Ald. Zach Brandon is taking a $95,000 a year job with the Doyle Administration in the Commerce Department. Good for him. Madison's loss, as it were. But lost amid the accolades is this question: What is wrong with the Dane County Democrat(ic) party?
The Wisconsin State Journal's news article was indicting:
Brandon never forged close ties with the council's progressive wing and pushed economic development and fiscal discipline. In fact, local Democrats didn't endorse him in an unopposed re-election bid in 2007.
Economic development? Fiscal discipline? Eeek! Lions and Tigers and Bears!
Why is Brandon not good enough for local Dems but a star for the statewide party? The answer, of course, is that the local party has drunk the Progressive Dane Kool-Aid.
Local party boss Wayne Bigelow boasted in 2006 that his greatest achievement that year was in defeating your genial host for an historic 7th term on the County Board - must have been a slow year, Wayne. He follows that up by taking a pass on the unquestioned star of local government.
I put the question to wayward Wayne, and to the county party's vice chairs for campaigns and for elections and its 76th Assembly District rep, Bonnie McMullin-Lawton, and Reps. Berceau, Black, Hebl, Parisi, Pocan, Pope-Roberts, Travis, and Sens. Erpenbach, Miller, and Risser.
I posed this journalistic question to them all Friday morning, via e-mail:
What is wrong with the Dane County Democrat(ic) party that it cannot endorse Zach Brandon for alderman? Apparently, he is good enough for your governor.
So far, late this Saturday, I have received only one response, from Rep. Terese Berceau:
Why do you insist on being the poster child for "can't teach an old dog new tricks"? Crotchety old man.
I don't think I'm allowed to send you a Blue Book now because it's campaign season. Even though my constituents know I do such a good job for me that no one opposes me. (Huebsch could have backed over me one day, but said it wasn't worth the trouble because they'd just get another Democrat.)
[Ahem, yes, I did beseech Terese for a freebie - I had … and still do … request a Blue Book. She IS my state rep, after all. I don't mind "crotchey." But "old?" That hurts.]
Fiscal responsibility? Nah, it'll never work
Credit Zach Brandon with turning the page on the city council back to a modicum of common sense. Brandon paved the way for the Jed Sanborns and the Thuy Pham-Remmeles. So much so that the Wisconsin State Journal could marvel last month:
For a time, the city's political left was an engine of controversial, sweeping proposals like a local minimum wage, smoking ban, making developers put affordable housing in projects, mandatory sick leave and streetcars.
Lately, however, the City Council has not been consumed by bruising debates over social justice, focusing instead on basics such as policing, plowing and fixing streets, alcohol licenses and attracting and keeping business. [Has City Given Up on 'Big Idea?']
Way back in 2004, a year after Brandon first took office, the Wisconsin State Journal marveled:
A Southwest Side Madison City Council Member Proposes A Bold New Idea: Fiscal Responsibility
Fiscal responsibility? Bold? New? In Madison politics, afraid so. Indeed, in October 2004, Brandon proposed to cut $146,000 from neighborhood planning councils, which he had the brass to call, "the farm league for Progressive Dane."
The local Democrats antipathy to Brandon may be traced to his support of an anti-loitering ordinance.
The Dane County Democratic Party came out strongly Wednesday against the possible rebirth of a Madison anti-loitering law.
"The Democratic Party has longstanding concerns about racial justice and civil liberties."
And who was the Dems' spokesman ? Ald. Austin King, Prog Dane tribune disguised as a Democrat.
The resolution ... called on four council members - Zach Brandon, Larry Palm, Isadore Knox and Lauren Cnare - who were endorsed by the Democrats in the last election to pull their support from any such law.
The original anti-loitering law was passed in 1997 in an attempt to curb illegal drug sales. It was struck down in 2002 over concerns of racial discrimination. Roughly 80 percent of the citations issued in 2001, the final year of the law, were issued to blacks.
Ah yes, the race card. Of course, Isadore Knox is black and so, too, were many of the mothers of Allied Drive who petitioned the city to enact the ordinance. So, too, Ray Allen, then running for mayor; he also supported it. Now you know where the local Dems stand on crime. That attitude is summed up by this November 16, 2007 headline in The Capital Times (aka, the Progressive Dane newspaper):
City Splurges On Safety ; More Cops, Cameras, Inspectors In Budget.
"Splurges"? SPLURGES!!! My Random House unabridged dictionary defines the word to mean: "to indulge oneself in some luxury or pleasure, especially a costly one. To show off."
On the other side of the equation: Brandon took a lot of flak for his leadership in the anti-smoking ordinance, especially from the hospitality industry, who felt betrayed by this supposedly pro-business pol.
Looking to the future: Brandon's posting to Commerce will give him more cred to run for mayor or county executive, although not against The Kathleen in April, '09. Brandon is a bit too much in love with the mirror. But he is a gutsy public servant who stands for something.
It had to help that Brandon was big on Obama very early on, as was his state benefactor.
Latté shortage alert!
The so-called "progressive mayors" are in town. Try to go to one of their meetings. Closed to the public. Which is fine by me, it's their organization, not mine. But five years ago when the real U.S. Conference of Mayors came to town, The Capital Times had a spitting fit worthy of Ben Masel. It actually ran a headline demanding that the nations' mayors get out of town. For a moment, Madison was the Myanmar of the Midwest.
More situational ethics from the CT politburo:
The point of this week's gathering and the project in general -- developed with the help of innovative University of Wisconsin Professor Joel Rogers and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) -- is to create a forum where mayors can share creative ideas for running cities in ways that are fairer, greener and smarter. [A Future for Madison and Urban America .]
"Creative ideas." Does that mean more cops on the street? Clean water? Plowing snow in winter? Watching the bottom line? Getting rid of "feel-good" ordinances like "affordable housing," a city-only minimum wage and mandated private employer fringe benefit packages? What those great ideas are, never does say.
Please, sir, may I have another!
Received this comment from Ald. Thuy Pham Remmele concerning the Mayor's nomination of Bill Clingan as the new Community Development Division Director.
You are in the RIGHT place!
Yes, Stately Blaska Manor is home to one of Wisconsin's Most Influential Political blogs - as measured by BlogNetNews/Wisconsin. They've got several measures, this one ranks influence per posting.
As BlogNetNews explains :
This somewhat experimental measure attempts to distinguish/tease out the difference between blogs that have a lot of impact, at least in part, because of the volume of posts they produce as opposed to blogs that post less often, but whose posts have a greater individual impact on the state's blog conversation.
The week of July 27, Blaska's Blog ranked 5th, which is pretty good, considering that I last blogged on July 21. BTW: BlogNetNews/Wisconsin tracks some 135 blogs, by my count.
The week of July 20, I ranked Numero Uno.
Two big meetings hereabouts:
We'll be talking about a Neighborhood Community Center in the former Jacobsen's meat market in the Meadowood Shopping Center. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. in the St. Maria Goretti school cafeteria.
Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele assures me that this is NOT intended to be a teen hangout!
Meet with our community police officer Mike Hanson at the West District Police Station, 1710 McKenna Boulevard, Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.