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In Whitewater, Three Recent Trespasses Against Public Comment

Whitewater’s public comment periods are lawful rights worth defending, and there has never been a time when respecting public comment – humbly and gratefully – has been more important for the city. Since June, there have been three meetings during which Whitewater’s current council president has deprecated public comment, or wrongly set the order of…

Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day

Whitewater has many needs, but fulfilling them requires setting aside the city’s longstanding addiction to press releases, public relations, ‘messaging,’ etc. That approach is both ineffectual and proud (where pride is a sin). Worse still is the irreparably conflicted role of politician and reporter, a government intrusion into civil society, a bad habit of Old…

Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 9.15.20: 4 Points

Updated 9.16.20 with meeting video. Last night, among other items, Whitewater Common Council’s met and considered municipal actions in response to the pandemic, heard presentations from Downtown Whitewater, Inc. and Discover Whitewater, and appointed a resident to fill a council vacancy in AD 5. A few remarks —  1. Pandemic Responses. Whitewater’s council last week declined, on…

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Helpful Advice for Whitewater, Wisconsin

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is rightly celebrated as a masterpiece. It also offers useful political advice, even for small town officials. From that musical’s Washington on Your Side, consider this sage observation on the limits of intra-institutional reform: If there’s a fire you’re trying to douse, You can’t put it out from inside the house. There’s…

Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 9.9.20: 5 Points

Evening of 9.10.20: Updated with full session video. As always, the best record is a recording. Original post follows — Last night, at a special meeting of the Whitewater Common Council, that public body voted 5-1 against consideration of a municipal ordinance to regulate mass gatherings during the pandemic. (The agenda packet, with the ordinance…

Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

It was the Trump apologist Salena Zito who, by way of defending Trump, suggested that his words should be taken ‘seriously, not literally.’ (She offered this defense in a deceitful effort to absolve Trump from the plain meaning of what he said, at any moment. Instead of considering his statements, one was supposed to take…

Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 9.1.20: Culture & Prohibitions

At last night’s meeting of the Whitewater Common Council, the council discussed and gave direction to the city attorney to draft an ordinance regulating large gatherings of people on private property during the pandemic. (Updated with video. A revised agenda is available here.) The council plans to meet again on 9.9.20, where they will consider a…

September Arrives: Consequences Will Settle Claims

September arrives. Small-town Whitewater, like all America, wrestles with a pandemic and a recession. In the spring and summer, one often heard that we would know more about the coronavirus and the economy in the fall. Fall now arrives. There have been, and will continue to be, officials’ claims about how the city, university, and…

Snyder’s On Tyranny

Prof. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: ‘Lesssons from the Twentieth Century’ (2017) recently came my way. By design, it’s a brief presentation of twenty lessons that Snyder has discerned after a long career as a historian, with significant study and research on twentieth-century European history. It’s a small, inviting pamphlet addressing a big, unwelcome subject. We’ve…

Social Capital and Hardship

What role does social capital play in a community’s health? Adam Gopnik, in The Paradoxical Role of Social Capital in the Coronavirus Pandemic, ponders whether there’s a relationship between communities with high social capital and a community’s public health. Gopnik uses a traditional definition of social capital as the “parts of society that, without being…

Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 8.4.20: 6 Points

At last night’s meeting of the Whitewater Common Council, among other items — the council slightly modified its mask ordinance, discussed (but took no action on) a racial justice initiative that would create an Equal Opportunities Committee, voted unanimously to extend the lake drawdown project for approximately another year, and voted to continue virtual public…