Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Scrima’s troubling pattern


Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Apr 1, 2010; Section: Opinion; Page: 10A

Scrima’s troubling pattern

Candidate appears lacking in accountability department

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)
Well, I know where I was Tuesday night. I arrived at City Hall just in time to see the Common Council’s Finance Committee unanimously approve a memo of understanding between the city and Waukesha Electric to establish a Tax Incremental Finance district.

The proposed TIF will result in the creation of at least 100 non-retail jobs and at least $42 million in investment for “real property and fixtures and additional investment for other equipment.” The TIF would provide $9 million in financing for the project. Approval of the TIF will require a developer’s agreement to protect the city.

This is the type of project and aggressive pursuit of non-retail development that Waukesha mayoral candidate Jeff Scrima called for at recent debates. Unfortunately, Scrima has already criticized the deal without learning the details and applying some rather fuzzy math.

Too bad he wasn’t at the meeting Tuesday night. He could have asked some questions and learned how a TIF works. But, we’re told he was at a campaign event.

What campaign event, nobody seems to know. His campaign Web site did not list any events for Monday and Tuesday. I asked him via e-mail and his campaign Web site what event; I received no reply. When I politely asked on his campaign Facebook page what campaign event, my questions were deleted and I was blocked from viewing the page.

That must come as a shock to his campaign supporter and contributor Steve Mackie of Soft Water who responded to my questions before they were deleted.

He said, “Is there a question you are looking to have answered? I’m sure Jeff would be happy to answer it here.” Mackie also said, “Scrima is about open government.”

Hey, so am I. The reason I was inquiring about the candidate’s schedule is Scrima announced last Thursday he would not be able to return to Carroll University for a candidate forum with him and Mayor Larry Nelson. It’s highly unusual that a candidate for public office would not rearrange his schedule in order to have a big audience with guaranteed media coverage.

Now, there are snafus that happen all the time in politics, but an e-mail to Mayor Nelson dated March 19 indicates the event’s organizer had spoken with Jeff Scrima but he could not attend a forum scheduled for March 30. When the organizers changed the day to the 29th, Scrima waited until the 25th to say he could not attend that day, either.

It’s highly unlikely that he could not change his schedule to accommodate the Carroll University event with that kind of notice unless he did not want to make the change. Since there were no campaign appearances scheduled as far as anyone knows, and since Scrima doesn’t even like the question about his schedule, it appears he was ducking the debate.

I realize that public appearances have not gone well for Scrima. He has been quoted by me saying some pretty ridiculous things. It doesn’t help when he keeps denying that he said them, like snow plowing the bike paths, even though scores of people heard the remarks, making the stories stretch out even longer.

This all appears as part of a bad pattern. If he says something that gets him in trouble, then it’s the fault of the person who reported it. If he doesn’t want to attend a debate, then it’s the organizers’ fault. If he doesn’t like what award-winning columnist Pete Kennedy writes, it’s because (as Scrima told Charlie Sykes) Kennedy is shallow. If University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee journalism lecturer Jessica McBride doesn’t lavish praise on Scrima, it’s because she’s taking my lead. If questions arise about Scrima’s residence, then it’s the fault of the water meter. If questions come up about voting using an incorrect address, he “didn’t realize” the registration didn’t change.

It’s never Scrima’s fault. Harry Truman said the buck stops here. Jeff Scrima says, don’t ask me tough questions.

If Scrima gets elected Tuesday, how many times will the taxpayers hear the dog ate his homework?


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