Will he or won't he? This question usually indicates one of two things around these parts: Either it is the NFL offseason or we are approaching an election of some sort. Brett Favre and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson could easily be cousins. Both have been transplanted only to become Wisconsin golden boys. Both have retired, but both have had to consider whether they are happy with that status several times. Both can ""still play."" Perhaps most significantly at this point, both are holding their respective organizations in suspense while they ponder their futures.
As many people know, the fate of Brothers Bar & Grill on University Avenue is currently very uncertain. The UW Board of Regents wants to condemn the bar and use the land it is currently sitting on for a new music building. There had been prior negotiations regarding the school purchasing the land but those fell through. Now the owners of the bar, Marc and Eric Fortney, are suing the Board of Regents. Last week, a large sign appeared on the wall of the bar opposing the new music school and vaguely asking that people ""mobilize"" to save the bar. But the city of Madison forced them to take the sign down, claiming it was larger than regulations allow.
Due to the protests, the growing number of people involved, and the controversial convention last week, the so-called Tea Party movement is getting more and more difficult to ignore. But who are these people and what do they really stand for? In a late January survey, 40 percent of respondents said that they either had not heard of the movement or did not know enough about it to form an opinion. Granted, this poll was conducted before the recent National Tea Party Convention, but that event did not really provide any more definitive information about this group than was already available.
The evolution-versus-creation-in-school debate has been raging for years. Some say religion should not be taught in schools. Some say students should not be exposed to material that conflicts with the religious beliefs their parents are attempting to instill in them. Still others say that both should be taught so that students are exposed to both sides of the argument and can make a decision for themselves. The debate could be boiled down to creation and the Big Bang Theory, since evolution only addresses what has happened after the appearance of life on earth. But the real debate should be more general: religion versus science.
To hear Gov. Doyle describing the ""state"" of our state, one has to wonder why he decided not to seek re-election in 2010. An outsider would never have known that his popularity as governor has been slipping for some time, even within his own party. Aside from a few comments about the difficult economic times we're immersed in, Doyle made things sound simply whimsical. But in reality, Doyle's speech bent the truth on some issues and simply sidestepped others altogether.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, may have summed it up best when he said, ""I believe it's a solution in search of a problem."" Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has revised his proposal that would prohibit bar owners and their employees from drinking while they serve alcohol so that it doesn't include entertainers (who are technically independent contractors) or those involved in sampling for quality purposes. However, said sampling would likely be limited to an indeterminate number of drinks per shift. Still, at least one revision was essential for this proposed ordinance if it was going appear plausible at all. But the question still remains: Why did Cieslewicz and Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18 propose this ordinance in the first place?
A roomful of reporters simultaneously gasped in shock. Thørbjorn Jagland, leader of the Nobel Committee, had just announced Barack Obama, a man who had been inaugurated president of the United States only twelve days before the February 1 nomination deadline for the prize, as the committee's selection from a field of 205 candidates for 2009. In the United States, the reaction was similar. Republicans, and even many Democrats, wondered what Obama could have done in 12 days to warrant being nominated for the prize and how what he had done in less than nine months as president could have warranted winning it. Obama himself seemed surprised. ""To be honest,"" he said, ""I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize.""