Letter: Alders Unhappy With Coverage of Garbage Bin Ordinance Proposal
To the Editor:
As city council members, we see the City Times and the rest of the media as playing an important role to help inform the community about their local government—and, yes, to hold us accountable as elected officials. But the City Times can’t serve its proper role when so much of your coverage offers the same cartoon caricature, with the substance of the matter being tailored to fit a well-worn story line rather than the other way around.
The way the newspaper prejudges many of our efforts in the council leads to stories like the recent one about our postponing action on garbage cans, which didn’t really discuss why we decided to work on the proposal for another month. As a result, the City Times’ readers were given yet another alarmist account about burdensome new rules and weren’t told that the very point of delaying until December is to further shape the rules to make them workable and not burdensome. In other words, your coverage took us to task for both having a proposal that wasn’t well formed and also for taking too long to reach a decision. Heads you win, tails we lose.
The debate about where garbage cans can be stored, like many of the issues we grapple with on the council, is about finding a solution that will work for all the different neighborhoods that make up our community. While our two districts border each other, the high number of rental properties in one of them brings a lot more challenges to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Alder Nebel tackled the issue because of garbage in her area around UWSP campus being kept, literally, all over the lot—and because the ordinance currently on the books is overly vague and refers to “structures” instead of main buildings or garages.
Alder Shorr got involved after noticing a disconnect between the draft proposal and the council’s last discussion of this issue 18 months ago. Despite all the input Cindy received in the last couple months, David was the only one to point out the link to council discussions last year (prior to Cindy’s election) when we said some properties are laid out in ways so that residents need to store their cans right by their garages. We said that the eventual solution should make sure the pictures from the May 2016 council packet would be in compliance. Funnily enough, those pictures are similar to the picture the City-Times used with its article, with the garbage cans next to the garages in all cases.
We thought it was important to submit this letter and clarify the central point: this is not an effort to impose strict new rules. In fact, as we make new provisions for properties where the garage is closer to the street than the house (or the same distance), the new ordinance will actually be more lax. It would have been better if these points had been in the City Times’ news pages, but here we are.
Third District Alderperson
Second District Alderperson
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