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Friday, July 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 71.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily


Hizzoner vs. Mayor Dave: Who led on Overture?

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The city's salvage job of the financially collapsing Overture Center for the Arts poses another leadership contrast between Madison's two mayoral candidates.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz appointed former Mayor Paul Soglin to an ad hoc committee studying alternatives for Overture's operation, and neither Cieslewicz nor committee chair Mark Bugher was impressed.

"Paul wasn't a helpful player," says Cieslewicz. "He was all over the place" in terms of saving Overture. Bugher, who's supporting the mayor's reelection, says Soglin was "frustratingly unpredictable," to where he wondered at times if Soglin "just preferred rolling a grenade across the floor."

Soglin responds with incredulity. Yes, his position moved from supporting city ownership to a nonprofit's ownership of Overture. He says that's because "the more I learned about the financial and management problems at Overture, the more I realized there was incredible financial risk for the city."

In the end, the city council adopted an ownership model based on Soglin's proposal (in which the private 201 State Foundation would both own and operate Overture) while rejecting the mayor's idea (a public-private model in which the city would own the facility while a private group would operate it).

"Credit where credit is due," Common Council President Mark Clear, who fashioned the approved plan, told The Capital Times. "The idea comes from former Mayor Soglin."

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