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EDITORIAL COMMENT: When most people make a $360,000 mistake there are consequences

Editorial Comment by
Roger Utnehmer
DoorCountyDailyNews.com
President and CEO


When most people make a $360,000 mistake there are consequences.
Not, apparently, if you’re the mayor of Sturgeon Bay or a former city administrator or county economic development director.

The Sturgeon Bay city council voted Tuesday to pay developer Robert Papke $360,000 to settle litigation over a failed hotel on the west-side waterfront.
Papke claims he was misled by officials who encouraged him to develop the hotel project but withheld information about title to the property.

The city settled and taxpayers are footing the bill. Papke has said that those promoting the waterfront development “threw roses at my feet” to get him to invest the more than $500,000 in expenses related to the hotel. Those would include Mayor Thad Birmingham, former city administrator Steve McNeill, and former Door County Economic Director Bill Chaudoir. All three were involved in pushing the project and misleading Papke.

McNeill and Chaudoir have retired and Birmingham’s term as mayor expires in April.

The $360,000 payment to Papke could have patched a lot of potholes. There are better uses for taxpayer dollars than lawsuits and litigation. And if anyone in the private sector made the mistakes that have resulted in this settlement there would be consequences. Not, though, in city government, not even an apology from the people who got Sturgeon Bay into this mess in the first place.

Two are retired and one should be held accountable if he seeks another term as mayor of Sturgeon Bay.

That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.

 

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