Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Cleaning up post-holiday to-do list

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Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Jan 12, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:6A    

Cleaning up post-holiday to-do list

 Lots of local issues to address in new year

     Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to do a little cleanup work. My neighbors are probably in shock that my outdoor Christmas decorations are almost all put away.

    Inside the house most of the decorations are down. This weekend the Christmas tree comes down, too.

    My desk is underneath the torn wrapping paper and Christmas cards from friends. Somewhere under there is a column waiting on little scraps of paper.

    So in keeping with the post-holiday cleanup, let’s clean up a few local items this week.

    The Elmbrook School District, hardly a bastion of fiscal conservatism, voted Tuesday night to increase the money set aside for administrator salaries by 3.63 percent. I would imagine that some parents might question the timing after the district just closed an elementary school to save money.

    Until the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reforms, the district was looking at having to make $16 million in cuts over the next five years. Even after Walker’s reforms the district still needed to cut $11 million.

    The district is still well short of the needed cuts even after closing a school. Now the School Board has decided to give raises to administrators.

    Two School Board members are up for reelection. It will be interesting to see if Meg Wartman and Jean Lambert will be able to justify their votes to the public, especially given the financial pressures on the school district.

* * *

The Crocs are back. Former Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson is running for the County Board unopposed. During the election contest between Nelson and current Mayor Jeff Scrima, I was asked whom I planned to vote for. I replied, “There is something to be said for voting for the candidate who will supply me with the most copy for the next four years, and I’ll let it go at that for now.” Now with the return of Nelson I get the best of both worlds. I’m not sure about the rest of you.

* * *

The Waukesha Freeman reported on Tuesday that the Business Improvement District board for downtown Waukesha has set three priorities. One of the priorities is a new weekly event for Saturday nights downtown.

    I agree that Saturday nights downtown is like visiting a ghost town. However, closing the streets a second night during the summer would be a disaster.

    It would also probably force a recall of at least one alderman and the mayor. Can you recall BID board members? I bet downtown merchants would quickly find out.

    If they really want more traffic downtown, they might consider asking a few store owners to keep longer hours.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha and I had a date night downtown last summer on a Saturday night. We had dinner, walked around looking at the stores that were closed, and went home.

    As long as that is the experience downtown, it is not going to be a must-see destination.

    Another priority for the BID is expanding the farmers market to drive more business downtown. My question is, where will it expand? The other side of the river?

    Would they consider moving it away from the river? Would they move it to Cutler Park?

    Or are they talking about the farmers market spilling over onto Main Street?

    If they are going to close Main Street for the farmers market, the discussion should start now. The discussion will need to include the entire community and not just four members of the BID board.

    The farmers market, like Freeman Friday Night Live, is a great asset to the community. The danger is letting controversy overshadow the success of the events and poison the experience for everyone.

    The best way to accomplish the BID’s goals will be to get the support of all the stakeholders involved. It will be difficult and require real leadership. That leadership will have to come not just from the BID, but the Common Council.

    Otherwise the mess will be worse to untangle than the giant ball of Christmas lights I just put away.

    (James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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