In the summer of 2009 I devoted Blaska's Blog to exploring the deterioration of once-stable neighborhoods on the southwest side of Madison.
That summer of shootings, drug busts, all-night partying, graffiti, vandalism, public profanity, burglaries, and strong-armed theft was punctuated by the bullet fired into the back of a 17-year-old boy by rival gang bangers.
Forced by Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele's unyielding advocacy and the leadership of Police Chief Noble Wray, police blue-blanketed the southwest side of town, particularly the troubled Balsam-Russet Road and Leland-Hammersley road areas.
My sense was that conditions improved incrementally this summer and I turned my attention to the quickening political season, the high-handed commuter rail push, the rise of the tea party, the grass roots insurgency of Ron Johnson and the reform message of Scott Walker.
But I kept hearing the painful cries of neighbors caught in the border clashes between neighborliness and narcissistic irresponsibility. I have not published any of them until today when I received a particularly well written, comprehensive chronicle of one victim's life in the war zone.
This is the second installment the first-person account of life on the Southwest side of Madison, whom I call by her initials, C.S. in her letter to neighborhood powerbroker Lisa Veldran, an opponent of Ald. Thuy.
We will not tolerate rude behavior and outright crime
Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2010 12:49 AM
To: 'Lisa Veldran'
Subject: RE: Drug Raid on McKenna Blvd. ?!
.... I've had to hear the words "b-ch", "motherf---er", "cocks---er" hollered back and forth between teenagers AND adults in the Walgreens while I was in there buying Halloween candy or picking up a prescription, at both the store on Raymond and the one by Copps. By the way, which one was it that had the manager wake up from unconsciousness in the back of the parking lot? This is only part of it. Most of it's not the stuff that's included in crime statistics the police are quoting us.
I'm afraid to do my exercise walking that I was able to do for years because I'd have to do it in the evening when it's dark. I used to feel perfectly safe here. But after 31 years in the exact same home, I've seen a very marked decline in the culture of the area. I live alone now, and that makes it even scarier for me. I'm glad that so far I'm not one of the folks who have had my house burglarized and my car stolen during the night while I'm home asleep! ...
The police tell us to be "tolerant" of the different culture that comes into this subsidized housing from the inner city. Sorry, but it's not just "socializing on front lawns instead of in the backyards" that we're talking about here. The good citizens of the Southwest neighborhoods should NEVER tolerate or condone the ghetto mentality, rude behavior and outright crime, only some of which I have described in the paragraphs above in my own personal observations.
I would like to see some of these large concentrations of "affordable housing" moved to some other neighborhoods, like the mayor's, or county exec's condominium, so they can get even the smallest clue as to how those of us in the middle of it are feeling. Excuse me for saying this, but, Lisa, unless you live on my street, you don't walk in my shoes, either, because you don't have to go HOME to it. I don't have a lot of respect for the mayor and the council right now because they openly disrespect my alderperson who is trying to look after the best interests of my district as a whole, and voice the concerns of people who have lived and paid taxes in my area for many years.
... Maybe our mayor should try pitching a tent on Theresa Terrace for a week, and riding a bus to work from over my way. That's how a mayor in another city finally woke up to see what was going on where he governed. Feel free to pass my suggestion on to Mayor Dave. Better yet, ask him to read this e-mail aloud at the next council meeting. Just leave my name off of it as I don't need my house targeted with gunfire, or my car that I work very hard for vandalized, or want my daughter to find my body raped and murdered, because someone who was offended by my comments has read my name in the public record.
Stop the Section 8 housing
[Lisa Veldran had suggested that G.S. talk to her neighborhood association president.]
I will give Tania Banak the answer to these issues, plain and simple, only she doesn't have the power to enact them.
Have the city stop putting Section 8 housing units over here, and take out 2/3 of them that are here now.
Allow landlords to do thorough background checks before renting.
And don't have people called racists just because we don't like the ghetto culture that is overtaking our neighborhood.
There has always been diversity in our neighborhood -- Huegel School was particularly proud of theirs. There have always been a mixture of races, nationalities, and income levels living in the area, too, but they were people who were good and respectful, and who wanted to contribute.The parents were active in their children's schools, and disciplined their children's bad behavior, and the children belonged to Scouts and other extra-curricular activities, and were kids you weren't afraid to ask be your babysitter, no matter how much money their parents made. ...
It doesn't matter if it's a high-rise in the city, or duplexes and apartments in a suburb. We are inviting in large concentrations of people into a small area of the city who don't do much contributing to the tax base, but bleed the taxpayers with their subsidized living, and then throw their trash, literal and verbal, all over to show their thanks in return for the help that's being offered. Certainly there are some exceptions to this. It's not those good people, who live responsible lives but just need some help to get back onto their feet that I'm referring to.
But THAT'S the answer to the big picture. A lot of people may not like to admit it because it makes them feel guilt or shame of some kind for not being able to "fix" the problem by throwing other people's money at it, or taking over the upbringing of other people's children that are popped out without regard to being afforded in order to collect government aid, but that's what it's all about. ...
Thank you for listening to my vent. ...
From the blotter:
A West District detective arrested a 15-year old Bettys Lane resident Wednesday morning [December 10] at the suspect's home after linking the teen to a recent burglary and shooting. A 47-year old father reported his family's home, located in the 5900 block of Hammersley Road, burglarized on November 15. It was a daytime break-in when nobody was home. The intruder had smashed a basement window to gain entry. Among stolen items were a laptop, video games, and a high velocity pellet gun with a scope. ... On Monday, November 22nd, a woman tending to plants on the back deck of her Hammersley Road home was shot with a BB gun ...
From the Orchard Ridge message board: Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010:
There was a break in at the house on the corner of Whitney and Dorsett about ten o'clock this morning.Broad daylight. The patio door in the back was smashed.He took a wide screen TV and jewelry. A neighbor saw the black Toyota, but wasn't able to get the license plate.