Forget about crime, the issue in SW Madison is low-cost internet!

It was said that if you crossed Lyndon Baines Johnson you lay awake nights fearing your barn would burn down.

Back in August, the Wisconsin State Journal (my favorite local morning read) published a strong editorial supporting the mayor’s “effort to stop young drifters from distracting drivers who should be watching the road.” The ban on median strip panhandlers …

… deserves strong support from the public and city council.

So what happens if you vote the opposite? What fate awaits the office holder who strongly opposes the mayor’s ban on median strip scammers? Double cross the morning newspaper with impunity — as District 10 alder Maurice Cheeks did — and you are rewarded with an endorsement.

Up Yers CheeksNo thanks to Cheeks, the ban passed by a 12-8 vote at the February 7 Common Council meeting. Regrettably, Mo Cheeks is the only one of those eight with an opponent in  Tuesday’s (4-4-17) election. One would think an election-eve reprimand might be an opportunity to reinforce one’s editorial clout. A denial of the coveted endorsement as the stick instead of the carrot. One would be wrong.

In fairness, one could make the case that a Madison alder confronts a smorgasbord of issues, possibly off-setting the apostasy of the median strip panhandler issue. In that vein, incumbent Cheeks, the State Journal tells us, “wants to encourage smart development and upward mobility for all residents, including the homeless.”

One way to encourage “upward mobility” would be to get the scammers off the median strips and into jobs, it would seem. But this is Madison. Claim you’re a victim and good-hearted but gullible Madison falls to its knees.

But on to those other issues. Cheeks, the morning newspaper praises, “helped bring low-cost internet to Allied [Drive] and is working with the city to lure a much-needed grocery store.”

Two grocery stores shoplifted out of existence

In the early 1990s we bought our provisions at a supermarket just north of Allied, on the east side of Verona Road. It’s been torn down. In its final throes, the pharmacist located in the middle of the store told us that too many high-end groceries were walking past the checkout lanes on the five-finger discount plan. Same thing happened to the Cub food store built a few years later on the other side of the road, at the same time Home Depot was constructed. It, too, closed down. The structure now houses a U-Haul outlet.

Given the number of my neighbors moving out of town, it must be doing a good business.

Some policing might have kept either food store in business. But the State Journal assesses demerit points to Cheeks’ challenger — that would be Steve Fitzsimmons — of “running a one-issue campaign touting support for police.”

That misses many of the complex and pressing issues facing the West and Southwest sides.

I have seen the notes Steve Fitzsimmons used in his interview with the State Journal’s editorial board. It contains several issues. Policing was only at the head of a long list.

Now, the indentured servants last November marked their 25th year of residence at the Stately Manor in leafy Orchard Ridge. So we feel we know something about the southwest side of town. Policing is the key to the complex and pressing issues facing the southwest and west sides. The yin and the yang. The warp and the woof.

Crime is the common denominator, the every day subject of neighborhood discourse, the subject that keeps the NextDoor social networks buzzing. Currently, our part of town is enraged that a pre-sentence investigation is recommending only 90 days in jail for a chronic home burglar and bail jumper. (“Catch and Release, Madison edition.”)

It is telling that, of 25 candidates for all 20 aldermanic seats, the Madison police officers’ union endorsed only 4 of them (and 2 were unopposed incumbents). The police union endorsed Cheeks’ challenger, Fitzsimmons.

There is a reason 640 residents joined the citizen crime watch Steve Fitzsimmons organized in one neighborhood alone — that being Midvale Heights, adjacent to Odana Hills golf course. HINT: It weren’t low-cost internet!

Cheeks talks a good game

I’ve been around elected officials all my life. I can recognize a bullshitter when I see one. Maurice Cheeks is one high-level bullshitter. It’s a special skill, memorably lampooned by the corrupt governor in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. A master of the word salad. Give Mo Cheeks this: the man interviews well.

Cheeks and his Common Council soul mate Matt Phair conducted a neighborhood listening session at the Meadowood Community Center last September. Except that they weren’t listening. Cheeks and Phair asked residents to walk to either side of the room to indicate their support for or opposition to the $13 million “public market” way over on the East side of town. Nearly everyone — your Humble Squire included — walked to the side in opposition. Cheeks and Phair voted in favor, anyway.

When it comes to putting actual boots on the ground, Mo Cheeks is a classic no show. Fitzsimmons tells about a pedestrian struck and killed by a car while crossing Odana Road last year. Fitz says he sought his alderman’s assistance in improving the street’s safety. No reply. Fitz says he contacted the city engineering department directly.

“As a result, we’re making improvements without his help.”

It’s a story I’ve heard as I knocked on doors on my side of the Beltline. “We called our alderman but he never responded,” said a homeowner on Whitcomb Drive.

She said she relayed that observation to a proxy campaigning for Cheeks. The proxy responded, in her telling, “I know, we’re trying to work with him on that.”

Suffice to say, my neighbor was not seeking low-cost, high-speed internet.


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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4 Responses to Forget about crime, the issue in SW Madison is low-cost internet!

  1. Marcus says:

    Squire, you, yourself, should investigate the U-Haul outlet….and soon!


  2. Dan B. says:

    Crime is the common denominator, the every day subject of neighborhood discourse. So when people talk about the Cub Foods outlet, crime is the reason they give for its decline. Looking up information about Cub on the internet shows that Cub closed a Green Bay store in the same year and the rest of its Madison stores not long after. Crime was the reason for all, though no story about the closures admits as much (conspiracy with the crime lords, probably). The liberal press wants you to believe it had to do with the rapidly shifting marketplace in the recession. But Blaska has facts to support his claim. Police calls to the address on Verona Road, the testimony of the area constable, a source at Cub’s headquarters.


    • old baldy says:

      Crime wasn’t the reason for closing the Green Bay store, but rather a mediocre facility and low quality product. I recall a flock of starlings flying around the place and no one seemed to care…


  3. The Forgotten Notes –

    For some reason the good people I spoke with at the WSJ in March forgot most everything we talked about except for my unwavering support for our outstanding police. Public safety does deserve a special place on my list of priorities as do our police, but it wasn’t the only thing we talked about.Why did the WSJ forget the other issues I brought up? Don’t we all deserve a fair review no matter our race, religion or beliefs? I’m part Native American. Would my Cherokee heritage have placed me any higher on their list for consideration? Their selective memory only hurts us all when they fail to shine a light on the other issues facing Madison no one talks about..Here are some topics from the forgotten notes I shared that afternoon. Hopefully someone will address these problems one day if I’m not elected – but don’t count on it! If the newspaper sweeps these notes under the rug, you can bet others will too.

    As a side note, the below issues were not even brought up in any of the four public forums I was invited to attend. Someone other than me should be asking why? We must hold our leaders more accountable! The city has many issues to work on. These are some I shared with WSJ.

    Madison has lost too many outstanding businesses these past few years. Businesses like Fiskars, Oscar Myer, Spectrum Brands and Epic. Why are they leaving? Don’t we care? Why are they moving to our suburbs? Someone should be asking these questions and working to turn this around. We have the big airport. Someone should be working to bring in new businesses, many new businesses. We need to make things again. Let’s get creative, let’s make movies and TV series in Madison again. Let’s promote tourism. Let’s bring in more trades and teaching trades to Madison. Let’s make things again! Let’s have fun again! Let’s make more money again!

    The emergency detention issue has been a problem going on four long years. It costs Madison about $60,000/yr and pulls hundreds of police officers off our streets annually to escort mentally ill patients to Oshkosh. This endangers everyone’s public safety and makes response times longer for those needing emergency services when less police are available. As a private citizen, I along with a few other good private citizens are trying to resolve this on our own, but as an alder I might get farther. Why don’t our current alders address this ongoing costly problem? Hello?

    Madison wells are polluted with salt. Does anyone care? Is anyone working on this?

    Madison public schools have lead in drinking fountain water. Is this serious enough to talk about and resolve today? I would think so. Lead is extremely hazardous to our health, especially children.

    Madison roads are in disrepair and too congested. We need to invest more in our infrastructure and find better ways to get around.

    We need to get more people to take the bus. I was the only candidate to answer the Bus Advocates questions, because I do care. You can read their review here:

    Madison has a ballooning $613 million dollar debt. Wasteful spending on needless studies that give no return on the investment compound this fiscal nightmare. Instead of spending $400,000 on police studies by out of town consulting firms and spending $13 million on a Public Market no one asked for, why are we not solving current problems like the emergency detention problem that cost us $60,000/yr, or investing it in new business opportunities that will generate new revenues?

    Gun violence is growing. We need to have a trusting relationship with our police. It needs to be far better than it currently is and city leaders should set the example. Police can solve and stop more crimes when the public and police work together. To do that there must be trust. Alders do more harm than good when they show a lack of public trust in their police. I could show them a better way if elected.

    I’ve held monthly neighborhood watch meetings in Midvale Heights for three years. Never once has my alder attended. Never! He has problems answering emails and appears reluctant to solve problems too. He doesn’t vote for things based on my input and he doesn’t represent me or my interests. That’s why I am running, because we all deserve better! This is Madison’s one chance to change things in District 10.

    Thank you.

    Steve Fitzsimmons

    Liked by 1 person

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