I attended a city commission meeting recently and watched for 90 minutes an argument over a billboard.
The setup – Adams Outdoor has owned and operated a digital sign in the Town of Madison since 2006. Then the city annexed the town. (How they did that without getting a vote of the town residents is beyond me…) The city then gave notice to Adams Outdoor that their digital sign was illegal in the city and that they needed to remove it. Note that Adams didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t do anything different.
So here we have a lawful business (the sign) that was minding its own business, and along comes the city administrator, who decides on her own that the sign is not complying with the ordinance. No democratic approach, no council review, just one person who decides she doesn’t like the sign.
I listened to the Adams Outdoor legal team make an excellent presentation to the commission, asking the commission to override the zoning administrator’s decision. Their case was obvious and clear – the sign is a legal non-conforming use. In other words, when the zoning code is changed or lands are annexed, those uses that may be legal at the time of the change or when the annexation occurred remain legal as non-conforming use. So the owner can continue the use until the owner stops the use. State statutes require this; it’s not even a choice for cities. Cities must follow state law.
Well, except for the City of Madison; 90 square miles surrounded by reality. Madison feels it doesn’t have to comply with statutes or in my experience, even comply with the Wisconsin Constitution. I listened further and watched the commission redefine this digital sign as NOT being non-conforming use. That’s right, ignore the facts, ignore reality, ignore the law, and ignore court precedents – the city just waived its magic socialist dictator wand and waved this business out of business.
Oh, and I forgot to mention – the county has its own digital billboard at the Alliant Energy Center that was also annexed into the city from the town, and yep, you guessed it, surprise! The city is not demanding that the county remove its billboard. From one fellow government dictator to another, they give a pass to their fellow government dictators. Of course, that non-uniform enforcement is also a violation of the state constitution, but hey, they don’t care.
One member of the commission even stated that he was told “not to look at constitutionality.”
Remarkable. This is not the first time. I have experienced Madison’s heavy hand of socialism and dictator approach to businesses. After we won our circuit court case on the assessment of a property, the city assessor essentially told the Board of Review to ignore the court’s decision, that it was wrong, and that they don’t have to follow it. (I have this on video.)
Now that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is in the hands of justices who also appear to ignore the law and the Constitution by their August 2023 actions and redistricting desire to achieve a political outcome, the trickle-down effect is enormous. If the city has its way, Madison will look like the central district in the Hunger Games, whereby the outlying districts exist solely to transfer all of its wealth and fruits of its labor to the central district.
There’s another name for this – slavery.
Expect Madison to go off the deep end with more and more arbitrary decisions not based on democracy. They believe only in ‘equity’ for their special groups – not you or me. Equity doesn’t exist for us. In fact, just like the Democratic Party supported and empowered slavery and discrimination against blacks and the Irish for hundreds of years, now they reverse that – by discriminating against white males and the private sector.
If they have their way, the private sector will exist solely to fund the public sector. This is the same party that is enslaving whole generations of young people through confiscatory tuition rates that saddle students with twenty years of debt – debt that was used to enrich liberal academic groups at the expense of the future of young people. Why blacks and young people continue to vote for the very people who enslave them, deny them opportunities, don’t want them to get ahead in life, and don’t want them to become independent of government, is beyond me.
On October 18 and November 23, 2023 Donald Trump tweeted out on Trump’s Truth Social account T. Wall’s October 6th column on Trump’s property valuations. T. Wall holds a degree from the UW in economics and an M.S. in real estate analysis and valuation and is a real estate developer. Disclaimer: The opinions of the writer are not necessarily those of this publication or the left!