No, not Stately Blaska Manor. This notice of drug activity was forwarded to me by Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele and it is good news, indeed.
Our Madison West District Police made a bust on Balsam Road Thursday. That takes one thug off our streets and into the sheriff's house downtown - until The Kathleen fits him with an ankle bracelet, anyway.
Better yet, Madison Police have used one of the tools in their arsenal to make certain that apartment building is never again used as a drug house - even if they have to tear the damn thing down!
Lt. Anthony Bitterman's letter says it all. It was sent to the owner of the apartment building, one Pah Yang of 4870 Center Circle, Madison, WI 53718. Here are excerpts from the lieutenant's letter:
The property you own at 5817 Balsam Rd. has come to the attention of the Madison Police Department because of criminal activity. This letter is to inform you that a drug nuisance exists and to inform you of your responsibilities under the Wisconsin Drug Abatement Law. Confirmed evidence of the manufacture or delivery of controlled substances on this property has been obtained.
On July 23, 2009, members of the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force, with assistance from the City of Madison Police Department SWAT team, executed a search warrant at the residence at 5817 Balsam Rd #4. The search revealed evidence of illegal drugs and items of drug paraphernalia. As a result of this search and investigation, the resident at 5817 Balsam Rd. #4, Derrell N. Jones, 07/24/1984, was arrested. Jones is charged with Delivery of Heroin (3 counts).
Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statute 823.113(1), any building that is used to facilitate the delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance as defined in 961.01(6) and (13) Wis. Stats., and any building structure where those acts may take place, is a public nuisance and may be proceeded against under this section.
If the drug activity continues at the above address and the court declares the property a nuisance pursuant to the law, the court may order that all personal property be removed and sold, all persons residing on the premises be required to vacate, the building be ordered closed, and the property be ordered razed and/or sold, including the land upon which the structure is located. …
We wish to work with you to improve the situation rather than having to initiate any legal action.
/s/ Lt. Anthony Bitterman
Hey, kids! You may wish to write Pah Yang yourself and encourage this landlord to get with the program! [Here is Lt. Bitterman's letter in its entirety]
A meeting of the minds
The Meadowood Community Center on Raymond Road, right in the middle of the troubled Balsam/Russett Road neighborhood, was the site of an historic meeting Wednesday evening. Twenty-six leaders from the eight neighborhoods here on the Southwest side of Madison attended: Allied Drive, Prairie Hills, Meadowood, Orchard Ridge, Midvale, Park Ridge, Greentree, and High Point Estates. Two elected officials attended, county board supervisors Ronn Ferrell and Matt Veldran.
The meeting was hosted by Tom McKenna of the Orchard Ridge neighborhood at the instigation of Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele to brainstorm counter-measures to the crime and deteriorating quality of life hereabouts.
Meadowood association member Dave Glomp outlined a two-pronged strategy:
1) Get city police to enforce the ordinance violations that Captain Lengfeld had promised to enforce. [See the captain's letter of September 10, 2007]
2) Encourage citizens to take matters into their own hands when appropriate and safe to do so.
"It is up to us as citizens to set the rules for our neighborhood. We need to make sure the laws already on the books are enforced," Glomp said. He gave this example:
"If I see a child at Walgreen's drug store blocking the entrance to some little old lady trying to get per prescription I am going to say, 'Young man, move out of the way.'"
"We have to be not afraid. If other neighbors are willing to stand with us it becomes a little less intimidating. We have to be able to stand up for ourselves."
Glomp cited Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's news release of June 25 where he states:
Public safety is not the business of police or government alone. The City, County and schools must do their part, but they will not be successful without the grassroots efforts of strong community and neighborhood leaders.
"I am not comfortable lowering the bar. We need to enforce behavior and the police have to know we are going to do this. It's our quality of life."
The only reason Midvale was invited was that it is part of Ald. Thuy's 20th aldermanic district. But that neighborhood lies north of the Beltline and well apart from the troubled neighborhoods. Perhaps that is why its president, Denise Lamb, has been so hostile to Ald. Thuy's efforts.
Her hostility - and naiveté - was on display Wednesday night.
First, she inquired of the three black neighborhood reps in attendance how she, as a white person, should approach black people when she encounters problems. Talk about a guilty white liberal question!
I am paraphrasing like crazy because I did not have a tape recorder, but the answer Denise Lamb received essentially amounted to "with love."
Then Florenzo Cribbs took over. He is president of the Allied-Dunn's Marsh neighborhood.
He talked about sports teams that he had played in and how everyone had to work together for a common goal. He said he was mentored by a man who is now president of Carthage College. "A white guy, who took my under his wing."
'You don't talk back to ANY adult'
Being Blaska, I had to speak up. I admitted to the group that I was white. (I expected an audible gasp but heard none.) I placed the blame for my lack of melanin squarely on my parents (both are deceased and cannot defend themselves.) But I said that I, alone, take responsibility for being David Blaska. I thereupon asked for everyone's understanding and forbearance.
I noted that during a break in the meeting then underway, I stepped outside to the sidewalk at the shopping center in order to take a cell phone call. Walking past me was a clutch of six pre-pubescent girls; one of them dropped a piece of litter on the sidewalk. I separated the offending youngster from the herd, marched her back to the disbanded candy wrapper and told her I was there to help. I made her pick up her litter while I retrieved another piece. Together, we deposited our findings in the nearby trash container. I bade the youngsters a cheery good evening and returned to the meeting inside.
Back inside, Florenzo Cribbs contributed this: "When all my friends were afraid of the police I was afraid of my grandma. I didn't want to disappoint her. You don't talk back to any adult." He emphasized "any" so I took that to mean regardless of race.
Denise Lamb also said another guilty liberal thing: "We don't want a policeman on every corner." Whereupon several of us, including Brent Midelfort from Orchard Ridge, said: "Speak for yourself."
Then Denise Lamb said a third guilty liberal thing: "We shouldn't be worried about guys with their pants down."
Cribbs rejoined: "It's illegal in Atlanta and for good reason."
I stood up one more time and said, "Mr. Cribbs, you are a beautiful person."
He appears to be black, as well.
Our voices must be heard
In the last blog I reprinted in full the response of Karen Sielaff to Chief Noble Wray's comments as reported in the Wisconsin State Journal. Here is a response from Brian Frick, president of the Park Ridge Homeowners Association. It is well worth reading.
Folks, watch Blaska's Blog - I will have much more about the struggle for our neighborhoods in upcoming blogs.
"Blaska's Blog: ammunition for fearless minds."
Mark your calendars
At the very southeast corner of tiny Flad Park is a basketball hoop that has attracted some of the foulest mouths outside the average gangsta rap song.
1) That is why your Blaska blogger is signing up for the "Madison Parks Watch."
To better protect our community's beautiful park system, in 2008 Madison Parks and Madison Police launched a Parks Watch initiative. Neighbors joined together to learned how to organize a watch program, what to watch for and how to communicate their concerns to the city officials.
Training is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, August 10, at the West Police District, 1710 McKenna Blvd. and Wednesday, August 12, 7 p.m. at the East Police District, 809 S. Thompson Dr. Contact Laura Whitmore at 266-5949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In much the same fashion as Neighborhood Watch, we are asking park neighbors and partners to extend their watchful eyes and ears to the public spaces throughout the City of Madison. … Madison Police Department and Madison Parks representatives will be available to train residents in the processes of Parks Watch, focusing specifically on how to be a good witness, best communication methods with your neighbors, Police & Parks officials, as well as, when and how to contact the 9-1-1 Center.
2) The next Southwest side neighborhood meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, at the corner of Raymond Road and Whitney Way. Officer Mike Hanson says: "If you are sincere about wanting to effect change and help in the neighborhood; this group would like your help and spirit to volunteer in the neighborhoods."