Letter to the Editor: Defining Your Agenda

Doubtless readers have heard of “Stockholm Syndrome,” describing the psychological effect on those recent victims who were suffering under authoritarian injustice and politically partisan power structures working to benefit a favored few, while extracting heavy costs from the many. These victims, formerly conditioned to bow and scrape for any tiny favors under oppressive regimes, continue to do so, even when those old power structures have been decidedly overcome.  

While I see those manifestations locally, I understand it takes time to begin framing a new mindset to make the changes voters have asked for. Sturgeon Bay’s new common council needn’t essentially beg and plead with the city administrator to contact a new attorney to discuss dissolving the WRA (Waterfront Redevelopment Authority). Phoning city hall and demanding salaried staff to have the proper attorney available for questions and advice this past week, and demanding the mayor put a WRA dissolution resolution on the May 15 agenda should have occurred.  

Concerning a designated heavy truck route to minimize costly city street wear, the city engineer’s preferred route (there are likely city plans in existence) and a decision/action item on the agenda for May 15 will get the process started. Examination of best routes, enforcement ordinances, fines and signage are needed.  

Respectfully, conducting council meetings needs a bit of attention. Remember the numerous chair interruptions during the former public comment periods with a singular preemptive pronouncement that someone was improperly speaking to an agenda or non-agenda item. There was however, no comment from the common council chair May 1, immediately disallowing explanation of one city attorney’s professional ethics concerns over WRA dissolution matters, which included a statement that arguably could be construed as advice to the common council about the WRA’s “interests.” There simply was no agenda item allowing for it. WRA dissolution is a completely different discussion topic than the explanation of motivations behind a professional recusal.  

The council chair should recall that Robert’s Rules requires surrendering the gavel so-to-speak, to first relinquish the chair if he or she wishes to take a position on any issue. Maybe the chair could fill out a paper slip prior to the meeting and take three minutes during public comment, explaining any issue position.  

Decisive direct language from the new common council majority is not automatically incivility. It is not automatically being abusive of the new majority power. Changing the mindset of begging for furtherance of popular issues and continually being denied without explanation can negatively wear on anyone’s psyche and often will take time to overcome, but please begin to practice using your authority and throwing off the old yoke. It is as simple as standing up and stating “point of order to the chair.”


Don Freix

Fish Creek, Wis.

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