Cieslewicz will be responsible for administering the corporation and its programs, fundraising and grant writing.
Let the speculation end. Though negotiations are ongoing, former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has accepted a job as a community development director, charged with guiding revitalization efforts in the Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods.
Fran Petonic, president of Meriter Foundation, says Cieslewicz will head a new community development corporation funded by Meriter, UW-Madison, St. Mary's Hospital and Madison Gas & Electric -- all entities with a stake in the near west-side Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods.
Cieslewicz will work as an independent consultant for the organization, which has not yet been legally formed, says Petonic.
A handful of people applied for the job but Cieslewicz stood out for a few reasons, she says. "Dave has a background even preceding his service as mayor in organizational development. And his commitment to downtown neighborhoods was clear throughout our conversations with him. I think he would say it fits with his continuing commitment to being environmentally responsible by maintaining core neighborhoods."
Cieslewicz, who writes the "Citizen Dave" blog on thedailypage.com, is vacationing in the Apostle Islands and did not return an email for comment.
Meriter has long been interested in developing affordable workforce housing for its employees and in fact offers down payment assistance for workers interested in living in the Greenbush or Vilas neighborhoods. Petonic says the CDC will focus on housing revitalization and economic development. Cieslewicz will be responsible for administering the corporation and its programs, fundraising and grant writing. He will also serve as the liaison to the Chamber of Commerce and, later in 2012, the liaison to City of Madison staff. The delay is appropriate given his recent post as mayor, says Petonic.
Since taking office, Mayor Paul Soglin has made no secret of what he thinks were Cieslewicz's shortcomings while mayor. But Petonic says she has no qualms about Cieslewicz being able to get things done at city hall given the current mayor's commitment to revitalization efforts in the neighborhoods around Meriter.
"Mayor Soglin, prior to his current service as mayor, was a member of the staff of WHEDA, who was a key partner from the beginning in launching Meriter's workforce housing program. He has been a supporter of workforce housing and this project from the beginning."