One doesn’t usually associate Ludwig van Beethoven with public service; however serving others through immortal compositions like his Ninth Symphony accomplishes just that.
At the Town of Kendall spring election forum, candidates Micah Bahr and Don Christensen assured voters they were indeed public servants. This was music to voters’ ears, and they were duly elected a few weeks later.
But a recent poster invalidates any semblance of public servanthood. Do public servants retreat from residents by proposing to pack up and leave, moving to a member’s house, then using the sheriff as bouncer if residents insist on attending a public meeting at a private residence? Not only was this a puerile proposal, but according to Wisconsin Open Meetings laws, a serious violation.
By the time of the Nov. 14 meeting, the proposal was deleted from the poster. But the poster, which states “there is to be no audience participation,” still is repressive in tone. The board can refuse anyone’s request to be on the agenda, and refuse public input. Residents are still downgraded to “visitors.”
The Wisconsin Legislature has explicitly provided that “all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government;” mandating the Public Records Law. Residents have the right to know what the government is doing and to monitor its actions.
If no participation is allowed, how can residents be able to be involved?
To that end, a petition is being circulated protesting the policy of no resident participation. The chairman by law can impose no talking or questions. But is this in the best interest of the township and will it be carried into perpetuity?
A positive note was struck at the Nov. 14 meeting when chairman Bahr, exuding benevolence, responded to questions and invited input. Can residents expect this at future meetings, Mr. Bahr?
Beethoven, even after his hearing deteriorated, was sensitive to cultural discord in Germany; strife threatened the country’s well-being in the post-Napoleonic Wars era. His 1824 Ninth Symphony stirred listeners to the noble concepts of peace and unity and was as indispensable to the future as it is today.
Town of Kendall residents deserve and expect open government. The deletion of the proposal to violate Open Meeting laws is a beginning; they also expect and deserve their elected officials to become the public servants they have declared themselves to be.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30, is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide. Each year on this Shop Small day millions of individuals, businesses, and communities nationwide support their local small businesses. These local businesses not only provide local jobs but give a distinctive flavor to your community.
Many Platteville businesses will be offering special deals and events to draw people to their small businesses on Saturday. There will also be a Special Event in downtown Platteville on Saturday, Nov. 30 — a “Pop Up” gallery and book signing will feature famous local photographer Mark Hirsch from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with artist reception to follow from 5 to 8 p.m. Hirsch is known for “That Tree”, a year long photographic study of an ancient bur oak tree near Platteville. This event will take place at 35 W. Main St., next to Momentum Bikes. Several businesses on Main Street are preselling “That Tree” books and calendars.
Saturday, Nov. 30 would be a wonderful time for locals and out of town folks to shop their Platteville small businesses, but every day is a good day to Shop Small. It is these small businesses that create our community.
President, Platteville Main Street Program
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