The Badger Herald

Syndicate content
UW-Madison's Premier Independent Student Newspaper
Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Dane County continues to hold lowest unemployment rate in state

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:53am

With growing Madison-area employers, Dane County continues to hold the lowest unemployment rate in Wisconsin according to a report released Wednesday.

According to Wisconsin’s Work Net, Dane County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state this December at 3.2 percent.

This rate has dropped from 3.8 to 3.2 percent in the past year, John Dipko, communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development said in an email to The Badger Herald.

Dane County has always been able to withstand big swings in the economy, David Phillips, director of Dane County’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said. When the economy improves, he said Dane improves with it. When it declines, Dane remains stable because it contains a broad cross-section of employers, he said.

“As far as getting people employed, the biggest thing is the diversity of jobs available,” Phillips said.

Dane County is home to state, city and county government capitals, major hospitals, growing companies and the state’s largest university. This diverse range of stable employers, Phillips said, protected Dane County during the economic downturn of the 2008 recession. Diversity in available jobs, he said, can prevent hardship on the overall economy even if one sector has difficulty.

The city of Madison, which houses most of these diverse government and corporate employers, had the second-lowest unemployment rate out of Wisconsin’s 32 cities, and has dropped from 3.7 to 3 percent in the last year, Dipko said.

The construction market has seen significant growth with the recovery of the housing market from its collapse in 2008, he said.

The growing construction sector has also accounted for much of the decrease in Madison’s joblessness, Phillips said.

“With the construction boom that’s going on, the trades have had lots of jobs added to the employment,” Phillips said. “Just look around at the number of apartment projects that are going on. That creates employment.”

The IT and biotechnology industries are also booming, according to Dipko, especially in the south central region of Dane County.

Phillips said the Verona-based medical software company Epic has been a tremendous source of growth for Dane County. Epic designs systems for medical records worldwide and employs over 8,000 Madison-area workers, he said.

With the growth of such industries, general unemployment trends continue to move lower, Dipko said. Dane County and Madison’s falling unemployment rates also reflect the overall trend in Wisconsin’s rates, which fell to 5.2 percent — a figure below the national average and a post-recession low, he said.

Phillips said government will continue working toward lowering unemployment and underemployment in Madison and the greater area of Dane County. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is also pairing with the organization Big Step to promote hiring in trades to take advantage of the continuing building program, he said.

“Dane County continues to be an area where the employment has been stable and remains stable, and that’s due to the type of businesses and the type of employers we have and also the fact that we have a tremendous quality of life in Dane County, so people want to be here and want to work here,” Phillips said.

Categories: Local Media

SSFC passes internal budget of more than $150,000

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:52am

The Student Services Financial Committee voted Thursday to approve an internal budget of $154,628.55 for the 2015-16 school year.

SSFC had originally proposed a budget of $141,028.55, which would have zeroed the budget for member stipends of $20 per meeting. After debate, they agreed to maintain the same level of pay and passed the budget with a 9-0-1 vote.

SSFC also unanimously voted to increase the training budget to $1,400 from a proposed $800. The 2014-15 training budget was $15,000.

During the budget hearing, Rep. Todd Garon questioned whether there was a way to reintroduce a lower stipend.

Chair Devon Maier said it was a question of whether SSFC agreed that they should be paid for their work and retention of membership.

“Twenty dollars a meeting is a decent number to work out,” Maier said. “That or zero, let’s keep it to one or the other. Lowering the money to $10 is kind of semantics. That would be more so looking fiscally responsible than actually being fiscally responsible.”

In past years, SSFC members were paid for fifteen hours of work and meetings that went till midnight, Maier said. Now there are eight hours of work involved, he said.

Maier said he did not think anyone used SSFC as their primary job, but sat on the committee for the value of the position. The stipend was also used to encourage attendance, he said.

“Attendance is a different issue,” he said. “It’s improved largely because of ASM hiring processes and the press office. The quality of leadership has improved.”

Garon also questioned whether SSFC leadership positions were given the stipends in addition to their salaries.

The intention was that leadership positions would not receive the stipends, but Maier said this has not worked in the past and was an issue that needed clarification. In the spring, legislation will be passed to resolve this issue, he said.

SSFC Vice Chair Thuy Pham made the motion to increase the SSFC member stipend to $13,000, but Rep. Jessica Franco-Morales made a motion to amend the stipend to $14,000.

“Next year, we’re in a situation where there is a lot of turnover and open seats,” Franco-Morales said. “Depending on who gets elected and who gets nominated, the situation could be very different.”

Rep. Sam Domach said SSFC was giving its member the benefit of the doubt for having perfect attendance. SSFC should be keeping in mind previous attendance, Domach said.

The motion fell back to $13,000 and passed unanimously.

The next SSFC meeting will be Monday.

Categories: Local Media

Dane County sees increase in tobacco purchases by minors in 2014

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:51am

While the issue of underage drinking tends to eclipse news of youth smoking, Dane County saw a spike in underage sales of tobacco in 2014.

Though the overall numbers of tobacco sales to minors have been on the decline over the past few years, Dane and Columbia Counties in Wisconsin saw an increase in 2014. Lack of training and education among business owners and their sales clerks has been noted as contributing factors to the increase, Nina Gregerson, an outreach specialist from the Tobacco Columbia-Dane County Coalition, said.

“Youth smoking continues to be an issue,” Gregerson said. “Youth shouldn’t be getting their hands on tobacco, its illegal for a reason.”

Youth smoking rates are at an all time low in Wisconsin, hovering around 10 percent, but the use of other tobacco products has risen dramatically among minors, Gregerson said. The majority of tobacco sales to minors include products such as chewing tobacco, little cigars and e-cigarettes.

A Spike in Tobacco Sales to Minors in Dane County Raises Many Concerns

— City of Madison, WI (@CityofMadison) January 26, 2015

Gregerson said the majority of underage tobacco sales come from pharmacies, which had a 30 percent sales rate to minors. This is almost double the sales rate of other tobacco vendor types, such as gas stations, liquor stores and grocery stores, she said.

The state often checks in on tobacco vendors by sending in underage agents to attempt to buy cigarettes, Gregerson said.

Owner of Madison’s Knuckleheads Tobacco and Vape Club, Michael Kesselman, said he takes the sale of tobacco and tobacco products very seriously.

“If you come through our front door you’ll see that we have all of the dates that you have to be in order to buy tobacco products in the store,” Kesselman said. “We card everybody.”

Gregerson said the coalition sends letters to tobacco retailers in Dane County to encourage them to complete online training. The training has simulator modules and gives information on how to check IDs, she said. Communication between business owners and clerks is also vital in inventing tobacco sales to minors, she said.

A sign posted on the stairway up to Knuckleheads stating that a customer must be at least 18 to purchase tobacco products
Hayley Sperling

Gregerson said the consequences for a vendor being caught selling tobacco to minors can be quite severe, ranging from tickets for both the business owner and clerk to license suspension.

Kesselman said tobacco wholesalers and manufacturers often provide signs, stickers and posters that vendors can use to show both the clerk and the customer what age a person must be in order to buy tobacco products.

In terms of reaching minors, Gregerson said one of their biggest partners are county school districts. She said prevention is key in keeping tobacco out of the hands of minors. She said she is hopeful that current and future outreach practices will create a decrease in the purchase of tobacco by minors.

“The ultimate goal is to make tobacco history,” Gregerson said.

Categories: Local Media

Madison’s winter budget emulates mild winter

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:50am
Winter in Madison has been surprisingly mild this year, much to the relief of University of Wisconsin students. Chris Kelley, Madison Streets Superintendent, said last winter weather conditions were exceedingly more drastic, and Madison’s winter budget reflects these changes. Last year by February, trucks had been out salting 38 times, while this year trucks have only been out 21 times so far, Kelley said. Even though this winter may need less salting and plowing, the money available in the budget remains the same, strategic initiatives coordinator George Dreckmann said. When money does get spent, it is mostly on salting and plowing. “Most of our time out on the streets is used for salting operations or we’re just salting and plowing on the major streets. But we spend quite a bit of money on when we have to do major plowing operations as well,” Dreckmann said. These bigger plowing operations are known as “major plows,” Kelley said, and occur when the city receives three inches of snow or more.

“We budget for 28 times for salting and we budget for six to seven major plows, which is three inches or more,” Kelley said. ”We’ve only had a couple that were close to that and we plowed anyhow. We still have money in the budget for at least 6 major plows, so we’re in good shape this year.”

The budget is based on a 10 year cycle, in which they observe the past 10 years’ average snowfall and weather conditions to better predict the ways to prepare for the coming winter, Kelley said.

The city also uses the previous year to mirror its plans, but because of the large variance year to year, the ten year cycle tends to be more reliable, Kelley said.

“[The snow levels] go up and down. Back in 2007-2008 we plowed 14 times which is very unusual. That was year we got 101 inches, but in 2004-2005 we had 44 inches and last year we had 59 inches,” Kelley said.

Categories: Local Media

UW women’s hockey player creates Kenyan women’s soccer league

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 9:55am

What started as a volunteering trip to Kenya for Brittany Ammerman ended with her raising $30,000 to establish a women’s soccer league there.

Ammerman, a University of Wisconsin senior and a women’s hockey player, went to Kenya in 2013 to fulfill the requirements for her certificate in global health. In her spare time, she played pick-up soccer games with other volunteers and some of the women she worked with at Health by Motorbike, a nonprofit that helps Kenyan women with health education and services.

The game’s popularity spread, with many Kenyan women picking up the logistics of the game quickly, leading to a few of the women to approach the nonprofit for support in establishing their own soccer league.

With Ammerman’s help, the Nikumbuke Women’s Soccer League kicked off.

“Sports were such a huge part of my life,” Ammerman said. “The experiences I had and the friendships I built were so important. I wanted to share that with these women.”

The funding for the growing league, currently comprised of two teams with requests for five more from other villages, was outside the scope of what Health by Motorbike could support.

So Ammerman took it upon herself to secure the funds required, reaching out to some of her childhood idols: soccer players from the 1999 Women’s World Cup championship team.

Ammerman joined forces with soccer star Julie Foudy, who hosted an auction on Twitter, sending the winner a signed U.S. women’s national team jersey in addition to other sports memorabilia. The majority of funds were produced via the crowdfunding website Indiegogo during a 45-day event that ended on January 15.

In all, Ammerman raised approximately $30,000 to help start the league.

The funds will provide the women athletes with necessary gear that is light enough to be comfortable where they live. Additional money will go toward future teams and transportation to assist Ammerman’s return to Kenya around spring break this year. Ammerman envisions the league as always being her own, even with her future goals of medical school and earning her Master’s in Public Health.

“It’s something that I love to do, and I don’t view it as extra work,” Ammerman said. “I get excited every time someone emails me and we get to talk more about it.”

Funding is only part of the bigger picture to ensure this endeavor is successful, Dr. Araceli Alonso, the UW professor who founded Health by Motorbike, said.

Projects already in place by Health by Motorbike give these women an improved way of life, giving them time to practice and learn the sport, she said. The program’s mission is to give the villages access to clean drinking water through rainwater tanks, Alonso said. The water collected by these tanks is then treated with an antibacterial, not only to improve overall health, but to save time due to its easy accessibility.

The Kenyan women forming this league are leaders in their communities and carry significant amounts responsibility, Alonso said.

Staying healthy to compete is a priority, but it is also accompanied by laughter and positive energy, she said. Bonds between villages have also become significantly stronger as the communities have shown high levels of support, Alonso said.

“I would just like to express how happy these women were,” Alonso said. “It really was a beautiful thing to see how they enjoyed themselves.”

Categories: Local Media

UW faculty continue collaborating with Native American communities

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 8:52am

Recognizing the importance of Wisconsin’s Native Americans to the state, University of Wisconsin faculty members are reaching out to those communities to strengthen the connection between the state’s flagship university with Wisconsin’s original inhabitants.

POSOH, a project begun in earnest four years ago and led by UW’s Wisconsin Fast Plants Program Director Hedi Lauffer, aims to change the way that science is taught in tribal schools.

In 2011, after receiving a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Lauffer, along with UW colleague Rick Amasino of the biochemistry department, reached out to the College of the Menominee Nation and began working with Menominee community leaders and educators to create a “place-based” and culturally-relevant approach to science education, said Linda Orie, a UW graduate student involved in the project.

According to Orie, the project first began as a partnership between UW and various members in the Menominee Nation to design curriculum for tribal middle school students, but has since grown to reach schools in the Oneida Nation, to which Orie belongs.

“Starting with something that people are familiar with and is part of their livelihood is often more intriguing than a dry textbook,” she said.

Amasino, who is responsible for the scientific work of POSOH, said the Menominee Nation was an ideal community to work with because of its strong cultural tradition of sustainability and forest preservation. The local relevance of the curriculum based on sustainability would allow for students to learn more science, he said.

The localized science curriculum incorporates Native American culture in its application and involves a greater deal of student engagement, as well, Orie said. Included in the new curriculum are opportunities for classes to discuss Native American culture and write in journals about their findings in local forests, she added.

While Amasino and Lauffer played a large role in the organization of the project, local teachers in tribal schools participated a great deal in the design of the curriculum, Amasino said. He also emphasized the aspect of partnership in the project.

“I bet I’ve learned more from them than they’ve learned from me,” he said.

While university partnerships with Native American communities have benefited science instruction in tribal middle schools, Dr. Alexandra Adams, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at UW, continues to combat obesity in Wisconsin tribes, working with the Bad River, Lac du Flambeau, Oneida and Menominee communities through her project “Healthy Children, Strong Families.”

Adams, who worked as a physician on the Menominee reservation during her residency, began working with Native American communities six years ago. She focused on guiding families with young children to increase consumption of healthy foods and physical activity and reduce TV screen time, she said. She said the results of the first generation of the grant showed success, with an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and a decrease in weight gain and screen time.

Like the professors involved in POSOH, Adams highlighted the responsibility that tribal communities play in partnerships with university faculty.

“I hope that the community will continue to build out their own wellness programs based on evidence they create with researchers as well as internally-created evidence and help them make their community stronger,” she said.

Categories: Local Media

UW to establish task force for participation in national sexual assault climate survey

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 7:52am

Hoping to improve national and local understanding of sexual assault, the University of Wisconsin will be one of 28 universities that will participate in one of the largest surveys ever conducted on the issue.

The Association of American Universities survey will be offered to over 800,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students between the participating universities, beginning tentatively on April 13.

The AAU and institutions involved have contracted with a national research company to administer and analyze the results. Westat, the contracted research firm, will provide each university its unique data, but AAU will publicize aggregate results, Barry Toiv, AAU’s vice president for public affairs, said.

“We think that the aggregate results we release will be very useful to policy makers, at the federal level particularly, as they look at potential legislation and potential administrative action,” Toiv said.

Westat is accompanied by a team of experts from universities to develop the survey, which is based on a model produced by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

It focuses on the frequency and characteristics of campus sexual assault and sexual harassment, allowing for the assessment of campus climate across institutions in a way that protects the confidentiality of respondents, the AAU said in a statement last week.

Each institution will use the same survey, with the exception of five questions that will focus on programs unique to the respondents’ university. This allows the results to be comparable across universities while assessing students’ awareness of campus reporting channels, resources and existing support services.

“One of the reasons [for] working with another group of universities is we can not only know what things look like for our campus but also how it looks relative to our peers,” UW Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf said. “That’s the reason the AAU suggested that we work together as opposed to each university developing its own survey.”

Westat will also try to provide schools with data findings and files that can contribute to future research, Jeanette Kowalik, director of Prevention Services and Campus Health Initiatives at University Health Services, said.

Toiv said outside of these recommendations, it is up to the university to determine the most effective way to use its data as a tool.

In an effort to be inclusive, Mangelsdorf said she will form a Sexual Assault Climate Survey Task Force unique to UW, she said.

The task force will boast a broad representation of faculty, staff and students with interest in the area to disseminate results and make recommendations on the best way to apply the information to our campus, UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam said. The task force could simply be temporary, but UW has not ruled out the idea of a permanent standing committee, she added.

“Initially, it’s going to be a task force, then we’ll determine after that point what needs to happen — if it does need to be a committee through faculty governance, or how it needs to then be formulated from there on out,” Berquam said.

Categories: Local Media

Professors say teacher licensure proposals could be harmful

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 7:22am

Walker’s recently announced proposal to establish an alternative route to teacher licensing has some education specialists concerned it would harm the state’s education system.

The alternative path Walker is proposing would allow teachers with “real life experience to pass a competency test to gain a teacher license,” he said in a statement announcing the proposal. Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, said in a statement he thought the legislation would improve quality of K-12 education statewide.

“It is one thing to teach the theory behind a particular subject, but it is a totally different perspective to have lived and breathed that topic for 20 or 30 years and correlate the real-world with the theoretical,” Kremer said. “This may really stimulate some of our youth to the opportunities that are available in Wisconsin.”

Michael Apple, a professor of curriculum and instruction and education policy studies at the University of Wisconsin, said research has shown teachers without the classroom experience required for a traditional certification tend not to do as well.

Apple said there will be a sense that the respect teachers have earned from working hard in schools will be diminished. He said this is concerning, especially because teachers are being asked to do more than ever before in terms of social support and understanding diverse cultures.

“You have to see it in context of Gov. Walker’s attack on teachers,” Apple said. “With Act 10 and other kinds of political reforms that he’s engaged, it’s clear that he has no great love for teachers in an organized way.”

Walker has said Act 10 helped school districts save money while also increasing the quality of public education in districts that took advantage of his reforms.

Speaking to school district administrators last week, Walker said his proposal would give administrators the option of whether they want to hire teachers who would go through the alternative licensing path, the Associated Press reported.

Peter Trabert Goff, a UW assistant professor of educational policy, said alternatively-certified teachers tend to make up a small part of the workforce in schools. But the types of schools that get alternatively-certified teachers tend to be high-need and low-income, he said.

Goff said there are alternative certification programs across the country, and he himself was an alternatively-certified teacher in Chicago. However, this program would give an unprecedented lack of support to teachers passing the competency exam.

“I haven’t seen anything that’s this laissez-faire,” Goff said.

With no support coming from the government, Goff said principals and administrators would be expected to take on the brunt of the work preparing these individuals for the classroom — a task Goff said is asking too much.

Goff said that across the state, principals are feeling pressure from increased legislative requirements, especially in low-income schools where these teachers would most likely be found.

“Just providing the support for traditionally-certified teachers is tough, let alone somebody who has no classroom experience whatsoever,” Goff said.

Apple said he is worried about what this means for the UW Department of Education and teacher education programs across the state.

The proposal means there would likely be less money going into teacher education at UW because teaching would be viewed with a lack of professionalism, he said.

“So if the sense is ‘anybody can teach provided they have a degree in something and they take a one or two hour test,’ that will have a profound effect on teacher education as a whole,” Apple said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Categories: Local Media

What Walker’s UW budget cuts and increased autonomy means for students and faculty

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 7:00am

Gov. Scott Walker suggested Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin System could ask its professors to teach one more class per semester to help alleviate the $300 million in cuts he has proposed. 

Walker’s comment — which led a UW professor to say the governor does not understand how the university operates — came a day after he announced he will include the cuts in his biennial budget proposal. That proposal, which Walker will release in full next week, would also give the system more flexibility and autonomy to help it come up with savings, he said.

The state Legislature will consider and alter Walker’s overall biennial budget proposal over the next few months before sending it to Walker’s desk for his signature.

Walker told reporters Wednesday the increased flexibility the UW System would gain as a “public authority,” with more autonomy than a traditional state agency, would bring savings to UW System campuses, responding to chancellors across the system who have warned his proposed cuts will lead to layoffs.

He said his proposed changes would make it easier for the UW System to ask faculty to teach more classes without the impediment of the state, for example.

“They might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester,” Walker said. “Things like that could have a tremendous impact on making sure that we’re preserving an affordable education for all of our UW campuses, but at the same time, we maintain a high-quality education.”

But Grant Petty, president of PROFS, the group that lobbies for UW-Madison faculty, said Walker’s comments reflect he does not understand the current workload for faculty.

“It does seem to portray a lack of understanding of how faculty operates and what they’re actually doing with their time that contributes to education without necessarily being in the classroom,” Petty, a UW professor of atmospheric science, said.

Walker said asking professors to teach more would be possible because the UW System would be able to rework the current shared governance structure under his proposal, part of the increased autonomy the system would get from the state.

Petty said Walker’s comments imply shared governance is an impediment to getting things done at the university, which he said is not the opinion of UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other administrators on campus. 

Autonomy for UW System intended to offset proposed cuts

The hope for the UW System is the money it would save by gaining flexibility from state government would make up for the $300 million in proposed cuts, Noel Radomski, director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, said.

He said Walker’s proposal would give the UW System more autonomy for construction projects, procurement and purchasing supplies, for example, but it was unclear how much money that would save.

“We will save something, but we have no idea how much,” Radomski said. “And if anyone says they know, they’re lying.”

Radomski said the way the state funds the UW System would change under Walker’s proposal, as well. Instead of line-item grants, which is the current funding model, the UW System would receive a block grant from the state, which would give the system more flexibility in deciding how it would spend those state funds.

Walker’s recommendations would also include an extension of the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates until 2017, but the state would give the UW System full autonomy over tuition after that.

Many of the new liabilities, Radomski said, are tied to human resources, layoff provisions and contract non-renewals, but he said it was too early to say if every campus in the UW System would see layoffs. He said in general, the hardest hit campuses would be two-year colleges, which currently are extremely dependent on state funds.

UW-Madison, for example, depends much less on state funds than other UW System campuses, as it gets larger amounts of gifts and federal grants.

“The big picture story is whatever happens, UW-Madison will survive,” Radomski said. “We have lots of revenue sources the other campuses don’t have.”

Students, faculty worry shared governance could decrease

The shared governance systems at UW-Madison, including the Associated Students of Madison and PROFS, get their current authority through state statutes, Radomski said, but Walker’s proposal would dissolve that current authority and instead have the UW System write its own shared governance policy.

Radomski said UW System administrators would likely want to simply “copy and paste” the current shared governance language that exists in state law if they have to craft their own policy.

However, Radomski said the fear of faculty and students who benefit from the current shared governance model is that any future UW System shared governance policy would only require a majority from the UW System Board of Regents to be altered. That contrasts with the more difficult process of changing state law, which currently defines shared governance at the UW System.

ASM Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Thomas Gierok said ASM is worried if the public authority model Walker proposed is enacted, students’ voices will be more difficult to hear.

“It all depends on the university and the system to continue their promise to keep shared governance in effect,” Gierok said.

Gierok said ASM plans to coordinate with the UW System to make sure students continue to enjoy the rights they currently have at UW.

In a meeting of the ASM Coordinating Council on Wednesday, UW Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf assured students the current level of shared governance will continue if Walker’s proposal passes and the shared governance structure no longer exists under state law.

“There are a number of universities that have very strong shared governance models that don’t have it written into state statutes,” Mangelsdorf said.

Professors will also experience changes in shared governance if Walker’s proposal is enacted, Radomski said. Petty said his organization is hopeful the effect on shared governance will be minimal.

Petty said that currently, the main concern facing faculty is the effect of the significant budget cut on personnel and programs. He also said restructuring their relationship with the state while dealing with a tightened budget would be difficult.

“It’s a terrible combination to come at the same time,” Petty said.

Lawmakers express concern about tuition

With decreased revenue from the state budget and a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition until 2017, UW will look to either reduce costs or increase revenue somewhere else, Radomski said.

Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, said he is concerned the proposed changes could create an influx of-out-of state students.

“For this to be a good deal for the taxpayers, we wouldn’t want to see that go up dramatically,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he is also concerned about what will happen after the additional proposed two-year tuition freeze is over. He said once the UW System has complete autonomy over tuition rates, tuition could rise significantly, even into the double-digits.

Walker’s announcement also proposed giving the UW System complete autonomy over the current Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity system, where residents of Minnesota pay near in-state tuition for schools in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin residents enjoy the same for colleges and universities in Minnesota.

On paper, the UW System public authority looks like it would allow the schools to decrease the number of Minnesota residents accepted each year to allow for more tuition revenue for students from other states, but it is unlikely this would play out in reality, Radomski said. In order for UW to modify the existing system, Minnesota would have to agree with any changes, he said.

“It requires them to renegotiate, and if you cannot successfully renegotiate, you have to stick with the existing agreement,” Radomski said.

Other Republican lawmakers also expressed concern the UW’s new autonomy would lead to tuition being handled in a way that is unfair to taxpayers and students.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, a longtime critic of the UW System, said in a statement Tuesday he is worried the UW System Board of Regents would be able to hike tuition at unknown amounts.

“The Governor’s proposal on the UW System would leave tuition-paying middle class families absolutely defenseless from potentially massive spikes in tuition and fees starting in 2017,” Nass said. “I don’t trust the unelected Board of Regents to prioritize middle class families.”

Walker told reporters Wednesday large tuition increases after 2017 should not be a concern.

“I have every reason to believe that the regents and the leadership team will want to continue to keep that affordable for students and families across the state,” Walker said.

Emily Neinfeldt and Riley Vetterkind contributed to this story.

Categories: Local Media

Proposal for new building on East Washington Avenue may give old building facelift

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 5:53am

A tentative plan is in place for renovating the old “Quonset hut” buildings on the 1200 block of East Washington Avenue, as well as adding on a building that could turn into office space.

Quonset huts were mass-produced in both World Wars for the Navy, according to SteelMaster’s website, a business that still constructs these buildings today. Despite the name, these buildings are actually long, metal arch-style structures.

Lance McGrath, owner of McGrath Property Group, said he did not realize the potential of the space until after they bought it. The section of land bought included five different parcels, one of them being the Quonset hut, he said.

“Once [the group] walked in there and looked at it, it is a really unique, creative building,” McGrath said. “It is these two 20-foot radius arcs that meet in the middle, and there is kind of a raw, corrugated aluminum finish. … It is just a really unique piece of architecture, which you really do not see a lot of in Madison.”

The plans for the new building are supposed to showcase an industrial warehouse type of building, project architect Joseph Lee said. The building will include a lot of masonry and large windows, due to the context of the area where the building is planned to be built.

“There is a lot of masonry and buildings with that feel,” Lee said. “And that is also an aesthetic that the neighborhood association liked, as well as the developer.”

JLA Architects and Planning is looking forward to working on the project and the redevelopment of the area, Lee said.

The new space could be a number of different types of companies, McGrath said. It could be an office for a creative design company of some sort, or it could be space for bars or restaurants.

The plan for renovation is just a proposal at this point, Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2, said. It is too early in the planning process to determine what the building will function as, she said.

“[The city] does not even know whether this will be the proposal that will be approved or not,” Zeller said. “The alternative is to demolish the whole thing and build three stories on that piece of property.”

McGrath said he is prepared with plans for two possible outcomes: tearing down the whole foundation or building over the hut. The preferred option would be to keep the front of the old building and build a four-story building on the corner of the block, McGrath said.

The property group would like to take the facade off the front of the building and put in a glass wall, exposing the structure of the building and what the architecture really looks like, McGrath said. The goal is to add some diversity to the street-scape of the area.

“[The proposal] is getting a lot of attention, as most proposal developments do in that area,” Zellers said. “The neighborhood has been very involved and has been working with the developer.”

The proposal will be brought forward to the Tenney Lapham Steering Committee, the neighborhood group in the second district, which has met with the developer several times, Zellers said. The committee will decide whether they want to take a position on the development of the area.

Categories: Local Media

ASM Coordinating Council discusses budget, strategic framework

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 3:16am

University of Wisconsin Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf and Dean of Students Lori Berquam joined student leaders Wednesday to discuss the proposed strategic framework for the university, as well as the nearly $300 million in state budget cuts the UW System may face over the next two years.

With the university’s strategic framework having expired in 2014, the two members of UW administration met with the Associated Students of Madison Coordinating Council to discuss the new framework, which will describe the university’s general direction until its expiration in 2019.

According to the proposed report handed out at the meeting, the university’s priorities include building upon UW’s educational experience — especially through improving affordability, research and scholarship — The Wisconsin Idea, maintaining a talented workforce and promoting resource stewardship.

Instead of focusing on the report, though, the meeting soon turned to the looming issue of potential cuts to UW’s budget, with many members of the council expressing concerns over how the administration will maintain UW’s academic quality and commitment to diversity programs.

Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal calls for $300 million in cuts and also seeks to extend a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students.

In response, Mangelsdorf offered her view that the university must work to increase efficiency, limit waste and find ways to generate revenue, including asking alumni to donate more.

“The percentage of alumni who give at a place like Wisconsin is far lower than at Northwestern, where I was before, because people think they gave in their tax dollars,” Mangelsdorf said. “Part of what we have to do is educate alums to let them know that we really need their support.”

Mangelsdorf said that all too often, alumni think the state provides more than it does, saying the current tuition freeze has made it difficult to offset the fall in revenue.

She also mentioned administration may consider raising the price of attending the university for those who are not from Wisconsin, which UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank has said she supports.

“In the short-term, we will try to protect the academic programs as much as we absolutely can with the resources we have, with new ways to generate revenues with the university,” Mangelsdorf said. “Inevitably, there will have to be some tuition increases, because every other budget cut has been offset by tuition increases, but in-state tuition will be the same.”

Categories: Local Media

Katie Couric announced as spring commencement speaker

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 8:20pm

Seeking a person that embodied notoriety, success and philanthropy, the University of Wisconsin’s senior class officers chose Katie Couric as the 2015 spring commencement speaker.

Couric was announced as the speaker Wednesday and senior class president Maria Giannopoulous said she was their first choice as she aligned with their philanthropic interests and could be inspirational to graduates, noting her achievements as a woman in journalism.

“I am honored to be invited to speak at such a respected, internationally recognized university,” Couric said in a UW statement. “I know Wisconsin graduates will be making major contributions in a myriad of fields after they leave this beautiful campus. I hope that I’ll be able to give them some guidance and advice that will serve them well on this first leg of a lifelong journey.”

Couric has pursued a lifelong career in journalism and television. She became the first solo anchor of an evening news broadcast in 2006 when she was hired with by CBS News, according to a UW statement. Since then she has served as a special correspondent for ABC News, hosted her own daytime talk show and now works for Yahoo as Global Anchor.

Couric has dedicated an impressive amount of time and resources to cancer research. She has co-founded two cancer awareness groups, included Stand Up To Cancer which raised $280 million toward research initiatives, according to the statement.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a UW statement that it is an honor to have Couric at the ceremony.

“As the field of journalism has weathered dramatic changes, she has found innovative ways of engaging with citizens across the country,” Blank said. “I know that her experiences will resonate with the Class of 2015 as they look beyond their time at UW-Madison.”

Senior class vice president Annie Paul said she thinks graduates will be able to take away many insights from Couric.

“She has been a female trailblazer in a lot of different capacities,” Paul said. “She’s just such a well-rounded person to be speaking at our commencement and she’s really smart and has a personable demeanor.”

Giannopoulos said she would like to see Couric talk about her time rising through the ranks as a journalist and her personal triumphs and struggles.

Even though Couric is not a UW alumna, Paul said she thinks graduates will still find her relatable, especially since she also graduated from a public university.

“People see her on the news, on her talk show, they know her serious and fun side, as well, so I don’t think relatability is an issue at all,” Paul said.

On behalf of the 2015 J-School graduating class…YOU NAILED IT, @UWMadison. So excited to have @katiecouric as our graduation speaker!

— kelsey ryan (@relseykyan) January 29, 2015

Hearing that @katiecouric is speaking at Spring Commencement makes me want to dance like Leslie Knope #UWgrad

— Johanna Wirth (@jo_wirth) January 29, 2015

Giannopoulous said the recent move to a single spring commencement ceremony has certainly helped attract high profile speakers, easing past time and scheduling constraints.

Commencement returns to Camp Randall for another spring ceremonyOnce again, graduating Badgers will gather together in Camp Randall for a single commencement ceremony in the spring. A year …

Senior class officers look toward attracting high profile commencement speakerIt’s back: Badgers graduating in spring 2014 will be walking across the stage in a single ceremony at Camp Randall. …

Paul said their budget for attracting a commencement speaker was $0. Couric’s travel and accommodations will be covered but otherwise she will be doing this “on her own will.”

Giannopoulous said Couric was excited to make the announcement and that she was getting in the Badger spirit.

“Her accomplishments as a woman in journalism has definitely showcased her talents, and I think she’ll be able to show our graduates what they can do with a public education,” Giannopoulous said.

Categories: Local Media

Lawmakers look to ban powdered alcohol in Wisconsin

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 10:04am

Amid concerns of abuse, powdered alcohol could be banned in Wisconsin before it is even released.

Palcohol is a powder that alcohol molecules are encapsulated in, and when water is added, it turns into an alcoholic drink, said Joseph Glass, a University of Wisconsin professor and expert on alcohol use disorders.

The product will be released this spring, according to the Palcohol website, but Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, has introduced a bill that calls for a ban on the sale of powdered alcohol in Wisconsin.

Carpenter said he was worried about the possibilities of abuse, citing concerns that people might use large amounts of the alcohol in their drinks and people smuggling the powdered alcohol in their pockets.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Carpenter said.

Glass said a big concern is the risk of accidental overdose. Many people are likely to mix themselves drinks with the powdered alcohol without realizing how much they are taking, he said.

“When you drink a can of beer, you know how much (alcohol) you are getting,” Glass said. “When you mix a powdered drink, you don’t know how much you are mixing.”

Powdered alcohol could also be snorted, Glass said. If the powder was strong enough, there could be a lot of additional risks, he said.

The Palcohol website lists several uses for powdered alcohol, including the ease of carrying alcohol for outdoors enthusiasts and travelers as well as potential industrial uses. In a statement, the group criticized media coverage as “focused on the perceived negative aspects of powdered alcohol.”

“Granted, irresponsible people can misuse and abuse any legal product, but that is not reason alone to ban it,” the statement said. “There are many benefits to this product, produced in a beverage formulation and an industrial formulation, that should not be overlooked or overshadowed by negative publicity and political controversy.”

Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, said there is concern that minors could get access to powdered alcohol as it is easier to hide. He said there is worry that in bars, people could slip the powder in others’ drinks unknowingly.

Because powdered alcohol is a new product that has not been researched extensively, Glass said its health effects beyond those of regular alcohol are largely unknown. With the lack of research, he said there could be hidden health risks that would make not regulating the powder risky.

“We don’t know anything about [the powdered alcohol] delivery mechanisms, it is possible that it is absorbed differently in the bloodstream, more quickly and so forth,” Glass said.

Categories: Local Media

Anti-bullying policy raises free speech concern from professor

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 9:02am

A recently introduced anti-bullying policy at the University of Wisconsin is causing concern among faculty and staff, who worry that an abuse of the policy may infringe on free speech and thinking.

After realizing UW did not have any standard procedures to deal with instances of harassment between faculty members in the academic environment, two faculty members outlined a process for dealing with those instances.

Soyeon Shim, dean of UW’s School of Human Ecology, and François Ortalo-Magné, dean of the UW business school, introduced the policy that the Faculty Senate passed in November.

Donald Downs, a UW political science professor, said he believes the policy is good ‘as written,’ but has concerns about the way it might be improperly applied in the future and, as a result, infringe on certain freedoms of speech.

“You can have the best policy in the world and people can apply it in a way which will be a problem,” Downs said. “The question is how it gets applied. In the wrong hands, it can be abused, and that’s where the concern really is, in my view.”

Downs said he is not certain how widespread the problem of bullying is between faculty and administration members, and that he personally has not seen any instances of bullying.

“I haven’t seen it much,” he said. “I have been privy to some cases where some faculty have claimed that some administrative people have been bullying in their positions — not that many, but it has happened.”

Downs said he believes that in the several months it has been in place, the anti-bullying policy has not been used improperly.

In an Inside Higher Ed article, Shim said she thought a policy could help jumpstart a campaign for civility.

“I strongly believe that nobody excels in an environment that is not civil,” she said. “Civility is needed to maximize talent.”

Faculty objections revolve around the fact that with thousands of personal interactions on campus daily, the “potential for mischief” is great unless the limits of the policy are strictly enforced, Downs wrote in an essay on Minding The Campus.

Shim portrayed the policy as a general civility policy even though the policy expressly denies that intent, Downs said in the essay.

“If Dean Shim’s comments reflect the intentions or orientations of individuals who will be bringing claims or who will be involved in the enforcement process, the policy will prove to be a mistake,” Downs wrote in the essay.

Shim declined an interview, stating in an email to The Badger Herald “it has now been turned over to the provost’s office and the university committee.” The provost’s office was unable to be reached for comment.

Downs is an adviser to The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

Proposal would include vaping in state smoking ban

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 9:02am

A state lawmaker is hoping to explicitly include e-cigarettes and vaping in the state’s ban on smoking in public places.

In 2010, Wisconsin enacted the Smoke Free Air Law that restricts smoking in public indoor locations. State Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, is proposing a measure that seeks to include electronic cigarettes and other vapor smoking devices in the ban.

Noting the growth of e-cigarettes in recent years, Kolste said she believes they should be included in the law since they contain carcinogens.

“My main motivation is because it is good public health policy,” Kolste said. “I don’t think people should be exposed to [the toxins].”

Kolste’s bill is the exact opposite of a proposal in the last legislative session that sought to exclude e-cigarettes from the ban. That bill’s author, former state Sen. Glenn Grothman, is now in Congress, but state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, told the Associated Press he would introduce a similar bill this session.

Because of their novelty, there have not been extensive studies on e-cigarettes, so health experts are unsure what their health effects are, said Dona Wininsky, director of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin.

Wininsky said the Smoke Free Air Law has been incredibly successful and that she does not believe it needs to be altered.

“We just don’t believe we should be opening up the smoke-free air law for any reason, at this point in time,” she said. “Whether by well-intended legislators who want to improve the law or by other legislators who want to put provisions in it that could potentially weaken it.”

Lawmakers should be more focused on regulating other tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco and little cigars, Wininsky said, referring to e-cigarettes as a small piece in the puzzle. While regular cigarette smoking rates have gone down, there has been an increase in other tobacco products, she said.

Toby Campbell, associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin and lung cancer expert, said although the health effects are not yet fully known, e-cigarettes should be regulated.

Campbell said many e-cigarettes target youth by coming in alluring flavors, such as vanilla and cherry, and that youth are more susceptible to peer pressure and these flavors.

“Even though people know [cigarettes are] not good for them and they don’t really want to be doing it, nicotine in particular is a powerfully addictive substance and in that way it’s different than even alcohol or other illicit drugs,” Campbell said. “It is more addictive, and by making these things open, I think we tempt some serious problems.”

Kolste said even if the bill does not pass, she hopes individual communities have discussions on e-cigarettes and consider bans of their own.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Categories: Local Media

Walker seeks more UW System autonomy, $300 million in cuts

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 8:32am

After days of speculation over the future of the University of Wisconsin System, Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday he wants more autonomy for the UW System along with $300 million in funding cuts and an extension of the tuition freeze.

The plans will be part of Walker’s biennial budget proposal that he will release next week, which may change significantly while the state Legislature considers it over the next few months. In a statement, Walker said the new partnership between the UW System and the state would help save money and will give the UW System more flexibility.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve a government that is more effective, more efficient and more accountable, and this plan protects the taxpayers and allows for a stronger UW System in the future,” Walker said.

Walker’s proposal would turn the UW System into a “public authority,” which would grant it more control on matters currently controlled under state law.

Yet while UW System officials welcomed the potential increase in flexibility, they raised concerns over the cuts that would come with it — $300 million over two years.

In a blog post, UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the cuts “would have a harmful impact on our students and their educational experience.”

“I appreciate the opportunity for additional flexibility and management efficiencies that a public authority might bring, and would work hard to implement these effectively on our campus,” Blank wrote. “It would be challenging, however, to engage in a major reorganization while also coping with a large budget cut.”

The UW System has a roughly $6 billion budget, about $1.2 billion of which came from state funds this year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The cuts Walker proposed would amount to $150 million for the next two years.

The UW System would, however, gain flexibility on procurement and human resources, giving institutions a way to find new savings, a statement from the UW System said. The system and its campuses would have more flexibility in managing building projects and setting a fair pricing formula for each university, the statement said.

“While the Legislature will continue to have statutory oversight, public authority status allows the UW System to work with each campus to find a pricing formula that reflects the costs of each program while still ensuring affordability, access and quality,” the statement said.

Under Walker’s plan, the state would give future funding for UW System in a block grant, funded through state sales tax with increases tied to inflation.

Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, said the proposal could be a win-win for state residents and the UW System.

“The university has always wanted more decision making power,” Murphy said. “I think that would give them the opportunity to a better job with long-term planning. They would know going forward how things will look in the future, how things will go in the future. The other win is the taxpayers because there is quite a savings to doing that, from the taxpayers’ standpoint.”

Walker also announced he wants the Legislature to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for two more years, on top of the freeze that came in the 2013-2015 state budget.

Yet Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said in a statement he was concerned UW System officials would increase tuition rates substantially once the tuition freeze ends to make up for lost revenue, leaving “middle class families absolutely defenseless from potentially massive spikes in tuition and fees starting in 2017.”

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said in a statement that reducing state funding for higher education was taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction.

“Under Gov. Walker’s proposal, Wisconsin’s world-class higher education system will feel the immense pain of Republicans’ fiscal mismanagement,” he said. “There is no doubt that the UW System’s ability to offer high-quality, affordable education will suffer.”

Some UW faculty members also expressed concerns that the quality and accessibility of education would be damaged by further budget cuts.

If state funds are reduced, UW will have fewer instructors, graduate teaching assistants, course offerings, electives and larger class sizes, Grant Petty, president of the steering committee of PROFS, a faculty lobbying group, said.

“The fact is that the educational experience for students here is largely a matter of having instructors to teach the courses and materials to supply the courses with and maintaining the spaces for the courses,” Petty said. “We’ve had cuts over the past 10 years or so that have already had an impact on some of these things.”

Categories: Local Media

Board of Estimates approves research for use of police body cameras

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 8:12am

In wake of events in Ferguson, Missouri, and other cases across the nation, the Madison Board of Estimates recently called for a study on the implementation of body cameras for police.

The Board of Estimates voted Monday to approve research to be conducted in the summer of 2015 on the implications of police body cameras. The research proposal will need to be approved by City Council, and all possible issues must be discussed before action can be taken, Ald. Lisa Subeck, District 1, said.

The board also discussed the possibility of running a pilot program in 2016 where officers in Madison’s south district will receive body cameras, Joel DeSpain, spokesperson for the Madison Police Department, said. However, at this point the pilot program or the actual use of body cameras have not been approved, Subeck said.

“Body cameras are certainly not the only solution and may not even be a good solution,” Subeck said. “And thats why the Board of Estimates and others called for a report on the issues.”

The City Council will vote on the issue Feb. 3, Subeck said. If approved by City Council, a new committee would be formed with members from the domestic abuse, LGBT and minority communities and representatives from the Madison Police and Fire Departments, Ald. Larry Palm, District 12, said.

This citizen committee would review the issues that could arise if police body cameras are used, ultimately making a recommendation to the City Council on whether or not it should run a pilot program, Palm said. This recommendation would have to be made in 2015 to allocate money for the program in the 2016 budget, he said.

An outside consultant would also be brought on to help evaluate the impact police body cameras could have on the community, Palm said.

The talk of implementing body cameras increased after a Ferguson, Missouri police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager.

“Certainly some of my colleagues were looking for ways to prevent similar events from happening in Madison,” Subeck said.

Some in the community have voiced support for police body cameras, including Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, who is running for mayor.

Police, city officials weigh benefits of body cameras Following President Barack Obama’s executive order calling for police departments nationwide to implement body cameras, city officials are again pushing …

Yet others have raised privacy concerns, saying that recorded videos would become a public record, according to Palm.

DeSpain, the MPD spokesperson, said many people who contact MPD wish to remain anonymous, sometimes because they might be afraid of retaliation.

The MPD SWAT team currently wears body cameras and all squad cars and interview rooms are also equipped with cameras, DeSpain said.

Subeck said she believes there are better alternatives to explore to avoid violence, rather than the implementation of body cameras. She said there is a much bigger issue at hand and people are simply looking toward body cameras for police as a quick fix.

“Cameras are just one thing, but people are looking for a solution to a much bigger issue,” Subeck said. “A camera doesn’t solve those issues, we need to look at how we can build trust.”

Categories: Local Media

College Dems endorse Resnick for mayor after candidate forum

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 1:14am

The University of Wisconsin College Democrats endorsed Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, in his race to unseat Madison’s mayor Tuesday following a forum with each of the candidates.

Eyeing the College Democrats’ endorsement for the Feb. 17 primary elections, the five candidates for Madison mayor debated student-centered issues at Union South Tuesday evening.

Resnick, who represents a student-dominated district in the City Council, is running against Mayor Paul Soglin. Also in the primary race are former Ald. Bridget Maniaci, who represented parts of downtown and the Langdon Street area; former Dane County Supervisor Richard Brown Sr.; and 25-year-old activist Christopher Daly, who, like the rest of his opponents, is a UW graduate.

The candidates answered five predetermined questions from the organization’s executive board, with Resnick eventually winning the endorsement.

Among the issues the candidates discussed were campus safety, the city’s job market for graduates, housing prices, racial disparities and student involvement in city government.

Sexual assault received heavy focus at the debate. Resnick, for example, referenced his actions as alder to increase lighting on campus area streets, a downtown safety initiative and his positive relationship with the police.

For Soglin, alcohol remained the largest factor in association with violence on campus.

“One of the problems with sexual assault is where we get a situation with high numbers of people drinking, and we don’t have witnesses that are effective,” Soglin said.

The candidates offered mixed responses on how they would address job opportunities in Madison for UW graduates. Daly recognized that outside of the government and technology industry, opportunities for grads with other skill sets was lacking.

“I believe that our current [city] economy is hyper-focused on a limited set of employment opportunities,” he said.

Resnick noted his expertise in the technology sector and said he wants to partner with groups in Dane County so they are aware of the talent in the student body, while Maniaci argued for a more comprehensive job board for students.

Brown touted the power of internships for giving students connections for future employment.

“We’ve got the state, city and county, and that’s going to get you in the door,” Brown said. “We can work with the private industry. You can do this. You can get these jobs.”

All candidates expressed the need for city involvement in balancing new luxury developments with affordable housing in an increasingly expensive rental market.

Resnick supported the implementation of a long term strategy for campus area housing.

“We need to make sure that affordable housing on campus is protected,” he said. “We need to come up with a fully united plan to make sure that students can afford to be on this campus.”

Soglin said the university must remain committed to building dorms, with the city creating a greater supply of housing to stabilize rents. Daly supported the use of tax incremental finance districts to fund housing projects.

Candidates also tackled racial disparities in the city, with Maniaci noting how the city must partner with market developers to focus on housing.

“One of the things I find really striking is how the city has been built and how development postwar has segregated neighborhoods by price, and as a secondary element race has been a major component as well,” she said. “Moving forward, we need to do everything we can to open up our neighborhoods.”

Soglin argued the political voice of people of color is not represented in the proportion it should be, and in response, Brown highlighted the worsening of racial disparities that may lead to more crime.

Daly focused on community policing, which he thought should have a different model. Resnick said only a bottom-up approach would help with disparities focusing on public transportation, early childcare and employment opportunities.

The top two candidates in February’s primary election will move on to the general election on April 7.

Categories: Local Media

Who’s on the ballot: spring mayoral election

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:03pm

Richard Brown Sr.

Richard Brown Sr. has worked in the military, a federal prison, a mental health facility, as a physical education teacher, and as a county supervisor, which he said gives him the experience and familiarity with the Madison community to lead the city.

Brown said his top concern is lowering taxes to keep housing rates down, adding that it would help decrease homelessness.

“One of the top issues is disparity,” Brown said. “Unfair disparity in the education and housing and jobs across this county where there is this big divide between the haves and the have-nots.”

Brown said the city needs to encourage big churches to keep an eye on the homeless and ensure they are making successful choices, and hopefully place them into homes. His goal is to place 200 homeless families into homes within the first 100 days in office.

Being a single parent who works full time and is involved with schools, ensuring that there are jobs for bright, recent graduates is a priority, he added.

Paul Soglin

Mayor Paul Soglin says he has been working on the issue of poverty since he was elected for another term in 2011.

“At the time, my critics said I was unnecessarily concerned about these issues [of poverty],” Soglin said. “Well, now it seems to be the only topic anyone can talk about.”

Soglin, the incumbent candidate, said he has been a large part of the change in the expansion of the bus system and the significant increase in affordable housing, employment and wages over the years due to his foresight and understanding on how to tackle these issues.

During the 2011 mayoral election, the city was working to fix its finances in order to deal with the more important challenges of poverty and equity, Soglin said. Working on social justice issues during the city’s financial struggles has made Madison’s social and economic situations better.

“It’s our intent to examine everything we do through an equity lens,” Soglin said.

When approving low-income housing, Soglin said it is important to note developing issues such as the surrounding transportation system and where the housing is located in order to ensure it is in an area where low-income families can thrive. The same is true when new apartments are built downtown, where affordable units are set aside for those with a lower income. 

Changing Madison’s priorities is the most important issue the city is facing, Soglin said. Closing gaps such as racial disparity, educational opportunities, employment and incarceration has been the biggest challenge the last four years.

Soglin plans to work on retrieving high-speed Internet access for everyone in Madison, in order to bring an end to the Digital Divide those in poverty are experiencing.

Scott Resnick

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, has served on City Council for two terms, representing much of the campus area which he said has allowed him to look at the big picture.

“As I’ve serviced the students, [I've focused] on big priorities,” Resnick said. “Making sure this campus is a safe place, making sure that we have fair and equitable housing laws and making sure that we have a strong campus environment which communicates with the City of Madison.”

Resnick is also the vice president of a local startup, Hardin Design & Development, which he said makes him qualified to speak about economic growth in the city.

The biggest issue facing Madison is that there are “two Madisons,” Resnick said, one with a high socioeconomic status and another that lacks the same opportunities — and the gap between the two is growing, he added. 

“As we see, the poverty is now jumping to nearly 20 percent in the City of Madison, that now one in five children are actually in poverty,” he said. “We need to tackle these problems head-on.”

The way to solve these problems is to invest in the future by focusing on the children of today, Resnick said, closing the opportunity gaps in the Madison school system and throughout the city.

Christopher Daly

A UW graduate with a degree in communication arts, Christopher Daly became interested in politics through reading, which eventually pushed him to run for mayor.

“One of the major reasons that I ran for mayor is because … I would see these homeless men [at the corner of State Street] every single day, and for a long time I was thinking really hard — why is this happening, what aren’t we doing, what should we be doing?” Daly said.

With so many empty city buildings, the city would save money by placing the homeless in these spaces, as well as using them for shelters and service buildings, Daly said. It is one of the main initiatives of his campaign.

City-wide free Internet access with a collective online data storage unit is another important topic to address, Daly said. It is significant for neighborhoods who are underserved by the big telecom companies and do not receive Internet access.

Daly said he believes Madison needs to look ahead and decide what kind of city it wants to be in 10 years, hopefully ensuring those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale do not fall further behind while those at the top keep climbing.

“In 10 years, Madison should be a place that offers opportunity for everyone who lives here,” Daly said. “We shouldn’t be leaving people behind, and we should be focusing on a greater level of diversity in our economic sphere and social sphere.”

Bridget Maniaci

Bridget Maniaci, a UW graduate with degrees in political science and economics, said she has thought a lot about how she can make life easier for UW students.

Among her ideas are an improved transit system, increasing safety of students and relieving some of the pressure of housing demands.

“There are a lot of issues for students that are difficult issues because the campus community turns over,” she said. “So I think it is so important for City Hall to be engaged with the campus community on an annual basis.”

Madison is hitting its growth wall and that is the biggest issue right now, simply because the city has never had to deal with this situation, Maniaci said. The way to fix this problem is to figure out how to balance support for people on either end of the spectrum, she said.

Evaluating the transit system, opening a homeless day shelter and, most importantly, reconfiguring relationships between the public and people at City Hall are all ways to address the issue in Madison, Maniaci said.

“Madison is a very complicated city,” she said. ”You need to have a mayor who understands both the past and the future of the city. I really do think I am the only candidate who has the right balance of academic background, a professional experience background and also just that energy and sense of fresh ideas.”

Categories: Local Media

Brewing class on tap at Babcock

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:21am

University of Wisconsin students may think they know it all when it comes to beer, but a class offered at Babcock Hall is ready to school them.

For UW students with an interest in the beer industry and science behind brewing, UW has partnered with the Wisconsin Brewing Company to offer brewing classes at Babcock Hall, which began last week.

The collaboration is an opportunity for students to have a real-world experience when learning the art of fermentation and commercial production, Wisconsin Brewing Company’s president and co-founder Carl Nolen said. It gives students the opportunity to find a career path and employment opportunity in the craft industry, he said.

“The timing is right for something like this,” Nolen said. “It gives [students] a chance to learn all different aspects of the brewing industry.”

The partnership offers smaller breweries opportunities that would not exist, UW food science professor James Steele said. Students perform chemical analysis work for smaller beer manufacturers, he said.

“It probably wouldn’t be affordable if it weren’t coming through the university,” Steele said. “We really believe that for the industry we provide analytical and structural support.”

The department of life science will select a recipe and Kirby Nelson, WBC’s brewmaster, will formulate the recipe with some broad parameters of how the beer should be, Nolen said. The students then have the chance to work within the parameters to create a new product that fits in those guidelines, he said.

Brewing technology is advancing at a fast pace, he said.

“The question down the road is where are [future brewers] going to come from and where are the skill sets going to be learned to join this industry in our country,” Nolen said. “A program like this is a talking point, a great opportunity where different departments at the university can have real-life experiences related to classes that could help them get into the workforce.”

Previously the brewing program was struggling with funding and promoting the program, Andrew Lefeber, a food science major, said.

This course provides the opportunity for students to interact with the industry, Lefeber said.

“We’re actually going to be putting out a beer with Babcock’s name on it,” Lefeber said. “Even people who don’t read the paper and aren’t involved with the university are going to see our beer. That’s huge.”

The new product will become available for retail mid-May, Nolen said.

The food science program is working on creating a Fermented Beverages certificate for the 2016-17 school year, Lefeber said. In the future this will be a specialization that students can put on a resumé, he said.

Wisconsin is well known for its beer industry because it is locally produced and raw materials are sourced locally, Nolen said.

“Doing all these things that support our state is something that we’re really proud of,” Nolen said. “We’re pretty excited to see how these beers are going to taste and how they’re going to be received in the market.”

Categories: Local Media