My late friend and former editor of Madison Magazine Jim Selk delighted in calling Madison “the city of the perpetually offended”. I was seated at the wooden bar in the old Fess Hotel (now the Great Dane Brewpub downtown) many times, when Jim would launch into a philippic about how the city fathers try to mind everybody’s business.
Jim is rolling in his grave.
Tuesday night the Madison City Council takes up the issue of James Davis and his itinerant sausage cart. I’ve sampled the fine fare at his cart, which is often parked at State and Broom. Five bucks gets you a very decent sandwich and another buck gets you fries. You may have had James’s fare on your way to a Badgers football game. He usually sets up shop on Regent at Jefferson.
Lately, Mr. Davis has been parking his sausage-wagon in front of Memorial High, on South Gammon Road. I know this only because George Hesselberg wrote a great article about it in Saturday’s State Journal. The last time I was in Memorial High was when my daughter played varsity hoops for LaFollette High around the turn of the century.
But it seems the alder in that neighborhood, Paul Skidmore, has determined that Mr. Davis’ sausage cart is a safety hazard, and by God he’s going to close the loophole that lets him vend his comestibles right there in front of Spartan Headquarters. Memorial Principal Bruce Dahmen told Hesselberg he’s concerned about safety.
Students are “milling around” the stand at lunch time, and motorists are pulling over - right on that four-lane racetrack called Gammon Road - to grab a quick sandwich for lunch.
This milling around and pulling over must be stopped.
Skidmore’s resolution prohibits street vending on public property adjacent to or across the street from any school, without permission. Apparently, the fate of Mr. Davis’ sausage cart, as a going commercial entity in front of Memorial High, will be determined by the city council. If it closes the “loophole”, and passes Skidmore’s fix, the Madison school board will have the yea or nay on the sausage-vending in front of Memorial High.
Alder Skidmore, Principal Dahmen, and the school board have plenty of problems to deal with at Memorial High, but James Davis’ sausage cart is not one of them.
They could start with trying to explain why Vander Blue has decided to play college hoops for Marquette, rather than Wisconsin, if they really want to do something that will have an impact on the community.
But they’re busy being offended by sausage salesmen.