Quest for Transparency June 27, 2021
I have been your District 2 Council person now for 68 days. My first order of business has been to make the mayor understand that the council is endowed by the state of Wisconsin to govern the city. The COUNCIL oversees the city, as it is expressly written in Wisconsin State statute 62.11(5)...
The council shall have the management and control of the city property, finances, highways, navigable waters, and the public service, and shall have power to act for the government and good order of the city, for its commercial benefit, and for the health, safety and welfare of the public, and may carry out its powers by license, regulation, suppression, borrowing of money, tax levy, appropriation, fine, imprisonment, confiscation, and other necessary or convenient means. The powers hereby conferred shall be in addition to all other grants, and shall be limited only by express language.
The council is a team acting together to govern the city IN FULL VIEW of our constituents. When we question the mayor or staff in council meetings, we do this so that their answers are public. The public has a right to know what we are doing in City Council. That is why we have an Open Meetings Act. I am hoping that the mayor will learn that he will be questioned when he does anything “for the city” without Council knowledge or approval. And he will have to answer publicly for his actions. This is our job as the City Council. So far, when the mayor gets pushed, he just gets cranky and closes all discussion on a topic. What he should be doing is proudly explaining his actions if he can.
Another council job is the “management and control” of property and finances. The council is reasserting proper oversight over these functions. Many of my constituents have talked my ear off regarding the shocking unilateral financial decisions that occur in City Hall. How did a contract get negotiated, reviewed and signed without the Council’s knowledge or consent? It seems sneaky and can hardly invoke trust amongst the public. Why hide an act if you are proud of it? And if the mayor is proud of this contract, I have a few questions. Why has Robbie Davister been working on commercial buildings when Robbie, himself confirmed during our last meeting that he did not yet have a commercial building inspection license?
The council will be presenting resolutions and discussions designed to show the people of Kewaunee that they matter and that we care about what is important to them. We will support the formation of a finance committee like so many other Wisconsin towns who enjoy lower property taxes than ours.
In the past year, the city has spent wildly on land that was literally under water. And the city has offered to give away city land or sell it for virtually nothing. Since city property is the very first listed control given to the council by the state, we intend to do a better job overseeing the purchase or sale of city land.
In the past, city meetings have been boring. Not many questions were asked and the public was left to understand that everything had been worked out behind closed doors. Instead, I propose lively discussion, legislative action and real votes. And we will wield the authority given to us by the voters in Kewaunee and the State of Wisconsin. And I invite you all to come to our meetings and watch democracy at work.
Thanks for listening,