Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Nelson’s shades


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Darryl Enriquez questions the need for a closed session to hire Fred Abadi as the new public works director.

The problem is that he’s supposed to be intervierwed by the council in closed session, and there’s no notice on the agenda to reconvene into open session to formally hire him.

So, Mayor Larry Nelson said this aftrernoon that the vote would be taken in closed session. Abadi’s hiring, if desired by the council, would then be announced by the mayor’s office.

Nelson said it was a mistake that a reconvened open session was not put on the agenda.

If the interview was done in open session, and the closed session skipped altogether, there wouldn’t be a problem.

But Nelson said he was following legal advice from the city attorney’s office to conduct the council interview in closed session, where the public cannot hear the questions.

By mistake or design, an uncomfortable veil is hiding the government of the city from prying eyes. Last Autumn when the city administrator hiring process was being debated, the mayor objected to any attempt to make the process open, even objecting to aldermen not participating in the interviews from sitting in. The mayor is also fighting the release of an appraisal of land the city might purchase for the purpose of developing more wells, another request by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Maybe someone will ask him about it on Thursday.)

During his campaign for mayor, the mayor handed out little bookmarks, “How To Build Community” with little sayings on it. Yes, I still have mine. One of the fortune cookie fillers, “Open your shades.” Perhaps instead of asking the city attorney on advice on how to keep the shades closed, the mayor should be looking for excuses to open them.

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