Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Correcting Scrima’s statement


Waukesha Freeman 2/27/13 Page A5 Opinion

Correcting Scrima’s statement 

False claims instead of answered questions

There’s not answering a question, and then there’s not even pretending to answer a question. Most politicians will at least pretend to answer a question while they get their message out. Not Waukesha’s mayor.

The Waukesha Freeman asked the two candidates for mayor a series of questions about the upcoming campaign. Instead of answering the reporter’s questions, Scrima just responded with a boilerplate paragraph reiterating his claims of accomplishments.

If you can’t trust a politician that won’t look you in the eye and answer your questions, what should you think of a politician that can’t even look at a set of written questions squarely?

Worse, Scrima’s claims don’t even stand up. Let’s examine the mayor’s claims, shall we?

Scrima claims again that he kept taxes low. In candidate forums during the primary, he even claimed the city didn’t need Act 10 the first two years he was in office.

What Scrima neglects to mention is that he had no plan to hold taxes flat, and it was the Common Council who found the savings. Scrima has not proposed one saving measure that has passed the council.

As for his claim about Act 10, the city saved money on employee salary and benefits because the city administrator at the time, Lori Luther, negotiated deals with the unions that held costs flat.

Afterward Scrima proposed a $136.00 garbage fee per household on top of the property taxes. It was a proposal none of his predecessors would have attempted. Fortunately, the Common Council rejected this horrible idea.

In this last budget cycle, the largely absent-from-the-process mayor presided over a 2.7 percent increase in the tax levy. When $38,000 in savings was found in the budget by Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, Scrima did not object to that money being put into reserves instead of cutting the tax levy.

Yes, the mayor has made mistakes. But if he keeps claiming he is responsible for lower taxes, that is not a mistake. It’s a deliberate misrepresentation of the record.

Scrima keeps claiming that he kept his promise regarding giving back half his salary. What he actually promised was to give back half his salary to the city. Instead, he has set up a charitable fund under his control to fund his pet projects. You know, those projects that take up his time instead of attending committee meetings and running the city.

Some Scrima supporters have gotten it into their heads that Scrima was unable to give back part of his salary because of the law. That is incorrect. Just ask Governor Scott Walker, who gave back part of his salary when he was Milwaukee County executive, or Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas.

Instead of giving back some of his salary, Scrima has taken money from the travel and conferences budget in each of the last two years to further his personal education at Harvard Business School seminars. That’s a reason for recall, not reelection.

The water claim is the most outrageous. Scrima claims that he was responsible for stopping us from getting water from Milwaukee, and he is responsible for the deal with Oak Creek.

The truth is Milwaukee refused to negotiate with Waukesha, and not because of anything Scrima did. They refused because of their own internal politics.

Meanwhile, our mayor had visions of annexing nearby still-working quarries and filling them with water for our longterm needs. He opposed any diversion from Lake Michigan for the city of Waukesha, and did his best to scuttle our city’s application. He tried to get former City Administrator Lori Luther to lobby the Common Council against applying for Lake Michigan water. He even said on the floor of the Common Council that Oak Creek was too far away as a water source.

The only thing that was accurate in Scrima’s statement was, “I have made mistakes.” The old joke is that you can tell when a politician is lying when his lips are moving. You can tell Scrima is lying when he’s typing.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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