Attendees at Saturday’s Mifflin Street block party could help keep youths off the street this summer by toning down the drinking and accompanying misbehavior at the annual event, Mayor Paul Soglin said Monday.
Soglin said he wants to put any unused portion of the $190,000 designated for policing the unauthorized block party toward funding summer day camp or employment programs for youths. The budget amendment would require City Council approval.
“Is he trying to make us feel bad?” asked Lauren Cochlin, 23, who lives in the 500 block of Mifflin Street and plans to once again participate in the celebration marking the end of the UW-Madison school year.
Soglin called it a “real-world decision” for attendees who in recent years have gone beyond “the right to party and the tradition” associated with the event with “some very serious situations that have been life-threatening.”
Cochlin, who attributes the problems associated with the block party to people from out of town, said “it would be great” if money earmarked for police costs could instead benefit local youths.
But just how likely that will be remains to be seen, said Soglin, who would consider it a success if the city could cut police costs for the day to $95,000 this year.
Soglin and the police have been trying to end the Mifflin for years; especially after a number of stabbings took place at it during the 2011 gathering. It was the highest escalation of violence at the Mifflin which in years past has seen more than its fair share of drunken fist-fights, underage drinking arrests, violations of open container laws and tons of open air vomiting.
The irony to all this is that Soglin was at the first Mifflin in 1969 — back when it was a protest march against the Vietnam War — and seems hell bent on being that last mayor at the party.