Citizen Wausau

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The Person of the Year gets everyone riled up

by on December 27th, 2011

[In full disclosure I am a member of the Square Up committee, the 400 Block committee, and before that the Courthouse Square committee. Though I am not going to defend the project overtly here, just wanted to let you know. And I suppose brag a little.]

I have 41 emails from people complaining about the Wausau Daily Herald Person of the Year. Of the 41, only 5 offer alternative persons of said year. Of the 41, only 41 offer completely subjective opinion as to why the improvements to the 400 Block suck. Of the 41, 10 return to the LEAVE IT ALONE trope. Of the 41, 3 commit to a complete boycott of all things downtown.

So, I do not get it at all. I am throwing up my existential hands, and wondering aloud what it all means, why anyone gets out of bed in the morning, seriously why should anyone bother? Why would anyone run for office, take doing the public good, or really at this point in Central Wisconsin do anything at all?

The first time I caught wind of this was a bunch of years back when my friend Dean Zulegar won the Person of the Year. The amount of hate leveled at Dean was amazing, and so misguided. I mean there are a lot of reasons to not like Dean, he is short, prone to speaking in iambic pentameter, really far to happy and positive for anyones own good, and he drives a Buick (I do not actually know he drives a Buick). But, the amount of anger focused on projects taken on by the Village of Weston, where he was the administrator not the Mayor, was amazing. As if Dean had total free reign to do whatever he wanted. So many people focused on the median, and some branding the Village Board took on that is seemed simply absurd.

Now, the 400 Block people get a public thank you (thank you to the Square Up Committee), and the amount of anger rains down again. So I am left to ask… What do you want? Seriously, what is it you want? What is it about the 400 Block, now that it is over, that upset you? The use of public funds? What did that have to do with the 400 Block Committee, or the Square Up committee? Private citizens bought the property a while back, and private citizens funded the project most of the way through. Mostly the Freemans I think.

So, a park cost $200,000. Is that what people are upset about? That the money should have been used to fix the hole in their street that has not been fixed forever. That the money should have been used to lower their own tax burden? Is that what we wanted? Are people upset that private citizens took up this project, raised private money, and then put it to a park that the whole city can use? What is the option, that private citizens take up fundraising so, what? — your tax burden can be lessened for the 1 year?

I suppose the lifetime of the park is a good investment. Do people just not dig the design? Seriously, why would anyone do anything at all ever in this city at any time? The amount of negative reaction to things like a donation going to the Women’s Community Center was shocking. The amount of bile spewed forth for people like Jim Rosenberg or Mayor Tipple (a dude I do not dig as a mayor). There was negative reaction to Collaborative Consulting coming to Wausau. Did you see that? People were upset that someone is bringing jobs.

How negative do we need to get? I am a negative guy, the glass is half empty, and seriously I can do a bitch fest with my friends like no one’s business. I am a negative guy, but wow, this is amazing. I wrote a piece called The JoyLess Revolution recently, and Barry Liss commented that maybe it was because we read less historical nonfiction that we were in this miasma. I have no idea what that meant, but maybe I should hand out David McCoullough books to people, and see if that perks us up. I am reminded of Louis CK bit about everything being awesome. Sure, not everything is awesome, we just lost 1000 jobs, but what is so bad about the people raising a million bucks to build a park for the city of Wausau?

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