Saturday, October 30, 2004

City is best served with an elected mayor

Much has been written, said and published about why we the people of the city of Oshkosh should or should not elect our mayor. But no matter what kind of propoganda has been put out there in recent weeks and months, this is really very simple. In fact, it's a no-brainer.

So, why is it so important that the citizens in Oshkosh elect their mayor? Let's examine the reasons...

We should have an elected mayor, because:

• First and foremost, it’s the democratic thing to do. As citizens, we elect our president; our senators and congressmen; our state representatives; and our local officials – of which, our mayor is one. Some have argued that the city council members best know who among them should serve as mayor because they work with each other. If we use that logic, then only the state senate and legislature should elect our governor; and only the House of Representatives and Congress should elect our President. That’s not democracy. Nor is it democracy to continue allowing only our city council members to elect our mayor. The people in this community are smart enough to decide who should serve in the position of mayor, just as we do for all other elected offices.

• Second, we should elect our mayor instead of allowing the city council to choose that person for us because it’s time we take back the reins of control. The majority of our city council has become drunk with power and doesn’t care what the citizens think. That's very apparent by practically every major vote they take on matters of spending. An elected mayor is a significant step toward righting that wrong. Will it immediately solve the problems our city faces or will it immediately turn our city council members into public servants who are completely responsible and responsive leaders? No, it will not. But it is a first step toward getting us there. We all had to learn to crawl before we could walk. That's part of growth and development. We keep hearing from the opponents to this referendum that this city needs to be progressive. Well, the most progressive communities in our state -and the nation, for that matter - elect their mayor, albeit they are electing mayors who have some real power with their title. Nonetheless, growth must begin somewhere and it is time we begin our own growth process. A mayor of any kind - one elected by the people who pay the bills in this city - is the first step toward that.

• Third, opponents of this referendum have also argued that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The correct word should actually be “broken,” but broken from whose perspective? Frankly, with things going in the direction they have been, not only are we headed toward being “broke,” but when the majority of citizens tell city councilors they disapprove of the job they’re doing; others call for their individual resignations; and many citizens refuse to get involved in the process overall because they are so disheartened, it is sending a deafening message that something, most assuredly, is “broken.”

Contrary to what has been said and published, having an elected mayor DOES NOT add another position to our layer of local government. Nor does it add more cost to the budget. We already have a part-time, salaried mayor in the city of Oshkosh. The only difference here is that by voting YES on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the people will decide who serves as mayor, not the city council by themselves. They make enough decisions for us. Shouldn't this be one that WE get to make?

There can be no doubt, this city would best be served by a mayor with some strength and veto power. That’s what citizens have overwhelmingly said they want. And even though this elected mayor would not have that power, this is a wonderful first step toward getting us where we need to be – on track to having a responsible, responsive and accountable government - one that truly does answer to WE, THE PEOPLE!

The Oshkosh Common Council has been sending us a message with every vote they make that takes more of your hard-earned dollars out of your checkbook. And with the proposed operating budget and Capital Improvements budget having just been released, I can tell you there appears to be no end in sight to the frivolous spending some of these council members want to do. So when you go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2, join with me and other concerned citizens in sending our own message and voting YES for an elected mayor in the city of Oshkosh. It's a step forward that we can't afford not to take.

Cheryl Hentz

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Signed letters versus anonymous ones

I feel I need to jump in here and say something because the subject of signed letters versus those which are anonymous continues to rear its ugly head.

First, I know we all would like to have the benefit of knowing who is writing us letters. And in most cases, I would hope that people would feel comfortable enough to sign their name when they do write something.

But I also know that there are times when people feel that by signing their name to something, they may face some type of repercussion later on. I think we all have experienced that concern at one time or another in our lives. So, while many people have no problem signing their name, many others do.

I do not want this forum to be restricted ONLY to those who feel comfortable or safe in signing their name. I want everyone to be able to express their opinion, and to feel comfortable in doing so. And simply because someone is reluctant to sign their name does not mean their comments or concerns are any less valid than someone who does. The only thing I ask is that people be respectful in stating their cases - whether they sign their name or not - otherwise I will be forced to remove their comments. But so far I think the majority of comments and criticisms have been fair, reasonable and respectful. Those who are being written about have the choice of either ignoring anonymous letters or responding to them - the choice is theirs; just as it is the choice of the letter writer to sign or not sign their name.

I hope everyone will understand and respect my own position in this matter and that, signed or unsigned, we can keep the various dialogues going.

Cheryl Hentz
Eye on Oshkosh website owner/administrator

Monday, October 18, 2004

Let's understand what we're really voting for

I am sick and tired of these people who write letters to the editor or speak in public about the mayoral referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot as if they actually know what they are speaking about.
One of the most recent is Mrs. Vida Allen of Oshkosh.

Mrs. Allen wrote a letter to the editor recently in which she made comments about how we shouldn't have to pay a salary to a part-time mayor. What Mrs. Allen apparently doesn't get is that we are already doing just that. The mayoral figurehead in the City of Oshkosh gets paid slightly more than the other six city council members do. I believe the current salary is $3,000 per annum. To suggest that by voting "YES" to an elected mayor on Nov. 2 we will somehow be creating an extra position or costing the city more money is wrong on both counts and says to us that either the people spreading this misinformation either don't have the full understanding of city government that they think they do OR they intentionally want to spin the issue their way in order to confuse the electorate. But let's get the facts straight right here and now, once and for all, BEFORE the election. That way people can head to the polls armed with the facts rather than a bunch of BS and gobbledygook.

To vote YES to the people electing a mayor is only to allow the people to elect our mayor rather than the position being deciding on by the city council members. That is it! Period, end of story! There will be no extra position created and we will still have a total of 7 people on our city council. There will be no extra money spent on council/mayoral salaries, but rather we will continue to spend exactly what we're spending now. Again, I repeat for those who don't understand or who have thus far refused to hear: The only thing this referendum does is allow the people to decide who we want as our mayor instead of the council deciding.

And just so you can see exactly how the referendum question is worded - because it is written in a way that could be misunderstood - here is the text of the question as it appears on the ballot. It is also the subject of a poll on this web site...

"Shall the City of Oshkosh Municipal Code be amended to provide for a part-time, salaried Mayor, nominated and elected from the city at large for a two-year term?"

The City Council in this community has taken enough of our power and rights away from us. Let's NOT let them take this one away, too. Do yourself and all other taxpayers in Oshkosh a favor and vote "YES" to the mayoral referendum question on Tuesday, Nov. 2. It'll be a step in the right direction. Thank you!