No money for more Madison police but plenty for Common Council staff

UPDATE: Was there a roll call on approving the contract for the hiring of a Common Council chief of staff? No there was not. The voice vote in favor was declared unanimous.

I am put in mind of my old seat mate on the Dane County Board, the late Bill Hitzemann, who farmed in the Town of Blue Mounds. Bill acted the country bumpkin from the “Shiftless Area,” his typically humorous term for the Driftless Area of western Dane County that had not been scoured by the glaciers. In truth, he was a well read conservative intellectual, constantly pressing reading material into my hands.

No one cried out “Roll Call” more than Bill. As often as not, the roll would reveal the vote as 36 to 1, the one and lonely being Supervisor Hitzemann. Bill would smile with satisfaction. His brave opposition had been recorded for posterity.

I am put in mind of Bill Hitzemann for two reasons, the first and most important of which is that the roll was not called for an important vote conducted on June 6, 2017, when the Madison Common Council voted — in a voice vote — the creation of a council chief of staff.

Tonight (12-5-17), the Council (agenda here) will formally hire that chief of staff, one Kwasi K. Obeng of Chicago, at an annual salary of $105,000 plus civil service benefits. Or is it $107,000?

Nice work if you can get it

Kwasi Obeng

Kwasi Obeng

Common Council president Marsha Rummel announced Monday night  that Mr. Obeng will get a $2,000 raise before ever having been hired.

Rummel explained that “the Common Council Executive Committee  selected him and then introduced the contract on the Council floor the same day. I’ve been told that this turnaround was faster than the usual process,” Rummel added in what must surely be the understatement of the day.

The new hire apparently received — or, at least, claims — he got a counter-offer from his employer. Other city employees are getting a 1% pay raise. The new chief of staff’s hike works out to 2% but never mind, he is exempt from the civil service rules — but not the fringe benefits!

The position was created as a counter-balance to Mayor Paul Soglin. A full-time strategist and lobbyist for the anti-Soglin faction. Not even the state legislature has a chief of staff.

The Common Council votes tonight on the contract. Ald. Paul Skidmore tells me he is a No vote. Paul, call the roll! But we do know who sponsored this unnecessary accretion of government. They are:

Alds. Rebecca Kemble, Marsha A. Rummel, Samba Baldeh, Denise DeMarb, Sheri Carter, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Matthew J. Phair, Michael E. Verveer.

Kemble Rummel Baldeh DeMarb Carter

Voted against more police but sponsored $100,000+ in more Council staff

The first five voted against adding more local dollars to the application for a federal police grant (the sixth was Ald. Amanda Hall). No money for police, but plenty of money for Common Council bureaucracy.

Since the police money was tied to the federal grant, under council rules, a three-fourths majority must authorize releasing the local match. That’s 15 votes — one more than voted for the Skidmore amendment. Getting that extra vote is a tall order. In our observation of that roll call, Bidar-Sielaff hesitated before mumbling her Yes vote.

True north, true Willett

Now, to close my Bill Hitzemann analogy, congratulations to my old friend Dennis O’Loughlin on retiring after 20 years on the county board. Dennis spearheaded construction of the new courthouse, terribly compromised though it is.

The very substantial Capital Newspapers story that ran Sunday called Dennis “the last of the old guard of conservatives on the board, in the mold of Lyman Anderson, Don Heiliger and Bill Hitzemann, and brothers Mike and David Blaska.” Oddly, the Blaska Policy Werkes can find no equivalent news media encomium for Lyman Anderson, not even at his death in 2005, although former governor Tommy Thompson spoke at his standing-room only memorial service in the Oregon High School auditorium. This county board notice will have to suffice.

Mike Willett

Supv. Willett

I have yet to see any notice of the well deserved retirement of another former colleague, Mike Willett, who represents Verona. So this will have to suffice. Mike has been a stalwart conservative, most recently fighting against the liberals’ folly of reducing the capacity of the new county jail. (Story here.) Mike Willett also fought the new wheel tax. Dennis, you’re a nice guy (a problem your Squire never had) but you voted with the liberal majority for both. (UPDATE: and voted against allowing town governments to opt out of county zoning, a goal of conservatives since Lyman Anderson was candling eggs.)

Anderson, Heiliger, and Hitzemann — and Willett and Skidmore — were and are men of courage — not afraid to buck the prevailing political winds. To be on the losing end of a 37 to one vote. Their compass stayed true north no matter the election results.


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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15 Responses to No money for more Madison police but plenty for Common Council staff

  1. Batman says:

    Anyone know if there is an official job description for the new Council Chief of Staff?
    Is this a 40hr/wk job?
    Is there an official job description for council members and any requirement for hours worked?

    And, what are the benefits associated with these particular civil service positions?


  2. LMason says:

    Batman, a friend of mine asked this same question as far as a job description for council members back in August of this year. They received this answer from Debbie Fields, Secretary, Office of the Common Council: ‘The closest thing we have to a job description is the attached brochure: “What is an Alder’s Role in the City of Madison?” You can also find it on the Council’s website at There’s a link about halfway down the page under “What’s Going On.”’ A few interesting tidbits regarding what an alder’s role is comprised of — “Conduct yourself in a professional manner.” “Follow all ethics rules and other applicable standards of conduct.” Here is the link given for the ethics rules: I’m sorry — just one more, “Help make City government accessible and welcoming to all Madison residents.” There should be a postscript to that one that says, “Unless said residents have opposing views to those of the liberals alders.” Seems to be very little accountability — the job duties I mentioned above should be common sense, but instead (even with them in print), they seem to be too much for a majority of the alders to handle. Happy reading!


  3. Dave, not B says:

    I’m sure the job requirements are the same as for the FBI – died in the wool liberal that will do anything to stop conservatives.


  4. madisonexpat says:

    The FBI is the Praetorian Guard of the Washington DC Party. Comey, McCabe, Muellar et al saw nothing wrong with the Clinton’s obstruction of justice meeting with Lynch on the tarmac and saw nothing wrong with Hillary’s egregious violations of security, nor the bribery behind Uranium One.
    If it is not purged of its hacks then it will be referred to in future as the FIB.
    And Bob, your assertion? Its “dead”.
    As in anytime a Lefty tells us something is bi or non partisan. It sure is liberal.


    • AnonyBob says:

      Oh yeah, law enforcement, especially the FBI, is such a hotbed of lefties. Your Hillary Hatred blinds you


      • Patrick M O'Loughlin says:

        The FBI is hardly a typical law enforcement agency. And much like the Secret Service and CIA, they attract a substantial number of liberals to their ranks.


      • Batman lives says:

        Correction ABob; the MANAGEMENT of the FBI is a hotbed of corruption. Began with Hoover. It is so freaking obvious that even you should be able to comprehend. Who knows how much it trickles down to the agents in the field…certainly to some degree. Something all of us should be concerned about.


      • madisonexpat says:

        Tucker Carlson correctly names Comey the most corrupt cop in the country. Hillary fan boy Stroke/Struck is canned after exonerating Hillary and buying the whizzing hookers Dossier from Christopher Steele which her campaign also funded. FBI as non partisan and honest as you, Bob.
        Quick Cato! How are my popcorn futures doing?


      • @AnonyBob;

        Hillarity Hatred?? We don’t need no stinkin’ Hillarity Hatred

        BTW, is Hillarity going to return ALL those campaign donations from Harvey because she KNEW he was just like her hubby, the former Serial-Sexual-Predator-In-Chief?

        Hey, maybe that why they all got along so well?

        The Gotch


      • madisonexpat says:

        I don’t hate Hillary. I don’t waste bandwidth or passion.
        Contempt for her? Yes. She and Bill and Harvey et al. Very contemptible.


  5. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Scolding liberals for wasting taxpayers’ money on redundant–or utterly useless–bureaucracy is like scolding a pig for stepping in the food trough–they’re just doing what comes naturally.


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