To: George Twigg
Subject: Exit interview
We'd like to conduct an exit interview with you via email, as time permits. It will probably be an online offering, but if it's funny enough we may splurge on some ink.
To start: So you're leaving Madison next month to go back East. What's wrong with you?
To: Bill Lueders
I usually don't do things like this, being the "It's not about me, it's about my boss" kind of loyal spokesperson. And you might be disappointed, because even though I'm leaving, whatever I say about city politics, etc., will ultimately be seen as reflecting on the mayor's views, so I probably wouldn't be as candid as you'd like.
Bill: Honest to goodness, George. This can work. You can be politic if you must and still be funny and informative. You've always managed before.
George: Okay, fine. But don't expect me to go all McClellan on hizzoner.
Yes, I am leaving Madison to head back East. It's been a nice 10 years here, but I'm from New England originally (born and raised in New Hampshire, as is my wife). It's always been our hope to make our way back a bit closer to family. Plus, they have mountains out there.
Bill: So, Scott, what the worst thing about being a wage slave for Mayor Dave?
George: He works too hard and cares too much.
Bill: Is it true he works his staff like sled dogs?
George: As a former sled-dog racer, I can speak to this with some knowledge. The mayor does keep his staff working pretty hard. Part of it owes to the nature of city government - we have all these citizen committees that meet in the evenings. Part of it is having an active mayor with a big agenda. But alders work long, hard hours as well, and most also hold down day jobs.
Bill: Boy, you are a Gloomy Gus. What's the most fun you've had as the mayor's hired mouthpiece?
George: Probably election night in 2007, when the mayor got re-elected with 62% of the vote. It was a great victory, and because that night was a campaign event, I didn't have to do any of the work - campaign staff took care of it all.
Bill: And what was your absolute worst day as a shameless PR flack?
George: I don't know about "worst" day, but one tough day was when we announced D'Angelo was stepping down. There were lots of questions we couldn't answer (as is often the case with personnel matters), so the media were pretty frustrated.
Bill: Why don't you enjoy not answering questions? (A real softball here.)
George: I don't enjoy not answering questions because in most cases, the answer that I'd give, if I could, would help put things in a positive light, certainly more so than "The mayor's spokesman declined to comment." But sometimes our hands are tied.
Bill: Wrong answer. Should have been: "I can't answer that." Mind if I just quote you saying this?
George: I hereby retroactively declare my prior response off-the-record, and ask that you substitute your much wittier response. Think of it as good editing.
Bill: Done. Tell me one (other) thing you wish you'd handled differently?
George: Not allowing opponents of the streetcar concept to define the issue before we did.
Bill: So it really wasn't about Mayor Dave wanting to destroy life as we know it and hike taxes to the stratosphere so he could play with his electric trains?
George: Something like that, yep.
Bill: Of your office's many claimed accomplishments, what are you least ashamed of?
George: Just generally getting things done, and getting past the process paralysis that has sometimes characterized Madison city politics in the past.
Bill: Tell us one thing about Mayor Dave that hardly anyone knows.
George: He doesn't really like his dog.
Bill: Really? He doesn't like his dog?
George: Let's just say it's complicated.
Bill: Is it a sled dog?
George: Well, Calvin is a sheltie, so it would have to be a pretty tiny sled.
Bill: What will you miss most about Madison?
George: Besides the world-class alternative weekly newspaper? I think I'll most miss being in a place where you can enjoy so many big-city amenities, without most of the hassles of big-city life. You really get the best of both worlds here. I can certainly understand why so many people who come here for school or work never end up leaving.