When former Madison Ald. Ken Golden announced two weeks ago that he is running for mayor next year, he accused the incumbent, Dave Cieslewicz, of not doing a good job. Among other things, Golden told the Wisconsin State Journal, Cieslewicz bullies city employees.
What does he mean? "I don't want to mention names," says Golden, "because they're still there." But he does offer this anecdote: "I had a bunch of lunch dates [with city employees], and when I announced I was running for mayor, they canceled. That tells you something right there. They just weren't comfortable being seen with me, and that's not a good sign."
Golden says the mayor "seems to have installed a cabinet form of government and wants them to be loyal to him." He thinks it's vital that department heads speak their minds, rather than say "what the mayor wants to hear."
He does cite one specific example - Mark Olinger not being reappointed as director of the department of planning, community and economic development. "I'm not sure why that happened. I know that Mark is very competent. He was not reappointed. That's the equivalent of being fired."
Cieslewicz says he's baffled by Golden's charge: "It's so off the wall, I don't even know what to say." He denies having fired Olinger, who continues to work at the city on an interim basis. "I have a good relationship with Mark. I like him very much."
The mayor chastises Golden for going on the attack: "I'm interested in talking about policy. If he's got disagreements on policy, gosh, I sure want to talk with him about it and have a healthy debate."
Golden says Cieslewicz's management style is one of a few themes he's developing for his campaign. "I don't know if that's a sexy enough issue to galvanize the people, but I'm going to make an issue of it."