Why Is Madison Mayor Paul Soglin So Cranky?

Why do I think there is already buyers’ remorse setting in among voters in Madison when it comes to Mayor Paul Soglin? 

We were used to Dave Cieslewicz and his youthful demeanor, his wit, his smile.  “Mayor Dave” exemplified an energy about government service along with an optomisitc  view about who we are as Madisonians.  That applealed to me.  

Meanwhile Paul Soglin comes across as cranky and pissed off.  There seems to me a deep negative reaction within Soglin for anything that Cieslewicz  succeeded at doing in the last eight years.  As a citizen of Madison I hope that is not the tone we have to look forward to whenever Soglin speaks.

With that in mind…

Isthmus’ Bill Lueders has the must read article from Madison’s weekly.

Ah, Mayor for Life Soglin, Madison’s sourpuss-in-chief. Here’s a guy who seemingly shifts between two phases of existence: being unhappy about not being mayor, and being unhappy about being mayor. See if you can spot the common theme.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin Needs A Time Out

As I  noted yesterday Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is needlessly creating divisions with the new City Council.  The issue that I commented on yesterday regarding the Overture Center is also the one that was featured on the editorial page of today’s Wisconsin State Journal.

I stated yesterday…

There were many leaders of this city who painstakingly worked to fashion an Overture agreement that most think is viable and smart.  To come in at this time and want to tear apart a finalized agreement is not good news for Overture.  In addition, the strains that are put on the working relationship between Soglin and the council are needless.

The WSJ wrote today…

His ego-driven prediction this week that the Overture Center will “crash and burn” was irresponsible and insulting to his new City Council colleagues.

Soglin is not a high-profile blogger anymore, sounding off on city matters from the sidelines. He’s back in charge of City Hall for an unprecedented third time. So his words carry significant weight and come with serious consequences.

While it is clear Soglin has an ax to grind about the way Madison’s former leader Dave Cieslewicz ran the show during his eight years as mayor, there is no need for Soglin to undermine the final outcome after a hard-sought resolution was crafted for Overture.

The newspaper summed it nicely.

And we hope his third time as mayor turns out to be more of a charm than his blunt blunder this week otherwise suggests.

We all must hope for that or this is one long bumpy ride.  And needlessly so.

Tensions Building Between Mayor Soglin And Madison City Council

I have been trying to read the tea leaves when it comes to the relationship that is building, or the tensions that are being created, between newly elected Mayor Paul Soglin and members of the Madison City Council.

Some of the unease seems to be making its way to the top of the pile, and now making news. 

The reports that Soglin wants to revamp or perhaps redo the Overture agreement is sending some members of the council who actually worked on the matter last year  into defense mode.  Rightfully so.   There were many leaders of this city who painstakingly worked to fashion an Overture agreement that most think is viable and smart.  To come in at this time and want to tear apart a finalized agreement is not good news for Overture.  In addition, the strains that are put on the working relationship between Soglin and the council are needless.

First, Mayor Soglin told the press that he is powerless to change an agreement ironed out over Overture, one that he predicts will fail, without council backing.

Soglin, in comments published online Monday, predicted a deal between the council and Overture officials late last year for private operations and ownership of the $205 million arts center will fail and said he’s powerless to change that fate without council support.

Second, members of the council weighed into the storm that Soglin seems intent on starting.

Council members on Tuesday criticized Soglin for raising uncertainties that could undermine Overture’s transition to private, nonprofit operations.

“I respect the mayor’s doing his due diligence to look at some of the big issues he’s inherited,” council President Lauren Cnare said. “(But) the council has made a decision. We’ve got to give it a chance.”

Ald. Mark Clear, 19th District, who led a special work group that forged the deal, said, “His statements are extremely disrespectful to the council and the very, very difficult decision the council came to last year. It really causes damage to fundraising efforts at a critical stage. This is not the kind of leadership the city elected.”

Overture officials also disagreed with the mayor.

Now Comes Tough Words From Mayor Soglin And Mike Verveer Over Mifflin Street Block Party

On Saturday I posted  that “I suspect many local politicians will try to feign a shocked look when trying to explain how this never was considered a possible outcome.”

The outcome were the many crimes and incidents of violence including stabbings, sexual assaults, batteries, thefts, police officers hurt, robberies and drug deals in downtown Madison during and after the Mifflin Street Party. 

I also posted Mayor Soglins’s comment made before the party was held concerning the way the Mifflin event was organized this year.  (emphasis below is mine.)

Soglin stated, “Just when we thought there were no new ways of having a block party, we’ve found a new way,” Soglin said. “This is a rather different and much improved effort to celebrate spring.”

Now that the event is over comes the tough words from Soglin, and a leading member of the Madison City Council, Mike Verveer.  Rather as I predicted back on Saturday that hindsight would provide clarity of thought.

Mayor Paul Soglin vowed to end the process of issuing a permit for larger events, known as a picnic beer license, without formal approval from the mayor and City Council. A picnic beer permit now requires only an administrative review by the city clerk’s office.

“In retrospect, the issue of a beer permit was a tragic mistake,” Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, said. “I should have realized when we got the advice from the city attorney’s office that there was no way to ban carry-ins, the deal should have been off.”

“The sheer quantity of beer and liquor being carried into the event was obscene,” Verveer said. Allowing open consumption “gave a sense of entitlement, invincibility, to partygoers, like there were no rules,” he said.

Soglin, who on Sunday called for an end to the event, acknowledged Monday that change will take time.

While this type of Monday-morning quarterbacking is not unusual, the taxpayers, voters, and residents of Madison have watched year after year as this annual embarrassing drunk-fest is allowed to continue.  For long-time politicians who well understand Madison and the issues we confront, not to have known in advance that  the lifting of the ban on open alcoholic beverages in the streets would be utter insanity, is a statement in and of itself.   That it just one more embarrassing part to this story.

The events at the Mifflin Street Party nearly claimed the life of a man this weekend after he was stabbed.  That makes the snow event that everyone barked at  Mayor Dave Cieslewicz about a couple of years ago seem rather tame in comparison. 

Major Soglin is now in charge, and this Mifflin Party is a problem on his watch.  An event he now has stated he wants to see come to an end.  I applaud him for that statement, and wish him well in bringing it about.   Many will be watching and making note of his promise.

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.