That's right, the Madison Landmarks Commission has refused to issue its "certificate of appropriateness" to Stately Blaska Manor, gracious and historic home of the Blaska Policy Research Center and Experimental Work Farm.
The Commission looked at the surrounding landscape in the Isthmus on-line neighborhood, particularly the Emily Mills bloggette, and shuddered, "How inappropriate." (Commissioner Stu Levitan, whom many suspect of being the man behind the curtain, was particularly vexed.) So that is something your BlaskaBlogger has in common with the Edgewater Hotel.
Which raises the question: would the original Edgewater hotel have been issued a permit when it was built right after WW2?
The Edgewater Hotel expansion is supposed to be bad because it is "incompatible" with its surroundings. I understand "incompatible" but the fact is that everything new is incompatible. So was Eben and Rosaline Peck's log cabin hostelry built in 1837 right about where the GEF 3 building is located today. It was, after all, the first structure in what is now Madison.
Or, for that matter, would the Eiffel Tower have been built in 1889?
Many of the cultural arbiters of the times deplored the structure, even though it was intended to be temporary. Novelist Guy de Maupassant explained that he ate lunch in the tower's restaurant every day only because it was the one place in Paris he could not see the damned thing. Certainly, the Eiffel Tower was unlike anything else.
My take on the Landmark Commission is that it was created after too many of the Mansion Hill mansions were torn down. Does the Edgewater project imperil a 19th Century mansion?
So, I side with Mayor Dave's protestations that
The decision of a handful of unelected individuals on the Landmarks Commission can only be overturned by a supermajority (14) of the twenty elected representatives of the people on the Madison City Council. This is fundamentally undemocratic.
At best, the Council should be enjoined from acting in such matters until the Landmarks Commission had weighed in on the issue but that recommendation should be purely advisory. As it is, the Commission carries the weight of an elected mayor's veto - both require super-majorities to overcome.
That IS fundamentally undemocratic, hate the Hammes proposal (The request for $16 million in tax incremental financing) or love it (a $93 million infusion into the downtown).
Which then raises the question: Why does Mayor Cieslewicz buy into the unelected Regional Transit Authority, a purely appointive body (whose nine members are fathered by seven appointive authorities!) with the power to raise millions of dollars in public taxes?
The essence of democracy is not to diffuse the decision-making so as to make those decisions untraceable but to make those decision-makers accountable to the public.
A frosty angel food cake
Sorry if this blog was late. We were snowed in!
It is a rare thing, indeed, for Madison schools, the UW, and state government to be closed by weather. Tuesday-Wednesday's snow, because it was so moist, piled up real nice. Which made it a bitch to blow. Had to resort to the armstrong method for much of it. BTW: the snow on the patio table pictured above measured exactly 17 inches.
The huge December 8-9 snowfall meant your faithful blogger could not make his appointment to hoot and holler with fellow global warming/climate change truthers at the Inn on the Park Wednesday. Received this missive from Mark Block:
The lack of climate change in Wisconsin is forcing the postponement of a live viewing of a live broadcast from Copenhagen to expose the hype of global warming hysteria. The State Director for Americans for Prosperity says the canceling of the event is more proof of the hoax of global warming hysteria.
An old fashioned Wisconsin blizzard is forcing us to postpone this event. I encourage people to log on to watch the event on their computers safe in the comfort of their own homes and best of all, there's no shoveling required.
Hooray for Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal. Accompanying his column in Tuesday's edition is a vintage photograph of V.I. Lenin in full Communist mode. Subject: the environmental totalitarians.
For the anti-Semite, the problems of the world can invariably be ascribed to the Jews; for the Communist, to the capitalists.
There's a distinct tendency among climate alarmists toward uncompromising radicalism, a hatred of "bourgeois" values, a disgust with democratic practices. So President Obama wants to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83% from current levels by 2050, levels not seen since the 1870s-in effect, the Industrial Revolution in reverse. [WSJ: The Totalities of Copenhagen]
I made that connection in the early 1990s when the Spanish Communist party dissolved (sorry, Clarence K.) and threw in their lot with the Green Party. BTW: am presently reading Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, who repudiated Communism after his experiences as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. Those experiences with Communist totalitarianism led to his cautionary novel, 1984.
Great minds think alike
Peggy Noonan in the Saturday, December 5, Wall Street Journal on Obama's Afghani surge/withdrawal announcement:
It was startling to hear a compelling case for our presence followed so quickly by an abrupt announcement of our leaving. It sounded like a strategy based on the song Groucho Marx used to sing, "Hello, I must be going." [WSJ: Obama Re-declares War]
Your BlaskaBlogger on Wednesday, December 2:
Has Robert Gibbs been replaced as spokesman for the Obama White House? Is the new press secretary Groucho Marx? Want a summary of Obama's speech at West Point Tuesday night calling for the temporary surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan? How about: Hello, I must be going. [Blaska's Blog salutes George W. Obama*]
Blaska pays homage to Jackie Harvey's Outside Scoop
ITEM : President Obama -- fighting wars in two countries -- will arrive in Norway on Thursday to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. [CNN]
ITEM : Giant iceberg heading towards Australia. Said to be twice size of Manhattan. "It is a very significant … in that it has drifted so far north (toward the Equator) while still largely intact."
ITEM :Executives at National Public Radio recently asked the network's top political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her regular appearances on Fox News because of what they perceived as the network's political bias, two sources familiar with the effort said. [Politico: NPR reporter pressured over Fox role]
Uh, what about NPR's political bias? At least Fox invites liberals to the party, which is more than NPR does.
ITEM: POLITICO executive editor Jim VandeHei becomes first member of Pulitzer Board from online news outlet. Jim, over here!
ITEM : There are some crimes that are so low and so sickening; so base and so deserving of damnation; so utterly perverse; they demand publicity.
Some sadistic degenerate has stolen the cue balls from the Memorial Union pool room. [The Sconz: Why I am getting a gun]