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Etc.: About the survey
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Page 6A of your favorite weekly newspaper contains a story about the results of the survey sent in city water bills earlier this year.

The numbers are in the story, along with some of the comments. The survey doesn’t necessarily meet the usual standards for surveys (only 9 percent returned the survey, and surveys where responses are returned are not by definition “random”), but one can assume that those who did return the survey feel the strongest about Platteville, positively and negatively.

I reserved other comments for this space on the principle of constructive criticism, even though the comments don’t really go into detail about what the commenter thinks is wrong about Platteville on a particular issue.

“Parking,” “more 24-hour parking,” “more parking downtown,” “better parking.”

In case you haven’t noticed, parking is an issue in Platteville.

“Respect for private property in the university area,” “stop providing free parking to the university,” “to see the council and administrator respect the interest of the community and not just the interest of a growing UW–P,” “let the UW–P solve their own housing problem,” “stop favoring college students,” “housing that is being destroyed by students,” “better working relationship between city and UWP,” “quit catering to the university at the expense of the citizenship, “student housing limited to rental units [—] don’t destroy house[s] with character,” “city council needs to listen more to homeowners and less to developers and the UW.”

In higher education, this is called “town–gown relations.” That subject deserves a column of its own (say, within the next month?), but suffice to say that town–gown relations appear to be a major issue in Platteville. Not all the comments about UW–Platteville were negative, but they served to reinforce a comment in a conversation last week where the observation was made that UWP was seen as a net negative in Platteville.

“A lot more communication between city administration and the whole community.”

“Council — listen to people particularly home owners — and businesses and acting in our interest instead of their own.”

“A city Council that listens to the citizens and not ruling as Kings.”

Elected officials are magnets of controversy, even in less fractious times than this. Since I’m in the media and go to all the Common Council meetings, I may not be the best person to comment on this issue. But one way to see what those we elect are doing is to go to the meetings, and not just the Common Council meetings, but the committee meetings too. After covering meetings and then serving on a city plan commission, I’ve found that those who are informed are those who make the effort to be informed.

(The other alternative is, of course, run for the council yourself.)

“The city is spending way too much money.” “Less spending.” “Lower taxes.”

Which leads to the next logical question: What city services or city spending would you like to see cut to reduce spending and taxes?

“Lower the police numbers — 21 is too many 12–14 would be fine.”

“Police department is way overstaffed for what they do compared to other cities of the same size, the UW–P has their own police department so they can’t use that as an excuse.”

Those are interesting responses given the high ratings the Police Department got. (The survey said 72 percent felt as safe as or safer than a year ago, and 70 percent rated the police “good” or “excellent.”) Rough math says a cut like that would mean one fewer officer per shift in the biggest city by far in Grant County. UWP police jurisdiction is only on campus (except for mutual aid); a lot of students don’t live on campus, and many of the places where students can be found aren’t on campus either.

(Incidentally, police dispatch was mentioned a lot. Not one comment favored closing the city’s police dispatch.)

“Make retailers pay a bigger percent for taxes.”

Why? (To repeat myself from a couple months ago, it is intellectually dishonest to seek to raise someone else’s taxes if the tax increase doesn’t affect you.)

More restaurants, “family restaurants,” downtown shopping, clothing stores; a “nice supper club,” “night club.”

If the previous commenter got his or her wish, I guarantee you none of those will happen.

“Not so many stoplights.”

On that, we agree.

“Main Street back to one way ...”

On that, we disagree.

“Issues like roundabouts should be voted on by the people and not just a few.”

Well … representative government is voting by “a few.” Someone once said that in a true democracy, 51 percent of the people can vote to imprison 49 percent of the people. As far as roundabouts go, the recent wave of roundabout construction has been at the behest of the state Department of Transportation. Research shows that roundabouts result in fewer serious and fatal accidents, because they’re designed to prevent head-on and T-bone collisions. Going to the body shop to get a sideswipe crash repaired beats going to the hospital. And I hate stoplights almost as much as I hate four-way stops.

“Stop measuring my lawn, I will cut it when I have time.”

This one amused me given that the survey was sent in March and April of a year where only those who water their grass have to cut their grass.