Resnick attacks Soglin’s gang violence record

What you need to know: Tuesday
Madison Alderman Scott Resnick, Mayor Paul Soglin

As quickly as questions during Monday’s Madison mayoral forum turned to the city’s growing gang violence, Alderman Scott Resnick was taking issue with Mayor Paul Soglin’s gang record.

“We’re not doing enough,” Resnick said. “If your programs were successful, we’d be seeing success.”

Resnick said if the anti-gang programs Soglin touted–such as more at-risk youth contact, job creation and prisoner re-entry programs–were working, Madison would not be seeing the current amount of violence.

“And we do this through community effort. This is going to be a problem the city of Madison is going to continue to face if we’re not working together,” Resnick said.

To the alderman, a key to immediately answering gang related issues is to start a taskforce to address problems before and as they happen.

“It’s why I stand by my vote to say we need a new west side police station that’s brought online as soon as possible,” Resnick said. “Put forth the resources to ensure we have our burglary task force. And make sure that if members are entering back into our community, that we address the issues immediately.”

A new police precinct is an idea Soglin has firmly said no to in the past. That did not change Monday night.

“The additional station is not going to add more officers on the street. The additional station is not going to do anything in terms of restorative justice. It will be more convenient,” Soglin said. “Right now we have more important priorities than convenience.”

Instead Soglin’s answer is a familiar campaign theme: solving poverty will solve gang violence.

“The key is this. The key is working to break that cycle of poverty institutionalization,” Soglin said. “The school district is now working within the city to see what kind of impact we can have to stop these kids from going on that pipeline from school to prison. In a pure court. So we can take these kids and not have them going into the criminal justice system. But divert them from it. And focus on their activities and health. And academics.”

The mayor said look no farther than the most recent income, poverty and unemployment data to see, beyond violent headlines, Madison is doing better. That proof is a reason Soglin said to trust his leadership is right to take care of future gang problems.

However, Resnick said without the collaboration he feels is currently lacking between city hall and other county leaders, gang violence will continue to grow.