Lake Levels Threaten Again

Several months ago in my “In Biz” column, I warned that our beautiful Madison lakes are ticking time bombs because of the increasing danger of flooding. The problem is the ever-more-difficult task of letting water out of the four-lakes chain quickly.

We had an exceptionally dry summer and lake levels hovered around the middle of the acceptable range. Even after weeks without rain they were never lowered to the “summer minimum.” This can be seen on the chart and graph at the website linked below.

Then, on September 22, it finally rained (big time) and the lake levels shot immediately over the “summer maximum” where they will likely remain for weeks. Yes, it was an unusual one-day rain, but think what would have happened if it had been followed by a day or two of only moderate rainfall.

This chart illustrates how vulnerable we are. A big rain or two, or a period of prolonged rain, can cause damaging flooding within the city as has occurred several times in recent years. This danger won’t go away and will only become worse unless someone figures out how to open up the waterways downstream.


New Orleans in Madison

John Roussos, who prepares my most favorite food at his New Orleans Take Out restaurant, is trying to get famed chef Paul Prudhomme to help celebrate the establishment’s 25th anniversary next March.

It may be a long shot to get the rotund New Orleans gastronome to Madison, but if anyone can do it, John can. Roussos (who just happens to be my brother-in-law) has served NOTO items to the likes of Brett Favre, Bo Didley and Wynton Marsalis when they visited Madison.

Here’s a link to the invitation John sent to Chef Paul.


No Texting while Driving OK on My Roads

New proposals for laws against sending and receiving text messages while driving revives the “government interference in our lives” argument.

My opinion on that subject may surprise you if you’ve been following my “In Biz” columns. Generally my reaction is against more government interference in our lives. But when it comes to highway safety, I take a completely different position.

The way I see it is that since the government owns and operates the roads, they have the right (and obligation) to set the rules for users. If roads were privately owned, similar rules would likely be established. Just as a store owner can say “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” the people owning and operating roads can establish no-texting rules, require motorcycle helmets, and even use stoplight cameras to make the roads safe for their customers.

There’s lots of ineffective and misguided government interference in our lives, but rules designed to make driving safer are not out of line.