Tuesday, May 19, 2009

City Council Members Fail to Serve the Community

Last night the city council voted against rescinding their earlier removal of 4 library board members.

While I think that is a boneheaded move, what really bothers me is the utter failure of some council members to properly represent and serve the community. Last night's (in)action reveals and utter lack of personal responsibility or transparency in some members' representation of the citizens of West Bend.

First, Alderman Richard Lindbeck abstained from the reconsideration, citing "being out of town the last month" and for "personal reasons." WTF? If he was out of town the whole month, what is he doing sitting on the Common Council in the first place? Did he abstain from every vote taken last night? Nope. Just this one. What does being out of town have to do with anything? Does he not have e-mail? Can he not read news online? This makes no sense.

And what are these "personal reasons" that would suddenly compel someone to not confirm/rescind a vote that he felt perfectly fine casting a month ago? Citizens in his district should demand an explanation for his silence (no matter which way he would have voted).

Second, Alderman Michael Schlofeldt changed his vote from originally supporting the reappointment of the board members, to voting against the rescind consideration. His reason? Well, apparently this alderman doesn't think his votes need to be publicly discussed: "Schlofeldt offered no public comment to the audience members for changing his mind, except to say that he phoned Dobberstein with his decision and didn’t want to discuss the conversation publicly."

The citizens of West Bend deserve better than to have Council Members first cite "ideology" for removing library board members, and then make sophomoric excuses and end-arounds to avoid going on record with their thoughts & decisions on this matter.

The city's Code of Ethics states (1.66):
Public officials and employees are agents of public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State and carry out impartially the laws of the nation, State and the City and to observe in their official acts the highest standards of morality and to discharge faithfully the duties of their office regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that the public interest must be their prime concern. Their conduct in both their official and private affairs should be above reproach so as to foster respect for all government.
Regardless of what you think of last night's outcome, the Common Council failed in this responsibility to the community.


  1. Spot on analysis. the common council has no courage. Terry Vrana should be recalled for being generally incompetent and a moron.

  2. They can't reconsider them, period. Wis. Stat. 62.09(2)(d) says : "An appointee by the mayor requiring to be confirmed by the council who shall be rejected by the council shall be ineligible for appointment to the same office for one year thereafter."

  3. Good to hear from John Foust, exile from the "brain trust" over at Boots & Sabers. Thank you Mark Peterson (Motley Cow) for linking to John's excellent parody site of the local blogging scene in West Bend: http://www.bootsandkittens.com/index2.php

    Awhile back, John did a "dead-on" post about the school referenda parties being held, and how WISSUP & Boots & Sabers were concerned that might facilitate "misinformation" - wow, concern about "misinformation" coming from bloggers yet!
    A little off-topic, I suppose, but for amusement purposes, maybe that post should be shown here - can't get a link to it, just the whole page that it is on. It really is funny.

    For some of you newbies to local blog issues, note that Alderman Turner's campaign was an offshoot of the Boots & Sabers, with the help of Daily News column by the chief blogger. And the site spawned the "conservative blogger wannabe" Ginny @ WISSUP - lots of helpful links/posts to drive traffic & attention to her causes. Then there is the whole school anti-referenda schtick that is common to both sites - and then remember where Tim Stefanski for school board came from - a lightweight like that needed lots of help. Now throw in some big media star(Mark Belling) & state senator (Glen Grothmann)and you can see where West Bend gets its squirrely reputation from. Don't try too hard to figure out all of that inbreeding - this isn't Kentucky (yet) you know.

    Seriously, John, according to City Attorney & corp counsel, supposedly the original action could have been rescinded by the Common Council which would have opened the door for reconsideration.

    Just for argument sake, we keep hearing that the "slate" was rejected - if one person is changed and everyone else stays, does that then become a "new slate" and eligible for adoption because it isn't the same "slate" as was rejected? I'm not up on the nuances, but it seems like nobody was individually rejected, just the whole "slate". When they consider a whole batch of bartender licenses as one consent item ("slate"?), they pull out any persons individually that they have concerns about, they don't reject the whole contingent.

  4. Yikes. You're using foul language and you sound like an attack dog. The way you ripped those council members to shreds, do you think they will ever give you any further credence? In my mind, your credibility just dropped to zero.

    If there's any "politicization of the library board," it's a board that's responsive to the ALA and not the citizens.

    The board refused to act. It refused to address the concerns solicited from a citizen under its own policy. It refused to comply with its own policy.

    The government is right to oust the people who refuse to comply with their own policy. The government ousted the people pursuant to the proper exercise of governmental powers. New people will be appointed who will, it is hoped, finally comply with the policy and finally respond substantially to the citizen's complaint.

    The government is perfectly within its rights to act as it has. The government was given the right of appointment and reappointment for precisely this purpose. It has acted justly.

    The only "politicization" going on here was a board responsive to an out-of-town organization that cares absolutely nothing for your local laws, your local customs, and your local citizens. The board dragged its feet. Indeed the request for reconsideration is still outstanding after months. Like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going. The board should have addressed it long ago.

    The response is so long overdue that people are talking like it doesn't even exist:

    "These were four very qualified people who collectively have a lot of experience on these issues," says library director Michael Tyree about the board members who were up for reappointment. "They were doing what they were supposed to do—wait for the Maziarkas to resubmit their reconsideration for library materials." See "West Bend City Council Fails to Reinstate Library Board Members," by Debra Lau Whelan, School Library Journal, 20 May 2009. The library decided on its own to drop it, now it claims it is waiting for resubmission. And the government isn't supposed to oust these people?

    The board's last action was to issue a statement that it may never get around to responding as it should under its own policy. The government was forced to act under the circumstances to a board that was so "politicized" that it boldly stated it would refuse to respond to a request brought under its own policy.

    That's what is really the problem here. That's why people are so desperate to make it appear like this is the government's problem when it is really the board's own internal problem borne by its adherence to out-of-state policies.

    Had the board acted one way or another, this would not have happened. It's the board's own fault. Don't blame the government for refusing to reappoint people who refused to comply with their own policies.

  5. @ SafeLibraries:

    What foul language? (And you accusing me of being an attack dog is hilarious, given your rhetoric on your blog).

    And my "ripping the council members to shreds" - well, if they can't take criticism over their actions, they shouldn't be in public office. And if the criticism hurts, that only confirms that what I'm saying is valid. They need to answer to the citizens. Period.

    And precisely what is the policy that has not been followed? Please provide me with those details.

  6. My comment about the reappointment stands: If the Council rejected candidate(s) for an appointment, then those particular people can't be reconsidered for a year. Like it or not, this is the law in Wisconsin. You can't bring it back by traditional means (like finding someone who wants to reconsider, etc.) The candidates have to sit out for a year.

  7. @JohnFoust: well, it seems the city attorney doesn't agree with your (legal?) intepretation. My guess is that having the council rescind their original vote isn't the same as re-nominating someone for appointment again. But I'm no lawyer (are you?)