What’s in it for the average Madison taxpayer?
David Blaska’s testimony before the Madison Common Councuil’s Finance Committee, 4:30 p.m. today (Monday 10-21-19) in Room 215 of the Municipal Bldg, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It’s about 3 minutes. Will you join me?
Members of the Finance Committee:
The WI State Journal nailed it: “If bus rapid transit is the biggest winner in Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s budget, public safety may be the biggest loser.”
- How many of your constituents are demanding bus rapid transit?
- How many neighborhood associations are calling for more buses?
- How many people are afraid of the crime around bus stops and on the buses so they find another means of transportation?”
It is inexcusable that Monona and McFarland must provide ambulance service for the southeast side of town. We need more EMTs and firefighters.
And we need more police officers. Upper State Street is fast becoming a no-go zone. The opioid epidemic is sweeping through town like a scythe. … Teenagers are stealing cars and crashing them at record rates. Innocent drivers have been injured; it’s a matter of time before there are fatalities. Professional gangs are taking garage door openers and invading homes. Gun play is rampant all over town.
But beyond the numbers is the message you, as elected city leaders, are sending. It is a troubling message: More free stuff; less accountability, Blame the Police — all in the name of identity politics. And who are the real victims of this policy? The law-abiding taxpayers of this town we love.
It is significant that Alders Barbara Harrington-McKinney and Sheri Carter are asking for more police. Two African-American women who well represent their districts.
But nothing says Bash the Cops more than creating a $200,000/year, full-time professional police critic. Brandi Grayson’s revenge. Advantage: Amelia Royko Maurer. Let’s face it: the so-called police “auditor” is paid to find fault with the police. To second-guess every intervention. Our police officers should and DO feel insulted.
Some alders will feel obliged to throw good money after bad, having paid $360,000 to a Berkeley boutique for a study that found what Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department found: that Madison has one of the best police forces in the country. You new alders don’t have that excuse. The rest of you are free to conclude that another layer of bureaucracy will only gum up the works.
And how about that citizen review board that goes with it? As proposed, its membership must include: those with “lived experience with homelessness, mental health, substance abuse, and arrest or conviction records.” Talk about stacking the deck!
Speaking of a stacked deck, who served on the Policy & Review Committee recommending this $200,000 police baiter? Greg Gelembiuk? Brandi Grayson’s Young, Gifted & Black? Madison Urban Ministries? Justified Anger? The co-founder of the Innocence Project? Not one political moderate, never mind a conservative. No neighborhood association officers. And Brenda Konkel is chair of the public safety review committee!
The Mayor’s budget would impose the highest vehicle tax in the state — a regressive tax if ever — $40 on top of Dane County’s already existing $28 wheel tax. Her budget would jack up property taxes another 3.4% Now tell Mr. and Mrs. Madison WI what’s in this budget for them? All your bus routes will be for naught if people are afraid to ride them or congregate at the bus stops.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Committee members, do not be afraid to throw this entire budget back in the mayor’s lap for a big-time do-over.