I have always thought Dane County Executive Joe Parisi was a solid, experienced leader and a man of good judgement.

I still think that, though he’s starting to make me wonder what he’s thinking. About a month ago Parisi tried to fill one the county’s most important jobs, director of its sprawling human services agency, with Shelia Stubbs, a former county supervisor and currently a state legislator. He did that after a short search process, which didn’t seem like much of a search at all. He didn’t retain a search firm and apparently only a handful of candidates were interviewed. He selected Stubbs, a close political ally, even though she had no experience managing an agency anywhere near the size of Human Services with its 800 employees.

Then Stubbs went off and accused the county board — including its Black Caucus — of racism for simply raising relevant questions about her nomination. Things became ugly. Accusations flew. In the end only two supervisors voted for Stubbs.

Joe Parisi

In response, while making sure to skewer the board, Parisi called for a reset and time for “healing.” Then yesterday, without explanation, he hired Gloria Reyes, who just lost a Madison mayor’s race in April, to be a co-director of the agency while a new search is conducted. He did not say why the agency needed a co-director or why he selected Reyes, who does not need board approval for this limited term position. Board Chair Patrick Miles expressed surprise and raised new and appropriate questions about all this.

Far from healing, this feels like rubbing salt in the wound.

Let me phrase this as gently and carefully as I know how: What the hell is going on, Joe?


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

One thought on “Curiouser

  1. Just a wee taste of Chicago style politics creeping into Madison. This kind of stuff needs to stop. Credit goes to a voice like yours, Dave, and others that don’t want to see this kind of influence popping up into Madison politics.


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