It didn't have quite the gravity of President Richard Nixon meeting Mao Zedong in China. But on Martin Luther King Day, Mayor Dave met with Gov. Scott Walker for the first time.
Cieslewicz had been trying to meet with Walker since the governor was elected last November, only to have his overtures ignored (see Madison.gov, 1/13/2011). But after Isthmus asked the governor's office for comment on this snub, Walker invited the mayor to the Capitol for a chat.
"It was a good meeting," Cieslewicz says. "What I told him was I was not going to hold back on my criticism of his policies when I disagreed with him, when I felt it was bad policy for Madison. But I would keep the criticism to policy and not get personal."
Cieslewicz asked for an "open-door policy," whereby the governor would return phone calls within a day or two. "Even though we're on different political planets, I hope we can find ways to work together on at least some things. He agreed to all of that."
Whether or not Cieslewicz wins reelection this spring, state cuts to municipal revenue seem likely, as the governor tries to close a $3 billion deficit while creating new tax breaks for business. Cieslewicz argued for keeping those revenue streams, but he also had a backup pitch.
"If there are going to be cuts, I asked him as a supporter of local control to allow Madison to deal with those cuts in the way Madisonians want them to be addressed," he says. "If all you do is cut state aid and then come down hard on levy limits, then you're forcing service cuts."