Madison City Council Flounders
Roughly 18 months ago some citizens from Madison’s 6th aldermanic district were talking among themselves about forming a small group that would sit down with Marsha Rummel to ask that she not seek re-election to the Madison City Council. The voices talking about such an idea were from the private sector and all concerned citizens alike. The reason for the dismay with her service revolved around her unpreparedness, her lack of taking a stand on any issue until the 11th hour, and the way those actions reflected on this district. In the end no final move was made. Rummel ran unopposed for election this year–which was more a sign of the long hours and low pay for the job that no one else wanted–than a sign of regard or faith in her work. While one can and should applaud anyone–including Rummel–for seeking public office voters are correct in demanding competence.
This week, in a sign of how adrift from sensibilities the council as a whole happens to be, they elected Rummel as their president. It was quite stunning for them to admit that Rummel was the best of the lot.
While politics in our modern era is one where optics matter there was perhaps no worse choice for the position. There is no way that anyone who follows local affairs can listen or watch Runmel and walk away convinced that she is the most capable at leading the council over the next two years. She does not give taxpayers or homeowners a sense of conviction they are being represented to the fullest means possible.
Last night, during the first meeting which Rummel served in her new positon, the council demonstrated that coming unprepared to do business seemingly is now in vogue. They kicked the can down the road when it came to casting a vote on the legal fees due to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.
The background on this matter is known to residents. The Madison Police and Fire Commission found Koval had engaged in misconduct when he made a comment to a citizen during a most contentious council meeting. The commission did not discipline him for the comment. Koval had admitted his comment was inappropriate and apologized for it.
To defend himself legally before the commission the bills climbed to $22,000. City policy calls for those bills to be paid if one prevails. To not pay the bills now would only allow for those whose mission is to undermine Koval to needlessly continue.
But many council members were unsure how to interpret the commission’s ruling. The council is asking the commission to clarify its findings, including whether the commission considers Koval as having prevailed against the complaint. The council is asking for a response.
But why did not all those eager champions of getting the finer points do their research prior to last night’s meeting? Why not reach out and use their time wisely before the meeting so that once seated in their chamber the work could be done?
That tactic of the council, however, is par for the course. The council loves to delay and wind up doing what was required in 2-4 weeks. One would hope for changes in how effective the council might be. But given who they chose as their president there is no chance of that happening any time soon.
And so it goes.