Chicago’s poor fleeing to Wisconsin for safer streets, greater welfare benefits

New York Times news service, via a kind reader:

In Madison, the influx of poor people from Chicago is testing the city’s historical liberalism. About one-quarter of the 3,300 Madison families receiving welfare are former Illinois residents.
Even Mayor Paul Soglin, who earned his liberal stripes in the anti-establishment politics of the 1960s as a Vietnam War protester, now talks of “finite limits of resources” for the poor.
“We’re like a lifeboat that holds 12 people comfortably,” Mr. Soglin said. “We’ve got about 16 in it now, and there’s a dozen more waiting in the water. Since we’re already in danger of going under, what can our community be expected to do?”
A vibrant economy in Wisconsin accounts for much of the migration among poor people, most of them looking for jobs. The state’s unemployment rate has dipped below 4 percent while that in Illinois is 4.4 percent.

my correspondent notes:

Here is an interesting article from 1995.  Worth revisiting with Soglin back in office (just because he is the mayor quoted at the time), but mostly as it pertains to our discussions around Madison Prep.  What are the unique attributes and qualities that make up both our white population and our minority population?

7 thoughts on “Chicago’s poor fleeing to Wisconsin for safer streets, greater welfare benefits”

  1. If Mayor Soglin thought “Madison’s lifeboat” was beyond capacity in 1995, and thought “we’re in danger of going under” back then, I wonder what he thinks now!? This article sure seems to point out the beginning of a trend. One that continued. What would Madison do differently if Madison could go back? Makes you wonder where Madison will be in 5, 10, 15 years.

  2. Interesting that Soglin is quoted as saying that as it has felt to me like our city is in quite a bit of denial. One of the biggest areas of denial is that the schools are expected to address what is really a community or society’s problems (gangs, mentally distrubed kids from severally dysfunctional unparented “families”, etc).

  3. Oh come now Mr. Mayor. There are plenty of ways to keep the boat afloat. “Finite resources”? Nonsense! Here’s some help.
    1) Car tax: Charge extra $40 per month for all cars within the city
    2) Triple all parking fees
    3) $25 per year tax on all bicycles
    4) Add 15 percent tax on all restaurant sales
    5) $5 per day per person to walk into a city park
    6) Find the richest 5 percent of residents and impose a 10 percent “resident equity surcharge” fee on their income.
    7) Triple the dog and cat licensing fees.
    8) When it snows really bad, or when there is a budget crisis, non-essential public workers are told to stay home. Determine who these non-essential people are and lay off 40 percent of them.
    9) When a business moves into town, find out what they paid for the existing buildings and property. Charge 17 percent “Municipal Business Absorption” surcharge the first year and then 10% every year thereafter.
    10) Rigid enforcement of $5 per foot of sidewalk fine for all property owners who do not have all snow removed from sidewalks within 3 hours of a snowfall. The welfare recipients could be the ones to go out and do the shoveling.
    You’re a smart guy Mayor. I’ll let you come up with more.

  4. This is an interesting read. It was not clear to me on sis at first, that this is a nyt article from 1995. If it is true that 25% of welfare recipients in 1995, in madison, had come up from chicago, I have a couple questions about those numbrs now. Just a couple: how many of those poor at that time are still in Madison now, and what percentage of them are still on public assistance vs how many are employed and self-sustaining of their families? Another question is that if 25% of our families in poverty in 1995 had come up here from Chicago (recently, I assume), what percentage is it now? I am not trying to start an argument here or be ‘classist’, I would really be interested to know.

  5. Actually this is still a valid problem. My husband worked for a local in patient hospital and many families came to Madison from Chicago to receive health care. Many students at my kids schools move between one parent or grandparent in Chicago to Madison. I have had conversation with parents at BB and FB games who have moved to Madison to get out of the “city”. And sadly the ones that come with one parent seem to move back and forth and back and forth. The graduation data is a joke as many of these students residential identity is confusing! This is not an Edgewood problem but a Memorial and La Follette problem.

  6. Millie, I would like the answers to those questions as well. It is fascinating. There is so much discussion on Madison Prep and the Achievement Gap. One candidate for school board has written that an honest discussion is required.
    I am not so sure we have clearly defined the issue. I am not so sure there will ever be an honest discussion, with this type of information included. Everyone says “Madison is changing”. Well how is it changing? AND where is that change coming from and for what reasons? Pursuit of higher education? Career change? Transfer of job? Better welfare benefits? Does it matter?

  7. Does any one else find this article and discussion sad? It’s been close to 20 years since the article was published, and it’s not that we continue to have these issues, but the exact article could be published today with different byline date, a few name changes and be done with it.
    So, for almost 20 years, we’ve accomplished nothing, same talk, same arguments, same people, no progress, another lost generation. In fact, in my memory, I can go back almost 45 years and there is not one argument I’ve heard in the last 10 years that is any different from the arguments I heard and material I studied 45 years ago.
    There is wonderful idea from the world of hiring consultants that asks to determine whether a candidate has 20 years of experience and knowledge, or one year of experience and knowledge repeated 20 times.
    Well, from my experience and knowledge, we had this same discussion 45 years ago for one year, and we’ve been repeating this discussion for 45 years. We’ve been in reruns!
    And, truly, the reason for the same arguments is that it’s all crap, all opinion, all heat, no light and no knowledge. Madison Prep and Nerad’s new proposal, and new MMSD board members will make a difference. Sure! Verbal masturbation but entertaining, I suppose.

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