Archive for March, 2010

Mosiman Promotes the Pave

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Mayor Pave that is.

The editorial board got in on the action today as well.

I guess Mayor Pave scored an editorial bifecta as it were.

Both pieces read like they came straight from the mayor’s office. Mosiman’s read like a newsrelease stenographed straight onto the front page. The editorial read just like a blog post by Mayor Pave himself. Oh, wait, there it is, the exact mayoral blog post copied almost word for word by City Stenographer, Dean Mosiman!

Mayor Pave & the rightists at the Wisconsin State Journal seem to be very much in goose — er, lockstep: Pave Here, Pave Now! Pave, baby, Pave!

Exhibit A: Mayor Pave's Bloated Roads to Nowhere

Of course, Mosiman and the rightist editors glossed over Mayor Pave’s highway expansion budget which is increasing at 10 times the rate of inflation + population growth. TEN TIMES! It is interesting how, in the minds of the manly-men on the WSJ editorial board along with Stenographer Mosiman, fiscal conservatism never seems to apply to road expansion.

In academe it’s called cognitive dissonance. I call it hypocrisy.

The Dying Mainstream Media can’t die fast enough.

P.s. I’m getting a kick out of the street sweeping happening at 10 PM tonight in my neighborhood; I wonder how much that is costing in overtime! Is it happening because the mayor will be up for election next spring and my ward votes more than any other ward in the city? Or is it just that robotic reflex: Must. Serve. Cars. Must. Serve. Cars. Must. Serve. Cars. Must. Serve. Cars. Must.

Jesus Giveth, Jesus Bargaineth Away

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Just so His disciples don’t get too carried away in their euphoria over the health care “victory,” Jesus H. Obama announces His plan to keep the flock on the gluttonous energy path.

Drill, Jesus, Drill!

And true to form, this give away to the carbon interests is His opening gambit even before negotiations have begun on carbon emissions limits. Yeah, that’s it, give away every bargaining chip even before the bargaining has begun!

This lead up to the carbon cap talks is shaping up to be a replay of the health care debate: Just like His taking single payer off the table even before getting to the table; or handing over the public option ‘chips’ to the hospital lobby before serious negotiations even begin. Cede ground til there’s nothing much left to cede.

Then declare victory. Then, watch your followers, at the receiving end of an abusive relationship, be thankful for their crumbs. He really loves me. I know He does. Even when He abuses me.

Oh, and by the way, is this really the sort of bargaining that the really smart people at Columbia teach their law students? Remind me to not hire an Ivy League lawyer next time.

A Pillar of Progressive Prairie Populism*

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’ve been railing mightily against the weak-kneed progressives & liberals around here. They, of course, have every excuse in the world as to why they must be ineffective:

Jed Sanborn might yell at me!

I’m in a minority!

The excuses are legion. But my disagreement with the weak-kneed on the council boils down to this: I disagree that being in a minority fatalistically mandates ineffectiveness. (As for their fear of the Dad Figure on the council, that’s something that could only be resolved in years of therapy sessions; i.e., beyond the scope of this blog.)

Perhaps they need a role model. I’d suggest they look no further than Elizabeth Warren. She’s standing up to the banks while getting virtually no political support from any quarter. While Obama again seems to be cowering in a corner on the issue of financial reform, Warren takes the fight to those cantankerous old banksters. Congress is full of bought-off weasels (both parties). Oh, and yes, St. Tammy continues to cave to the banks as well (She voted to allow them to loot the treasury in the last days of the Bush Administration, no restrictions, no conditions, no strings attached; and more recently, she has been in cahoots with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency in letting banks defraud their customers. I’ve got a letter dated December 29, 2009, in response to a complaint in which she approves of a bank’s fraudulent actions, in a case very similar to the cases reported in the NYT article above.)

Contrast that limp response with Warren’s approach: She just keeps hammering away. She’s taking the case public in every venue that will accept her (for starters, here, here). And she is relentless. Exudes the most righteous moral indignation (and rightfully so!). Promotes hard hitting, tight regulation. Is merciless toward the banksters.

To hear her talk on TV, or to read her quotes or her own op-ed pieces is an intense experience.

And to hear this straight talking Oklahoman — raised a Methodist to boot!** — and a Harvard professor, pulling no punches & taking it straight to the banksters, sounds a whole heck of a lot like the prairie populists railing against the banks of the 1890s! It just doesn’t get any better than this….

From Fighting Bob to Light-em Up Liz!

I think we’ve found the Fighting Bob LaFollette of our time! For this is a woman with fight. Fire. And I support her and her views on our financial system. Strongly.

Madison’s electeds at all levels should start taking notes. And following suit.

Tammy, are you listening? Time to screw up some courage and get tough on the banks!

Once in a while a new public figure emerges and astounds. Elizabeth Warren is Exhibit A.

*Forgive the bad alliteration — it just worked too well!

**Full disclosure: My mom is from OK and a Methodist, to boot!

Schadenfreude for Suburbia

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Gated Ghettos-R-Us.

After getting hit upside the head with reality, the really smart people at the Brookings Institution have finally figured it out (from the LA Times article in the first link):

There are dozens of places like Willowalk, and they are turning into America’s newest slums, says Christopher Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. With home values at a fraction of their peak, he said, it no longer makes sense to live so far from the commercial centers where jobs are concentrated.

Gee, ya think? Nothing like a little rear-view mirror analysis to make it in the big time think tanks!

“We built too much of the wrong product in the wrong locations,” Leinberger said.

Gosh, I wish I could be paid to hang out & be that smart!

Even the really, really smart people in academia* have figured it out:

Thanks to overbuilding, demographic changes and shifts in preferences, by 2030 there could be 25 million more suburban homes on large lots than are needed, said Arthur C. Nelson of the University of Utah. Nelson believes that as baby boomers age and as younger generations buy real estate, the population will abandon remote McMansions for smaller homes closer to shops, jobs and the other necessities of life.

(Um….something the likes of Tim Wong, James Howard Kunstler and Yours Truly have been warning about for decades.)

But look at those numbers: twenty-five MILLION excess suburban homes!

Yet despite the ever darkening outlook for suburbia, Mayor Pave and his Venti Sicofanti continue to embrace the ugliness and economic devastation that is the bucolic 1970s cul-de-sac.

Mayor Pavescapes: New subdivisions in SW Madison, stuck in the 70s forevermore!

*My first thesis proposal on exactly these issues — back in 1991! — was dissed because it wasn’t an academic enough topic. It was a derided as a journalistic theme. The predictive nature of the thesis was troubling to the rear-view mirror academic types. (So I went on to finish the MS by doing yet another boring regional geography….About things that, ahem, had already happened.)

Bitter? Me? Nah! But gosh, if I’d just waited another 15 years or so, I coulda had a nice, cush job at some rich think tank or a professorship, thinking big thoughts about things that, um, already happened! Coulda, shoulda, woulda!

Oh, and the guy who derided it as a journalistic theme? He’s likely to be put in the dock for abusing monkeys. Grad students, monkeys, whatever. So I’ll take that as a measure of cosmic justice!

P.s. Thanks, P, for leaving the LA Times article open on the computer for me this morning!

Mosiman, the Mayor’s Mandarin

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Mosiman continues to pump out corporate PR pieces on the front page of Madison’s daily, dying mainstream media outlet. This piece is all about creating an atmosphere of inevitability for the Edgewater project. The central message is: Ignore the little people; they have nothing to say.

Yet another data point proving the long, slow, painful death of monopolistic dailies is an act of cosmic justice.

The only reliable local outlet for daily news is right here.

Edgewater: Mosiman Churns Out Hammes PR

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Once again, Dean Mosiman pumps out what could easily pass as a corporate PR piece straight out of Bob Dunn’s office.

It doesn’t even rise to the level of stenographic journalism. Pitiful.

Too bad our Plan Commission is packed with people who simply don’t understand the concept of appropriate scale.

Then there is Herr Schumacher, bossy & derisive as ever, labeling a proposal to bring the project into proportion with its context, “borderline absurd.”

Borderline might better describe the view he sees in the mirror.

At least the UDC still has a large minority who understand the issue of context. Unfortunately, it was a minority. And we got no help when it counted from my own alder, Marsha Rummel, on this one. (It has become abundantly clear that spatial, contextual issues are not her forte, nor does she seem interested in ramping up that knowledge. But as I explained in my last post, that is a weakness most progressives cling to.)

Unbelievable just how easily progressives cave.

Pay No Attention to the Trainwreck on the Left

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, and after much pleading from the organizers, I agreed to show up to a meeting entitled, “What’s Up With The Left in Madison.”

My reluctance was based in my long involvement with Progressive Dane from its inception (’93?) until a couple of years ago. For all of those years I tried to get the party’s leadership as well as elected officials to understand the economic & environmental trainwreck around the bend if they didn’t start applying the brakes to all of that car-mandatory development out in the ‘burbs. I even worked hard for countless candidates — many of whom won — who promised to do something about all of the bad planning.

All of those efforts were to no avail.

Not only did they not listen, but PD alders & county supervisors actively accelerated the paving at an alarming rate.

The result:   An economic and environmental policy trainwreck with one train piling into the next in a fog of bad decisionmaking.

Trainwreck #1: Foreclosures. Housing in Madison’s ‘burbs, extending out into rural subdivisions and horsey-doggie sprawl, is now so far flung and anti-pedestrian and anti-transit that the poor, the young, the elderly and the conscientiously carless cannot access it. And for those who just value a human-scaled place (regardless of their socio-economic demographic pigeonhole), it has no value. This destruction of value was brought about by a widely recognized lack of universal access planned into these developments. Walls of distance and speeding car traffic as it were.

In a sense, cosmic justice prevailed as the foreclosure crisis hit car-mandatory places the hardest. Unfortunately, however, it is hurting us all, as the cratering real estate values out there are devastating Madison & Dane County’s tax base.

These economically unsustainable development patterns were heartily supported by elected progressives with nary a peep from party membership (yours truly excepted, of course).

Did the price crash have to happen, given the national foreclosure crisis? Nope. Most of our walking/biking/transit-friendly ‘hoods have either a) maintained their value or b) actually increased in value. This same trend has occurred across the country with human-scaled neighborhoods holding their value while cul-de-sacs tank in the same region. Instead of seeing the foreclosure crisis for what it is — a disaster for all — progressives see it as an opportunity to…squat! (Yes, this is the next direct action actually proposed at the meeting.) So ok, it will make for great theater. And I like theater. But then what? Do we sit there all self-satisfied that we have stuck-it-to-the-man while continuing to support policies that continually drive down our tax base?! What sort of vicious cycle of insanity is this?

Trainwreck #2: The abovedescribed tax base destruction (developers churning out soulless subdivisions -> 1960s-educated planners collaborating -> ‘progressive’ elected officials wielding rubber stamps approving every car-mandatory subdivision ->  gullible homebuyers (or, perhaps more likely, homebuyers given no choice) -> crazy bankers -> (soon) crazy squatters) is now squeezing every city & county department, including those departments forming the social safety net advocated for by the good progressives. At today’s meeting, progressives at first stood stunned, then started casting about for scapegoats. People, only one department has continued to receive double digit year-over-year budget increases, and it is the very people who brought the housing crisis to you in the first place: The highway department! Pavement expansion is raging at 10 times population growth + inflation. TEN times! That’s good money chasing after bad, folks. We’ve been there, done that…and crashed. Yet we keep piling the people’s cash into the same bad land use patterns. It’s not a goat you’re looking for, it’s a hog; and the hog sits in the chief of highways seat. And your endorsed ‘progressive’ elected officials continue to slop that hog.

The car-mandatory nature of our elected leaders’ policies has created trainwreck #3: Increasingly filthy air, thanks to city-mandated driving (a direct result of car-mandatory places). The air is getting so filthy, in fact, that Madison is soon to be designated a dirty air zone by the EPA (‘non-attainment’ in the jargon). This will seriously damage Madison’s ability to attract & retain good jobs, as potential employers will recoil at the extra hoops mandated by the feds when air pollution exceeds the allowable levels.

And while progressives perseverate mightily about the need for good, family-supporting jobs, they fail to see the environment as anything but a white environmentalist/elitist/hobbyist’s concern. (Emphasis on white; there was much hand-wringing about the overwhelming whiteness of the progressive community.). Folks, dirty air is bad for everybody. But the poor — disproportionately non-white — will be disproportionately hit. Those jobs the poor need? Gone thanks to dirty air. (Milwaukee and other rustbelt cities, perpetually under the EPA’s thumb have been hemorrhaging jobs since the inception of the Clean Air Act. Coincidence? Me thinks not. And no, it isn’t the Act’s fault, it is the fault of short-sighted local & state leaders who worship cars more than their constituents’ economic and physical health.)

Then there are the children of the poor. We know that they will suffer disproportionately from air pollution-induced asthma (do I need to go into how bad this is for the developmental progress of a child?).

Fighting against dirty air is not a hobby. Nor is it only a concern of only white enviros.

Trainwreck #4: Dirty drinking water. So much land is paved over that our aquifers are no longer recharging as they should, thus rendering increasingly contaminated water. Combine the paving with constant leaking of petrochemicals onto that pavement (tire & brake grit, exhaust that settles on soil & pavement, oil leaks, etc.); then, after a rain, that filth rushes across that pavement, to sewers, then directly to our surface waters (which now feed the aquifer thanks to paving over of infiltration zones) and you’ve got a recipe for hydrologic disaster…. Case in point: the combination described here has put the kibosh on developing a well for the industrial southeast side, perhaps imperiling hundreds of jobs. Jobs, people!

The biggest trainwreck of all is upcoming: energy. The $4/gallon summers of 2007 & 2008 were the first dominos to set in motion the housing market catastrophe. (In car-mandatory places families faced 2 choices: fill the SUV or pay the mortgage; in the end, neither was economically sustainable.)

But that is nothing compared to what we will be facing soon.

So far, the military has been able to keep the oil supplies open, but the endless wars over oil are proving to be costly in lives, treasure, constitutional rights and basic justice. Social justice advocates often bemoan the de-facto military draft (crushing economic necessity forcing individuals to ‘volunteer’ for the military, etc.), but they typically fail to see first causes: Most of our military is now dedicated to fighting for oil. The world’s #1 consumer of oil? The military. For what? Fighting for oil. The snake is eating its tail.

That is to say, expect even more of the above.

Unless. Unless, we get a handle on our resource consumption and the fouling of our own nests. Because folks, if we don’t, there won’t be any justice left to attain. For anyone.

But this was entirely too mind-blowing for the good progressives to grasp at the meeting Saturday. When we were asked to write down our vision for the city if we achieved a progressive majority on the city council, most people dreamed their dreams as the exercise intended. Affordable housing for all. Racial harmony. Family supporting jobs. Full funding for social services. A strong Regional Transit Authority. And on & on, the same litany we’ve come to know & love about the progressive vision. (And yes, I do love it. As far as it goes. Which isn’t far enough to do any of the above….)

My response to what Madison would look like with a progressive majority? Massively increased paving over of rich, precious, Dane County farmland. Dirtier air. Filthier water. More car traffic. Poor people cut off from jobs due to walls of distance. Planning that plans universal access out of our urban landscape.

Face it, our ‘progressive’ elected officials voted for all of the above in the past and continue to do so. There is no evidence it would change with a majority.

Thus, many of us have simply quit working for any candidates. (At least until we see some evidence of real change.) With the loss of key electoral volunteers, progressives have continued to lose strength on the council.

For no amount of pressure from organized groups seems to have any bearing on their decisions. Neither 20 hours a week of volunteer labor….Nor being a ward captain turning out margins of victories….Nor cold hard progressive cash…Nothing seems to work with these people. (This was, thankfully, alluded to by several other participants).

Many at the meeting lamented the high level of apathy in Madison. I strongly disagree. This city is so organized around mutually supporting — and countless — progressive causes that it should be clear to our elected officials that we do, in fact, want progress. Not Detroit’s vision of a city-enforced car mandate. Not the Teabaggers’ vision of an unstable, grindingly impoverished and violent future. We have stated over & over that we want something better. In fact, I view Madison’s strong civic culture much like a venerable Roman arch, with each organization forming the arch & wall (each brick in the pillar or stone in the arch representing an organization) mutually reinforcing neighboring, allied organizations.

We all hang together or....

But when the keystone element at the top is missing/weak/lacking in conviction, the whole edifice falls apart. In this metaphor, the keystone element is each of our elected officials. Given that they are universally AWOL with regard to the desires of their constituents, the whole edifice falls apart, just as a Roman arch would.

In the case of Madison, the people are doing a yeoman’s job of holding things together, pulling together the increasingly tight resources they have in their non-profits to make things work as best they can for those who have very little. Yet there was a lot of self-flaggelation/blaming ourselves for this sorry situation. Again, I vehemently disagree; the hardworking, civically-engaged people of Madison are not to blame. What is missing is that strong keystone element, starting with the out-of-touch mayor, but including every alder — yes, the ‘progressive’ ones inclusive.

There is no hope of getting through to the current crop of elected officials. In their hands, our destiny lies in gluttonous energy use, car-mandatory land use patterns, transportation only for the well-wheeled, dirtier & dirtier air  and filthier & filthier water.

They simply do not have the capacity to get it.

Dane County Towns Ass’n: Adjust Your Attitude!

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Brought to you by Dane County Towns Association

Having a poli-sci BA and an MS in geography means that I geek out over good land use policy analysis (in case you hadn’t clued into that already!).

Below is one of the best analyses I’ve ever seen with regard to Dane County’s rural land use policies. Stefi & Arnold Harris of the Western Dane County Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment are truly fighting the good fight out there.


to: Dane County town boards
from: Stefi Harris, Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment
re: DCTA ineffectiveness protecting town lands from annexation

As a rural resident of the Town of Cross Plains in western Dane County for 34 years, I have witnessed the increasing disappearance of farmlands and other open spaces of the towns in our county as they have been incrementally swept into the encroaching black holes of annexation by their neighboring cities and villages. All these annexations have been for development largely denied to the towns by countywide comprehensive planning. Mostly of them were instigated and conducted not because they made any sense from the planning point of view but to feed a class of land speculators and developers who buy up these town lands at farmland prices in order to enrich themselves with high-priced lots for urban sprawl.

Presently, there is only one venue in Dane County where towns might hope to affect the outcomes of city/village grabs of their lands and tax bases. That venue is CARPC, the appointed body to which all Dane County cities and villages must come in order to get recommendations to the WI-DNR for approval of their sewer service area extensions. Without those recommendations they can do only limited development on annexed town lands.

The main culprits in this destructive development are the cities, villages, land speculators and developers. However having monitored actions of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) since mid 2008, I now understand that the Dane County Towns Association (DCTA), either through willfulness or bad judgment, is equally responsible for enabling CARPC to act as little more than a well-oiled machine for converting town farmlands and other open spaces to urban sprawl after these lands have been annexed by the cities and villages. And here it is how that happens.

CARPC has 13 members, appointed as follows:
— Dane County Towns Association (DCTA), three members;
— Dane County Executive, three members;
— City of Madison, four members;
— Dane County Cities and Villages Association (DCCVA), three members.

CARPC’s rules require a majority vote of eight of the 13 members to pass a positive recommendation for an urban service area (USA) extension on to WI-DNR. The pro-development forces have overcome that hurdle by organizing a CARPC voting bloc which includes all three DCCVA appointees, at least three of the four Madison appointees, and at least one of the three DCTA appointees, but frequently all three.

DCTA and its appointees, all of whom have been elected Dane County town officials, have a unique opportunity to counter the cities/villages bloc and discourage future unjust annexations of towns’ lands by making them through its CARPC actions unprofitable for developers. In order to accomplish this, they would have to form a voting bloc with the appointees of the Dane County Executive and with one vote that usually comes with Madison appointees.

However, DCTA historically and presently, almost always wastes its limited political capital opposing the County Board of Supervisors and the Dane County Executive in any and all land use controls. Mostly, this is an extension of the political orientation of the DCTA leadership. They act as though it were the Dane County government rather than the cities and villages that has been annexing their lands and exercising frequently unfair extra-territorial jurisdiction against their membership – the Dane County towns – rather than the cities and villages with whom their CARPC appointees typically walk in political lockstep.

From Mar 27, 2008 to the present, CARPC has reviewed as many as 20 service area extension requests. Some of these represented limited service areas (LSAs) of minor acreage. Others are cases in which there were specific agreements between a town and a neighboring city or village, such as the recent City of Middleton-Town of Westport CUSA review and approval by CARPC. And there was a single case where CARPC actually turned down a request by the Village of Mazomanie to extend the sewer lines on lands taken from the Town of Mazomanie without as much as a courtesy call.

But over 2/3 of the land area awarded to urban expansion during the same period or over 2070.7 acres, involved cases where CARPC approval was given even though towns had no say in annexations preceding these approvals. In each such occurrence, CARPC more or less rubber-stamped the municipal proposals. In all these cases, DCTA’s appointees mostly joined forces with the DCCVA and City of Madison appointees in a solid voting bloc.

The rubber-stamp approvals of the Madison, DCCVA and DCTA appointees are further reinforced by CARPC staff, led by an environmental engineer who routinely uses his position to lead board discussions to favor approvals of the urban service area requests, despite numerous clear violations of the Wisconsin NR 121 regulations dealing with water quality issues, and even has been seen to interrupt commissioner discussions in order to sway one or more dissident commission members to vote approval of his favored projects. WDC/SGE has researched and brought to the attention of CARPC, its staff and its commissioners technical information about many water quality-related proposal violations, to which little attention has been paid.

Moreover, CARPC rules allow broad opportunities for the applicant cities and villages, and along with them, their pet land speculators and developers, to testify at length, including use of extensive PowerPoint presentations. In contrast, opponents of these developments are permitted only three minutes per person to speak, with no such presentations. So each such meeting and all CARPC deliberative procedures, operate like a carefully coordinated card game in which the deck is stacked against the interests of the towns themselves, smart growth planning of Dane County, and Wisconsin’s environmental protection legislation.

A typical example of CARPC decision-making was at the March 11, 2010 CARPC meeting, concerning the City of Fitchburg Central Urban Service Area (CUSA) amendment request for 397.7 acres. At that meeting, DCTA appointee Ed Minihan, who is also chairman of the Town of Dunn, raised the objection to Fitchburg’s request based on two significant unanswered concern that directly affect his town. Those concerns involved unresolved issues over increased flooding in the Town of Dunn and degradation of South Waubesa Marsh, both due to the City of Fitchburg proposed urban service extension. This marsh is known as both a unique and an outstanding wetland area. Increased resale property values in the Town of Dunn can be in part credited to the proximity of pristine South Waubesa Marsh natural area. The town has also submitted its letter of objection over Fitchburg’s proposal to CARPC. Commissioner Minihan argued his objections clearly and concisely during Thursday’s CARPC deliberation. But what followed might surprise you. His two fellow DCTA appointees, commissioners Phillip Van Kampen and Susan Studz, ignored his comments, sided with the cities and villages, and voted against the Town of Dunn’s objection. Their votes were particularly hard to swallow because these two members never responded to Minihan’s objections and provided no coherent water quality or other reasons for going against the Town of Dunn. They gave him no backing whatsoever, despite that they were appointed to CARPC to represent the interests of Dane County towns.

Mr Van Kampen has been on CARPC for a long time and has had a fair track record until he was appointed chairman of CARPC at the March 11, 2010 meeting, replacing Jeff Miller, a DCCVA appointee. One must assume the cities and villages bloc of commissioners supported him as chairman because they assumed he would continue their status quo of the obvious CARPC bias in favor of awarding urban service area extensions at the expense of the towns from which the lands for these extensions have been grabbed.

Susan Studz is new to CARPC. She was recently appointed by DCTA to take the place of the late Harold Krantz, a town leader of great experience. To Krantz, by contrast, the interests of the towns always came first in any CARPC discussion or vote. He frequently voted against city/village proposals where town interests were not served.

If this type of mindless action of some of the DCTA appointees on CARPC continues, many of us who live in towns of this county fear what will happen to our towns when the land tracts that have been recently ripped out of their territories inevitably come to CARPC review.

Here, along the northern boundary of the Town of Cross Plains, the Village of Cross Plains in early 2009 annexed a large chunk of town’s territory through gerrymandering. It did that with no prior discussion with the town. The land in question is a recharge area for Garfoot Creek, a high quality trout stream, classified as an exceptional water resource. The village wants to convert this area into a dense suburban neighborhood. This process would inevitably degrade Garfoot Creek from the exceptional water resource with living, breeding trout, into an impaired waterway that could barely support a forage fishery. The town wanted to keep that area as farmland with low-density residential development under its 1 split per 35-acre rule. The town wanted to continue protecting the creek, because a healthy stream with quality fish is an attractant. Among other things it increases property values in an area where it flows.

Many of us in the town familiar with this recent hostile action of the DCTA appointees to CARPC, Van Kampen and Studz against the Town of Dunn are worried that if the case involving former Town of Cross Plains territory would come in front of CARPC now, that there would be no stopping of the Village of Cross Plains sewer service request and creek degradation and destruction. Furthermore, awarding the Village of Cross Plains a sewer extension through CARPC would only encourage the village to further encroach and take land from our town.

If DCTA or its CARPC commissioners ignore towns’ objections and are unwilling to lead by example and vote down cities and villages urban service area amendment requests whenever necessary, then how is anyone else on CARPC expected to help the towns? What is the sense of any town in Dane County using their taxpayer’s money to pay dues to DCTA if that organization is not sensitive to the overriding interests of their own members?

One of the unique sets of data that WDC/SGE has assembled are written surveys completed by residents of more than a dozen Dane County towns as part of their comprehensive planning projects during recent years. Notably, more than two-thirds of all rural residents surveyed clearly indicated that they want to keep the town lands rural and that they want to strongly limit development on the town farmlands and open spaces. This data directly contradicts the political assumptions of some who imagine that rural residents would support urban development all around the county, typically as enrichment schemes by a very small number of individuals. On issues such as these the majority of Dane County town residents is more in tune with the statewide Wisconsin Towns Association, who strongly favor smart growth planning and protection of town lands from unwanted development. The time has come for attitudinal adjustment of DCTA leadership. DCTA leadership should be made accountable for any hostile action by its CARPC appointees against towns whose cases come in front of that body.

Stefi Harris
Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment
3427 County Rd P
Mt Horeb WI 53572

Imagine.....There used to be a farm here.

The Sustainability Mirage: A NYT Update

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Back in January I had an article published entitled “Madison’s Sustainability Mirage,” thesis of which was, all the groovey-green gizmos in the world won’t make a hill-of-beans difference as long as we keep siting “green buildings” in car-mandatory places. Looks like the smart gate-keepers at the NYT just figured it out, too.

Girls Rock! Motor Primitives @ Brink TONIGHT!

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Motor Primitives play tonight at the Brink Lounge….

The AM version of the details:

Who: Motor Primitives

What: MPs & other local bands play for a Fundraiser for Girls Rock Camp

Where: Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Ave

When: TONIGHT! Thursday, 3/18, 7 PM

How a): BE THERE! Be There! BE THERE!

How b): Vote for the Motor Primitives for “Hard Rock/Punk Performer of the Year for the 2010” in the Madison Area Music Awards!!!!!

The Disco Version of the Motor Primitives original announcement:

We got yer rock for you:  Thurs., 3/18, the Brink Lounge @7pm
What does “Rock” mean to you?
Well, whether you’re a musician, music lover or a little of both, rock can be emotional, visceral, torturous, intellectual, joyous and so forth and so on.  We at MP HQ whole heartedly endorse any and all endeavors that  develop the next generations of rockers (or, warp the next generation…However you like to see it).
Toward that end, the Motor Primitives are playing a fundraiser for Girls Rock Camp!
What is GRC?  Girls Rock Camp is an intense one week day camp for girls ages 9-18.  Campers of all skill levels learn various instruments, form a band, write a song and perform at the end of week Girls Rock Showcase.
Want to know more?  Go to their webpage at:
Heard enough and want to support the event?  Come to the fundraiser on Thursday, March 18th @7pm.  A $5 cover will get you an evening of entertainment including Bonobo Secret Handshake, Brett Newski (of the Nods), The Motor Primitives (8:30ish) and Beth Kille.
Remember folks…It’s for the children…Awwwwwww!
That there was announcement #1.  And now…Announcement #Dos:
The Motor Primitives are nominated for Hard Rock/Punk Performer of the Year for the 2010 Madison Area Music Awards (as in, “Who’s yer” MAMAs).
We would greatly appreciate your vote to get into the finals for this award. All it takes is a few minutes of your time and a $5 donation to the MAMAs to vote at
All proceeds go towards youth music programs and put instruments in the hands of kids who might not otherwise have them. Many school districts and community groups in the Madison area benefit from this program.
What!? Another event focusing on the little darlings?  You betcha!!
Did you know that children are our future?  In particular, your children are my future.  Eventually, I’m going to be a ward of the state and your kids will be paying for my adult day care.  Thanks in advance!
The first round of voting runs until March 18th.  Hey!  That’s the same day we’re playing the fundraiser at the Brink.  What a coinkydink!
May 15th @ Mickey’s Tavern
Too much wordy…stop now.
“Heads will bob!”

Hope to see you there!