April 5 elections won’t bring much relief.
We just don’t have a good read on whether the Dane County Board of Supervisors will vote yes tonight 02-17-22 to improve the county jail. Our crystal ball awaits parts from our North Korean supplier. (It’s a supply chain thing.)
At issue, whether to authorize another $24 million atop the $150 million approved a year ago due to the escalating price of, well, everything. The problem: requires a three-fourths vote because it’s a budget amendment.
The sheriff and district attorney want it. Both are Democrats “of color.” The NAACP is lobbying members to vote yes. Hell may have frozen over because even The Capital Times supports building a more humane jail, one that will treat mental illness and substance abuse and close the antiquated, Sing Sing-style lock-up on the 6th and 7th floors of the City-County Building. Something for everyone: the new set-up will have 9% lower capacity!
If supes don’t approve the extra $24 large, the issue — simmering for the last 16 years — may go to referendum this fall. Or may not. County board elections on April 5 may produce an even more progressive body that could refuse to put it on the ballot. Regardless, jails are a tough sell in any referendum.
Fourteen of the 37 supervisors sponsored the jail funding bump. What does it say that four of them are not seeking re-election and five more face challengers?
Jail funding sponsor Melissa Ratcliff is challenged by Andrew McKinney in Cottage Grove. In Marshall, sponsor Jeff Wiegand attracted opponent Scott Michalak, who says, “I am a progressive candidate.” Jerry Bollig in Oregon is challenged by Todd Kleuver, Kate McGinnity in Cambridge by Steven Schulz (who seems to have left no trace), Waunakee Supv. Tim Kiefer is challenged by Carlos Umpierre, who is even more invisible.
District 6 Supv. Blaire Adkins is leaving after being redistricted into the same district as one of the most far-Left progs anywhere, one Yogesh Chawla (Progressive Dane) in Madison’s Willy/Marquette neighborhood. In Fitchburg’s 27th, jail supporter Dorothy Krause won’t be on the ballot either. Replacing her will be Kierstin Huelsemann, who describes herself as a community organizer, her goals as “bringing awareness around equity and anti-racism” and “reimagining safety.” Jail sponsor Jeremy Levin, Madison District 10, is also retiring.
Jail advocate Carl Chenoweth of Stoughton is also retiring but his unopposed successor, Paul Engelberger, looks solid.
Nine newcomers will get a free ride in the April 5 election. In Madison’s Old Sauk Trails District 15, April Kigeya supports “more alternatives to incarceration” and “a night of radical, progressive love.” Her fundraiser’s guest star, State Rep. Francesca Hong, voted against allowing judges to consider public safety when they set bail.
In Madison’s Acewood Blvd. District 17: Jacob Wright is endorsed by Progressive Dane and lefties like Linda Ketchum of MUM, Yogesh Chawla, Ald. Jael Currie. In Fitchburg District 33: “Dana Pellebon looks to give voice to the most marginalized on County Board.” Endorsed by the far-left Working Families Party. They’ll join downtown Madison Derail the Jail allies Heidi Wegleitner (Progressive Dane) and Elizabeth Doyle; those incumbents are also unchallenged.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Who’s giving voice to working taxpayers these days?