Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
In my previous blog that generated a great deal of interest, one of my readers, Tara commented:
Do you still think it's time to dissolve the (Environmental) commission? To me, it would seem a shame to reject a group of volunteers who work to make the community better because of political posturing. I am relatively new to the community and don't necessarily know the back story here, but this doesn't make any sense to me. I would welcome your response.
It is highly commendable that civic-minded individuals step forward to give of themselves and their time to serve their community. Volunteer boards and commissions exist in all levels of government.
Here is the charge for the Franklin EC:
|Membership. The Environmental Commission shall consist of seven members, including one alderman and six citizens, all appointed by the Mayor and subject to confirmation by the Common Council. The term of the Alderman member shall be one year, only while in the office of Alderman, and expiring upon the April 30 following the appointment. The citizen members shall be appointed for three-year terms, expiring upon the April 30 of the third year following the appointment; excepting that the initial appointments shall provide for two members to serve a one-year term and two members to serve a two-year term, expiring upon the April 30 of the first year and second year following such appointments, respectively.|
||Oaths. Official oaths shall be taken by all members, in accordance with § 19.01, Wis. Stats., within 10 days of receiving notice of their appointment.|
||Vacancies. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term in the same manner as appointments are made for a full term.|
Organization. The Commission shall convene at City Hall within 30 days of appointment and organize and adopt rules for its government in accordance with this subsection.
||Powers and duties. The Environmental Commission shall:
To address Tara’s direct question, is it time to dissolve the EC, I raise two other questions:
1) Is the EC necessary?
2) Is the EC effective?
Mayor Taylor (and possibly others) have determined the city can move on and function without the EC.
Commissioner Kristen Wilhelm did say to me, and I quote, “We (the EC) never do anything.” That is what she said. There is nothing wrong with my memory or my hearing. Even if we give the EC the benefit of the doubt and concede that it did wondrous things in the past, it’s evident that as of now, the EC is either inactive, ineffective, or both.
Its own members admit they have little power, so they suggest they should be given more authority, more clout. That is the last thing I want them to have.
I would venture to guess most people in Franklin have no idea there is an EC. Most of those that are aware of the EC probably don’t know who the members are. Giving un-elected, unaccountable volunteers greater authority would be a mistake.
Let's be clear. EC members are making decisions. See the above city ordinance. Even if they’re strictly advising elected officials, determining what to advise is a decision.
One of the commissioners is blogger Greg Kowalski. I am going to be brutally honest. I don’t want Greg Kowalski representing me or other Franklin residents on the environment or any other issue, and I don’t want him in a position of offering advice to the Mayor, the Common Council, or any other city agency or department.
He can’t even manage his own blog properly. He has refused to remove from his blog a vicious, offensive lie about me, in essence, supporting that lie. That brings into question his entire judgment and credibility. Greg Kowalski lacks the professionalism, maturity and political sophistication to adequately serve on any political body.
The answer to each of the above two questions is NO. City officials have other avenues of expertise to seek out if need be. Franklin will not suffer if the EC goes away.
Again, it is commendable that when called upon to serve, every one of these individuals stepped forward. But if they’re accomplishing little, it is a waste of their valuable time and that of others to allow the EC to continue.
I would concur with the budget recommendation to eliminate the EC. Even more importantly, I would encourage city officials to find ways to cut spending out of the budget to avoid a greater than 5% increase in the city tax levy.