On May 25th, Madison’s Director of Planning and Community and Economic Development Matt Wachter talked about the great redevelopment plans for Madison’s South Side. South Siders told the City they wanted new gathering places, affordable child care, better parks, improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure, increased transit service and better connectivity across Park Street. Most importantly, they wanted to avoid gentrification of, and displacement from, their neighborhoods. The City is focusing on The Village on Park, the Thorstad property and the Perry/Ann Street corridor. Common elements of the plans include transforming giant parking lots into buildings/programs that foster affordable housing, create job opportunities, support small business and improve amenities.
Mike Falbo shared a path to university system success on May 11; 37,000 degrees will be granted this year by the UW System. Falbo is the interim president of the University of Wisconsin System. He was a regent for 11 years, being appointed twice.
Jay Rothman takes over the helm as system president June 1, following a national search that started in January. Falbo served on the search and screen committee when he visited all UW campuses and talked with many stakeholders. Rothman led Foley & Lardner, where he developed his leadership skills. Rothman grew up on a farm in the Wausau area.
Falbo originally told Rothman, “You have zero chances of getting this job, but you’ll learn a lot from the process.” While he has no academic experience, Falbo described Roth’s qualifications, saying a good leader knows their strengths, a great leader knows their weaknesses.
The UW System is big business, with 40,000 employees, a $6 billion budget, and 165,000 students. Falbo said the system is trying to leverage positives such as the Chancellor group, making it campus driven. They are building into a strategic plan in a short time frame, finishing by end of 2022. He found separate groups during the campus visits, so team building is important.
Ken Opin, who was a leader in the effort to pass a referendum authorizing the construction of the Monona Terrace, and Connie Thompson, Executive Director of the Monona Terrace, spoke to us about history and reality. The original Frank Lloyd Wright plan was for a “Civic Center” of grand aspiration. For many years this plan languished and failed in two referendums. After the referendum calling for a less ambitious convention center passed 1992, newly elected mayor Paul Soglin, with the assistance of George Austin, and Roberta Gassman, began the planning and building of the Monona Terrace. Also involved were Rotarians Don Helfrecht, the late Wayne McGown, Fred Mohs, and Mary Lang Sollinger. Construction began in November 1995 and was completed in July 1997. Since it opened 25 years ago, the Monona Terrace has hosted 16,661 events with an economic impact of $697 million. Along with the Overture Center, it has revitalized downtown Madison.
This week’s program featured 3 international projects. Our club’s International Committee Chair Gary Tree started the program by providing background information on the committee. Next up, Tammy Thayer, a member of our International Committee, described plans for our International Committee’s new signature project which is a prevention program to help tackle child trafficking in Uganda. The project partners include our club, Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS), other international Rotary Clubs, and Hope for Justice (HFJ). Kathy Roberg from Madison West Towne-Middleton Rotary Club shared information about their club’s project in Haiti and several others that their club supports. Kevin Frost from Madison Breakfast Rotary shared details about their club sponsored project in Guatemala.
The March 23rd program was a panel discussion of “The Post Covid World” that consisted of Rotarian Jess Cavazos from Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce, Matt Gerding from FPC Live (Frank Productions) and Peggy Gunderson of Strategic Brand Marketing with Jason Ilstrup serving as emcee. After providing their organizations’ experience with the pandemic, there followed a discussion of how they were moving forward. Space does not allow a just description but in essence, they described changes reflecting heightened importance of relationships, changes in the use of various technologies, and increased optimism for the future.
At our March 16th meeting, Scott Smith, Vice President of Business and Regulatory Strategy for Madison Gas and Electric, informed us of MGE’s performance and commitment to reliability, changes in productivity to accomplish Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 and how the company assists home owners, landlords and corporations in using power more efficiently.
Among items mentioned was that in 2020 MGE was ranked number one among all American power companies both in fewest and shortest outages; achieving first or second in both categories since 2015. The company also provides E-vehicle owners with off peak charging facilities in their homes.