Abortion, PFAS, LOKS, oh my

Morning Update: Wednesday, May 4

In this newsletter

Abortion, PFAS, LOKS, oh my
Image by Hayley Sperling/Madison Minutes

🌞 Today's weather: Mostly sunny, yay! High: 60° Low: 35°

Happy Wednesday, Madison!

There are many things I love (and a few I don’t) about writing Madison Minutes. Most of all though, I love when you write me back.

Yesterday, a few of you came to my inbox to answer my silly questions about obscure holidays. Turns out, there’s a great Planet Money episode from 2017 that explores the “holiday industrial complex” and how it came to be. Big thanks to readers Iain D. and Vanessa N. for sharing!

Also, if you’ve ever wondered if today (or any day) happens to be a holiday, there’s a website for that. Local reader Seth W. founded Checkiday.com where he has been documenting and researching such holidays since 2011.

Finally, yesterday I told you about some of the proposed new names for Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The name Eston Hemings Jefferson Middle School was a popular submission and honors the son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Did you know that Eston himself is buried in Madison (I didn’t!)? As it would turn out, Eston, his wife, and children are all buried at Forest Hill Cemetery. Thanks to reader Janet M. for sharing this piece of local trivia.

— Hayley

⚖️ The top story in the nation right now centers around abortion. Let’s talk about it.

  • First, some context: Monday evening Politico published a leaked draft document written by Justice Samuel Alito suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The document’s legitimacy has been confirmed but the court has not yet issued its official ruling. If the 1973 decision is overruled, states will be left to decide and enforce laws regarding abortion.
  • Abortion in Wisconsin: People can legally obtain an abortion in Wisconsin thanks to the Roe v. Wade ruling. (Though there are plenty of hoops to jump through before actually getting the procedure.) If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the state will fall back to a 19th-century law that classifies abortion as a felony punishable with jail time and fines up to $10,000. There is an exception to this law when it comes to providing abortion in order to save the life of the mother. Not-so-fun fact: This law was signed before women had the right to vote.
  • Moving forward: Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, said Tuesday if Roe is overturned, his office would not investigate or prosecute alleged violations of the state's 19th-century abortion ban. "As long as I’m attorney general, we will not be using any resources for those purposes," Kaul told the Wisconsin State Journal.
  • Kaul’s pledge, however, doesn’t stop local prosecutors from pursuing cases. Additionally, Kaul, along with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is up for election this year. Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidates have already re-affirmed their anti-abortion stances and plans to defend the 19th-century law, should they come to power.
  • On Tuesday, a crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered at the state Capitol building to protest the SCOTUS decision. Undoubtedly, with nearly endless implications (yes, abortion affects you too, boys!) this will be a story to watch in the coming weeks and months.

🧯 Why Dane County is suing dozens of firefighting foam manufacturers.

🔎 What the city found in its investigation of the Mifflin Street balcony collapse.

  • Some context: At the annual Mifflin Street block party last weekend, a second-floor porch collapsed on the 500 block sending two people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
  • The investigation into the collapse is still ongoing but city officials said a structural beam with water damage likely played a key role in the incident.
  • The building had been inspected in mid-March but officials saw no visible damage at the time and were likely unable to see any of the aforementioned water damage because the beam was wrapped in metal siding.
  • District 4 Ald. Mike Verveer, who represents the site and much of the downtown area, told the State Journal it is “highly unlikely” the city will pursue any prosecution for the collapse.

🦠 Covid-19  antiviral prescriptions are 'widely available' in the state.

  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services wants you to know that, despite a slow rollout, the state has a stable supply of Covid-19 antiviral drugs.
  • The oral antivirals, Pazlovid and Lagevrio, were given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in December, but supplies were limited at the time, making it difficult to get a prescription.
  • The drugs are typically used to treat patients who are at high risk for severe illness. DHS stressed that they are not a replacement for vaccination.

🥕 Beefing up Madison's food waste reduction efforts.

  • Starting June 14, the city will begin accepting organic waste — think food scraps — each Tuesday at the South Madison Farmers’ Market on Park Street.
  • The State Journal reports the city is working to set up a second drop-off site later this summer.
  • The project is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the amount of food waste in landfills.

🎸 Live! On! King! Street!

  • After a two-year hiatus, the free summer concert series is finally making its return, and a pretty triumphant one, at that.
  • Typically held on King Street itself, shows this year will move to the 100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This year there will be five free shows all starting at 7 p.m.
  • The lineup this year features local and national touring artists including the High Hawks, Tank and the Bangas, White Denim, Interlay, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and more. On June 24, the production will be Live on QUEEN St: Drag & Dance Block Party.

🔥 Your lunchtime read: 'This valve had been known to leak': Documents show Superior oil refinery knew about equipment issues years before 2018 explosion.

  • From WPR: "Nearly 1,300 pages of documents from OSHA obtained by WPR shed new light on what refinery officials knew prior to the explosion that rocked Superior in 2018."

📅 Events

Wednesday, May 4

Wondering what that 🟠 means? That symbol next to an event listing means the Tone Madison team recommends checking it out.

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