The Cold, Engage Dane, Collecting Data, and other happenings
One of mine and my partner’s resolutions for 2019 was to be outside more, even in the very cold. We committed to dressing appropriately and finding more times to go snowshoeing, playing with our dog in the park, improving at cross country skiing, walking every day, and more. We have indeed successfully done all of those things in January. But I think this next week will be a little more… sluggish.
Madison and Dane County Public Health Department is firmly recommending that you stay inside if you can help it this week. Keep pets outside for only short periods of time. Watch your pipes for freezing, and know the signs of hypothermia.
While I’m staying warm tonight, I find myself with some time to update you on a few going-ons at the County.
Engage Dane, the inclusive engagement initiative piloted by Supervisors Nelson, Buckingham, Chawla, and myself, along with Supervisor Corrigan, is chugging along. In the 2019 budget, we included several line items specifically to address inclusive engagement. We are hiring a new staff person to focus exclusively on community inclusive engagement. We’re increasing the budget for postcards and mailers, as find that many in our community still rely on this items. We’re including a budget item for broadcasting two meetings a month of County committee meetings, as a trial run to see how popular this method of information is. There’s also $10,000 set aside for inclusive community engagement specifically around youth justice and the potential new secure residential care facility for kids in detention in Dane County.
Over the next few months, we’ll be hearing more about the lake levels and how we can manage the extreme rains that we have in our future. Lake levels are but one part of the conversation, and I’ll keep you up to date on all pieces of it.
One portion of the County Board work that I greatly enjoy is working with my Youth Governance Program mentee, Lauren. Lauren attends all Public Protection & Judiciary meetings with me, votes (along with the other YGP student on PP&J), and spends time reviewing all of the legislation and budget items that come through with me. Right now, Lauren and other YGP students are working on drafting a resolution of their own to work through the County > a resolution condemning conversion therapy programs and encouraging municipalities and the state to denounce and close these facilities that cause so much harm to our youth. You’ll see more about this in the coming weeks.
PP&J is continuing to work on reducing incarceration rates in Dane County, resolving racial inequities in our criminal justice system, and preparing for the construction of additional floors for the local jail. As with any large building project, there continue to be issues - adding on to an old building, dealing with the impacts of Trump’s steel tariffs, and more are all impacting this work. We continue to find new grants and opportunities to improve data collection, transparency, and analysis. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to spend some time at the website of the Criminal Justice Council of Dane County. This has fairly basic but important data about the residents in the jail. It’s critical to me that we involve the families and residents who have interacted with the criminal justice system in all of our decision making and planning. “It will take a coordinated effort among residents impacted by the criminal justice system, community leaders, elected officials and professional staff to address ongoing racial disparities.”
Thank you for taking the time to catch up on Dane County happenings - I’ll be back soon.