August 5th is always a tough day for the Sikh community. In 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin a white supremacist opened fire on innocent victims at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in an act of domestic terrorism. Lt Brian Murphy, who bravely and quickly responded, was shot 15 times by the white supremacist but did survive. The attack happened when the temple was preparing Langar, a community meal served to anyone regardless of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. This meal is a powerful statement of how we are all equal, and is an occasion to celebrate our shared humanity.
Since 2012, the gun violence epidemic has only gotten worse, and the bloodshed and carnage of innocent people is unspeakable. The safety and sanctity of our community gathering places has been changed permanently. We experienced this as a family on a much smaller scale at the Shake the Lake fireworks.
As we were leaving the event, we witnessed shots fired from a distance and me, my wife and our daughter were part of the crowd sprinting from the gunfire in a panic. The situation was quickly contained by our police and first responders. However, I feel like one issue that is not discussed enough is having a trauma-informed response. These events are not anomalies, and virtually every community is being affected by gun violence. We must take great care in addressing the public and mental health effects of so many being exposed to such violence. There is potential for long-term mental health effects, and we need to start taking a holistic approach to gun violence, one of the most urgent public health crises that our country has ever faced.
I know that many of you are enjoying the waning days of summer and spending time with family and friends. In this update, I will provide some quick updates about what is happening in our community and county.
Environment and Parks Updates
Dane County is spending 10 million dollars to purchase farmland adjacent to Pheasant Branch Conservancy. This land will be restored to natural prairie, and is a huge investment in flood control and nutrient management.
The Environment, Ag and Natural Resources (EANR) committee on which I sit will have a joint meeting with the Lakes and Watershed Commission for a quarterly update on our flood response on August 22nd. I will record the audio of this meeting and make it available through my web site.
In this meeting, we will also get an update on when sediment removal between lakes Monona and Waubesa will begin. This is a major chokepoint that prevents the Yahara watershed from draining efficiently. This causes lots of the high water we see on Lake Monona.
The 3rd Annual "Barks for Parks!" celebration will be at Badger Prairie County Park in Verona. This fun afternoon will include live music, food, and entertainment for both pups and their people. Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to build a shade structure at the Badger Prairie Dog Park.
Dane County is funding a project to assist a farm to purchase a mobile shade system. This helps encourage grazing in the pasture, as the cows will gather where the mobile shade system is rather than near waterways where their manure can go directly into the watershed. This link shows some good information on these systems.
The manure storage ordinance implementation is going well. Dane County Land and Water set up a web site with more information for the producers and the community about agricultural performance standards and fee schedules:
In 2019, the county plans to complete phase two of the resurfacing on the Capital City Trail segment from Fish Hatchery Road to Seminole Highway. This phase will include bridge replacement funded by a $75k grant secured from the Wisconsin DNR.
I continue to advocate for a joint city / county PFAS task force, which will serve as a clearinghouse for information on the PFAS risks to our water supply. I am confident this task force will be formed and be a central point of contact for a joint response to this issue.
Community and Neighborhood Updates
Big thanks to all the volunteers, organizers and organizations that supported another successful AtwoodFest. This is a huge fundraiser for our neighborhood, where lots of the money raised goes right back into our neighborhood through SASY’s semi-annual neighborhood grants. I want to give a special shout to festival chairs Ginny Jenkins and Megan Williamson for all their efforts over the years.
Me and my daughter had a great time DJing at the KidsFest stage at AtwoodFest. We made slime with the kids, danced to an EDM version of Baby Shark, had a polka interlude, and crowned a champion of the Punjabi hockey announcer impersonation contest. It brings me great joy to be part of this kid-friendly, inclusive and positive celebration.
The County awarded a $3500 PIE (Partners in Equity) grant to the Darbo Food pantry. The pantry focuses on distributing fresh, local produce and recovered prepared food. Big thanks to D6 neighbor Joe Mingle and many others for their excellent work on this project.
As a Dane Arts Commissioner, I am happy for the financial support that the County provides to neighborhood festivals like Fete de Marquette and the Central Park Sessions. We are lucky to have the Old 97s playing on Wednesday, August 7th and I look forward to seeing you all there.
I will be doing a presentation at the Collaboration for Good’s Data Impact Conference. I will be talking about open data and good government. I am really encouraged by the leaps and bounds we are making to use technology and data to improve outcomes in our community and government.
Budget season for the County is starting soon and I will be diving deep in the proposed budget and focusing on ensuring that the budget accurately expresses our values and priorities. Until then, I hope to see you around the neighborhood soon!