Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

14 June, 2007

Verveer: Not In My Backyard

The Capital Times has an article today about how the Madison Park Commission voted against the proposition to ban alcohol from Law Park. City Councilman Mike Verveer, in whose district the park resides, is in favor of the ban and was understandably disappointed. Hence his NIMBY attitude:

"I'm under no illusions that perhaps all we're doing is displacing this population and the problem," Verveer said, "but I don't believe we have any other choice."

There's no other choice than to move them away from the trendy downtown area, apparently. So, if the City Council approves the ban anyway and these people just go to another park, is the city's solution going to be having alcohol bans follow the homeless around wherever they may go? Can we look forward to a small group of homeless people essentially dictating park use for everyone? The piece states that Law Park is the only downtown park that allows alcohol consumption sans special permit. Ergo, the problem leaves Verveer's district with a ban. How progressive of him.

The article notes "a large number of police calls" about drunken homeless men at the park. What are the calls for? The reporter notes that the police were called but fails to note any lawbreaking. Were any of the calls made by nice folks who just find that the sight of a homeless person interrupts their nice middle class lounging and puts a bad taste in their mouths? Are these homeless folks assaulting or stealing or getting into fights? Or is it the littering and their sheer presence that's the problem?

We utilize 7 police officers and the UW coast guard to arrest a guy for jacking off in a park. Why can't we get them to hustle the drunks of Law Park along?
|| Palmer, 1:41 PM


I wrote to Verveer's office a week or so ago asking about this and never got a reply. I have points about it.
1) We need to see some proof that things are going poorly in the park. I ride my bike through there, usually twice a day. I see people drinking, yeah, but I've never seen any problems at all.
2) Would an alcohol ban really even be effective? I pointed out on the Letters in Bottles blog that the layout of the park is such that you can see someone coming from a ways off.
3) The fact that he's admitting that the problem isn't getting solved, just moved, is discomforting to me.
Blogger thechrisproject, at 3:26 PM  
It would have been nice had the reporter actually said what precipitated the calls to the police.

It's #3 in your list that really gets in my craw. Makes me wonder if the ban will pass the Council. I can just see them all saying, "I don't want them moving to parks in my district."
Blogger Palmer, at 3:56 PM  
What is your argument with a guy masturbating in public (without the consent of the people around him) being arrested? Although it may be a 'small' thing, it's pretty obvious that he has extremely bad judgment, and I think it's perfectly acceptable for him to have been arrested for non consensual sexual expression in public.

I agree with your points about the NIMBY-ism. I quibble with your wording here: "Can we look forward to a small group of homeless people essentially dictating park use for everyone?", technically it would be a small group of business owners/politicians afraid of what a small group of homeless people might do who would be dictating park use.

If, however, police calls are problematic and legitimate (by our definitions, not Verveers), what should be done about Peace Park, if anything? I spent HOURS and HOURS there when I was a teenager (in the 80s), and it was much milder than it seems to be now. In the intervening 20 years there seems to have been a large increase in the truly homeless in Madison, and likely an increase in a subset of that group with mental health problems, drug problems or both. I don't have any ideas of what to do about any of those issues, alone or all together, but a ban on booze in Peace Park doesn't seem to be the answer.

The D.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:59 PM  
I have no problem with dealing with some guy masturbating in public, but I think the response was overkill. What's wrong with sending a couple officers up to him and "suggesting" to him that he take his onanism home?
Blogger Palmer, at 5:16 PM  
Ditto that.

Have a beer, Verveer.

Anyone want to have a kegball game in Law Park in advance of the Common Council vote?
Blogger Brad V, at 8:41 AM  
If you do get a game going, just lemme know.
Blogger Palmer, at 1:41 PM  
Hey, where did my incredibly insightful comment from this morning go?

It was good, I tell you.

The D.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 PM  
I dunno. What did you do to it?
Blogger Palmer, at 2:47 PM  

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