Police shooting highlights shortcomings in our progressive culture
Tony Robinson, in a picture released by his family the night of his death.
Friday was the day we all realized that our neighborhood, which over the decades has changed for good in many ways, really hasn’t changed at all. Sitting with family and friends for dinner at Take Five, we saw an urgent parade of police vehicles pass by, seven in all.
It is normal to see ambulances and fire trucks on this important artery through the Near East Side. But this was different; we knew a serious situation was occuring when so many police are the first to rush by.
A regular patron headed down the street to investigate and reported back that shots had been fired in the 1100 block of Williamson Street. His information was rushed and proved accurate on only two points: that someone had been shot and that he saw CPR being peformed on an individual before an ambulance took him away.
I say “him” because it was Tony Robinson who was killed during a scuffle with a Madison Police officer. His eventual death has displayed in very stark terms this city’s continued struggle with race, police deadly force protocol and access by our minority communities to Madison’s perennial “Best Place to Live” status.
A life celebrated, a call for new thinking and actions in our everyday lives
Mourners filled Madison East High School’s Milton McPike Field House to honor Tony “Terrell” Robinson on March 14, 2015.
Approximately 1,000 people gathered Saturday (March 14) in the Milton McPike Fieldhouse at Madison East High School to pay respects, remember and celebrate the life of Tony “Terrell” Robinson, Jr. Several hundred more watched the service from the school’s gym via closed-circuit television.
In a service filled with prayers from clergy, gospel music flourishes accompanying some speakers and a soulful rendition of Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day”; most who spoke echoed Tony Robinson’s own words:
“You ever have the feeling your’e going to live forever? I mean like your’e never going to die? I’m going to be great, I don’t know how I know but I do. Just watch. I’m going to change the world.”
Former Alder has spent years preparing to be Mayor; she’s ready
Mayoral Candidate Bridget Maniaci talks Madison at the Johnson Public House.
The most important election for Mayor of Madison is not in April when the next Mayor is chosen but tomorrow (February 17) when the Mayor of Madison is chosen. No this is not a riddle, there are five individuals running to be the next mayor including the incumbent. Voters actually have a real choice now, in the primary, in deciding which two candidates will make it to the final round.
Aside from money infecting our politics, the other problem that is degrading our democracy is a lack of participation or even engagement by the voter. This issue is especially acute at the local level where elections have deep and immediate consequences.
We are very lucky in Madison to have this many choices for mayor and we should pay attention as all of them seem to care about the city and many agree on the issues. But only one candidate, in our opinion, will truly love this job like it needs to be loved: Bridget Maniaci.
Twenty-six multi-family units will top commercial space and underground parking
A four-story mixed-use building is proposed for this site currently occupied by a single family home.
A developer tied to the property currently occupied by Plan B nightclub is proposing a redevelopment of 906 Williamson Street upon which currently resides a single-family home owned my Petinary proprietor Micheal Kohn.
Louis Fortis, owner of the Gateway Mall at west end of Willy, wants to demolish the current structure and replace it with a four-story mixed-use building with 5000 square feet of ground level commercial space and 26 multi-family units on the three floors above. Underground parking would hold 21 spaces for cars.
District Six Alder Marsha Rummel is holding a neighborhood meeting on Thursday February 5, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Wil-Mar Center to discuss the proposal. Rummel said in an email to the Marquette Neighborhood Association listserv that the developer has not submitted an application to the City of Madison until they receive neighborhood input. She says Architect Randy Bruce is designing the building.
Forestry to replace some, but not all, with shorter, power line-friendly trees
The glorious leafy canopy that arches majestically over Jenifer Street is unlikely to return after a large street reconstruction this year. A city-wide policy of replacing trees with a species that will top-out below power lines will likely have a huge impact on the character and aesthetic of the neighborhood.
The City of Madison Forestry Division will remove approximately one-third of the trees along Jenifer between Spaight and Few Streets, mostly in an effort to protect against the Emerald Ash Borer.
“There is no way to reproduce the amount of canopy that will be lost, many of the ash preemptive removals are located under high voltage power lines,” Madison Parks Community Services Manager Dawn Grosdidier wrote in an email to Willy Street Blog. For these sites we will be replanting smaller, power line compatible tree species which is our standard practice across the city.”
A second public meeting is scheduled tomorrow (January 21) after the City of Madison officials faced numerous questions at a public meeting earlier this month regarding reconstruction of Jenifer Street which could dramatically remake a four block section of the historic thoroughfare.
The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) submitted to the City and District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel additional formal questions regarding the reconstruction and it’s scope, the extent of planned tree removals, bus stop changes and construction equipment use.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. in Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and will be attended by City representatives. The MNA questions can be seen below.
Project to narrow roadway, eliminate bus stops, but could damage historic homes
The 800 block (foreground) through the 1100 block of Jenifer Street will be entirely rebuilt beginning this spring. Jenifer’s notable tree canopy could be significantly degraded by the project as well.
The City of Madison hopes to begin a large reconstruction of several blocks of Jenifer and adjoining streets this spring that will impact both residents and transients that use the street daily during and after the project is completed.
The sweeping project will narrow Jenifer from Spaight to Few Street, install bump-outs to facilitate easier pedestrian crossings, move two Madison Metro bus stops and eliminate six others. Sections of Paterson Street and Brearly will also be rebuilt and portions of Few Street will be resurfaced.
While neighborhood leaders are encouraged by the traffic calming aspects of the project, there are concerns about the changes to the bus stops, the loss of tree canopy and for owners of historic homes, possible damage from construction vibrations.
Electrical fire causes no injuries, but $10,000 in damage
An electrical fire broke out inside Plan B nightclub Tuesday morning (December 23) around 10:15 a.m. causing $10,000 damage and closed Williamson Street for approximately 30 minutes as Madison Fire Department crews from Fire Station #3 responded to the incident.
Two cleaning women discovered the fire when they entered the building, but initially thought it was smoke from a fog machine since it was located near the dance floor. Concrete contractors working next door on the Madison Sourdough expansion noticed smoke coming through the shared wall and responded with fire extinguishers after the smoke intensified blunting most of the fire’s advance according to MFD Spokeswoman Bernadette Galvez.
“The cause is a electrical fire…the exact source hasn’t been pinpointed,” Galvez said. “If those guys [the concrete workers] didn’t noticed that, that fire would have taken off.”
Correspondent to highlight youth issues in neighborhoodThe Willy Street Blog is elated to announce the hiring of Salah Bradley Guyot (7 lbs 13 oz) as an assistant editor in charge of their new Infant Sustainability Bureau. The announcement was made at a lengthy birth conference at 4:22 p.m. Tuesday November 25, 2014.
Salah has spent the past nine months embedded with the Womb people, reporting on the scourge of small spaces and the corrosive effects of prenatal influence by helicopter parents. For WSB, Salah will cover key issues that infants face including: colostrum shortages, the effectiveness of diaper containment booms and the dangerous subliminal messages in baby rattles.
“While new to the area, Salah’s understanding of our community is in his DNA,” said WSB Editor Fareed Guyot.
WSB Art Director Jamie Guyot was too breathless to comment on Salah’s newsroom appointment, but she is doing fine.
$50K kickstarter sought to fund rehabilitation and conversion of 1380 Williamson
1380 Williamson Street is slowly evolving into Gib’s, a swanky waiting area for the space-challenged Grampa’s Pizzeria next door.
Not even a year after Grampa’s Pizzeria opened they had a problem, a very good problem. Most nights, especially the weekends, there was nary a table to be had. The approximately 45 seat restaurant serves a staple of four to five well thought-out pizza offerings along with inventive sides that change with the seasons or the creative whims of Co-Owner and Executive Chef Gilbert Altschul.
The small location also has its cozy charm but very little space for patrons who are waiting to be seated. Earlier this year Altschul partnered with notable cocktail creator Hastings Cameron and Grampa’s bar manager Josh Swentzel to open Imaginary Bar next door at 1380 Williamson Street to provide a loungey “waiting room” experience for diners.
As the project moved forward the restoration work became quite extensive and pricey causing Altschul to buyout Swentzel and Cameron. The two-story bar has been renamed Gib’s Bar but will retain much of the original intent, however Altschul is energized by the new project including culinary inspiration from such things as salmon in a cone.