Mayor Paul Soglin has called a special meeting with the Madison Common Council for Friday afternoon, although he is vague about what he wants to discuss.
"I wouldn't even call it a meeting," he says in a phone interview Wednesday morning. "It's just to chat about whatever people want to talk about."
Soglin says that meetings like this are not unprecedented, and that he has held them in previous years and believes that his predecessor, Dave Cieslewicz, also had informal get-togethers.
The mayor adds that a number of council members have asked him to add things to the budget and this is a good time to talk about that.
Several council members are uncertain why the meeting has been called. "Do you have an agenda?" asks Ald. Lauren Cnare. "I don't even know who else is going."
"I honestly have no idea what the meeting is about," says Ald. Lisa Subeck.
Says council president Chris Schmidt: "I don't what he wants to talk about or why he's being so vague about it."
Schmidt is out of town, but both Subeck and Cnare say they plan to attend the meeting, set for 1:30 p.m. Friday in the mayor's relatively small conference room. If most of the council and media attend, it will be a cramped, stuffy meeting. By law, the council has to give 24-hour notice when council members might gather and have a possible quorum. The meeting had not yet been posted as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Some speculate that the meeting might have been called after the council's regular Sept. 17 meeting, when Soglin got into an argument over Robert's Rules of Order with Schmidt. Schmidt admits the mayor was right and city attorney Mike May issued a memorandum (PDF) on the matter.
Soglin is notorious for being cantankerous, especially with the media, but the relationship between the council and mayor does not appear to be particularly strained.
Ald. Lisa Subeck says she has a decent relationship with the mayor. "My experience with the mayor is when we've disagreed, we've disagreed vehemently, but we can also turn around and work on the next issue together," she says. "Disagreement doesn't always mean a negative thing."
But she adds: "If this is about reaching out and broadening communication, only good can come out of it."