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Sep 19, 201209:54 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Death of a hardware store is requiem for a neighborhood

Death of a hardware store is requiem for a neighborhood

It is for good reason that The Wisconsin State Journal played the closing of a single hardware store as Page One news Tuesday.

The Meadowood Ace hardware store is closing shop after 25 years on Raymond Road on Madison’s southwest side.

As go signs of urban decay, this wasn’t the canary in the coal mine keeling over, this was the miner himself. It is the inevitable result of benevolent central government planning, the toxic fruit of the welfare society.

The hardware store is not leaving the Meadowood neighborhood. It has been driven out, victim of the societal version of Gresham’s Law in which bad behavior drives out good. It is a tragic opera that has been played out in countless neighborhoods and classrooms since the Great Society. The Fat Lady is singing.

“The drop in sales is directly proportionate to the change in the nature of the neighborhood right around the store,” owner Dennis Lochner told the State Journal. Customers “are choosing to go someplace where they feel safe, instead of coming to their neighborhood.”

Ya think? Flying bullets will do that to folks looking for lawn seed and house paint.

The littering, public profanity, graffiti, trespassing, vandalism, all-night partying, and other “quality of life” is the daily backdrop, as the Broken Windows Theory predicted, for occasional gunfire, pistol-whippings, and police SWAT team raids.

“It’s like Lord of the Flies out there,” said one concerned parent, referencing the classic work depicting children gone feral in the absence of adult supervision.

A good 700 of us in Meadowood and surrounding neighborhoods tried to make that point five years ago when we responded to then-Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele’s citizen meeting, which briefly put community policing ahead of then-Mayor Cieslewicz’s preoccupation with trolley cars and bicycle lanes.

Progressive Dane and the all-powerful bicycle lobby fought back. When Ald. Thuy proposed a stricter curfew, the Madison Common Council instead enacted a looser curfew. A troubled Isthmus writer likened the spray of the M-F vulgarity to retirees leaf blowing their lawns – merely a matter of decibel, judge not the content. The writer suggested that Blaska and Pham-Remmele “take a deep breath” (“Mellowing out in Meadowood”). Four days later, a 17-year-old boy was shot to death by three 16-year-olds, members of a rival gang.

The city’s progressive power structure eventually marginalized Ald. Thuy, who was relegated to the food cart committee (she being Vietnamese and all). Yes, the only minority on the 20-member City Council was even labeled a racist for criticizing lifestyle choices that, predictably, led to poverty.

Those of us – people like Tom McKenna and Dave Glomp – who followed up with a grass-roots citizen effort to fight the erosion of standards of conduct were also labeled as racist by people like Lisa Veldran.

Lisa Veldran is the neighborhood association president in Meadowood. (These positions tend to be elected by whomever shows up at the annual picnic.) Mrs. Veldran is also the office manager for the Madison Common Council. She is the wife of County Supervisor Matt Veldran, whose contribution to public safety has been to ban elephants from the county fairgrounds. (Full disclosure: Matt deposed your faithful scrivener in the 2006 election.) She masterminded the election of Matt Phair as the area’s city councilman, replacing Ald. Thuy. In other words, Lisa Veldran is very much part of the power structure hereabouts. She must be held accountable.

Blame the victim (and cry ‘racism’)

Who does Lisa Veldran blame for the hardware store’s departure from the crossfire that has become Raymond Road? Whom?

You guessed it. She blames Meadowood Ace Hardware!

“To say it’s because of crime is disingenuous. There are issues, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave. I wish he would have worked a little harder on this.”

Did you hear that? She just called Ace Hardware owner Dennis Lochner a liar and said it’s his fault. He just didn’t work hard enough with the neighborhood.

In true prog-lib fashion, Mrs. Veldran has called for a meeting of city politicians, bureaucrats, and interested neighborhood “officials” to “study the viability of the shopping center.” As if government could determine the viability of a 3-week-old tuna sandwich.

Some of us would say that Meadowood Ace Hardware has already determined that viability. As have five other former tenants whose storefronts are today empty. Next up: tattoo parlors, pawn stores, and payday check cashers.

It’s the same phenomenon that drove out Cub Foods a few blocks away on Verona Road and, earlier, drove out the SuperSaver supermarket on the other side of Verona Road, hard by notorious Allied Drive.

Taxpaying homeowners are doing the same; that’s what is behind our neighborhoods’ free-falling property values, well above the city average. (Assessments listed here.)

We’re reaping the bitter fruit of progressivism

Some of us would say that the city policy of “come and get it” Section 8 stipends of up to $1,600 a month, food stamps, and Cadillac social services have encouraged Chicago’s multitudinous gang bangers to seek greener pastures in once-bucolic Madison, straining to the breaking point.

Madison Police Captain Jay Lengfeld warned, “The at-risk population in Madison has exceeded the ability of service providers to service them.”

(I demonstrated the one-to-one relationship b/w Section 8 and crime here.) Academics writing for The Atlantic magazine proved the causation in their article, "American Murder Mystery."

The Madison School Board genuflected to the militant teachers union by vetoing of the Urban League’s proposal for a tough, no-nonsense school for minority students.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the true cost of Progressivism. This is the creed that has governed Madison since Paul Soglin began his first term as mayor in 1973. There’s no blaming Mitt Romney or Scott Walker or various Koch brothers for the steep slide of a once-great neighborhood.

There is today not a single conservative in Madison city government; not one member of its school board, and only seven or eight on a county board of 37 members. Madison has reached progressive nirvana.

Mayor Soglin, Lisa Veldran, Mark Pocan, Brenda Konkel (advocate for public vagrancy), Stu Levitan (chair of the Community Development Authority Housing Operations Committee), et al., are fulfilling the promise of LBJ’s Great Society, which shifted responsibility for poverty from the individual to society. Poverty? It’s our fault (since updated to the hated “one percent”), not the school dropout’s fault or that of the serially pregnant teenager (father unknown), or the substance abuser. Nope, they’re victims, dependents of the state.

That’s why Progressive magazine editor Matt Rothschild says (as he did on WPR’s Week in Review program Friday) that society must “cure” poverty before it can educate minority-race populations. It never occurs that those pathologies are the cause of crime.

Madison and other urban centers operated on the progressive model, like Chicago, pursue the redistribution of income. To the extent they succeed, they exceed multiples of redistributing social pathology.

Fair warning, Mrs. Veldran. Blaska is attending your meeting and he will point a bony finger at you and your fellow progressives. In the meantime, read the online comments to the Meadowood Ace Hardware story on Madison.com.

Today’s police blotter from southwest Madison:

• A weapons violation in the 5800 block of Raymond Road (right behind the Meadowood shopping center). The police report.

• Two arrested in pistol whipping on SW side. The police report.

• 4-year old attacked by pit bull on SW. The police report.

Read my report, “Crime comes to a pleasant neighborhood.”

The Mitt that Romney says

Mitt Romney is correct. He needs to push the message that dividing America between the successful and so-called victims is the socialists’ road to serfdom. Here is his money quote from that secretly taped fundraiser:

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Mother Jones magazine purports to have the full transcript. Speaking of socialists, here’s a video of Barack Obama, not yet president in 1998, saying, "I actually believe in redistribution."

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Keep current with Blaska's other thoughts in the printed pages of In Business magazine. To subscribe to Dane County's premier monthly business magazine, click here.

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Sep 19, 2012 09:07 pm
 Posted by  Reid C. Bowers

Dear Mr. Blaska,

I should not be surprised that as a blogger the thrust of your post is articulate political philosophy as it applies to the present situation, outlining the decline of our neighborhood over a generation dominated by a political philosophy with which you do not agree. I too own residential property in Meadowood, and while life circumstances require that I now live in Milwaukee I still take a business and personal interest in the health of the neighborhood. What I ask is this: is there anyone or group of someones right now who has a serious plan to address crime and disorderly conduct in the blocks around the shopping center? Perhaps things may have been different if conservative philosophies had prevailed over the last generation, but that is not where we are. Given our interests (I infer from you post that you still live in Meadowood), we should focus our energies on either promoting someone with a reasonable plan to address the neighborhood's problems in a sustainable way or causing those with the power to effect change to create and act on such a plan. Medicine became exponentially more effective when its practitioners stopped practicing it as though it was a philosophy and started addressing disease pragmatically. If you can either make some pragmatic suggestions for the present ailment or point me to someone who has some I will be happy to do what I can to follow up on them.

Reid C. Bowers, PA-C

Sep 19, 2012 09:21 pm
 Posted by  ssquared

Thank You LBJ! The Great Society is continuing to pay dividends...if you want to get out of the ghetto in Chicago...but if you want to attain life expectancy in Meadowood..not so much.

Sep 20, 2012 08:46 am
 Posted by  coolkevs

Can you post information about the Dane County Board Meeting tonight (9/20/12) for those interested in going? It's kind-of a David v Goliath thing, but we have to at least try to address their idiocy in passing increases in union contracts. I was SO looking forward to June 2013 before Colas' decision came down. Now, it looks like we will have to wait until June 2015, but I hope they crash and burn!

Sep 20, 2012 09:35 am
 Posted by  Meade

Regular meeting of the Dane County Board.

7 p.m. Thursday (Tonight) in room 201 of the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Madison.

Sep 20, 2012 09:54 am
 Posted by  MadisonRes

Could it possibly be that there is a Home Depot, Super Target, and perhaps one of the Largest Menards in the state, all within minutes of this Ace?

You People, Conservatives, Tea Party, Free Market Capitalists, whatever you want to call yourselves, have got to pull your heads out of the sand. You are all so adverse to facts and reality it is mind blowing. Your "Blog" is a vile piece of racist trash that literally highlights your bigoted, racists, fearful views of the world. You believe what you want to believe, yet you have no idea how close your own personal life is to total collapse.

On to the hypocrisy of you and many in your conservative party. Why do you even care that this business is closing? Free Market man, bummer. If he was a real savvy business owner he would persevere. You know, pull himself up by his boot straps. Isn't that your philosophy? Who cares about the homeowners over there? They seem like a whinny bunch of free loaders too. They should have seen it coming, right? Yet now you want to help these people in the Meadowood neighborhood that, through no fault of there own, ended up in a tough situation. You sir are a confusing little conservative enigma. You want a perfect little society where everyone is rich, the crime rate is zero percent, you pay no taxes, and there is no government. Fantastic.

Then on top of it to off blame everyone that you can that isn't exactly like you. Cub and Sentry closed down because they were terrible locations for a grocery store. Cub was idiotic thinking that they could some how make it across the street from a store that couldn't.

You are exactly what is wrong with this country, your smug feeling of superiority, because you were born white middle class. This "I got mine attitude" of you and your party are flat out disgusting and will ruin this country. Where were you ten years ago to stop this slide? You were nowhere to be seen.

Sep 20, 2012 01:04 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the race card -- played face up. But you are correct about one thing: we do want prosperity, a zero crime rate, and lower taxes -- none of which we're getting under the liberals in Madison, Dane County or the White House.

Sep 20, 2012 01:22 pm
 Posted by  UWMBA92

The above commenter, Reid, is an absentee landlord, is he not?

I wonder how many of those there are in Meadowood. I wonder how much that has contributed to the decline of that neighborhood. How well do you screen your tenants, Reid? In what shape is your property? Care to give the address so we can see for ourselves?

I saw a picture on Facebook yesterday of a parking lot full of cars carrying people to take advantage of the Ace Hardware's closeout sale. Guess they'll dodge bullets for a great bargain, just not for full retail!

Sep 20, 2012 02:47 pm
 Posted by  YankeeBubba

Mr. Blaska;

Keep up the good work! You speak very well for the silent minority.
This is abundantly clear as you've put a burr in Lefty's backside.

@MADISONRES sees, excuse me, FEELS 'emotional truth' rather than truth that is tethered to any semblance of reality.

That said; can a member of the lunatic fringe be held accountable for playing the race card.

I'm a personal friend of former Alder Thuy and saw first hand her being pilloried for speaking inconvenient truth. Truth in response to questions that Madison's lickspittle Left refuse to ask because the unvarnished answers bespeak the abject failure of 'feel-good' Lefty policy.

Madison's Lefty elite, which includes terminally clueless 'Isthmus' useful idiot Ruth Conniff, danced around this problem blissfully unaware for over a decade. Now it's gotten so out of contol that they have no recourse other than to throw up their hands and bemoan "What do you expect US to do?" Methinks they've done enough, and now the lucid and responsible amongst us are left to clean up their social engineering experiment detritus

Meadowood neighborhood residents, which includes many minorities which have left the Lefty Plantation, have been complaining about this situation for ~15 years.

@MADISONRES; why don't you and your daughter/granddaughters take a nice stroll along the 6000 block of Hammersley or Raymond Roads, or along Theresa Terrace or Prairie Road some nice evening after 7:00 p.m.

A conservative is a Lefty that got mugged!

Sep 20, 2012 03:01 pm
 Posted by  sarge

Gee dave I think madisonres called it pretty well...and you were quite right to fail to address the fact that small hardware stores like that charge a great deal more for stuff while having a much smaller selection of that stuff....better to squawk like a angry parrot on the race card thing...like you all do as if saying that somehow erases your racism.

I remember the Isthmus used to go on about how you were smarter and a bit more of a wit than the average conservative but I just don't see it. never have actually. nice dimple though

Sep 20, 2012 03:02 pm
 Posted by  sarge

yankeebubba...thuy was a bit of a nutter...even you have to admit that, right?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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