Dave Cieslewicz Reflects On Favorite Moment As Madison Mayor

I am going to take the liberty of placing the entire final blog entry of Mayor Dave Cieslewicz on CP.  While I have always enjoyed Mayor Dave’s musings on topics about his time as leader of this city we proudly call home, I found this blog entry…his last one as an elected officasl….perhaps his best.  As such, I am posting the entire entry.

People have been asking me what my favorite moment was from my eight years as Mayor. It’s hard to pick just one. Opening the Goodman Pool is right up there and so is having the President of the United States mispronounce my name (four times).

But I’d have to say that my very favorite moment happened just a few weeks ago. It was a snowy Saturday, and there were 100,000 people on the Capitol Square protesting Governor Walker’s move to end collective bargaining for public employees. Madison Firefighters Local 311 invited me to march with them, as they often did, starting from Station One and going down State Street around the Square and then into the Capitol building. It was always great to march with the Firefighters because you got to walk behind bag pipers and drummers, and the crowd goes wild.

So we marched into the Capitol and there were maybe 6,000 people in the building, banging their own drums and cheering on the Firefighters. People reached out to shake our hands from every direction. Then we got to the center of the rotunda, and the bag pipers and the drummers formed a circle and began to play “Amazing Grace.” The big, boisterous crowd went silent and began to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…”

It was like being in a church where the whole congregation is a choir. The words and the music floated up into the high rotunda and circulated around and down the corridors of the Capitol as if to reclaim it from the very anti-Wisconsin divisiveness that had brought us there. It was as if we were reclaiming our building for the ideals that our state was founded on.

Then the bag pipers started into the second verse, and because no one knows the second verse to “Amazing Grace,” the crowd fell silent and the drummers fell into syncopation behind the music. And I thought to myself at that moment that I was never more proud to be Mayor of this city. Stark adversity had erased our relatively small disagreements and reminded us of our shared values as a community. I didn’t give a speech or even say a word. I just took it in, looking up at the crowds on the balconies above as the late winter afternoon light streamed through the rotunda and fell on us, all of us, together.

The thing to do now is to stay together as we take on the challenges ahead and to remember what Emerson wrote.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us matters little compared to what lies within us.”

We’re a great city not just because of the university or the lakes or the seat of government. We’re a great city because of our citizens. I loved being the Mayor of Madison, but before that I loved just being a citizen of Madison. And so I am again.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz Is A Classy Guy

When all is said and done one thing is clear.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is a classy fellow.

While this blog had differences with Mayor Dave over the Edgewater matter, at the end of the day CP endorsed his campaign for reelection as I supported many other goals that he worked for.    As the campaign moved along I felt that Paul Soglin was gaining ground, and correctly predicted the outcome of the race on the morning of Election Day. ( I had predicted less than a 2% margin of victory for Soglin, and it turned out to be 1%.)

While many wish that the vote had been different for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz on Tuesday night we can all be proud of his service to this city.  We can look forward to his continued involvement in city issues as he is a young man (52), and is a policy wonk.  

Dave Cieslewicz is the embodiment of what so much of Madison is all about.  As the Wisconsin State Journal wrote this morning Cieslewicz  is smart, youthful, progressive, funny, and cool. 

I might add he is a book reader.  Yeah, that matters.

Today Mayor Dave wrote this on his blog.

Look, it’s really tough to lose an election, especially when there was so much more that I wanted to do and when the margin was so narrow. But rather than dwelling on what might have been, I need to focus on what still can be, on how I can contribute to our city in other ways. Being a former mayor carries a little bit of weight and I intend to use it for the good of the community.

Mayor Dave is a gentleman, and most important he is a real Madisonian.

CP looks forward to his creative ideas for a better future.

2011 Wisconsin Spring Election Predictions

Posted at 5:24 A.M. April 5th…..

After all the back-and-forth from the candidates, lots of  hard work, and endless campaign ads on television for Wisconsin State Supreme Court comes the fun part for the arm-chair politicos.  Election Day and the time to make some predictions is at hand. 

I offer the following for fun……after all politics should be fun.  Often we forget that.  Right or wrong CP has fun on days like this!

The level of energy that is being demonstrated by voters in Wisconsin, especially in Madison and Dane County, is breathtaking.  If the projections hold true Madison will be near 60% turnout, and Dane County over 40% turnout.  With numbers like these it is possible that part of the headline on Wednesday will be that Dane County helped in large measure to elect the next member to the Supreme Court.  Milwaukee County, due to a much publicized county executive race, will also make a huge impact on the totals.

My prediction is  JoAnne Kloppenburg defeats David Prosser by 2%.   I also predict that no one will call the Chief Justice a “bitch” in the next term of the court.

In Dane County the most perplexing question that still has not been answered is why in the midst of a race for Madison mayor did Eileen Bruskewitz enter the race for county executive.  While CP strongly encourages candidates from both parties to enter political contests, it seems odd that someone desires to be a sacrificial lamb in the way Bruskewitz has done.

Joe Parisi will defeat in a massive way Eileen Bruskewitz with at least a 20% margin.

The high number of voters in Madison thus far for absentee voting has left me wondering how this plays out for the Madison mayor’s race.  Though CP has endorsed Dave Cieslewicz I sense an upset coming.   Part of the reason is that in trying times Madison may feel an urge to go back to the elder leader and let his skills be used against the Walker forces.  Since the huge turnout is being created due to the Walker factor, it seems logical to think it extends to the mayor’s race.

Paul Soglin edges Dave Cieslewicz, with the isthmus neighborhoods being the key to the election.  Soglin by less than 2%.

For Madison City Council Marsha Rummel defeats  Jan-McMahon in the 6th District but the most interesting race might be in the 2nd District where Sam Stevenson will defeat incumbent Bridget Maniaci..  Maniaci forgot her constituents when she started carrying water for interests that ran counter to the wishes of her neighbors.

Dave Cieslewicz Deserves Vote For Madison Mayor

When thinking about the issues that Madison has confronted over the past four years the most contentious one was  obviously the Edgewater construction project.  While Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz championed the cause, I found the proposed development a potential eyesore.  More than the size and scope of the project itself, I was frustrated how the committee process was undermined in an attempt to get the project finalized.

I made my views known in strong but reasoned tones on this blog, and considered myself open to be swayed by a challenger against Dave Cieslewicz for this year’s election.  I based that desire almost exclusively over the Edgewater matter.

So it might seem strange then for me to write an endorsement for Dave Cieslewicz, and urge my fellow citizens of Madison to cast a ballot for him on April 5th.

Why the change of heart? 

Let me state first of all that it has nothing to do with Paul Soglin.  Madison is fortunate to have the opportunity to have two formidable thinkers and doers competing to be our mayor.  Some cities do not get to have even one enlightened candidate.  So no matter the outcome, Madison will be a winner.

The reason for my endorsement has to do with the nature of the job that confronts any person who sits in the Mayor’s Office, and the type of character that  Dave Cieslewicz has demonstrated over the years

My endorsement is also a reminder to myself that I need to be more mindful over the complexity of the issues that faces those who make the decisions about where we go as a city.

Last fall I witnessed concern from a neighborhood association over a major proposed street construction project.  Not for the first time there was a vote from the association to delay the project.  It bothered me that a small group of earnest people would think they had the sway to undo a project that impacts the transportation needs of Madison, while debating how to make the project more ‘green’.

Do not get me wrong.  I applaud wise use of space and more environmentally friendly initiatives, but too often in Madison we forget there is a time to plant, and a time to sow.

We can all applaud that Madison neighborhoods have the right to weigh in on city issues, thereby insuring the places we call home represent our values.  That is a sign that Madison understands good citizenship.  But there comes a time when continually stopping projects, or choking off forward movement only serves to undermine this city.

It is that larger issue that I have been thinking about for months which underscores my vote for Dave Cieslewicz on April 5th.

Madison has been trying to determine the best way to move forward with some big ideas and projects.  Through it all we correctly ask, “What is good growth?” and  “How does the process of granting projects help or hinder the city?”

With all that in mind I thought of my sometimes blunt talk on my blog towards Mayor Cieslewicz, and the big city projects that he strives to complete.  If I am frustrated with obstructionists in my neighborhood over a street project, what must it be like for the Mayor Cieslewicz to deal with a whole city of them? 

In spite of my criticism, Dave Cieslewicz has remained a gentlemen, and even offered a couple nice replies to my notes over the years.  I give him credit for that in this time of fever-pitched rhetoric in the political trenches.

I also applaud Dave Cieslewicz’s ‘ownership’ of the plowing/salting debate that took place in the famed winter storm several years ago that snarled Madison traffic.  It is not easy to own up to mistakes, or take the responsibility when things go south.   I was impressed with the mayor’s style during the fallout from that storm, and feel that it underscores what we all know about him.

Through it all “Mayor Dave” has worked hard, and made us think about the future of this great city.

As such, I am most proud to cast my vote for his relection.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz Puts Money Where Mouth Is

I like Mayor Dave’s tone and style.

I like to see constructive ideas advanced to blunt the gouging cuts that Governor Walker is proposing in the state budget.  These are tough times for Madison, but I admire and respect the leadership that Mayor Cieslewicz has shown.  It is due to his type of leadership that we will make it through this storm.

One way for us to respond is by upping the ante on generosity in the form of resources or volunteerism. I’m a little short on time these days, so I wrote a personal check to one of my favorite local community nonprofits, the Goodman Atwood Community Center. The check was for $302 because that’s the amount that Governor Walker’s budget would cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for a single mother of two kids earning minimum wage or about $15,000 a year. That’s a 43% cut in her credit. If that’s a little too high for you, here’s another good number: $32. That’s the amount of the Governor’s proposed reduction in the Homestead Property Tax Credit for a family earning $20,000 a year. And, of course, multiples of 14 would be appropriate.

This is consistent with the response of other city employees. We had feared that the pending forced increases in contributions toward health insurance and pensions would drive our employees to reduce their scheduled charitable deductions. But it hasn’t happened. Madisonians aren’t retreating; they’re stepping up.

Cuts in state programs that fund county community aids, city transit aids, libraries and more are going to make it even harder for people with low incomes. Overall cuts to city government itself appear to be in the range of $11 million. The City of Madison is responding on an official level, working to fight back on these proposals as the budget works its way through the legislature. And the process to work through the 2012 city budget will be the most inclusive ever.

Madison Mayor Cieslewicz Questions Walker About Turning “Peaceful Protests Into Something Ugly”

All of official Madison is rightly upset Wisconsin Governor Walker was thinking about planting “troublemakers” into the peaceful crowds that have filled the State Capitol and the Square.   The purpose would have been to create chaos, and in so doing make Walker’s bill to strip collective bargaining rights easier to pass.  For Walker to even think such a thing…..even ONCE!…is absolotely unconscionable.  It makes me think of how Richard Nixon acted when in office.

Now Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz weighs in on the issue and strikes to the heart of the matter.  It is easy to see why so many admire and support Mayor Dave. 

But I find it disturbing that Governor Walker apparently considered disrupting the protests. A transcript of a faux call to the Governor from a man he believed was conservative icon and top Walker donor David Koch finds “Koch” offering to help Walker out by, “planting some troublemakers” among the demonstrators. Walker’s reply:

“We thought about that….”

Really, Governor, you thought about that? The Governor of Wisconsin actually thought about planting people in the crowds who might turn these peaceful protests into something ugly?

The Madison Police Department, the Dane County Sherriff, the Capitol Police, UW Police, State Patrol and dozens of police departments from around the state deserve credit for acting so responsibly, as do the protestors who have been incredibly well organized. The tone has been just right. For the governor of our state to suggest that he even considered disrupting these peaceful protests is a serious thing. We need to hear more from him on exactly what he meant. I hope the media will keep after it.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz “National Family Conversation” Taking Place At Wisconsin State Capitol

I mentioned on my blog earlier that the mood today at the State Capitol was pointed, and yet not in your face confrontational.  At least that was the case from my perspective.  When both the Tea Party and friends of labor took to the Square there was not the level of meanness that I expected to see.  I was pleased with that.  I was quite heartened that there were earnest but frank discussions underway.  That is good for Wisconsin, and for democracy.

So I was glad to see that Mayor Dave Cieslewicz saw much the same this week, and blogged about it too.

This is consistent with what I’ve witnessed all week. I’ve spent a couple of hours each day on the Square and in the Capitol Building to get a feel for what’s going on and, of course, I’ve been watching the news reports both local and national. It’s clear that Madison is the focal point right now of a national conversation about the future of democracy. The protests that started with collective bargaining have spilled over into related issues of social justice and democratic process.

It’s a spirited debate in the Madison spirit. Passionate and strong but with a sense of levity too. My favorite protest sign so far: “I Blame Brett Favre.”

This is a national family conversation we’ve been putting off, but it has to happen, and it’s starting to happen right here in Madison. The conversation has been fierce, articulate, loud, and civil.

We have to work out our differences and stay together as a nation. There has to be compromise in the air somewhere. But first we all have to be heard. And the hearing seems to be starting right here at home. This is what democracy looks like.

Madison Mayor Cieslewicz Asks Important Question About Crazed Governor Walker’s Plans To Harm State Workers

There are far more questions than answers when it comes to the most asinine proposal ever to be made under the Wisconsin Capitol dome.    I mean it….EVER!

That Governor Walker, a man without a college degree, wants to limit  public employee labor agreements to wages only, require unions to recertify themselves every year by a vote of their members, prohibit the collection of union dues from everyone who benefits from union representation, and force local governments to impose a one-size-fits-all employee contribution for health insurance and pensions is simply appalling.

The storm that is brewing as a result of the announcement on Friday is going to howl across the state. 

But before the gales start in earnest next week ones needs to ask a series of questions.  One of them was voiced by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.   Dave, as we affectionately call him in Madison, is right on target when asking why split our neighbors and communities?

And, oddly, those provisions wouldn’t apply to police and fire unions, which could maintain their current bargaining rights. I’m all for allowing that for police officers and firefighters, but then why shouldn’t those rules apply to snow plow operators, parks workers, and other employees? Why single out some municipal employees, driving a wedge between people who work for the same city?

Might it have anything to do with political favors that Walker is now giving out?   Just asking…….