Thursday, September 23, 2010

Snow Job

Now let me see if I’ve got this right: Madison is going to borrow a ton of money to build a station for the choo-choo, unless Walker gets elected and somehow does the seemingly impossible and derails the train; Madison has money to spend developing a “Central Park” idea that’s been in the works for years; Madison will borrow three million bucks to buy the failed Union Corners development land at East Wash and Milwaukee Street, and hold the land until the “right” developer comes along with the “right” project to make the finicky neighbors happy; but Madison does not have 18 thousand bucks to shovel out the bus stops in the coming winter.

Say what?

A new fiat being considered by the august body (which I used to call the “Silly Council” on my editorial broadcasts in the past) would re-define “sidewalk” in Madison to include the concrete pads that serve as bus stops, and a path at least five feet wide from the existing sidewalk to the bus stop pad AND a five-foot path from the bus stop to the nearest lane of travel. This is to insure access to the bus by persons with disabilities.

In other words, the city council is trying to foist a duty that any right-thinking Madisonian would call a “basic city service” onto the property owners, to save the kingly sum of 18 thousand bucks.

What’s wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong is, this is another example of how the city’s priorities can be royally screwed up. Millions for fru-fru but not eighteen grand to perform a fundamental service? Oh, and did I forget to mention that project to build a new municipal library downtown?

Every one of these major projects I’ve mentioned…..the train station, the Central Park concept, the Union Corners bailout, the new main city library, can be debated on their merits by reasonable people with divergent points of view. But trying to save 18 grand by having property owners shovel out the bus stops?

First of all, this idea is simply wrong and bad, and will likely cause a chuckle or two from other cities in the nation’s snow belt. Second, what set of priorities – and don’t split hairs about “capital” and “operating” budgets – puts a park or a developer bailout ahead of insuring that persons with handicaps can access mass transit in the winter? Third, even if this absurd proposal actually makes it onto the books as a new ordinance, do the council members actually think the property owners are going to DO this?

Isthmus blogger Dave Blaska suggests that at the very least, if this thing becomes law, the city should deduct $500 from the property tax bill of property owners adjacent to the bus stops, as compensation for their troubles.

I suggest that the proposed ordinance’s sponsor, 11th District Alder Chris Schmidt, quietly withdraw the dumb proposal and kill it before it even gets a first hearing.

This is nonsense.


  1. The Corpse Flower is in bloom in Madison. A bail out to investors (check out political contribution connections) a ridiculous notion that we should have private ownership of bus stops. If we can require them to provide service to the facility, including a fine for none compliance, then the quasi owners should be able to charge for the bus stopping there and the passengers using the facility.

  2. You just noticed that gummints engage in "nonsense"?

    Did you meet Rip van Winkle during your absence?

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