Before you say “look what we got when we made our state legislature full-time”, just wait a minute. I think that was one of the most stupid moves in state history, and the 92 boneheads up there at the top of State Street (you’ll have to figure out which seven I don’t think are boneheads) are capable of far too much mischief as “full-time lawmakers.”
A letter to the Editor of the Cap Times Wednesday from Barry Gore of Madison really got me thinking. He makes a very persuasive case for going with a full-time, VERY downsized, professional city council. Right now we have 20 elected alders, paid $7,545 a year, most of whom have full-time day jobs. They don’t have offices in city hall; they don’t have city phones; the lot of them are assigned a staff of two city employees.
I lived in Los Angeles for years; they manage to scrape by with 15 alders. Gore points out St. Paul MN has many similarities to Madison, with seven alders who are paid 56 grand a year. Meetings start at 3 PM. Portland OR (which our mayor often sites as Valhalla) has a mayor, four at-large commissioners, and an elected auditor.
The point is, it’s time to get rid of these 17 nutballs (you’ll have to figure out which three I don’t think are nutballs) and their tiny neighborhood fiefdoms, draw new boundaries, and collapse the council down to 7 or 9 people. Pay them a decent salary (60 grand?), give them bennies, give them offices in city hall and expect them to be on the job from 8 to 5, and start the council meetings at 3 PM like they do in St.Paul. No more taking critical votes at 4 or 5 AM. No more endless questions about minutiae (from a certain west-side alder).
When we’re done with that, we’ll tackle that unwieldy behemoth called the “Dane County Board of Supervisors.”