Ald. Paul Skidmore sees the city's numerous committees as a way of getting vital citizen input.
That's why he was upset when Mayor Dave Cieslewicz appointed his neighborhood liaison, Joel Plant, to the Public Safety Review Committee ("Alder: Mayor's Pick Is a Plant," 8/20/09).
Skidmore likes Plant, and even thinks he'd "be a great mayor someday." But Skidmore thinks having the mayor tap his own staff members for committee openings undercuts the goal of getting citizen input.
And so Skidmore plans to introduce a resolution next month to prohibit the mayor from naming members of Madison city staff as his designees. He cites an existing rule requiring citizens to chair most committees on which alders serve, meant to keep alders from undue influence.
"We need input from outside the inner circle," says Skidmore. "We need outside ideas."
Cieslewicz opposes the change that Skidmore is proposing. While he generally agrees that committees should be getting citizen input, he says a certain number of spots have been reserved for the "mayor or his designee."
"In most cases, it could be me [serving on the committee]," says Cieslewicz. "But I can't serve on everything. So I appoint someone close to me."