Interview: District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci

Madison District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci. Courtesy: District2MadisonBlog

City of Madison District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci decided politics was for her after observing then Mayor Dave Cieslewicz run for re-election while serving as his press intern.

After studying journalism for a time, Maniaci switched to politics, completing internships at the State Capitol and with Mayor Cieslewicz.

While exploring journalism she worked for the Capital Times, The Daily Cardinal, and WSUM-FM. Bridget is also pretty good at sailing, serving as Vice-Commodore of the UW Hoofers when she was a student.


Maniaci graduated from Sun Prairie High School in 2002 and the University of Wisconsin in 2007 with a degree in Political Science and Economics. She was elected to the Madison Common Council in 2009. Outspoken at times, according to some, but she is energetic about Madison. Maniaci has a rare command of local public policy, with facts, figures, and grounded analysis often at the tip of her tongue…

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Editor’s Note: When we talked with Ald. Maniaci, funding for ice rinks and lifeguards in the City Budget was still in doubt. The Board of Estimates restored that funding at its meeting on October 22, 2012; with Maniaci supporting an amendment to restore funding for lifeguards. The Budget still needs final approval from the Common Council, which will likely vote on it in November.


Live Blog Wrap: Foreign Policy Debate

Battle in Boca is last face-to-face matchup

President Obama and Governor Romney in the final debate of the 2012 election. Courtesy:

The debates are over and there were no real gotcha moments. It was an exercise in Romney agreeing with Obama but trying to make it sound like he failed. As CBS News’ Scott Pelley noted right after the debate, “It seemed like they both only came alive when they started talking about the economy.”

Both candidates pivoted back to the economy saying that a strong economy will help when it deals with the world. Its obvious that this election will come down to the economy and now its up to the political ads and surrogates….down the stretch they come!  Continue reading

Budget Cuts Could Sink B.B. Clarke Swimming Platform

Quality-of-life, big city priorities clash during budget process

B. B. Clarke Beach circa 1951. An early version of the diving platform can be seen. Later version paralleled the shore and were located approximately 150 yards off shore.

As the Madison Mayor Paul Soglin prepared his budget for the coming fiscal year he asked all departments to make a five percent cut in their operational budgets. At the Parks Department they arrived at those cuts in part by eliminating and consolidating some very popular services in some parks; specifically the elimination of nine seasonal ice rinks and focusing lifeguard services at regional beaches.

In a city known for year-round recreation probably the most sacred of activities is ice skating and swimming. It is almost a cruel irony that a community whose water-borne identity is intrinsic should have to cut back on this celebrated quality-of-life benefit.  Continue reading

New MNA Board Members Elected

Best-ever attended membership meeting covers a lot of ground

The 2012 MNA Membership Meeting was held at Marquette Elementary on October 18, 2012.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Membership Meeting this past Thursday (October 18) was a celebration of both robust participation and an infusion of new blood. An estimated 50 members attended the meeting which included approval of the budget, election of new board members, awards, a presentation from Downtown Madison Incorporated (DMI), and a farewell from outgoing President Scott Thornton.

Before reflecting on his tenure as president, Thornton noted that the attendance at the meeting seemed to be the largest he has ever seen at a membership meeting. Present were stalwarts from the beginning of the organization as well as many new faces. Many enthusiastically ratified the work Thornton has done for the organization with a standing ovation.  Continue reading

Politics As Usual

WSB now features selected stories from the Chay Presents Storyteller Show

Every third Sunday the Chay Presents Comedy Night series features a Storyteller show based on a theme. The stories are told by mostly local comics, but also writers, performers, as well as significant and up and coming figures withing the community.

This Sunday (October 14) is the first Storyteller show at Chay’s new venue in the Atlas Improv space at 609 E Washington Avenue. The timely theme “Politics As Usual”, falls in the thick of the presidential debates. Willy Street Blog has attended the last two shows and  will be featuring selected stories from those performances (the first is linked below), and hopefully more in the future.

Hear the stories from the August 16, 2012 show “One More Chance”

High Altitude Parachutist Ready to Take Last Step

Freefall record attempt postponed until Saturday

Felix Baumgartner is preparing to break 52 year-old freefall altitude and speed record. Courtesy: Red Bull Stratos

A project that has been ongoing since 2005 may soon culminate in a record-setting human freefall attempt from 120,000 feet above New Mexico. Felix Baumgartner has been working with Red Bull on the Red Bull Stratos project that will not only try and set a record but also test supersonic human limits through the air without a vehicle.

The reason there is a record is because someone has done it before. Joe Kittinger set the current record (102,000 feet) in 1960 while testing spacesuits for the American space program and high speed ejections from aircraft. Kittinger, who is consulting on the Stratos project, used a balloon to get to altitude; the same method Baumgartner will use.  Continue reading

Fresh Meat

Underground Food Collective to open butcher shop on Willy

Courtesy: Underground Food Collective

A traditional butcher shop will be opening at 811 Williamson street by the end of the month. The Underground Food Collective which offers catering, cured meats, and also operates the recently opened restaurant Forequarter on Johnson street; looks to offer meats supplied by farmers who take a caring approach to their animals and crops.

The location, which according to UFC was originally the Williamson Blacksmith building for which Williamson Street got its name, will also serve as a retail outlet for UFC’s other items such as jams, pickels, mustards, and krauts.

You can find out more information at UFC’s blog

Related: The Best Goat Salami in America

Interview: Marsha Rummel – 6th District Alder

Madison 6th District Alder Marsha A. Rummel

Marsha A. Rummel has been Alder of Madison’s 6th District since 2007, and in that time she has seen lots of change. Before being elected she had been active in the Marquette Neighborhood Association and was interested in such issues as urban planning and affordable housing and decided to run when Judy Olson retired after 12 years in office.

Rummel helped found the Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative 1989. The progressive-minded (left of center) store provides books and resources to social movements as well as textbooks to the University of Wisconsin. The co-op is also meant to be a salon for the issues of the time.

Recently, at the Willy Street fair (September 16), we took a few minutes to talk about some of the issues facing her district which has now expanded to nearly five square miles due to a recent redistricting. Its a fun and challenging time on the near East Side with redevelopment in several key areas like the Captiol East district and Union Corners taking center stage.

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Educator Erik Anderson Remembered During Hangar Service

A water cannon salute to Erik as Taps is played on the violin. N953BL, an RV-6 that Erik built with Bob Lang, basks in the sun. Photo by: Joseph van der Sanden

Family and friends of Kjell Erik Anderson gathered this weekend in Madison and Wautoma to pay one last tribute to a man who has filled so many people’s lives with happiness with his selfless personality and ways. On Saturday (September 29) over 300 people attended a memorial service in a hangar at the Dane County Regional Airport.

The event was filled with flourishes that would have made the Swede proud. Foremost, the event was held at an airport in a hangar which immediately put everyone at ease. A large spread of fruits, cheese, crackers, salami, and of course Swedish Meatballs was served. Just to make sure that no one took the session too seriously, ice cream was also dispensed.

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