Brad Clark did not want to quit his job as head of the City Channel, where he'd worked for some 25 years and helped the station win dozens of awards.
"The circumstances were so bizarre," Clark says. "After 24 or 25 years of managing the place, seemingly to everybody's satisfaction, I feel like the rug was pulled out from under me."
Clark wasn't fired, but his position was reduced to half time, which was financially untenable for him. Although his wife also works, Clark explains that he has a daughter with multiple sclerosis and a son who wants to go to graduate school.
So Clark retired at the end of May. Although he's hoping to find full-time work, possibly with the city, he's currently working at a convenience store to bring in some cash. "I'm definitely looking for a more permanent position," Clark says. "I'm only 58. That's a little young to actually retire."
Some members of the Common Council were shocked to learn of the situation. "I had absolutely no knowledge that Brad's position was reduced to half time," says Ald. Mike Verveer. "The 2014 budget didn't highlight that fact nor did Brad bring that to the attention of anyone on Common Council."
Rich Beadles, the city's data center manager, says earlier this year the department studied Clark's hours. "It was pretty clear that the position was underutilized," Beadles says of Clark's job. "The time sheets he was turning in show he was busy about half the time."
However, Clark says that Beadles took over many of his job duties when City Channel was moved into the information technology department a couple of years ago. "I feel like he took over my role as manager of the place," Clark says. "I didn't have that much to do."
"I think [Beadles] had some ideas about what he wanted City Channel to be, and in some ways I was in the way," Clark adds. "I don't want to say he was looking to get rid of me, but that's what it felt like."
The department was restricted by union rules in what work it could assign Clark, who was considered management. "There was work to do, but by union rules, he couldn't do it," Beadles says.
Brad Wirtz, the city's personnel director, says the city looked at reclassifying Clark's job as a union position, to allow him to do more work. But Wirtz says the union -- in this case, AFSCME Local 60 -- objected. Jennifer McCulley, a representative for AFSCME Local 60, which represents some city employees, says the union generally doesn't want management jobs to be in the same bargaining group as rank-and-file employees, whom the manager might be evaluating or disciplining. "That creates a huge conflict of interest," she says.
During the 2011 mayoral campaign, Paul Soglin criticized then-Mayor Dave Cieslewicz for eliminating a job by cutting the budget. Arthur Ross, the city's bicycle-pedestrian safety coordinator, was slated to be laid off in mid-2011.
"I strenuously disagree with the notion that the mayor of Madison can write someone out of the budget," Soglin wrote on March 2, 2011, on his blog, Waxing America. "Last year Dave Cieslewicz decided to get rid of two city employees he did not like using the budget."
After Soglin won the election, he spared Ross' job. The mayor declined to speak to Isthmus about the situation with Clark.
But Wirtz says the two cases are different. Clark's reduction of hours was "not a mayoral decision," Wirtz says, adding: "If there's not enough work to do, we have to reduce the hours."
Meanwhile, Clark's old job has been reclassified to a union position, and will include some of Clark's old duties and additional technical work.