Quest for Transparency - City Updates

Updated: Oct 3

Hello everyone,

I was stopped in the Pig recently and asked, “What’s up?” I hadn’t written a blog in a few weeks, and the inquisitive resident was worried that blogs were being silenced. I assured him—they aren’t. He asked if there was anything new going on and I said there were many things happening and that I would send out a blog soon. In fact, the council has never been busier since I have arrived. But I am not sure that I have a clear opinion on each issue, which has given me a slight case of writer’s block. However, as that resident reminded me, it’s a Quest for Transparency—I am writing to inform, not to persuade. So even when I don’t know quite which side I will fall on, I still must inform people what the issues are. So here are a few very big issues that are in the works right now. And I am not clearly for or against them. The first issue is redistricting. We all know that every ten years there is a US Census. And from that, we get new population counts right down to the block level. In Wisconsin, this means that every county must redraw their supervisory districts. And we in turn must redraw our aldermanic districts as well. That means some of you who voted for me (or against me) in the last election will find that you and I may not be in the same district in the next election. Frankly, I feel very possessive about my district, but I couldn’t explain quite why. If this block came into my district, or another block left it, why should I care? But I do care—a lot! After a little introspection, I realized that I like my district because it has families and retirees. It has a historic district and parks. It has hard-working mothers and fathers that are very busy and need someone they trust to watch the city for them. That is the job I set for myself when I ran for Council. So now, if I end up representing downtown or the business district out on 29, that’s a different job, and I will need to figure out the best way to represent them as well. I do represent the whole city, but currently I do it through the eyes of families and retirees. So far, it looks like my district will be roughly similar to what it has been, however, other districts may change more radically. I am watching the process, and learning about how to best advocate for the city and all its districts. There will be a special meeting to vote on the new map coming up in a few weeks. If you are interested, watch out for an announcement and come to the meeting. The second issue is also very important. And it’s something that I can’t say I am for or against. The Hamechek property is a piece of land between Ellis and the harbor across from Lakehaven Hall. Many people park there when they attend Lakehaven events. The land has stunning views, and if you are on the water, you can sidle right up close to it and dock your boat. The city wants to develop this land, and there is a lot of taxpayer money riding on it. In fact, there is over four years of property taxes on the line. Yep, the city is thinking about devoting every penny of our entire city property taxes for more than four years, to build something there. Up for debate is WHAT we want to build and WHO would build it. My residents of the 2nd District would like a viable downtown business district. But they also don’t want their money wasted. I am watching carefully—it’s a lot of money. Development can be good, but we need the right developer. Cities have been known to throw millions away when they think they know better than business people about business. If banks and investors don’t see the value in a project, shouldn’t the city wonder why? Speaking of development, there are some updates on the Marquette School property. The Historic Preservation Commission has been working hard to create architectural guidelines that would help developers understand what types of construction would be compatible with the historic homes in the area. We will be discussing these guidelines in the next Council meeting, so stay tuned for this new information. Finally, there is the fourth issue—if you haven’t watched closely, you may not have noticed. Our administrator has not been at work in a long time. Our mayor has missed many recent meetings. What’s going on? Is it a private matter or is it something else? I don’t know. I have offered myself to City Hall to fill in where I can be useful. The people working there are taking on more work than before. And we have budgets to do. And as I said before, redistricting is going on. It’s a very busy time at City Hall. If someone is going through a personal crisis, I want to be respectful. But we also have a city to run, and the people of Kewaunee have a right to transparency. All these issues are important and all of them are in flux. Our residents have a right to know what’s going on and how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. I will try to keep you informed as events unfold. Big decisions are being made, so keep reading. And come to our meetings. Government works best when everyone is watching. Thanks for listening, Wendy

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