Daily Bread for 11.8.23: The Complaint Against (Some) on the Whitewater Common Council

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 52. Sunrise is 6:38 and sunset 4:38 for 9h 59m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 21.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1972, American pay television network Home Box Office (HBO) launches.

  Yesterday, I linked to the agenda of the Whitewater Common Council session for 11.7.23. In that Tuesday post, this libertarian blogger listed several agenda items that drew my particular interest. In today’s post, I will consider one of those items, No. 42 (and the closed session Item 41 that led to Item 42). In the days ahead, daily posts here will go through other portions of the 11.7.23 council session.

Here were Items 41 and 42, as they appeared in full on the Tuesday agenda:


41. 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 and pursuant to Chapter 19.85(1)(e) “Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session.” Item to be discussed: 2) Negotiation of Aquatic and Fitness Center Agreement with School District.


42. Discussion and possible action regarding matters addressed in closed session involving complaints received by the Human Resources Department. – HR/Employment Attorney

When the Whitewater Common Council returned to open session, here was the statement on behalf of the council concerning Items 41(1) and 42:

At this time, the Council wishes to make the following statement: 

The Council is respectful that each individual councilmember has distinct, competing, and divergent viewpoints designed to promote the best interests of the city and representation of the community.

The Council intends to work on a plan to enhance the effectiveness of the Council as a body and as that body works with the employees of the city. The Council is committed to Robert’s Rules as a guideline and the city’s Transparency Ordinance.

The Council will explore and conduct training as to governance, conduct of meetings, and open meeting compliance, and encourage appointed office holders to participate in such opportunities.

The Council will explore standards of decorum and civility for its meetings.

The Council will work with the City Manager for the development of an onboarding process for newly elected and appointed office holders. The Council will set expectations for self-accountability, individual commitment to one another. 

The Council will consider whether the use of outside resources is of benefit to this process including resources from CVMIC, and the executive branch of the city, facilitators, or other resources. 

The Council’s commitment to this plan is ongoing, which the Council will address at subsequent meetings. 

(Transcription mine.) 

A few brief remarks. 

1. In more than sixteen years of observing Whitewater’s local government at FREE WHITEWATER, this writer has never before seen a need for any previous council to go into closed session — with an attorney’s guidance — and issue afterward a public statement like this. I’ve never seen it in those many years because no one has. Deficiencies so serious have not presented themselves during that time. 

2. Proper conduct is not a matter of mere ideology, of right, center, or left. Since April, with its current president, this council’s majority has performed below the standard of any previous council during those sixteen years, and below the standard of Whitewater’s residents (of whatever ideology). 

3. Ordinarily and normally, the leader of an institution takes responsibility for deficiencies in the group. Last night, however, it was not this council president, but another councilmember who read the statement on behalf of the institution. 

4. It was Reagan who cleverly popularized the Russian proverb ‘trust but verify’ (doveryai, no proveryai) in America. So it is here: one will trust there will be necessary, significant improvement only through observed verification. 

Whitewater deserves no less than worthy conduct from her officeholders. Officials’ tenure in office requires from them consistent, demonstrated conduct in reasoning and manner befitting our community. 

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New attendee
23 days ago

Well, it looks like the city council has been treating us to quite the performance lately. First up, they’ve got us all on the edge of our seats with a will-they-won’t-they drama about hiring a lawyer to check up on the city manager.

Then, we’re treated to an encore performance of “Council members and toddlers are similar in the following ways….” featuring a special guest appearance from the ex-council president. The highlight? A pledge from the council, clearly written by someone else, to get back to basics. But why didn’t the council president say that? Did lobbylist man or landlord not write him something to say before the meeting?

Anyway, give them a hand, folks—or at least a single, solitary clap. Because nothing screams ‘dedication’ quite like promising to stop acting out over every little thing.

Just a suggestion: maybe it’s time to move past the prewritten last-ditch effort to save our jobs speeches and tackle that mountain of concerns facing this town with some real action. Or is that asking for a plot twist too far from this real-life drama series?