New political coalition focuses on equity and inclusion

After a frustrating Summer 2020, Larissa Joanna noticed that while many Madison residents realized the need for change and wanted to contribute, they had no idea of where to start. As protests turned violent and attendance decreased, Joanna decided that change was needed. That's when Reshaping Madison Together (RMT), the newest coalition in the Madison political scene, formed. What started as a survey and a group of 40 people has emerged as a progressive group of activists and volunteers who Joanna says are “fighting the good fight.”  

Experts urge caution as Dane County lifts restrictions

A new Dane County health order went into effect Wednesday that removes an outdoor mask mandate and lifts all capacity restrictions for outdoor gatherings.

Public Health Madison & Dane County announced Emergency Order #15 on April 2, citing a continued decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. While the order removes the requirement for face coverings outdoors, PHMDC still strongly recommends wearing masks outdoors when it is not possible to maintain a six feet distance from others. 

Similarly, though there are no longer specific capacity restrictions for outdoor gatherings, Emergency Order #15 indicates that “Numbers must be limited to ensure individuals who are not members of the same household or living unit maintain six (6) feet physical distancing at all times.”

The Bus Stops Here: Voter ID requirement hurts transit-dependent voters

Next week, perhaps for the last time, the City of Madison will elect 20 City Council members for a 2- year period. Among their duties, Council members pass annual budgets that set taxes and determine how those taxes get spent. Those budgetary decisions in turn impact everything, from housing and police, to parks and yes, transportation.

Various politically-minded groups gear up for this event, help with political campaigns and/or endorse particular candidates. Their activity is based on the probably incorrect premise that potential or actual transit riders are as able to vote as others. It should be correct, and the Dane County Voter ID Coalition has assigned itself the task of identifying voters who may not have an acceptable voter photo ID, then arranging for them to receive assistance in obtaining one.

Dozens march for trans rights

On Friday, March 12, more than 50 people marched through the streets of Madison, ending at the State Capitol building, to protest new legislation that would curb the rights of transgender people. The protest was attended by people of all ages, sporting LGBTQ+ flags and signs denouncing the bill, and supporting the rights of Trans-gender individuals. 

The organizers of the Trans Liberation March described that it was to “be a celebration of gender diversity and a way to tell the legislature that we will not let this pass.” In the description of the event on Facebook, they explained that while it is likely that Governor Evers will veto the new bill, “the fact that our existence is up for debate demands a movement for trans liberation.” 

Dane County officials ‘cautiously hopeful’ as restrictions loosen considerably

Earlier this month, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a new emergency order significantly loosening COVID restrictions, pointing to a decrease in cases and hospitalizations, as well as significant progress in vaccination efforts. Emergency Order #14 went into effect on Wednesday, replacing Emergency Order #13 from last month. One of the biggest changes between the orders is the relaxing of restrictions on gatherings. The number of people allowed at indoor gatherings where food or drink is offered rose from 25 to 150, and the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings with no food or drink offered jumped from 50 to 350, with all restrictions not including employees. 

The number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings increased by nearly 500 percent. Emergency Order #13 allowed 100 individuals at outdoor gatherings with food or drink provided, and 150 individuals for outdoor gatherings without food or drink.

MMSD return to in-person learning draws mixed reactions

Amid vaccine delays and the spread of new COVID-19 variants, parents and teachers have mixed reactions to the announcement that Madison Metropolitan School District will resume in-person instruction for grades 4k-2 starting this week. Our Courtney Degen spoke with several parents and teachers for their reactions, and heard many concerns on the complex issue.

Early Dane County data shows racial disparity in COVID vaccines

Recent data from Public Health Madison & Dane County shows racial disparities for those that have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far, but health experts say this is likely reflective of the state’s limited eligible populations and that organizations across Dane County are working to achieve racial equity.

Nikki Conklin looks to bring diverse community voices to the table in District 9

“I believe that District 9 needs a new, young, fresh community leader at the table. All too often, Black, Indigenous people of color are the topic at the table but yet, we’re never at the table,” said District 9 Common Council candidate Nikki Conklin. “And so now, I really feel like this is my chance to shine and break all the odds and be at the table and actually bring the voices of the community to the table so we can be heard.”

Council candidate Doug Hyant: communication is top priority

Doug Hyant, the current Chief of Staff for State Representative Mark Spreitzer, is running for Alder of Madison’s Ninth District, representing the far west side. With past experience in electoral politics, and a sharp focus on communication, Hyant says that he is qualified and ready to listen to and represent the voices of district nine.