WisBusiness.com: Mayor, chamber air differences over appointment

By Brian E. Clark

A Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” breakfast that featured Mayor Dave Cieslewicz Wednesday morning was “professional and respectful,” according to attendees.

But it probably did little to bridge the gap between the mayor and a business community upset over his appointment of Bill Clingan to head an economic and community development agency.

“We continue to disagree,” said Jennifer Alexander, president of the chamber. She said her group would urge City Council members to vote against the appointment when it comes up next month.

“We feel strongly that the gentleman selected is not the right one,” Alexander said of Clingan, a division administrator in the state Workforce Development Department.

“The chamber wants someone who really understands and has a background in economic development.”

George Twigg, a spokesman for Cieslewiecz, said the breakfast went well. But he agreed that “there are still some honest disagreements about who is the best candidate.”

He said the mayor accepted responsibility for not communicating “as well as he could have” with the business community over the appointment.

“But the discussion was constructive and civil,” Twigg said “He talked about common ground. No rotten fruit was thrown and there were no pitch forks or torches in evidence.”

Mark Bugher, who quit his post as chairman of the city’s Economic Development Commission over the mayor’s choice, attended the breakfast meeting but declined to comment on the continuing controversy.