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Keep government accountable

Dear Editor,

The state Assembly Committee on Local Government held a public hearing on Wednesday, March 8, on a bill that would give local governments the option to stop publishing a summary of their actions in your newspaper. Assembly Bill 70 would allow local municipalities to post meeting minutes on their websites instead.

This is bad public policy under the guise of saving taxpayer dollars that would create considerable disruption for government transparency. Supporters of Assembly Bill 70 suggest local government websites are sufficient to notify the public of their actions and that publishing meeting minutes in the newspaper limits access only to newspaper subscribers.

The fact is, however, that all legal notices published throughout the state since 2005 are already available for free to the public through WisconsinPublicNotices.org. This comprehensive, searchable website hosted by the Wisconsin newspaper industry brings together ink-on-paper notices into one online location. This service is provided at no cost to local municipalities.

The goal of WisconsinPublicNotices.org is to enhance government’s distribution of public information and assist citizens who want to know more about the actions of their local, county and state representatives. This permanent, third-party documentation — unalterable and independent of government itself — ensures the protection of “your right to know” for each and every citizen.

For years, this relationship between newspapers, local municipalities and WisconsinPublicNotices.org has successfully provided easy access to government information for all citizens, whether they seek it in print or online. Removing existing publication requirements would create holes in this invaluable statewide database while also neglecting the needs of those who lack adequate computer and internet access.

Please tell your legislators to oppose this unnecessary barrier to government transparency.

Beth Bennett

Executive director

Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Supports village board candidate in Shorewood

Dear editor,

This is a letter in support for the re-election of Mike Maher to the Shorewood Village Board.

I have known Mike for years, first as a professional colleague whose judgment and fiscal management skills I relied on and later from his contributions to the Shorewood community over his 11 years of service as a village trustee. In both capacities, he exhibits his strengths: he is thorough and even handed in his analysis, works well in collaboration with groups that have varied interests and helps reach balanced decisions.

I have lived in Shorewood for 28 years, and care deeply about its welfare as a community. There are real challenges that require creative approaches and difficult choices. Development goals need to be reconciled with preserving and increasing green space. Maintaining the high level of public services must be reconciled with making it affordable.

The current Village board and administration have been doing an excellent job of balancing those interests, and Mike has played an integral part. He has been very involved in some of the accomplishments of the village over his years of service, like maintaining financial stability even during challenging times and addressing infrastructure needs. Some of his greatest contributions have been to the health of our park and open spaces: preserving, protecting and expanding the park land along the Milwaukee River, and improving Atwater Beach and Park, which has a restored bluff, a new beach boardwalk and two new playgrounds.

Shorewood is a wonderful, livable community. Mike Maher and his fellow trustees have been instrumental in protecting and improving this. I urge you to vote for Mike on April 4.

Ruth Irvings

Shorewood

Supports Ollman in Fox Point

Dear editor,

I have known Greg Ollman for 30 years. I have known Greg as a deputy sheriff. I have known Greg as a neighbor. Now I know Greg as a candidate for village trustee.

Greg’s career in law enforcement gives him a background well suited to address public safety needs in the village. His long tenure in the village gives him a feel for what the community wants, what the community needs and what the community can afford. Greg has a sense of the traditions of the village: the Fourth of July parade, the ice rink, the pool, and all the things that the village contributes to our lives as residents. Greg also is sensitive to the realities of budgeting that apply to local government in general. He understands the concerns of property tax payers, particularly seniors.

Most importantly, I see Greg as a vital member of our community. He is the first there to help his neighbors. He is always one of the first to volunteer to try to make everyone’s life better. Greg would make an excellent trustee. I encourage you to vote for him.

Arthur P. Simpson

Fox Point

Supports three Fox Point candidates

Dear editor,

During the 10 years I have been on the Fox Point board, I have had the opportunity of serving as a fellow trustee with Doug Frazer, Christine Symchych and Terry McGuaran.  I have seen first-hand their commitment to representing us with careful preparation, thoughtful deliberation and common sense decisions.

On April 4, we will elect a new village president for the first time in 15 years. Next to the manager, the president is the most important person in village government. The person we elect must have a thorough understanding of village operations, structure and staffing and of the legal, fiscal and procedural constraints we have to work within.

Doug has the knowledge, experience and temperament to make an excellent village president.  He will make sure the board functions smoothly, openly, professionally, and in the best interests of Fox Point residents.

Christine is one of our hardest-working trustees. She brings a wealth of relevant knowledge and skills to the board and, more importantly, she listens to the concerns of Fox Point residents, works with the other trustees and village staff to find innovative solutions, and stays true to Fox Point’s mission of preserving and enhancing the residential character of the village.

Terry is quieter than Christine but every bit as committed to preserving Fox Point as a tranquil, attractive and desirable community. Terry brings an open mind to board meetings, listens carefully to residents, trustees and staff, and then applies his 40 years of executive experience to contribute thoughtful ideas on how best to maintain Fox Point’s tradition of delivering high-quality services in a cost-effective way.

Please join me in voting for Terry McGauran, Christine Symchych and Doug Frazer on April 4.

Eric Fonstad

Fox Point

Supports Frazer in Fox Point

Dear editor,

I am one of many Fox Point residents supporting Doug Frazer for Fox Point village president.

Doug and his wife, Karen Schapiro, have lived in the village for 23 years, raising sons Nathan and Jacob here. Doug has served two terms (six years) as a village trustee, and held leadership positions in village administration.

Unique in Doug’s contributions to Fox Point have been the more than 70 articles which he has researched and written on village life.  For many years Doug has written a monthly column on village history, governance, administration and operations.

Doug’s monthly columns have provided residents with a clearer understanding of where the village may choose to go when considering important capital projects. By detailing the work of public officials and the economic factors to consider when making decisions, Frazer has positively contributed to communication with Fox Point village residents. Through his articles, Frazer has provided a concise and helpful guide to the village budget for all residents.

Village residents have responded positively and with tremendous enthusiasm to Frazer’s work. Village officials and staff have embraced the column as an effective way for residents to see and understand what goes on in village life behind the scenes.

Due to Frazer’s writing, we have a better informed village, connected with its history and engaged with decisions that will impact residents in the future. Through his writing, Frazer has made municipal life, and its government, both understandable and transparent.

Given his study, hard work and public service, few residents know more about Fox Point than Doug Frazer.

It is that type of engaged, committed, hard-working resident who should lead our village as president.

Michael B. Brennan

Fox Point

Supports Shah for school board

Dear editor,

Every election matters. Our decisions affect our neighborhoods, our finances and our children.  This April, we have a decision about the leadership of our school district. I hope you will join me in re-electing Paru Shah to the Shorewood School Board.

I am grateful to have served on the school board for 11 years, working with 10 different board members; all dedicated to our students, our schools and our community.  I saw first-hand how the work of effective boards can tackle difficult curricular, budget, and personnel issues and improve our schools in the face of the increasing pressures on public education.

In recent years, I’ve attended numerous board meetings and district functions, I participated in last year’s strategic planning summit and I’ve addressed the board on several occasions. Each time I was more impressed with Paru’s understanding of the complexities of public education, her calm demeanor and her unwillingness to be satisfied with the status quo. I haven’t agreed with every decision the board has made, yet I know that Paru listens to all comments and know that she is consistently focused on the success of all students.

I heard Paru recently proclaim that the Shorewood School District is stronger and in better shape than it’s been in years. I think that by all measures this is indeed true. Our teachers are terrific, our facilities are awesome (albeit aging and in need of increasing levels of attention), and we have a strong, solid and stable administrative leadership.

The schools are the center of our community and we need to keep our schools strong and our students prepared for everything before them. I want Shorewood schools to continue to be wonder-filled centers of educational excellence, and hope that you will join me in re-electing Paru Shah to the school board.

Paul Zovic

Shorewood

In favor of ‘Michigan’ left turns

Dear editor,

The intersection at Brown Deer Road and Green Bay Road, which now has an overpass, with Green Bay Road elevated over Brown Deer Road, is about to be rebuilt.

A Michigan Left Turn configuration was considered for that intersection, but the Wisconsin DOT has now decided to use a conventional intersection, at ground level, no overpass and regular traffic lights.

The DOT thinks the Grade Level Intersection without the Michigan Left Turn will lower the cost of the new intersection by $4 million. The Brown Deer Village Board likes the idea of eliminating the overpass, to increase visibility of the surrounding areas and increase business patronage and development.

I agree with the village board that elimination of the overpass is an improvement in the aesthetics of that intersection. However, I feel that a traditional grade level intersection with left turns is not in the best interests of safety and interfere with traffic flow.

A Michigan Left Turn, per Wikipedia:

“The design occurs at intersections where at least one road is a divided highway or boulevard, and left turns onto —and usually from — the divided highway are prohibited”

“Studies have shown a major reduction in left-turn collisions and a minor reduction in merging and diverging collisions, due to the shifting of left turns outside the main intersection.”

Quite simply, traffic never makes a left turn at the intersection; they proceed further along to a U-turn area, and then back to the intersection to make a right turn. I first experienced this in Michigan when I was a semi driver, and I was very impressed by better flow of traffic, and the better safety without traffic turning in front of other traffic.

The DOT says the Michigan Left Turn would cost $4 million more at that intersection --- but have they included in their calculations of the lives that will be saved by eliminating the chance of T-Bone accidents with vehicles turning left? The cost of police and fire response to such accidents? Or the savings in fuel consumption of vehicles idling, as they wait to make a left turn?

I would encourage the DOT and the Brown Deer Village Board to re-examine this issue.

And after witnessing too many intersection accidents on Brown Deer Road throughout the village, I would encourage the study of using Michigan Left Turns for all intersections on Brown Deer Road in the village.

David Tatarowicz

Brown Deer

Weighs in on Fox Point race

Dear editor,

With the spring election just a few weeks away, I am endorsing Christine Symchych and Terry McGauran for re-election as village of Fox Point trustees.

Christine has served as village trustee for two terms and chairs numerous village committees. She is also the elected representative on the North Shore Library Board. Christine’s 20-plus years experience as a city planner gives her a great depth of experience in assessing and dealing with the multitude of issues facing the village. She continues to contribute to the success of the village with innovative ideas and common sense solutions.

Terry McGauran, also an incumbent, and his wife Diane are long-time residents of Fox Point. Our families have been friends for many years. Terry’s 40-plus years with Johnson Controls in various management positions has served him well as he weighs the ongoing issues and decisions that come before the board. Terry has an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn. The experience he gained in his first term has added to his qualifications and skills.

I served as a village trustee with Christine for much of her terms and with Terry for part of his first term. I personally saw that they have sound judgment, integrity, and concentrate on what is best for all our residents when considering the various issues and concerns that come before the board. They carefully deliberate and consider all citizen commentary to ensure that their votes are in keeping with Fox Point’s mission and goals.

Experience and a calm steady hand are needed in providing the village with a highly functional village board.  I strongly endorse Christine’s and Terry’s candidacies and urge my fellow Fox Point voters to re-elect Christine Symchych and Terry McGauran to the position of village of Fox Point trustee.

F.R. Dengel

Fox Point

Election gives residents a voice

Dear editor,

By now, everyone in Shorewood knows there is an important board of trustees election on April 4.

We will vote for people to be our voice on our board. I hope I have met you as I have been campaigning in Shorewood. What I hear as I go door-to-door, is our focus is out of balance. Residents think we have spent too much time, money and energy on business development; yet, our infrastructure is deteriorating and living here is getting more expensive. I was shocked at how many people feel disconnected from the board’s actions, which is why if I am elected, I will hold regular town hall meetings.

Maintaining Shorewood as a wonderful place to live and an attractive place to do business is a priority for everyone. But so is preserving the charm of our village and making smart investments with our tax dollars. At last week’s forum, I was the only candidate to clearly come out against future TIFs.

I believe finding the right balance between the needs of our residents and the business community has to be our highest calling as board members. The question is how do we do that? I will focus on decreasing village expenses while developing new revenue streams. This will help keep our community affordable to young families and our seniors.

I am the new person seeking office. But I believe that bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas to the board is just what we need. This is not, and should not be, a popularity contest, but an election about who is best to fill this job. So ask yourself who will be your voice on the board going forward?

Let your answer inform your vote on April 4.

Jessica Carpenter

Shorewood

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