This week’s presentation by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Rotarian Charles Tubbs, Director of Dane County Emergency Management, was not philosophical, but it was profound. Many club members have limited contact with or personal need for the services our speakers described. But in this period of colliding glaciers—the things that keep Charles Tubbs up at night—the scale and complexity of work performed by Dane County–is staggering.
Dane County responded to the pandemic mid-March, when it issued the first stay-at-home orders in the state and moved 80% of its staff to virtual work.
The County is addressing especially the negative impact of the crises on shortages of funds for rent and food, and for small businesses and unemployment: partnering with Second Harvest Bank and local farmers, spending $6 million to-date and an additional $1 million per month; using $11 million in grant funds for the “Dane Buy Local” initiative; $3.5 million for grants up to $15,000 to licensed child care providers; and earmarking $10 million for tenant rent coverage.
Alliant Energy Center now houses a 400-bed reserve field hospital, which also stockpiles personal protective equipment, administers about 2,000 Covid-19 tests daily, and follows up positive tests with contact tracing.
Charles Tubbs puts in seven-day weeks on more functions than can be contained here: Conference calls of up to 450 people daily with parallel agencies and policy sources; staying in touch with 61 county units of government; keeping social media up to date; housing the homeless; and on-the-ground work with United Way.
Tubbs says three things keep him awake at night: threats such as active shooters, civil unrest, and cyber-attacks; severe weather and climate change; and the pandemic . . . to which one could add, the need for sustained federal financial support.
Dane County’s work is sometimes unsung, but it is critical to the fabric of Dane County’s society.
Our thanks to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and to Charles Tubbs for their presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/EBviBTT9Cbc.