On the Run
Running—for office, to safety and out of patience
Da Doo Run Run: Paul Ryan brushes off suggestions he has ambitions for national office, but the Janesville congressman and GOP rising star, first elected at age twenty-eight, recently traveled to New Hampshire (home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary in 2012) to host fundraisers for Republican candidates. Ryan, now forty, has also waded into a contentious and high-profile U.S. Senate primary, endorsing conservative Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio over Gov. Charlie Crist, a race politicos consider a test of what direction the national Republican Party is headed. If Ryan continues this kind of extracurricular activity, especially if he starts showing up in Iowa, don’t believe his lack of interest in something bigger than being the ranking member on the House budget committee.
The Right to Safety: We set an abominable record last year. The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported the number of domestic violence homicides statewide increased by nearly two-thirds, from thirty-six to fifty-nine. Here in Madison, the horror of domestic violence hit home with the murders of two young mothers and their daughters. A bipartisan bill in the legislature would have Wisconsin join more than a dozen states that allow judges to require abusers who violate restraining orders to wear GPS tracking devices. We should demand at least this much to help keep other women and children safe.
Pulling Rank: Despite experiencing layoffs, foreclosures and other pains of the recession, in the last year Forbes ranked Madison as both the best city for job seekers and a place with the “best mix of opportunities for new grads.” Kiplinger piled on, labeling us the No. 7 best city to live and work, while Money put us at No. 2 on its list of best places to find a job. Granted, our unemployment rate (still over five percent) is not as bad as in other parts of the state, but it makes it harder for our friends and neighbors struggling to find work when national publications invite more competition into the fray.
Losing Our Cool: Growing up on the west side of Madison—listening to mostly terrible music, I’ll admit—I had no clue some of the sounds of my generation were being captured inside the nondescript two-story red brick building at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Baldwin Street. I eventually caught on, and when friends visited from out of town, I would proudly point out Smart Studios during my standard nickel tour. The business closed as of March 1, due to the realities of the struggling recording industry, robbing Madison of a major hub for creativity and talent. Smart Studios, started by Garbage members Butch Vig and Steve Marker, has worked with bands including Beck, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.
Bill or Product Placement: Last month, I wrote about the odyssey of a humble bacterium that converts milk into cheese to become the official state microbe. I have since learned lawmakers are putting forward similar proposals to name Harley-Davidson the official state motorcycle and cheese as the official state snack. Enough already. What’s next? Official state breakfast cereal?
Pampered Pet-readiness: In the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, Ben Stiller plays a father so obsessed with safety that he forces his two sons to wear easy-to-spot red track suits and conducts middle-of-the-night fire drills. A recent survey shows most of us are not remotely ready for emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist attacks, but state emergency management officials are not asking anyone to go to those extremes. They suggest preparing a home disaster kit, and most of the suggested items on their checklist make sense—food, water, change of clothes. But a few have me puzzled, namely pet beds and toys. Now, I love my dog, but if we are running for our lives, she can do without her favorite rawhide and pillow.
You Got That Right: I am often annoyed or dismayed by much of what appears in the “community comments” section following articles on madison.com, but after scanning the feedback following a story bearing the headline “Installation Of Solar Panels At Capitol Begins,” I couldn’t help laughing at this one: “Cut a hole in the top of the rotunda, put in a vertical turbine, and open the doors. All the hot air generated in the building could power the state.”
Got capital ideas or comments for Jenny? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.