Monday, November 20th, 2017

Finding the right fit


Waukesha voters have five choices in tomorrow’s primary election for mayor.

The incumbent, Larry Nelson, I dealt with at length in my newspaper column. Since the column appeared, Nelson has taken the unique approach of appealing to the Waukesha electorate by mentioning praise from Democratic State Senator Mark Miller, who represents the Madison suburbs, for helping pass the Great Lakes Water Compact. It’s hard to tell if Nelson is trying to remind his largely Republican audience that he is a Democrat, or that we’ll soon be negotiating with Milwaukee regarding our future water needs. Either way, as Humphrey Bogart said to Ingrid Bergman, it’s poor salesmanship.

(By the way, shouldn’t Mark Miller be giving me some credit?)

When last we saw Jeff Scrima, he was explaining how he can make water pour forth from the stones in the quarries with a mere touch of his staff. Earlier this election season the claim was made that Scrima was a fiscal conservative. They should have seen Scrima in action at the candidate forum at Carroll University Thursday night.

Scrima told the audience that he loves bike paths. He loves them so much he wants them plowed, just like in Madison. He also endorsed a multimodal transportation system, telling the audience we should do it because it’s good for the environment. Don’t worry about Milwaukee blackmailing us into accepting light rail, Scrima will just support it. Just when you thought he wasn’t green enough, he wants us all to separate all of our recyclables.

Scrima has an annoying tendency to tell the audience what he thinks they want to hear. When the subject of Carroll students’ inability to cross a street came up, Scrima suggested the city should explore building bridges and tunnels to get students across the street safely. If that wouldn’t work, Scrima suggested we close a couple of roads.

It probably explains the stupid mayoral pay proposal he made. It also probably explains why he kept referencing his goal of making Waukesha the “number one best city in America.” Because the number two best city in America just wouldn’t be the bestest.

Did I mention he loves art? Can the BID pay for more?

Scrima has been buying ads in the Waukesha Freeman like he owns the newspaper. He even distributed copies of the paper to the audience at the last forum. I didn’t get to check if Scrima bothered to put an “authorized and paid for” sticker on every copy.

He is also the most active candidate on the internet. We’ll see if that translates into votes, or if he’s just talking to the same people.

Darryl Enriquez, the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, has kept to sound ideas and practical solutions. His ten point plan directly addresses city concerns, and the result has been endorsements from a cross-section of the city. I especially like the idea of a purchasing manager.

Enriquez has been hitting doors like a good candidate. We’ll see if the footwork and the endorsements lead to an Enriquez win. If so, the money should follow in the general election.

Unfortunately, Enriquez is not the best candidate on the stump. He actually wants to answer the questions that are asked. Didn’t his years as a reporter make him more cynical than that?

Alderman Randy Radish’s main issue is the amount of non-taxable property in Waukesha. He says non-profits use services but they don’t have to pay property taxes to pay for them.

Unfortunately, there are two ways to tackle the problem. The city could fight more non-profits from setting up shop through zoning. Unfortunately, as New Berlin demonstrated, that could be a costly and ultimately futile legal battle. By the way, does anyone remember what the city had to do to get City News out of downtown?

The other solution is to start charging fees for basic city services. Unfortunately, those fees would fall on everyone, and are never offset by reductions in the property tax.

Radish doesn’t say which solution he would favor, only that the city has to keep raising taxes. Hardly a winning campaign theme.

Bill Beglinger is not a serious candidate. He endorses using juvenile offenders for the city’s manual labor (chain gangs of skateboarders) and believes we can somehow use Lake Michigan water to replenish the aquifer. You know, except for that big multi-state compact thingy that says we can’t.

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