Citizen Wausau

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Have we had Enough?

by on September 5th, 2010

It is my understanding that if the Mayor of Wausau was to step down, the City Council President would be appointed as acting Mayor.  This has happened before after Mayor John Hess stepped down, and a man named Schaffer filled the role until the next election when Mayor Lawrence was elected.

Why do I know this, you ask?  Well, it might be time for people to start considering this course of action.   It might be the right course of action for the city.  This latest news about City Council President Ed Gale stepping down from the HR Committee, and leaving it directly at the feet of Mayor Tipple, is just ANOTHER thing that has not exactly gone his way.  Rosenberg leaves, the HR thing fails, Brzenski steps off the Committee, and now Gale leaves the Committee.  Factor in that this failure is an actual campaign plank: the consolidation of services. He spoke in Madison on the Capitol steps in support of consolidation, before he voted against it.  John Kerry called.

And he has yet to explain himself, or his vote, to anyone in the media.  And by extension, the public.

He surely has been absent from any sort of public eye, unless you count every place there is a free chicken dinner or a pint of locally-brewed beer.  We have not seen him, or at least I have not seen him leading the council, setting the vision, and driving us forward to a glorious future.  We have not seen him voicing the reason behind any of these recent events to anyone in the local media.

Do not get me wrong, I like Mayor Tipple as a guy.  He is pretty cool, easy going, and laughs easily.  These are all characteristics I like in a person.  They might not be the right thing to be if, say, you are leading a small city through a time of tremendous growth, and a bit of upheaval.

The 400 Block has remained an issue, the IC Willy’s shenanigans could possibly lead us to a lawsuit, is Christine Van De Yacht done?, the neighborhoods around downtown are crying out (and their voices are getting more angry and insistent) for attention from the city leaders; and our Mayor has become a sideline figure.  He could have easily rectified all of this by simply utilizing the media to communicate his vision to the people.  Clearly the Wausau Daily Herald wants to be supportive of this city, and as such have a passive goal of helping get the word out.

I have said consistently that growth is painful.  We all remember being a teen, and how it literally hurt to be alive some days.  Wausau is like that.  We have real challenges, and we need a leader.  Rosenberg left for a great new gig (and no one can blame him), but he was a passionate leader for this city for a long time.  Clearly the leadership style of Tipple is less public, and by extension, less clear for the public.

I am not sure that the Mayor stepping down is the right move, but I know that being this sort of absentee ghost of a voice that no one knows anything about is not working.  People have no idea what is going on at City Hall these days, and Mayor Tipple is the one responsible for crafting a message that people can understand.  We need to know someone is steering the ship.  Some people do not even need to know where we are going, but we need to know we are going someplace.

I wonder if there is any sort of corrective measure that can be taken, some form of accountability to be used to hold our Mayor to, or if as Mayor Daley said: “Mayors rule.”

I thought about how to make this positive in its resolution, how we can point to the future, and come up with something good.  I think this is the chance for the City Council to take control, spend time developing an effective media strategy, and take their jobs seriously.  We have a wave of new council people, and they need to step forward to fill the vacuum left by the Mayor.

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