Opinion Archives for 2018-03

Letter to the Editor: Vote no on PRAT: "And" opens up a whole new checkbook

By Paul Anschutz

The city of Sturgeon Bay is asking residents to approve a 0.5 % (1/2cent on the dollar) on tourist related goods to improve the roads. After doing a great deal of investigation, through phone calls to Rhinelander and La Crosse County who have adopted the prat.I have come to a conclusion. Sturgeon Bay's PRAT question is misleading.  Beware voters. I will list Rhinelander's question to its voters, then La Crosse County's and lastly Sturgeon Bay. Read carefully as a word will totally change what Sturgeon Bay can use the monies on if approved.

Rhinelander: Should the city of Rhinelander levy a 0.5% sales tax on the dollar on tourist-related items sold, leased or rented through tourist related retailers to pay for transportation infrastructure.

LaCrosse: To pay for transportation infrastructure, should La Crosse County levy a 0.5% (½ cent on the dollar) sales tax on tourist-related items sold, leased or rented through tourist related retailers.

Sturgeon Bay: To pay for Street and infrastructure expenses as defined in Wi. Stats.66.1113 (1) (a), with revenue from tourists and visitors, as well as residents, should the City of Sturgeon Bay impose a levy of 0.5% (1/2 on the dollar) sales tax on tourist-related items sold, leased, or rented through tourist related retailers.

See the difference? Look close, it's the word" AND" that opens up a whole new checkbook for our council.

Wis.Stats.66.1113(1)(a) states what is considered to be infrastructure expenses, please read carefully

Paragraph (a) of the statute says "'Infrastructure expenses' means the costs of purchasing, constructing, or improving parking lots; access ways; transportation facilities, including roads and bridges; sewer and water facilities; exposition center facilities used primarily for conventions, expositions, trade shows, musical or dramatic events, or other events involving educational, cultural, recreational, sporting, or commercial activities; parks, boat ramps, beaches, and other recreational facilities; fire fighting equipment; police vehicles; ambulances; and other equipment or materials dedicated to public safety or public works."

Again" AND" allows the use of Premier Resort Taxed Monies to be used for the above-mentioned expenses.

We have been taken to the cleaners far to many times by our councils. TID 2 being bailed out to the tune of roughly $ 400,000.00 a year from TID 1 monies, that should be going into the general fund for road repair, are being spent for mistakes by mayors, staff, and councilmen past and present.

Let me remind you of the $180,000.00 grant monies given back to the government for Safe Routes to School sidewalks that A FEW councilmen DID NOT WANT.  Now they say sidewalks are important only because it is election time.  BEWARE

There have been far too many lawsuits on so-called "good developments" from mayors past and present, including previous councilmen and staff. TID 4 is currently tied up in a lawsuit.

Please go to the polls and vote for change in the council and VOTE NO ON THE PRAT.

Editorial Comment: Time to kick politics out of county treasurer position

By Roger Utnehmer      

Wisconsin voters are being asked on April 3rd if they would like to see the office of state treasurer abolished. Another question to be asked in the future is should the office of county treasurer also be abolished.

Several county positions are more administrative than political. Being a good county treasurer is not a Democrat or Republican issue. A better system of government would be to have the functions of county treasurer handled by a professional with an accounting background appointed by the county board rather than the winner of a partisan popularity contest.

When the current Door County treasurer, Jay Zahn, was asked to comment on charges he was conducting personal business on county time his response was "no comment" and a phone hang up. The accusation that he was doing work for the Republican Party, Miss Door County pageant, the Sevastopol school board and his bridge club on county time using a county computer deserved a better answer than "no comment."

A private business would not put up with an employee conducting personal business on company time. And many businesses would fire an employee for personal use of a company computer.

Government needs to be more like the private sector. If a business with a budget the size of the office of the county treasurer was looking to hire a manager you would expect a degree or background in accounting at the very least. Yet, because Wisconsin makes the office an elected political position, it becomes a popularity contest rather than merit selection.

If Wisconsin voters eliminate the office of state treasurer the next step should be to amend the constitution and do the same on a county level. Professional administrators make more sense than politicians.

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

Letter to the Editor: Concerns about school safety

By Pam VanOss    

To whom it may concern –

Last week I attended an event at one of our local Door County schools.  To my surprise, I walked right up to an open door, entered without any question, paid for attendance, and proceeded into the auditorium.

My surprise was due to the fact that there was no sign of any type of security for this open door with many people entering the school.  I am a member of the Security Team at my church and, additionally, I am assisting in the development of a full Safety and Security Plan for our church.  I have done considerable research into church and school security.  One of the top reasons for disruptive or violent acts at a school or church is because of domestic problems.  I am sure that there are many types of unhappy family situations in the Door County area.  It is so important to have, minimally, a person who is watching the demeanor, behavior, dress, etc of people entering a school building.  Something in these areas that "doesn't look right" is a good indicator of agitation and anger.  Even a single "guard" can alert staff and authorities of possible problems.

Thinking that our community is immune to the types of violence that have happened in other areas of our country is only wishful thinking.  I hope that the next time I attend an event at school that I will see visible evidence of someone safeguarding the children and the school.

Editorial Comment: Even More Reasons to Vote NO on Sturgeon Bay's Premier Resort Area Tax

By Roger Utnehmer

A "YES" vote on the April 3rd Sturgeon Bay Premier Resort Area Tax will give those in charge of city government another $800,000 a year of your tax dollars to spend.

The question to ask before giving them that much money is, do you trust their judgment with another $800,000 a year?

The track record of the current administration and council male majority has been one of condoning conflicts of interest, too many closed-door secret meetings, unnecessary and costly litigation, questionable development decisions and financially challenged Tax Incremental Districts. Giving those who created the current conditions another $800,000 a year of local tax money is not wise.

The best predictor of future behavior is past practice. The past practices of the current administration and male majority do not evoke trust.

City government is led by a mayor who appointed someone guilty of using his position of public trust for personal gain to the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority. Condoning corruption does not engender trust. Appointments like that create the perception of the insider "good old boy" network you often hear made about the male majority and mayor.

The frequent response to questions about the west-side waterfront from Mayor Thad Birmingham was "no comment." Birmingham's removal of opportunity for public comment from council meetings and his refusal to allow council discussion of efforts to preserve the Teweles and Brandeis granary are also reasons to not give him spending authority over another $800,000 a year.

Several developers have sued the city. A lawsuit challenging the tax assessment of Stone Harbor Resort has been filed by its owner. The allegation of non-disclosure in the suit filed by former developer Robert Papke is another reason to be skeptical about providing the city with even more money to spend. Papke claims he was misled. Taxpayers should know how he was misled, by whom and what it will cost the City of Sturgeon Bay before giving those responsible for the lawsuit more money to spend. There is a lot of explaining to do about a lot of lawsuits filed by a lot of different people against the City of Sturgeon Bay.

One can only wonder how the council majority and mayor would spend the additional $800,000 a year in tax revenue. There is no guarantee it would not be spent relocating tugboats, building a festival pier for another hotel developer, constructing a docking facility or pathway to property owned by a current WRA board member, or given to Bay Shipbuilding Company as more corporate welfare.

A YES vote should be earned by building public confidence and trust. The long list of lawsuits, a pattern of too many secret meetings, disregard for public input, condoning the behavior of someone guilty of using a position of public trust for personal gain and no guarantee money from an additional sales tax will not be spent benefiting the "good old boys" are all reasons to vote NO on the PRAT tax April 3rd. The council male majority and mayor have not earned the trust more open, transparent and inclusive government would provide.

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

Letter to the Editor: DALLET For WI Supreme Court

By Don Freix, Fish Creek

In the wake of the decision of the 2014 Scott Walker appointed Judge Josann Reynolds (Dane County Circuit Court Branch 2) ordering Scott Walker to call two special legislative elections by noon on Thursday, or face contempt charges and potentially jail, Republican state legislators are scrambling to introduce changes to state law, attempting to circumvent that judicial order, which would unequivocally disenfranchise the voting rights of 230,000 citizens, right here in Northeast Wisconsin.

With legislative special sessions being scheduled immediately after the April 3, WI Supreme Court election, with the intent of introducing and voting on changes to circumvent this special election mandate by Judge Reynolds,  Judge Rebecca Dallet becomes the only choice to fill the seat of financial recusal decision compromised, retiring Justice  Gableman.

Judge Dallet is the only choice for the Supreme Court seat which will ensure any possible retention of the now near non-existent "small d," democracy left in this state of the union and potentially be the only roadblock to stopping this GOP move to disenfranchise all voters in the WI 1st Senate district, as Walker and Schimel and Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald face losing their fascist grip on state policy.

If 1st Assembly District GOP bookmark Joel Kitchens wishes to claim any future integrity in calling himself a legitimate representative of the people of this district, he will be out with a press release today, immediately announcing the 15 GOP state Assembly representatives he has organized to block and oppose his own state GOP legislative leadership's efforts to circumvent Judge Reynolds' special election ruling, period.  He could put an immediate stop to the Vos and Fitzgerald plans before they even call another special session to attempt to save Scott Walker's legal "behind."

We've just seen days ago, the fake gun control legislation Kitchens has commented on, legislatively ignoring the non-partisan wishes of 70% to 80% of all Wisconsin voters who are demanding actual gun control measures be immediately enacted in Wisconsin.   Will he cower again for special interests or will he finally act in the public interest of his own district on this issue and demand full legislative representation for us in Madison?

Vote Judge Rebecca Dallet for Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 3, there is no other option for democratic governance in Wisconsin this time around.  Past precedent from Kitchens holds little promise for democracy.

Editorial Comment: More Reasons To Vote NO on PRAT Tax

By Roger Utnehmer

Sturgeon Bay taxpayers are footing a $12,000 bill to turn city government into a propaganda machine. Council members voted to hire a Green Bay public relations firm to promote passage of the one-half percent Premier Resort Area Tax. The $800,000 a year raised with the PRAT tax would be used to finance street construction and maintenance.

Spending taxpayer dollars to promote propaganda is a waste of money that would be much better spent patching potholes.

Hiring a Green Bay firm to handle the city public relations campaign also insults those who promote the Door County Buy Local Initiative. This money was spent without even asking for proposals or giving local public relations firms an opportunity to do the work.

So, in addition to the PRAT tax on the ballot April 3rd being a short-term local solution to a long-term state-wide problem these are two more reasons to vote NO. There are better ways to pay for streets, roads and highways than a bigger Sturgeon Bay sales tax.

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

Letter to the Editor: Vote Kelly Avenson

By Richard Allmann

I have attended numerous city council and committee meetings as a means of staying informed of city business. In my opinion, our local government has looked more and more to the courts and not the court of public opinion to resolve situations. As a taxpayer, I choose the less expensive route. That method includes using public involvement, divergent opinions and compromise, referred to as the "merry" democratic process.

I have had the privilege of knowing Kelly Avenson for several years and had the opportunity to assess her commitment to the community, commonsense approach to situations and respect for diverse opinions. Kelly Avenson is that young person that organizations look for when they ask "How can we get young people involved?" Kelly has an understanding and deep respect for what our city has achieved, where we are currently and the intelligence to help us invest our energies for the benefit of future generations. Kelly Avenson is a breath of fresh air and the city would be wise to utilize her qualities.

Vote Kelly Avenson for City Council

Letter to the Editor--Exercise your right to vote

By Lynn Herman


Voters for the Gibraltar School Board have a unique opportunity this election day on April 3, 2018.  Two of the candidates running for a position on the school board have children currently attending Gibraltar Elementary School:  WRITE-IN candidate RAYMOND EINHORN and vote for ANGELA SHERMAN.  Both parents also have younger children that will be students at Gibraltar.  Personal everyday connections with the school are important additions to the board.  

  • They will be INVOLVED with the school.

  • They will be AT the school.

  • Their presence will INFORM them on what is happening in the school.

In order for transparency to take place, we need to be aware of what is happening.  Awareness enables the board members to make better decisions beneficial to students. After all, they are our future and should always be a priority of board decisions.

As a former teacher and board member at Gibraltar Schools, I urge you to write-in RAYMOND EINHORN and vote for Angela Sherman.


Lynn E. Herman

Ellison Bay, WI

Editorial Comment: Vote NO on Sturgeon Bay PRAT Tax April 3rd

By Roger Utnehmer

President and CEO

City of Sturgeon Bay taxpayers will vote April 3rd on a short-term local solution to a long-term state-wide problem. A "yes" vote will raise their cost of living. A "no" vote will send a message to the legislature that it's time to deal with the state-wide issue of financing streets, roads and highways.

The proposed Premier Resort Area Tax (PRAT) would raise about $800,000 a year through a one-half percent sales tax added to the 5.5% people are already paying.

The primary reason to vote "no" is because it is simply a short-term local solution to a long-term state-wide problem. Wisconsin legislators need to fix how transportation dollars are raised, not push off tax increases onto local governments. Governor Walker has recently expressed flexibility on a gas tax increase.

That means when legislators finally come up with a state-wide solution to highway funding, Sturgeon Bay will still be stuck with not only the legislature-imposed funding increase but also a local one-half percent additional sales tax. That could come as a higher gas tax indexed to inflation, higher registration fees and a payment per mile annual assessment.

A "no" vote will make sure Sturgeon Bay residents are not taxed twice for solving the same problem.

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

Letter to the Editor:  Consider My Candidacy for Gibraltar School Board

By Raymond Einhorn    

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."  

- Socrates


This is only my second winter here in Door County but with spring seemingly around the corner, I feel it is safe to say we have survived the cold, ice and the 72 inches of snow that fell upon us all this year.

As we move forward towards the thaw and revival of our beautiful Northern Door landscape, a refreshing feeling of change and optimism is filling the atmosphere.  It is a wonderful process of renewal and a reminder that life and everything around us is in a constant state of necessary change.

Some of you folks whom I have met since my arrival to Door County may know my story, but many of you undoubtedly do not.  Change has been a recent theme in my life, as I mentioned it is my second winter here, moving from the very much warmer (but not near as charming) state of Florida.   The uprooting of my life for this move to Wisconsin was hardly my idea but rather what I like to refer to as a "co-parenting" win.


My daughter's mother has roots here and she found many opportunities to better her life by making this move.  On the other hand, I left a very good job as a golf professional and a very nice home in a safe community to head north, unaware of what would be next on my journey of life.  The common ground here is the child we are both raising and the future of that child. When weighing out all the pros and cons of this life change, one glaring fact shone through all the other facts and opinions.  The potential education offered by Wisconsin schools, specifically the Gibraltar School District, was far and beyond any school system I had encountered in the south. Meaning, this change for my daughter was not only a good choice but a necessary change.  This made the decision a fairly easy one. My fiancé and I packed up our home and hit the road right behind my daughter and her mother, focusing not on the past but solely on the future.


My daughter is now enrolled in Gibraltar Elementary where she is thriving both academically and socially.  My fiancé and I are also now the proud parents of a son, born last February at DCMC, who will be a future Gibraltar Viking.  Sometimes in life, necessary changes happen when you least expect it.


Each day I work at bettering myself in order to appropriately serve my community as Deputy Clerk and as a firefighter for the Town of Baileys Harbor.  I work even harder at providing for my family and at being a good and supportive father to my children. I am involved and invested in this community and strive to take my level of service to the next plateau.  That being said, I would love to further serve my community – and its most important investments, our children – on the Gibraltar Area School Board.


I have never served on a school board and my experience in a political office is minimal, but I am a leader.  I am a father and I stand up for what I believe in, I will not be pushed around. In the past I've worked with children for many years both through youth golf programs and with the YMCA.  I feel like it is now time for me to work for the children and the people who mold their minds and future.  I am not afraid to stand out in a crowd, nor afraid to win or lose and certainly do not back down in the face of change.  I am not sure exactly what the people look for when choosing a good candidate for school board but I do know that my heart is in the right place.

Please consider casting your vote for me on April 3rd for the office of 'School Board Member'.

Please remember that I am a 'write-in' candidate and you must write my full name in on the ballot.  


The support and encouragement I have received thus far from parents, educators and other community members has been overwhelming!  Thank you all!

Raymond M. Einhorn


Baileys Harbor, WI

Letter to the Editor--Support of Kelly Avenson in District 4

By John Hauser    

Dear Editor,

It is with great enthusiasm that I am writing in support of Kelly Avenson's bid to become Sturgeon Bay's next Alderperson in District 4.

Kelly is an entrepreneur who has started and continues to operate two businesses in Sturgeon Bay.  She is a tireless community builder, a quality that is reflected in her service as a member of the Board of the Sturgeon Bay Visitors Center and in her willingness to support a number of nonprofits by providing her expertise in design and photography.   But, most importantly, Kelly will give the community a voice. She recognizes that the most effective way to develop and implement new ideas is by engaging the community in the process.

It's time for a change.  Vote for Kelly Avenson for Sturgeon Bay City Council.

John Hauser

Editorial Opinion: Sturgeon Bay School District wrong to ban media access during student walkout

By Roger Utnehmer     

Sturgeon Bay is one of few school district in America that banned news reporters from covering Tuesday's student walkout and protest against gun violence.

Gagging news coverage of a protest is not a very good civics lesson school district personnel are teaching students.

The protest at Sturgeon Bay High School included several members of the public who appeared in support of students who staged the walkout. Only news reporters were told to get off school property, not parents standing in support of students or others on school property observing the protest.

A public protest on public property with public participation is newsworthy. No school district administrator or high school principal should have the power to stop reporters from doing their jobs. No school district administrator or high school principal should have the power to prevent ideas expressed at a public forum, on public property, with members of the public in attendance from being reported.

In hundreds of school districts across America, students learned a valuable lesson about their freedom of speech. They also learned about the role of the news media covering legitimate news events. Responsible reporters interviewed articulate students. The coverage has stimulated discussion and engaged generations in a dialogue about gun violence. That is basic civics at its best. But not in Sturgeon Bay.

Sturgeon Bay students were denied that opportunity. District Administrator Dan Tjernagel and Principal Robert Nickel prevented voices from being heard and dialogue from taking place. Hopefully, this shameful abuse of power by Tjernagel and Nickel will teach them a lesson in civics so they never gag media coverage of legitimate news again.

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

In support of Kelly Avenson- Sturgeon Bay City Council District 4

By Megan Lundahl

Dear Editor,


I am writing to share my support for Kelly Avenson, who is running for Sturgeon Bay's City Council in the coming Spring election. District 4 has the opportunity to elect a local official who is assessable, sensible, professional, and ready for this position in every way. That Kelly has set her sights on and invested her energy in running for public office is no surprise to me.  She was an integral part of me recognizing my own confidence and strength in a successful bid for a County Board Supervisor seat just two short years ago.


I am excited for the prospect of Kelly joining our city leadership for many reasons. The first, is that I've met few people as vigilant in researching all sides of an issue like Kelly does. She does her homework and invests in our community on a daily basis. Best yet, she also has the ability to speak on what she discovers while authentically listening and honoring the thoughts and ideas of others. She has made Sturgeon Bay her home with a fierce pride that is fueled by a virtuous desire to represent and protect ALL of the voices of whom she will represent. Kelly is a mother and business owner who I've had the pleasure of working with both personally and professionally. She is a fresh ideas gal and has the energy to get to the bottom of a challenge in order to help the whole rise up.   


I believe that a balanced and transparent government that serves every citizen of Sturgeon Bay, that honors every voice and every heart, is possible! Creating this will lift us out of the challenges we are currently facing, bridge the gap in leadership and generate stability in our local government. It's time for a fresh new look at how our beloved Sturgeon Bay will grow into the future by honoring the shared wisdom of our community. I invite you to support Kelly Avenson and cast your vote for her on your own behalf and on behalf of generations to come. In doing so, you will be making an investment in the thriving health of this beautiful city we are blessed to call home.




Megan Lundahl

Door County Supervisor – District 11

Letter to the Editor: Thoughts on the granary

By Lynn Gilchrist

I am writing to share the thoughts I sent to the following City of Sturgeon Bay officials:

Dear Mayor Birmingham, Fire Chief Dietman, Police Chief Porter, City Attorney Nesbitt, Community Development Director Olejniczak, City Engineer Shefchik, City Administrator VanLieshout, and Alderpersons Ms. Catarozoli, Mr. Vandertie, Mr. Ward, Mr. Wiesner, Ms. Allmann, Mr. Fett, and Ms. Hauser,

I am writing today to say, "Shame on you," to those of you listed above who have been in a position to save Sturgeon Bay's historic granary and have refused to do so.

I am generally a mild-mannered person, a devoted friend and grandmother, the one sitting in the council meeting who does not speak up. I have written you emails that praised the work you do for our city and gently asked you to listen. But today I am angry. I am a working, home-owning, tax-paying, volunteering, positive member of the community and I am angry at those of you who have refused to listen to logical, reasonable, arguments from your constituents, including mine. I am angry because only three of you listed above have had the courtesy or respect to respond to my emails. Those three are Ms. Allmann, Ms. Catarozoli, and Ms. Hauser. Only those three. Every other state or local law-maker whom I have ever contacted has managed to reply to emails. (I exempt from my wrath those of you who are not elected members of the Common Council, only to the extent that you could not vote on the fate of the granary. If you worked for the granary's demise, I call shame on you.)

I am angry because the fate of the granary is not and has never been an insurmountable problem. When people disagree in a community, good leaders work to find a way to solve the problem. I accept that not everyone in the city loves the granary the way so many of us do. Time and again alderpersons Allmann, Catarozoli, and Hauser as well as other citizens have offered reasonable solutions to satisfy everyone...only to be shut down or shut out of the conversation.

I am particularly angry to hear that Mayor Birmingham has said that he knows of no one who wishes to save the granary. Absurd. It is a sad day for local government when elected officials refuse to listen to or even acknowledge constituents' voices.

Are my laments for this iconic landmark pointless? Too late to make even one of you regret what you are doing? Perhaps. I felt the need to ask one last time for a good reason to raze the granary. Can you give me one? Just one that you can share? It has been shown that the granary is salvageable and is no imminent danger to anyone. Even at this point could you swallow your pride and postpone the demolition?

I speak for thousands in this city. We are sad, we are angry, and we vote.


Lynn Gilchrist

Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

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