Posts Tagged ‘Public Health’

Mayor Pave on the March: Massive Paving Budget Passes

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

They passed it. On a voice vote (for all intents & purposes, unanimously).

Mayor Pave is on the march.

And the zombies on the council are following.

Meanwhile, Dean Mosiman, ‘dean’ of the local Dying Mainstream Media completely missed the record borrowing for paving in the budget he ‘covered.’ He could only focus on Ald. Jed Sanborn’s tantrums against projects that actually improve our quality of life. (What is it about fiscal conservatives and their hatred of fun?)

The fact that not one “progressive” member of the council stood up to the massive paving spree is continuing proof that there are no friends of the enivronment, our health, or fiscal prudence at the political level in Madison, Wisconsin. Indeed, I’d agree with Mikhail Gorbachev’s recent assessment that

There is the wall between those who cause climate change and those who suffer the consequences. There is the wall between those who heed the scientific evidence and those who pander to vested interests. And there is the wall between the citizens who are changing their own behavior and want strong global action, and the leaders who are so far letting them down.

By passing this pro-car budget, our local leaders ignored the scientific evidence regarding car emissions and global climate catastrophe; instead they pandered to the shrinking-but-still-powerful motoring interests. They ignored the fact that their own constituents are indeed “changing their own behavior” and consciously driving less than they have in a generation. (Yes, driving has been down year-over-year for three years in a row in Madison, Wisconsin. The only mode of transportation to increase? Bicycling.) They are ignoring the local calls to action (and here, and here, and here, etc., et cetera, Et Cetera).

Our local leaders have, as Gorby said, let us down. Gorby was a brave leader who had the guts to open up his Stalinist system to the light of day and let it wither and die a relatively peaceful death. Our leaders, unfortunately, cling to a failed ideology; an ideology of car-worship that rivals Stalinism in its brutal results. The evidence is all around us: the carnage on our streets; the destruction of our climate; the cascading fiscal catastrophes emanating from the automobile industry out to the cul-de-sacs; and then the obvious — our recent oil-wars in Iraq & Afghanistan (and those are just appetizers for more oil wars to come).

Mayor Pave, Tear Down That Wall of Paving!

John McNamara 4 Willy Street Coop Board!

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

This just in on the Willy St. Grocery Coop board election:

From: John McNamara
To: John McNamara
Subject: Willy St. Coop Board Elections
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2009 13:34:15 -0500

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you might know, I am running for the Willy St. Coop Board of Directors. The Cooperative faces a challenging year. In addition to the continued efforts to manage the explosive growth that has swelled the membership to 16,000 members, the coop will also be dealing the the slagging economy and road construction which promises to reduce sales by 30%!

I am one of 13 candidates running for 5 seats. I will be graduating Beta Gamma Sigma from the St. Mary’s University Masters of Management: Cooperative and Credit Union program in April of 2010. In addition, I have over 20 years of experience in the cooperative world including 8 years on the Union Cab board of directors, 6 years as a manager for Union Cab and 7 years on its strategic planning committee. I believe that my education and experience make me a great choice to serve on the Willy St. Board.

I promise to follow the values and principles of the cooperative movement: solidarity, equity, equality, caring for others, openness, honesty to name but a few.

Part of the difficulty with the unplanned growth of Willy St. is that we don’t know who the members are and have limited means to contact them. Last year, barely 2% of the membership voted in the election of a board that oversees an $18 million budget and has a constituency 25% larger than a Madison aldermanic district. This year, electronic voting is being introduced without any advances in educating voters on the candidates or the issues. It means that every vote counts.

I hope that I can count on your vote. If you are not a member (and even if you are), please forward this email to your friends who are members of the co-operative and support my candidacy. It is a very crucial year for the co-operative and they need directors who have a proven record of managing a social enterprise to make it both financially and socially sustainable. I believe that I am that candidate and I hope that you do too! Please feel free to email me with any questions, check out my blog (, my Facebook group ( and even my 12 second tv account ( If elected, I will continue to use these tools to keep the membership updated and informed on what their board is doing.

Thank you for your time,


John’s a good egg, and is very well-versed in all things coop management given his experience in helping make Union Cab a local favorite. In my mind (and only my mind!), he’s a member of a club I invented, the Crown Jewels of Madison–the folks who provide the intellectual and energetic heft to make Madison Madison, and not Rockford. They are the folks who tend to piss off the powers-that-be, whoever they may be, on behalf of the good & just. John and his family are recently–happily–carless. That is another club I’m starting in my mind: The Carless & Carefree by Choice! It is a club that keeps growing by the day.

Accordingly, he supports that the Jenifer Street entrance be reserved for safe bicycle and pedestrian access. His reasoning, especially in point #2, is sound. The my-hurry-is-more-important-than-your-neighborhood people have already created a disaster in front of the store. They shouldn’t be allowed to create yet another disaster where peds & bikes currently have the only safe and unblocked access to the store. The deathmobilers will just have to live with their own mess between the lot and Willy St.

Wooo-Hooo! Vote John!

Fightin’ the Good Fight Out West(ern Dane Co., That Is!)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Here’s the latest from the good guys of the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment….

From: “Stefi Harris” To: “Stefi Harris” Subject: letter to friends 7-25-09 Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:19:07 -0500 7-30-09 Dear Friends of the Environment Many thanks to all of you who testified at the public hearing and wrote letters to the Capital regional Planning Commission (CARPC) against the proposal by the Village of Mazomanie to expand their urban service area into a sensitive watershed area for purposes of creating yet more urban sprawl in a cornfield. We won at CARPC in a vote of 7 to 5. We should all be proud of our collective efforts. We think that having lost unprecedented two times at CARPC Mazomanie‚s proposal will also be rejected by DNR. However, we‚ll keep watching the situation just to make sure and let you know of further developments in this case. This time we are asking you to continue our common efforts and join in a fight against the request by the City of Verona to create development in a highly sensitive environmental corridor near Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River. Both of these are coldwater streams with unique and rare aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The proposed development comprises 572 housing units, 12.6 acres of commercial development and 20.4 institutional development on 265 acres in two areas, located near the intersection of the US Highways 18-151 and State Highway 69. Specifically, the proposed development threatens the two streams with further reduction of already low base flow, increased runoff, erosion, sedimentation and pollution, as well as with increased water temperatures. These threats extend also to the area‚s riparian wetlands alongside of both creeks and to the spring fed wetland in State Natural Area adjacent to the western portion of the proposed urban service area (USA). There are at least four springs in and immediately adjacent to the affected area. If the City of Verona is allowed to spill and sprawl over its current boundary in a direction of Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River these springs will dry up in the foreseeable future. The proposed Verona USA is a home to several threatened and endangered species. They are Acadian Flycatcher bird, Mulberry Wing butterfly, Lady Slipper orchid and the entire communities of calcareous fen and sedge meadow wetland types. At present the amendment area is sparsely populated. It includes agricultural fields, isolated patches of woods, wooded slopes, a few houses and the streams which flow through. In the past this area, because of its richness and diversity of plant and animal life, was a place where through centuries Native Americans lived, camped, hunted, fished and were buried. There are ten documented archaeological sites in and directly adjacent to the proposed USA. Four of those are mound sites. Since we have the knowledge of these sites only through literature search and not through an actual field survey, the number of the archeological sites in the same area might be even greater than ten. The City of Verona promises a limited protection to water quality, threatened and endangered species and archaeological sites. But its promises do not match its plan for mitigation of detrimental effects of its proposed development. You can read more about Verona‚s proposal on CARPC website under „Upcoming Public Hearings‰ (google „CARPC DANE‰ to find it). NR 121 relating to areawide water quality management plans contains a provision for areas such as the one between the Sugar River and Badger Mill Creek to be saved from destruction through massive development as the one proposed by the City of Verona. This is what it says: „Major areas unsuitable for the installation of waste treatment systems because of physical or environmental constraints are to be excluded from the service area. Areas to be considered for exclusion from the sewer service area because of potential for adverse impacts on the quality of the waters of the state from both point and nonpoint sources of pollution include but are not limited to wetlands, shorelands, floodways and floodplains, steep slopes, highly erodible soils and other limiting soil types, groundwater recharge areas, and other such physical constraints‰ (NR 121.05 (4)(c). And that is what we should insist on because the amendment area contains all those conditions. Please e-mail to CARPC that you oppose the City of Verona USA amendment request and send copies to individuals listed below. Also please, come to the public hearing on August 13 held by CARPC at City County Building downtown Madison at 7:00 PM in Rm 201. Stefi Harris, Dennis Franke and Arnold Harris Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment 608-798-4833; 608-798-4835 3427 County Rd P Mt Horeb WI 53572 It is important that you send your e-mail letters to CARPC with copies to all of the following: CARPC Dane County Executive Mayor of Madison Dane County Towns Association Gerry H Derr Renee Lauber Mark Hazelbaker


Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Monbiot dredges up the data to show just how in denial we are–about everything, but especially on matters of *gasp* teenage sex-Sex-SEX (sha-doobie!). And other topics. He pins the blame on conservatives in the lede, but you’ll find farther down in the article that liberals aid & abet. Why? Reality is dangerous. They know what happens when politicians level with us…..we pitch them out!

Bike Zeitgeist: Being the Engine, Pedaling Revolution

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

GM just went bust.

The Highway “Trust” Fund went bust a few months ago.

The repo man is busy, busy, busy.

No better time than today to introduce two great works that celebrate a better way:


Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities a book by Jeff Mapes (with a strong Madison connection; more below),


Be the Engine, a new music video  celebrating human powered transportation (posted below). This rockin’ tribute to all that biking going on out there has long been a crowd rouser at Motor Primitives shows. Now it is set to video and it evokes an explosive cultural resurgence into a non-motorized—and infinitely more fun—era. Pam Barrett, my rock star wife(!) who penned the song and performs it with the Motor Primitives, also created the video.

Back to Pedaling. The book is an amazing read. It is encyclopedic. It is well researched. It is a breeze of a read. It is a complete statement of the state of the bike movement as of today. For those of us who have been involved in bike advocacy since, well, forever (including yours truly), it is a mesmerizing read. The book is broad in scope; so much so that it becomes clear that our trials & tribulations here on the local level are, in fact, theorizable to the national level.

Or, at least rhyzomable to cities across North America—it could be called the Strawberry Strategy for Cycling Cities!

Even for non-bike geeks, the book provides a sense of adventure, almost in a Huck-floats-down-the-Mississippi sort of way.

Mapes, a political reporter in Portland, took a leave from his statehouse duties to divine the Zeitgeist of cycling, ca. 2008. First he traveled to several successful bike cities in the US—and even across the Atlantic. He observed the two wheeled action. Then he set out to interview the people who helped create the conditions for successful biking in their localities. Indeed, the sheer depth of creativity & willpower in the characters he meets along the way rivals that encountered by Huck on his adventures.

Powerbrokers take note: It is no coincidence that a political reporter took up the task of writing this book. Indeed, it was a natural. The emerging political power of bicyclists not only animates this book, but increasingly, it infuses the power—economic, political and cultural—of more & more cities and states which embrace a forward-looking vision. Many states and localities bemoan the loss of their kids after they’ve graduated from college. Well, it might behoove them to check out the places they are losing their kids to. This book provides a nice, shall we say, bike route map for creating places which attract & retain a thinking, creating and just plain competent populace. Smart people don’t like to live in places that suck. Bicycle-friendly places tend not to suck. (Note to the recession-ridden: Your giant highways suck.)

To give the reader a feel for how far cycle advocacy has come, Mapes takes a trip on the Way-Back Machine to interview the old bulls of the bike world–the likes of Dan Burden, Bill Wilkinson and, of course, John Forester. By bringing us all the way up through the history of the movement to the present, Pedaling illustrates just how far we’ve come since Effective Cycling was the be-all-end-all of bike advocacy. Not that there is anything wrong with EC; I am, after all, a League Cycling Instructor (LCI 636-C, Sir!). But there is a lot more to changing the world than just learning to effectively defy death on auto-centric roads.

Though Mapes essentially confesses to being a partisan of the larger cause at the outset of the book (he is a dedicated bike commuter), he does a marvelous job of even-handedly teasing out the oft-conflicting factions within the bike movement. (He is a journalist by profession, after all!).

The book celebrates bike celebrants—characters like the inimitable Reverend Phil of Portland, the wacky connoisseur extraordinaire of all things bike culture. And to be sure, it is heavy on analysis of what makes the hip bike capitals the hip bike capitals they are (the Portlands, the Amsterdams, the Davises, etc.). But I found the book most compelling, in a glimpse-into-the-future sort of way, when Mapes picks the minds of unlikely proponents of bicycling:

*The Mayor of patently un-hip Louisville, Kentucky, who sets out to create hundreds of miles of bikeways, with an eye toward creating an environment that retains and attracts an educated and creative workforce,

*A world-renowned Safe Routes to School coordinator who came to bicycling via asthma,

*Public health professionals/academics who finally “got it” in the late 90s (yes, Virginia, there is a connection between land use/transportation policy and health!),

*An old-line New Dealer in Congress whose district probably doesn’t need much bike infrastructure given its rural nature, but who fights like mad for bike & pedestrian funds nonetheless,

*The former Parsons-Brinkerhoff (yeah, that mega-highway building concern) executive who is single-handedly taming New York’s mean streets—as an appointee in a Republican administration!—to the benefit of cyclists & pedestrians,

*The tech entrepreneur who sees beyond his own fast growth business but uses that tech prestige & cachet to leverage better bike conditions, i.e., a better world around him.

The bicycle-wielding barbarians have crashed the gates…Indeed, They are in the king’s court! Mapes notes with relish that Obama is the first president to have specifically included bicycling as a major component of his transportation platform during a campaign (results TBD,of course!).

The one quibble I have with this tour de politique velò is Mape’s heavy reliance on the paid & professional. Pardon the metaphor, but, in a way, it is kind of like a car mechanic diagnosing a sputtering car by only looking at the engine block while ignoring the spark plugs. The folks who actually show up at city council meetings—civic minded volunteers one & all—are discussed and even lionized here, but only in a lumpen sort of way. This is too bad, because, after all, it was their dreaming, manifested in their political pressure which brought about paid positions for the bicycle professionals in the first place. The individuality of the professionals comes through loud & clear; the civic volunteers, not so much. This quibble notwithstanding, the auto-centric world has much to learn from this encyclopedic look at the cities winning with a bicycle-centered strategy.

The Madison Connection: There are several other reviews out there that will probably do more justice to the book than what I could write here, including David Byrne’s recent review in the New York Times. But I do want to highlight an unsung hero in the fruition of this book: My good friend Mary Braun. A former grad school colleague of mine in the UW-Madison Geography Department, Braun is now the acquisitions editor at the Oregon State University Press (the publisher of Pedaling Revolution). She met Mapes at a history conference where he gave a talk, and he mentioned that he was writing a book on the bike movement. Braun signed him up for her press, and, well, the rest is unmotorized history, published. This is a case of great minds thinking alike, because some months before that encounter, Braun had emailed asking if I knew anyone who would be up to writing just such a book. I didn’t have a good answer, but it’s obvious that she found a winner in Mapes—a natural given that he is based in one of those hip bike capitals and covers politics.

But the Wisconsin connection is very important. A good Wisconsinite through & through, Fondy born & raised, Mary Braun will be horrified that I even mention her here. But I’m tired of the unsung heroes going unsung. So here goes: This long-time Madisonian (Madison being a Mapes-certified “bikey” [sic] city)—and former acquisitions editor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Press—was a lurker on Madison’s “Bikies” listserv since its inception back in the early ‘90s. “Bikies” (the proper spelling, btw!) is one of those (in?)famous bike advocacy listservs that Mapes cites as a major factor in organizing bike politics. Braun was there—the proverbial villager supporting the bike insurgents—back when Al Gore invented the internets. She has long wanted bicycling as a movement to see the light of day. With this book, not only did she accomplish that dream, she helped produce the manifesto for a better day.