Saturday, March 01, 2008

Will Wisconsin become the ashtray of the Midwest?

Will Wisconsin Become the Ashtray of the Midwest?
That's what Governor Jim Doyle thinks will happen if Wisconsin falls behind its neighbors by not passing a statewide ban on smoking in public places, including bars.
Wisconsin passed a law in the 1980s that prohibited smoking in theaters and retail stores, a fairly progressive move at the time, but now dozens of states have gone smoke-free. Illinois last week began prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, restaurants and taverns. Minnesota has had the same law since last fall, and Michigan and Iowa have bills pending in their state capitols.

Gov. Jim Doyle is pushing hard to go smoke free here, fearing the state will "become the ash tray of the midwest."
He appealed Friday in a media teleconference with Lance Armstrong for legislative leaders to let a limited smoking ban come to a floor vote before the Legislature adjourns in two weeks.
Though a high priority of the governor's, and the subject of a major push by anti-smoking advocates, the ban has been delayed for months in the Senate and its future in the Assembly is uncertain. The Senate bill, as amended, calls for a ban by 2010. The Assembly bill has an implementation date of 2009.

When asked to describe the source of the delay, Doyle pointed his finger at "old-time politics" and the Wisconsin Tavern League.

"I think the Tavern League is telling some legislators not to let it come to a vote and they're listening to them," he said.

Doyle also said it was a "myth" that northern communities in Wisconsin, unlike such cities as Madison, do not want a smoking ban. The governor said he recently spent time with the mayors of Superior, Bayfield, Ashland and Washburn, and all were supportive of a statewide ban.
Doyle will be appearing at a Monona Terrace rally with the cancer survivor and Tour de France champion next Tuesday, March 4.

Sure, the Vilas Park stone bridge Deathtrap is quiet for now, but just wait . . .

Sure, the Vilas Park Deathtrap Is Quiet Now, but Just Wait . . .
. . . until summer, when bikes and pedestrians head across the bridge from this side, surprising speeding motorists on the other side who come hurtling toward them down a steep hill and around a sudden turn. That's when the excitement starts.

This summer I'll resume my photographic campaign to do something about this disaster waiting to happen. I figure if I shoot the bridge looking down from Edgewood Avenue with a really long lens, it should highlight the congestion and the blind spots on the bridge. Seeing as there are so many not-always-popular traffic calming islands all over the city, it seems odd that the one place that so obviously needs something to slow down approaching traffic has nothing.

Friday, February 29, 2008

And now for something completely different . . .

Something to break the white seasonal monotony and to remind us that there is life after winter in the Upper Midwest. Photographed a couple years ago in Madison's Owen Park, also a reminder that saner (and more beautiful) creatures than I get away from winter by migrating.

TGIF Countdown: Managing gas prices by making tax cuts for the rich permanent

Just 326 days and George Bush will no longer be able to wrap himself in the prestige of the White House when promoting such screwball economic ideas as making gasline more affordable by making his tax cuts for the rich permanent.

Since tax cuts are Bush's answer for everything, it should come as no surprise that they sprang to mind when he was informed that gas prices might hit $4.00 a gallon this spring.
President Bush, saying he was unaware of predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline in the coming months, told reporters Thursday that the best way to help Americans fend off high prices is for Congress to make his first-term tax cuts permanent.

"If you're out there wondering... what your life is going to be like, and you're looking at $4 a gallon, that's uncertain," Bush responded to a question posed at a White House news conference. "And when you couple that with the idea that... taxes may be going up in a couple years, that's double uncertainty."

Analysts have said that gasoline could reach $4 a gallon by this spring, due to strong demand and a change in formulation, among other reasons.

When taking the question about the $4 milestone, Bush told the reporter, "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."
Add that to a long list of things he hasn't heard. Jan. 20, 2008 can't come soon enough.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Only sane person in Madison?

Only Sane Person in Madison?
You kind of wonder about this solitary skier on Lake Wingra. Is he the only sane person in Madison? One thing that makes Mad City mad is the bizarre delusion shared by most residents that wheels are the preferred mode of transportation in a winter that has seen more than 80 inches of snowfall.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prototype affordable housing for the 21st century?

Prototype Affordable Housing?
People are losing their homes, credit is getting harder to obtain, and for more and more young American families, it's impossible to get a starter home. Has it come to this? Is this the shape of the future -- the affordable home of the 21st Century?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Security lapse at Obama rally in the city where Jack Ruby broke through police lines in 1963

The seventies, when I attended primary rallies in Madison with my camera and shoved my way up front with the real (credentialed) news photographers, were a more innocent time. Security for candidates was a more laissez-faire thing than it is today. The Secret Service was there, of course, but they used their eyes, not metal detectors. When T and I recently went to the Hillary Clinton rally in Madison the night before the Wisconsin primary, some 4,000 of us faced the security line from hell. Standard airport-type security -- metal detectors, purses and backpacks searched, all metal out of your pockets (to simplify things, I stashed the extra lenses I had in my coat pocket in my wife's purse, so at least they wouldn't roll off the table).

But everyone accepted it in patient, resigned good humor -- the times being what they are, and all the things that have happened in the interim, we all understood the necessity for modern security procedures. I remembered wondering how they ever processed the much larger crowd at the Obama rally.

Well, it turns out that in Dallas recently (and apparently elsewhere), the Secret Service found a shortcut. If there's been much news coverage of this, I've missed it, but it's absolutely spooky -- especially in the city where Jack Ruby scored his hit and where who the heck knows what happened on November 22, 1963. As Teresa reports in Making Light:
Here’s the initial story: the Dallas police, who are more conscious of these issues than most municipal police forces, told reporters that the Secret Service ordered them to suspend weapons screening while people were still arriving at an Obama rally this past Thursday.
WTF? In Dallas, of all places? With a huge crowd coming to see a high-profile, charismatic candidate who is known to be a magnet for crazies and psychos?
That is to say: in a state with few gun laws and no shortage of racist crazies, and in a city with a high crime rate and a history of political assassination, they had less security for a major campaign appearance than many high schools apply every day to their students. They had less security than I’ve run into at concerts, baseball games, and second-string amusement parks. They had far less security than was in force at comparable campaign events during the previous two elections. They had much, much less security than the torpid Republican National Convention in NYC had on its slowest day, in a year when all they had to do was renominate Bush.

More pertinently, they didn’t have an atom of the security that’s lavished on a the most minor and unannounced semi-public forays of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. (Mind you, Bush and Cheney’s personal security protocols verge on the insane.)
Be sure to read Teresa's entire post, which collates a tremendous amount of data and makes it clear this hasn't just happened in Dallas, but at rallies for both Clinton (another magnet for crazies) and Obama..

It's not as if security for opposition candidates hasn't been in the news -- elsewhere. The level of security Musharraf provided Benazir Bhutto was widely perceived as a contributing factor in her assassination. It's seems incredible to find this laxity in today's America. What would they say if something happened? Oops?

We dodged a bullet last night, but it's not as if we don't have plenty of snow already

Arctic Bike Racks

Peter Patau Photo

These bikes along the Southwest Bike Path in Madison look as if they have a long wait for the spring thaw -- but at least they didn't get buried up to the handlebars. The big winter storm that was forecast to follow the usual pattern this winter -- rain, sleet, then heavy, drifting snow and a hard freeze -- veered to the south of us. What we dodged, northern Illinois received. They're welcome to it.

Monday, February 25, 2008