Dithering on public safety for 16+ years

Bite the bullet!

What’s the point of having your own blogge if you can’t settle a few scores. It’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to.

Blaska left the Dane County Board in 2006 (at the invitation of the voters) in favor of a nondescript seat warmer. At the time, Blaska was fighting to replace the aging and outdated jail cell blocks atop the City-County Building with a more humane and commodious jail to augment the Public Safety Building next door. Former county executive Rick Phelps had disastrously scaled back that structure, completed in 1994 and soon overcrowded.

David Mahoney came in as sheriff later in 2006 and continued lobbying for a wholistic jail that would treat mental illness and substance abuse. (Details and photos here.) Sixteen years later, the price tag has escalated to $170 million.

City-County outdated jail cells

Outdated Alcatraz-like cells at City-County Bldg.

Jail proposals
842 beds $138 million
904 beds $155 million
922 beds $170 million
1,013 beds current, incl.
old jail, Huber Center *
Co. Bd authorized $148 million

* “We’re already out of space,”
Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett

My County Board and the one that brother Mike chaired (1992-1996) built the Public Safety Building, a new courthouse, built the Exposition Hall at Alliant Energy Center, merged the city and county public health departments, made electricity from waste at the county landfill, ended a Depression-era welfare program for single men, and adopted program efficiency audits.

Where has been the leadership since? Can anyone name the county board chairman? Does it even have one?

Even Paul Fanlund, editor of the Capital Times calls the inaction over the jail “interminable.” Fanlund quotes former sheriff Mahoney to say “You have action paralysis at the County Board because it’s not that favored project that everybody wants.”

The board, he added, has gradually added more liberal supervisors who are more skeptical of law enforcement and its perspective.

That’s on you, Dave Mahoney! You endorsed those Leftists! In Blaska’s race for Madison school board three years ago, Mahoney endorsed Ali Muldrow (Progressive Dane), who advocated expelling school resource police officers from our troubled high schools!

‘Reimagining safety’

All 37 county supervisory districts are on the ballot for the (officially) non-partisan election April 5. Eleven incumbents called it quits. (Full list here.) Let’s be clear: the Dane County Board of Supervisors as a whole is as anti-cop Woke as any downtown Madison alder.

We doubt the next county board will be any better. One of the 2½ who might be considered conservative is among those hanging it up. That would be Tim Rockwell of Sun Prairie. Out in Marshall, Jeff Weigand  is the other conservative. His opponent, Scott Michalak, twice ran for State Assembly as a Democrat.

No one would call Fitchburg’s Dorothy Krause a conservative but at least she supported building a new and improved jail. Not so her replacement, running unopposed. Kierstin Huelsemann described herself as a community organizer, her goals as “bringing awareness around equity and anti-racism” and “reimagining safety,” the buzzword for Defund Police.

Out of desperation, County Executive Joe Parisi now contemplates bypassing the county board and putting the jail up for a binding public referendum where it will almost certainly die.

Blaska’s Bottom LineAlmost forgot one of the accomplishments of the Mike Blaska conservative county board. Madison had been debating Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace for 50 years. Grandpa J.M. Blaska voted against it when he served in the 1940s. Brother Mike, however got it done — even though his Sun Prairie district voted against it in the 1992 referendum. (It did pass, countywide.) Completed in 1997, it cost $67 million, with $8 million in private sector donations and some state aid. Indisputably, Monona Terrace revived what had been a moribund downtown.

That’s called leadership!

Do YOU think a jail referendum would pass?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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10 Responses to Dithering on public safety for 16+ years

  1. Once a criminal’s legal circumstance has been adjudicated and s/he has been sentenced, the jail is essentially a warehouse and need not be proximate the courts. Why build downtown rather than elsewhere where construction costs would be dramatically lower?

    Liked by 3 people

    • AdamC says:

      That is a fantastic question.

      The building location is always going to be for the benefit of the County and staff.

      But you’re right, they could really put up a couple large secure buildings on the outskirts of town within the next few months. Or fill in that godawful eyesore hole in the ground that used to be downtown MATC that if going to sit unfilled for much of the rest of this decade.


  2. Mike says:

    Got to love those people who call themselves “community organizer.” A euphemistic term meaning someone who was a perpetual student, obtaining a worthless degree in a discipline for which there is no demand and has basically never worked a day in their life. Got to love those rainbow chasers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Do YOU think a jail referendum would pass?”

    In today’s political climate, no.

    Would I want a jail referendum pass, yes.


  4. Almostarepublican says:

    The jail is long overdue. Derail the Jail signs are all over my neighborhood though so probably will not happen.


  5. richard lesiak says:

    Build it right across from the capital. That way when we exercise our second amendment rights we have only a short distance to drag all those crooks to the jail.


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