Opinion Archives for 2017-04

Civil Discourse: An Occasional Attempt To Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse

By Roger Utnehmer

Civil Discourse

An Occasional Attempt To

Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse


Roger Utnehmer

President and CEO



April 27, 2017


Sturgeon Bay's Missing Ingredient in Successful Waterfront Development



If ever a community seemed evenly split, it's Sturgeon Bay over the proposed west side waterfront development.  Yet, it's not too late to learn how to bring unity to a divided community.


The City of Eau Claire provides a positive example of how to balance development with community concerns.  Eau Claire today has a vibrant riverfront.  A former brownfield site is now the location a development that has added more than $50 million to the city tax base.


The lesson from Eau Claire that could bring Sturgeon Bay together is the process by which elected officials and the developer communicated.  And it's not too late for Sturgeon Bay.  Regardless of the outcome of litigation and the determination of the appropriate location of a hotel, much is to be decided about the Sturgeon Bay west side waterfront.


Eau Claire did it right and Sturgeon Bay can as well.  Eau Claire elected officials provided the leadership that earned the consent of the governed.  When the major developer, Royal Credit Union, heard objections to the location of their proposed headquarters on the riverfront they moved it back from the water.  A credit union spokesman said, "A happy community is good for business."


More than 57 public meetings with the developer and city officials were held.  Questions were answered, consensus was built and the public was educated.  It was a long process that paid off in public support.


The result in Eau Claire is a beautiful riverfront and thriving development.  More importantly, the community is at peace with the project and proud of its success.  No matter what happens to the hotel project in Sturgeon Bay, it's important for the public to be at peace when the disputes are over.


The one person in a position to bring peace to the proposed hotel project in Sturgeon Bay is developer Bob Papke.  Unlike officials from Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Papke has taken a very low profile and has let others do the talking for him.  His low profile and absence from public meetings have made him the missing man in a process that needs his participation.


Eau Claire's success stems in part from the willingness of their major developer to listen, answer questions and modify plans to earn the consent of the community.  Bob Papke is certainly wise enough to handle himself in the face of questions and opposing viewpoints.  By being brave and bold he can lead Sturgeon Bay in a process that can bring peace and unity to a divided community.


Sturgeon Bay may not need 57 meetings to accomplish what Eau Claire has done but it certainly is worth a few more with Bob Papke in attendance to someday share their successful outcome.


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


Additional information about the Eau Claire successful riverfront development is available at




"Best Of Door County" Award Winners Announced

By DoorCountyDailyNews.com

Over the last two months, the radio stations of DoorCountyDailyNews.com has relied on our listeners and readers to tell us which businesses are truly the "Best of Door County." In the first month, the radio stations of DoorCountyDailyNews.com received 6,751 nominations, forming our ballot for the "Best of Door County." Over the last month, 12,552 votes were cast to name the best of the best. Below are the winners in every category. Congratulations to our winners and thank you for participating in this year's "Best of Door County" contest.


  • Agriculture

    • Construction: Ahnapee Construction

    • Crop Insurance: Green Stone Farm Credit Services

    • Feed, Seed, Chemical: Tractor Supply

    • Implement Sales: Herlache Small Engine

    • Lending: Capital Credit Union

    • Tractor/Truck Parts: Tractor Supply

  • Family and Pets

    • Assisted Living/Nursing Home: Anna's Healthcare

    • Day Care: YMCA

    • Funeral Home/Services: Huehns Funeral Home and Cremation Services

    • Pet Grooming: Appletree Kennels

    • Photography: CRG Photography

    • Vet Clinic: Animal Clinic of Sturgeon Bay

  • Food and Dining

    • Bakery/Desserts: Scaturo's Bakery and Café

    • Banquet/Conference Facility: Stone Harbor Resort

    • BBQ: Casey's

    • Breakfast: Scaturo's Bakery and Café

    • Burgers: Red Room

    • Candy: Door County Confectionary

    • Catering: Scaturo's Bakery and Café

    • Dining View: Donny's Glidden Lodge

    • Fast Food: Culver's

    • Fine Dining: Donny's Glidden Lodge

    • Fish Boil: White Gull Inn

    • Mexican: Old Mexico

    • Most Romantic Dining: Donny's Glidden Lodge

    • Pizza: Wild Tomato

    • Subs: Fatzo's

  • Health and Beauty

    • Barber Shop/Beauty Shop: Clippers Mate

    • Chiropractor: Staudenmaier

    • Dentist: Olson Dental

    • Fitness Club: YMCA

    • Hospital: Door County Medical Center

    • In-Home Care: United Home Health

    • Massages: Saguaro Day Spa

    • Medical Equipment: Bayside Home Medical

    • Optometrist: Door County Eye Associates

    • Pharmacy: Bay Hometown

    • Physician: Dr. Richard Hogan

    • Rehab Services: Door County Medical Center

  • Home Services

    • Cleaning Services: Ahnapee Hill Cleaning

    • Construction and Maintenance: Buhr Construction

    • Electrician: Stauber Electric

    • Heating and Cooling: Eagle Mechanical

    • Home Improvement: Portside Builders

    • House Painter: Thiede Painting

    • Lawn and Garden: Ahlswede

    • Pest Control: Advanced Pest Control

    • Plumbing: Eagle Mechanical

  • Professional and Financial

    • Attorney: Dick Hauser

    • Bank: Nicolet

    • Computer Service: Quantum PC

    • Finance Company: Thrivent

    • Insurance Agency: Jilot Insurance

    • Investment Firm: RBC Wealth Management

    • Law Firm: Pinkert Law Firm

    • Lending Institution: Capital Credit Union

    • Real Estate Agency: ERA Starr Agency

    • Real Estate Office: ERA Starr Agency

    • Tax/Accounting Service: May Tax Service

  • Recreational

    • Best County or State Park: Cave Point County Park

    • Best Festival: Egg Harbor Pumpkin Patch

    • Event Center: Stone Harbor Resort

    • Family Entertainment: The Farm

    • Golf Course: Idlewild Golf Course

    • Performing Arts Facility: Peninsula Players

  • Retail

    • Antiques: Bayside Bargains

    • Appliances: Door County Cooperative

    • Art Gallery: Plum Bottom Pottery

    • Brewery: Door County Brewery

    • Clothing: Younkers

    • Convenience Stores: Jandu Petroleum

    • Farm Market: Sturgeon Bay Farm Market

    • Florist: Maas Floral and Greenhouse

    • Furniture and Mattress: Northern Territory

    • Jewelry: T. Simon Jewelers

    • Liquor Store: Econo Foods

    • Winery: Door Peninsula Winery

  • Transportation

    • Auto Parts: O'Reilly's Auto Parts

    • Auto Service: Kevin's Auto

    • Body Shop: Jim Olson Motors

    • Car Dealer (New): Jim Olson Chevrolet Buick Cadillac

    • Car Dealer (Old): Reliable Auto

Civil Discourse An Occasional Attempt To Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse

By Roger Utnehmer

Civil Discourse

An Occasional Attempt

To Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse





President and CEO



April 19, 2017




Talking tough is often better politics than public policy.  Take taxes, crime, judicial pay and drug testing welfare recipients.


Few in state government today are bold enough to advocate a long-overdue increase in the state gas tax.  Like the minimum wage, the gas tax should again be indexed to inflation.   Doing so will avoid the bi-annual debates about crumbling roads and bridges while facing a billion dollar transportation fund deficit.  No Tax Increases pledges make for good politics and terrible public policy.


Legislators who are brave enough to support raising the minimum wage to a moral threshold of decency and index the gas tax to either the consumer price index or inflation are statesmen(and women.)  Unfortunately, in what has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers, The American Legislative Exchange Council and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce formerly known as the State of Wisconsin, far too few politicians are "no tax increase pledge FREE."  As a condition of support, candidates promise to never vote for a tax increase.  Their power and influence as independent-thinking lawmakers is limited by such pledges.  It's part of why we are in the divide in which we find ourselves today.


For years politicians have demagogued criminal justice issues by exploiting prejudice and ignorance of facts.  True leaders are smart, not just tough, on crime.  Minimum sentencing has filled our prisons beyond reason and taxpayers' ability to pay.   But it was good politics.


Restorative justice, more funding for public defenders, higher salaries for District Attorneys, their assistants and judges and justices would be a good start to make Wisconsin smarter on crime rather than tougher.  Wisconsin circuit court judges and supreme court justices are among the lowest paid in America.  Assistant district attorneys are paid as low as $49,000 a year at a time when a typical law school graduate leaves school with more than $100,000 in debt.


A Department of Corrections commitment to vocational training, drug and alcohol counseling and greater prisoner access to families will reduce the cost of operating Wisconsin prisons.  When it costs more to run our prison system than our universities are spending priorities are distorted.


The most recent egregious example of political pandering is drug testing welfare recipients.  We have lost our sense of decency as a people when innocent children could be punished for the sins of their parents.  That is exactly what would happen if food stamps are denied because of the drug abuse of a mother or father.


Wisconsin faces a paucity of political leadership committed to the common good.  It takes money to educate our children, keep roads and bridges safe, rehabilitate offenders, attract law enforcement and judicial personnel and provide a safety net to the least among us.  Next time we look in the mirror a good question to ask ourselves is if we are more compassionate and decent than many of our politicians.  My guess is that with little reflection the answer will be yes.


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






Civil Discourse--An Occasional Attempt to Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse

By Roger Utnehmer


President and CEO


The City of Sturgeon Bay's investment in Egg Harbor Road is paying off with positive development and attractive additions to the economic base of our community. Sidewalks and lighting make the growing business district more senior and pedestrian friendly. Bike lanes make it more cycler-friendly. Sewer and water improvements make the area more business friendly. These are all good investments made by the City of Sturgeon Bay.

It's always good to see government get something as right as Sturgeon Bay did on Egg Harbor Road.
The tax base is expanding. The good news starts on Jefferson Street where Bay Home Town Pharmacy opened in a vacant building. The former Lenny's Pizza at Georgia and Jefferson will soon become part of the growing Skaliwags and Algoma Burger Company Chris Wiltfang dynasty of restaurants.

Recent openings include Jimmy John's, Knight Barry, O'Reilly Auto, Door County Coop, Tractor Supply and Calvary Baptist Fellowship. Owners of the Best Western motel have invested in extensive renovations. Old Mexico is thriving under new ownership. Larger investments made in recent years on Egg Harbor Road include Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy and a neighboring mini-mall with several smaller shops. All expand the Sturgeon Bay tax base, support our schools, create jobs and make for a more thriving business district. The city council got this right and for that, they deserve to be commended.

Next on the good news agenda will be finding tenants for the old Hardee's facility and the neighboring former Pizza Hut, filling up the old K-Mart building and locating a tenant for the shuttered bank building across from the Cherry Point Mall.


The recent proposal by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide free college tuition will keep adult children from living in the basements of their parents. The recently-reached agreement between the governor and New York legislators has a means test that makes the program available only to families with annual incomes of $125,000 or less. It also requires the students to live and in New York after graduation or pay back the free tuition.

Legislators in several other states are considering similar tuition-free options. If Wisconsin lawmakers follow New York free tuition should also be extended to technical colleges where future employment opportunities abound. Wisconsin faces a serious shortage of technical trade job training. Far too many students are tracked into college courses with little hope for job placement after graduation. Offering free technical college tuition will help assure your toilet flushes, a trained EMT responds to an emergency, your lights go on when you flip the switch, your car starts in a Wisconsin winter, you find a building contractor when you need one and industry in need of welders can at least get some applicants.


Congratulations and thank you to the men and women elected to school boards, city councils and town government in the recent election. Democracy only functions when people of good will come forward and put their names on ballots and run for public office.

Public service is not always easy. Far too often in includes giving up a right-to-privacy for families of those in office as well. There are a time and place to express an opinion. Let's make sure opinions are expressed with civility and in the appropriate location. That's not when an elected official is out for a Friday night fish fry with family and friends or at 11:00 PM after a few beers.

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

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