The clash between the Madison business community and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has escalated.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, joined by two other business groups, issued a press release Wednesday night objecting to the appointment of Bill Clingan as the city's new economic and community development director.
"We've compromised along the way to achieve this position, and the fact that the mayor has chosen a candidate without economic development experience is extremely disappointing," chamber president Jennifer Alexander said.
On Monday, Mark Bugher, chair of the city's Economic Development Commission (and vice chair of the chamber's executive board), resigned in protest of Clingan's appointment, saying that the mayor rejected a better qualified candidate who had been endorsed by a city screening committee.
The mayor fired back in a letter to Bugher on Wednesday, defending his pick: "Bill Clingan grew up in Madison, served his community on the school board, and is a seasoned administrator with two decades of experience in large, complex organizations."
Here's how Madison business groups view the Clingan appointment:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2007
Freya Reeves, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: 443-1952
Susan Schmitz, Downtown Madison, Inc.: 443-1970
Carole Schaeffer, Smart Growth Madison: 663-2005
Madison Business Community United in Opposition to Mayor's Appointment for Economic and Community Development Director
Candidate's lack of experience on economic development issues a key concern
(Madison, Wisconsin)... Representatives of the Madison business community united today to voice their disappointment with Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and his decision to appoint Bill Clingan as the new Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Madison. The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Madison, Inc. and Smart Growth Madison do not support the appointment.
"The business community fought hard for a cabinet level position for economic development," said Jennifer Alexander, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. "We've compromised along the way to achieve this position, and the fact that the Mayor has chosen a candidate without economic development experience is extremely disappointing."
All three organizations acknowledged their respect for Clingan and his community experience, but as Carole Schaeffer, Executive Director of Smart Growth Madison noted, "It's not about the personality, it's about the qualifications and the experience to match the vision statement created by the selection committee, and Clingan does not have that experience."
"A very qualified group of people were appointed to evaluate candidates for the City's Economic and Community Development Director position. Ignoring the committee's recommendation is contrary to the spirit of partnerships that led to the creation of this position," said Susan Schmitz, President of Downtown Madison, Inc.
In a recent news release, Mayor Cieslewicz cited Clingan's management experience as his qualification for the position. University Research Park Director, Mark Bugher, who resigned as Chairperson of the Economic Development Commission upon hearing the news responded, "Using that logic, I'd make an excellent Police Chief."
Before becoming official, the appointment must be approved by the Common Council.
Alexander concluded: "Economic development and community development can and should work together, but we need a person with strong skills and experience in both areas to lead the City forward. We can't afford to miss this opportunity."
The mayor's appointment of Clingan will be taken up as a new item by the Madison Common Council on Tuesday, Oct. 2, when it is expected to be referred to the Board of Estimates before returning to the council for a final vote on Tuesday, Oct. 16.