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CITIZEN DAVE: Thoughts and ideas about city building from Madison's former mayor


Citizen Dave: The person of the year for Madison? All of us

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Time magazine has shunned Miley Cyrus (she was actually on their short list) to pick Pope Francis as the 2013 Person of the Year. It was a good choice. The Pope has made a huge impact on the world in just his first few months on the job, and Cyrus was already overexposed anyway.

That got me to thinking about who would be the person of the year here in Madison. Who has dominated the news, for good or ill, in the last twelve months around these parts? The only name that sprung to mind was Matthew Hurtado, the owner of the late Snuggle House.

There just isn't one dominant personality in our town right now -- and that's a good thing. Madison has always been a place that's difficult for any one person to lead because we have more than 240,000 leaders. There's no shortage of civic energy or civic confidence. We go to lots of meetings and do it happily.

I know this from painful experience. Madison Magazine once picked me as person of the year. It was odd in a couple of ways. First, they chose me primarily because it was the year that Madison's half-century quest for a municipal swimming pool had finally been reached. That was, in fact, quite a big deal -- only I didn't do it. Irv and Bob Goodman did it, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

The other odd thing about it was that I was the only person of the year in history who didn't appear on the cover of that magazine. Madison Magazine makes money (or would in theory) by appealing to the business community. In my first term, I wasn't exactly popular among those folks and the editors figured that putting my mug on the cover wasn't going to sell many magazines. They were right, of course, but my feeling was that a guy probably only gets to be person of the year once in his life, even if it isn't deserved, so he should be able to send his mom a copy of the magazine with his picture on the cover. Geez.

Anyway, back to the local person of the year. It's not any one person, not even the beleaguered Matthew Hurtado, who just probably needs a nice hug right now. Had it remained open, the Snuggle House was likely to create far fewer troubles than your average bar.

But the person of the year here is us. All of us. We really do pretty much govern ourselves and make our own news. I wish we could all fit on the cover of a magazine.

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