Mayor Dave, not Mayor Pave
Mike Barrett's column about my proposed city budget ("Enough With the Roads Already!" 11/7/08) misses some key points. The rise in spending on city streets is about good neighborhood infrastructure and green economic development.
Good neighborhood infrastructure: Nobody likes potholes, especially those of us who ride bikes or buses. Remember what it was like in March? We can patch potholes, but it's better to prevent them by repairing streets. So this year I launched a five-year effort to get the miles of substandard streets in Madison down below 10%, from the current 26%. Eighty-five percent of my capital budget for streets is for repair, not expansion.
Green economic development: For all kinds of good environmental reasons, it is better to create jobs in Madison than outside of it. To do that we need to build some new roads, including new arterials. One of the most important projects is streets associated with the new University Research Park off Mineral Point Road.
There was a time when we widened Midvale Boulevard and built Atwood Avenue. In new parts of the city, that's what we're now doing: building the infrastructure for new economic development.
As for the alleged link to bus fares, there isn't one. Madison hasn't hiked bus fares in four years or cash fares in nine. Fuel prices since 2000 have risen 247%, and general inflation has gone up 30%. The cash fare increase just gets us to where inflation would have taken us.
Moreover,my budget would add new service, give Metro more marketing resources, increase security at transfer points, double the program that gives free bus passes to poor people and allow Metro to start rebuilding its cash reserves.
Dave Cieslewicz, Mayor of Madison
Berg got it wrong
Rick Berg's dogmatic fingering of Democrats (including the Carter administration) for the current economic crisis ("Who Caused the Meltdown? Democrats!" 10/31/08) is essentially a non sequitur.
Most real analyses trace the crisis not to ancient legislation that spawned "subprime" mortgages but to Republican Sen. Phil Gramm's clandestine amendment to a 2000 spending authorization bill that deregulated the financial services industry.
Certainly, Democrats can be blamed for their recent capitulation on the massive federal bailout of Wall Street (assurances that outlandish executive compensation would be reigned in have evaporated). But placing blame on Jimmy Carter and poor homeowners for the current mess is off the mark.
Daniel R. Bohrod
Books with bite
As one of the founding members of the Madison Vampire Coven, a group of local vampire writers, I was pleased to see the attention paid to my favorite undead heroes ("There Will Be Blood," 10/31/08).
Madison vampire fans might like to know about the selection of novels by local writers. My book, Vampire Cabbie, which came out late last year, tells the story of a 1,000-year-old vampire who loses his vast fortune in the stock market crash of 1987; he ends up in Madison driving a taxi at a worker-owned-and-operated cooperative cab company.
In Alex Bledsoe's Blood Groove, which will be published next spring, a smooth, continental vampire is staked in 1915, only to wake up 60 years later in Memphis in a strange world of polyester, rock 'n' roll and racial tensions.
Also, I would like to add my favorite vampire author to the suggested reading list: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro writes excellent historical fiction featuring the heroic and sexy vampire, Saint Germain.
Anyone driving through Maple Bluff this past month would be struck by the predominance of Obama yard signs. Yet somehow Isthmus reporter Rich Albertoni was oblivious to this in his story on Jane Wiedlin ("Return of the Pop Star," 10/25/08).
Albertoni's lead paragraph describes McCain/Palin yard signs "bobbing and glowing in the windy afternoon sunshine." In fact, the signs in Maple Bluff were at least 10 to one in favor of Obama, and the Nov. 4 vote was almost two to one for Obama.
Judy Whipple, Maple Bluff