Local Ties

Who knows Madison best—Walker or Barrett?

Both Tom Barrett and Scott Walker have declared they are the right man to fix the mess in Madison. This harsh criticism of our fair city by the would-be governors is enough to make you wonder if they even like the place one of them will be calling home in a few months. As it turns out, they do.

Barrett’s connection to Madison dates back to before he was born. “My parents actually literally met on Bascom Hill,” he says. Barrett’s late mother came to UW–Madison from Sturgeon Bay at age twenty-two after her first husband died in the Battle of the Bulge. His father, also a war veteran, had returned to Wisconsin after getting to know the state while stationed in Oshkosh for Air Force training. “So our ties are deep there,” he says. Madison represents several stages of Barrett’s life. He earned bachelor’s and law degrees at UW, which is probably why he named “The Plazaburger” as one of the things he enjoys about the city. He also served in the state legislature from 1984 to 1993 and puts the Dane County Farmers’ Market and Rhythm & Booms at the top of his list of favorites.

Walker didn’t see too much of Madison outside of the Capitol building during the nine years he served in the state Legislature. He recalls how his now high-school-age sons were small children and there was not time for much else. But the former Boy Scout is keen on Madison’s lakes. Walker enjoys canoeing, and his wife, Tonette, took up kayaking over the summer. “That’s one of the nice things about where the governor lives—the ability to get right out on the water,” he says. “For us, doing a little J-stroke across the lake wouldn’t be too bad.” Walker is also high on one of the city’s newest attractions, the Madison Children’s Museum, which he toured before its grand opening. “That’s something I really look forward to taking my nieces to because it was just fabulous.”

Red, Red Wine

In our family, those who don’t cook are asked to bring wine to Thanksgiving dinner. The people who fall into this category are usually in their twenties or have not produced a dish anyone would want to eat again (I’m not naming names). For my money, you can’t go wrong with Wollersheim Winery’s Ruby Nouveau, released just before the holiday. It goes great with turkey, sells for less than $10 and it’s local. You can even head to Prairie du Sac on November 20 to taste it at the winery alongside specialty Wisconsin cheeses. Repeat to yourself as you nibble and sip: I am thankful to live here.

Liar, Liar

I have long been a fan of the website Politifact.com, a Pulitzer Prize–winning project that investigates the claims of candidates, campaigns and even chain e-mails. Now there is a state version, built in partnership with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at Politifact.com/wisconsin. The site ranks claims for their veracity on a scale that ranges from true to my personal favorite: pants on fire. Voters can also get help from “Fact Finder” (host.madison.com/fact-finder) recently launched by We the People, a multimedia civic journalism partnership.

Every voter should bookmark both sites to help cut through the noise, because it’s getting pretty loud out there.

Tough Brake

There’s a scene in the movie Rainman where Dustin Hoffman’s character tells his brother, “I’m an excellent driver.” It obviously wasn’t the case in the film, and it’s not a way we could describe our collective driving habits in the Madison area, either. Before my fellow drivers get defensive—I have proof. Each year, Allstate Insurance Company issues its “America’s Best Drivers” report, ranking the 200 largest U.S. cities for safe driving based on the frequency of car collisions. Last year, Madison ranked thirteenth. How did we do this year? We dropped to twenty-sixth. It makes me wonder if people need to be reminded of the words of a song I recently learned in a toddler music class: “Stop! Says the red light. Go! Says the green. Careful! Says the yellow light, blinking in between.”

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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