Monday, May 20th, 2019

It’s been a busy holiday season in local politics


Waukesha Freeman Page A6 Opinion 1/2/14

It’s been a busy holiday season in local politics

Another New Year’s Eve and this one was spent in front of the television waiting for the ball to drop in New York City. A log slowly burned in the fireplace while the temperature dropped outside.

Unfortunately the business Captureof man does not stop for Christmas and the New Year. After all, it’s been a busy Christmas season in local politics.

Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima surprised almost no one with the declaration of his candidacy. It followed hard on the news that he donated a sum equivalent to half of his salary to a private charitable fund he controlled for his purposes. That news followed his annual statement that everything is wonderful in Waukesha under his misrule, and that followed a scattering of honors to various constituencies.

All of this followed the mayor’s first participation in the Waukesha Christmas Parade. It only took three years of embarrassing criticism. Of course, it was only appropriate that Scrima made himself the center of attention by marching at the front of the parade, the only real leadership we have seen from the man.

Even his announcement came with the usual Scrima unnecessary drama. He waited until the last day before he would have to file his declaration of non-candidacy.

Scrima’s announcement of his candidacy, he told The Freeman, was because of popular demand.

Richard III made the same claim a few short years before he was deposed at Bosworth Field. Prior to accepting the crown, due to popular demand, he at least pretended modesty: “Since you will buckle fortune on my back, To bear her burthen, whether I will or no, I must have patience to endure the load.”

Now there was a profession of “servant leadership.”

Scrima’s claim aside that he sufficiently subsidized his own charitable activities through the New Day Fund, he broke his promise by establishing the fund instead of giving back half his salary to the city as he originally pledged. But this sleight-ofhand is typical for Scrima.

In Scrima’s year-end message, he claimed credit for the city’s pursuit of Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek. It’s a claim he’s made before. But the real record shows Scrima opposed any attempt to pursue Lake Michigan water. When Oak Creek was brought up in those debates, Scrima told the Common Council he drove to Oak Creek and it was too far.

But Scrima’s most ridiculous recent boast was that he kept taxes down. Waukesha, he said, “Balanced our city checkbook and kept taxes flat (on average under inflation).”

Scrima has had as much to do with keeping taxes low in Waukesha as he has in controlling the waves on the Fox River. Scrima’s style has been to swoop in at the end of the budget cycle with the announcement he would like to keep taxes flat. The Common Council then would scramble to solve the problem Scrima created.

When Scrima did take the lead on the city budget, it was to propose a new $136- per-household garbage fee. The Common Council wisely chose to kill it.

Now the latest city budget contains a tax increase of 2.7 percent. The mayor’s contribution to the budget process was to support spending city money to cut the county grass on some medians. He didn’t even stop the city administrator from taking some savings found by the council and putting them in the reserve fund rather than cut the tax levy.

But it’s a new year and an opportunity for Scrima to adopt a New Year’s resolution. When Scrima was elected he promised a “new day in Waukesha.” In his bid for re-election, we’ll settle for an honest campaign.

****** You’ll notice the newspaper headline today does not say, “Local Columnist Frozen in Polar Bear outing.” Despite thoughts last year of trying it, the return of a typical Wisconsin winter killed the notion of allowing Lake Michigan to attempt to kill me.

Instead of braving the freezing water, my New Year’s Day was spent writing and watching football. The bears were onto something when they came up with the idea of hibernation.

To all of my readers, I hope your New Year is full of safe and warm days regardless of the temperature outside. I’m looking forward to another year of writing columns for The Freeman.

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

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