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Giffey, David / The people's stories of South Madison
Volume 1 (2001)

Mathew Sloan,   pp. 38-39 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 38


|Mathew Sloan
South Madison has been ignored for so long for whatever reason. Either
because we have been expanding at the edges and our resources have been
focused on putting roads in and stuff out there, or we've been focused on
downtown.
In city government, my sense is that the squeaky wheel really gets the
grease. And at the very simplest level, if the street department doesn't
know
there is a pothole they don-t come out and fix it. Clearly there are bigger
issues
on the south side. But I can't call "streets" and have them come
out and put in businesses or take care of
some of these problems. And your average citizen doesn't know. Do they call
the streets, do they call traf-
fic, do they call the city engineer, do they call the mayor, do they call
their alder? The system we have, the
alder is mainly an ombudsman, a person to funnel information.
I grew up in rural California in a dying logging town. I spent most of my
youth on welfare as did
everyone in town. I grew up during the Reagan years when I heard a lot of
talk about welfare queens and
those sorts of things. Growing up in a town where everyone was on welfare,
I didn't see any welfare
queens. All I saw was a bunch of poor, white, rural folk who didn't have
jobs. It seemed very normal.
One of the things that's interesting is the ward we are sitting in right
now is the only ward in the city
which didn't go for the mayor, the only one in the city.
We don't often see people turn out to go to meetings. Frankly, I don't blame
them. I think there is a dif-
ferent way of doing politics here, and probably one that's more successful
for folks here because they are
probably not able to access city government in the way my constituents over
in Vilas do, get on their e-
mail and bing something off to the mayor and she'll respond.
My district is roughly, the boundaries are Monroe Street, Regent Street,
John Nolen Drive, and Town of
Madison down here to about Buick Street. It includes the Triangle, it includes
the Brittingham neighbor-
hood, Bayview.
I tend to think of South Madison as anything south of Monona Bay. I think
it's somewhat more prob-
lematic when we look east or west because Arbor Hills for example, they don't
call themselves southsiders.
And Broadway-Simpson, for all intents and purposes you need a boat to get
over there. In the city's geog-
raphy, that's further problematic because we're a city that only thinks east-west.
South Towne isn't even
actually in the city, it's in the Town of Blooming Grove.
We are a society intent on drawing lines. So I looked at the Isthmus 2020
plan. Now, we all joke that
we can see the isthmus across the lake, but we have no idea why we are being
included in this plan
because we really see our interests allied more with the south side. We don't
have much in common with
downtown. Take the Town of Madison. One of the key difficulties to get anyone
to pay attention to South
Park Street is the fact that the Town of Madison has an entire block of Park
Street, and you know it
because the speed limit changes. So I think we have on the south side in
some sense kind of a fractured
identity.
One of the things we learn in sociology is you can't talk about race without
talking about class.
Likewise, you can't talk about class without talking about race. But by virtue
of our housing policy, where
we accept Section 8 and where we don't, where we put public housing and where
we don't, we tend to
concentrate people. And maybe we are not concentrating them based on race.
We are doing it on class.
There are 20 alders in this city. Each of us has one-twentieth of the city,
or about 10,000 people. My
district has half of the public housing, over half. One-twentieth of the
city has over half of the public hous-
ing in terms of about 400 units. And then we are somewhat surprised about
the problems which ensue?
Brain's addition and Capitol View next to it are about 60 to 65 percent minority.
Bay Creek,
People's Stories                                 38
People's Stories
38


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