The people's choice
In an era when political democracy has become corrupt, as epitomized by super PACs, it was refreshing to read Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz's article on cooperatives and economic democracy ("One Worker, One Vote," 2/3/2012). When it is so easy to feel disempowered by economic forces that dismiss the interests of local people, I feel like I can actually make a statement when I shop at Willy Street Co-op or other local businesses.
Participating in a co-op's principle of supporting other co-ops and local businesses, including using local resources, provides an opportunity to be a voice in economic democracy.
Spending a little more at a co-op in the long run creates momentum toward an economy that prioritizes jobs and resources staying at home. Local control is an ethic of economic democracy. After all, think of the pride Wisconsinites take in knowing that the publicly owned Green Bay Packers cannot leave Wisconsin.
Planes, trains & automobiles
Recent rail discussions seem to have prompted the two letters appearing in the Feb. 10 issue of Isthmus. I agree with Peter Clark that high-speed rail wasn't handled right from the start. If looked at as a major intermodal transportation component that preserved community safety and quality of life, the best location would be just north of the airport near the interstate. All of the Madison crossing concerns would be nonexistent, and the shortest Chicago to Minneapolis trip time through Madison could be achieved without bringing additional congestion into town.
As for David Meyer's critique of Larry Kaufmann's letter, it is Mr. Meyer's statistics that appear disconnected with reality. I suggest that he check Travelocity.com, where he will find that direct air service between Madison and Minneapolis exists with flight times around 1.25 hours and no need to fly through O'Hare. Cost comparisons cannot be accurately compared at this time since high-speed rail service today is nonexistent in that corridor; however, today I found fares below $400. Therefore rail fares could not be $500 less.
Mr. Clark's complaint about traffic on First Avenue seems to be more about the behavior of drivers than actual traffic congestion. Before moving to Madison a few years ago, I spent many hours commuting through Chicago rush hours; hearing Madisonians complain about the horrible traffic that keeps them from driving to the east side or the west side, or that it took a whole 20 minutes to drive the length of the Beltline, reveals to me that they have no idea how ridiculously easy it is to drive in this city. Yes, there is congestion and gridlock on the isthmus during sporting events and the Farmers' Market, but that's occasional, specific, predictable, and a sign that we need more acceptance and availability of regularly scheduled public transit to locations like the airport and the Capitol Square.
A couple of minutes added to a commute is not a great sacrifice in exchange for the overall economic benefits of connecting Madison by rail to the rest of the Midwest's economic hubs.
I am appalled that the new Department of Health Services building policy restricts public access ("New DHS Building Policy Restricts Public Access," 2/10/2012). This security plan is unnecessary and a waste of money. The DHS should be the people's building like the Capitol.