Editorial: Did Your Council Member Step Up at Monday’s Meeting?
Left, Alderwoman Joanne Suomi. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
It was an unusual- some say a long- anticipated- opportunity for City Council Members on Monday when they got the chance to break down the formality of the February public meeting and publicly air grievances regarding communication with the mayor’s office. Mayor Andrew Halverson told the City-Times in December he would schedule time during an upcoming meeting for city alderpersons to discuss the communication expectations of his office. That gave Council Members two full months to do their homework, cite specific concerns and determine what they wanted to say.
Some Council Members used that time to their advantage. Many alderpersons have consistently complained for several months of feeling rushed to vote with incomplete information or of being left in the dark until the last possible moment.
As expected, Alderman Mike Wiza (District 4) made the biggest splash Monday night, telling the mayor he had a tendency to be “mean and condescending” whether he intended to or not, suggesting a lighter touch during public meetings would encourage more communication from residents. Alderman Roger Trzebiatowski (District 7) gave a very broad critique of the mayor’s communication practices but largely focused on the various committees the mayor had not reappointed him to serve on, citing examples as far back five years.
Councilman Jeremy Slowinski (District 6) said his main concern included last-minute information. Council President Jerry Moore (District 11) said he felt the mayor didn’t respect the council and often made decisions without council input, saying the alderpersons should be privy to the planning process of large projects.
Aldermen Mike O’Meara (District 3), Mike Phillips (District 10) and Randy Stroik (District 9) suggested workshops and additional committees be formed for Council Member participation, and said they’d also like to hear thoughts from department heads on larger projects, as opposed to the unified front portrayed by the mayor when those projects are presented to the Common Council.
Alderwoman Joanne Suomi (District 2) said she “would not repeat” the complaints from other Council Members, instead she used the time to list each individual department head throughout the city and thanked them for all their hard work. Whether Suomi’s comments were constructive, on point or even relevant is up for debate.
Councilmen George Doxtator (District 1) and Tony Patton (District 8) as well as Councilwoman Mary Stroik (District 5) remained silent during the discussion. That silence was the most cutting of all Monday night. They stood mute when given a chance to represent the interests of their constituents, their colleagues on the council and themselves. They had the chance to tell the mayor what they wanted from him and they allowed it to pass them by.
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