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Apr 23, 201309:29 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Meadowood faces a long, hot summer; can $1 million cool things off?

Meadowood faces a long, hot summer; can $1 million cool things off?

(page 1 of 2)

It will warm up in Madison, I have to believe – the temperatures and, in parts of the city, the tension.

The bad news is that crime and quality of life issues are worse than ever on the southwest side of Madison. The good news is that Madison police and the city-county public health departments applied earlier this month for a $1 million federal grant to combat the social rot. The question: Will any of it do any good?

That the troubles on the southwest side are back is borne out by statistical evidence and fleshed out by these recent police reports.

4-03-2013 – A dispute between two teenagers, which included trading insults on Facebook, escalated into a melee at Elver Park Wednesday afternoon. The two feuding girls, ages 14 and 16, were not arrested, but members of their respective families were ...

3-30-2013 – At approximately 7:01 p.m., Madison police responded to numerous reports of shots being fired from a vehicle in the 6000 block of Hammersley Road ...

3-16-2013 – A Madison teenage runaway and her adult friend were arrested while walking along Balsam Road Saturday ... after they left an area where drug activity is suspected. The teen had a loaded gun in her purse; her 20-year-old friend had dozens of rounds of ammunition. He claimed he found the gun and ammo in the snow ...

You want statistics?

Yes, violent crime in the Meadowood neighborhood was worse last year than in the last 13 years. The second row of numbers in the table above is a subset, indicating that most of Meadowood’s crime occurred in the Russett-Raymond-Balsam Road “hot spot.”

Other hot spots are Westbrook/Prairie Hills further west on Raymond Road, the Theresa Terrace-Betty’s Lane-Hammersley Road area abutting the affluent Greentree neighborhood, and the Park Ridge/Park Edge area across from Elver Park. (See my first report last week.)

City seeks $1 million crime-fighting grant

Jointly with the Madison Police Department, the Madison-Dane County Public Health Department is pursuing a three-year, $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant known as a Byrne Grant. It’s part of DOJ’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The police and public health people propose attacking several hot spots with a combination of tools. Efforts would begin Oct. 1 if the grant is issued, Public Health Project Manager Judith Howard told Blaska’s Bring It!

Police and the Public Health Department propose to target teens. “... Large groups of juveniles, some in excess of 50 youth, roam ... through the neighborhoods. These young people have been intimidating to residents and hostile to police.” Many of them are members of the “Young Fellaz” and other gangs.

Arrests of juveniles during this period have been recorded for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of heroin, probation violations, battery and resisting arrest. In early August, a shooting involving youth gangs occurred near a principal intersection. During this incident, two separate groups shot firearms at one another and across busy Raymond Road.

These developments are discouraging, given that taxpayers have paid for intensive services in the area at the height of concern from 2007 to 2010. Madison hired more police, put them on foot patrol in the area, dug community gardens, hired teens to maintain them, put up a neighborhood center in the Meadowood shopping center, programmed youth activities, established a weekly farmers market – among other efforts.

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Apr 24, 2013 04:37 am
 Posted by  Kib

It won't make a difference. The root cause is not being addressed. All these things treat symptoms, but don't actually get to the heart of the problem, which is the breakdown of the family, and the government supporting a large part of these people.

Apr 24, 2013 06:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

It always puzzles me when people say "the government supporting these people" is part of the problem. If the government stops supporting "these" people, crime is gonna increase dramatically, not magically go away. It is a mindset, much deeper than people think, and education and opportunity are the only real tools available to fight it.

Apr 24, 2013 09:25 am
 Posted by  John

"If the government stops supporting "these" people, crime is gonna increase dramatically"

Maybe, but probably not. The best way to keep crime low is to keep the economy strong (see decreasing crime rates in most of the '90s and '00s). But a high-tax, high-entitlement state will not produce a strong economy, only an increase in those seeking handouts. So yes, we can continue supporting people who won't work at the expense of those who do or we can restrict welfare to the truly needy. The reduction in benefits may make some desperate enough to turn to crime as you suggest, but it may lead many more to just become desperate enough to find work. The money saved will spur the economy (reducing crime) and at the same time, gov't can divert resources from welfare to law enforcement/crime prevention (reducing crime).

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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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