Letter to the Editor: Open Letter to Mayor Birmingham

On Tuesday, March 8, I emailed to you to relate my concerns about hate speech, and I asked for your thoughts about the published derision and implicit legal threats which I viewed as very near to public incitement to violence and thus citizen endangerment, which were directed against the Friends of Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront. I asked you whether or not the, “free speech,” by the author, Thomas Cap Wulf, constituted, “appropriate public behavior,” coming from anyone officially seated, at your pleasure, on any city committee.

I deliberately ignored the west waterfront issues and I asked you whether or not you, as mayor, “condone in any fashion the content, tone and demeanor,” of Cap’s published article aimed directly at specific residents of your city. I asked you, Mayor Birmingham, if this type of personal speech crossed any sort of line of professional acceptability, for any individual to be allowed to continue on with your officially sanctioned participation in city governance, in the light of laudable goals such as peaceable civility, normal human courtesy, mutual respect between citizens or any modicum of expected public decorum.

Ten days later, not even an acknowledgement that you received my message. I had intended to let my message to you remain private, but I then heard your comments during the League of Women Voters (LWV) mayoral candidate forum. You stated that you entered city office with three main goals in mind: the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Sturgeon Bay. Recalling your LWV forum comments regarding citizen concerns with the skate park, I’m closely paraphrasing your words here: …it isn’t necessarily just the skate park…if there is any place in the city where there’s behavior that a person feels isn’t appropriate, you have to come forward and let the appropriate authorities know…if we don’t know about it, we’re not going to be able to address the problem or correct it…

You are the appropriate authority here, correct? You do appoint or dismiss city committee members, correct? The health, safety and welfare of which citizens do you see as deserving of your stated priority of providing publicly for as mayor? By inference, in your failure to state clearly, “for all the citizens of Sturgeon Bay,” voters by the hundreds appear fully justified in questioning whether or not the responsibility, “buck,” ever stops at your city desk.

Words compared to actions create public perceptions. Should voters view your mayoral tenure as that of an enabling conduit funneling “the buck(s)” to provide for the “welfare,” and safety of a few special citizens or maybe as something else? I’ve long understood well, your LWV forum advice mayor, “if you see something, say something.” Yet your present non-response to me, by all appearances after my saying something, defines an unconscionable lack of apparent concern for some citizens, therefore offering voters an unmistakably clear incentive and I’d say even a civic duty for instituting city-wide leadership changes on April 5.


Donald Freix

Fish Creek, Wis.

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