Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 9.15.20: 4 Points | FREE WHITEWATER
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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 a vote of 5-1, to consider an ordinance restricting mass gatherings during the pandemic. A majority of the council last night held that same view, and so did not direct Whitewater’s city attorney to draft another version of an ordinance.

Interim Chancellor Dr. Greg Cook spoke last night, but nothing he said brought about a majority for an ordinance regulating mass-gatherings. Responding to concerns about quarantine policy, or responding to a likely misunderstanding about how data are collected at UW-Whitewater, was more useful to the community.

2. Councilmember appointed. Council appointed Greg Majkrzak to serve as the AD 5 councilman until next April.

3. Policing. Whitewater now has, as almost all college towns have, a mutual aid agreement between municipal and university law enforcement. (If requested, one agency will come to the assistance of the other.)

The city and university are now working on a co-enforcement agreement, where action by one force or another would not be limited merely to a specific request (but rather be more liberally allowed under the terms of the co-enforcement agreement).

There’s nothing meaningful to say until one sees the terms of a draft agreement (a draft that will be an item on a future council agenda, perhaps next month).

 4. Asides.

Whitewater doesn’t have a public health department, so she does not have a public health officer. It does no good for the city’s common council president to carry on as though he is a municipal health officer. He’s over-confident in himself and under-trained in the field. His speculations and inquiries implicate not only his judgment but that of Whitewater’s municipal government and the private organization, the Whitewater Community Foundation, that publishes his work.

There’s a difference in roles between Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: one has to manage an institution and her majority caucus, the other is free to advance her own ideological views without having to manage others’ cooperation.

Some people are suited to one role, but not the other — it’s unfortunate not to see as much.

One should hear others out fully. Residents and council members should always be allowed to hold their opinions: as a matter of right, for others’ edification, and even so that opposing parties may reply informatively.

Across society, in all sorts of professions, America has become more causal: one goes on a first-name basis, shirts are open collar, etc. At the university, it’s all titles and hierarchy: interim chancellor, assistant vice chancellor, deputy adjutant vice director of residence hall number 5, etc. These titles are expected each time someone uses a university official’s name. Fair enough if the university wants to carry on that way.

It sounds absurd, however, outside the university — including among professionals. Indeed, it’s more like a parody of a hierarchy and professional life. If one wants to speak persuasively outside a university environment, once needs to speak the way others do (including other professionals).

It’s no less discordant for councilmembers to speak of each other formally as Mr. This or Ms. That. A small town runs on a first-name basis, but if local government adopts for its officials an awkward, old-school usage, then this libertarian will not object.

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