It wasn’t a pretty sight–Thoughts on the meeting of the Dane County Board of Supervisors

I attended the Dane County Board of Supervisors meeting last night where I spoke in support of the resolution to purchase 1490 Martin St. for a permanent day resource center (The gist of my remarks are here). Coincidentally, a staff member from the Turkish parliament was there to observe the proceedings. He is interested in democracy and local politics. Both of us learned a great deal.

It wasn’t especially edifying. Many people spoke in opposition to the resolution. A large number of those who expressed their opposition were homeless themselves or advocates for the homeless. Many other opponents are neighbors of the facility. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. One heard again and again from neighbors about the problems center guests would bring into the neighborhood; the danger they presented. These are arguments brought up every time efforts are made to expand services or locate new programs and facilities in neighborhoods, towns, or cities throughout Dane County and the US. These are arguments some of those same progressives will angrily rebut when their own efforts are being challenged. Last night, however, because NIMBY sentiments played into progressives’ hands, the arguments were allowed to stand.

I’m grateful for those who have worked so hard over the last months and years to make the day center a reality and I am eager to watch how plans for transportation and renovation move forward. I am also excited to see the Day Center open on November 1. It’s the culmination of many people’s dreams and will fill a huge gap in our community’s services for the homeless.

A report of the meeting is available here.