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Proposal would make Madison diss into motto

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Madison’s mayor wants to turn one of the city’s most famous insults into its official motto.

Paul Soglin will ask the City Council on Tuesday to create what would be the first motto for Wisconsin’s capital – “77 square miles surrounded by reality.”

He said it would demonstrate the city’s sense of humor – and it would highlight a vibrant mix of civic, cultural, and intellectual affairs.

When the Republican Dreyfus ran for governor in 1978, the former UW Stevens Point chancellor chided Madison’s liberal bent by calling the city “10 square miles surrounded by reality.”

That number grew over the years to 23, and then 25.  Soglin remembers it being 30 when he was the mayor in 1978. He chided Dreyfus for being wrong, saying Madison actually had 65 square miles.

It’s now at 77, and the proposed motto would always keep the number of square miles updated as Madison grows.

This would not be the city’s first quirky symbol. It named the plastic pink flamingo as Madison’s official bird in 2009.