No Love Lost

Guess which Madisonians won't be getting valentines this month.

When I think of Valentine’s Day, it’s hard not to go back to fifth grade. That’s when we wrote out Valentines for all of our classmates, whether we liked them or not. Things change as we get older and we reserve our affections for those we care about (or are at least trying to woo) and at some point, sadly, we learn to hold grudges. In the wake of another tough election and a bad economy, there’s a wealth of hard feelings out there. That’s why I’m pretty sure none of the following duos will be exchanging cards, flowers or candy:

Public employee union members and Gov. Scott Walker: Before he even took the oath of office, Walker was demanding concessions from unions, wanting them to chip in more for their health insurance costs and pensions and even calling into question whether they should exist.

Alderwoman Thuy Pham-Remmele and some colleagues on the Common Council: Last fall, four council members walked out in protest of her lengthy questioning of staff members and public speakers, work they contend should be done in committee meetings. Two months later Pham-Remmele exited during the recess of a meeting on the future of Overture Center that stretched into the early-morning hours.

City of Madison snow crews and complaining commuters: No matter what happens, people aren’t happy with the condition of city streets, and conversely crews must feel mighty unappreciated.

Minnesota and Wisconsin: The proposed Madison-Milwaukee high-speed rail line is dead, thanks to Walker’s opposition to the project, potentially cutting off Minnesota from a proposed nine-state Midwest rail line. It should be noted here that while rejecting federal funds for the train angers Minnesota officials, it’s resulted in love notes from the states that got the rail money Wisconsin rejected.

Where Are the Jobs?

“It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s the phrase colorful political operative James Carville made famous during President Clinton’s winning 1992 bid for the White House. The large field of candidates for Dane County executive all express the importance of economic development, with candidate Zach Brandon putting it most succinctly: “Dane County needs to focus on jobs. Period.” Just as it was for President George Bush in 1992, candidates who make any other issue their top priority may have a hard time winning.

Under Where?

Looking for a different way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? On February 12, the Wisconsin Historical Museum features Taste Traditions of Wisconsin: Victorians’ Secrets. Leslie Bellais, the museum’s curator of costumes and textiles, will reveal how Victorian ladies achieved their tiny waists and how women’s underwear has evolved to the point where it appears in fashion shows featuring mostly-naked Amazons from Brazil on prime-time television. Both customs are strange.

Brain Boost

Madison has more in common with Boulder and Ann Arbor than being a mid-sized college town where fun is not in short supply. All three cities ranked in the top ten “brainiest” U.S. cities. Portfolio magazine used Census data on the education levels of adults to devise what it calls a “brainpower index.” Madison came in at No. 9, ahead of San Francisco and just behind Boston. We should be proud of our brains and since we have important elections coming up—for mayor, Dane County executive and Wisconsin Supreme Court—let’s try to use them, OK?

No Varsity Blues

Cue the letter jackets. Some people who live and work in downtown Madison dread the arrival of buses and cars full of sports fans from far-flung Wisconsin communities who come to cheer on wrestlers and basketball players in the state tournaments. But instead of cursing as they ride the brakes while searching for a parking place, let’s try something different. Consider what it’s like for a teenage girl or boy from a community of five hundred people to come to our city for the first time. It may clinch their decision to attend UW–Madison or move here after they graduate from another college. So, when someone wearing face paint asks you how to get to the Kohl Center, smile and help them on their way.

Chess-Lev-Who?

Here’s a question: If Mayor Dave Cieslewicz wins a third term in April, will that be enough to get President Obama to finally correctly pronounce his last name? The president has bungled the mayor’s surname on previous campaign stops to Madison, but Wisconsin’s status as a swing state practically guarantees Obama will get another chance to get it right.

Got capital ideas or comments for Jenny? E-mail her at jenny.price@gmail.com.

Find more Capital Ideas columns here.

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