Sunday, March 23, 2008

New blog to view

Interested in the Walworth County Supervisory Race then you need to view the new Blog

Friday, January 18, 2008

County Supervisory District 2

I would like to share my position on items of importance to the residents of Walworth County and in particular Supervisory District 2. District 2 is largely a rural district without any incorporated villages or cities. It is the largest in land area of the eleven districts. The things important to us may be different than the things important to residents of the County who live in incorporated Villages and Cities.

1. Walworth County is under pressure to grow. Growth is coming at us from a number of directions. Our population is growing faster than many of the Counties surrounding us. Housing pressures include populations moving their primary residence from Metropolitan Milwaukee to Walworth County, Chicago land populations seeking second homes in a great place to live, and our own population growth have pushed up housing prices. We live between three metropolitan population centers, Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison. Growth will come; how we manage it is the important question. I believe we should manage growth, not just let it happen.
2. Agriculture makes up the majority of the land use in Walworth County, and Supervisory District 2. We are under Exclusive Agricultural Zoning. I am not a farmer, but I grew up on a farm. I consider a farmer’s right to farm an important right. This zoning gives farmers certain rights and those of us who came later, must respect those rights.
3. I think local people solve local issues best. Therefore, I am in favor of local control of zoning and conditional use permits. I do not think people who live in unaffected areas should be able to make decisions for those who live where the impact is felt. In other words, if you live in a city or village, you should not make zoning decisions for people who live in rural towns like Troy, Lafayette, Spring Prairie and Lyons.
4. I believe in a fiscally responsible smaller government. We cannot have everything everyone wants so we will have to establish priorities. All businesses are required to set priorities, or they fail. Our county government must continually seek to become more efficient. I believe the people of Walworth County took a great first step toward a smaller more responsible government when they downsized the County Board.
5. I will work to lower your individual County taxes. A combination of controlled spending, controlled balanced growth, and the correct priorities are the keys to lowering taxes. With controlled balanced growth, I will continue to work to bring good jobs to our County so our children can find good jobs in our communities not half way across the country.
6. Responsible government begins with informed citizens. I will work to keep you informed. I have a Blog called Spring Prairie Politics, you can use it to ask questions publicly and I will present my thoughts in the blog. If you want to correspond with me in private, use my personal email and I will correspond with you in private.I believe in personal responsibility. Everyone should work hard to take care of themselves and their family. I believe the vast majority of people are capable of taking care of themselves. I do not believe government should intrude into our daily lives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Supervisory District 2

While I have thought about running for County Supervisor for a while, I am now announcing that I am running for the position in District 2, which is the Towns of Lyons, Spring Prairie, Lafayette and a protion of Troy.

Monday, March 26, 2007

eleven reasons to vote yes for downsizing

Vote Yes to Downsize the Walworth County Board on April 3rd

You have the power to control your government on April 3rd. The Walworth County Board is out of control. The effort to downsize has been driven by the County Board’s willingness to raise taxes without regard to the Walworth County resident’s willingness to pay. Last May, the board authorized up to a 10% tax increase. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsible Government Walworth County (CRG) mobilized citizens and the board backed down to 6.1%. This increase many find both fiscally irresponsible and out of control.

Here are eleven reasons to downsize:
1. When CRG finished their petition, this board brought in an outside attorney for consultation on how to stop the effort to downsize. And the taxpayers paid the bill.
2. This board has borrowed about $48,000,000. Debt service is now about $7,900,000 and will continue to increase. There are only two choices for the next 2-3 budget cycles. Cut services or raise taxes.
3. For the next 2-3 years there will be no significant road construction or major repairs to Walworth County roads, without raising taxes.
4. The board can not honor its commitments to its employees. There is insufficient money in the reserve lockbox accounts to cover the future retirement benefits of county employees.
5. According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Study there is no discernable difference between a large board and a small board. Our large board is not working; it’s time for a small board.
6. Only about 8 supervisors consistently attend committee meetings. Committees of 5 to 7 members make the decisions, and then the board rubber stamps them.
7. Of 25 supervisors only 12 attended last year’s budget meetings.
8. With our system of administrative governance, only a small part time board is needed. Day to day operations are handled by the Administrator and hired or elected full time managers and their staff.
9. Our current committee system is outdated and cumbersome.
10. This board has formed its own political action group to preserve their part-time jobs.
11. 11 supervisors can provide necessary direction for our County…saving $180,000
Do not believe the mistruth that Lakeland School may close. Lakeland School will not close because the construction contract bids were authorized on Monday the 19th of March 2007. The school will be constructed and the Walworth County is committed to operating Lakeland School for the next 10 years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Some things you should know before you vote

Facts you need to consider when you vote

Each of the following points was taken from a talking points sheet written by several of the County Supervisors as reasons why they should not be down sized. The counter point is why I believe they should be downsized.

Point 1
Your district would have less representation. Cities villages and towns could be grouped together and be represented by only 1 singular vote to serve diverse needs and growth.

Counter point
I do not see how we could be more poorly represented then we are now. Currently the diverse needs of different groups are slammed together and are dependent on the good will of 18 of the supervisors to represent them in a fair and equitable manner. Of 25 supervisors only 2 represent towns, 5 represent cities or villages and 18 represent mixed groups of rural and urban populations. 52% of the people in Walworth County live in urban areas and 48% live in rural areas. This is an opportunity to correct the poor representation of our current board to fairly represent the diverse population of our County. Further more whom are these supervisors representing beyond their own needs and desires. When was the last time you were asked what you think or a supervisors asked for your opinion. Ask yourself if the recent votes of the County Board by your supervisor represent your interests.

Point 2
The County budget is $147,000,000. Downsizing would allow just 6 votes (a majority of 11) to decide most issues. Isn’t that a lot of money in the hands of six people?

Counter point
It’s a lot of money in the hands of 25 people. 11 supervisors are no less responsible than 25, and based on the actions of this board how could 11 be less responsible? Almost any new group of 11 could spend our money in a better fashion. We believe that a smaller board will bring the very best people forward and cause contested elections where discussion would happen and benefit the public. There is no conclusive evidence that larger or smaller boards work better. We have a large board and it is not working. We believe a smaller board would work better. If you look at the number of people who attended the budget sessions 11 interested people are running the County now. This is our chance to make a change. Join the many voters have expressed their desire to have a change.

Point 3
Special interest groups could very easily gain control of the Board.

Counter point
Special interest groups already have control of the Board. Most decisions are made in committees where you only have to garner 3 or 4 votes to gain control. Little debate is done during monthly board meetings. Currently if you want to control votes you simply have to control a committee. With a new group of Supervisors we can change how business is done in our County.

Point 4
Supervisors would most likely have to become full time salaried employee with benefit packages (currently supervisors receive $500/ month and no paid benefits). Those full time salary and benefit packages would far out weigh what is currently being paid.

Counter point
There is absolutely no evidence that supervisors would have to be full time. There are many town, city and village officials who are part time and do as much or more than our County Supervisors. Yes, each supervisor is paid $500/ month. The Chairperson is paid $1,000. That adds to $156,000 in salaries, but the budget for the Board is $326,931. A difference of $160,931! One must assume each supervisor is paid an average of $6837.24/year (more then their annual salary) for expenses, such as driving to committee meetings and travel when they attend meetings outside the county. While most business people are paid when they travel, most are not paid to do local travel that is a part of their job, such as travel to committee meetings. Besides if each supervisor is attending 3 committee meetings and 1 monthly board meeting and each meeting averages 2 hours that is a total of 8 hours, or $62.50/ hour. How many of us make that much per hour? And for those supervisors who fail to show up for their committee meetings a 2 hour County Board meeting pays $250/hour.

Point 5

Ask yourself who would have time to serve full-time on the County Board if it were downsized? Walworth County is currently served by a wonderfully diverse group of citizens: farmers, blue collar workers, business owners, retirees. This is who Walworth County is!

Counter point
First, I doubt that reducing the board would require full time supervisors. Since elected official must live in their district Walworth County will continue to “be served by a wonderfully diverse group of citizens: farmers, blue collar workers, business owners, retirees” because that is group from which we will choose. We currently hire a professional full time administrator and many full time managers. In addition we have elected full time people. What we need is a dedicated group of supervisors to determine policy and provide oversight to the very good people hired or elected to work full time. They simply need to set policy and provide oversight to our current professional staff. That is not necessarily a full time job.

Point 6
The state mandates redistricting following the 2010 census. Doing it 2 years early can be redoubling the cost to county and municipalities. It will have to be done again in 2010. Why should we pay twice?

Counter point
This is a typical response from this board double counting costs. The last time redistricting was done; it was accomplished inside the county without any outside help. The labor to redistrict was done by the towns, villages and city employees and the county employees. What is this cost they are talking about. What you are hearing is a supervisor attempting to justify increased employment or an increase in pay. Supervisors should be worried about why the pension and health insurance funds are not adequately funded rather than if we will have to work a little harder to handle redistricting. Or perhaps they should worry about a redistricting plan that is fair to the voters.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Response to Larry Vant's letter to the editor in the Janesville Gazette

Janesville Gazette

Re County’s Intersport deal is lacking common sense by Larry Vant

While I have had occasion to read a portion of the material concerning the Intersport deal, I am certain I do not have all the information to make a good decision. At this time only the County Board, the County Administrator, and the attorneys should have sufficient information.

I am not a great fan of our current County Board. And I support a smaller County Board, as does Mr. Vant. I believe they fail to gather all the information they need before they make decisions. They fail to seek advise from their constituents and they hate to listen to the periods of public comment. Like Mr. Vant I believe this board lacks common sense. And finally they seek to shift blame for their decisions.

Unlike Mr. Vant, I firmly believe there is a place for government to encourage business development. My company is in a business park where the land originally sold at below market value to encourage businesses to locate within the park. As a result in a three block area there are now many jobs where before none existed. And there are many businesses paying property taxes and personal property taxes where before there were very low taxes as the land was farmed. You must remember that businesses are very low consumers of services yet they pay relatively high taxes. Was this a good investment for government to make, I believe it was.

Is Intersport a good investment for Walworth County? At this time I really do not know, and I question if the majority of the County Board knows. We will have to wait until the meeting on March 13th to determine if the County has made a good or bad decision. And even then we may not know for several years. It does seem like a lot of land, for a small phase one footprint.

Be the decision good or bad, the people to hold responsible are the County Board not the Administrator Mr. Bretl. Mr. Bretl had no vote in this matter, only the County Board voted. Unlike other counties he does not have veto powers. The Administrator may have brought this matter to the attention of the Board, but he did not influence the board. If they claim they were rushed or did not have sufficient time or knowledge, it is only their fault. They have the power to slow things down or speed them up. This is another time like the budget where Mr. Bretl has become the owner of the decision without the ability to vote on the decision. Many of the County Board members do not like to live with their decisions once they are made, so they shift the blame. Mr. Bretl is not bankrupting this county, the sole responsibility for that is the current County Board not doing their job.

Let us hope the County Board will show enough courage and responsibility to fully understand the contract they must vote on when it is presented. And let us hope they put in sufficient safeguards to protect the citizens of Walworth County.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Introduction to Spring Prairie Politics

Welcome to the Spring Prairie Politics blog. To get this started I want to give you a few of the items I think about and would like others to consider commenting on.

Spring Prairie:

We have had a lot of snow this past month and are using up our funds at a rapid rate. Which means we will have to cut somewhere the remainder of the year. In the past we have mowed the roadsides up to 4 or 5 times during the growing season. I would ask the question do we need to mow this often?

Walworth County:

In April there is an question on the ballot addressing the downsizing of the County Board of Supervisors, do you think the Board should be downsized?