Monday, August 26th, 2019

Joining the drama club


Joining the drama club

Personal attacks won’t help Scrima

The city of Waukesha Common Council decided to put off again tackling the thorny issue of consolidating the emergency services dispatch with the county’s dispatch operations. Unfortunately, the decision to make no decision was not free of drama.

Such is the life of the city under Mayor Jeff Scrima, where every major decision cannot be made without personal attacks on those who dare disagree. This time the targets were Aldermen Kathleen Cummings and Duane Paulson, who were singled out even before the debate began in earnest.

The villains of the moment had the unfortunate position of sitting on the County Board as well as the Common Council. I say “unfortunate” not because there is an inherent problem in their positions. They have nothing to personally gain from dispatch consolidation. I say it because it made them immediately suspect in the eyes of those opposed to any questioning of the mayor’s new position opposed to consolidation.

We might just as well ask Alderman Terry Thieme given his background with the Waukesha police about a potential conflict of interest, but that never came up as he was reliably closed to idea of consolidating dispatches.

Cummings has been especially targeted by Scrima supporters as she dares to ask questions. She’s the subject of extensive open records requests and now a groundless ethics complaint filed by non-resident but business owner Shay Johnson.

Cummings continues a history of women that have been targeted under the Scrima regime. Former City Administrator Lori Luther forced the Common Council to take away Scrima’s supervisory authority over her because of his behavior. BID Executive Director Meghan Sprager received a scathing email after daring to answer one of my inquiries about Guitar-Town. Downtown resident Vicky Hekkers was the subject of an open records request that was an attempt to ridicule her. When that failed, the mayor even tried bringing up a trumped-up zoning issue concerning her residence.

Now it’s Cummings’ turn, although this time Johnson realized that he had better belatedly include Paulson as well so Cummings would not appear selectively picked on.

Johnson even followed it up with an appearance at the Common Council meeting Tuesday night to continue the personal attacks on Paulson and Cummings even though he is not a resident of the city and his attacks were completely groundless.

It was too bad his performance was before a much smaller audience. It’s funny how much smaller the crowd was without Chief Russell Jack ordering his subordinates to work the phones to drum up a crowd for his latest music video.

Jack, too, made it a point to mention at the last Common Council meeting a potential conflict of interest for Cummings and Paulson. Strangely, he neglected to mention his department’s own conflict of interest in producing the study when his own opposition to dispatch consolidation was well known.

Paulson was correct Tuesday night to point out that the chief’s actions, from having an intimidating police presence to disrespecting the members of the council, were out of bounds.

The police chief has no business telling the members of the council if they should vote on any issue. The aldermen answer to their constituents, and he ultimately answers to the council. If he cannot respect his place as a city employee then perhaps the council erred in approving his selection as police chief.

Those that were upset with Luther’s independent role with the city (even though her position was designed that way) should be shocked at the police chief’s recent conduct. But they won’t be.

Such is life under the current mayor, who could end all of the little dramas at any time by telling his supporters to knock off the bizarre behavior. It would be in Scrima’s own best interest.

For the remainder of his term, this is the Common Council he will have to deal with. There have been no mass uprising against the council despite Scrima’s best efforts. Aldermen are getting re-elected year after year.

Paulson is not going anywhere. Cummings is not going anywhere. Rather than allow the personal attacks to continue, the mayor should figure out how to work with the council members.

Unfortunately, it will never happen. We can join New Berlin and Muskego in the city drama club.

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