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Mayor Cieslewicz Slaps Wisconsin State Journal Over Central Library Story

July 17, 2010

I think a little cat fight is rather fun to watch.  I am very sorry though the matter that is being tossed back and forth is the much-needed new library in downtown Madison. 

First the Wisconsin State Journal reports that there are some possible consequences to budget constraints for the proposed library.

Although detailed design work is only starting, the new Central Library may not get a fresh facade or a third floor as touted by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and others.

The plans for a reconstructed library may evolve because of budget constraints or a more informed assessment of what’s really needed, city officials and the architect said.

Then Mayor Cieslewicz sends a message out to alders and those who have signed up for his blog and makes a pointed remark that earns him a ‘Salute’  from this blogger.  Good for Dave, on this one.

The idea that plans for the new Central Library may be radically scaled back has as much current relevance as the equally likely idea that the State Journal won’t be around in two years to cover its grand opening.

Let me be as clear as I can be: we will have a cutting edge, state-of-the-art Central Library.

Not one single thing has changed since the Common Council and I pivoted to building a new library on the current site a few months ago. There was no new information that justified the State Journal’s breathless headline or lead paragraph. In fact, there was no news here and no story on the topic was justified beyond the fact that we’ll get started with public meetings on the library this week.

Look, I like journalists. I even like some editors sometimes. I can count on one hand the number of times I have called a reporter or editor to complain about a story. But I sure did this morning. I understand that the business side of journalism requires reporters to sometimes look for more controversy than surely exists to sell some papers. For the most part I just understand that and go with the flow. But when a newspaper misleads the public as egregiously as the State Journal did this morning they deserve to be called on it.

Clearly someone is not telling the whole story, or working to frame the issue for some advantage.  There is no way that both of these versions can be correct.  (I would encourage a reading of both accounts that are linked above.)  I must say on the matter of the library I have been most comfortable with the tone and energy that Mayor Cieslewicz has employed to make the overall proposed idea a reality.  If there is anyone in the WSJ story I would be doubtful about it would be Alder Larry Palm.  That alder over time has lost the support of CP,  and therefore I will not advocate for his re-election.  But that is another story best saved for election time.

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