It seems the city and the Common Council is still trying to spin the All-America City competition into something that it is not. My guess is that the city manager and members of the Common Council want more three-day paid holidays next year. These “vacations” are paid for using taxpayer dollars and other public/private dollars.
It is my understanding that 13 people from Platteville went to Denver, Colo., and received a plaque for being a finalist in the competition. The city of Dubuque was named an All-American City at the competition and they received a plaque. Actually, this was the third time in the last seven years for Dubuque, so I guess they now have three plaques.
The Common Council knew (or should have known) immediately that there are no real benefits for the city of Platteville in entering this competition. The Common Council went ahead and approved the funding anyway. The real beneficiaries are the airlines, Denver (500 to 600 visitors), and whatever organization set up the All-America City competition. These three were more than happy to take Platteville’s money.
It is my understanding that about half the funding came directly from taxpayer dollars. The other half came from what the city manager and the Common Council are calling “sponsors.” Those were public/private dollars that could have been and should have been used to benefit the city. Instead, those dollars were used for three-day paid holidays.
Perhaps some of these sponsors didn’t know how their contributions were going to be used. I’m concerned perhaps some of these sponsors did know and felt they had to contribute to the city manager’s and Common Council’s vacations so that they might receive favorable treatment in the future.
And let’s not forget the time spent by the city manager and other city employees securing, preparing for, and attending the All-America City competition. In other words, time spent preparing for vacations. The time spent on this was time taken away from work that benefits the city and from jobs they were hired to do.
I’m very disappointed in the Common Council. Yes, I guess the city manager proposed it, but it was the Common Council that approved it. What they did was vote to give themselves three-day paid holidays using taxpayer dollars. I’m disappointed by how much money the Common Council wastes.
10 S. Third St., Platteville
Editor’s note: The All America City Award (www.allamericacityaward.com) was created by the National Civic League (www.ncl.org).
To anyone who was watching the televised portion of the Common Council meeting July 23 I would like to apologize to you. It seems that whenever the Common Council wants to amend Robert’s Rules of Order, the rule book the city has adopted to run a meeting, it’s OK, but when a taxpayer tries to remind them of the rules that they have pledged to adhere to, they are “out of order,” and therefore need a five-minute recess.
I addressed the Common Council and asked why the “Pledge of Allegence” was not being said before a council meeting and the reason for not reciting it. I also asked when the city will stop harassing property owners, especially senior citizens, about the condition of their property. The third question I asked was why not one member of the Common Council came out to welcome home the National Guard 229th Engineering Company from their tour in Afghanistan.
I was not given an answer for any of my questions except that Ald. Patrice Steiner did state she was 400 miles away from Platteville at the time. That means that six other elected officials of the City of Platteville either did not feel it was necessary, or even attempted to welcome the 229th Engineering Company home. That is what I call a “city that is proud of our soldiers” and one that “really appreciates the mission of the American troops.”
We failed to give our returning soldiers the acknowledgement they were due from Vietnam, and now we are doing the same to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the phrase goes, “not on my watch will I allow this to happen.” I will respect all who wore the uniform of this counrty till my dying day. My parents taught me how to respect the American flag and our men in uniform, and I will never forget that.
Another citizen came up and spoke about the All America City Award. He stated that this award would not bring any additional exposure to the city of Platteville nor any economic growth or additional tourism dollars. The city’s total benefit to the citizens of Platteville was an expenditure of $7,500 — $7,500 wasted, $7,500 that could have been put to a more productive use in the city of Platteville.
He also informed us how we, as citizens of Plattteville, spent $7,500 of taxpayer money to send a group to Denver, Colo., for a three-day all expense paid junket (vacation) . Not only did we pay for this junket, but each member was also given $90 per person to buy souvenirs to remember this vacation (junket).
The Common Council (thanks to Ald. Barbara Daus, who seems to be the first person to make a motion to spend our money) was going to pay 50 percent of the budgeted cost up to a maximum of $7,500 toward this junket. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I did see the budget that our own city manager was supposed to present to the council prior to the junket. The junket’s budget was again supposed to be approved by the Common Council prior to the trip.
While I was at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on June 17, I found carefully placed at each alderman’s position a copy of the final budget for this junket laying around for the next council meeting, which was held on June 25. That was two days after the group returned.
One important thing to note is that the city manager was instructed by the Common Council to submit a budget prior to their departure. This “request” was made some 60 days prior to the departure of their junket.
I have been in the travel business for more than 35 years (20 years with commercial airlines at Newark International Airport and more than 15 years with the sixth largest travel agency in America), and when I saw the cost of the airfares I almost fell over. It cost the city, you and me, for every person that went on this junket $457 per person in air fare alone.
Doing just the slightest bit of research I was able to get an airfare, based on a 30-day advance purchase, of $323 per person. That should have been the cost of airfare for each person, and if the travel agent spoke to their sales representative they should have been able to reduce that cost some 10 percent as they were traveling in a group.
If we apply the airfare of $323, the city — or rather you and I — would have saved approximately $1,742, or $134 per person. Add this amount to the fact that the “final budget” I saw was for approximately $14,200. Simple arithmetic says that 50 percent of the “final budget” would be $7,100. Please also remember that each member of this junket was also given $90 to spend on souvenirs.
Looking at the budget and applying what Ms. Daus motioned for and the rest of the council approved, the final amount that we, the taxpayers of Platteville, contributed should have been $7,100.
I understand that if we look at the minor $400 difference it seems petty, but if we include $1,170 in souvenir spending plus the $1,742 difference in airfare we have a savings of $2,912. If you are a senior citizen and living on a fixed income, as many of the residents of Platteville are, $2,912 can reduce a lot of stress on your financial needs. Besides that, where did that money go?
I totally agree with this gentleman and would not like to spend any more money on this questionable endeavor.
During his discussion members of the Common Council carried on a question-and-answer period with him. Our Common Council president just a few moments before chastised me for expecting an answer to my questions. I was told that I have been to many of the council meetings and I should know that there will be no comments from the council.
I then stood up and used a ruling from Robert’s Rules of Order, the very same rules that the City of Platteville is supposed to run its council meetings by, and called for a “point of order.” A Point of Order is a non-debatable, no-discussion and non-voting item that the speaker can address the meeting and remind them that they are now conducting a meeting that is against the very same rules that they swore to use.
It seems that it is OK for the Common Council to do what they want, but God forbid that any taxpayer not comply to the most restrictive part of any of the city codes. All we need do is look at the Browning vs. City of Platteville case, or any of the other 84 orders that were issued to senior citizens of Platteville.
We can also look at the most recent action of the Airport Conmission, which denied a request of a doctor to build a hangar, at his own expense, at Platteville Municipal Airport because the committee did not like the color scheme of a red hangar with a gray roof and white trim. I guess we never see any building like that around Platteville.
Where else should a taxpayer get answers from, then, if not our elected city officials? What is their function if not to serve the taxpayers who pay their salaries?
To all I again apologize, especially to police Lt. Jeff Haas, with whom I had a wonderful and delightful conversation with in the hallway. Chief, he did his job well.
Michael V. Mayo
375 S. Chestnut St., Platteville
I am compelled to write of the Grant County Treatment Court. You see, I am the parent of a son who has a very intimate relationship with alcohol. The pattern of behavior was laid down long before he graduated from high school. This continued into his adult life, wreaking havoc on his emotional and physical well-being.
After my son’s fourth drunk driving arrest, I was lost and beyond hope. I called Judge Mike Moran of Marathon County, a personal friend, who shared with me that Marathon County has a successful treatment program. He encouraged me to seek out information about the existence of such a program in Grant County.
After inquiring, I discovered that such a program does exist in Grant County. My son was eligible for the program and has been in it for almost a year. He will graduate in August. I have been witness to a remarkable recovery.
I have listened to the stories of others who struggle with addictions. The common thread is that they are working together in support of one another to become clean. That is a goal worth working toward. Grant County Treatment Court provides the vehicle in which to take that journey.
I am grateful that this work is being done by the Grant County Treatment Court.
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