This week’s Viewpoint letters
Reader: A question everyone should be asking
I suspect that, by now, most of the folks in the town of Schoepke know that a mining interest called Badger Minerals is proposing to conduct exploratory drillings near the Upper Wolf River, by Stockley Creek. Badger Minerals has a mailing address in Menomonie, Mich., and they are subsidiary of a Canadian company.
The part of Schoepke that is being targeted, is zoned “General Use.” What many may not know is that “General Use” means something substantially different than it did two or three years ago. The Planning and Development Committee, led by Dave Hintz and Scott Holewinski, decided to allow metallic mining, as a permitted use, in areas zoned “General Use.” Under the previous mining ordinance, metallic mining was only allowed in areas zoned “Manufacturing and Industrial.” For a mine to be constructed at the Stockley Creek site, it would have had to be rezoned to “Manufacturing and Industrial.” A rezone is a significant hurdle that the mining interests do not like and that also happens to protect people living in the impacted area. This important protection has now been eliminated, thanks to these supervisors, and a majority of the county board.
Some supervisors, pushing for a mine at Lynne, have been working for several years to allow metallic mining in areas zoned “1-A Forestry.” They were finally successful, only to find out that a significant majority of voters don’t want a mine at Lynne. Were those same supervisors pushing for a mine in Schoepke, by allowing metallic mining in “General Use?” We may never know, because the process used to construct the current mining ordinance was shrouded in secrecy. The public hearing on the ordinance was a sham.
This is just one of several important protections that were eliminated by our county government when it rewrote our mining ordinance, and we are already seeing the negative implications of these changes.
Everyone in Oneida County should be asking this question. Why would our county government remove important provisions designed to protect the people that live, work and pay taxes here?
Karl A. Fate, Rhinelander
Representation on the ballot
On April 7 we will be going to the polls to cast votes for not only for who we want to represent us but how we want to be represented.
Over a dozen communities in the Northwoods will have referendum questions advising our state representatives to change the way we draw district maps and to take the influence of dark money out of politics. The Fair Maps Referendum asks that our districts be created by a nonpartisan commission working with 2020 census information and recognizing that maps should not be drawn to benefit one political party over another. The referendum asking to overturn Citizens United gives voice to the concern that money equates to speech.
Our democracy should not be sold to the highest bidders. Equitable representation requires a level playing field and we are seeing more and more money being poured into campaigns than ever before. I urge you to vote yes on both referendum questions if they appear on your ballot. If you don’t see them, ask your local elected officials in your towns and villages why you were not given the opportunity to vote along with your neighbors on April 7.
Steven Schreier, Rhinelander
‘No confidence’ at city hall
On Wednesday, March 11, it will be one year since a “No Confidence” letter was submitted by employees of city hall to the council, which was unfortunately just dismissed.
Those employees have continued to have to deal with the same issues for well over a year.
Why weren’t, why aren’t they believed? Why has nothing changed?
Have sent the question, via emails to the mayor and council members, asking why one employee’s unacceptable behaviors and attitude is allowed to persist? Do they allow it because they themselves do not have to work on a daily basis with this? Or perhaps the person does not display this attitude toward them? Or do they just consider this behavior and attitude acceptable? How can they not believe these employees?
Have to wonder is would this type of behavior/attitude by one person toward the others they work with be allowed at the Courthouse? Sheriff’s Department? Police Department? School system? Chamber ? Other businesses in our city? If not, then why at Rhinelander City Hall?
Those “in charge,” who are suppose to be mayor/council have had the ability to end it, but if not, will have to continue to question why not.
Our city hall staff members deserve to be treated better, they deserve to be treated right! They should be working in a “friendly” comfortable atmosphere. There are committees being set up to deal with ethics and bullying.
There is already in place a city of Rhinelander personnel policies and employee manual which spells out very clearly what is expected from city employees, which includes a good team attitude, being courteous and respectful, communicating “pleasantly and respectfully with other employees at all times,” plus having “everyone work together efficiently, effectively, and harmoniously.” That includes anyone in a management position.
The manual can be viewed on line. Check it out.
I have been thanked by others for continuing to question why this issue has not been dealt with and asked what motivates me to continue to do so. I happen to not only like the staff members but also believe them. Also, my father raised his daughters to expect to be treated with respect and if not, to demand it.
Lastly, to the person who mailed me, without signature or return address, my last letter to the papers, with the words “BUTT OUT B—CH” written on it, thank you. Proves I am getting through to someone and you definitely motivate me to continue to do so!
Kate White, Rhinelander
April 7 ballot referenda questions
Will my April 7 ballot have non-binding referendums? Yes, if you live in Eagle River, Arbor Vitae, Boulder Junction, Lac du Flambeau, Manitowish Waters, Phelps, Plum Lake, Presque Isle, and Winchester in Vilas County and in Rhinelander, Pine Lake, Crescent, Pelican, Woodruff, Hazelhurst, Lake Tomahawk and Newbold in Oneida County.
What are the questions? “Should Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting maps after each census?” And, “Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to state that only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights (not corporations, unions, nonprofits or other artificial entities) and that money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting speech?” Plum Lake and Newbold will have only this one question.
How can I learn more about the questions? Attend Information meetings for the public with speaker Matt Rothschild Thursday, March 19: 10 a.m. at Rhinelander City Hall; 2 p.m. at Eagle River Olson Library and 6 p.m. at Woodruff Town Hall.
How did referenda come to be on the ballot? Both initiatives arose from non-partisan grassroots volunteer efforts. The Fair Elections Project came about to replace Wisconsin’s partisan voting map drawing by whichever political party controls the legislature at the time with a non-partisan process similar to what Iowa has used for decades. United To Amend formed 10 years ago urging a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that ruled corporations and unions have the same free speech guarantee that humans have and that money is speech. That ruling did away with the campaign donation limitations of the McCain/Feingold Law.
Kay Hoff, Minocqua