Eileen Harrington, who spent her career in public service, recently served as Chair of Madison’s Taskforce on Government Structure (“TFOGS”). At the Rotary podium on October 21, she pointed out Madison’s city government needs restructuring. For example, fewer Madison residents are represented by local government compared to cities like Minneapolis and Austin.
She opened the program by asking, “What would it cost to have a full-time Common Council so that our city can thrive when we have excluded so many people? We need all hands on deck.”
Harrington, who grew up in Madison, retired from the Senior Executive Service of the United States Government at the end of 2012 after a distinguished twenty-eight year career protecting American consumers and leading change and programs in two different federal agencies. From 2010 through 2012 she served as Executive Director of the Federal Trade Commission, the senior career staff position at the FTC. Before that, she served as Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In 2004, she was awarded a Service to America Medal for her work creating the National Do Not Call Law and Registry. This is the same medal Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently received.
Madison’s Taskforce on Government Structure (seven residents and four alders) spent two years working together holding more than 90 meetings and making 42 recommendations.
Harrington said recommendations include the following: alderpersons should serve full time, the number of alders be reduced from 20 to 10 and that they serve four years instead of two years.
Currently, the Madison Common Council is a city council that consists of 20 alderpersons elected from 20 wards who serve two-year terms.
Another issue with the current structure is the disjointed source of information. Harrington explained, there are 102 boards, committees and commissions connected to Madison government but no one place to find information.
She ended the program by saying, “We need more full-time engagement on city boards, commissions and committees.” She also noted that there’s a lack of diversity in Madison’s city government and that is especially true with economic diversity.
Our thanks to Eileen Harrington for her presentation this week and to Sharyn Alden for preparing this review article. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/-_j9_uB1dPQ.