Quest for Transparency - Moving Forward!
I was in Ireland last week for my son’s wedding. The ceremony was in a beautiful estate dotted with dairy cows. In Ireland, cows roam, graze and do what they want. Farmers milk them twice a day and convince them to change fields every week or so. These cows live as you would imagine cows living hundreds of years ago. It was most picturesque.
In government, there are those who look at citizens and see cows. They ask how can you make the most money from the citizens. Continuing the cow analogy, maybe you can get the cows to stay in a barn all day and you can milk them more often. You can control what they eat and how they move, and you can make more money. But my point is not how you raise dairy cows—it is that citizens are not to be farmed. Government should not look for every opportunity to make a profit off of its citizens.
I bring up this point because I am seeing this Council move forward, which is most exciting to me. It is wonderful to bring you all some GOOD NEWS. This Council just voted to change fees for the city. Many of the city fees (siding, roofs and other home improvement projects) were significantly higher than those of other towns in our county. The city did nothing to warrant these fees. We did not inspect for safety or quality work. We did nothing except charge citizens a gratuitous fee, when they just wanted to improve their homes. But Monday’s meeting changed that. The city council has decided that citizens are not cows. They are not to be farmed and fees will have a purpose—we will not milk our citizens.
This Council also tries to support its businesses along with our citizens in Kewaunee. The Council was asked to vote in support of a new business which would like to invest in our harbor. It cost the city nothing. This company just wanted a letter of support to help it navigate state and national bureaucracies. And the Council looked fondly on the opportunity to help out. Business and investment are often positive, and when a business is putting up its own money, that business idea is more likely to be successful.
Another bit of GOOD NEWS comes from our police chief, who demonstrated how to save money in government—and that is to look for waste. The city had been paying large phone bills, sometimes for phones that were not being used. After looking into the issue for the entire city, he was able to find $1300 of monthly savings! Thanks for that fiduciary responsibility regarding our citizen’s money!
Our city government is changing, both in its tone and its personnel. Last week the Council voted unanimously to post a job opening for a new city attorney. Hopefully we will fill that role soon. The Council also interviewed candidates for a new administrator and the mayor proposed a new committee structure. Council people will be showing up on more committees. Last year the new Council members were shut out of many committees. Now the people who stand for election will have larger access to many of the working committees that control different aspects of city government and planning. I, for one, welcome more involvement!
And finally, on a personal note, I just got back from Ireland where my son was married. It was a beautiful venue, very green with the countryside speckled with cows and sheep. In the springtime, Kewaunee and Ireland are quite similar. My family gathered for the festivities and the wedding was lovely. It was a wonderful day. After all the celebrating was over, I went back to my room and checked my messages before going to bed and noticed that I had lost a very dear friend. In fact, she was one of my first friends in Kewaunee, Jackie Yon. Jackie was one of my earliest and biggest supporters for my candidacy and an ardent supporter of this blog. She was constantly sending words of encouragement. It was a long night and I left behind a tear-soaked pillow. But I carry with me fond memories of long conversations that Jackie and I shared over the years. She was a wonderful friend and an asset to the city of Kewaunee in so many ways. I will miss her very much.
Thanks for listening,