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Daily Bread for 11.13.23: More on Messaging in Whitewater

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 57. Sunrise is 6:43 and sunset 4:33 for 9h 48m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM

  On this day in 1940,Walt Disney’s animated musical film Fantasia is first released at New York’s Broadway Theatre, on the first night of a roadshow.


  Yesterday, I posted about a Johnson-Steil political event in Whitewater on Friday. See The Local Press Conference that Was Neither Local Nor a Press Conference

That political event raises a question: what kind of local message works in Whitewater, and how does it work?

Another effort, the Save the Pool Committee, is illustrative of the limits of some messaging in Whitewater. 

(I’ve supported funding for the pool, and have argued that the dispute should have been resolved before the start of the school year. This post, however, isn’t about funding; it’s about messaging.)

At a council meeting about a month ago, a resident pointed out that the City of Whitewater’s success in moving toward a resolution of the funding dispute for the pool rested with Whitewater’s city manager, John Weidl. You know, although I’m not in the habit of touting the public sector, the resident’s observation is spot on. 

There was a ‘Save the Pool Committee’ formed in the winter or late spring of this year, not long before the April spring elections. That committee held a few of its own meetings, and leading members of that group attended a few public meetings, but it contributed next to nothing to the work that moved pool negotiations along.

One knows this because the negotiations required a level of detail that the pool group’s mere ire did not involve. Whining at a joint meeting that district officials were selfish accomplished nothing. In fact, it showed how mono-dimensional and overly emotional a public relations man and a few others can be. (In the same futile way, Councilmember Jim Allen’s request to bring a few tables together at one public meeting did nothing to bring a resolution closer but did bring both city and district into a questionable change from an open Wisconsin meeting to a semi-private one.)

Over the months that followed, it was point by point, item by item negotiations that moved the dispute closer to resolution.

By Charles J. Sharp – Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography.co.uk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=129777403

In the summer, I attended the joint meeting of the Whitewater Common Council and the Whitewater School Board, in Whitewater’s council chambers. The scene was revealing.

In the back of the room sat two of the Save the Pool Committee leaders, with another supporter in the row in front of them. They listened to the discussion only intermittently, using the rest of the time to talk to each other while elected officials were speaking, to fidget with a pencil, or to praise a different meeting they had recently attended. (From my point of view, being so close was like a hike where a flock of birds settled nearby. Nature always yields insights.)  

In that same meeting, sitting a few rows forward to my right was Whitewater’s superintendent, Dr. Caroline Pate-Hefty. I could see her left side, and she was attentive to the discussion, with her expression changing as the discussion shifted, reflecting her responses to various points raised. Her right hand was also visible, and she occasionally gestured intensely  with that hand, the way someone attending a competition might react to successes or failures of a team on a playing field.  She occasionally looked down at notes on her lap during the meeting.

I thought to myself: The gap in focus and commitment between this superintendent and these pool committee leaders is Grand Canyon wide.

(I’ve no interest in a conflict with our superintendent, especially as I find myself busy elsewhere in the city. Indeed, the community surely knows that I’ve nothing but love in my bleeding libertarian heart for Dr. Pate-Hefty and all my fellow creatures.) Yet, if a dispute should one day arise between that superintendent and this libertarian blogger, I’d not underestimate her. One begins all challenges and campaigns from the perspective of a dark horse underdog.

Although I support funding to sustain the pool, it’s clear that the Save the Pool Committee advanced the pool only slightly. They overestimated their own skill in messaging, underestimated the work required to achieve a result, underestimated the district superintendent’s diligence, and have had success only through the efforts of Whitewater’s city manager. 

Successful campaigns are hard. Self-promotion and self-congratulation devolve into self-delusion. 


Moment whale body-slams wingfoiler at Sydney beach:

James Breen was wingfoiling at Mona Vale beach in Australia when a humpback whale soared out of the water and landed on top of him, dragging him about 20 to 30 feet below the surface. His GoPro captured the dramatic moment on camera. As he wrestled underwater, he said he could feel the smooth skin of the whale, leading him to believe it was a juvenile. After his leg rope snapped, he clawed his way back to the surface and made his way to the shore safely.
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New attendee
18 days ago

Landlords and lobbyists, with their blueprints so grand,
Cry “Save the Pool!” while their boorish plans expand.
Round and round they go, in their familiar, dreary trance,
Weaving these frail policies with each and every chance.

For years in Whitewater, they’ve raised their clamorous band,
Aiming arrows at the Aquatic Center, with each shaky hand.
Yet, in our story’s twist, both sudden and stark,
It’s their own chamber, their chaos, in which they embark.

How ironic, how amusing, as they lament the city’s plight,
It’s their own disarray, their turmoil, they bring to light.
But amidst this jumbled scene, some strive to make amends,
School staff and city workers, on whom our community depends.

They inherit this confusion, not of their own design,
Yet, they take up the broom, in a bid to realign.
And so in Whitewater’s halls, where cries and whispers blend,
The loudest voices often mask those who truly tend.

careful observer
18 days ago

boorish plans yes the first part says it all. we keep hearing about these guys are super duper smart/sophisticated/inside but they don’t sound like it. they get upset if you question any of their ideas. except its the same idea repeated over and over. every gets that don’t they? like if this is what a genius deal guy sounds like then genius is kind of overrated don’t you think?