Category: Madison

The last sportscast (for now?)

I am, I must say, opposed to Jay Wilson’s retirement from WISC-TV in Madison.

I’m opposed because I remember when WKOW-TV in Madison hired Wilson to do weekend sports. Then he left for WISN-TV in Milwaukee, and then he came back as WKOW’s sports director when I was a sports intern there, working mostly with Paul Rudy, now found in San Diego.

One of my highlights was when he sent me (and my then-girlfriend) to Green Bay to pick up videotape from the Packers–Chicago Bears game:

I also interviewed then-New Orleans Saints coach Jim Mora and UW hockey players after their 1988 WCHA Final Four title (where I played for the UW Band).

I went into print instead of TV largely because I got my first job offer from a weekly newspaper instead of a radio or TV station. But working at 27 was an interesting experience, including answering the phone and hearing someone say “somebody’s going to blow up your fucking TV station” because the station chose to run informercials instead of Formula 1 racing that Sunday.

He has always presented himself as someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously and has fun doing what he’s doing, but is always informative and insightful. The first piece of advice in broadcasting is to “be yourself,” but if I were showing a college student how to be a TV sportscaster, I’d show him Jay Wilson video. The reason he was called the dean of Madison sportscasters was not just because of his longevity, but because his work was good enough for much larger markets.

My favorite work of his was in 1993, when Wisconsin needed Michigan to beat Ohio State to give the Badgers a chance at the Rose Bowl. All Wilson did was show highlights of the game with no narration, but the Michigan fight song, “The Victors,” which the Wolverines were that day. That came a few weeks after the Camp Randall Stampede, when the Badgers’ win over Michigan was concluded by students’ trying to rush the field and getting crushed against a nonmovable fence, resulting in 70 injuries. Wilson demonstarted that he could report news as well that day.

One perk of being WKOW’s sports director is getting to announce the state basketball tournaments on TV. That is one thing I’ve wanted to do and have never been able to do since I’m not on the air for one of  WKOW’s owner’s stations. (That, though, comes with its own challenges due to the WIAA, from what announcers have told me.) Wilson got to announce state games, and I was always impressed at how well he did on play-by-play for someone who didn’t do play-by-play on a regular basis. Most people get good at it only by seasons’ worth of games.

For a few years Jay and I would run into each other at the WIAA state football championships, where he called games for Fox Sports North. I have been privileged to announce a state game for four years in a row on the radio. (Including, this year, the game that had the first two replays in WIAA history.) Since WISC’s parent company also owns the stations where I broadcast, I guess that made us coworkers of a sort.

Wilson calls his departure a “resignation, not a retirement.” Let’s hope we see him on the air around us.


An old tour of the old neighborhood

I have written here previously about the history of the far East Side Madison neighborhood where I grew up.

My source for this is Facebook Friend Eric Alver’s We Grew Up in Monona (and Cottage Grove) Wi … AND Are Happy We Did!!! Facebook page.

C & P Drive-In market sign, 3830 Atwood Avenue, featuring Borden’s Ice Cream and Waterloo Sausage Co. Also shows John Olson’s Standard Service Station sign. The location is the corner where Atwood Avenue ends and Monona Drive begins and Cottage Grove Road (Co. Highway goes off to the east.

By 1968, this is what Atwood and Cottage Grove looked like:

The C&P was built on a sloped lot, with the drive-up at the bottom of the east side of the building, at the bottom of a big ramp from the checkout lanes on the south side of the building. If you were the right age, you would of course race down the ramp.


Idiots and jerks run by morons and jerks

Tom Still writes about my hometown:

As if the Pentagon didn’t have enough to worry about with Iran, North Korea and hostile governments elsewhere, it must now contend with the Madison School Board.

The School Board decided Monday to ask the U.S. Air Force to reconsider stationing F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field unless the negative effects identified in a draft environmental report — noise being chief among them — are found to be overblown.

“The issues identified in the draft will negatively impact learning in our schools, reduce the property tax base, decrease school enrollment in the affected area, and disproportionately affect children and families of color and people with low incomes,” read the board’s resolution.

That’s an ominous prediction. Never mind that new workers attached to the 20-plane squadron of F-35s might choose to live on the east side near Truax, send their children to city schools and generally contribute to the community as well as the national defense by upgrading the current squadron of F-16 fighters.

Along with misgivings that have surfaced within city government and from people who have testified at public hearings, the pattern is a familiar one. Madison is a very conservative city when it comes to embracing any kind of physical change. Examples abound.

• Motorists would still be navigating the asphalt cow path that was the original 1947 Beltline Highway if some public officials had their way over time.

• The Monona Terrace Convention Center would still lie fallow on the late Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawing board if civic leaders had not pulled together in the 1990s to overcome 60 years of opposition.

• The Overture Center wouldn’t be home to countless concerts and cultural events if Jerry Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland hadn’t stepped forward with $205 million and broken a logjam that included debate over whether to preserve outmoded buildings.

• University Research Park on the city’s west side might still be an experimental farm had not civic leaders, a crusading editor and the late Chancellor Irving Shain agreed that bright ideas born on campus or tied to its graduates needed a place to plant roots and grow into successful companies. Today, 125 companies, 4,000 employees and millions of dollars of value stand as proof the 1984 research park decision worked.

Madison has been described as “the city that can’t put two bricks together” by those who are frustrated by the penchant of elected officials and others to debate everything to death. The counter-argument from supporters of endless process is that Madison is merely looking out for the under-represented, the historic and the environment. Besides, they say, those projects eventually came to fruition. They just took longer.

And how many people died on the old South Beltline waiting for a safer road?

They don’t always happen. In the mid-2000s, UW-Madison was very much in the running to become the anchor for a new National Bio and Agro-Defense facility to replace the aging federal laboratory in Plum Island, New York. Opposition from residents near the proposed site and the Dane County Board of Supervisors eventually took the Madison area off the list for the Department of Homeland Security, even though UW-Madison’s range of scientific disciplines — veterinary, agricultural and biosecurity — was an ideal fit.

Today, the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility is under construction in Manhattan, Kansas, home to Kansas State University. The $1.25 billion center will feature a biosafety level-4 laboratory, employ hundreds of scientists and technicians, and open by 2022-23. The economic impact on that region will be significant for decades to come.

While it is doubtful the Pentagon will buckle under to the Madison School Board and suddenly abandon plans to base F-35s at Truax Field, first activated as a military base in 1942, a similar episode took place a little more than a decade ago with the bio-defense facility. It could happen again.

Madison’s neighborhood revolt

After a heated months-long battle with the city of Madison over whether Edgewood High School’s athletic field can be used to host games, the Catholic school filed a federal lawsuit against the city Wednesday alleging religious discrimination.

The lawsuit claims Madison has imposed city ordinances in an “arbitrary, unequal and unlawful” way by restricting the use of Edgewood’s athletic field to only team practice and gym classes, and refusing to give the school an electrical permit to add lights to the field.

“All of the city’s public high schools and the University of Wisconsin-Madison share the same zoning classification as Edgewood, yet the City is imposing these restrictions on Edgewood alone,” the lawsuit states.

In a statement, Edgewood said it needed to file the lawsuit to meet a deadline, and is still interested in other ways to resolve the issue with the city.

This past spring, the city’s zoning department issued Edgewood two notices of ordinance violations for hosting athletic competitions on its field, including a girls’ soccer game, after the zoning administrator said the school’s master plan prohibits Edgewood from using the field for athletic contests.

Madison’s Zoning Board of Appeals upheld that interpretation at a July meeting that drew some 170 people, most in support of allowing games on the field along with some neighbors who argued competitions bring traffic, noise and environmental concerns. Edgewood’s lawsuit also appeals the zoning board’s decision.

Wording in the school’s master plan describes the intended use of the field as being for athletic practices and gym classes — without mentioning competitions.

Edgewood’s attorneys have contended that wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of uses, while residents have suggested games were intentionally left out to allay neighbors frustrated with the increased use of the field since it was upgraded in 2015.

Residents of the surrounding Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood have organized against Edgewood’s attempts to bring further improvements to the field — especially a 2017 plan that would have added stadium seating, lights, a sound system and permanent bathrooms — arguing that the field disrupts their quiet neighborhood. Many put signs in their yard reading, “No new stadium.”

On Aug. 3, Edgewood requested to repeal its master plan, which would allow it to host competitions.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway had initially sponsored Edgewood’s request to repeal the master plan but withdrew her support in light of the lawsuit.

“The City of Madison does not discriminate against any religion,” Rhodes-Conway said in a statement Wednesday. “Edgewood High School is free to pursue the repeal of its Master Plan utilizing normal city processes.”

Madison’s public high schools do not have master plans, while UW-Madison does. In its federal complaint, Edgewood lists 11 facilities that it says UW-Madison uses for activities not specified in its master plan.

The facilities listed include the Near West Fields, the Near East Fields, the Natatorium and the Goodman Softball Complex, which the complaint maintains are all used for competitions without that use being specified in UW’s master plan.

Edgewood argues it is being discriminated against on the basis of religion because it is being treated differently than secular schools in the area. It also argues that the First Amendment and due process rights of its students, its property rights and state-level religious protections have been violated.

The lawsuit also argues that hosting games furthers Edgewood’s “religious mission” by helping students develop discipline, moral standards, character and unity. By restricting these games, the complaint alleges the city of Madison imposed a “substantial burden” on Edgewood students’ religious exercise, which it states is a violation of federal law.

Edgewood also claims the city has discriminated against the school by not giving it an electrical permit to install outdoor lights on its field in a timely manner. According to the complaint, Edgewood’s lighting application was found to be in compliance with the city’s lighting and zoning ordinances, and was approved earlier this year, but the school has still not received its permit.

City Attorney Michael May said the city does not believe it has violated Edgewood’s religious rights.

“It is disappointing that Edgewood chose the route of a lawsuit rather than following the City’s zoning process as other landowners do,” May said.

In its statement, Edgewood said it filed the lawsuit when it did because it wanted to “preserve its ability to challenge the Zoning Board of Appeals decision” that was made in July. The school needed to appeal within 30 days of when that decision was filed, according to the lawsuit.

Edgewood said it was disappointed to learn that the mayor had pulled her support for the school’s request to repeal its master plan, especially since Rhodes-Conway and May were the ones who had recommended it. Edgewood said it told the mayor and city attorney’s office weeks ago that it needed to file the lawsuit before the master plan repeal came before the City Council for a vote in order to meet its deadline.

“It is our hope that the Council will still pass the ordinance, but we are reviewing all of our options for ensuring that our students are treated equally,” Edgewood said.

Another option available to Edgewood would be to apply to modify its master plan to include athletic competitions as an intended use of its field. At July’s meeting, zoning board members encouraged Edgewood to go through this process so they could get the community on board.

In its lawsuit, Edgewood contends that it has the right to play games on its own field, as it has been doing “lawfully and openly” for nearly 100 years.

The request to repeal Edgewood’s master plan is scheduled to go before the City Council Sept. 3.

I will admit to not having a whole lot of sympathy for Edgewood specifically and religious high schools who, it is alleged, swipe athletically talented students from area public schools. .(Though that is increasingly a moot point given public school choice, and the reality is that public schools that are powers in certain sports were magically finding students who didn’t live in that school district playing for the school.)
But the neighbors’ opinion is ridiculous. None of them have been in that neighborhood longer than Edgewood High School and Edgewood College have. The “disruption” of, for instance, high school football games ends by 10 p.m., and no one has more than five regular-season home games. It is even more ridiculous to claim that a high school sporting event is disruptive, but a UW football game — where people park in every possible place, including front lawns — isn’t disruptive.

It’s also amusing me for the officially atheist City of Madison to be sued for religious discrimination. I suspect that should this lawsuit go forward, whatever liberal Madison judge will rule for the city, and that judge then will be reversed either at the appellate level or certainly by the state Supreme Court.

Another -30-

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on the death of one of its own:

Retired Wisconsin State Journal state editor and columnist Steve Hopkins, who died Friday at 90, is being remembered by friends and family as a lyrical writer, dogged reporter, thoughtful editor and avid lover of the outdoors.

“He was really a legendary part of the State Journal,” said Ron Seely, who was hired by Hopkins in 1978. “A lot of people will be sad to see that he passed and will remember the pleasure of reading his columns.”

Hopkins joined the State Journal in September 1957 and retired in February 1994. During his more than 35 years at the paper, he was a copy boy, reporter, feature writer, state editor and columnist.

Seely, who worked for Hopkins for more than 15 years, said Hopkins’ love for the outdoors was probably second only to his “love for the written word.” Those two loves were combined effortlessly in his weekly outdoor column in which he would travel to different places throughout Wisconsin, describe what he saw and include a little life lesson for readers.

The column was widely popular because of his vivid descriptions, witty humor and lyrical phrasing, said Susan Lampert Smith, who also had Hopkins as an editor when she was a reporter at the State Journal.

“He took readers on walks with him,” Lampert Smith said.

In a 1993 column, Hopkins told readers that his heroes were not cowboys, but rather “the great walkers of our time.” He wrote that like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, he walked “for pure pleasure, enjoying the freedom of movement and the relaxation of the mind it produced.”

“It was hot, humid and still. Mosquitoes and horse flies lurked in the shadows along the side of the road, hiding behind the Queen Anne’s lace, waiting to hop a ride,” Hopkins wrote in the column about a walk through the Arboretum in August 1993.

“There was not a breeze to stir the cattails along the marshy edge of Lake Wingra, nor was there as much as a ripple on the smooth surface of the lake. The sun burned like a fiery dagger through the openings in the trees overhead. The walker, lost in thought, is only vaguely aware of all of this.”

Although Hopkins loved to get lost in thought while meandering through the woods, he was also a dogged reporter, who loved breaking news and believed in the value of providing “straightforward, honest accounts” of the news as it happened, Seely said.

Lampert Smith called Hopkins an “old-school newspaper guy.” Seely noted that he insisted on being called “a newspaperman.”

“I think he was sort of in love with the idea of a hard-bitten newspaper reporter who would cover a fire, come in and bang out a story, then cover a homicide,” Seely said.

When Hopkins was Seely’s editor, Seely remembers him saying, “Just write it straight, Seely.”

George Hesselberg, who was a general assignment and police reporter when Hopkins was an editor, said Hopkins was always ready to chat about anything, and never gave anyone “that just don’t bother me look.”

“You could approach him about any possible subject in the world,” Hesselberg said.

Hopkins was down to earth, with a droll sense of humor and a quiet chuckle, Seely said.

And he brought his love of melodic writing to his editing. Hesselberg remembers how careful and observant Hopkins was when editing his prose.

Lampert Smith said Hopkins would sit down with her and explain why a sentence worked or didn’t work, and tweak the punctuation.

After retiring, Hopkins built a cabin in the hills near the Kickapoo River and published a couple books of his columns, with some of his writings winning awards.

“At 90, he was still editing the newspaper from his recliner,” his children wrote in his obituary. “He’d be editing this if he could.”

Seely said he can still picture Hopkins wearing an old, beat-up fedora, a plaid shirt, a pair of chinos, old boots and a wool vest.

When he writes, Seely said, his words “bear the stamp” of Hopkins.

“I do still think about him when I write,” Seely said. “I think, ‘What would Steve think of this?’”

Hopkins was preceded in death by his wife, Frances Zopfi Hopkins; an infant daughter, Christine Mae Hopkins; his infant grandson, Alex Steven Hopkins Anderson; and his parents, Walter and Beulah Hopkins.

He is survived by three children, Peter Hopkins, Katy Anderson and Jayne Kubler, and six grandchildren.

The newest reasons to hate Madison

The Nation profiles the People’s Republic of Madison and its new general secretary — I mean mayor:

The woman I met at the Ancora Coffee on King Street near the state capitol building came across as someone more comfortable leading a committee meeting than a protest chant. A white woman in her late 40s with short, wavy, gray-streaked hair, and striking gray-blue eyes, [Satya] Rhodes-Conway lacks the impassioned charisma of insurgents like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But it’s clear why her calm, thoughtful intelligence resonated with Madison voters: She is serious, knowledgeable, direct yet reserved, and careful with her words.

When asked, Rhodes-Conway acknowledged that Madison’s lefty reputation is, in some ways, “well-deserved”: “Our residents are, for the most part, depending what word you want to use, liberal, progressive, left-leaning, and the city is, in general, a very high Democratic-performing city.”

Our meeting spot certainly lived up to my image of Madison. Ancora is a Madison chain that serves espresso “sourced from the finest fair-trade organic beans” and sells strawberry-basil pop pastries from local bakeries. A sign proclaims in block capital letters, we filter coffee not people. At one point, a young woman approached the counter and trilled, “You guys have all the good gluten-free!”

Should I point out that most people are not gluten-intolerant, and that going gluten-free when you don’t have celiac disease could actually harm you?

But, Rhodes-Conway stressed, Madison isn’t all sweetness, light, and power to the people. The local government, she said, “has not always kept up with that reputation.” There are areas in which the city provides a high level of service, and others in which it has fallen behind. She cited climate change as an area where Madison has lagged, adding that she is working to address it. Flooding in August 2018 reminded many Madisonians that the city needs to strengthen its resilience in the face of changing weather patterns. “Adaptation is critical,” said Rhodes-Conway in April.

How did Madison end up with an earnest female mayor not content to let the city rest on its lefty laurels? In early April, Rhodes-Conway, a former Madison City Council member who directed the Mayors Innovation Project at UW-Madison, beat the incumbent mayor, Paul Soglin, 62 to 38 percent. Soglin was first elected mayor of Madison in 1973, at the age of 27. A lawyer and activist who once gave Fidel Castro a key to the city, he went on to serve three nonconsecutive spans—from 1973–79, 1989–97, and 2011–19—earning the moniker “Mayor for life.” In unseating Soglin, Rhodes-Conway became just the second woman and the first openly LGBT mayor in the city’s history.

Rhodes-Conway’s margin of victory was arguably more surprising than her victory itself. She was helped by the fact that Soglin said in July 2018 that he would not seek reelection, praised her as “far superior in every way” to his other challengers, and then changed his mind in November 2018 and decided to seek another term after all.

But what explains the decisiveness of Rhodes-Conway’s victory? One answer, she said, is that she ran a “strong grassroots campaign” in which volunteers “knocked on a lot of doors,” in addition to reaching voters through social media, calling, and texting. Her campaign also had “a positive message, presented a vision, and talked about what’s possible.”

Part of that vision involves addressing Madison’s racial inequity: “I think people feel, white people feel, that we live in a very progressive city that is really good for people, and that is really not true for people of color and particularly for African Americans.” Black people account for 6.5 percent of Madison’s population, compared with 39 percent in nearby Milwaukee. A 2019 report ranked Wisconsin the most segregated state in America.

During her campaign, Rhodes-Conway talked about the city’s need to support minority entrepreneurship in the retail, service, and entertainment industries and said she would create an Office of Community Engagement. She also pledged to work with community groups and focus on neighborhood development.

In addition to advancing racial equity, she described her biggest priorities as expanding affordable housing, improving bus service, and addressing climate change. Our conversation doesn’t stray far from those topics. Despite being Madison’s first openly LGBT mayor, she does not raise the topic of LGBT equality, nor did she discuss it much while running for office (in 2014, Madison was named the 10th-most-LGBT-friendly city in America).

When asked which American public figures she most admires, she does mention several openly gay politicians, as well as Michelle Obama. “I’m trying to not name any presidential candidates,” she laughingly confessed. When I pressed, she politely but firmly demurred and pivoted to praising Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin—like Rhodes-Conway, an openly gay graduate of Smith College—for “her ability to calmly and quietly get the work done.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone’s sexual preference were no one’s business besides that person’s?

She also brought up John DeStefano, the former mayor of New Haven. She said she once heard DeStefano deliver a speech in which he declared, “America can be a great nation or it can be a racist nation, but it can’t be both.” Rhodes-Conway was impressed: “To hear this older white man in a position of power name that, to me, was really powerful.”

Rhodes-Conway places a high premium on acknowledging privilege and bringing in multiple constituencies. Before making decisions, she said, she seeks out as many viewpoints as possible. Her instinct “is always to find a way to be collaborating or in partnership with somebody.”

I bet there’s one constituency she does not seek out.

At one point I asked, if she could fix one of Madison’s problems unilaterally, without needing the cooperation of the Republican-controlled state government, what would it be? After a moment’s hesitation—“Boy,” she said, “Just one or two?”—she replied that strengthening tenant protections would be number one. “That’s where people are hurting the most.” After that, she would tackle wage-and-hour laws and expand worker protections, including the minimum wage, earned sick time, fair scheduling, and paid parental leave. Finally, she returned to a central theme of her campaign: the need to restore regional transportation authority, which the state legislature effectively abolished in 2011.

There is a way to avoid where people are “hurting the most.” Move outside of Madison. No one has to live in Madison, or anywhere else.

When it comes to implementing progressive policies at the municipal level, she said, cities can and must lead the way, because that kind of leadership is “not happening at the federal level”—nor, depending on where you live, at the state level, either. Rhodes-Conway seems to believe that Madison, if properly run, could serve as a beacon to the world, not just Wisconsin.

Although she has called Madison home for nearly 20 years, she moved here from Long Beach, California. Her quality of life, she said, is simply better here, adding that “part of that is my privilege as a white person.”

Madison has many assets, including natural beauty, the university, and a strong economy. “It is a great place to live,” she said, emphatically. “And it can be a great place for everyone to live.”

Ejecting the Axis of Evil

Two years ago, the Washington Times reported on New York and New York:

State secessionist movements are long shots at best, but New Yorkers pushing for a breakup between the Big Apple and upstate are counting on the very real possibility of a constitutional convention to boost their odds.

Voters will decide in November whether to hold a statewide constitutional convention in 2019, thanks to the New York State Constitution, which allows for such an event every 20 years.

It’s a rare opportunity that the Divide NYS Caucus hopes to seize.

“It’s time to cease fantasizing that NYS legislators have the best interests of the people in mind,” the caucus said in a statement. “If we vote YES on the NYS convention, the first step in our plan to form autonomous regions is complete.”

The caucus wants to lift upstate New York’s struggling economy by reorganizing the state into two or even three independent regions. Such a division could be accomplished at the convention without the approval of the governor or the state Legislature.

“It’s the only thing they can’t control,” said Divide NYS Caucus chairman …

A Siena College poll released May 24 found 62 percent of those polled favor the convention, while 22 percent oppose it, although two-thirds have heard “nothing at all” about it.

Even so, convention supporter Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at State University of New York at New Paltz, described “con con” advocates as “underdogs.”

“The issue right now is whether the advocates can finance a serious campaign,” Mr. Benjamin said. “They’re getting their resources together. Right now I think we’re the underdogs on this. I think we have a chance, but we’re underdogs.”

That’s because the opposition is formidable. Organized labor and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans already have launched campaigns urging voters to nix the convention, warning that delegates would have the power to gut public pension benefits and collective bargaining rights.

“Delegates to a possible convention can essentially blow up the way of life New Yorkers enjoy and the expectations and priorities each of us have,” said Paul Pecorale, vice president of New York State United Teachers. “Whether it’s public education, collective bargaining, our retirement security, environmental protections, spending caps in the budget or any other issue one cares about, it’s all at risk.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports a constitutional convention while also expressing reservations about how it might look in practice.

“I think the governor has calculated the political consequences of his ability to influence the Legislature, his ability to stay in a positive relationship with the organized labor movement and also his presidential ambitions, and he’s decided to back away,” said Mr. Benjamin. “He hasn’t denounced the idea, but he hasn’t given it the emphasis that, in the past, he has done.”

If voters approve the convention in November, a year later they would select three delegates from each of the state’s 63 senatorial districts and 15 at-large delegates. Any amendments passed at the convention would go before the voters for final approval in November 2019.

Even though the constitution allows for a regular convention, New York has not held one since 1967, when the state Legislature called it. The last one called by voters was in 1938.

For upstate advocates of a split state, the convention may come as their best chance to pull off a Brexit-style departure from New York City.

The Divide NYS Caucus several years ago hit on the idea of forming autonomous regions within the state that would be led by their own governors and legislators instead of seeking approval from the Legislature and Congress to form a new state.

“It could be a model for other states, too, to go to the regional-districts method,” said Mr. Bergener, the Divide NYS Caucus chairman. “This way you only need an amendment to your state constitution.”

The goal is to improve the economic prospects of upstaters, who complain that the state’s high taxes and onerous regulations have scared away jobs as companies flee to states with more business-friendly climates.

In December 2014, Mr. Cuomo declared a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, effectively halting any natural gas development stemming from the rich Marcellus Shale in the state’s southern tier and fueling secession talk, including calls for the region to split off and join Pennsylvania.

“What it amounts to now is more taxes are gained in New York City and that money is sent upstate, but they put so many strings attached to it that it hasn’t been helping,” said Mr. Bergener. “So it’s a ‘Catch-22.’ If we were run more like Pennsylvania or Vermont, we’d be a lot better off.”

Wisconsin has a constitutional convention provision that requires approval of the Legislature and then a statewide referendum. So it seems possible for Wisconsin to do what New York may do and, say, eject Milwaukee and Madison from this state.

As with New York, neither Madison or Milwaukee represents this state. Milwaukee and Madison are the reason the unqualified Tony Evers is governor and not Scott Walker. Without the Axis of Evil, Walker would have been reelected with 56 percent of the vote, which is a larger margin than Walker ever got in getting elected once and reelected twice.

Does this mean that everyone who lives in Milwaukee or the People’s Republic of Madison is an idiot liberal? No. But those people who aren’t have zero say in government in Dane County or the city of Milwaukee. They are victims of taxation without representation because their representatives don’t agree with them. And I must say that those from Madison and Milwaukee who will oppose being seceded are perfectly happy being represented by Democrats and liberals, and have zero interests in the contrary views of their few non-liberal neighbors.

The priorities of those elected by voters in Madison and Milwaukee have rarely matched the views of voters in the rest of the state, but with time those differences have done nothing but expand. Evers and his attorney general are about to embark on an unconstitutional crusade to take guns away from people without due process or the least consideration of their constitutional rights, and that’s just the start. The rest of the state may be fine with Democrats’ ruining Madison and Milwaukee as they have in Milwaukee’s case and they are doing in Madison’s case. They should not be allowed to ruin the part of the state where real Wisconsinites live.


The old neighborhoods

I have written here about the Far East Side of Madison, where I grew up. (Including what could have been, but wasn’t, the neighborhood high school.)

The Facebook Historic Madison group discovered two newspaper ads. First, chronolotgically speaking, from 1961:

1961 New Acewood

Quoting from myself (actually another blog):

The first subdivision in the area south of Cottage Grove Road east of U. S. 51 was Harry Vogts’ Acewood from 1959. By 1962 many small, medium, and large builders and developers were active in the area; two of the larger were Towne Realty of Milwaukee that used Findorff, a Madison company, to build its houses, and the Lucey Realty Service owned by Patrick J. Lucey who was governor of Wisconsin from 1971 to 1977.

Many streets are named for local residents: Steinhauer Trail, Starker Avenue, Vinje Court, and Droster Road. Several are for builders; Montgomery Drive is for William C. Montgomery. First names are common as in Bonnie Lane, Ellen Avenue, Wendy Lane,and Melinda Drive. Female names greatly outnumber male names. Painted Post Road is from Lucey’s Painted Post Subdivision. Bird streets are Meadowlark Drive, Sandpiper Lane, Pelican Circle, and Tern Court. …

One major street, Acewood Boulevard, began about 1959 in Harry Vogts’ Acewood subdivision. Vogts (1908-1994) owned Ace Builders, Inc., and had already named one subdivision in Glendale Aceview.

New Acewood (which one assumes was phase 2 of Acewood) was the neighborhood to which we moved in 1966, five years after this ad. All the houses I rememberhad one-car garages, which worked fine for my parents at the time since they had only one car.

But while my parents were situating in their new-to-them house, to the east was …

1964 Heritage Heights

By 1958 when large scale suburban development began in the area east of U. S. 51, south of Milwaukee Street, and north of Cottage Grove Road, developers such as Aaron Elkind, Donald Sanford, and Albert McGinnis knew a lot about selling houses to middle income clients.

They made certain that subdivisions named Kingston-Onyx, Rolling Meadows, and Heritage Heights promised pleasant surroundings. Streets with names such as Diamond, Turquoise, and Crystal sparkled with the promise of a high-quality product in a landscape filled with singing birds on streets named Chickadee Court, Bob-o-link Lane, and Meadowlark Drive.

Heritage Heights suggested merry England with Kingsbridge Road, Queensbridge Road, and Knightsbridge Road.

As I’ve written before, this was the neighborhood that was probably as suburban as you could get while still beingwithin the Madison city .limits. Thanks to the lakes and surface streets not really designed for the traffic they ended up getting, getting downtown or to the UW campus took more time than the crow needed to fly. Other than three hellish years at Schenk Middle School (which may have been the fault of the students more than anything else), life seemed pretty safe to the point of dullness in Heritage Heights, which makes you think of …

… the unofficial theme song of our ’80s neighborhood.

As long as we’re running the wayback machine, we should bring up this Facebook gem:


Before McDonald’s became ubiquitous, and well before anyone in the Culver family thought of dumping A&W and going off on their own, there was Kelly’s, which as you’ll note from the menu was kind of McDonald’s without golden arches but with the dancing Pickle Pete.

The slightly odd thing here is that the listed menu does not include hot dogs. I know that Kelly’s had hot dogs, because for some reason I wouldn’t eat hamburgers until sometime in grade school.

WISC-TV remembered Kelly’s and another burger place:

P-P-Pickle P-P-Pete!!!

Once upon a time, Kelly’s Hamburgers was a national chain that competed with the likes of McDonald’s. Madison had several Kelly’s locations around town, but locally, the restaurants are best remembered for their iconic mascot—a smiling dill pickle slice with a stutter, called Pickle Pete. He appeared in newspaper ads and radio jingles in the ’60s and ’70s and, as best as we know, Pickle Pete was unique to the Madison market. …

A Night at the Drive-In

For east-siders, few places from the mid-20th century are more fondly remembered than the Monona Root Beer Drive-In across from Olbrich Park. Famed for its curly fries made by hand, the drive-in was best known by the nickname the “Hungry Hungry” because of the large neon sign that flashed the word “hungry.” Some Madisonians even recall seeing the sign across Lake Monona from downtown. This photo belongs to former drive-in owner Tim Femrite, who worked there in the ’50s as a teenager. “I started there humping cars—that means waiting on them,” Femrite says. “I cut buns, peeled onions, pattied hamburgers. It was hot in the summertime, but it was fun.”

Evidence that Madison has lost its mind

David Blaska:

The same crew that disrupted the June meeting of the [Madison] school board’s ad hoc committee on educational resource officers (EROs) escalated their well rehearsed disruptive tactics Wednesday. This time they surrounded those who disagreed with five or six bodies. They stood menacing close, subtly pushing and shoving, to prevent us from recording the chaos with our smart phones. First Blaska, then others.

“I didn’t really figure out what was happening for a bit when the big guy stood up in front of us,” Larry reported. “Eventually I moved since I couldn’t see.  I was concerned about the woman in the back that looked like they were getting physical. Hoping she did not get hurt. I took one picture and they started to block me. I just took one pic.”

Faye Wollaeger was the lady in back; she attended this public meeting with her son, a recent graduate of West High School. She is pictured on this morning’s front page of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Faye reported to this roadside stand, just hours after the event: 

I’m sure you witnessed what happened to me at the school board meeting today. I was assaulted by a woman there who tore my phone from my hand and threw it to the floor. Funny thing was, I was actually filming YOU so that you would have documentary evidence of the harassment that you received at the meeting! Just so you know, I did file a police report. My son was also followed from the meeting to his ultimate frisbee game afterward by one of those creeps. The police have been informed of that, too, and my son got the guy’s license plate number. 

I wonder if I will ever be able to attend another school board meeting! Wow. Unbelievable. If the rest of Madison only knew. — Faye

This mother of a MMSD student wonders if she can ever attend another school board meeting. Which is the idea! This is how the social justice warriors discourage citizen participation.

Unable to mount a credible case, they employ intimidation. The woman from the Derail the Jail coalition who followed me to the podium unintentionally summarized the idiocy of their cause: 

“No matter how or whatever stipulations you put on a police officer going into a school they are going to do what they want to do, what they are trained to do, which is kill black kids.”

When all 4 EROs this past school year were minorities? !!!

The irony is that those supposedly murderous EROs are defending children of color. They are involved, unfortunately, in the majority of the brawls in the schools. At the previous ad hoc committee meeting, I made the point that boys form the majority of suspensions and arrests. That does not mean that boys are being profiled or discriminated against; it just means boys cause more trouble. (Although girl fights seem to be increasing!)

I am irritated that the Wisconsin State Journal fell for the hooligan’s ruse about “recording juvenile speakers.” The “juvenile” in question was no younger than 17. In any event, the anti-cop agitators trotted her out to a public meeting in front of TV cameras and newspaper photographers. They kept blocking my attempts to record the proceedings well afterwards regardless of the age of the speakers, all of whom were well over 21. And too many petty acts of harassment to list here but one of them was trying to prevent me from taking a seat by throwing their legs over the chair. 

I do give credit to ad hoc committee chairman Dean Loumos for advising the audience of the same. Not that his warning made the slightest difference. A special thank you NBC TV-15 reporter Piper Shaw made the point at the end of her report that citizens have a first amendment right to record a public meeting — as, indeed, her cameras did. (Her segment showed children.) It was a right that was consistently violated.

It is clear that Wednesday was another in an organized effort to restrain speech — “viewpoint discrimination” in the words of my attorney, Rick Esenberg. 

An outfit called Freedom Inc. is the organizing and training agency for these disruptions. Its adherents are drawn from the same anti-cop coalition that formed Derail the Jail gang that shouted down the Dane County Board last fall to the point where that elective body (on which I once served) had to reconvene the next day to finish business.

This is the same claque that put Mike Koval before the PFC on the spurious charge that he called a raging lunatic “a raging lunatic.” One of whom was Shadyra Kilfoy-Flores, who spoke Wednesday. (I was prevented from recording her, as well.) These guys disrupted the Madison Common Council  when it was considering adding 8 more police.

It saddens me that my old editor Dave Zweifel of The Capital Times encourages this kind of harassment. Two days after Independence Day, Mr. Zweifel went up with a columnthat approved of harassing people of opposing viewpoints. “Change-makers know civility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

Of course, in its account, The Capital Times calls Blaska a “rightwing gadfly” while the agitators are simply “activists”?

Blaska’s Bottom Line: The thuggery displayed Wednesday night makes what case? It makes the case that more police are needed, not fewer. If school board meetings are this chaotic, just think what’s going on in our schools!

Why would anyone live in Madison?

%d bloggers like this: