Extending the discussion of immigration policy to real action and change
I swear, I leave town for a few days and all manner of crazy breaks loose: BP continues its epic (and thus far unpunished) fail in the Gulf, Israel raids an aid convoy and kills a bunch of activists, the Korean peninsula is on the brink of restarting its war, someone steals my bag, and the Madison City Council unanimously passes a resolution calling on the Sheriff to stop his policy of reporting all foreign citizen's booked in country jail to ICE.
On the latter count, it's an issue I've been doing a lot of thinking and writing about lately. I stand by my conviction that the policy is woefully misguided and even dangerous. I'm heartened by the fact that the entire Council came together in opposition to it, and that so many people from the community have taken the time to show up and speak out.
But there's still so much work that remains to be done. The resolution is non-binding, meaning that the sheriff is free to ignore it if he wants, which Mahoney will likely do. According to the WSJ article on the subject, "Mahoney acknowledged Tuesday he is not obligated to contact ICE, but he won't change the policy."
Apparently this whole process has been one long, boring charade for him. I had appreciated the time Mahoney took to attend the public hearings on the matter, but I'm disappointed that the end result appears to be that he won't budge on anything after all.
There are those who will argue that the resolution was a whole lot of wasted time, something done to make people feel better without having to take any real, concrete action (and some have). But, if nothing else, the resolution process has brought people out of the woodworks to share their stories and concerns and that's important. Simply starting a discussion is always valuable.
But I agree that more solid action needs to be taken.
Surely there must be some kind of compromise that can be reached, something that would continue to allow law enforcement to make sure violent and dangerous criminals are kept off the streets without striking the fear of said law enforcement into otherwise peaceful residents.
The sheriff's office isn't the only--or even the biggest--problem, though. If the (bravely anonymous) comments on the aforementioned WSJ article are any indication, there's still a lot of prejudice and misinformation out there.
We've a long way to go, but, at the very least, the discussion is happening here in Madison. And that's a start. Now it's time to capitalize on that momentum and push for real, meaningful (and binding!) change.
Getting high-speed rail right
Speaking of momentum, I'm a little disappointed in how the process of implementing high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee is apparently being handled. While I'm all for efforts to keep the ball rolling so that funding is accepted and the project gets moving as quickly as possible, none of that should come at the cost of completely shutting out the affected communities.
Which is precisely what's being alleged after the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board narrowly defeated a motion that would have delayed a vote on the release of $100 million in federal funding for the project.
There's a fine and important balance to be struck between staying on track and getting things done, and making sure the people's voices are heard. I understand as well as anyone that sometimes debate can become circular, drawn out and unproductive if left unchecked. That's called allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. But that doesn't mean entirely cutting out the public process of such an important project.
The rail line is simply too key to allow it to be pushed through without a proper amount of oversight and input from the community. It's worth getting it right from the get-go, as opposed to having to deal with problems and anger after the fact.
Apologies for the shortened post this week, but I'm just back in town from Seattle (as I mentioned at the top) and have been dealing with the fun paperwork and other nonsense that comes with being robbed. Other than that, I should mention that it was a pretty good trip, though, and I hold no grudges against the city itself. Crap happens. Life goes on. And boy does it! There's so much to catch up on in Madison, and I'll be doing my best to keep pace for next week's posts.
For instance, the controversy over and saga of sheep decompression experiments at the UW continues. "Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith found probable cause that scientists who carried out the experiments and officials who approved them violated the law themselves or as party to a crime." Smith has appointed a special prosecutor to look into those animal cruelty charges. This will, no doubt, continue to be an interesting case and I'm glad it's getting further scrutiny and not simply being swept under the rug. Any decisions made here will likely have long-lasting ramifications for animal experimentation at the UW and possibly elsewhere, as well.