Madison, the second week of September 1969
The future of Madison mass transit is a mass of confusion, as the Madison bus company rejects the city council’s proposed one-year contract. It insists on the three-year contract it negotiated with Mayor William Dyke, or it says it will go out of business when the current contract ends on November 10. The company files a request with the Public Service Commission that it be allowed to dissolve at that time.
A strong majority of the council opposes continuing the city subsidy for another three years, and wants to buy the company sooner rather than later. Dyke strongly opposes city ownership, but assured the council that his deal with the company allowed the city to purchase the company at any time during its three-year term.
No it didn’t, the company says, but only provided for city purchase at the end of the three years. And it wasn’t even really an agreement, the company says, just negotiation guidelines.
“This makes the mayor either the biggest liar or the least informed person in the city,” Ald. Paul Soglin snapped.
Dyke responds he’s neither, and blames the company for misleading him and changing the terms. The Council schedules another special meeting with just two months to figure it out.
The proposed State Street Mall gets a major boost as the council approves a zoning change to allow the University Book Store and Calvary Lutheran Chapel to build on the southwest corner of State and Lake Streets. The book store has to leave its current location at 702 State Street for the expansion of the Memorial Library. As a condition of approval, the bookstore is required to support the mall project, which most other businesses on lower State Street still oppose. “If we get the bookstore [relocation], I think we’ll get the mall,” Ald. Paul Soglin says. Also forced to relocate prior to the library’s planned construction in 1973—the KK – Kollege Klub beer bar and grill, which moves to Lake Street.
And cries of “No more Mifflin Streets!” aren’t enough to get the council to adopt an ordinance which would have limited the migration of unmarried students into near West neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family occupancy. The proposal, by Vilas neighborhood Ald. Richard Landgraf, would have required the property owner to reside on premises when a house was occupied by two or more single, unrelated individuals. Landgraf says the measure is to stop absentee landlords from the current practice of renting single family residence to an individual who then rents to as many more individuals as can occupy the building under code. He says this leads to parking problems, poor upkeep and noise. Fourth Ward Ald. Whelan Burke gives a more direct reason for support: “We’ve got to keep this monstrous university from completely taking over,” he thunders. With twelve votes needed for passage, the ordinance fails 10-9.
A group of seven council conservatives has started meeting with Mayor Bill Dyke and his staff to coordinate strategy on dealing with the larger liberal caucus that recently organized. Among the alders attending the meetings at Bud’s House of Sandwiches on Atwood Ave are Gordon Harmon from the Tenney Lapham Second Ward and Andy Sommers from the Wil-Mar area Sixth Ward; mayoral assistant Peter Dohr and City Administrator Robert Corcoran are also there.
The UW Class of 1970 begins its senior year on September 15. A record 34,604 students are on the Madison campus, 2.5% increase over 68-69.
And the new school year brings 5 new black scholars to the faculty, including E Elrie Chrite, 36, director Afro-American and Race Relations Center and Professor of Law James E. Jones, Jr. 45,a 1956 graduate of the school. Jones also holds a MA in labor relations from U Ill and spent 14 years as Assistant solicitor for civil rights in the US DOL
The university of Wisconsin becomes a two-newspaper campus as the Badger Herald makes its debut as a free weekly with a distribution of 10,000. Although organized mainly by members of the conservative Young Americans for freedom and their friends, its editors disavow any propagandistic intent. The founding editor in chief is Patrick Korten, a senior in political science from Thiensville who’s on the state board of the YAF and is a news announcer on WISM using the name Pat Patton.
The night of the first day of classes brings the first action in the streets. But it’s not a march or protest, it’s a panty raid, 200 or so young men from Ogg Hall gathered outside Sellery. The lusty fellows bellow at the women upstairs “we want silk” and ‘take it off’ Then they start shouting ‘show us your tits,” and some women do. It goes on for a while before the boys move on. Police do not intervene and there are no arrests.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For the award-winning WORT News team, I’m Stu Levitan.