Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Paul Soglin: Not a politician

I’ve got one advantage Obama didn’t have. He has a significant group that wants to obstruct everything. I’ve got a legislative body that is very realistic and can balance the competing values in terms of wanting to deliver immediate services along with the need for long-term stability.

Paul Soglin in the Cap Times on the difficulties he’s faced as mayor. 

It’s interesting to see Soglin take such a hard line against Dave Cieslewicz in this interview. I can’t tell if Soglin thinks Cieslewicz screwed up only on Overture and the last budget, or if Madison’s skyrocketing poverty rate is Dave’s doing.  The interview ends with Soglin sighing about Madison’s resources to combat poverty. Fitting, I think. 

One curious aspect of Soglin’s political persona is how he’s more of a self-described public servant than a politician. During the Cieslewicz administration, we’d be having a conversation about ‘political message’ similar to the discussion surrounding President Obama’s handling of the debt ceiling negotiations or health care debate. Did Mayor Dave drop the ball on Overture? What about Edgewater?

But Soglin is a rare elected official who knows his legacy in Madison was sealed the moment he won the District 8 council seat in the 1960s. The comments about Overture, the GOP-esque budget-slashing rhetoric, the anti-Mifflin tirade are all things you would never expect from a polished politician like Dave Cieslewicz.

But Soglin doesn’t really seem to give a shit about what people think of his Overture comments.

It was a very well-thought-out comment. I’m very concerned about Overture. We’ve had four specific financial crises. We’ve had CTM bailed out once and the Rep go under. The performing arts in this community are facing some very serious challenges. The (council and the Overture committee) have gone forward, and what have we got? They were going to save money by privatizing, and they go out and the lowest of five bids is $100,000 a year higher than the city was charging them!

I still don’t know which mayor I prefer. I miss Dave’s earnest coolness, not the kind you’d expect from a corrupt politician but the personality fitting for a mayor of a Midwestern city. But Soglin’s brashness conflicts well with the City Council and livens debate in the city. 

Maybe the different temperaments explain why Soglin could never win a Congressional seat but Cieslewicz stands a great chance of taking Tammy Baldwin’s seat in 2012—if he decides to run, of course. 


  1. madwonk posted this