The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Category: City Council

Chad Speight takes a stand

Monona city councilman Chad Speight has thrown down the gauntlet.

In a bold statement, Speight has vowed that he will not be part of turning Monona into a third world, red-meat eating, fewer stop sign set ups, not as many sidewalks, union busting, Fox news watching, corporate farm loving, gas guzzling, K-12 supporting, tax cutting, Bud Light drinking, rhesus monkey testing, community.

When asked what he meant, Speight said, “I will not be party to it.” He then wandered off to a corner and brushed his hair.

When asked about Speight’s statement, fellow alderman Jim Busse said, “I just told the guy I didn’t any condoms to loan him. Harsh.”

Wiswell to run again for city council; Kathy Thomas eying run

After some speculation, word is out that long time city councilman Jeff Wiswell will run for another term this spring. Also, the Herald-Independent posted a story on the spring elections earlier this week, noting that former councilwoman Kathy Thomas is looking to run again as well.

The inclusion of Thomas was not a surprise. She has stayed active in city politics after losing the election two years ago. We had suspected she would run again – especially after alderman Scott Munson (who took Thomas’ seat) announced he was not running for another term. Thomas loves being part of the city’s pulse, and getting back on the council was always in the mix for her.

The move by Wiswell, however, is a bit of a surprise. After getting mauled by Bob Miller in last year’s mayoral race, we’d thought that the Wiz would call it a career in Monona politics. But no, he is going to run again.

No official word from the other incumbent, Denis Kugle, but we expect him to run for council again.

There are no other announced candidates at this time, but don’t be surprised if someone emerges in the next week or so. A field of Wiswell, Thomas and Kugle would represent more of the same for the city. With the Walker recall election likely getting people worked up this winter/spring, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone took up the anti-Walker banner on a local level, much like Chad Speight did last year.

However, the local elections will have a different character this year. It will likely be strictly a city council race highlighting the ballot. There is no mayoral race. There is no contentious supreme court race. The senate race isn’t until the fall. There is no school referendum. And as for a Walker recall, it looks like early April would be too early to get it on the ballot.

That means a relatively ‘dull’ election this spring in Monona, which will make it more difficult for a newcomer to break into city politics.

Ole Local Politician’s Sanctuary?

Pony or Former School Board Member?

A local Monona Pony Rescue group has admitted that most of the recorded rescues over the past five years were, in fact, local politicians in ‘really convincing’ pony costumes. It also announced an immediate overhaul of its admission procedures.

“It’s quite difficult to spot a real pony from a fake one,” said a spokesperson for ‘Save the Ponies Sanctuary’. “Especially when 50 of them turn up at the gate. Our policy is to ask questions later – although with hindsight the fact that some of the animals could actually answer our questions was a bit of a giveaway.”

It seems the ‘ponies’ were actually former members of the Monona City Council and Monona Grove School Board. It appears they were having a difficult time dealing with life as a ‘normal’ citizen.

Dr. Frederick Hoffensburger of the UW Psychology Department explains. “It’s not uncommon for a publicly elected official to suffer depression and uncertainty after their term ends,” said Hoffensburger. “They are no longer called by the newspapers for quotes. Citizens stop coming by their homes. They have no email to respond to. They are no longer the star. It’s a big lose for some people.”

So why a pony? Why not some other animal?

Perhaps they are drawn to the Sanctuary by its beautiful location on the water, as well as the excellent medical facilities. “We got to walk around a small field on all fours and be stared at by visitors,” said one former member of the Monona Grove School Board. “And in stable number 3, we had Internet access, phone, and cable TV. It was pretty sweet.”

Another former local politician said he enjoyed the attention. “Kids would come up to you and give you apples and sugar cubes,” he explained. “They’d pet your back and tell you what a good horse you were. That was nice.”

Super Friendly Horse offered his take. “Everyone loves a pony,” he said. “They’re cute. They’re goofy. They’re fun. It’s not a shock someone would pick a pony as a vehicle to find love and meaning in life.”

The director of Steve’s Cat Home was sympathetic: “I understand with an animal that size how you might get tricked,” he said. “But it’s never happened to us. Well, except for that time when a particularly long-haired cat we reared for four years turned out to be someone’s unwanted child. But people do crazy things.”

Q&A with Mayor Bob

Monona Mayor Bob Miller has been on the job for about half a year now. We thought we’d check in with Mayor Bob and have a short Q&A. We thank Mayor Miller for participating. Please note that all responses are unedited. We compliment Bob on his ability to spell/use spellcheck. Well done.

Question: With regard to your position as mayor, what has surprised you the most about the job?

There haven’t been any major surprises.  A pleasant aspect of the position has been how friendly and responsive people are to you.  Anywhere I go in Monona people go out of their way to chat with the mayor.

Q: What’s the status of the Monona Drive construction?

Phase II is completely designed and we are about 82% through the right-of-way acquisition process.  The acquisition process should be done in the next month or so.  Phase III is nearly designed and we will begin land acquisition in December for a spring 2013 construction start.

Q: Aside from the road construction on Monona Drive, what things will the city be doing to improve the road? What are some things we aren’t doing that you’d like see done?

Most improvements are for safety of the drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.  We are also working on the aesthetics similar to Phase I.  Phase I recently was awarded a national gold medal by the American Concrete Pavement Association along with a state award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.  I would have liked to see concrete paving used through all three phases but Phase II will be asphalt due to cost considerations.

Q: Who is the best smelling alderman on the council?

Generally, the council is seems to have a mix of Brut and Grey Flannel with an occasional waft of Axe for Men.

Q: Will we ever get a brewpub on or near Monona Drive?

I sure hope so, or at least a tavern of the style of the Malt House.  As an investor in the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co., I am often asked about a Monona Great Dane.  There are currently no plans for a Great Dane as we are allowed by law to only have one more in the state of Wisconsin.  I am aware of several possible restaurants that are looking at Monona and may fit the bill.  Cross your fingers.

Q: What is the thing Monona really needs to do – but finances just won’t allow?

The fire department could really use a new and better located station.  I want to work with the department to begin the process of determining where is the best location and the type of facility that best suits the city’s fire safety needs.  The current fire station’s location is far less than ideal situated next to an elementary school, park and library.  The downhill curve of Nichols Road can be dangerous for emergency vehicles leaving the station also.

Q: What’s the best thing Monona is working on or will be working on that no one really knows about?

I am not in a position to share information about all commercial developments but can say there are at least a half dozen opportunities currently being considered for Monona.  (And no, Nichols School is not one of them.)

Q: Will the urinal in the Fireman’s Park bathroom really be made of solid gold?

Nothing but the best for our park users. Seriously, I recently appointed an ad hoc facilities committee made up of Monona engineering and construction professionals to help guide the city and our other committees and departments to make fiscally prudent design and facility decisions.

Q: What’s the best thing about being mayor?

Easily, the best thing is making new friends in the community.  I thought I knew a lot of people before being elected mayor, but I have greatly expanded my friendships and contacts since the election.

Q: How did your Sunday morning sessions at the Farmers Market work out? Will you them continue next year?

The Farmer’s Market mayor’s office turned into a much busier event than I ever expected.  What was intended to be an occasional meeting for an hour or two turned into every Sunday from 10 to noon from April through October.  I missed a couple weekends in July because of vacation and returned to letters, phone calls and emails from people telling me in no certain terms to get back to the Sunday office.  When the media picked up on the story, many more more people began to come out to join me.  Here is a link to the Channel 3 story about the mayor with the best office in Dane County.

Q: What’s your favorite candy bar?

I have always enjoyed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Q: What will be the big issues in next spring’s city council and school board elections?

A lot can happen between now and April so I am cautious to forecast the big issues.  For the city council, the challenge will continue to be how to provide the best services residents can and should expect in a financially prudent manner.  I do not envy the Monona Grove school board members who will again face daunting budget constraints next year and face even greater cuts than this year.  I am concerned about the long term effects of these continued cuts and their impact on our children and community.  I would expect to hear discussions about a possible referendum as part of the spring school board elections.

City Council – ins and outs

Sunny had a recent column in which she reported Scott Munson would not run for city council next spring. Munson cited a desire to be with family in the evenings more than hanging out with a bunch of middle-aged men as his reason for stepping aside.

The move is not a shocker, as Munson had not shown to someone who liked the game of being a politician. He is a sincere, thoughtful person. The time needed to be on city council is frequently noted when people don’t run for office. It often precludes people with young children.

So, with that decided, what about the other alderman up for re-election – Dennis Kugle and Mike Wiswell? Sunny says Kugle will run again, but doesn’t know about Wiswell. I agree with her on Kugle, but I believe that Wiswell will call it a career in Monona politics next year. I don’t doubt the Wiz could get re-elected, but after his big defeat in the Mayoral race last spring, I think he’ll decide he’s had enough.

So, who would possibly be interested in filling the shoes of Munson – and possibly Aro?

Don’t be surprised if Kathy Thomas makes another run for council. She was surprised by Munson’s victory two years ago, but is still quite active. She loved being on council (even if she liked to complain about the work).

Sunny mentions school board member Jessica Ace. She is safely on the MG school board, but has worked on the Parks and Rec committee for a while. She would actually make a fashion review worthwhile for a city council meeting.

Perhaps Matt Aro, who lost two years ago, would be interested this time around. No clue if he’s interested.

Former alderman Mike Veserat would be another option, but I don’t see him getting back in game. The last election he didn’t seem to be particularly engaged with, so I question if he’d want to dive back into city politics.

No matter, I expect a decidedly ‘blue’ streak running through Monona voters next April. Why? Because that may very well be the same time a Walker recall election could take place. If the recall would occur at the same time as the city council elections, liberal voters will come out in droves in April (and there are more liberal voters in Monona than conservative ones). It could lead to a ‘blue’ route at all levels. And while labels like conservative and liberal often get cast aside when voting on a local level, I think the last sweep by Bob Miller and Chad Speight over more conservative candidates shows what can happen.

Let us know if you hear of someone else who might be running. Or if you want to suggest someone who would be a good candidate.


Mayor Bob Miller provides answers

The Rag recently requested a one-on-one interview with Mayor Bob Miller. Unfortunately, Bob could not take our questions. However, when he said he would provide us with answers – straightforward, compelling and direct answers – we could not refuse.

Answers from Bob Miller

Answer 1: Hope
Answer 2: PertPlus Shampoo and Conditioner
Answer 3: Not worth the trouble addressing
Answer 4: Jake Anderson is great
Answer 5: Paranormal Activity at Joe’s Firehouse
Answer 6: I am excited about the possibilities
Answer 7: We are in the early stages of working with a number of interested parties
Answer 8: She always was a fire I could not put out.
Answer 9: Women’s mud wrestling
Answer 10: Jennifer Lopez
Answer 11: Depends on how much I’ve had to drink
Answer 12: $1.2 million and counting
Answer 13: The Sugarhill Gang
Answer 14: Hello Kitty
Answer 15: Answering that can get me arrested
Answer 16: Sunny
Answer 17: We’re going to bulldoze it about 10 others
Answer 18: That was all a big misunderstanding
Answer 19: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Answer 20: William Shatner

Thanks to Mayor Bob Miller for providing us with answers.

City Council increases Winnequah Dr. speed limit to 45; removes stop signs; blame Speight’s brownies

In a surprise move, the Monona City Council voted to remove all stop signs on Winnequah Drive. The move was proposed by Alderman Doug Wood after someone complained about speeders on the road.

“I’m tired of these people,” moaned Wood. “Can’t we end this crap?” The other council members quickly agreed and decided they’d not only remove stop signs, but increase the speed limit to 45 mph.

“Serve ’em right,” declared alderman Jeff Wiswell.

The council meeting quickly got into a giddy mess as the aldermen, mayor and staff spent about 1/2 hour telling jokes and taunting people who came to speak at the evening’s session. Scott Munson amazed the room by making robust fart noises, while Alderman Kugle spent most of the time ordering food from various take-out restaurants in the area.

The council did agree to buy over $12,000 in Girl Scout cookies from Mary Ann Schmidt, an 11-year old Monona resident who was recognized by the council with a special commendation for her work with the scouts.

The meeting was finally convened when Jim Busse fell asleep and Mayor Bob Miller started drawing a mustache on his face with a Sharpie.

When reached the next morning at his home, Doug Wood blamed the problems on a ‘batch of bad brownies’ made by fellow alderman Chad Speight.

Speight has yet to be found, but one of his ‘Chad’s Carpentry’ cars was found abandoned in Iowa.

Monona City Council goes on spending spree

The Monona city council recently ditched their normal meeting at the public library, and instead decided to meet at a local drinking establishment. The result was spending gone crazy and a serious waste of taxpayer money. Here’s a look at the bar tab that was submitted to the city as an expense:

Not only was the bar tab excessive, but the council decision making on what to drink was equally perplexing. 136 Bud Lights? Let’s at least drink Wisconsin-made beer.

The drunken council meeting led to several questionable decisions. The council approved the following matters during this session:

  • Invasion plans of McFarland
  • No girls will be allowed on city council in future
  • High speed rail from Tully’s to the Silver Eagle to the 19th Hole to the Jade Monkey
  • Casino moving into Maywood School
  • Put a stop sign on former Mayor Kahl’s front porch
  • ‘Really cool’ treehouse will be built above city hall
  • Approved the Bourbon Street Grill liquor license
  • Purchase of a Sherman Tank
  • Creation of the Winnequah Road Speed Corridor
  • Coming soon – the Monona Wind Farm
  • Goose Hunt at Winnequah Park

The council also agreed that anyone who threw was a ‘wuss’.

What the city could do with $20,000?

The city recently approved a new restroom at Fireman’s Park, which includes $20,000 for solar panels to light the facility. Some are saying it’s a waste of money. What else could we use $20,000 for. Here’s a list:

It’s a tough call? What would you do? Solar panels on our toilet or one of these other items?

What are Mayor Bob’s moves?

We have a new mayor, a new alderman, a new council president – what does this mean for Monona.

What course do you think Mayor Miller and the re-configured council will take in the coming months?

What are projects/things you’d like to see them address?

What are the things you are AFRAID they will do?

In an interesting twist, Robb Kahl will be chair of the Community Development Authority (as well as serve on the Monona Drive ad hoc committee. Kudos to Miller for working with his popular successor. While Kahl’s continuing involvement in city government is not shocking, I would not have been surprised if he had stepped back from things for a while in order to spend more time with his growing family.