Reader: City council not open or transparent
If my memory serves me right, the current mayor and city council rode the horse of openness and transparency to power. The old council was accused of being too secretive and of doing its business behind closed doors and at inconvenient times.
One of the first acts of the current council was to elect a new president and the first vote came out a tie. Rather than discussing this in open session, and deciding what to do in full view of the citizens, the two candidates went into a private session, with the blessing of the Mayor, city attorney, and other council members. When the candidates came out, they announced that they had reached an agreement as to who would be the president. No mention of what deal was made between the two aspirants, or how they reached the agreement. No discussion or even questions on the part of other council members – just an announcement. So much for openness and transparency, not to mention the lack of following democratic principles.
Now a second issue has arisen which is at least as troubling: the sale of “Timber Drive Property.” This action was referenced in the move to closed sessions Sept. 28 and Oct. 12. Following the second closed session, the Council passed a resolution offered by Ald. Rossing and seconded by Daniels to sell city owned property for $100,000 for a housing development. No discussion, no questions, no explanation, no public hearing and no information to the public: just the sale of city property. It is important to note that the alderperson for the district in which the property is located was unable to attend either of the meetings because of a medical condition, and was not allowed to join the closed session electronically because of the council’s policy. What this means is that the people of the district had no representation in regard to the sale of the property. Nada, zip, nothing. The property was just sold. So much for openness and transparency.
At the council meeting on Nov. 10, in his opening remarks the Mayor said that, “any property the city owns is approachable for sale. That doesn’t mean we’ll sell it or anything else.” With the history of these two events, I won’t be surprised if I wake up one morning and find out that Hodag Park has been sold to an out-of-town developer.
Jim Leschke, Rhinelander