Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Falling out of Love in Madison

A friend who relocated to Madison from Washington DC said at first she thought Madison was just a city in love with itself, but after living in the city for a few years, she realized how much Madison had to offer. That was over a decade ago, right about the time our Capitol city was named Money Magazine’s Best Place to Live.

Back then, Madison was known for its low crime and unemployment rates as well as the high quality of its public schools. And while Madison taxes certainly weren’t low, there was a general consensus that taxes were in line with the quality of the services provided.

This year, Madison ranked 89th out of Money Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Live, falling from 53rd two years ago. Money Magazine cited the following reasons why Madison is no longer the Camelot of the Midwest:

  • Below average test scores in math and reading scores that fell behind cities on the list.
  • Property taxes are $600 higher than the average city on the list.
  • Higher rates of personal and property crime than the average cities on the list.

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board, like an over-indulgent parent whose child has gone from straight A’s to straight C’s, offers these words of wisdom to the once shining city between the lakes:

Don't put too much stock into Money's latest comparisons. But don't dismiss them, either.
Madison should be proud to be among the 100 best places to live in America. Madison also should want to stay on Money's list and climb back toward the top.

Our great city can't afford to let down its guard or start coasting.

Wow, that’ll straighten out the politicians.

And where was the Wisconsin State Journal when Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk was standing on the Capitol steps, welcoming illegal immigrants to Dane County, promising that law enforcement and county employees would be prohibited from asking individuals about their residency status, even when they are arrested for breaking the law?

Of course this is just one example of the countless liberal policies that have helped lead to Madison’s fall from greatness. But the real problem is that much like Milwaukee, the elected officials in Madison don’t have any interest in doing what needs to be done to turn things around, and the so called community leaders don’t have the courage to stand up to the politicians and demand change.

Instead they prefer to stay in love with the idea of what their city once was, while the gainfully employed, law abiding residents fall out love and head for the suburbs.