Tag Archives: Madison WI

The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

–submitted by Linn Roth; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Alfred McCoy 4 24 2019

In an insightful and concerning presentation, UW history professor Alfred McCoy outlined some of the history and future direction of the world’s geopolitics and presented a somber view of the future of US global influence.  Since the early 1900’s, the US has steadily built up its international preeminence and paid special attention to the “Eurasian” axis, which consists of Asia and Europe, and more recently, Africa.  Due to actions begun in the late seventies and guided by Zbigniew Brzenski, National Security Advisor during the Carter Administration, the US made Eurasia the central area of concentration in order to establish and maintain its global primacy.  President Obama furthered that effort, but in the last two years, the Trump administration has reversed course on three main pillars of US primacy:  NATO, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and relations with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.  This entire problem might be further exacerbated by a trade war with China.

Additional signs suggest this concern is well founded.  By 2030, projections indicate India and China will grow their Gross Domestic Products considerably more than the US, and China will become the world’s largest economy.   Moreover, China now files more patents than the US, has built the world’s fastest supercomputer, and does substantially better in its science and math education programs.  As most of us can observe at UW, the majority of technical PhD candidates are foreign born, and therefore likely to return to their home countries with their acquired knowledge.

Furthermore, China has become extremely proactive in attempting to widen its influence throughout Eurasia in a variety of ways.  This effort might be epitomized by their ongoing $1.3 trillion Belt and Road program, which cuts right through the heart of Eurasia.  In addition, they have become aggressive in taking over ports in Italy, Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and in the conversion of sand islands to military bases in the South China Sea.  Given these developments, as well as concerns regarding current US foreign policy, Professor McCoy projects that US hegemony will substantially decline by 2030.  The eclipse of US influence should give us all pause for thought, and for those interested in learning more about this critical issue, please see Professor McCoy’s recent book, In the Shadow of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.

   

Overture: Now and Tomorrow

submitted by Jocelyn Riley; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Sandra Gajic 4 17 2019

From left: Club President Jason Beren, Sandra Gajic and Loretta Himmelsbach

Sandra Gajic, President and CEO of the Overture Center, treated Rotarians on Wednesday to a whirlwind overview of the history of Overture and plans for its future.  The Overture Center, Gajic said, “was built to last 300 years,” but it needs renovations, citing a leaking roof and front doors so heavy that many people have trouble opening them.

The Overture Center, she said, is three ages in one (the original Capitol Theater, built in 1928; the Oscar Mayer Theater, built in 1974; and the Overture Center, which opened in 2004, funded by a $200 million gift from Jerry Frautschi & Pleasant Roland).  The current facility “reminds me of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women,” Gajic said.

Despite the challenges of its complicated history and aging infrastructure, “over 12 million people have come to Overture over the years,” she said, citing both its impact on our ecomony and our community. In order to “meet its civic mandate and preserve the facility,” leaders of the Overture Center are pursuing a long-term goal to fund a $30 million endowment to make it “fully accessible for generations to come.”  Ongoing and future initiatives include maximizing equity, innovation and inclusion by looking closely at policies such as recruiting ushers and removing barriers for people of limited means.

One future program involves arts-career exploration for high school and middle school students.  As a student, Gajic studied piano and economics.  “I absolutely love the arts,” she said, and she enjoys Overture’s diverse arts presentations, including Kids in the Rotunda, Duck Soup Cinema, Broadway shows, concerts, plays and art exhibits.

“A 55 Year Old Start Up”

submitted by Linda Baldwin’ photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Joel Plant 4 10 2019

From left: Joel Plant, Herb Frank, Renee Frank and Club President Jason Beren

That’s how Joel Plant, Frank Productions CEO, describes their company.  Indeed, Herb and Sylvia (who The Sylvee is named for) Frank came to Madison in 1964 to manage operations for the Capitol and Majestic theaters.  And the rest is history…now Frank Productions booked 214 shows in 148 cities in North America in 2018, with plans for more than 1800 shows this year across the nation.

Here in Madison, the Frank family, including patriarch Herb, sons, Fred and Larry, daughter-in-law Marla and granddaughter Renee all work in the family business with a staff of 55 overseen by Plant.  Their mission statement is “Connecting artists with fans and helping them have fun!”  With their recent merger with the Majestic Theatre, acquisition of the High Noon Saloon and the opening of The Sylvee, Frank Productions will reach even more fans.  Frank Productions also owns facilities in Columbia, Missouri, Nashville, Tennesee, and books 15 more exclusive venues in North America.

The brand new Sylvee is a state of the art venue with a capacity of 2500 and seating for 150.   Situated right in the middle of Madison’s burgeoning Capitol East neighborhood, The Sylvee is right where the action is, and, in the first six months, they sold 70,000 tickets to 53 shows and 34 special events, averaging 1700 patrons a show.  And poured 167 thousand ounces of Spotted Cow!  Plant joked “and it wasn’t even our best seller.”

Frank Productions take pride in their relations with the neighborhood and law enforcement.  “We want to make sure that our business doesn’t have a negative impact on the neighborhood and community.”  While some in Madison have had concerns about other venues suffering with Frank’s expansion, Plant says all indications are that other venues are doing better as well.  And he notes that their presence has had a positive economic impact on the restaurants and other businesses in the area.

What’s next…do more shows…sell more tickets and beer!

Madison Youth Arts Center Coming in 2020

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

MYAC Presenters 4 3 2019

Madison is blessed with many amazing performance spaces, but 20 youth performing arts organizations don’t have affordable and appropriate places to practice.  That was the problem that motivated leaders of the Children’s Theater of Madison (CTM), Madison Youth Choirs (MYC), and many others to find a cooperative solution.

Their answer is the Madison Youth Arts Center, a 65,000 square foot $35 million facility that will break ground in May and open in the fall of 2020 at the intersection of East Mifflin and North Ingersoll.

The handsome four-story facility will provide a central and permanent location featuring rehearsal classrooms, dance studios, production and costume shops, a community room, office space, and a 400-seat theater.  The facility will allow up to 25,000 school-age youth—including many from Madison’s minority communities—to participate in the performing arts every year, a substantial increase over the number now served.

The Madison Youth Arts Center was made possible by a $20 million gift from Pleasant Rowland.  “I can’t think of a gift I could give that would impact more than this in the arts and for young people,” said Rowland.  A capital campaign is underway to raise the rest of the money including a special endowment fund that will cover ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

The four leaders who gave a spirited and tightly scripted summary of the new facility were: Allen Ebert, CTM executive director; Roseann Sheridan, CTM artistic director; Lynn Hembel, MYC managing director; and Michael Ross, MYC artistic/executive director.

The Center is a part of a larger proposal for the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue by Stone House Development that will include an 11-story building featuring apartments, commercial space, and a parking ramp.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

   

Russia — Up Close & Personal

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photo by Mark Moody

Presenters 2

From left: Helen Bryan (chef of the Russian cuisine), Al Bryan, Majid Sarmadi, UW-Madison Professor Polina Levchenko & UW-Madison Professor Yoshiko Herrera

On March 28, Rotarians were treated to a bountiful buffet and an evening of programs when the Cultural Awareness Fellowship Group met at Heritage Oaks, Oakwood to explore Russian culture.

The marvelous buffet, prepared by Al Bryan’s wife, Helen, included such Russian specialties as borsch, chicken and beef in bread crumbs (otbivnaya) and Russian cabbage stuffed with ground beef in tomato sauce (golubtsy). After enjoying plates of pasties, the programs began.

Travel Highlights

The first portion of the evening, “Russia from a Tourist Point of View,” was presented by UW-Professor Polina Levchenko.  Before viewing a variety of hand-picked places of interest, we gained an overview of this vast country’s history, and a window into its art, architecture, culture and fascinating facts.

For example, the Russian Federation is comprised of a dizzying mix of 190 ethnicities, 21 national republics and nine time zones.

Levchenko’s tour was introduced as some of Russia’s most important places to visit. Yet these spots are often overlooked, off the beaten path or simply not available to those traveling via a guided tour.

We started with Moscow’s subway system. You could hear the audible gasp in the room when Levchenko’s photos showed what you might miss if you don’t journey underground. I can attest to the extraordinary sights seen below –massive paintings, sparkly chandeliers and art abound when you reach tunnels below.

First, we journeyed to the Veliky neighborhood Novgorod, the birthplace of literacy, Levchenko noted. We saw a setting where the Eternal Flame was the focus. Levchenko pointed out an Eternal Flame is found in every town in Russia so people can pay gratitude for the peace of today.

Before dinner I shared a few photos of my visit to mystical Kizhi Island in northern Russia with its rare collection of massive, onion-domed wooden churches and buildings. The story goes that one man with an ax created these masterpieces. Continuing the tour of memorable, offbeat places, it was wonderful to see Levchenko include this magical place in her itinerary.

Continuing the magic, we moved on to Lake Baikal in Siberia north of the Mongolian border. The massive, crystal clear lake, circled by hiking trails, is considered to be the deepest lake in the world.

Trending -Russian-U.S. Relations

Next, our evening transitioned to political science with UW-Madison Professor, Yoshiko Herrera, presenting the timely topic, “US-Russia Relations –Challenges and Opportunities.” She provided insight into political relations between Russia and the U.S.

In response to the question, “Are we seeing a new Cold War?, Herrera noted, “We no longer have a bi-polar world, and in fact, the threat of nuclear war is probably lower today.” Yet she went on to explain that distrust between the two super powers –U.S and Russia is very high.

As an example she noted that since 2014, the Department of Defense does not allow students to study abroad in Russia, which is especially discouraging for students including those at UW-Madison who have spent years learning to speak Russian and honing their knowledge about the country.

In conjunction with this point, Herrera said, “About 25% of offices at the Department of Defense are unfilled and this has been a factor in the breakdown of relationships between the two countries.”

Other areas of interest Herrera referred to as “underappreciated facts” is this one. Unlike what some may think, “Putin does not reside over a seamless, well-oiled regime.”  She went on to say there is a fragility in the region (Russia), economic decline, and an anti-Americanism sentiment.

Still, she ended the program on a positive note when she said, “There are opportunities to improve U.S.-Russian relations.”

WI Supreme Court Candidate Judge Brian Hagedorn

submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Mark Moody

Hagedorn 3 27 2019

Judge Brian Hagedorn with Steve Walters

On Wednesday, March 27, Steve Walters, Senior Producer at WisconsinEye, moderated a Question and Answer session with Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn, a Court of Appeals judge who serves in the court’s Waukesha-based District II. While both Supreme Court candidates were invited to speak, Judge Lisa Neubauer had another commitment and declined Rotary’s invitation. Per our policy on inviting candidates to speak (see our March 8 newsletter for the policy), a person from Neubauer’s campaign was invited to attend and distribute campaign materials in the back of the room.

Rotary members were invited prior to the program to submit questions for Judge Hagedorn, and these were passed on to Walters for consideration. In addition to providing an opening and closing statement, Hagedorn responded to the following questions, including some that referred to his comments at a recent Milwaukee Press Club forum:

  1. You quoted Alexander Hamilton who said the judiciary should be the “least dangerous” branch of government, and then you said, “That’s not really where we are at nowadays.” Please explain what you meant by that.
  2. In several forums you have asked Judge Neubauer to cite specific examples where your personal beliefs influenced an opinion you wrote. At one event she said you “acted on your beliefs” by starting a school with a code or mission statement that discriminates. You have said there has been a “lot of misreporting” on the school, so please set the record straight.
  3. Given your blog statements on same-sex marriage and bestiality when you were a law school student, how you would convince members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters to vote for you?
  4. Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 60.03 governs the behavior of all Wisconsin judges and requires a judge to avoid the appearance of impropriety at all times, whether on the bench or off, as well as the appearance of impropriety as judged from the standpoint of a reasonable person. Given your previous statements about marriage equality and Planned Parenthood, can those appearing before you on any case involving either of those groups see you as impartial?
  5. You have said of your opponent, “I don’t have a problem with people having any kind of political background coming onto the court [but] she (Neubauer) has far more political background than I do.” Please explain what you meant by that.
  6. About your time working for Governor Walker, you have said, “I didn’t do politics. I did law. I was his lawyer. I didn’t make any decisions.” But you participated in the drafting of Act 10, restricting the role of public unions, as well as Act 2, making it more difficult to sue nursing homes for negligence or malpractice. If matters related to either of these or other laws you had a part in drafting were to come before the court, would you recuse yourself?
  7. Do you consider these cases to be settled law: Roe v. Wade, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage, and the Washington, DC, case affirming individual gun ownership as a 2nd Amendment right?
  8. How would you approach the constitutional question of “first impression”?
  9. If ethical complaints are filed against a Supreme Court justice, and all or most of the justices recuse themselves from the matter, what should happen to that complaint?
  10. You have said that one of the biggest challenges for the courts is fighting the opioid crisis. Explain how the Supreme Court can address that problem.

To hear Hagedorn’s answers in his own words, and to find other candidate interviews, go to Wisconsin Eye’s coverage on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Leading for Equity

–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Mark Moody

Photo7AAt the March 20th meeting, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent Dr. Jen Cheatham explained her approach to “Leading for Equity,” the title of her presentation.

As she explained, she was not going to provide us with her usual update on the Madison Schools.  Instead, she wanted to share her personal leadership story on how she has become a stronger leader in education, particularly in the area of equity.  Dr. Cheatham said that her presentation was related to MMSD’s new strategic plan or framework which emphasizes a renewed approach to racial and gender equity.  Copies of the plan were available to Rotarians after the presentation.

In her personal story, Supt. Cheatham spoke of her childhood growing up in greater Chicago and her subsequent years as a classroom teacher at the high school and middle school levels.  From this, she chose to enter graduate school at Harvard because of her new interest in effecting instructional programs on a larger basis than an individual classroom.

There, her mentor of color helped her to see how her being a product of a white middle class upbringing could be used to power greater, larger and better programs that could address and improve on disparities in racial equity.

Last year she listened to over a thousand individuals of color: students, educators, community members and parents.  An example of one of the things she learned from the parents was that they wanted less emphasis on remediation of underachievers and more investment in students learning in a different, more accepting atmosphere of instruction.  This could lead to students feeling better about themselves and their abilities resulting in higher achievement levels.

It is this and other insights that are incorporated into the new Strategic Framework of the Madison Metropolitan School District.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.