It's become almost a cliché to bemoan the absence of civility in our public discourse these days. The lack of respect and decency in how we talk to each other is appalling. It's even more appalling when one considers the example of the late Jeffrey Clay Erlanger who, as an activist citizen with a disability, championed civility and modeled it in his work.
It is a fitting tribute to Erlanger that the annual City of Madison award honoring his legacy is called the Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award. The City is soliciting nominees right now…the deadline is a week from today. And to its credit, Mayor Soglin's office is asking for the public's help in submitting qualified nominees.
The qualifications are pretty simple really: leadership, fairness and a history of making a difference by treating people with respect and dignity, in other words the exact opposite of most elected officials today. Send your ideas to the Mayor's office. Let's honor Erlanger by yet another example of someone acting for the public good, as he did.