Tag Archives: Mayor Paul Soglin

Soglin vs. Rhodes-Conway

submitted by Stan Inhorn; photos by Mike Engelberger

Paul Soglin 3 13 2019    Satya Rhodes-Conway 3 13 2019

Abigail Becker from The Capital Times moderated the March 13th forum for the two mayoral candidates–incumbent Paul Soglin and Satya Rhodes-Conway. In his opening remarks, Soglin pointed out that when he became mayor in 2011, race and poverty were critical issues in Madison. Madison was not a racist city, but the national legacy of economic disparity, a biased criminal justice system, and lack of leadership have created this problem. Under his leadership in the last eight years, African-American unemployment has been reduced four-fold and household income has increased appreciably. Rhodes-Conway, who served on the City Council for three terms, now chairs the UW-Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy. As mayor, her goals would include increasing affordable housing for residents at all levels of income. Another objective is to create a system that brings public transportation to more residents, by examining systems that work in other cities.

Regarding climate change, Paul indicated that most of the problem resides at the state and federal levels. Madison is one of many U.S. cities that stays focused on the Paris Accord. He is promoting the use of electric buses and solar power in cooperation with MG&E. Satya would promote the reduction of greenhouse gases by developing a better rapid transit system that would keep more cars off the road and by pushing for buildings that are more energy efficient.

In answer to the question on how to reduce debt service, Satya indicated that there is a need to improve the infrastructure and to distinguish between wants and needs, with the Judge Doyle Square an example of an unnecessary project. Paul suggested that from 2003 to 2011 the City Council failed to provide for infrastructure although the budget skyrocketed.

Satya addressed racial inequality by noting that housing is restricted and middle-class minorities have difficulty moving into white-only neighborhoods. She suggested that police should be held accountable for their actions. Paul believes that minority businesses must be promoted. He believes that the city must work with developers to build apartments that included minority accessibility. Regarding the work of the City Council, Soglin believes that the council is too large for a city of its size. Rhodes-Conway noted that the committee system demands lots of time from its members, often without substantive results.

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

What Will Madison Look Like in 2050?

–submitted by Mary Helen Becker; photo by Karl Wellensiek

mayor-paul-soglin-2-8-17Madison’s Mayor Paul Soglin, serving his 20th year as mayor, made his 26th appearance at our club. Here to discuss what Madison might be like in 2050, he gave a few facts about Madison in 1950: a population of 96,000; about 95% white; occupied an area of approximately 33 sq. miles. Today we have a substantially more diverse population and occupy about 80 sq. miles. By 2050 Madison will probably be a city occupying about 103 sq. miles. In 1950, the major employer was Oscar Mayer. Today the largest employers are UW Health, Epic, the UW Hospital, and American Family Insurance. Madison is one of 5 U.S. cities considered a bicycling community which is rare among metropolitan areas not in the south, but that is growing. It is also the 3rd coldest — after the Twin Cities and Anchorage, Alaska. Epic has created an atmosphere hospitable to tech companies and entrepreneurial businesses. As household numbers decline, we need more units; 1,000 new units per year barely keeps us even.

In 1950, there were about 108 days with the lakes frozen enough for ice fishing. Today, there are about 68 such days. Whether man-made or not, climate change is real.  An important environmental issue is water supply. Salt continues to affect the water resources. We need someone to figure out how to take used salt from water softeners and make it available for street use.

A politically sensitive issue is the subject of the book, The Politics of Resentment, in which Madison and Milwaukee are called the M&Ms by some other parts of the state. Between 2001 and 2015, Dane County has seen a 15% growth in number of jobs, while the rest of the state has a 3% increase. We need to find a way that is not offensive to reach out to the rest of the state.

In 1950, high school student studied civics and had access to classes in industrial arts. In 2015, they do not. Madison College is ready to prepare students for society, but the high school students are not ready. Madison is working on BRT — bus rapid transit.  Affordable housing is increasing in the community; 193 homeless veterans have found housing; by the end of this year, there should be no more homeless veterans.

Our community is making progress, but much remains to be done. We will have to wait and see what Madison is like in 2050!

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

Soglin Sets Priorities in Tough Times

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by Jeff Smith

From left: Rotarian Janet Gray, Mayor Paul Soglin and Club President Ellsworth Brown

From left: Rotarian Janet Gray, Mayor Paul Soglin and Club President Ellsworth Brown

Mayor Paul Soglin began his annual fall review with our club by thanking Rotarians.  “The premise of government is that while we have elected representatives, what makes Madison function is active participation of citizens.”

“I’ve learned when you are trying to accomplish several economic goals, it makes a difference if the mayor makes the ask,” he said. He had two asks for Rotarians.

“My first ask is to support employment, both summer youth and adult employment.  We’ve made big advances in employment.  City employment has an expanded internship program. We provided 32 teens jobs this past summer. We have several partners: Operation Fresh Start, Simpson Street Free Press, Centro Hispano to name a few. These are real jobs with real pay.  We love it when at the end of the summer an employer calls and asks if they can keep on the student part-time for the rest of the year.”

Minnesota just released a study examining why there is a disparity on race in incarceration.  Mayor Soglin said we have an even bigger gap here.  Why the gap? “Poverty,” he said.  “Lack of participation in the workforce.  If we can change that, we can change a bevy of outcomes.”

Mayor Soglin’s second ask is about housing.  We are one of 100+ cities in the US that have signed a pledge to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016.  We are doing poorly compared to other communities, he reported.

“There are reasons,” Mayor Soglin said, “particularly as it relates to the availability of housing and the cooperation of state government.  What is most upsetting is we have 31 veterans with VASH vouchers (for veterans only, pays for housing) who are still on the streets because they cannot find housing. So my second ask is for Rotarians to contact the Community Development office and figure out a way to make an apartment available for one of these 31 veterans.

The Mayor listed the city’s top three priorities:Affordable housing

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Improving equity and reducing poverty through job creation, training and employment, afterschool
  3. Food security

Three key financial facts:

  • City bonds rated AAA by Moody’s
  • Debt retires in 10 years typically
  • City goal is to stay under 15% of our budget going to debt. With significant cuts, we are still at 17%.

Where do our tax dollars come from?  Almost 75 percent comes from taxes; 13 percent from state aid, eight percent from fees.  This property tax burden is much higher than when he started in politics. The mayor reported he has made large cuts in CIP, the capital improvement plan.  This has lowered our borrowing to keep our good bond rating and allow us to retire debt.

“What is really crushing us,” he said, “is infrastructure replacement. We are replacing more pipes from the 60s than the 20s.”

CLICK to view the video.  Our Thanks to City Channel for taping our meeting this week.