OPINION: Don’t let misinformation leave you wrong

Misinformation and missing information are problems that won’t go away. Case in point: Just listen to people talk about Fowler Lake Village. If built, some say, St. Paul street will be closed. Wrong. The condo owners at FLV will own lakefront property. Wrong. If the development isn’t built, the city will be on the hook for $6.4 million. Wrong. The city-owned playground that sits on the lake front, next to St. Paul’s will disappear. Wrong. The popular boardwalk will be interrupted. Wrong. There will be less public parking. Wrong. Condo owners will take some of the public parking. Wrong. The list of misinformation is extensive. So what’s the solution? Yes the city has to do a better job disseminating information, but to its credit, it has taken action, including creating a website that is a major valuable information resource. But city staff and elected officials aren’t always able to easily share information. For example, there are legal issues associated with the city holding an “informational” meeting on key issues or concerns. The state’s Open Meeting Law comes into play and there is a lot of gray area around how such meetings are conducted, who can attend, etc. In the past, the city has took the position that if such a meeting were held, it would probably requite a legal notice and a published agenda. Plus the meeting would probably be conducted as a meeting of the Common Council, which has its own set of procedural constraints, many of which don’t support or encourage open dialog or public discourse. Council meetings are working sessions for the aldermen; not public forums....

2013 COMMENTARY–Online Updates for Area Sports … Who Really Cares? Apparently,You Do!

Data on Cooney football games reveals impact of social media By Gary Wipperman We are used to checking ESPN.com or NFL.com for up to the minute sports scores.  This is especially true when we are away from a television and the Packers, Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks are playing – (OK, well maybe not the Bucks). We are constantly refreshing our screens to get the very latest on that scoring drive, base hit, or buzzer beater. We have become an “always online” society and expect any news we receive will be the very latest.   At a national and even state level this is not a new occurrence. Ask your kids what options are available to get news, weather, and sports updates when you’re away from home and you will most likely get an eye roll and a look that confirms you are indeed a dinosaur.  So, we are used to getting our state and national sports updates by the minute delivered to our PC, tablet, smartphone, or even smart TV.  What about local sports updates?  Is there a demand for that in our community? I decided to put that question to the test the past two weeks and you may be surprised to at the results. Prep sports is a burgeoning market as providers such as wissports.net, maxpreps.com, and rivals.com can attest. These are national websites that make their living by reporting up to the minute information as it relates to high school sports. These companies earn revenue through advertisers to their website–often companies that tailor to sports equipment are their primary clients. In addition, they pocket revenue by...

OPINION: Have Applicants for Vacant District 3 Council Seat Made the Decison in Advance for Council Members?

Only one applicant, Joe Warren, is willing to respect council’s preference for placeholder status Nothing  seems easy for the Oconomowoc Common Council. In October, it decided to temporarily fill the aldermanic position vacated by the resignation of District 3 alderman Cathleen Slattery with a short-term appointment, a “placeholder.”  Council members said they did not want to district under-represented by only a single alderman, especially given the council’s agenda over the next few months. They also wisely felt that ultimately the voters in District 3 should elect their representative, not the aldermen. Therefore, in a compromise of sorts, they decided to appoint someone who would serve only until the general election in April. To their credit, they also recognized that the person appointed, if they decided to run for the post in April, would have an advantage over other potential candidates because they would be an incumbent. In Oconomowoc, being an incumbent is often tantamount to being re-elected. So to ensure that this did not happen, the council said he would prefer giving the appointment to someone who would agree not run in April. So far so good. Unfortunately, two of the three applicants for the placeholder position don’t appear to be on the same page as the aldermen (see article). One says he won’t agree to refrain from running for the seat in April and another says he is undecided as to whether he’ll accept the council’s stipulation. That leaves only one applicant, Joe Warren, meeting the criteria laid out by the council members back in October. Doesn’t this seem a little odd? Why would people ask for an...

OPINION: Challenging Staff Recommendations OK, But Who Knows Best?

Council decides it knows more about managing than its professional managers At least twice this year the Common Council has decided it knows more about what it takes to run city departments than the professionals running those departments. The Council is right to challenge department heads, to request justification for items that require Council approval, especially when they involve spending taxpayer dollars, but the aldermen may need to put a little more faith in the professionals. A case in point came at last night’s Common Council meeting. When the Council voted to deny Parks and Recreation Director John Kelliher and Economic and Tourism Director Bob Duffy permission to create a marketing assistant staff position, they told the two that they knew more about managing people and departments than did Kelliher and Duffy, the professionals. While there were several arguments made against creating the position, the argument that seemed to resonate the most with the aldermen said the city was better served by changing the proposed position from full-time (one person) to two part-time positions, employing two different people. Proponents for splitting the position said that the city won’t have to pay benefits to either part-time position, saving dollars as a result. They also didn’t accept Kelleher’s argument that a full-time position, with benefits, would attract higher quality candidates and that often people willing to take part-time positions did so only until they could find full-time employment. As someone who has worked in environments where the use of part-time people, splitting a full-time job, was common, let me say that Kelliher is correct; it does not produce optimum results. Productivity...
OPINION: Tuesday’s Council No Vote on Kwik Trip May Have Been Something Else Altogether

OPINION: Tuesday’s Council No Vote on Kwik Trip May Have Been Something Else Altogether

Vote may be sign that a majority of the aldermen will carefully scrutinize Pabst Farms developer Peter Bell’s plan to bring Walmart to the Town Centre When the Common Council Tuesday night told Kwik Trip that it was opposed to its plans to build a second facility across from its current Summit Avenue location its action was a surprise to many and a shock to some. Prior to the vote there was little indication that Kwik Trip would not win approval. In fact, immediately before the Common Council meeting, the city’s Plan Commission had voted to recommend to the Council that it approve Kwik Trip’s plans. In the past, the Council typically went along with the Commission’s recommendations. Not so Tuesday night. True, Kwik Trip’s efforts to gain city approval encountered some speed bumps along the way, particularly as it related to gaining Architectural Commission approvals, but few would have predicted the ultimate no vote by the Council. In hindsight, maybe this wasn’t such a shock after all. The no vote may reflect a growing unease among some members of the Council about the recent developments at Pabst Farms, most notably developer Peter Bell’s willingness to bring Walmart and Sam’s Club to the Town Centre. Additionally, the vote may reflect a perceived loss of Council control or influence over what is happening at Pabst Farms. By voting to deny a conditional use permit to Kwik Trip and by extension, Bell, five members of the council said loudly that they were not going to quietly roll over for him and his supporters. At the heart of the matter is a...

OPINION: Tuesday’s Council No Vote on Kwik Trip May Have Been Something Else Altogether

Vote may be sign that a majority of the aldermen will carefully scrutinize Pabst Farms developer Peter Bell’s plan to bring Walmart to the Town Centre When the Common Council Tuesday night told Kwik Trip that it was opposed to its plans to build a second facility across from its current Summit Avenue location its action was a surprise to many and a shock to some. Prior to the vote there was little indication that Kwik Trip would not win approval. In fact, immediately before the Common Council meeting, the city’s Plan Commission had voted to recommend to the Council that it approve Kwik Trip’s plans. In the past, the Council typically went along with the Commission’s recommendations. Not so Tuesday night. True, Kwik Trip’s efforts to gain city approval encountered some speed bumps along the way, particularly as it related to gaining Architectural Commission approvals, but few would have predicted the ultimate no vote by the Council. In hindsight, maybe this wasn’t such a shock after all. The no vote may reflect a growing unease among some members of the Council about the recent developments at Pabst Farms, most notably developer Peter Bell’s willingness to bring Walmart and Sam’s Club to the Town Centre. Additionally, the vote may reflect a perceived loss of Council control or influence over what is happening at Pabst Farms. By voting to deny a conditional use permit to Kwik Trip and by extension, Bell, five members of the council said loudly that they were not going to quietly roll over for him and his supporters. At the heart of the matter is a...