Citizen Wausau

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CISM Battle Royale

by on May 21st, 2009

On May 14th something exceptional happened at a local committee meeting.  We have it from three sources that at the last CISM (Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee) turned into both a verbal, and some might say a physical, conflict.

The issue on the table, as you can see in these minutes, was a PEACE statue or memorial a recent exchange student wanted to create and donate for placement in the triangle grass by the courthouse  between the library and United
Way office — intersection of River Drive, Washington and First streets.

This discussion quickly deteriorated when first term councilman Matt Kaiser once again stated his objections to the piece of art based on the idea of it being controversial or possibly misunderstood.  Mr. Kaiser also pointed out that we currently have memorials to fallen officers and fallen soldiers, and they are more “civic” in nature.

Around this time sources say long time councilman Ed Gale became, to use a phrase, impassioned in his reaction.  Mr. Gale, according to the minutes, objected strongly, and an exchange happened.  This exchange, according to sources, quickly turned personal and “intimidating” in nature.

It is also around this time that a watch belonging to Mr. Gale, made its way through the air.  Reports differ as to whether or not this was thrown at Mr. Kaiser, or just thrown out of impassioned frustration.

The notes also mention that “Mr. Gale returned to his chair.”  When asked, sources were unclear as to what that meant, save for the description of Mr. Gale standing up.  Did Mr. Gale storm out of the room as we were told?  The notes do not reflect that.

I have chosen to highlight this issue for a few reasons.  One being to point out the nature of our city’s committee meetings.  Apparently some real back and forth and discussion happens — sometimes watches even fly about the room.

Secondly, I highlight this to illustrate that our first term council people have already chosen to make their leadership felt.  In this case Mr. Gale is a long standing figure on the city council, even having run for mayor as well as serving on the county board, and Mr. Kaiser took his political life in his hands and stood up to a man who is known to be a bit, shall we say, gruff.

Finally, while it is only 2009, it is clear that mayoral politics are already in play.  Watercooler talk has Gale considering his run, as well as another member of the council deciding to run in the future.  It is important to see that this behavior, while possibly acceptable in a councilman, is something we need to give thought to in regards to selecting a mayor, our ambassador to the world.  People have already begun to put together strategies, and ‘Survivor-like’ alliances are being formed within the community as well as the professional staff within the city.

I do not want to portray this as a smacking of Mr. Gale.  This is simply not the first time we have seen Mr. Gale be referred to as intimidating or gruff.  I have often gone to City Council meetings simply to watch Mr. Gale and his fascinating levels of frustration.  It is however the first time that watches have gone flying, and other councilpeople have become verbally intimidated by the process of back and forth.  These actions taken by our councilpeople, not just Mr. Gale, have results in the community.  We need to be more aware of these types of actions.

Also, it is fascinating the difference in the account put forth in the minutes below, to what people in the room have told me occurred.  I am also told that the city creates an audio recording of these meetings, but when Citizen Wausau asked for such a record, we were told that they do not exist.  I am unsure of a policy that would allow the city to deny us public records, no matter what the format, but as we have seen from the mayor and the Wausau Daily Herald, anything is possible.  So, if you know if an audio record is made, we would love to hear from you.


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