Catching Up on Some Stuff

It’s a grab bag today.

Honors classes saved. Somewhat to my surprise, the Madison School Board voted last night to keep stand-alone honors classes. Board President Ali Muldrow joined three other members — Chris Gomez Schmidt, Laura Simkin and Nicki Vander Meulen — in voting to maintain the classes. Muldrow also showed leadership earlier this fall in supporting the reinstatement of Sennett Middle School Principal Jeffrey Copeland. I’ve been critical of her in the past, but I need to reevaluate that. Once again, Superintendent Carlton Jenkins was nowhere to be found. I’ve been critical of him in the past and I see no reason to stop now.

Jail redux. For some reason County Executive Joe Parisi thinks something has changed. He is once again asking the County Board to approve a plan to add $13.5 million to the stalled jail consolidation project or send the proposal to voters in April for a decision. Both are worthy plans and both have already gone down in votes before this very same Board earlier this year. Board Chair Patrick Miles wants to wait until new construction estimates come out in March, but that would be too late for the referendum. (By the way, some of the Board complains that Parisi hasn’t shown enough leadership on the jail in the past, but of course if he had they’d complain that he was bullying them.) My own view is that they should go with a referendum focussed on the size of the jail (I’m for six stories and 825 beds), but not tied to any specific funding. The funding estimates could be included in information not part of the actual question, so that voters would be informed as they vote.

The historic Di Salvo’s grocery store is no more, but the Wonder Bar stands. Go figure.

Why wasn’t Di Salvo’s salvaged? I don’t get the Madison historic preservation movement. They fought to save an unimpressive building with its only historical significance that it was once a hangout for Prohibition Era gangsters — the former Wonder Bar — while they didn’t raise an eyebrow as one of the last remaining ties to the old Greenbush Neighborhood — the former Di Salvo’s grocery store, lately Buckingham’s bar — was torn down. The mixed-use project that it fell for is good and the other buildings on the block were junk, but Di Salvo’s was worth saving. Who knows? Maybe Al Capone once bought groceries there. Too late now.

Prosecute Trump? The Donald has had a bad couple of months and both Democrats and Republicans see blood in the water. Trump single-handedly turned the red wave into a ripple, lost a Georgia Senate runoff Republicans should have won, had his business convicted of tax fraud and now the January 6th Committee has recommended that the Justice Department prosecute him for his role in inciting the Insurrection. There’s no question that on the merits Trump should be prosecuted. But my main interest is that this guy just go away. Would a prosecution drive him once and for all into the dust or revive his political career with a backlash? I don’t know, but I like the downward trajectory he’s on. Prosecution seems risky to me.

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

6 thoughts on “Catching Up on Some Stuff

  1. Is it politically risky to prosecute the former guy? Not as risky as letting off the people who tried to overthrow the result of a free and fair election. Surely one thing liberals, moderates and conservatives can all agree on is the principle of elected leaders. We don’t need to pander to the lunatic right wing fringe in the name of political strategy.

    The game has to have rules and people need to trust in the rules. I’ll stop at red traffic lights if you do. That’s the social contract. The next time a president foments insurrection we might not be so lucky. We need to show this sort of thing has personal consequences.


  2. “There’s no question that on the merits Trump should be prosecuted”

    Well of course there’s no question. This was the biggest threat to Democracy since the civil war, or so says the White House press secretary.

    Bigger than WWII
    Bigger than 9/11
    Bigger than draconian pandemic lockdowns
    Bigger than the FBI influencing election outcomes, aka “the nothing burger”

    We’re too damn stupid. We don’t deserve a democracy.


  3. No gangsters ever hung out at the Wonder Bar. It was once owned by someone who was a relative in that era, but anything ANYTHING beyond that has never been proven or attributed to anyone. No evidence. No truth. Not even a credible maybe. No matter how many soggy, foggy memories there are.


  4. Both the outside, but especially the inside of Buckingham’s had been greatly altered over the years. There was almost no history worth saving.


  5. See my earlier comments regarding “Drifter Superintendents and their Leadership Teams.” Being awol on decisions is exactly the strategy. Many Drifters have homes from previous positions and keep them as investments and in some cases, reflect their home base of operation, not the current gig.

    There’s an old saying in school superintendent world: “Communities get the kind of superintendent they want, and in the case of the board, what they deserve and prefer.” The board could change his behavior today with a clear directive of being more engaged and out front…


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