How messed up is the Madison Parks Division? Consider:
Former Madison Ald. Andy Heidt is "appalled" at recent devastation of the conservation woods at Madison's Olin-Turville Park. He says there's been "reckless cutting and plowing," presumably to deter sex encounters (see "Hey You, Knock that Off!," 10/8/09).
In the past, Isthmus would have contacted Russ Hefty, the city's conservation parks supervisor, who would have knowledgeably and tactfully addressed the issue. Now an inquiry to Hefty draws a terse email reply: "I am the project manager for the restoration effort at Turville. Please forward this request for information to Laura Whitmore," the division's spokeswoman.
Whitmore did not respond to the forwarded request.
Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin addressed this issue in a recent blog post. "No one is served well by limiting the speech of city staff," he wrote, noting that in his 14 years as mayor he asked only that employees "make sure you know what you are talking about" or else refer the matter to someone else.
The result? "There were a few embarrassing moments when a staff member said something and did not have all the information, but nothing that would remotely justify a gag order."