FREE WHITEWATER

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Daily Bread for 12.7.23: Collective and Evidence-Based

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 50. Sunrise is 7:12 and sunset 4:20 for 9h 08m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 28.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 6 PM

 On this day in 1941, The Imperial Japanese Navy carries out a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet and its defending Army and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japanese forces simultaneously invade Shanghai International Settlement, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies.


Embedded above is a video of the 12.5.23 meeting of the Whitewater Common Council. Yesterday’s post addressed the negligence of this council president on agenda Item 16 about basic council self-governance. See The Council President’s (Willful) Negligence

Two other parts of the meeting stand out. 

Individual Requests. Some members of the council care more about an issue than others, and will express concern when they (as one or two members of a seven-person body) don’t receive the answers they want when they want. One or two members’ expectation of individual service on larger projects is a (chronic) misunderstanding of collective governance. About a requested study of salary comparatives, this misunderstanding arose yet again.  The discussion begins at 28:24 on the recording above. Here, as in the past, Councilmember Allen will sometimes speak in the plural (“So we’ve asked you for we’ve given you the list twice now”) when “we” refers to one or two and not a majority of the council. Of individuals requesting as a mere faction, see Scenes from a Council Meeting (Representations) (“what we’re looking to do here” emphasis added) and Micromanaging the City of Whitewater’s Human Resources Work (“Many years ago, a conservative councilmember rebuked a colleague for expecting that individual members have the authority to assign work or projects to city staff. That conservative councilmember was right — it’s a collective body, and individual members aren’t empowered that way.”)

Lack of Support for Claims. It’s odd, but now also a recurring oddity, that one or two council members will make a claim, but when asked will lack information to support their claim. They’re the ones who will present the claim, but then be unable to substantiate it. 

At the Tuesday night session, Councilmember Allen contended that some communities requested as part of a salary comparison were omitted from a city-supplied list, but when asked if he had examples of omissions (“Could you give me a specific example?”) Allen’s reply was “Right now, no.” Video at 29:55Allen’s quick attempt to supply a few omissions mentioned only cities that had, in fact, been included on the list. Video at 30:00

Later, Allen suggests to Councilmember Gerber that she, Gerber, had not received some salary information Gerber had requested. Here’s the discussion beginning at 50:09:

City Manager: What Rachelle’s saying is that she provided that information. 

Finance Director Rachelle Blitch: That was provided on October 25th. It’s in the agenda packet. 

Councilmember Allen: Jill, there’s other information that you have not received it. 

Councilmember Gerber: I don’t remember. I don’t recall not saying she hasn’t, I just don’t recall. 

Method. 

Earlier at 30:27, the city’s Human Resources makes the point that any reasonable person should grasp:

So one thing I just want to mention, that’s hopefully what the metrics will help us look at, given that information. And then we can use that to determine who actually which communities are the most comfortable based on not only population, but shared revenue, spending, all of those things.

Honest to goodness, isn’t that obvious? The best practice is to complete a wide study and narrow it after reviewing that study’s data. Cherry-picking now invites errors later by idiosyncratic inclusion or omission. 

We’re a beautiful city of thousands who properly grasp the concept of collective governance and the need for evidentiary support for one’s own claims. Whitewater’s residents can grasp these concepts quite well. Any misunderstandings are, so to speak, more specific and particular


Fly through James Webb Space Telescope’s view of 5000 galaxies in 3D visualization:

Daily Bread for 12.6.23: The Council President’s (Willful) Negligence

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 38. Sunrise is 7:11 and sunset 4:20 for 9h 09m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 37.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1917, Finland declares independence from the Russian Empire.


Yesterday’s post linked to the agenda of the Whitewater Common Council session for 12.5.23. 

Here’s Item 16 from that agenda:

Discussion and possible action regarding the timeline of a council action plan to address Common Council self-governance — Common Council/HR.

Nothing matters more than the essential nature of one’s work: baking for a baker, sewing for a tailor, medicine for a physician, etc. The rest is secondary. Performing the essence of one’s work is the least that others should expect. 

And so, and so, if a councilmember will not embrace self-governance as the essence of his work, then he is unsuited to governing others.  

And yet, and yet, for the second time in a row, Whitewater’s council president has skipped over this agenda topic, requiring others on the Whitewater Common Council to remind him of his negligence.

See previously The Complaint Against (Some) on the Whitewater Common Council and Puzzling, Ongoing Irresponsibility. 

About Allen’s first omission of this topic until others reminded him:

One would imagine that having listened to the early November statement [on 11.7 about committing to self-governance], Allen would remember its significance only two weeks later [on 11.21]. One would imagine that an agenda item on 11.21 that plainly reads “Discussion and possible action” would cause Allen to prepare for discussion and possible action. Apparently not. 

Instead, Allen tried to push on without discussion to Item 28. When he was reminded that he was skipping an item that directly addresses this council’s self-governance, Allen replied “My bad.” See video at 2:15:46.

Now, a second omission in a row on 12.5.23:

Allen: Oh, missed one. 

As it turned out, other councilmembers caught the omission and there was then general agreement on an action plan for this council. 

To lead, however, is to go first, to take the initiative, and to guide others in that initiative. No one leads from behind, being pulled along by others. 

Worse, of course, is to hold leadership only to neglect the essence of one’s work. That’s what happened last night.

Later, when asked about a motion to approve a timeline for a self-governance program, Allen replied: 

No, it was just an understanding. 

Other councilmembers rightly and properly saw the need for approval of a concrete timeline and made a motion to adopt one.

By the second omission, Allen’s negligence looks willful. 

Whitewater is, and always will be, deserving of more.

Here’s the solid plan others remembered when this council president didn’t; here’s the specific plan others saw as actionable when Allen saw only a nebulous “understanding”:


Atmospheric river soaks Pacific Northwest bringing floods, mudslides:

Daily Bread for 12.5.23: An Uncharitable Gift Is Still a Gift

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 37. Sunrise is 7:10 and sunset 4:20 for 9h 10m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 47.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

 On this day in 1879, the Humane Society of Wisconsin is organized in Milwaukee. Inspired by Henry Bergh, a New York City philanthropist, and his Humane Movement, the state Humane Society was formed to protect both animals and children.  However, with the formation of child protection laws in the early 1900s, the Humane Society of Wisconsin began to focus primarily on animal protection.


Linked above is the Whitewater Common Council agenda for the first council meeting of December. Embedded below is the full agenda packet for the session.

A few remarks this morning on yesterday’s comments. 

1. Several readers last night and this morning emailed me to ask what I thought of a comment yesterday criticizing the evolving present in favor, presumably, of the (stagnant) past in Whitewater. There are differing views in this city. It’s a town of fifteen thousand people, not fifteen old men. One encounters all sorts of views with sangfroid. An uncharitable gift is still a gift. 

2. It’s true, as commenter New Attendee notes, that imitation is a form of flattery. I am also reminded of the venerable account of conjurers’ imitation serpents being devoured by the original.  

3. If it should be true that someone in the city cleans up alone, then the critical commenter could improve that situation by helping. 

4. Whitewater’s problems did not begin a year ago, as anyone not sadly confused would know. Holdovers from Whitewater’s failed past policies never want to look back further than a few months. Oh, no: these gentlemen led the city to her present state over a generation. They should look first to themselves, and not those having arrived more recently. This old guard is blame-shifting and excuse-making.

If they want to see who put Whitewater in difficult straits, they need only look into a mirror.

See Chronologies (‘In the case of bad politicians, however, the objection to a chronology is clear: to be reminded of their past errors and delays is a reminder they don’t want their constituents to have’) and Boo! Scariest Things in Whitewater 2023 (‘One sits and listens to this common council president, on council or the community development authority for decades, as he blames others for the lakes project, why certain types of stores are in town, and ignores why so many other businesses have over the years gone under or left for other communities. Where does he think he was all these years?’). 

5. These policy conflicts over the last year are about much more than someone new at city hall. This conflict is about the effort of a few tired old men to perpetuate their manipulation of public institutions for another generation. That conflict will not end until they stop. A critique of their actions will not end until they stop. They’ve overreached, fumbling and stumbling about to keep this town in their grip for another generation. 

That’s not a conflict merely between city officials. An aged ilk has precipitated a conflict among residents. That ilk might have left well enough alone. They didn’t. They bear the responsibility for this conflict. No month or season, no election, will end this conflict. It will stop only when their unmerited overreaching ends. Not a moment sooner. 

There are many twists and turns ahead. Whitewater is the adventure — and the work — of a lifetime. 

Here’s tonight’s full council packet: 


Amazon announces 2 new robots: Digit and Sequoia:

Daily Bread for 12.4.23: More on the 11.21 Council Session

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 38. Sunrise is 7:09 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 11m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 57.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

  Whitewater’s Police & Fire Commission meets at 6 PM

  On this day in 1971, during a concert by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at the Montreux Casino, an audience member fires a flare gun into the ceiling, causing a fire that destroys the venue.


The agenda of the Whitewater Common Council session for 11.21.23 had 36 items. A post here at FREE WHITEWATER on 11.22 considered Item 27. See Puzzling, Ongoing Irresponsibility. Today’s post will address a few more items from that November meeting. I’ll call on figures from history, heavy metal, and master planning to help me out. 

Item 12 was an Immigration Roundtable Update and Item 16 was the Resolution Adopting the 2024-2025 City of Whitewater Municipal Budget. The discussion of Item 12 begins at 1:26:51 on a recording of the session and a portion of the budget discussion involving police staffing begins at 3:37 on the session recording. 

The council approved additional funds for a staffing study and technology additions to the police budget. See video @ 38:10

There’s a link between the two items, as in both there are discussions of changes to the city’s demographics. For Item 12 that’s necessary categorically; for Item 16 it may not be. It’s a small point but one the city has time to consider: immigration necessarily involves talk of immigrants, but staffing may be needed for many reasons, some of which may not involve immigrants. 

If a study on the matter points to the need for more officers, and if the method of hiring requires a referendum, then (but only then) the question of staffing becomes an electoral & political matter. There’s sure to be a desire, from city staff and the department, to address all of this now. Choosing among justifications, however, has political implications. 

How to present a referendum is a matter that can be addressed when the city is closer to a vote (likely spring 2025). 2025 may seem close, but there’s plenty of time. No reason to take my word for it — the Duke of Wellington explains it well:

Another part of Item 16’s budget discussion involved Councilmember Gerber’s desire to ensure specific percentage targets for city employees (e.g., 70% to goal, 80% to goal, etc.). As it turned out, however, it’s not possible to set a percentage-to-goal target unless one knows what goes into the targets. Seventy percent to goal, as against for example eighty percent, only matters if one knows what comprises the goal. Video @ 27:00. 

The council sensibly held off on percentage goals until it knew the substance behind those percentages. Video @ 30:00. To have done otherwise would have left the council in the unfortunate situation of Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap, who thought a number mattered more than (and indeed determined!) what it represented:

Item 16 had a portion for public comment reasonably limited to three minutes per person. A community-minded official could afford to be patient with his fellow residents for three minutes. Indeed, he should be patient with them under that limit. This council president, who often speaks nebulously and vacuously, saw fit to remind others not to be repetitive. Video @ 17:20. If there’s a time limit for each person to speak, then that should be enough for this council. A time limit and a reminder not to be repetitive is what someone says when he condescends to others. Sure, maybe Dalton Russell never repeats himself, but then he’s a master planner:

The rest of us aren’t like that. It’s either an unmerited arrogance or unacceptable laziness that would cause an official in local government to think that he needed to remind someone about repetition over a brief three-minute period. A timer is enough; no one should be following this council president’s words of caution on supposed repetition by ordinary residents. They should be able to speak within that period as they’re able. 

Whitewater is a small & beautiful city where all residents deserve respectful opportunities from their local government.


Daily Bread for 12.2.23: Chronologies

 Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 41. Sunrise is 7:07 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 14m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1942, during the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (“a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers”).

By Melvin A. Miller of the Argonne National Laboratory – http://narademo.umiacs.umd.edu/cgi-bin/isadg/viewobject.pl?object=95120, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8147703


Bad politicians dislike chronologies the way that vampires dislike garlic. (In the case of vampires, it’s possible that they simply dislike natural ingredients that act as blood thinners.)

In the case of bad politicians, however, the objection to a chronology is clear: to be reminded of their past errors and delays is a reminder they don’t want their constituents to have. When someone comes along and lists what has happened (and what hasn’t happened) month after month is for those types an objectionable accounting.  

For ordinary people, by contrast, a simple chronology is never objectionable; it’s merely a factual statement of events. 

All this comes to mind when reading professional reporting on the Whitewater Aquatic and Fitness Center. WhitewaterWise ably recounts the interminable negotiations over the pool in Following attorney’s recommendation, council sends unapproved aquatic center operational, lease agreement back to school district

From that reporting, one reads that

Information within the meeting’s open session packet included a letter received by Weidl on Nov. 1, from von Briesen and Roper Firm attorney Christopher Smith. In his capacity as contracted counsel representing the city, Smith wrote that the version of the contract he had most recently received [from the Whitewater Unified School District] contained two changes made from the previously authorized draft, which had been agreed upon by the two bodies — the council and the school board, describing the changes as “substantive.”

The news story then recounts month after month of negotiations, with change after change, demand after demand, from the school district. The definitive chronology is over four thousand words long. 

After all this talk, over many months, somehow the Whitewater School Board decided to make changes and send the contract back. 

From the school board, this has stopped being responsible dealmaking and has descended into negotiations as a fetish. Those who wish to be taken seriously behave seriously. These board changes aren’t serious; they’re ridiculousness cosplaying as seriousness. 

A thorough chronology in this matter is both an irrefutable account and damning indictment. 


Mount Etna erupts again, sending hot lava down its snowy slopes:

Daily Bread for 12.1.23: The Parade

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be rainy earlier in the day with a high of 37. Sunrise is 7:06 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 15m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 82.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to that city’s bus boycott


Whitewater’s annual Christmas parade takes place tonight. The parade begins at 6 PM, with events before and after. (See the link to the Downtown Whitewater Facebook page with details on those accompanying events.)

(The parade route — principally along Main Street — is in green, the staging area in red, and the detour route in black.)

The Parade of Lights, like the July 4th parade held nearly half a year earlier, brings together people from across the city without charge, and without expectation other than a common, joyous celebration.

Preserving these parades, and building from them, is part of the work of re-knitting the city. 


What’s in the Night Sky December 2023:  Geminid Meteor Shower | Astronaut’s Tool Bag:

Daily Bread for 11.28.23: Opportunity If We’ll Take It

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 23. Sunrise is 7:03 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 19m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1895, the first American automobile race takes place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea wins in approximately 10 hours.


  A 11.21.23 essay from Brookings by author Homi Kharas describes what fuels middle-class optimism. (Kharas has a new book, The Rise of the Global Middle Class, that I have not yet read. For today, this post confines itself to Kharas’s 11.21 essay.) 

Kharas notes the rise of a global middle class:

Joining the middle class has been a ticket to the good life for two centuries now, a history I trace in a new book “The Rise of the Global Middle Class.” The American Dream, the glorious years of European reconstruction after World War II, miracle economic growth in Japan and other East Asian countries, Xi Jinping’s great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and India’s software revolution each brought hundreds of millions of people into the ranks of the global middle class. Today, thanks to this progress, most of the world, upwards of 4 billion people, enjoy a middle-class or better lifestyle for the first time ever.

Yes. (I’ll note that the period of China’s greatest economic success came only after liberalizing her economy toward freer markets, and that period of liberalization is regrettably over.)

Here’s how Kharas describes middle-class optimism:

Middle-class life satisfaction rests on two pillars. The first is the idea that hard work and self-initiative will lead to prosperity. The second is that thanks to this prosperity, the children of middle-class families will enjoy even more opportunities for the good life.

There’s a local aspect to this. To be successful, a community needs to have middle-class success. 

In Whitewater, CDA types in the decade from 2010-2020 failed to capitalize on state and national economic gains. See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom. (“While Wisconsin and America advanced, these gentlemen were left admitting reluctantly their own poor performance. (There was a national boom, uplifting many cities, but it passed by Whitewater. What did Whitewater get after the Great Recession, years into a national boom? Whitewater received a designation as a low-income community.  The gentlemen speaking, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ development men, were by their own accounts at the center of local CDA policy during most of the years that the state and national boom ignored Whitewater.) See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA (“This new EOZ program allows for private investments to be made, with significant tax benefits, in lower income communities like ours that need a boost to their economy,” said Larry Kachel, Chair of the Whitewater Community Development Authority (CDA).” Emphasis added.)

We have a chance for better. See A Development Director for Whitewater (“Whitewater’s development policy is meant to be a community development policy, not one captured against the public interest by a few. Who owns Whitewater? The proper answer — the answer suitable for a beautiful, well-ordered American town — is everyone and no one.”)


Rescued baby turtles scurry into the sea:

Daily Bread for 11.25.23: Shop Small Today in Whitewater

 Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 6:59 and sunset 4:24 for 9h 24m 35s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 95.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1783, the last British troops leave New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris:

Evacuation Day on November 25 marks the day in 1783 when the British Army departed from New York City on Manhattan Island, after the end of the American Revolutionary War. In their wake, General George Washington triumphantly led the Continental Army from his headquarters north of the city across the Harlem River, and south through Manhattan to the Battery at its southern tip.


It’s Shop Small Saturday in Whitewater. Join your fellow residents at Cravath Lakefront Park, 341 S. Fremont Street, for a festive day in our small & beautiful city — 

Usher in the holiday season by supporting all things local. This family-friendly FREE event will feature more than 40 local, small businesses that you can support on Small Business Saturday. Enjoy food trucks, sweet treats, live music, pictures with Santa and holiday shopping. November 25th from 10-2p!


Hawk photobombs a Minnesota traffic camera and stares deeply into it:

Daily Bread for 11.24.23: A Development Director for Whitewater

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 30. Sunrise is 6:58 and sunset 4:24 for 9h 26m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 90.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1971, during a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (aka D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.


Like most people, this libertarian blogger likes to listen to music. Much of my favorite music is jazz, and some of that jazz music is played on a piano. I, however, do not play the piano. (A cat walking across the keys would produce a more pleasing sound than any effort of mine.) 

And yet, and yet, like so many others who don’t play the piano, I can tell the difference between competent playing and… something less.

Now, I’m not a ‘development’ person (and have never claimed to be one). Instead, any critique of Whitewater’s traditional development approach offered at FREE WHITEWATER has rested on simple, fundamental analyses of economics, evidence of performance, logical reasoning, and good government.

On this last point: Whitewater’s development policy is meant to be a community development policy, not one captured against the public interest by a few. Who owns Whitewater? The proper answer — the answer suitable for a beautiful, well-ordered American town — is everyone and no one.

Soon, the City of Whitewater will have a new Economic Development Director. WhitewaterWise reports Berg hired as city’s economic development director:

The Whitewater Common Council Tuesday learned from City Manager John Weidl that Calli Berg has been hired as the city’s new economic development director.

According to her resume, Berg brings 25 years of experience in “all aspects of economic development, including business retention, attraction, and expansion,” along with other skill sets, including financial analysis and packaging, grant writing, administration, fund management, and tax increment and credit programs.

She is currently employed as the director of economic development, Milwaukee County, serving in that position since January of 2022. Prior to that, she worked as the director of economic development in the city of Franklin, between 2018 and 2022, and was the president and owner of BDM Services, a company, according to her resume, which provided consulting services to municipalities regarding economic development activities. The business began its operations in 2008.

Berg has additionally held such positions as business development manager with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and director of the Coloma-Watervliet Area Economic Development Corporation, in Berrien County, Mich.

She holds an undergraduate degree in business administration-marketing, and is certified by the International Economic Development Council as an economic developer. She is recognized by the National Development Council as an economic development finance professional and has been named by West Michigan Business Direct Weekly as a Business Leader Under 40, and has earned the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Michigan Economic Developers Association, according to her resume.

Ms. Berg has an impressive background in development policy.

This libertarian blogger is a tragic optimist, but the fundamental outlook of tragic optimism is, happily, optimism.  

While so very many in the city will be rooting for Calli Berg’s success, no one in Whitewater will be more hopeful than I’ll be. 

One wishes the very best for Ms. Berg in applying her experience and her insight to advance Whitewater’s community development on behalf of all our community.


James Webb Space Telescope captures stunning view of Milky Way’s heart:

Daily Bread for 11.21.23: The Second Council Session in November

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 41. Sunrise is 6:55 and sunset 4:26 for 9h 31m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 63.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

  On this day in 1959, American disc jockey Alan Freed, who had popularized the term “rock and roll” and music of that style, is fired from WABC radio over allegations he had participated in the payola scandal.


Linked above is the Whitewater Common Council agenda for the second council meeting of November. Embedded below is the full agenda packet for the session. (Although I have begun embedding the council or CDA agendas on the day of the respective meetings, this post offers both the full council packet and mention of items of notable interest to this libertarian blogger. Usually, I’ve not highlighted a meeting in advance, but the decline in quality representation from this council makes careful attention to the agenda and proceedings necessary.)

At the last council meeting, some of the listed items tonight were presented, but not decided. A few items from tonight’s agenda seem notable to this libertarian blogger. (Other residents will have their own particulars; their mileage may vary.)

STAFF REPORTS

Item 10. Lakes Update – Park and Rec.

Item 11. Aquatic Center Update – Park and Rec

Item 12. Immigration Roundtable Update – Police

Item 13. Police Staffing 2024 – Police

Item 15. von Briesen & Roper Resumes for 3 Labor and Employment Specialty Attorneys – HR

RESOLUTIONS

Item 16. Resolution adopting 2024-2025 City of Whitewater Municipal Budget – Finance

Item 25. Discussion and possible action regarding Virtual Meeting Policy – Allen/HR

Item 27. Discussion and possible action regarding the formation of a council action plan to address Common Council self-governance- Common Council/HR

CLOSED SESSION

Item 35. Adjourn to closed session, to reconvene in open session, Chapter 19.85(1)(f) “Considering financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons except where par. (b) applies which, if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such histories or data, or involved in such problems or investigations.” Item to be discussed: 1) Discussion regarding complaints received by the Human Resources Department

CONSIDERATIONS

Item 36. Discussion and possible action regarding matters addressed in closed session in response to a complaint received by the Human Resources Department. – HR/Employment Attorney

This is a long list of significant items. In the list at FREE WHITEWATER for the 11.7 session, posts here addressed many of the listed items discussed. Still, other listed items were only briefly discussed by the council, postponed for discussion, or due to be presented again (e.g., the municipal budget). For posts addressing key topics at the 11.7 session see The Complaint Against (Some) on the Whitewater Common Council, The Council’s Own, Extra Law Firm, The Local Press Conference that Was Neither Local Nor a Press Conference (at which councilmembers were present but the local press was not), Managing Pronunciations as Generational Independence, and Micromanaging the City of Whitewater’s Human Resources Work.

One key point: this council majority has lost any benefit of the doubt from its community. The solution is plain: if the council majority doesn’t want to be criticized as foolish and irresponsible, then it shouldn’t act foolishly and irresponsibly.

In all of this, Whitewater is a beautiful city, a delightful place to live, and a community far more capable than its council majority. 


Fresh Pumpkin Pie | Melissa Clark Recipes | The New York Times:

Daily Bread for 11.17.23: Micromanaging the City of Whitewater’s Human Resources Work

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 56. Sunrise is 6:50 and sunset 4:29 for 9h 39m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 19.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1869, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is inaugurated.


Embedded above is a video recording of the Whitewater Common Council’s 11.7.23 session.  

At that session on 11.7.23, the council in Items 28 considered “Discussion and possible action regarding the compensation survey – Gerber/HR.” The discussion, such as it was, begins at 1:28:41 on the video. The city’s HR Manager Sara Marquardt and Councilmember Jill Gerber are the principal interlocutors. 

A few remarks: 

Assignments. Many years ago, a conservative councilmember rebuked a colleague for expecting that individual members have the authority to assign work or projects to city staff. That conservative councilmember was right — it’s a collective body, and individual members aren’t empowered that way.  

This Council Majority. In this case —on a council with a majority that has admitted on the record that it requires significant improvement — individual councilmembers would do best to avoid calling around. There is no public verification possible of questions or answers received on phone calls. To whom a councilmember spoke, the precise questions asked, how those questions might have been framed, the complete answers received: none of that is available for public review. 

Note well: this is the only council majority in memory that has had to admit it requires outside guidance on basic functioning that other councils have managed competently. See The Complaint Against (Some) on the Whitewater Common Council

Unlike trained full-time employees of the administration, councilmembers are asking questions without that same training and background. As with Allen calling the League of Municipalities, the actual and important conversation is unknown to the public. See Scenes from a Council Meeting (Representations).

This small-town council’s majority acts as though it’s a Congressional committee, wanting its own lawyer, crusading from the dais, etc. Whitewater is a small town, not a large federal district. 

Questioning. There’s a simple set of tactical rules for questioning someone in a public setting. When the person to be questioned has a hard manner, one may effectively question with a hard or soft manner. When the person to be questioned has a soft manner, one can only effectively question in a soft manner. 

In this discussion, there is no circumstance in which one would sensibly approach this HR manager except in a relaxed, affable manner: no accusations, nothing on the spot, no critical implications, etc. Instead, a skillful questioner would approach in a matter-of-fact, indeed, conciliatory way. Almost playful, truly. Any other approach would redound to the questioner’s disadvantage (as it did here).

A Reminder: Whitewater deserves better from its common council majority; this city is better than its council majority. No one should feel bad about Whitewater because of these few. We are a beautiful city, and our people can do much more than this majority. 


No injuries reported after large rockslide closes hiking trail in Zion National Park:

Daily Bread for 11.16.23: Managing Pronunciations as Generational Independence

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 62. Sunrise is 6:48 and sunset 4:30 for 9h 41m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 11.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM

  On this day in 1990, Pop group Milli Vanilli are stripped of their Grammy Award because the duo did not sing at all on the Girl You Know It’s True album. Session musicians had provided all the vocals.


This post about pronunciation isn’t about pronunciation. This post about zoning isn’t about zoning.

It’s about generational independence.

Here’s the background. Some years ago, in 2016, the City of Whitewater adopted a new zoning designation, R-O. It was an overlay designation, and its effect wherever imposed was to reduce by one the number of unrelated adults who could live together in a single family residence. See City of Whitewater Municipal Code Section 19.25.030.  (“In all nonfamily residential overlay districts, the nonfamily household limitation set forth in Whitewater Municipal Ordinance Section 19.15.010 is reduced from three to two. Therefore, in any nonfamily residential overlay district, a nonfamily household shall be limited to two unrelated persons.”)

The zoning changes of the mid-teens in Whitewater came with, as one can imagine, all sorts of particular preoccupations. City officials at the time made much (way too much) of reminding everyone how to pronounce the R-O district (‘overlay, overlay, overlay’). They said this as though repeating the ‘proper’ pronunciation of the designation R-O (as Ō , the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet) meant as much as the limitations on residency themselves. 

How fortunate that better times have now arrived. 

At the 11.7.23 session of the Whitewater Common Council, beginning at 6:12 on the recording of the meeting, there was a general informational update about the designation that alternated between use of R-O (oh) and R-0 (as zero). Whitewater’s Zoning and Code Enforcement Administrator shifted between the two pronunciations in response to a question, without breaking her stride.

Good for her. Smoothly and well done. 

The brief presentation was useful twice over: it was both informative and free of any particular obsession on trivial particulars that once gripped too many in this government. 

And now, and now, one arrives at the deeper meaning of this brief discussion. Residents have doubtless heard a few aged men insist that there is a certain ‘way we talk around here’ and a certain ‘way we do business around here.’ 

No, and no again. 

It’s a city of 14,889, not a half-dozen. It’s a city of many, not a few. 

No small number, enveloped in self-regard, decides for these many. New officials, new residents, a new generation: they’re free to call all of this what they want.

Tomato, tomahto, and all that. 

This libertarian blogger, happily residing in the House of Dissenting Opinion, finds new variations from new leaders welcome. Sometimes (as in this case), it’s simply delightful. One looks away but for a moment only to see something new upon restoring one’s gaze. 

My late father would sometimes remind: a house is not a museum. Neither is a city: this community is meant to change, to evolve, in spontaneous and dynamic ways. 

Whitewater’s extends beyond a tired few. The city is much more than that, and those who think otherwise are risibly wrong. 

We’re all — fortunately, blessedly, happily — ordinary people in a beautiful town of thousands. Variations, alterations, and improvisations from among those many are most welcome.  


Could a robot chemist create oxygen on Mars using AI?:

Daily Bread for 11.14.23: National Inflation Cools

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 57. Sunrise is 6:46 and sunset 4:32 for 9h 46m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, is published in the USA.


  Jeanna Smialek reports Consumer prices slowed in October:

Inflation eased in October and price increases showed encouraging signs of slowing under the surface, according to fresh data released on Tuesday. The report provides the Federal Reserve with evidence that its battle against rapid inflation is working.

The overall Consumer Price Index slowed to 3.2 percent last month on a year-over-year basis, lower than the 3.7 percent reading in September and the coolest since July. That deceleration owed partly to more moderate energy prices.

Even with volatile fuel and food prices stripped out, a closely watched “core” price measure climbed 4 percent in the year through October, slower than the previous reading and weaker than what economists had expected.

Inflation has come down meaningfully over the past year after peaking in the summer of 2022, and the fresh report showed evidence of continued progress. Fed officials are trying to wrestle price increases back to roughly the 2 percent pace that was normal before the pandemic by raising interest rates, which they hope will slow consumer and business demand.

These are national figures; local prices changes will vary from the national average.

A question, however, presents itself in every community, big or small: in which local officials will residents place their trust to seize the opportunities of improved conditions? Will Whitewater and other cities turn yet again to those who have produced press releases instead of genuine progress in residents’ individual and household incomes?

Will residents in these communities take the measure of the difference between past positioning and current professional performance? 


Massive cracks and fissures in a road following hundreds of small earthquakes in Iceland: