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Waukesha Common Council and mayor dispute BID appointments

Nov. 14, 2012

Finding a new downtown Waukesha Business Improvement District Board has been a point of contention and an issue since 11 of the 13 members resigned after its executive director left due to a "hostile work environment" three months ago.

At the Nov. 8 Common Council meeting, it was no different.

The Council approved only two of Mayor Jeff Scrima's recommendations - Jim Taylor and Bill Huelsman. But that isn't enough and left the BID still without a board.

The appointment of Huelsman of Berg Management, who was one of two individuals who did not resign from the BID in September, was approved unanimously.

The council did not even vote on Phil Lee, a downtown property owner, as the motion to get to the vote failed. The appointment of Taylor was tied, 7-7, before Scrima broke the tie approving Taylor, a co-owner of Taylor's People's Park.

Many of the aldermen questioned why the mayor did not add any of them to the list as well as why he only presented five names (Roger Igielski and Kevin Larson were the others), saying he gave them the bare minimum. There needs to be seven individuals to have a working BID Board.

Looking for 'balanced slate'

"Many members of this community and aldermen submitted a variety of qualified individuals and they're not on this list," Council President Joe Pieper said. "That's very troubling for me and very disappointing."

Ald. Joan Francoeur echoed Pieper's comments saying, "I was disappointed that (submissions) did not seem to reflect the input with a balanced slate of candidates with some diversity in their point of view."

Scrima countered, "I believe I have done my job in presenting you with outstanding candidates," Scrima said. "Again, you've delayed the operation of the BID Board."

Igielski, a downtown business owner, counselor at Waukesha County Technical College and president of the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, along with Taylor had resigned from the BID Board in September. Scrima said they were simply "removing themselves from the controversy at the time."

Mayor says 'do your job'

Scrima then questioned why the council could approve Carroll University's Chief Financial Officer Ron Lostetter, who also resigned from the BID Board, at the last meeting but not Igielski. Downtown attorney Nick Martinez has already been approved by the council. One of the reasons, the council said, was that Igielski put a sign in his business questioning the validity of the BID and where its tax dollars were going.

Regarding the aldermen appointments, Scrima said that other than Ald. Roger Patton no one has come to him about being on the BID Board.

"If you want to vet appointees, then do your job and contact them," Scrima told the council.

"It really ticks me off that you're putting this on us," said a very frustrated Payne, who had to be told by Pieper to have better decorum. "Over and over again there's been names mentioned but you've been purposely dancing around the names brought forward.

"You keep bringing back the same names over and over again"

Paul Vrakas mentioned

Ald. Kathleen Cummings told the mayor she did do her homework with the BID appointments and said that "quite the contrary has occurred" and that the mayor held a "roaming quorum" with some of the individuals who resigned from the BID Board Sept. 19.

"Your statements are blatantly false," Scrima said before addressing the next comment.

Ald. Paul Ybarra said he knows many aldermen would be happy to serve on the BID Board, including himself and that he is confused why none of his suggestions to the mayor, which he said were more than a dozen, were considered.

A couple aldermen mentioned former Waukesha mayor and businessman Paul Vrakas as someone who would serve the BID Board well.

Ald. Duane Paulson summed up what a lot of the aldermen were feeling.

"I don't know where the BID is going," Paulson said. "But I'm concerned with the appointments you're making that it's almost designated to fail."

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