The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Robb Kahl

Robb Kahl’s Assembly Bid

Robb Kahl is making a bid for the Wisconsin assembly in the newly restructured 47th district. The move isn’t a shocker, but many were surprised that Kahl is running as a democrat. In Kahl’s time as Monona’s mayor, he worked to avoid saying what ‘party’ he was part of. But many saw him as a moderate conservative. There were rumors he was trying to land a job with the Walker administration. He donated money to republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. But a few rumors and contributions don’t necessarily paint a full picture. Thus, Kahl is running as a democrat and pulling in lots of endorsements from local party leaders (Monona Mayor Bob Miller, former Madison Mayor Dave Cieselwicz, and Senator John Erpenbach – to name a few).

One interesting holdout, however, is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL- CIO (AFSCME). The powerful AFSCME union is reportedly balking with regard to endorsing Kahl at this time – perhaps waiting to see if someone more appealing emerges. Dane County board member Patrick Miles, of McFarland, has recently announced his candidacy for the democratic nomination as well. I don’t know if anyone else has announced – or will announce – their candidacy.

AFSCME’s support would be a huge feather for any candidate in the Dane County area. No county was probably more affected by the cuts to state workers – and they will come out in droves – the majority (I’m guessing) against Walker – and other republicans running for office. Perhaps Kahl’s previously ‘undeclared’ loyalty has made AFSCME wary of him. We shall see. No matter what democrat wins, the union will support that person over any republican challenger.

Monona: Fact or Fiction

On warm summer nights, my spouse and I like to make a fire in the backyard and swap stories about Monona with friends. Some of the more outrageous items have endured, so here’s the truth about a gaggle of Monona ‘facts’.

Question: Is Kathy Thomas really an undead creature seeing as she’s been on the Monona City Council for over 90 years?

The Skinny: Fiction. Kathy Thomas is really a name handed down from person to person over the last century, sort of like the Dread Pirate Roberts in Princess Bride. The current incarnation of ‘Kathy Thomas’ has been around only about 40 years.

Question: Is Maywood School is haunted?

The Skinny: Fiction. The creepy weeping sound occasionally heard at the abandoned school is from Monona parents who stop by and lament the passing of the cutest damned school this side of the Mississippi. Go turtles!

Question: Does Monona have the biggest Memorial Day parade in the state?

The Skinny: Fact. The Memorial Day parade rocks. Go to it!

Question: Is Mayor Bob Miller a ninja?

The Skinny: Fiction. Mayor Miller is not a ninja. He is simply a contract killer for the CIA in his off hours. To call him a ninja would insult real ninjas, like Jeff Wiswell.

Question: Is former Mayor Robb Kahl a republican?

The Skinny: Fiction. Former mayor Kahl is running for the Wisconsin Assembly as a Democrat.

Question: Is Monona is famous for its friendly horses?

The Skinny: Fact. Friendly horses tend to visit Monona to meet Super Friendly Horse (who received votes in this month’s city council race!). Monona is then frequently full of friendly horses, not to mention the original Super Friendly one.

Question: Is is true the air quality at the Silver Eagle was once rated worse than Gary, Indiana?

The Skinny: Fact. Prior to the smoking ban, the amount of smoke in the air was equivalent or worse than 60s era Gary, Indiana.

Question: Is Chad Speight’s hair is a wig?

The Skinny: Fiction. Alderman Chad has a load of hair that many men can only dream of.

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.

It’s Mayor Robb Kahl Day!

The governor has proclaimed Tuesday, April 19, as Robb Kahl Day throughout Wisconsin.

The proclamation means the following for Kahl:

  • A ride on Super Friendly Horse.
  • The stop sign at Maywood and Winnequah will be coated in solid gold.
  • A plaque instead of a cabinet job from Walker.
  • Free lunch at the new Meriter clinic cafeteria.
  • 10 tanning sessions at the Hawaiian Tan.
  • Foot massage from Doug Wood.
  • New Mayor Bob Miller will come over to Robb’s house once a week and water the plants this summer.
  • Six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (16 oz cans).
  • Periodic road construction in front of his house for next three years.
  • Commemorative bump outs.
  • Weekend getaway at Maywood School.
  • CD of the Menard’s theme song (‘Save big money at Menard’s’ – sing now!)
  • An amazing sigh of relief that that his term is almost over and he won’t have to endure crap like this anymore.

Thanks to Robb for his many years of service to Monona.

What if Kahl doesn’t run for mayor

Monona has a mayoral race next April, and most people assume that Robb Kahl will run for re-election.

But as Sunny points out in the intrepid H-I, what if Kahl gets a cabinet position with the Walker administration?

Interesting thoughts.

The word is that Kahl is in the running to be either Secretary of Transportation or Secretary of the Department of Work Force Development.

If Kahl does move on to politics at the state level, who would emerge as the favorite in Monona?

Doug Wood? Jeff Wiswell? Kathy Thomas?


We’ve run some ‘Mayoral Aspiration’ pieces, and we’ll run more, but give us your thoughts as who you think (or should) run for mayor of Monona if Kahl does not (or even if he does run).

Mayor Kahl wants to save Maywood…as a Senior Center

Mayor Kahl sent the district a letter offering a future for Maywood/Nichols/Winnequah schools.

Here’s a rundown from Doug Wood’s blog on Kahl’s plan:

  • Maywood: move district offices from Nichols to Maywood, keep pre-K, and turn the rest of it into the new Monona Senior Center. The city would kick in money to upgrade the facility for these updated needs.
  • Nichols: clear the property so that ‘Vacating Nichols would send such an indication that the District is at least willing to open the doors to a discussion on this facility’s future’. Otherwise, sell it.
  • Community Center: the Alt school would be moved to the lower level of the Community Center from Nichols.
  • Winnequah: would house K-5.

Implications of this?

I think it shows that the mayor doesn’t believe Maywood can be saved. The vote earlier this year was 4-3 – and Susan Fox and Lionel Norton are probably going to vote the other way this time.

It’s also pretty…dull? Turning Maywood into a Senior Center – which the mayor says is needed, just would bring a bit of a anti-climatic end to this entire debate.

Questions? Many.

  • Do we really need more room for the Senior Center?
  • Is it prudent to be spending money at this time on a new Senior Center?
  • What is Nichols really worth? Recent studies done by the district earlier this year show the property faces numerous issues. But Kahl says the ‘City has been approached with multiple potential development concepts for the Nichols site’. What are the likely options for this property?
  • Instead of closing Nichols down, do you look at alternatives for Maywood? How about adding homes into this large tract of land – these would be ideal locations for families (something our city says we need to attract). What better way than to drop down 10-20 homes a couple of blocks from a massive park (and a smaller one next doo), a pool and a library. Of course, once you do this, there’s no going back. Maywood is gone forever.

The last comment is really the thing that is looming before us – Maywood is likely gone. Kahl seems to be waving the white flag here – saving Maywood to be used by a different generation of our residents – and selling off Nichols.

On a side note – does anyone ever feel sad for Nichols School? No one seems to have fought for it like they have Maywood. It’s sort of the like ugly, older, less talented brother that everyone says they like, but deep down, don’t care about. I suspect that it has an inferiority complex.

Back on topic – what do you think of the Mayor’s ideas?

Again, read his entire letter at Doug Wood’s blog.

Sunny brings out the knives

I think the mayor has pissed off Sunny Shubert.

In her latest gem, she tells us that the mayor was behind the solar powered stop signs on Winneequah – but after the outcry against them, he blamed ‘city staff’ for their installation. And that Kahl is called ‘the dictator’ by some staff.

Ouch, those knives hurt.

She then wonders what else the mayor’s been ordering done without the city council or public’s knowledge.

Sunny has been sparring with city elected officials of late – the mayor, Doug Wood – maybe she’s got political office in mind.

Sunny Shubert for mayor? That might be our next mayoral candidate spotlight.

Mayor wants entire city of Monona declared TIF zone

Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating, but it’s not that far off.

Mayor Kahl is proposing that Meriter, one of the biggest corporations in the state, get $2.55 million in TIF money from the city.

TIF (Tax Incremental Finance Districts) is essentially a way for a city to sort of bribe companies to build in their community.

The most recently approved TIF requests for the UW Health construction, Garden Circle, Monona Drive and the trailer park area on Broadway (I think this one is correct).

The city has also received TIF money request from the Princeton Club Xpress.

At this rate, Mayor Kahl can just declare the entire city blighted and make everything a TIF zone.

Mayor Kahl’s Plan to Make Monona ‘Greenest City in America’

Model of Monona's new fire wagon

Mayor Robb Kahl unveiled his plan to make Monona the ‘Greenest City in America’.

“We’ll start by tearing up every road in Monona and replacing it with awesome grass space,” began the Mayor.

The one exception would be for the newly remodeled Monona Drive, which would remain as the only road through the city.

The Mayor said that dirt paths would crisscross the city, allowing citizens to travel either by bike, foot, horse or electric golf cart. In the winter, sleighs and cross country skis would do the trick.

Gas engines of all kind will be banned from the city, except for lawnmowers, because, according to Kahl, “Electric lawnmowers are awful. To heck with Green when it comes to making our lawns pretty.”

The city will get in on the act, with the police station getting a barn to support the 12 newly purchased horses. And the fire engine will be a circa 1909 horse drawn wagon, with a hand pump for water pressure. The fire wagon will come with a dalmatian dog.

“Selling the snowplows, police cars and fire trucks will pay for all the updates,” added the mayor.

Other highlights include designating Winnequah park a free range chicken zone.

When pressed for why the sudden and drastic change, Mayor Kahl said he was tired of everyone complaining about ‘Every single, frigging thing.’

“Snowplow issues? Screw it,” began the mayor. “People want sidewalks? Screw it. Leaf collection? Screw it. People bitching about stop signs in front of my house? Screw it. Speeding on Winnequah? Screw it.”

The mayor also stressed the health implications of the decision, telling us to get our lazy butts out of cars and start walking a bit.

He then wandered off into the corner of the room alone, mumbling to himself and occasionally giggling uncontrollably.

Mayoral Aspirations, Anyone? Robb Kahl.

We are about six months away before anyone gets too excited about Monona’s mayoral race, but it’s not too late to speculate who might throw their hat in the ring. Today we’ll look at incumbent, Robb Kahl.

We assume Kahl will run again. He’s played some chips this past year, making plays to save Maywood School,  getting stop signs put in on Winnequah, and keeping chickens out of Monona. I suspected that the ‘save Maywood’ initiative would win him points. I still believe that, but there’s some interesting things that could come into to play by election day. Much of this will rely on the school district voters and the administration.

The district will likely need to get a referendum for next  year to avoid more nasty budget cutting. It would probably have to happen in November so the district can plan for 2011-12. And this all matters why? Because Maywood’s future may hinge on the district getting a referendum passed. If the district is looking at a huge deficit again, keeping Maywood open may be impossible.

And even if the referendum passes, there’s no promise that Maywood will stay open. The charter school idea hasn’t gotten much traction, and even with more money, keeping Maywood open may not be an option if more students aren’t going to be housed in Winnequah. A closed Maywood is a failure for Kahl.

Beyond the Maywood issue, there are a few things that make us wonder if Kahl could be vulnerable.

Kahl has probably gotten more attention for getting stop signs on Winnequah – including one right in front of his house. As inconsequential as that sounds, there’s been quite a bit of derision about the signs – as if he had them put up because of his new home. I say hogwash (okay, I never say ‘hogwash’, but it seemed like the thing to write). But people looking for reasons to not the like the mayor have found them.

Other items working against Kahl – construction. People will have endured a full year of Monona Drive ripped up, and while the southern section will be complete, the memories may linger. Will they blame Kahl?

We can’t ignore anti-incumbency either. If a formidable opponent is found to oppose Kahl, a simple ‘vote for the other guy’ might hurt him a lot. Combine that with a poor economy for many – and you could have some seriously agitated voters looking for change.

People may think I’m harping on small points, but I’m purposely looking for chinks in the armor of the mayor.

But don’t think he’s in a weak position. He’s in the driver’s seat – no matter who he runs against. Many feel he has shown leadership in the save Maywood fight, he’ll have a good looking Monona Drive to show off. He doesn’t make gaffes. And the introduction of stop signs on Winnequah have thrilled many.

I think – for the most part – that Kahl’s future really depends on if anyone significant will run against him. We’ll look at some of those options later.