Madison City Commission candidate Jennifer Wolff is disappointed with the new downtown thrift store proposal:

Yesterday's front page news was the new community thrift store planned for Madison. Two years ago when this issue came up, it was rife with rile. So it was with a sigh of disappointment, rather than the delight of satisfaction that I read the story. Disappointment because we already have several second-hand stores in town. Disappointment because the downtown could really use a new movie theater, grocery store, or restaurant -- things we ARE lacking options of in Madison. Disappointment because this is not what I wanted [Jennifer Wolff, "On That Thrift Shop Down the Road," campaign website, 2014.03.06].

But Wolff's personal disappointment doesn't translate into full-blown political opposition:

It's tempting to malign those who make what we view as mistakes with money. A major point of contention the first time around was the thrift store's request for city funding. This time though, it appears, the project is being done with private funding. Gone is the $150,000 request for tax-payer funding. For those corporations and citizens who feel this is a worthy project, an "I know what you should do with your money better than you attitude" could serve as a turn-off for future developments. I volunteer my time and donate to charities; I would be rather affronted to have someone tell me I should be donating to Charity B instead of Charity A, or working for Charity X instead of Charity Y. Would I rather be getting a $650,000 entertainment venue? Heck yes! But I am not an investor in the project, so that's not really my value judgment to make [Wolff, 2014.03.06].

Two corrections:

  1. My count in 2012 had the thrift store backers asking for at least $300K in public subsidies. But the thrift store developers are rejecting all public funds this time around, so that's not a major point.
  2. It is your value judgment to make, Ms. Wolff. Every citizen is entitled to judge whether the thrift store adds value to Madison's downtown and economy. Ms. Wolff makes a judgment that the now wholly private project is better than nothing and is not worth the sort of open political opposition that fellow candidate Ashley Kenneth Allen offers. But she judges, as do I, that the thrift store is a disappointment, and that there are many better projects that will respond to more pressing needs that we should still work on.

Judging is good and necessary. Madison's residents are free to spend their money on whatever legal projects they wish and to discuss the merits of those projects. I am pleased to see Wolff and Allen making those judgments and leading those discussions.