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Mayor contributes to BID mess, drags feet on appointees

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Waukesha Freeman 11/15/2012, Page A08

Mayor contributes to BID mess, drags feet on appointees

By James Wigderson

City of Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima has been busy trying to avoid responsibility for the Business Improvement District debacle. The BID still does not have enough members to make up a quorum, thanks to the mayor.

Scrima has ignored the wishes of the property owners, the very people being voluntarily taxed to fund the BID. They have made suggestions for possible BID Board members, only to be ignored by Scrima. Instead, Scrima made a nonsense remark about the First Amendment and promised to “go forward with austerity.”

Scrima’s brief stay at the Harvard business seminar at taxpayer expense did not improve Scrima’s odd way of communicating. He forgot to add “vigorously.”

Scrima has ignored the wishes of the Common Council members who have asked that some of their members be appointed to the BID. Instead, Scrima proposed members for the BID he knew would be questionable to the council. When they rejected some of them, Scrima attempted to blame the council members for the lack of members on the BID Board.

Let’s not forget that Scrima, along with the hapless Alderman Roger Patton, engineered the mass vacancies to avoid, in Patton’s words, airing “dirty laundry” at a Common Council meeting.

It was Scrima’s favorites on the BID Board that were accused of creating a hostile working environment for former Executive Director Meghan Sprager. They resigned (after consulting with the mayor) before the council could investigate, creating the current vacancy crisis.

Now the mayor is intentionally dragging his feet in finding BID Board appointees. The only “austerity” in this mess is the mayor’s willingness to take accountability.

Stamping his feet in front of the council like Rumpelstiltskin will not help matters, but it does serve to remind the council, and the public, of what type of mayor with which they are dealing.

*** One of the consequences of the recent election is the changes of leadership at the state Legislature. Among the changes, state Sen. Chris Larson was chosen minority leader by the Democrats.

At least Larson ought to provide some entertainment. Republicans were openly skeptical, even mocking, of the idea of Larson as Senate minority leader.

Some Democrats must be feeling uneasy at the rise of the limelight-seeking Larson. A prominent Democrat told me, “Let the era of grandiose pronouncements all self-consciously prepared for future inscription on stone monuments begin.”

*** Congratulations to everyone who participated in the village of Wales Municipal Chili Cook-off. The event raised over $400 in cash and nearly five barrels of food for a local food pantry.

I say congratulations to everyone, because the chili this year was the best ever. But it is a competition and someone has to win, so special congratulations goes out to Pauline Wigderson, whose vegetarian chili received the most votes overall from the public.

It was good to see future state Sen. Paul Farrow and state Rep. Chris Kapenga there with their families to enjoy some chili. Perhaps we’ll see some legislative entries next year?

*** Speaking of Farrow, don’t forget to vote Dec. 4. Yes, one more election, but you don’t want the Democrats to sneak a write-in candidate into office while you’re not looking, do you?

Farrow told me Sunday that the elections to replace him in the Assembly should coincide with the spring elections. Meanwhile the line of candidates to replace him is looking like the line at Space Mountain in Disney World.

*** The Christmas Parade is this Sunday. Perhaps given all of the chaos Mayor Jeff Scrima has caused downtown, perhaps this year he can be shamed into attending the biggest annual civic event in Waukesha. Yes, even bigger than GuitarTown.

For the rest of us that are attending, remember to bring your pennies. Girl Scout troops 2959 and 4184 are collecting pennies at the parade to help the Christmas Clearing House charity.

By fun coincidence, Billy Holiday recorded “Pennies from Heaven” on Nov. 19, 1936. So look for the Girl Scout float with the “Pennies from Heaven” theme to donate. There will be a giant piggy bank float, too.

(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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