This is in response to the full page advertisement in the March 22 Peninsula Pulse paid for and authorized by candidates Helen Bacon, Dan Williams, Gary Nault, and Kisten McFarlin-Reeths. If we are to believe the claims and the numbers presented in the ad, these four candidates (the “Fiscal Four”?) are all that stand between the citizens of Sturgeon Bay and financial ruin. They conveniently ignore recent history in their assertion that the current city council “has not demonstrated fiscal responsibility regarding the Westside waterfront” because...well, that’s where the facts get a little fuzzy. They apparently take umbrage with the results of the last council election that swept in some common sense reformers who put the brakes on the reckless and ethically compromised shenanigans of the previous council that served as a rubber stamp for every whim and whisper of Mayor Thad Birmingham. That reliable working majority voted to sell waterfront property of questionable title to developer Bob Papke, a decision that prompted the law suit that ultimately led to a DNR ruling confirming a water mark in accordance to the Wisconsin state constitution.
The half million dollars wasted on legal fees and a settlement with the developer can be placed squarely at the feet of councilmen who represented districts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 before they retired or were voted out, not the current council members. What’s more, the TID created for the west waterfront redevelopment was the brainchild of that previous council majority, too—despite the fact that Sturgeon Bay government’s luck with TIDs has been pretty lousy, considering that only TID #1 (the industrial park) isn’t drowning in red ink. To read the ad, you might get the idea that the Friends of Sturgeon Bay Waterfront (the group that WON the lawsuit against the city to protect the public trust without financial reward) and the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society are the evil cabal responsible for the TID fever that has put the city in financial peril.
The factually-challenged four also sound clarions of alarm concerning the donation of a renovated and restored granary on the west side, which might serve as both landmark and centerpiece to public space on the waterfront. For some reason, the gift of more than a million dollars has them clutching their pearls because the granary won’t include “restrooms, water, and kitchen facilities for events,” nor will it offer “heating, cooling, ventilation or handicap accessibility.” I’m surprised they didn’t add helipad, an elevator, and large screen TVs to their list of things that no other park facility offers the public. If you’re going to complain, folks, complain BIG!
Having read this ridiculous ad, I am more convinced than ever that the future of Sturgeon Bay rests not with backward thinking people like these but with those who are opposing them. Vote April 2 not out of fear and resentment but with hope and conviction.