Monthly Archives: June 2012

fire dept stand-by staffing proposal passed, but with a twist

Posted by Scott Crevier on June 20, 2012
City Council meeting / Comments Off

Most proposals considered by the city council are simple to understand. If a majority of the council votes in favor, it passes and the proposal is implemented. If not, the proposal is not implemented. Easy enough.

But at tonight’s city council meeting, item 6B on the agenda stated:

“To deny the request of Fire Chief Kiser to reinstate 2011 standby call-in procedure and overtime funding.”

The wording is this way because when the proposal was considered by the Finance Personnel Committee last week, it failed. So that committee’s recommendation to deny the request came before the council. But when it’s worded like this, the result of a vote isn’t so simple. In this case, if the proposal passed, that would mean the council approves the denial of the request and the fire department doesn’t get what they want. If the proposal failed, then no action is taken, and still, the fire department doesn’t get what they want. So either way, there was no way for Chief Kiser to win based on this particular vote.

I voted nay along with Alderpersons Bauer, Robinson and VanVonderen. So I basically said that I was denying the request to deny. But it was a 4-4 vote, in which case the mayor breaks the tie, and he voted aye. So the motion to deny the request passed.

Hannah O'Brien tweetI want to spell this out and make it clear, because if you read a tweet about it, or hear a blurb that says the city council denied the request, that’s not entirely true. In this particular vote, we didn’t have the power to approve the chief’s request. Now, we are the city council, and we certainly have the power to make a new motion or consider any changes to the budget, but we didn’t do that, not last night anyway. Hannah O’Brien, from the Green Bay Press-Gazette, does a great job tweeting about local politics, but on a negative vote like this, it’s difficult to explain in 140 characters or less exactly what that means. So, instead of replying to her tweet, I figured I’d explain it here.

Moving forward, I’m eager to talk about this more as part of the regular budget process. We’ll continue discussions on our 2013 budget in the coming months, working toward passing it by the end of this calendar year.

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train whistles are banned in the city, sort of

Posted by Scott Crevier on June 14, 2012
City Happenings / Comments Off

I responded to an e-mail from a constituent today regarding train whistles in the city. So I thought I’d clarify the issue here. Sec 150-8(b) of our municipal code states:

“It shall be unlawful for any railroad company, railroad employee or any locomotive engineer to blow any locomotive whistle within the city limits unless necessary to prevent immediate danger to life or property.”

So, while train whistles are not allowed, we do allow the engineer to make a judgement call to blow the whistle in a dangerous situation. To me, that means we shouldn’t be surprised if we hear train whistles in the city, though we could expect it to be a bit quieter than if we didn’t have the ordinance.

I should also tell you that I don’t like our ordinance at all. We’ve had people killed at railroad crossings in the city. And in my mind, our need for public safety easily trumps our need for quiet.

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more downtown parking changes

Posted by Scott Crevier on June 13, 2012
City Council meeting, City Happenings / Comments Off
map of proposed changes

map of proposed changes

At the Board of Public Works meeting on Monday, Ken Pabich (city planning director) presented a proposal to convert a number of short term parking spaces on Reid St and Main Ave downtown from 2-hour parking to unrestricted, which means you can park all day but not overnight. This idea started when Associated Bank notified the city a week and a half earlier that they are converting their building on the corner of Reid and 4th from a branch office to an office building for 40 employees. These employees would obviously need all-day parking, and they no longer have a need for 2-hour parking for bank customers.

The main reason I’m even writing about this is that just 6 months ago, last year’s city council approved a new ordinance creating a $10 monthly fee for long term parking downtown. That turned out to be a big mistake. As a result, dozens of residents and business owners attended the January 17 City Council meeting to share their feelings against the ordinance. Then, at the next meeting, the City Council overturned the ordinance. The big problem here is that the business owners were blind-sided with the information, and never shared their feedback with the City Council BEFORE the ordinance was approved.

So at the Public Works meeting, I asked how much notice was given to the local businesses about this new change. It turns out the notice just went out via postal mail last Friday. This means that most businesses will have seen the information for the first time on Monday, just hours before it was discussed at the Public Works meeting. That’s just not enough notice in my book.

However, I voted in favor of the change for a couple of reasons. First, Pabich and his staff monitored the parking stalls for a week to see how they were used, and determined that such a change would not negatively affect overall parking availability. I’m glad they did that. Second, the issue must now go to the full City Council for approval before it becomes official. This allows businesses and the Chamber of Commerce a few more days to gather their thoughts and to attend the City Council meeting to share their feedback. I believe it will be on our agenda next Tuesday.

The Chamber of Commerce was included in the postal notification, and I also e-mailed the chamber president on Monday night. So I hope they will pay attention and share any feedback, good or bad, before we take up the issue officially at the City Council meeting next week.

If you’re interested, you can see this issue discussed in the video of the Public Works meeting. It’s the first 10 minutes.

As always, please contact me with your feedback. I want to know.

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cut down on paper, a small step

Posted by Scott Crevier on June 10, 2012
City Council meeting / Comments Off

Every Saturday, a De Pere police officer delivers a packet to each of us 8 alderpersons in the city. The packet is a manila envelope containing a small stack of papers, specifically, agendas, letters and supporting documents related to current city matters and upcoming meetings. Larry Delo, our city administrator, also sends us a weekly memo, his “Friday Memo”, containing some quick bullet points on current happenings, along with copies of various memos, e-mails and newsletters.

Well, this weekend’s Friday memo (11 sheets of paper) starts like this:

“This will be the final hard copy of the Friday Memo included in your weekend packets. If you still want to receive a hard copy please let me know. Otherwise, I will e-mail all future Friday memos to you at your City e-mail address.”

The city has a sustainability committee who is looking at ways of being greener, and smarter with our resources. This small change to our weekly communications is great news, and one small step toward saving the city enormous amounts of paper.

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