06 April 2015


Alan Talaga is right to call for better benefits for Madison city council members.  But this is not a matter of rewarding good "customer service" on behalf of the city, as he suggests.  Council members are not the first point of contact to confused and needy citizens -- police officers fill that role. 

Our elected representatives, at all levels of government, play a vital part in keeping democracy functional.  In the past few decades our political system has more and more come to resemble that of early 19th-century Britain:  we have a set of nominally free, democratic institutions that are virtually inaccessible to candidates without piles of money or aristocratic connections.  The struggle to secure a salary for members of Parliament (one of the demands of the People's Charter) was one of the key components of Britain's democratization and the rise of a politically assertive middle class. 

This issue is fundamentally about the value we place in political representation, and whether we can take a just pride in our city's approach to government.

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