Monday, January 31, 2005

Comments and opinions

In the past several days we have seen a flurry of comments being posted both on this site and the Oshkosh Community News blog site where people have begun getting really nasty with their comments. It has quickly plummetted from a difference of opinion on whether a candidate who CHOSE not to return a phone call to appear on Eye on Oshkosh and therefore did not have her answers to several position statements represented in a candidate chart to just an ugly, mean-spirited name-calling verbal fisticuffs. And it must end.

Things on the OCNN site got completely out of hand and I was dismayed to see how quickly the discussion disintegrated. I think people can have spirited debate and respectfully disagree without some of the things we have seen develop since last Thursday afternoon.

I also understand why some people would want to remain anonymous. But to hide behind a shroud of anonymity only to make some of the accusations we've seen of late is shameful.

I am not going to allow this web site - interactive as it may be - to get to the point OCNN's did in the past few days. I may be a candidate in the race for Oshkosh Common Council, and yes, there is a lot at stake in this election and some of us candidates disagree vehemently with one another. But I have strived from the beginning of the campaign to keep the race as fair as possible, and I will continue to do so. If I see things on Eye on Oshkosh's web site getting to the point they did on OCNN I will go in as one of the site adminstrators and delete them. I am not trying to quash anyone's right to free speech, however, I will not allow this site and the benefits it provides to be used as a batterimg ram either.

Again, we can have debate and disagreements, and some may even choose to do so anonymously, but I would ask that people please stick to the point and refrain from letting things become personal. It's one thing to attack someone's politics. That's fair game since this is a political race. But fair game does not include things which are personal and ugly.

I hope you will join me in trying to keep discussion relevant to the political arena and to the point.

Cheryl Hentz
Eye on Oshkosh

Friday, January 28, 2005

last night's debate

Contributed by: Anonymous
After watching the debate last night for the City Council, it came out as a complete surprise. Someone with no experience stole the show, while a veteran on the Council looked horrible.

In my opinion, newcomer Andrew Koerwitz stole the show by talking about past city failures, bringing up the 5-2 vote situation and how some people are carrying out thier own agenda on the Council and making several points that he knew quite possible draw fire from some people. All of this drew me off by suprise. To talk about things that happened 30 years ago and be only 22 showed he's doing his homework and to say that the "fab five" are carrying out thier own agenda rather than listening to the general public AND City Manager Richard Wollangk.

Also, I believe that Shirley Brabender Mattox looked inexperience and not prepared, despite being one of two incumbents. I also believe she showed up late too. And did anyone see Ken Bender talk to her afterwards! He apparently had some things to say.

Besides Koerwitz, Cheryl Hentz did well. I believe Koerwitz and Hentz are the front runners while Bob Poeschl, Jenny Ryan, and Mike Domke need alot of help in the next two weeks to make the 14 to 6 cut. But good job to all that participated last night!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mayoral debate review

Contributed by: Anonymous Interesting discussion last night. It was an excellent forum for the candidates, and I felt some fared better than others. The set up could have been different. After the question were asked I think they should have had a rotating turn on who went first. But here are my thoughts:

Kyle Reppert - Although he started out every answer with "um", I thought he did an average job of expressing his views. His lack of experience showed at times, and I think that will hurt him at the polls. Good for him for putting himself out there to the public. Could be a launching pad of future success for Mr. Reppert.

Mark Madison - Gave well thought out answers, and obviously has been paying attention. I particularly liked his jab at Paul Esslinger about being on the 2 side of every 5-2 vote.

Paul Esslinger - Also very educated on the issues. I just can't get over the negativity about everything! He is obviously a very good candidate, but how about a little positive spin on some issues. I don't believe that the majority of residents are against the ampitheater as he stated. I understand the need to be fiscally responsible, but he seems over the top. I am trying hard to bring myself to vote for him.

Paul Daggett - What a train wreck! Didnt answer or join in on one single discussion during the question period. Read his comments word for word. If you can't convey your message in an articulate fashion, why would anyone vote for him. I almost felt sorry for him.

Bill Castle - "As mayor I will do that" was his stock answer. How is he going to do it? He understands the issues, but he just doesnt seem like the right man at the right time for the job. Maybe he would fare better if it were 1970. The slightest bit of implied impropriety regarding the CR Meyer issues makes him the perfect "good ol boy" candidate.

Overall this race is a tough decision. Not one candidate stands out as a front runner. Daggett and Reppert are out of it in my mind leaving us with Madison, Castle, and Esslinger. Castle and Esslinger could just be more of the same. Madison is not the perfect candidate, but perhaps it is time for a change with a candidate who can support the majority of citizens. Which candidate can find the balance of continued developments while fixing the streets?

Concerned Citizen,

Jim B.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

More of the same!!!

Contributed by: Anonymous
My initial reaction to the proposed new riverfront condo/water park project was:

Isn't the Pioneer property already doing this?

Don't we have a large luxury building on Main St. that isnt even close to capacity?

Do we need 80 additional slips on the river?

Is there a big need for additional retail space on the river?

It seems like Oshkosh is heading down the same road traveled as in the past, spend first ask question later. Is it in our best interest to buy into two separate projects that are very similar in nature. I am all for developing downtown, and support it when it makes sense. I just cant see using public funds for something that could end up a HUGE albatross. Why not scale down and start slowly? The ampitheater is a lot to chew off to start.

I believe we can have a balance of development and keeping our infrastructure updated. My street is so bad that my terrace is slowly receding to nothing, and my driveway apron is mud or water 70% of the time. This certainly won't help my property value when I try to sell.

I would be interested to hear some feedback from council candidates on their feelings on the new condo/waterpark proposal.

Jim B.

P.S Can I take my kids to the water park for a fee or annual pass or do I have to stay at the complex?

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

More of the same!!!
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, January 25 2005 @ 10:16 PM MST
Hi Jim,

Thanks for sending us your comments and as a common council candidate, I, for one, will be happy to respond.

At first blush any kind of economic development that can add to the tax base and stimulate our economy with jobs, tourism dollars or the like, sounds like a good idea. But that's only at first blush.

We know far too little about this $62 million project to say whether we should proceed or not. Nor do we have any idea what kind of concessions the developer will want the city to make. So we can't say if it's in our best interest or not to do the project. It's just far too early.

While I am certainly interested in hearing more of what the developer wants, I am also quite interested to hear what they plan to bring to the table, instead of just what they want to take from the city as part of the bargaining process.

Let's hope that the current city council does NOT put this on a fast track like they did the amphitheater. It's time to start doing some real homework and some due diligence instead of swallowing another story from developers, the Chamber of Commerce and our Community Development Director Jackson Kinney, hook, line and sinker.

And while we're waiting to hear more of the details on this project, let's thank our lucky stars that Stew Rieckman at the Oshkosh Northwestern isn't running the city or controlling our pocketbook. He's already put his "stamp of approval" on this project and he doesn't know any more details than anyone else. That is carelessness and a complete and utter lack of responsibility.

Mr. Rieckman and others like him may call people who give pause to projects like this "cobblestoners," but I'd rather be a cobblestoner than have rocks in my head.

Cheryl Hentz
Candidate for Oshkosh Common Council
Please be sure to go to the polls and vote Feb. 15 !

More of the same!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 11:23 AM MST
I agree with Cheryl, but I propose going one step further. Let us rebuild all bldgs we have torn down and re-establish all the businesses we had. To those coming back to Oshkosh after many years, it will look like they never left. I think the city should return to it's former look, and replicte everything as it used to be late 1970's/early 1980's. Rebuild the foundry. Rebuild the 100 block. Reopen Park Plaza. Move the fairgrounds back to Murdock and Jackson. Re-establish Nordheim. The glory days must return.

More of the same!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 11:24 AM MST
I agree with Cheryl, but I propose going one step further. Let us rebuild all bldgs we have torn down and re-establish all the businesses we had. To those coming back to Oshkosh after many years, it will look like they never left. I think the city should return to it's former look, and replicte everything as it used to be late 1970's/early 1980's. Rebuild the foundry. Rebuild the 100 block. Reopen Park Plaza. Move the fairgrounds back to Murdock and Jackson. Re-establish Nordheim. The glory days must return.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Rieckman's Got It Backwards: Esslinger's Bay Beach proposal is in the spirit of old Mayor Stevens

[We received this editorial piece from Tony Palmeri and are pleased to post it here]

In 1889 Oshkosh Mayor Stevens used taxpayer dollars to purchase the swampland that became Menominee Park. In 2005 the "Fab Five" on the Oshkosh Common Council (Mark Harris, Bill Castle, Shirley Mattox, Frank Tower, Burk Tower) support using taxpayer dollars to build an amphitheater and may soon vote to use taxpayer dollars to support development of land around the Fox River that will include condominiums.

For Oshkosh Northwestern Executive Editor Stew Rieckman, the contemporary Council majority are "leaders with aspirations for Oshkosh" just like old Mayor Stevens.

Stew's got it backwards.

In 1889 Mayor Stevens understood that a city could purchase private land, protect the land from the grasp of private developers, and use the land for purely public purposes. After purchasing the land from Colonel Lucas Miller, Stevens did not create a "redevelopment authority" to look for ways to privatize it. Instead, he succeeded in keeping the land off limits to private developers and led the way to the creation of a glorious public park.

In the contemporary amphitheater and $62 million Five Rivers Resort proposal, by contrast, the 5 supportive members of the Oshkosh Common Council have not purchased land for purely public purposes. Rather, they have laid the foundation for the exploitation of the land by private developers. Amphitheater entertainment will probably be run by a private promoter, and the city may not even collect concession revenues as there appears to be support on the Council for privatizing that also. The Five Rivers Resort proposal as described is an even more blatant hand over of public resources to a private corporation.

Stevens' vision was of a public park that could be enjoyed by every citizen. That is NOT the vision guiding the amphitheater and Resort proposal. Probably less than half of the population of Oshkosh will ever use the amphitheater, either due to lack of interest or they simply won't be able to afford the price of a ticket. As for luxury condos on the Fox River, you'd think the number of vacancies in the "luxury apartment" complex on 100 North Main St. would pull the plug on the proposal. Think again.

There is one suggestion for Fox River development that is consistent with the ideals of old Mayor Stevens. That would be mayoral candidate Paul Esslinger's proposal for a Bay Beach style amusement park, similar to the one in Green Bay. Rieckman pooh poohs suggestions like this as "well intentioned," but "timid and not the inspired thinking Oshkosh needs." Apparently for Rieckman when a city asserts that public resources should be used public purposes it is "timidity," but to hand over public resources to out of state, private developers is "inspired thinking."

Take a look at this description of the Bay Beach Amusement Park from the city of Green Bay website and then decide how "timid" it is compared to a condominium proposal:

"Today, Bay Beach Amusement Park serves more than one million guests each season. They come for company picnics, family reunions, or simply to have fun. Seven different shelters can be rented for family or company get-togethers. There are volleyball courts, 16 amusement rides, a live pony ring, softball diamond, wading pool, two concession stands and one restaurant. There is no admission charge and the parking is free. Ride tickets cost .25 cents each, with the rides requiring one or two tickets per rider. Those who attend the park are most often families. Early in the spring, school groups from all parts of the state and upper Michigan come to the park during a week designated as 'school group week.' The park focuses its efforts in trying to provide a safe, fun and affordable time for everybody."

Can Rieckman or any member of the Common Council seriously argue that the amphitheater and/or condominium proposal will bring even a fraction of the activity to Oshkosh that Bay Beach brings to Green Bay?

Since the chamber of commerce and its representatives on the Common Council and spokesmen in the press have placed the condominium development on the fast track, Esslinger's Bay Beach proposal may not ever get a serious hearing. That's too bad, as his proposal is the only one in the spirit of old Mayor Stevens.

- submitted by Tony Palmeri

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Common Council and Mayoral candidates answer questions

During the past few weeks, Eye on Oshkosh has interviewed 11 of the 14 candidates for Oshkosh Common Council and 4 of the 5 mayoral candidates. Some shows have yet to air on CATV 2, but they will in the next two weeks. In the meantime, however, we have compiled candidates' answers and guest co-host Tony Palmeri has assembled them all for you in a very user-friendly grid.

Please go to and check out the city council candidates' responses. A similar grid for the mayoral candidates will be put online as soon as it is ready.

This grid will also link you to the Oshkosh Northwestern pages in which the candidates' positions on other issues are printed for your review.

It should be noted that candidate Jenni Ryan was unable to appear on an Eye on Oshkosh segment to discuss her candidacy and candidates Marianna Stout and John Weinsheim failed to return phone calls made to them. So, unfortunately, you will not have an opportunity to see where they stand on the issues presented to the other 11 city council candidates.

Mayoral candidate John Daggett has not provided a phone number to anyone, including the City Clerk's office at City Hall. So, because we had no convenient way of reaching this candidate for public office, his positions on the issues will not be presented either.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Cheryl Hentz bio and candidacy position statement


Cheryl was born and raised in Oshkosh and has made it her home for most of her life. An active member in the community, she has been appointed to several city boards and commissions by the Mayor and City Council, including the Citizens Advisory Committee, Housing subcommittee, Grand Opera House Advisory Board, Landmarks Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, on which she served as Vice-Chairperson from June 2002 to June 2004, and as Chair from June 2004 to present.

She also served for four years on the Board of Directors for the Oshkosh Area Humane Society and wrote and edited its newsletter for three years. Always helping animals wherever and whenever she can, Cheryl has also volunteered her time during the past five years or so to the Dal-Savers Dalmatian Rescue group, which serves the Wisconsin and Illinois area. She volunteers for other animal causes whenever possible.

A freelance writer and journalist since 1982, Cheryl has worked in all areas of the media, including radio, TV and print journalism. Besides writing and reporting, she does voice-over work for commercial productions and owns & operates a professional writing/publishing/communications service. In addition to her professional work, she has hosted and produced the award-winning cable access show “Eye on Oshkosh” since 2002.


As most people in Oshkosh know, I have entered the race for the Oshkosh Common Council. While my reasons are many, they primarily center around two things:

Responsible spending on current and future needs, including planned development; and wanting to have a city council that listens to the residents of Oshkosh and is more responsive than most people believe the current council has been.

In recent months in particular we have seen the current council – with the exception of Paul Esslinger and Brian Poeschl – do the following:

* Approve a multimillion dollar amphitheatre project within only three weeks time, though having few answers as to how it would operate (we still don’t have those answers, by the way);

* Fail to solicit any public discussion on that same amphitheatre project, despite city administration’s own acknowledgement that citizens were cool to the idea;

* Move $675,000 out of our General Fund – designed for emergencies and the like – to pay for bathrooms at the amphitheatre project;

* Waive bids on the construction work of those bathrooms and give the contract to a close personal friend and golfing buddy of one city council member – a city council member who also now happens to be running for mayor. (Incidentally, now that same contractor has stepped forward to say he can save the city money if he waives his architectural fee and construction manages the project, when God only knows how much money truly could have been saved had the bids not been waived to begin with);

* Close our municipal pool while spending about the same as it would have cost to repair it on a splash pad that, realistically, only younger children can use;

* Approve the extinguishing of another 250 street lights (more than 1,000 put out since 2002), yet approve spending approx. $150,000 on decorative lighting and colored concrete on one of our bridges;

* Waive bids on the purchasing of playground equipment for one of our parks because the parks director happens to like one particular company and he’s comfortable with them;

* Approve dropping the liability insurance requirement for groups hosting events in city parks where liquor will be served, against the advice of our city attorney and now leaving the city open to potentially costly litigation;

* Refuse to give citizens the opportunity to vote on whether or not we should have a mayor with some real power instead of the ceremonial mayor we currently have. Makes one wonder what they are afraid of, doesn’t it?

And that’s just for starters. In addition, our taxes this year went up 5.7 percent and that does not even begin to cover what the amphitheater and other downtown redevelopment will cost us in years to come.

The majority of the Oshkosh Common Council do not seem to care what the citizens in this community think, unless they are a well-known developer, important business person or special interest group. Rather, they appear to be out of touch with their constituents. Citizens by and large are fed up and that is something that can be seen by the large number of candidates in this race.

What separates me from some of my opponents in this race is that while they may suddenly be talking about the city’s haste with certain projects and some unsound business decisions the Council may have made, I have to wonder where these people were before this? They have not spoken out one time about these “concerns” of theirs – not at a city council meeting; not in a letter to the editor; and not to the media as they launched their campaigns. Some have even supported the very decisions the current council has made. The candidates I’m speaking about are the ones who keep talking about “progress,” having a “vision’ and being “positive.” They are the ones who will undoubtedly be supported and endorsed by groups like the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Progress Oshkosh and Forward Oshkosh.

My positions, on the other hand, have been well-known for a long time. I have never been afraid to speak out against that which doesn’t make sense or that which I think needs greater scrutiny before someone commits our hard-earned tax dollars. I don’t merely speak out when it’s convenient because I want to sway the public in order to get votes. The public in Oshkosh knows where I stand – that’s why so many of them have asked me to run.

I am not opposed to progress, provided it is done in a judicious manner and the public has been heard on matters involving their tax dollars, especially large sums of money, like for the amphitheater. Haste creates waste and we have seen that time after time after time in this city. And THAT is one of the reasons other communities are progressing more rapidly than us and having greater economic development than us. It’s common-sense stuff, folks.

And I think it’s important to have a vision. But part of that vision must include having decent roads, good-paying jobs, affordable housing for the poor and elderly and people not being forced out of their homes by high taxes caused in large part by frivolous spending. These are some of the real quality of life issues our community needs to focus on.

Do I profess to have all the answers? Of course not – no one can! But if elected to the Oshkosh Common Council I will take my job seriously, I will do my homework (as I always do) and I will listen to constituents with an open mind and understanding ear. We may not always agree on issues, but at least I will listen and try to be the voice of the people. That’s a tremendous step forward from where we are now.

In closing, let me just say this: Some of the candidates are asking that you call them and let them know what your “vision” is for the city and to tell them what kind of city you want. To what end? They seem to already have their minds made up about what is best for this community. I, on the other hand, have been listening to the citizens for several years – both through my nearly 12 years of service on city boards and commissions and through my 2+ years hosting Eye on Oshkosh. I hear your concerns and I see the fear of what’s yet to come in so many of your faces.

Thank you for allowing me the time to tell you a little about myself and where I stand on some of these issues. I hope that with your support on Tuesday, Feb. 15 and again on Tuesday, April 5, I can begin to help make a difference for ALL the citizens of Oshkosh, not just a select few.

A vote for Cheryl Hentz is a vote for common-sense and common interests, not special ones.

Cheryl Hentz for Oshkosh Common Council
(920) 426-4123
email me at:

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Palmeri questions Castle ethics, conflict-of-interest

[The following letter was sent to Karl Ebert at the Oshkosh Northwestern on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2005 by Tony Palmeri. Tony has shared it with Eye on Oshkosh and we post it here for your thoughts and comments.]

Hi Karl,

Not sure if you saw the Oshkosh Common Council meeting on Tuesday, but I thought Bill Castle's Council Member statement was shocking. He openly beamed about his close personal friendship with Phil Martini, to the point of talking about their golf outings. If their friendship is as close as
Bill says it is, and we have no reason to believe it is not, how on earth is Castle able to vote on anything affecting CR Meyer?

I'm thinking especially about the no-bid contract but, after Castle's comments, it
strikes me that he should not be voting on anything related to the amphitheater project.

I realize that the Northwestern editorial board and I disagree over the merits of the amphitheater, but I do hope the board has a candid discussion about whether or not to editorialize in favor of Castle recusing
himself from any further votes that could affect CR Meyer.

My guess is that the State Ethics Board would say that there is nothing technically illegal about Castle voting on projects that benefit his golf buddy. Still, it certainly has the appearance of impropriety and I for one think it would be very appropriate for the Northwestern to editorialize in favor of recusal.

Happy New Year


P.S. I am forwarding this email to Paul Esslinger and Cheryl Hentz because
over the years they have shared my interest in conflict of interest issues.

Tony Palmeri's Home Page:
Tony Palmeri's Daily News Site:

Michael Domke for Oshkosh Common Council

Contributed by: Mike
As many of you already know I have chosen to run for the Oshkosh Common Council in the upcoming elections. I want to give the citizens of Oshkosh the representation that they deserve and in doing this provide the taxpayers a more accountable voice when it comes to their money.

While on the subject of voice, I want to clarify the issue of the high tone of my voice, as several individuals have inquired about it. To clarify this issue it is related to an injury I experienced several years ago. So please “Hear my words and not the tone of my voice”. Coincidentally, I think it gets higher every year but not as rapidly as my tax bill.

My goal is to bring an open mind to the council and give the citizens of Oshkosh the voice they have long needed on the Council. The members of the Council will be faced with many issues such as downtown redevelopment, street/utility repairs and reduced state shared revenue only to name a few. Other factors may include pending legislation that will put restrictions on city spending. These are decisions that set the future direction of Oshkosh and need to be made with proper initial planning and long-term planning.

I never have been one to sit back and let others form an opinion for me without first considering all the factors myself. As an elected official I would ask questions and demand proper planning prior to my decision making.

I have been a resident of Oshkosh for the past 10 years having been raised in the DePere area. I’m employed by the State of Wisconsin at the Winnebago Correctional Center as the facility work release coordinator. My wife and I have one child and one on the way. I enjoy living in Oshkosh and look forward to an opportunity to help make Oshkosh a more exciting and attractive area to live.

I encourage voters to contact me with any questions they may have about the various issues surrounding myself or my stances on issues. Anyone interested in allowing me to place a yard sign in their yards would also be appreciated.

My contact information is or call 920-232-5401. Remember to please vote February 15, 2005 for Michael Domke. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hentz takes position on private endorsement surveys

On Jan. 10, 2005, I received the following letter from a group concerned about the direction our city is headed in. Because I think most of us are concerned with the direction Oshkosh is going, I felt it was important to post the letter and my response for all residents in the City of Oshkosh to read.
- Cheryl Hentz

(letter sent to candidates)
Dear Candidates,

Recently, a group of active city residents, business owners and managers formed Forward Oshkosh. We are concerned about the future direction of the city and created Forward Oshkosh to identify and support candidates for local office who share our basic philosophy of effective and efficient city administration.

We’ve listed a few questions for you. We are soliciting answers from every candidate for city council and mayor. We would appreciate your quick response. Forward Oshkosh will compare candidate’s responses and select and support candidates who best represent our city government philosophy. If you do not have a particular opinion about a question, don’t feel it is necessary to answer it. Concise and “to the point” answers are most appreciated.

1) What are your views of TABOR? What area (sic) of the city budget do you believe need to be increased and/or decreased?
2) What are your views of the current city administration? Which departments do you believe are operating well, and which departments do you think need improvement? (What improvements need to be made?)
3) What is the city government’s roll (sic) in economic development?
4) What are the 3 most important road projects that need to be addressed?
5) What should the City of Oshkosh’s top priorities be?

Please email or mail your responses by January 17th to Forward Oshkosh, PO Box 143, Oshkosh, WI 54903-0143 or if possible, we’d appreciate an emailed response to We look forward to hearing from you.

Forward Oshkosh Candidate Selection Committee
Ron Johnson
Ben Ganther
Paul Swanson
Jim Janes
Keith Pallnow

Authorized and paid for by the Forward Oshkosh PAC/Conduit, Keith Pallnow, Treasurer

(Hentz response, dated Jan. 11, 2005)
Dear Forward Oshkosh Candidate Selection Committee,

I am in receipt of your letter soliciting political positions from the current candidates for city council and mayor.

While I appreciate what you are trying to do, I don't know much about your group. Nor do I know if you share candidates' answers with ALL of your members, which is what groups like this really should do, in my opinion, rather than vetting through the responses and simply recommending to people who they should vote for. The Chamber of Commerce's method of operation is that of the latter and it really seems to somewhat usurp an individual's right to think for him or herself.

Your questions are interesting, however. As someone running for public office I seek to serve all people's interests. Therefore, in addition to what I stated in the preceding paragraph, I would like to see that all the citizens of Oshkosh have an opportunity to hear candidates' answers to these questions. To that end I must decline from answering for a specific group, but would respectfully request that you present these questions to the League of Women Voters for them to ask during the upcoming candidates' forum. That seems to be a better way of getting candidates' messages and positions out to the entire electorate.

Thank you again for sending me your questionnaire.

Cheryl Hentz
Candidate for the Oshkosh Common Council