The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

City council race veers toward meaningless

The withdrawal of Jeff Wiswell from the city council race (on the heels of Dennis Kugle’s withdrawal) all but makes the upcoming election meaningless.

Mary O’Connor, Kathy Thomas and Brian Holmquist are now running for three seats – making them all shoo ins for a 2-year term.

I was surprised that Wiswell decided to file for re-election last December. I thought his defeat in the mayoral race would seal his time in Monona politics. It turns out it was only a two-month delay. Wiswell’s decision to pull out of the race is awkward, but I’m still not surprised.

I was more surprised by Dennis Kugle’s withdrawal from the race. It’s known that some people had targeted Kugle since he had donated money to Scott Walker. Perhaps Kugle felt that we were headed toward another ‘blue wave’ – like last April – when left-of-center voters came out in massive numbers to express their displeasure with Governor Walker via the supreme court race. Monona was blanketed with JoAnne Kloppenburg signs – and it was no surprise that many of those same yards sported Bob Miller, Chad Speight and Doug Wood signs. All three of those men rode a strong turnout to wins in the mayoral and city council races, respectively.

Both Kugle and Wiswell, who are the two of the three more conservative council members (the other being Jim Busse), may have both felt the anti-Walker wrath from Monona voters had they stayed in the race. However, there is no polarizing race this April – as there was in 2011 – so I don’t feel any such sentiment would be overwhelming.

The most difficult thing about Wiswell’s and Kugle’s bailing from the race is that it doesn’t create any sort of debate or conversation. And more importantly, it kept others from running. If Kugle and Wiswell had not filed to run in the first place, other candidates may have stepped forward, as opposed to the remaining three. Sadly, we don’t know.

No matter the reasons for Wiswell’s and Kugle’s departures, the moves will leave us with very new city council come April.

First, we’ll have two women (I don’t know when was the last time that happened). Second, two of the three will be newcomers to the council (the third is former alderwoman Kathy Thomas).

Finally, the council will be a solidly left leaning group going forward. Last year it was Chad Speight replacing Mike Veserat. Now we have two of the remaining three ‘conservative’ alders being replaced by more moderate/liberal individuals.

What does a more liberal city council mean? Probably not that much. There is not a lot of leeway in the city budget. There is the possibility the city could borrow money if they want to begin some larger projects. This was probably less likely under the previous administrations. But some projects that have been stalled may emerge – such as bringing Madison Metro into Monona.

With Wiswell and Kugle gone, the city administration should be more unified and be able to push through projects more aggressively. The only danger for them is that they will have no one to blame but themselves if they fail.

The final question – should Super Friendly Horse run for city council?

23 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Bad news

     /  February 22, 2012

    This is bad. With no one left to counter him, Speight can turn Monona into a giant sidewalk (safer for pedestrians). Maybe, the whole thing could be a pedestrian mall like State Street. We can all just take buses everywhere.

  2. Anonymous

     /  February 22, 2012

    This is bad. With no one left to counter him, Speight can turn Monona into a giant sidewalk (safer for pedestrians).

    Oh my God no! We’re going to have sidewalks! The world is going to end! RUN!

  3. Anonymous

     /  February 22, 2012

    It’s really to bad to see where Monona has gone over the years. the amount of liberals that have infiltrated this community is disgusting. I never thought it would ever get this bad.

  4. Wrong Way

     /  February 22, 2012

    This blog used to be the palce that I come to read news before the IH printed it…..or if they printed it at all. It was also a place that I came to read about things that Doug like to ignore.
    HA. The IH has beaten your staff to several stories. Janus is a sleep or does not even live in this burg.

  5. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    It’s really to bad to see where Monona has gone over the years. the amount of liberals that have infiltrated this community is disgusting. I never thought it would ever get this bad.

    Monona needs new families, hopefully with young children. Attitudes like that are hardly welcoming.

  6. I predict Monona will be overrun with chickens within 5 years.

  7. Chickens! Everywhere!! Chickens!!!

     /  February 23, 2012

    “Oh my God no! We’re going to have sidewalks! The world is going to end! RUN!”

    Perhaps you should look at Monona’s debt load (much higher than average). After that, take a look at how much sidewalks cost. I believe the number is north of $100/ft, but look it up for yourself. For the sake of the argument, I’m going with the $100 number. My lot is 50′ wide, so that’s $5000., just for my little slice of paradise. So, either a city that has a ton of debt is going into even more debt or I’m going to take on a hefty special assessment (no thanks).

    Oh, I have an idea to help fund it though! Let’s turn Foo’s apocalyptic vision into a cash cow (or shall I say cash chicken) for the city. We’ll turn Monona into a giant, free range chicken ranch (not the Nevada kind you pervert). We can sell free range chicken eggs to finance all of our sidewalks/roundabouts/monorail systems! School and the fire department could also benefit from egg fundraisers. Monona Drive will thrive under the new chicken infrastructure! Who needs TIF when we have eggs to draw em’ in! Take that Middleton!

    And yes, I did say “monorail.” Or perhaps we should call it the Mononarail.

  8. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    Chickens! Everywhere!! Chickens!!!

    Monona has a high debt load, because they skipped out on road construction for 20 years. Skipping out on repair on Monona Drive, which is like a 20 million dollar project, also had the added effect of discouraging business, and buildings fell into crappy condition lowering tax revenue. By the way, the city borrowed most of the money to fix everything under a pretty conservative mayor, Robb Kahl. It’s hardly liberals to blame for debt. The penny pinching of the 80s and 90s was penny wise but pound foolish.

    As to sidewalks costing money to install, why wouldn’t they? They also last for 50 years which is why we borrow money to pay for them or road projects. The people that use them in the future pay for them over time as they use them. Also like the road repair, if Monona had been putting in sidewalks slowly over time, the cost would have been more spread out and the debt wouldn’t be so high. Best of all, properties in Monona would be in bigger demand. There are a lot of parents who wanted their kids to go to Monona Grove, but also wanted to feel their kids are safe. Those parents bought homes in Cottage Grove, which has doubled its kids population over the last 20 years.

    As to the rest of your post, I don’t think anybody thinks chickens means the city would make money. I think the point is to let people do what they want to do on their own property. Yes, owning chickens is weird, but I don’t think it’s any less of a annoyance then my neighbors dog that barks every time the wind blows, or any uglier then the boat that hasn’t been in the water in 20 years. Monona isn’t going to force people to buy chickens, and the people that want to have them probably do already, so it won’t be an epidemic of chicken farmers overrunning Monona. Doug Wood said it best when he proposed the ordinance. If it’s going to happen, should people just do whatever they want, or should the city set up rules so that the hobby is contained to the owners property? Maybe that’s a liberal idea, but is also shows a lot of common sense.

  9. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    Anonymous

    Cottage Grove has not doubled in size because of sidewalks. It has double in size because of appealing housing. Monona has old housing stock on small lots with stingy building codes.

    Mine is a young family complete with young kids and so are many of our friends. None of our friends even consider moving to Monona because of the housing. People want new, larger homes (Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie and Verona). There is no easy answer.

    Will you support the MononaRail?

  10. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    I agree with the last Anonymous, people are not moving to CG for the sidewalks.

    And another thing, when Doug went through and tried to push through a chicken ordinance, he did not realize that there already was one. People are allowed to have chickens and have been allowed to have chickens for a long time, the city of Monona is just to dumb to know it.

  11. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    It’s really to bad to see where Monona has gone over the years. the amount of liberals that have infiltrated this community is disgusting. I never thought it would ever get this bad.

  12. Winnequah Supporter

     /  February 23, 2012

    To all conservative Monona residents: don’t put the house up for sale. Monona will not become a free range chicken farm, be paved over with sidewalks, or become a hippie commune (but they are fun to think about in jest). From what I know and have read of new candidate positions, I think the upcoming council is going to be largely fiscually prudent or otherwise just fine. Your taxes will not go up 50%.

  13. Anonymous-1

     /  February 23, 2012

    I’ll try to reply as this for clarity if needed.

    People look for a variety of things when they choose where to move. Some value home size more, others safety more, others value more city services, etc. If you have young children and live in Monona, and your friends wouldn’t think even about it, clearly not everyone looks for the same type of house.

    To stereotype for a little, I think those people that do want smaller, older homes with character, tend to be the “disgusting liberals” as another poster puts it, and I think pedestrian safety ranks higher in their minds. The first poster, “Bad news,” seems to think the same way too. The question for the city, is do you fight it, in hopes that the 1970s era Monona family will return, or do you accept it, and increase home value to this new demographic? The smart thing, especially for a land locked city, is to appeal to the emerging group.

    I assume you are joking about a monorail, but if you’re serious, no I don’t support it. I’m fine with the bus service, I think they said it costs like $8 per home each year, because most is paid by fares or federal dollars. Even if it doubles to $16, that’s a good value for little money.

    In reply to another post, Monona doesn’t have a chicken ordinance. Here’s a summary from Doug’s blog:

    “Under current Monona ordinances, the legal status of keeping chickens is unclear. Monona ordinances place very few restrictions on the keeping of animals as pets. Monona ordinances do NOT prohibit keeping chickens. The Monona zoning code DOES prohibit agricultural uses in single-family and two-family residential districts.”

    http://mononadoug.blogspot.com/2009/03/plan-commission-considers-chicken.html

    So basically the chicken owners call the birds “pets.” People can have as many “pets” as they want, they don’t need a cage, don’t have to keep cages __ feet away from a neighbor, etc. Thankfully my neighbors don’t raise chickens, but if they did, I’d want them to follow some rules like Doug proposed.

  14. MononaRail

     /  February 24, 2012

    Of course we’re serious about the MononaRail. A monorail is the ultimate in green transportation and will bring significantly reduced carbon emissions. Its raised elevation will keep the cage-free chickens safe.

    Of course the bad part is cost. We estimate it will come in at around $25,000,000. Monona has about 8200 residents, so a one time special assessment of about $10,000/household combined with some loans should get this project off the ground (“off the ground” get it? Ha!).

    Getting Madison to build/connect to our system will be critical. Just going up and down Monona Drive would limit ridership. Put a MononaRail station in the capitol building (think Contemporary Hotel in Disney: http://tinyurl.com/7637fn5) though and we’re money.

    Here are some links for more information:
    http://www.monorails.org/tmspages/HowMuch.html
    http://www.monorails.org/tmspages/why.html

  15. Anonymous

     /  February 25, 2012

    It’s really to bad to see where Monona has gone over the years. The amount of liberals that have infiltrated this community is disgusting. I never thought it would ever get this bad.

    I will keep saying this whenever I remember to visit this site. I also see that the rag has made it so I can’t keep reposting stuff so this post will be in different forms.

  16. Anonymous

     /  February 25, 2012

    (1) Anonymous-1 (Doug Wood), thank you for your clarity.

    (2) I actually think that bus would be great for Monona. Really spice things up. Send um right down Winnequah Road (which we will change to Winnequah Expressway because of the rapid speeds that it will be driving). The journey will start at the north end of Winnequah Road with a Dukes of Hazard style horn that beeps out “hello Monona” when it stops for it first leg of the journey at Chads house, then off Mary O’Connor’s house, Rob Kahls house will be the third stop, then stop right there at Kathy Thomas’ house and Bob’s house, and then finish up the trip zooming right past Sunny Schuberts house on off outa of Monona. This is great!

  17. Anonymous-1

     /  February 27, 2012

    re:”I will keep saying this whenever I remember to visit this site. I also see that the rag has made it so I can’t keep reposting stuff so this post will be in different forms.”

    Anonymous,
    The Rag is doing you a favor. Cutting and pasting a complaint over and over again makes it look like your only goal is to be a jerk, and that you don’t have any justification for your opinions.

    re:”(1) Anonymous-1 (Doug Wood), thank you for your clarity.
    (2) I actually think that bus would be great for Monona….”

    Anonymous,
    I can’t tell if you are the same poster, but I would encourage you to stop doing the same. For the record, I am not Doug Wood, but I do read his blog and find it informative.

    As to the second point, if you are trying to be funny, it is hard to do so in print, and it’s not working in your post. If, you were saying something else, I don’t follow it. For the record, Monona has a small bus service that doesn’t cost much, I think it does go down Winnequah, and I know it helps those that use it. These are mostly seniors running to Copps and Walmart, or a few commuters in the morning . What is the point in trashing something that helps these people, especially when it costs so little?

  18. There are two different bus services. One of them for the elderly-the other goes downtown (Monona Express.)

    Monona Express serves about 32 people a day. We could buy them all bikes and come out ……ahead. Sunny wanted to give them taxi rides, but that math won’t work.

  19. Anonymous-1

     /  February 28, 2012

    BWT,
    Thank you for the clarification.

  20. Janus Dent Masters

     /  February 28, 2012

    I want to point out that we don’t censor posts very often on the Rag.

    I haven’t deleted or edited a post in months.

    However, the system does try and spot spam posts, and will put them into a ‘pending’ folder, which I can sometimes not notice.

    The most common reason a post gets sent to the ‘spam’ folder is a bunch of links. So try not to put too many in your posts, and nothing will get automatically flagged.

    thanks.

  21. liberal

     /  March 1, 2012

    It’s really great to see where Monona has gone over the years. The amount of liberals that have infiltrated this community is fantastic. Open-minded, forward thinking, passionate thinkers with young vibrant families… I never thought it would ever get this good.

  22. You guys are my neighbors? You sound like a bunch of babies.

  23. Natasha

     /  May 19, 2012

    Oh my God no! We’re going to have sidewalks! The world is going to end! RUN! Perhaps you shloud look at Monona’s debt load (much higher than average). After that, take a look at how much sidewalks cost. I believe the number is north of $100/ft, but look it up for yourself. For the sake of the argument, I’m going with the $100 number. My lot is 50 wide, so that’s $5000., just for my little slice of paradise. So, either a city that has a ton of debt is going into even more debt or I’m going to take on a hefty special assessment (no thanks).Oh, I have an idea to help fund it though! Let’s turn Foo’s apocalyptic vision into a cash cow (or shall I say cash chicken) for the city. We’ll turn Monona into a giant, free range chicken ranch (not the Nevada kind you pervert). We can sell free range chicken eggs to finance all of our sidewalks/roundabouts/monorail systems! School and the fire department could also benefit from egg fundraisers. Monona Drive will thrive under the new chicken infrastructure! Who needs TIF when we have eggs to draw em’ in! Take that Middleton!And yes, I did say monorail. Or perhaps we shloud call it the Mononarail.

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