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Public office ain’t so public

By Darryl Enriquez

Being the Daily Reporter’s new guy in Madison, I paid a visit to City Hall to meet the folks who stay up all night and into the early hours of the morning to decide a hotel project.

My first visit was to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s office. I figured to start at the top and work my down the City Hall ladder. After stepping off the elevator, I suddenly felt very old-school.

I noticed that the entryways to most city offices were outfitted with heavy-duty security structures that prevented public access. You weren’t entering without being buzzed in.

In other words, a tax paying, voting citizen such as myself couldn’t just walk into an office and say a pleasant “hello” to Rosy the receptionist and ask to see the mayor or someone else who could solve a problem with one phone call.

Nope, there are walls of heavy-plate glass framed in thick wood telling me things ain’t gonna be that easy.

I’ve been around long enough to remember professional politicians who would have gasped at the sight.

Why? It screams: “I am not available to my constituents.”

I remember an old-time politico who always wanted his office door open. His secretary wanted it closed to keep in the air conditioning. He’d open it. She’d close it. Guess who lost. It was the maintenance guy who had to replace the door hinges.

During election time, the last thing voters want to hear is that their elected officials will be barricaded in ultra-secure offices. This isn’t meant to be a slam against Mayor Dave. It’s the culture of fear.

Yes, I know. There are safety concerns being in public life. I guess I’ve wanted to punch a few officials in the nose during my time as a gumshoe reporter.

But I was scared straight by Rosy the receptionist.

Darryl Enriquez is a reporter at The Daily Reporter. This probably won’t help his access to public officials’ offices.

One comment

  1. Not too many years ago the Dane County Coroner was murdered in his office at the City-County building by a gunman. Don’t you think that changes the way you do business?

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