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Madison Municipal Building

A Madison committee approved a task force Tuesday to study the city's government. The proposal was a compromise between two competing ideas for the task force.

Madison officials reached a compromise Tuesday on the shape of a task force to study the city’s government.

The Common Council Executive Committee voted to support a new option to examine the makeup of Madison’s government, the powers of elected officials and its vast network of committees.

Mayor Paul Soglin and Ald. Sara Eskrich, 13th District, offered separate proposals for the task force, varying in the number of members, who appoints the members and what they study.

But Ald. Rebecca Kemble, 18th District, crafted a third option to combine “substantive” aspects of both plans after the committee failed to make a recommendation on either of the proposals at its two previous meetings.

“It speaks to the fact that we can come up with a good way of putting all the different ideas together,” said Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, 5th District. “That’s kind of the point of a legislative body.”

The task force Soglin proposed would have had 17 members: 15 city residents appointed by the mayor and two City Council members selected by the council president. Eskrich proposed four council members and three residents with experience in governance and community engagement, all to be appointed by the council president.

Kemble’s plan meets in the middle, calling for an 11-member task force. The council president and the mayor would each appoint two council members and three city residents, while also jointly selecting a chairperson.

The committee amended the plan Tuesday at the request of Ald. Denise DeMarb to add a 12th, nonvoting member to either be filled by the mayor or a deputy mayor.

“I just think it’s super important for someone from the mayor’s office to actually sit on this committee as a member,” said DeMarb, 16th District.

Kemble’s option also clearly categorizes what the task force would study in terms of the mayor, City Council, the committee system and the government structure in general.

It also calls for $30,000 to be included in the 2018 operating budget for the task force for public outreach, the City Attorney’s Office to staff the task force and cooperation with the city’s racial equity and social justice team.

Recommendations and suggestions would be due to the City Council by the end of 2018.

The proposal will go before the council on Sept. 5.


Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.