Madison Alders Debate Civil Rights and Cigar Bars

By: NBC 15
By: NBC 15

On the Madison Common Council's agenda Tuesday night... a proposed Department of Civil Rights.

The proposal would merge the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Affirmative Action Commission into one department.

Madison's Mayor tells us he's confident the proposal will pass, saying the merger will strengthen the organization as a whole.

But not everyone is happy about the idea, including one alderman, who wants more discussion on the issue. "I think the mayor has a golden opportunity to realize that he didn't get a mandate and that he could be a hero when it comes to civil rights by requesting that we take a little bit longer," says District 12 Alder Brian Benford.

"I think the fundamental issue here is that we're going to save over a hundred–thousand dollars in administrative overhead and use that money, plow that money into direct services, for people on the ground," says Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

The Mayor says although budget savings are an important factor in merging the EOC with Affirmative Action, he would have moved in this direction regardless.

We'll have the results of Tuesday night's vote Wednesday morning on NBC 15 News Today.

Meanwhile, Madison cigar lovers will have to find a new place to light up their stogies.

Tuesday night, the common council voted down a proposal to exempt the city's two cigar bars from the smoking ban ordinance, which goes into effect July first. The vote was 9–to–11.

Those in favor argued that the exemption was crucial to keeping their businesses afloat.

Those opposed say customers and employees are still putting their health at risk because of the exposure to second hand smoke.

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