Friday, May 20, 2011

77 Square Miles....

I got an e-mail from a friend in the Fox Valley with a link to a story in the Wisconsin State Journal about Madison School Board member Ed Hughes’ harebrained idea to spend ONE MILLION taxpayer dollars to “bonus” the teachers, as a way to show appreciation for their work. Hughes abandoned the idea late yesterday, but the stench lingers.

The subject line of the e-mail said “Is This For Real?”

Back in February, 17 hundred of the district’s four thousand Madison teachers shut down the district for four days to protest at the Capitol. They got their pay docked to the tune of a million bucks. Hughes wants to spend the “savings” to give each of the four thousand teachers a $200 Buy Dane gift card and $60 to cover the taxes on the gift.

Never mind that the school board is going to have to increase property taxes AGAIN.

Never mind that the school board is constantly telling us it’s harder every year to deliver quality education because of fiscal restraints.

Never mind that the four thousand teachers were essentially given amnesty for their unlawful job action in February. The only consequence was their loss of pay for the four days.

Never mind the massive inconvenience their activity, justified or not, caused the owners of the school district. (That’s right, the OWNERS, not the “customers”, as one former Madison school superintendent with a heavy Arkansas accent used to call us.)

Whether you believe the teachers’ activism was justified or not, can you see how the rest of Wisconsin views the sort of foolishness that Hughes is suggesting? How it adds more grist to the mill for the Madison-bashers who use “Madison” as a synonym for anything wacky?

This kind of rogue grandstanding taints the efforts and reputations of other school board members, who are grounded in reality and are hard-working public servants fighting a constant battle for money and resources. (Board Member Lucy Mathiak called Hughes’ scheme “goofy”.)

And you wonder why they say Madison is 77 square miles, surrounded by reality.

(The image at the top of this post is copyright Madison Newspapers Inc.)


  1. Does Ed Hughes own a business that would benefit from the sudden injection of "Buy Dane" gift cards into the local economy? I can't think of any other reason why he would think up this scheme.

  2. you wonder why they say Madison is 77 square miles, surrounded by reality

    Never have, myself.

    In fact, the more I know about Madistan residents, the more that saying rings true. Sorry if it offends....

  3. Colonel,

    Very trenchant and even plangent commentary. Mr. Hughes is the poster boy for Mark Twain's observation: "God created an idiot for practice; then he made a school board." I love that one!

    The Town Crank

    P.S., 77 square miles of what, exactly? Is it merely UNreality? Sounds so trite. Surely there must be something more than that.

  4. Steve - When Lee Dreyfus was guv, he proclaimed Madison to be "55 square miles, surrounded by reality." It still resonates in the PRM; but now, Madison is 77 Square miles. The weekly "feature" section of the State Journal on Thursdays is titled simply "77 Square" and everybody knows what it refers to.

    My personal favorite was coined by the late Jim Selk, Editor of Madison Magazine, who called Madison "The City of the Perpetually Offended."