What did the city buy?
At the Dec. 10 Common Council meeting, the public was told that information regarding the city could be found in meeting minutes, on TV and radio, at websites, in The Platteville Journal, and in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Some information is available from these sources, but is there much and is it timely? Is it OK when the public learns of things only after the decisions are made and therefore has no input?
The public was also told that if they had questions, they could ask any councilperson or the city manager. Sure, questions can be asked, but will the public receive straight answers?
So it seems the Common Council is saying that it is the public’s responsibility to dig for the information and then ask the right questions. Do they think they should not be held accountable when they withhold information and thereby mislead the public?
The recent purchase of CenturyLink property by the city is perhaps a good example of information being withheld from the public. It might also be an example of the city manager misleading the Common Council.
The purchase of this property was discussed in closed session on Sept. 10. It was an information item at the Common Council meeting on Nov. 26 and it was an action item at the Common Council meeting on Dec. 10. The public learned nothing in September and almost nothing in November and December.
At the November and December meetings, the city manager was careful not to state the purchase price of the property. Nor did any councilperson mention the $30,000 price tag. Even though their work is all about deciding how money is spent, apparently they didn’t want to state the dollar amount at an open meeting for the public to hear.
Another piece of information that should have been precisely described for the public at those meetings is the exact location of the property. The property is not the big and usually empty parking lot right next to the CenturyLink office building. The property is actually further north and in a residential area. Every other property on that block is residential. Frankly, it is not a “downtown” property.
Based on comments made at the December meeting, it seems that at least two councilpersons did not know what property they were voting to purchase. One councilperson said, “We need that property downtown for the city, especially for future expansion.” Another councilperson, in response to the city manager’s opinion that city hall employees didn’t want to park there and walk that far, said, “Oh, it’s a half a block, give me a break, oh my gosh.”
It’s hard to believe that the Common Council didn’t question the city manager when he suggested that the property be added to the “permit parking program.” First of all, there is no “permit parking” downtown. “Permit parking” is south of downtown and was created due to Rountree Commons. What is downtown is “assigned parking.” “Permit parking” and “assigned parking” are two very different things and the city manager knows this. So, is the city manager just being dumb and careless with his words or is he trying to confuse and mislead people?
Second, when the city manager made that suggestion, how could he not update the Common Council and the public on the status of the last addition to “downtown assigned parking?” They need to know that those parking spaces are sitting empty, people who did park there have to park somewhere else in the downtown area, and so now downtown parking is worse.
A June 2012 letter to the editor said, “At that May 31 meeting, the city manager mentioned something about the city’s plan to lease parking spaces sometime in the future. Perhaps the first part of that plan is to let parking get worse.” The actions of the city manager should come as no surprise. He’s been trying to make downtown parking worse for some time.
One other thing concerning the CenturyLink property needs mentioning. One councilperson said, “We have the opportunity to have a bunch more reserved stalls and it’s not going to affect anyone because it wasn’t taking parking that was there previously.” Another councilperson agreed with this statement. It’s almost unbelievable that this was said. Perhaps these two should walk over and look at the property right now and see how “It’s not going to affect anyone.”
Whether intentional or not, the Common Council and city manager do withhold information from the public. The less the public knows, the easier it is for them to do what they want. Sometimes, what they want is not what the public wants or needs. In those instances, it seems, the public is intentionally kept in the dark and information is very hard to access.
Common Council meetings are arranged so that the councilpersons are sure to get the last word. When councilpersons use the last word to spin things or say things, knowingly or not, that are untrue, the public does not have the opportunity then and there to respond. Who knows what the Common Council will say next? If Platteville citizens want to learn more about the CenturyLink property, hopefully they can watch the recordings of the Nov. 26 and Dec. 10 meetings and then can decide for themselves.
Merit pay and the “Library Block” are two more examples of the Common Council and city manager very much trying to limit what the public knows.
Platteville has full-time employees that do not work full-time. Platteville has city hall offices that are not open when they should be. The city manager should not have been given a $22,000 merit pay fund.
If the “Library Block” is a private development, with no plan yet, where is the city going to get a $6 million library, and no Platteville money will be used? How is it that $50,000 ($25,000 from a Platteville building fund and $25,000 from a Platteville grant) has already been spent? Or is it going to cost Platteville every dollar of that $6 million plus a couple million more in incentives to the developer?
It would be nice if the Common Council and city manager were open and honest with the public and if they were forthcoming with information. It would be nice if the Common Council had a direction and goals and would follow through. It would be nice if the Common Council was smart, hard-working, willing to ask tough questions, to question every dollar, and strong enough to more often say, “No.” Platteville citizens should encourage, push and demand that this Common Council get better.
Richard J. Christensen
10 S. Third St., Platteville
Why he’s running
As a citizen of the city of Platteville, a candidate for the Feb. 18 primary for the at-large position for Common Council, I see the many needs and responsibilities that the city is has, and have been attending the public meeting on Tuesday nights, listening to the many items presented. I thought it best to let my neighbors know who I am, where I live, work, and stand on how a city should manage itself.
I would classify myself as “a liberal conservative family man.” I believe leaders should live by the golden rule. Our example is what others will follow. I believe that no matter who gets elected for this Alderman/women at large position, he/she should ask and invite Jesus, the Christ, to be invited into our common council decision making process. Without His help, guidance, and wisdom, we as humans will at times be led to make the wrong decisions. We desperately need the providence and power of God working within the City of Platteville!
About myself, I have owned and operated a painting business in Wisconsin for the past 13 years. I have experienced the ups and downs of the business cycle, and am currently experiencing the down side. I was affected by the economic downturn as I am sure many of you have as well.
I am a UW–Platteville alumnus, graduating with a BA degree in Social Science, History and Geography, in 1998. I am a husband who has been married to a beautiful woman named Angie for the past 14 years. She also is a UW–Platteville alumni, graduating in 1997 with a BS degree in Civil Engineering. I am a father of five healthy, energetic, sometimes overly curious children — Josiah (10), Thomas (8), Ellianna (5), Samuel (3), and Hannah (1).
I currently work as a civil engineering tech at one of the local engineering firms here in the city, and I became a Christian while attending UWP in 1995. My time is spent remodeling my house, updating it, making it safe for my family to live in. The City has helped us out with this last year with its CBD program. Currently, I go to wrestling practices and tournaments with my two oldest boys, and enjoy playing with my other children. I love the outdoors and go camping and hiking when I can. Also, I support my wife’s home school efforts, and I go to church. I have a busy and full life.
As an individual, I seek repentance in my life, by following the former President Lincoln’s example. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I am not perfect, but am pursuing it. I do accept the fact that without God, and His involvement in my life, I cannot have the kind of quality of life that I desire.
I have nothing but the best interest for the City of Platteville’s residents, business owners, university staff and students, children, and I hope to see more of God’s blessings in our lives. Yet, we as a city do need Jesus’ help.
As a community, by following the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, I propose we listen to and heed his advice, as the then President Lincoln proposed, by taking the time out in our busy lives and asking God to forgive us our sin, to help us to change our way, and to accept our need for His love to manifest itself in our lives, if we’re not already doing so.
President Lincoln proclaimed April 30, 1863 as “a day of national humiliation, fast and prayer.” Prayer and repentance does not just have to be a one day event in April. It can start any day, any time, any month, and any year. The important thing is that we start.
From Lincoln’s proclamation, we recognize that it was the U.S. Senate that asked the president to appoint this day of prayer and humiliation. We should recognize the fact that the U.S. Senate is a common council of people, who vote and make decisions for the citizens that they themselves represent. As senators, they are to represent their respective States. It is the same for an alderman or alderwomen. It was the 1863 Congress that made this request of President Abraham Lincoln to lead this Country to a day of, “a day for National prayer and humiliation.”
If I were to be elected as an Alderman for the city of Platteville, I will do my best to co-lead the city in a way that would please Almighty God, just like President Lincoln did. I hope that we, as citizens of the City of Platteville, continue to receive His blessings in our lives.
Lastly, please vote in the Feb. 18 primary, and then April 1. It is our civic duty.
Brian E. Chapman
130 W. Dewey St., Platteville
A Seeboth vote
I am writing to endorse Amy Seeboth for Platteville Common Council in the upcoming primary election.
Amy’s work with Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and her involvement in the community is impressive. She has served on many city committees and commissions and has volunteered with many Platteville nonprofits.
As a senior citizen I am interested in supporting someone who is responsible and will represent everyone.
I am asking you to vote Tuesday, Feb. 18 for Amy Seeboth for Platteville Common Council.
850 Jefferson St., Platteville
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