Communication problem?

Do the alderpersons of the Common Council have a communication problem with the mayor’s office, or with the municipal building administration?  Some believe they do, and some don’t think so.

At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, during the Alderpersons’ Comments portion of the meeting, several of the alderpersons made comments about the front-page article that appeared in the Kenosha News that morning regarding communication issues.  Two alderpersons, David Bodgala and Kevin Mathewson, questioned the trip that happened months ago, the visit to Madison to see a Madison Mallards baseball game, hosted by the Northwoods League.

Alderperson Scott Gordon said that he has never had a communication issue with the city.  He said that he asks his questions and waits for answers.  “We are one team here.  It’s not us vs. them.”

Alderperson Patrick Juliana also said that he didn’t feel that there was a communication problem.  He said that he asked Frank Pacetti, city administrator, about the check that was paid in July.  “By 8:09, I had what I wanted.  I waited eight minutes.”

The issue being discussed was the attendance at the Mallards game in June.  Those who attended were Mayor Keith Bosman and three alderpersons (Dan Prozanski, Keith Rosenberg, and Rocco LaMacchia).  Thirteen attended, at $25 each, for a total of $325.  The city received a bill from them for this amount.  Juliana wanted to know why this is coming out now when this happened six months ago.  “What’s the underlying reason?”

He also mentioned the governor’s inauguration when five alderpersons attended.  The city’s ordinance talks about taking gifts of no more than $50.  “There are two sides to every story,” he stated.

Alderperson Daniel Prozanski, serving as the Council president that night due to the mayor’s and Alderperson Eric Haugaard’s absence, reminded everyone of the definition of decorum and the fact that elected officials should be held to a higher standard.  “Be mindful of that,” he said.  “You only occupy this seat for a moment in time.  Your reputation stays with us longer than you’ll be here.”

Alderperson Kevin Mathewson also talked about the Mallards game.  “The facts are that a handful of elected officials in this room all went on the trip.  They received free tickets, food, beers, and paid nothing.  I requested information on December 18th.  It took two weeks, 12 days.  The check didn’t cover what they wanted.”

Mathewson thought that there were some unethical aspects of the trip.  “I hope the second check goes out soon.  I didn’t agree with it.  That’s why I chose not to attend.  Those same alderpersons who attended voted to end the debate the night that we were discussing the lease agreement (December 17th).  I couldn’t ask my questions regarding the lease.  There is a communication issue, but not for those who continue to rubber stamp.  Some get an 8-minute response, and for some, it takes 10 to 12 days.  I am going to get to the bottom of this ‘Mallard-gate’.”

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy thought that the group needed to facilitate interpersonal communication.  “We are a band of brothers and a sister,” he said.  Earlier, Alderpersons Prozanski and Bogdala talked about informing each other of issues in their district.  “We need to do more of that,” said Kennedy.  “We need to instill faith in the process.”

Kennedy also talked about the use of Facebook.  “Facebook is not an official city record.  If the alderperson wishes to use it to facilitate communication between his constituents, I’m all for it.  He posts the votes.  But, we do have an official city record, and that is the Labor Paper.  Plus, it’s on our website.  I’m not hiding my votes.”

Alderperson Jan Michalski said that the lack of decorum in this body was a comedy.  He mentioned how the Council worked together on the artifacts ordinance.  He said, “I’m sorry if you feel slighted that you couldn’t change the contract negotiated by the city.  It’s not the same as a resolution or an ordinance.  Maybe you should have told the city attorney in advance that you’d like to see such and such in the contract.”

Bogdala also mentioned that he e-mailed the mayor on December 14th regarding draft agendas.  He said that he received a response that day.  “It took three weeks to respond to that question, to clarify that,” he said.

Alderperson Michael Orth threw out a word of caution.  “Comments on Facebook are a public record.  If you use your private e-mail to conduct work business, that’s a public record.  If you use alternate e-mail accounts, that’s a public record.  All of this can be examined, requested and noted by the public.  Just remember, if you brush with broad strokes, the painter gets paint on him as well.”

Prozanski said that he went on the bus trip and saw the Mallards.  He said that he was offended that attending the baseball game and taking the bus ride up there was construed as “buying my vote.”  He said that the additional $25 check being sent to the Mallards was to cover a spouse that was neglected to be paid for.  “Also,” he said, “community members went.  The Mallards paid for them.  There were two sets of circumstances there.”

He also mentioned the South Port Beach House and the fact that someone mentioned that a negative quorum was present at the August 15th meeting.  “This ‘gotcha politics’, ‘ambush politics’, has to stop.  Do we need to get Dr. Phil or Oprah here to give us a lesson on how to get along?  I tell you, people are laughing at us, not with us.  Just read the KenoWi article on the meeting of August 15th.”

Click here to read that article:  Southport Beach House Total Restoration Could Cost $3 Million.

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