From our readersIssue Date: April 9, 2014
I went to the Town of Stephenson Committee(s) meeting Wednesday, April 2. The Town of Stephenson has 4 standing committees: Personnel-Building-Grounds, Finance-Ordinance-Public Safety, Road-Public Works and Recycling-Recreation.
I was shocked to learn that these committees are committees-of-one; the only person on each committee is a Board Member! There is not another person on any of the committees. Basically, the Board answers to the Board. Where is the citizens input?
If you are a citizen of this Town and have an issue, I was informed that you cannot just go to the regular board meeting and have your concerns heard. You first have to go to the committee meeting. But, before you can address your issue at the committee meeting you have to talk with the Committee/Board Member, who has to put your issue on the agenda. Then if it gets on the agenda; you can present your issue to the Committee(s) and then they will present it to themselves at the regular Board Meeting. Thats only, if the committee-of-one gets your issue put on the agenda for the regular Board Meeting. If he doesnt you can still send it to the Clerk to add it to the agenda, but, you have to send it in no later than 9 days before the meeting. And then, the Town Chairperson decides whether or not your issue is important enough to be placed on the agenda for consideration and discussion. Confusing I know.
Why should we the citizens have to jump throw hoops to have our concerns or have issues addressed? Basically, the Town of Stephenson system is set up to discourage public participation. And the Board wonders why no one comes to the Town Meetings?
Id like to remind the Town Board what the definition of a standing committee is: A standing committee is a subunit of a political or deliberative body established in a permanent fashion to aid the parent assembly in accomplishing its duties. In a true democracy, a good governance committee meeting is made up of both citizens and officials, giving everyone a chance to bring their own perspectives and issues to the table and together decide how issues of importance to the community are addressed, like budgeting, purchase of new equipment, speed limits, VFW memorial, Town Hall sign and so forth. All of the committee members present have a vote, and they can also discuss issues directly with elected officials, without having everything put on the agenda first.
Right now, the only time citizens can have a say in our governance is at the Annual Town Meeting. Even at this meeting, if the majority votes on an issue, the Board can still take it under advisement and not respond to the majority vote.
We need to improve the way we our governed. We all need to inform and be a part of the system.
I am urging the citizens of the Town of Stephenson to look into all our Ordinances, specifically the Towns Ordinance Title 2: Government and Administration (on Towns website). Our towns governance system needs to be revisited and establish true democratic committee(s) that provides easy access and input from all its citizens, not just the elected few.
Citizens of the Town of Stephenson, please attend the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall.
Town of Stephenson
Letter to the Editor:
I am writing this letter to the Town of Lake taxpayers to inform them that a very important and crucial annual meeting will be held on April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the town hall. The town will be voting on several proposed plans for a new Public Works building that could vary greatly in cost and, if passed, will raise taxes for our town.
The current building does need repairs and a new building is reasonable; however, the taxpayers are not being informed of the decisions regarding this building.
I attended the April 2 informational Public Works meeting during which an architect described various options regarding the Public Works building. My thoughts after attending were that taxpayers were not properly informed of the need for a new building so that a consensual decision about what to build could have been made versus that of three board members, two of which were not present at the meeting. Secondly, the cost of the hired architect should also be a concern to the taxpayers.
What our Town of Lake needs is your attendance and input at the April 15th 7:00 p.m. annual meeting. This will allow for an open discussion for all. The town can then make a decision of what would be most beneficial and cost effective to our town as a whole.
I would like to clear up an error in the article about the Spring Election in your Wednesday, April 2 paper concerning the 2014 election in the City of Peshtigo. I lost the 2012 election for the office of mayor, and in 2013 I chose not to seek reelection for the office of alderperson 3rd district. As a result, Debbie Sievert ran unopposed and won. In 2014 I chose to run for the alderperson position to represent the 3rd district, so for the term of 2014-15-16 I will again represent my district. Thank you for clearing this error.
Mary E. Lock
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