote.wi.gov
Here's a helpful guide from UW-Madison on how to vote if you're a student: https://vote.wisc.edu/
This section will be the first of many updates on legislation I've sponsored on behalf of District 8. In this one, you'll find information on a recently passed ordinance to restore committee power, starship delivery robots, upcoming police ordinances, and the decriminalization of poverty and marijuana.
Recently, I've done much reflecting on what it means to be a climate organizer and a policy-maker concerned about climate. The bottom line is that you can't have climate action without climate justice. We live under a system that fundamentally perpetuates injustice, and no amount of climate action, or any policy for that matter, will bring justice if only a select population benefits. Fighting for climate justice means fighting for the liberation of black and indigenous people from a country founded on oppression. That means dismantling systemic white supremacy, the patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, and any form of discrimination. It's for this reason why I am focusing on these issues and choose to view all policy-making through a lens of equity. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - MLK Jr.
My first sponsored legislation was an amendment to an ordinance that prohibited the meeting of our Boards, Commissions, and Committees unless signed off by the Mayor or Council President. This legislation amended an outright ban to; (1) allow virtual meetings to be scheduled without restriction and to; (2) provide accountability for scheduling in-person meetings by adding the Common Council as a method of approval. This was passed on the consent agenda at the June 16th Common Council Meeting.
I do not support the long-term displacement of delivery drivers in favor of starship delivery robots. Seeing that access to food for students is a concern, and the potential risk of spread for delivery drivers, the Transportation Commission--with my support--voted to allow temporary operation under COVID-19. Please feel free to email me with questions or concerns on this issue.
All three weapons referenced in this ordinance were misused by the Madison Police Department during BLM protests, regardless of intent. This is also about taking a stand against the militarization of our police and the military occupation in this City. I concede that there are nuances to banning pepper spray--A model ordinance in Seattle made an exception for pepper spray prohibition to just apply to first-amendment protected assemblies. However, I'd rather not sort out critically essential details like that behind closed doors with other Alders and city staff. These details should be worked out in public at the Public Safety Review Committee (I encourage you to attend).
For years, MPD has had unchecked access to military weapons and tools through the Defense Logistics Agency's 1033 Program. This program is a direct connection from the City of Madison Police Department to the Military-Industrial Complex. You'll likely hear an argument that MPD got respirators and other supplies at a discounted rate. An exception to prohibition is still a direct link to the Military-Industrial Complex, whether we call it that or not. I am not interested in having a debate on the specifics and will not support any amendment that places exceptions on this proposal.
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE ITEMS
Decriminalization of Marijuana and Paraphernalia
I'm currently working with another Alder on an amendment to the Madison General Ordinances that strikes any language criminalizing both marijuana and paraphernalia. Both are charges disproportionately used on BIPOC.
Decriminalization of Poverty
A plethora of fines and fees fund the City of Madison's operating budget. Many of these fees are excessive, compound overtime (essentially criminalizing poverty), and disproportionately impact POC in this community. I'm currently working with staff to re-asses some fines and fees under the City's jurisdiction. All of these policies contribute enormously to the prison-industrial complex.
3rd Party Delivery Fee Caps
Companies like GrubHub and Postmates have seen a surge in usage due to COVID-19. At a time when many of our small businesses are suffering, we must cap fees imposed by these companies. An initial focus group and survey have been put together, and I'm currently in the process of joining these efforts to have some temporary cap during COVID-19 until a full plan can be worked out.
Students on Boards Commissions and Committees
Currently, the Associated Students of Madison are guaranteed spots where student issues are "applicable." I'd argue that there isn't a single BCC that doesn't apply to students and young people. Other student leaders and I are working on expanding this representation to as many committees as possible and will have updates in the coming weeks.
Other issues I'm currently looking into (not limited to) are consumer protections against predatory pricing like situations seen at car dealerships and funeral homes; PFAS and potential litigations for cleanup funding; local voting rights for 16-year-olds, undocumented residents, and felons; and finally menstrual equity to ensure that access to menstrual products isn't just limited to certain gendered restrooms. Expect another legislative update soon with a specific policy for each of these. Please feel free to email me with policies you'd like to see pursued or if you have any questions or concerns!
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