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Letters to The Platteville Journal for Feb. 27
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The city manager

In the beginning of December I wrote a Letter to the Editor where I stated that City Manager’s Larry Bierke has a salary with benefits of more than $109.000.

I stand corrected as Mr. Bierke stated in his rebuttal … his salary with benefits for 2011 was approximately $105,000. His salary plus benefits for 2012 was approximately $108,500.

After the Common Council meeting of Feb. 12, where his performance and salary was again reviewed, I am sure Mr. Bierke’s salary is over $109.000.

I for one do not understand the increases as per Mr. Bierke’s own statements; he does not have the ability to oversee 12 direct reports and has cut that amount down to six.

Mr. Bierke was hired to perform a job for the City of Platteville and the entire job description was presented to him. Now, approximately two years later his job description is changed. But still Mr. Bierke’s salary is reviewed and raised every six months. (Wouldn’t we all like to be guaranteed a salary increase every six months, even at 1 percent.)

He has fewer direct reports than other city managers and has not even been able to have a Dunkin Donuts shop built on city property. I wonder if it is his inability or is it the enabling of the Common Council and its non-business attitude in getting things done.

I would also like to understand if the additional story I heard this week is true. I have been informed that the solid waste contract with Faherty Incorporated has been revisited as per my letter to the editor of Feb. 13 and that all the funds for garbage have not been appropriated, which will leave us, the taxpayers, responsible for the balance of the monies.

I do not understand how this type of error, if it is correct, could be made, especially with the Common Council having a Certified Public Accountant, a Ph.D. in Sociology and a city manager who is supposed to be certified in Municipal Financial Planning. We also have a woman who has sat in the chancellor’s Office at UW–Platteville who should be no stranger to budgets and how to read them.

Or this could be one of Mr. Dalecki’s adventures where he is going to incite people to get upset and then come into the situation as a “white knight” and make everything OK, especially in an election year. I somehow feel that the latter may be more to the truth as Mr. Dalecki’s motto is, as per Peter Bergen, “It can be said that the first wisdom of sociology is this — things are not what they seem.”

Citizens of Platteville, it is time we take back control of the city.

Michael Mayo
375 S. Chestnut St., Platteville

Opposed to mining

The latest mining bill (Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1) is on its way through the legislative process to a final vote. Republicans have indicated that they hope to have the bill, drafted in large part by the mining industry, and without any input from the Bad River Indian tribe, on the governor’s desk by early March.

The bill is similar to one that was defeated earlier and contains most of the same problems the former bill had. The promise of jobs and money dismisses and/or ignores the weakening of environmental protections by giving the Department of Natural Resources authority to exempt mining companies from laws that currently protect wetlands, lakes and rivers. This applies not only to the proposed 4½-mile-long open-pit mine to be carved out of the Penokee Range of hills in northern Wisconsin but also to any future proposed mining project in our state. (Think Baraboo Hills with its confirmed ore deposits.)

Some of the more troubling aspects of the bill:

•    Allows mining companies to fill in lake beds.
•    Allows mining waste to be dumped into wetlands, flood plains and shore lines (Lake Superior?).
•    Doubles the distance of groundwater surrounding the mine that can “legally” be polluted.
•    Removes hearings that allow for public input.
•    Exempts iron mining from the sulfide mining moratorium.
•    Directs some of the mining revenues to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, created by Scott Walker, which recently lost track of more than $8 million in loans to state businesses
•    Creates the potential for loss of Bad River Chippewa tribal rice beds, their economic mainstay.

We need to thank our state senator, Dale Schultz, for taking a stand on the number of exemptions from environmental protections. We also need to ask our Assembly representative, Travis Tranel, to insist on a mining bill that includes strong environmental protections.

Jobs are indeed a concern, but the company responsible for drafting this bill has been less than forthcoming about the number of jobs, the kinds of jobs, the length of jobs, the actual pay, and the benefits to surrounding communities. Open-pit mining in the Penokees is not worth the cost to the culture and livelihood of the Bad River tribe, to the tourism industry, or to our environment.

Marilyn Gottschalk

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of The Platteville Journal.