Re: [Bikies] An Introduction to the Overton Window of Political Possibilities

2008-10-13 Thread Michael D. Barrett

At 10:20 PM -0500 10/10/08, Robbie Webber wrote:

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 1:16 AM, Michael D. Barrett

 It is time for a wholesale makeover of the council before they break all of

Do I take that as a statement that you will be running for Marsha's seat?

Yeah, I thought not.

Yeah, you thought not. How cute. Obviously my big mistake was in 
helping several candidates who promised to fight back against 
automotive extremism, rather than going for the personal glory  the 
pleasure of going along to get along with Very Important Pavers.

You are exactly right, there has definitely been a lot of, shall we 
say, ingratitude on the part of the promise breakers voting in unison 
on the council.

that have alders that were not among the five
votes last year to cut the Highway SM mega-funding.

To be precise, you mean, the five who voted against it before they 
voted for it? Unanimously. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess that vote was 
actually 19-1, with the one being Zach Brandon, who, for all his 
(massive  glaring) ideological faults, actually had guts.

Or someone who
live in an area with a current alder that thinks funding for bike
facilities is a frill, and no can be expected to go to the grocery
store via bike.

And more importantly, will actually *vote* accordingly and not just 
blather about it.

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Re: [Bikies] An Introduction to the Overton Window of Political Possibilities

2008-10-09 Thread Michael D. Barrett
The problem with this analysis--and, as a geeky poli-sci major have 
long understood this even before Mr. Overton invented it--is that, 
in the context of Madison, the window of political inevitability for 
action on ped/bike/transit/anti-sprawl is at the top of the 
yardstick. Right here  right now. The people are ready for action. 
But our political leadership--even the ones who supposedly understand 
these issues--simply won't go to bat for their own constituents.  The 
Madison citizenry understands. The Madison Common Council members do 
not. And that is across the board.

It isn't as if the residents of the 5th or the 2nd, or the 6th or the 
19th aldermanic districts are out in the streets chanting, Hey, hey, 
Ho, Ho, More  More highways, BIG Highways, Right now! Hey hey, ho, 
ho, bike paths have got to go!! In fact, the contrary has been 
communicated to them endlessly by their own constituents.

Unfortunately, these council members are so determined to go along to 
get along that they rubber stamp every big highway that comes their 

And now they want to slash bike funding and raise bus fares.

I mean, if witnessing all of the car-oriented neighborhoods of the 
city tank by 7% isn't enough to get them to change the 
transportation/land use paradigm, nothing will.

It is time for a wholesale makeover of the council before they break all of us.

Get ready folks: With the burbs tanking, this council will have to 
ratchet up the mill rate, meaning all of you who live in more 
reasonably scaled neighborhoods* (where values held, thanks to 
location efficiency) will see a hefty hike in your property taxes to 
make up for all of the value this council destroyed by building 
crappy places out there where a) no one wants to live and b) no one 
can afford to even if they did

Why are the burbs tanking? Because they are accessible only by car, 
the most energy inefficient mode of transportation ever contrived. 
The residents of those places had 2 choices: pay the mortgage or fill 
up the SUV. Guess what they did? For an answer, check out the 
foreclosure/bankruptcy pages in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The worst irony of it is, thanks to the dynamic between tanking 
property values and the mill rate, the folks out in car-land won't 
notice much of a change in their property tax bills at all. Heck, 
they might even get a discount. Meanwhile, the people biking, busing 
and walking will be footing their bill.  And our council members 
still won't go to bat for us. Jed Sanborn isn't the problem. 
Republicans can't help being ignorant. The real problem: Our 
friends on the council who should know better.

The big question is why this council keeps voting--unanimously--to 
build crappy places no one wants to live in. Places that are placing 
burdens on the financial future of the entire city.


*Yup, it'll trickle down to you renters, too!

At 9:59 PM -0500 10/8/08, Matt Logan wrote:

As a postscript to the city budget discussion earlier today, I thought I
would share a web link I found that explains the phenomenon that seems
to be preventing our elected leaders from acting wisely when it comes to
alternative transportation funding:

What I take away from this article is that nobody should be discouraged
by getting an unfavorable outcome when engaging the city on bicycle
issues.  With repeated reinforcement, the currently politically
impossible will become politically unavoidable.  The trick as I see it
is to identify which message needs to be delivered in order to push the
Overton Window most rapidly in the direction of sanity.

In my opinion a lot of bikies (including myself) at public hearings tend
to overestimate how much of the logistics of bicycling the general
public understands.  In this respect, comments like those made by Thuy
Pham-Remelle Jed Sanborn, the Rotarians I mentioned earlier, or even
Vicki McKenna can be a great tool to use to identify the bridges of
understanding we need to build for the public and our elected leaders so
they can comprehend our perspective.

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