Everyone’s wrapped up in the recent John Doe document leaks, but political theater is far from absent here in Madison. Playing the starring role is Mayor Paul Soglin, who, though despite his political experience, has acted rather dramatically over the construction of the already-approved Midtown police station.
At a news conference last Friday, Soglin called out several alders, ignoring all sense of decorum and professionalism, in placing blame for budgetary setbacks.
Alders Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, Maurice Cheeks, District 10, Mark Clear, District 19, and Matt Phair, District 20, are on the defensive.
“He singled out people he feels most threatened by,” Clear, the only member of the group present at the news conference, told Cap Times.
This really isn’t the behavior the mayor of any city should be spouting. In every level of government, some sort of decorum needs to be present.
Another dig Soglin had against the alders was calling them “fiscally inept” in regards to the city’s spending budget. Now, that’s not a way to start a conversation.
Most of the distance between Soglin and these alders seems to come from funding for the Midtown Station, a proposed police station that would be located in Clear’s District 11. In the latest 2017 Capital Budget, the design of this station will occur in 2017 and construction will finish in 2018. This timeline has been pushed back a year from the previous agreement, according to the 2016 Capital Budget. This is a classic “he said, she said” argument. The mayor said pushing back the timeline for the project is necessary in borrowing money, but Clear said the move is political.
There is no clear individual who is right in this scenario, but attacking a co-worker’s characters, as Soglin has done, is somewhat an admission of fault. If Soglin were in the right, he wouldn’t have to resort to calling out specific alders and identifying them as “fiscally inept.” Not only is this unprofessional, it’s a cheap attack that benefits absolutely no one.
Phair was much more judicial than I am in this case.
“I believe … we do a very good job of being civil for the most part and doing the jobs our constituents expect us to do,” Phair said. “Unfortunately when mud starts getting thrown by the mayor … it sort of brings us all down.”
He’s right. Not only does this “mud throwing” make Soglin look unprofessional, it negatively affects the alders and the city government. Having served as mayor of Madison on three separate occasions, Soglin should know this formal decorum like the back of his hand. This is an unnecessary blunder for a politician with his experience.
Aaron Reilly ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in social work and economics.