Wednesday, September 28, 2005

County Sales Tax Calculator and Worksheet

Contributed by: Anonymous
Winnebago County Sales Tax Calculator and Worksheet
How will it affect me?
Enter the Assessed Value of Your Home:
Enter Your Yearly Household Income:

You will SAVE $- in county property tax over this budget.
You will PAY $- in county sales tax over this budget.

You will BREAK EVEN on the County Sales Tax

You will BREAK EVEN in the first year
You BREAK EVEN in the second year

Here's the Math:
Sales Tax Paid
Estimated amount of sales tax paid is calculated by the State of Wisconsin as a factor of 40% of your net household income
For the purposes of this exercise we used net income as 75% of gross. In reality it is probably less, and your sales tax paid would be less.
This amount is multiplied by $0.005 for the sales tax paid.
If passed, the tax would not kick in until April 1st, so we are looking at only 9 months of collection the first year.

Property Tax Savings
The resolution for the sales tax specifically states that there will be property tax savings - $0.40 per $1,000 in year 1 and $0.70 per $1,000 in the second. This will drop the rate from $5.67 to $4.77 per $1,000 of the homes value.

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council

We have all, no doubt, witnessed the debate during the past several months over the fishing pier donated to the city by the Otter Street Fishing Club. That debate was prompted in large part because of the proposed location of the pier in Millers Bay. Neighbors of that portion of Menominee Park also have expressed deep concern over the fact that they were never notified about the proposal for the bay area.

As a result of the lingering debate and ill-feelings on the part of many park neighbors, city councilor Meredith Scheuermann asked to have a dialogue with parks director Tom Stephany about when neighbors are notified and when they’re not. Prior to the Sept. 27 Common Council meeting, Mr. Stephany presented councilors with a memo in which he tried to outline the criteria he uses. Based on comments made at that council meeting, it didn’t sound like his memo was very clear. And his presentation before the council was no better.

When asked to explain how he decides when neighbors are notified and when they’re not, Stephany used phrases like “It depends…” and “I suppose…” Part of the criteria he said he uses is the scope or magnitude of the project; the time involved in the project; and the amount of money the project costs; but that’s not always the case, he added. He also said it usually depends on whether the park is a neighborhood park or a community park, adding that neighbors of neighborhood parks would probably be notified, while neighbors of community parks might not be. But he said that’s not always the case either and even added that some of our community parks are also considered regional parks. He also said that not only could Menominee Park - the park at the center of this dispute - be considered a community and regional park, but a neighborhood park, as well.

What the council and citizens were left with after Mr. Stephany’s rather rambling, and what seemed to be an almost “made-up-as-he-went-along” presentation, is that there apparently is no rhyme or reason as to when his department notifies neighbors of proposed projects that have the potential to affect their neighborhood and when it doesn't. Mr. Stephany told the council that he believes his department has done a pretty good job in the past of notifying and working with and involving neighbors. That may be true, but one cannot rest on their laurels, especially in this day and age. Nor does having a pretty good track record guarantee that such a contentious issue like the fishing pier will never again happen. That should be clear to everyone by now. Even Mr. Stephany seems to recognize that he and his staff need to be more cognizant of issues that could affect neighbors and take the appropriate steps. There must be some consistency, but under Mr. Stephany’s current method of operation, there seems to be none.

In concluding his statements, Mr. Stephany said he did not know that things with the fishing pier would blow up as they did, but he also stated he did not believe the matter was “rammed” through the political process. He may not have known things would “blow up” as they did, but the matter certainly was rammed through. It was discussed at a parks board meeting on a Monday and some 25 hours later it was in front of the city council for its approval. If that’s not “ramming” something through, I don’t know what is.

But kudos must be given to Ms. Scheuermann and fellow councilor Paul Esslinger for suggesting during the Sept. 27th meeting that Mr. Stephany bring to the parks board for its consideration, and eventually to the city council, a policy or set of guidelines by which the neighbors of any city park where there is a new project proposed, with a specific total dollar amount involved in that project, would be notified. City staff is also going to see how other communities handle similar situations, but as Mrs. Scheuermann pointed out, simply because other communities may not have such policies does not mean Oshkosh cannot establish one and actually be a leader for a change. After all, it does not take someone with a Harvard law degree to tell you that having policies and procedures to follow are never a bad thing and, in fact, will help keep you out of litigation more often than not. I, for one, will be curious to see where this goes in the future and hope the city eventually does the right thing to reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again.

- Cheryl Hentz

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

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: DRR on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 06:27 AM MDT
What he said is they will send notices to neighbors when they see a need. There is not set policy and he does not plan to have one unless he is forced to.

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 07:18 AM MDT
I accurately recapped the presentation and Mr. Stephany's statements. You are correct in that Mr. Stephany has no set policy for notification, yet he tried explaining the "criteria" he uses and he stumbled all over the place in doing so. He also said they have done a pretty good job of notifying people in the past. Well that doesn't cut it, DRR, and this is a perfect example of why it doesn't. I'm sure the neighbors who were not notified would agree with me.

As a result of Mr. Stephany using his own determination process rather than having a set policy, problems ensued. And now, following some council member requests, they are looking at the possibility of a formal type of notification policy. What harm can come from that, except a little more work for a mostly already overworked staff? By notifying abutting properties (i.e., the neighbors) much like other city departments notify residents when projects are forthcoming, it takes the guesswork for Mr. Stephany out of the equation and people aren't left being un-notified because HE didn't see the need. Need, after all, varies from person to person.

- Cheryl

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: DRR on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 07:52 AM MDT
I agree neighbors should be notified in some instances. What those instances are is what has to be determined. That will not be easy. Paul mentioned $5000.00 and above as an example. What about a $500.00 light that could impact neighbors?

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:46 AM MDT
You make a good point. There was also discussion about whether or not bathrooms should be included in the notifications. Maybe the policy should be that all new projects and/or improvements to projects where changes are being made or more than 50-percent of it is being redone, regardless of the dollar amount, should be noticed to the surrounding properties. That way it seems it would be fair to all the neighbors and all-encompassing for any and all projects.

- Cheryl

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 04:26 PM MDT
Maybe the director does not really want a policy and likies the way things are right now. I suggest we either attend or watch the next Parks Advisory Committee meeting.
The member of the committee who is part of the Otter Street Fishing Club and spoke against the idea of notifying the neighborhood will probably try and get either watered down or struch down.

The Parks director does not consider Menominee Park neighborhood park but yet all were contacted concerning "Little Oshkosh".

Nate Josephson

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: admin on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 04:53 PM MDT
I want to provide an update to my original post. I wrote that at the Common Council meeting Tuesday night parks director Tom Stephany said he does not believe this fishing pier project was "rammed through." I also made the point that the item appeared on a parks board agenda on Monday and the very next day was in front of the council for its consideration. That lends credence to people's belief that the project was hurried along.

But Mr. Stephany's own words in a June 8, 2005 memo to the Advisory Parks Board, of which I obtained a copy earlier today, show that Stephany not only knew that this project was being rushed through, but that he helped rush it along.

In that memo Mr. Stephany wrote: "Terry Wohler will provide more information at the meeting. Terry has requested that the project be 'fast-tracked,' as Otter Street would like to start work on the project ASAP. I have added this proposal to the City Council agenda for Tuesday, June 14th. I believe this to be a worthy project and recommend that the Parks Board support and approve the proposal."

How can Mr. Stephany say, in good conscience, that this project was not rushed through when he helped set the stage for it?

One other interesting note: In a June 9, 2005 memo to city manager Richard Wollangk, Mr. Stephany wrote: "It was not too many years ago that the Parks Department provided a small, temporary fishing deck off of New York Avenue - that deck was eliminated because of safety, aesthetic appeal, and issues with installing and removing it on an annual basis."

Mr. Stephany's comment begs an answer to this question: If there were safety and aesthetic concerns before, what has changed to make this so much more safe and aesthetically appealing now?

Mr. Stephany also states in that memo that "there have been requests for a permanent fishing structure off of New York as there are people that enjoy fishing at that location." How many requests has he received for such a pier? I have never seen people fishing down there and I frequently drive by that location. Perhaps it's just not at the time of day people are there, but I would think if it was such a hotbed of fishing activity, I surely would have seen somebody at some time. Others have made similar comments to me.

Let me state for the record, that I personally don't care where the pier goes and its location doesn't affect me in any shape, form or fashion. But I have difficulty with things when a process is subverted in one way or another, even just a little, and things are presented in what appears to be a disingenuous way. But if this truly is the best place in town for a fishing pier, I would think we'd also see some of the Otter Street Fishing Club members out there fishing on days they aren't out on the lake.

- Cheryl

Parks director fails to give suitable answers on notification issues to city council
Authored by: shors on Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 04:49 AM MDT
Thank you for this piece of information Cheryl.
I don't see people fishing along this area either with the exception of
about 1 week in spring when fish are spawning and they tend ot be
anywhere along the shoreline of the lake. I was quite surprised that
there has been a demand (according to Mr. Stephany) for a fishing
pier. I live across from Ames Point and it does not get used that
much. Given it is stated to be a "children's fishing" pier, have
children been demanding it? Mr. Stephany should provide his record
of demands.

I can't help but think there is some silly issue underlying all of this
because it now appears to be more like an old neighborhood fued
trying to be reactivated. I am wondering if a loooooooong time ago,
someone on Menominee Drive irritated Mr. Wohler and this was his
way of making a statement back. I continue to hear "those folks on
Menominee Drive don't want the pier in their front yard" and that is
the only thing this is about. I've lived at the far end of the Park (I
won't see the pier from my home) for a short 3 years and I know
within the past 5 years, there has been at minimum a half a dozen
other homeowner changes. Neighborhoods change. The folks who
disagree with the pier location are simply trying to preserve the last
remaining open space left in the park--it is what makes Lake
Winnebago so beautiful when you drive down New York Avenue and
Menominee Drive. Visitors from all over drive to see it when they are
in Oshkosh. There have never been any plans to change this open
area and rightly so. It is the pride of Oshkosh. Why doesn't Mr.
Wohler appreciate this area?

I think Mr. Wohler is living in the past. This is very sad and
inappropriate behavorior for a Parks Board Advisory member.


Kudos to Scheuermann and Esslinger: Change is a step in a positive direction.
Authored by: shors on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 04:49 PM MDT
Your perceptions of Mr. Stephany's presentation are right on. Kudos to
Council members Meredith Scheuermann and Paul Esslinger for trying
to get a better handle on whether or not the community have a voice
regarding changes in city parks etc. Setting a notification policy is a
step in a positive direction. Maybe the old boys network is coming to
a slow crawl?

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Pool

Contributed by: DRR
A month or so ago I asked why Mr. Esslinger was pushing so hard for the pool when there were so many unanswered questions. Cheryl you defended Paul saying all the questions had been answered. I stated the Fond du lac parks director stated it may cost $250,000.00 to run the pool. Paul said $50,000.00. While it was obvious to many of us the $50,000.00 was to low the city still ran with that figure. Afterall we have to start the pool asap. Sound fimiliar? Now we find out it will be $195,000.00 without the water. How could our Parks director miss it by so much? Will he be held accountable? Shame on you Paul for not holding the pool project to same standards as you held the Leach project.

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The Pool
Authored by: Jim B. on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 11:30 AM MDT
Not to pile on or anything, but if you review the thread I started August 23rd titled Pollock Pool, I asked where the $50,000 was coming from. I was dismissed by Mr Esslinger as not worthy of answering my ramblings. Cheryl came quickly to the defense of her friend by saying all questions have been answered! Now I ask again, where is the $195,000 coming from?

PS This question has nothing to do with the Leach ampitheater!!!

Jim B.

The Pool
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 12:13 PM MDT
I agree that the start-up costs for the Leach and the start-up costs for the pool are two completely different animals and shouldn't be compared. Again, the majority of funds were donated for the pool; that is hardly the case with the Leach. There is the biggest difference. When it comes to public-private partnerships, questions have to be answered. I still maintain that questions about the pool have been already been answered and everyone involved continues to restate the answers, which is a hell of a lot more than we had even months after the Leach was ram-rodded through. We still don't seem to have some answers about the Leach and its operation. Therein lies another major difference. Again, the two cannot be compared.

The Pool
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 04:21 PM MDT

Are you naturally stupid or do you work hard at it.

It has been stated, several times that there will be several sources that will repay the operation costs.

Now, do you homework and find the sources that will pay the costs back. (hint: They're listed on this post somewhere by someone that actually knows what's going on.)

If you find them, and list them, you'll get a gold star for the day!

Shame on Paul for not holding this project to the same standards as the Leach? Shame on you for making yourself look so foolish!

The Pool
Authored by: DP on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 09:07 PM MDT
Other than admissions and concessions I don't know what other sources there would be. Maybe a gift shop or something.

If I understand correctly, the Foundations endowment is not set up to help with operations...that is for long term upkeep and maintainance. Also, for subsidizing low income attendees.

The Pool
Authored by: DP on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 11:32 AM MDT
I hope the "start up costs" were researched a little bit better than the future operating costs. I remember more than once Burk Tower asking about these costs and never receiving a complete answer from our city manager.

I also remember hearing that the $93 million in potential debt that the council approved would be used for capital improvements...essential things...namely ROADS. I was assured that the council would have to vote on using this bonding and that it would be done responsibly. they're going to use the bonding for the upstart costs for the pool. While that is a captial improvement, is it responsible?? I guess that's only an opinion.

The bigger question is, where are they going to come up with the operating cash to support this waterpark? I hope they at least discuss this before they pass it tomorrow. Otherwise we may be contemplating shutting it down in a couple of years because we can't afford to operate it.

The Pool
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 12:04 PM MDT
What Paul has said from the beginning, based on what he was told by city administration, is that it may cost the the city budget as much as $50,000 a year. When you subtract out the daily fees or seasonal passes, concessions, etc., that figure is still possible.

If the money needed turns out to be nowhere close to what parks director Tom Stephany has suggested, then I agree, he needs to be held accountable. Park operations are his area of expertise and he should be able to give us some fairly accurate numbers for the operation of such a facility. If he cannot do his job, then perhaps he shouldn't have it. That's the way it is is the private sector.

- Cheryl

The Pool
Authored by: DP on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 01:26 PM MDT
I agree that Paul and some people thought that $50k would be the amount that would have to be made up from city funds...however, I know that a lot of people didn't understand it that way.

I hope it will only be a $50k shortfall.

The Pool
Authored by: tthiel on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 02:25 PM MDT
Technically I don't think you can deduct the cost paid by the school district and say "the rest" will come from tax dollars since any money the school district would contribute is also tax dollars, just not dollars levied by the City of Oshkosh.

The Pool
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 02:29 PM MDT
Teresa, I think we all understand the money from the school district is tax dollars - whether directly from taxes, grants or what have you. What we have been specifically talking about is that amount of money which is left over at the end of the year and not covered by any other source or entity.
- Cheryl

The Pool
Authored by: tthiel on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 04:25 PM MDT

The way the following was written (it says by admin.) does not make it clear that the school district's contribution is actually tax dollars... you state that it is not all coming from tax dollars and then list the school district as something that must be deducted from the operating figure. I don't think that amount should be deducted from the operating costs because anything the school district contributes is still taxpayer money.

by Admin.
"The number presented by the paper was a total cost of what it's going to cost to run the pool but that doesn't mean it's all coming from tax dollars. The money derived from each of these things - ticket prices, daily passes, concessions, school district, etc. - must be deducted from that top-dollar operating figure."

I do support the school district recreation department providing lifeguards, but only if the funds for that come only from the recreation department budget and NOT from the general operating funds of the school district. Also, if the recreation department contributes more than the $40,000 the newspaper reported they budgeted for lifeguards at County Park that will result in a levy increase unless they cut other parts of their budget to provide the additional funding.

T. Thiel

The Pool
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 07:14 PM MDT
Teresa, I think you are getting hung up on semantics and, therefore, missing the overall point of the discussion here. If one wants to get truly technical, we could say that most things a governmental body provides come from tax dollars, including Community Deveopment Block Grant monies or other grant monies an entity receives from other sources. I do apologize if it was unclear to you or anyone else what I meant in this particular instance. But I think most everyone has understood that we are talking about the amount not covered by tickets, concessions, the school district (from whichever pocket it comes from), etc. You can refer to different threads on this and other web sites for a complete listing of what all the various revenue sources are. But again, for purposes of this discussion, we are talking about - and have been all along - the figure that is left over when all those things are deducted. That is the sum total of what will supposedly have to come from the city's operating budget. I hope this is more clear now.

- Cheryl

The Pool
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 02:30 PM MDT
I am not sure why they did not understand it as was presented. There have been numerous newspaper articles done on this; Paul has appeared on Eye on Oshkosh discussing it in great detail; he has explained it on this and other web sites; and people from both the city and Foundation have explained it in detail in a variety of venues. Maybe those who don't understand it simply don't want to understand it. But for what it's worth, I, too, hope what the taxpayers have to pay is only about $50,000.

The other point that needs to be made in regards to this morning's newspaper article was that the figure presented was based on lifeguards being paid at the very high end of the pay scale, when in fact, the man from Pollock Pool said that would not be the case. The number presented by the paper was a total cost of what it's going to cost to run the pool but that doesn't mean it's all coming from tax dollars. The money derived from each of these things - ticket prices, daily passes, concessions, school district, etc. - must be deducted from that top-dollar operating figure. What is left is what the taxpayers will have to pay for annually. That is my understanding of how this is going to work.

- Cheryl

The Pool
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 01:44 PM MDT
I think they took the $50,000 figure becuae that waht the Oshkosh Recreation Department had used in the past for lifeguards at Pollock and at the County Beach. But this new "water park" has to use much more personnel to staff the facility - lifeguards and concession are workers.

Is the Oshkosh Rec. Dept. suppose to man in year round. Remember that the group wanted it open in winter for people going down garabage hill.

Is this best site for this -would not it be better off in the center of the city- where it be an attraction to maybe lure another hotel downtown.

And the fees have not been agreed upon yet- remember there is added surcharge of .25 per admission and $1 per pass already placed on it to go towards the endownment. The group also wants to set aside amount for lower income families can attend - who will determine that.

Nate Josephson

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Note to the, “not-in-my-back-yarders,” who oppose the Millers Bay fishing pier

Contributed by: fmc6338
The controversy of the millers bay pier reminds me of the classic nimbi struggle against the community. The choice is clear, either construct a fishing pier that many working class people can enjoy, or be pushed around by people who do not want their view obstructed. The argument put forth by Teri Shore and company is a simple strong-arm tactic designed to prolong and confuse the construction of a simple fishing pier. The argument that ice flows will wreck the pier does not take into account the existing pier structures that have weathered many a Wisconsin winter. The argument that seagulls will take over the pier ignores several simple technologies available such as a simple device called a Bird Spider, which can be used to deter seagulls from calling the pier home. I have been an environmentalist for 25 years and have fought many a battle against numerous foolhardy endeavors and I do not believe building a simple fishing pier for all to enjoy is one of them. The simple truth is, the opposition to the pier at millers bay is based on a “not in my back yard “, mentality.

Frank Mcandless
Progressive and long time Green Party supporter.

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

Note to the, “not-in-my-back-yarders,” who oppose the Millers Bay fishing pier
Authored by: Jim B. on Wednesday, September 21 2005 @ 03:21 PM MDT
I am not so sure this is as cut and dry as you say. As I stated in a previous post I think there is definitely somewhat of a "not in my backyard" mentality. However, many against this "gift" do not even live near the proposed site. Below are questioins that I think are relevant to this issue:

1. Who came up with this as a site for the pier? Why is this the best place for this? Who is pushing for this pier other than Otter Street? Is the public pushing for this pier?

2. Why is this all of a sudden so important since it is not included in the long term Menominee Park plan?

3. How does the proposed pier change from a 100 feet long with 100 feet "T" to 120 without any further discussion?

4. Should parking have been a consideration in the approval process?

5. How does the Council give their approval without seeing design proposals?

6. Is it logical to accept every "gift" to the city as is?

7. Why not involve the neighboring citizens in the process?

8. If this is such a good fishing spot, why don't we see people already fishing from the shore?

9. Is it necessary to add a structure to a part of the park that has been kept relatively the same for many years?

10. Is a pier designed for children and the disabled without proper lighting, railings(wires only), and no close bathroom facilities a good idea?

Jim B.

Note to the, "not-in-my-back-yarders," who oppose the Millers Bay fishing pier
Authored by: fmc6338 on Thursday, September 22 2005 @ 11:41 PM MDT
I think it is human nature to fuss over things we have control over. For example, we have control over smokers not SUV’s and coal fired power plants. So in order to deal with air quality issues we ban smoking and never deal with the health effects of our energy use. I do not think it was smokers, which caused the DNR to put out a critical air quality alert for southern half of Wisconsin the week of the 12th of September.
I agree the local council is filled with greedy buffoons only out to further their own resumes, but I think with this fishing pier it’s a simple issue of home owners not wanting their view obstructed. Many of these people claim green space issues, or split hairs about railings and ice flows. Railings, and ice flow issues, are all problems with simple solutions. The green space issue is a little more complex and I would propose looking at the urban sprawl growth on the west side is the real culprit behind the loss of green space. But, like I mentioned earlier banning smoking under the guise of air quality improvement belies the real culprit our energy usage. The same hold true with green space issues it is easier to split hairs on a simple fishing pier than to deal with urban sprawl, Little piss-ant issues such as not building a pier gives us a sense of control over issues we care about, but it does not benefit any of us to constantly squabble over simple problems, while the bourgeoisie in this town run roughshod over all the critical issues facing this community

War Is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Authored by: admin on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 03:54 PM MDT
I understand what you are saying, Frank, but I think that many of the arguments these folks have presented make sense. It doesn't matter if those arguments were the impetus for their arguments or not. The fact is they have concerns.

In addition, the neighbors should have been notified about this project, just as so many neighbors to other proposed projects in this city are. But even if they would be concerned solely with this being in their neighborhood, so what? They have purchased property in a pristine area with a view and with some expectation that the view will remain there unaltered. In the event that view changes, so might the value of their property. That alone is valid cause for neighbors to be concerned.

- Cheryl

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: shors on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 06:31 PM MDT
Thank you for your post Cheryl,
I have only lived in Oshkosh for 8 years. This is the first city issue in
which I have chosen to voice myself. I'm trained as a scientist---a
linear thinker. I have been quite surprised by the urgency expressed
by Tom Stephany and Terry Wohler -- that there is only one possible
location for this pier (off of New York Ave).

Terry Wohler, a member of the Park's Advisory Board commented at
the Common Council meeting that the pier could not be located off of
Melvin Street (which would be nearer to restroom facilities and
parking--a location suggestion by Atty. Chuck Williams) because the
residents in the Melvin street neighborhood "have guns." What is that
all about? Isn't this inappropriate language and thought for a Parks
Advisory Board member? What is this suppose to mean in relationship
to residents on Menominee Drive? I found Mr.Wohler to be a loose
cannon who is not functioning appropriately in his role as a Parks
Advisory Board member.
Teri Shors

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: admin on Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 08:39 PM MDT
Thank you for your words, Teri. I agree that Terry Wohler did not present himself very well. He referred to people on the "opposite end of the pier" by their last names only, and in a very sarcastic, almost deparaging manner at that. It is obvious he has a difficult time separating his position as a Parks Advisory Board member from his position as a member in the Otter Street Fishing Club.

I have maintained all along that the Otter Street group has done wonderful things for this community and I, for one, am grateful for those contributions. But Mr. Wohler needs to take off his fishing club hat and put on that of an advisory board member when he is acting in that capacity - and vice versa.

Speaking of that, I am in the process of trying to secure minutes from the June 13 Parks Advisory Board meeting to see whether or not Mr. Wohler abstained from the vote on the fishing pier. Under state law, he would not have to unless he has a financial interest in the project; but perception is everything. He is a member of a group making a donation of tens of thousands of dollars to the city and serves on the very board that advises the city council on whether or not to approve proposed parks projects. Financial interests notwithstanding, from an ethical and moral standpoint Mr. Wohler should have abstained and it will be interesting to see if he did or not.

By the same token, Mayor William Castle should have abstained when the item came before the city council. After all, he lives in the very area where this fishing pier has been proposed. As with Mr. Wohler, Bill Castle may not have a direct financial interest in this pier, but one could argue that inasmuch as his property values could potentially be affected by it, there is a financial interest of sorts that exists. At a minimum, like with Mr. Wohler, Mr. Castle should have abstained for ethical and moral reasons. But then again, since when do matters of ethics and morals seem to matter to Mr. Castle. After all, this is the same man who discussed city business on the golf course with his close friend and owner of a construction company that was later given a contract by the city - without going through the bid process - and Castle never abstained on that vote either. Go figure!

One final note, Mr. Wohler told the city council last night that the people on Menominee Drive don't own the park and he wanted the city to tell them that they don't own it. Newsflash: the Otter Street Fishing Club doesn't own the park either, regardless of how much money and sweat equity they may have put into it (and other parts of the city) over the years.

- Cheryl

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: Jim B. on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 07:48 AM MDT
Has the DNR approved the permit yet? I have seen nothing about the status of that.

Also, a question I raised earlier in this thread. Other than Mr. Wohler(Otter Street), who is in favor of this pier? I have not seen a huge public outcry to get this done!!

Jim B.

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: admin on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 10:08 AM MDT
Jim B, the DNR has not yet approved the construction permit, but I think we can probably assume they will. As I understand it, there is then a period for appealing that decision.

You asked who, besides Mr. Wohler, is in favor of this pier. I think it's obvious the entire Otter Street Fishing Club is in favor of it. It's also pretty apparent that Tom Stephany is in favor of it.

In fact, someone privately commented to me that the pier was actually Mr. Stephany's idea and that he approached the fishing club. They also thought a couple other things were pretty fishy - no pun intended. Those things were: (a) Why was this project worded so weirdly on the meeting agenda (i.e., calling it a fishing deck instead of a fishing pier)? Was that done intentionally so as not to arouse any suspicions? (b) Who else other than Tom Stephany would have known how to push this through the political process within a 25 or 26 hour window? It is doubtful the members of the fishing club would know the technical ins and outs of the process and the nuances involved with the timing of this item, the person suggested to me.

When these things were first mentioned to me, I had to admit I had not thought much about them previously. But their questions/concerns do have some merit.

One concern I have with Tom Stephany is that councilman Paul Esslinger publicly asked city manager Dick Wollangk to have Mr. Stephany set up a meeting between the two parties - I would assume those parties would be Terry Wohler and Chuck Williams. Mr. Stephany later asked Paul if he still wanted him to do that and Paul answered in the affirmative. To date that meeting has not happened. Mr. Wohler himself mentioned this proposed meeting during his comments to the city council Tuesday night, but it is not Mr. Williams who is supposed to be calling him; it's parks director Stephany. So why hasn't that happened? What has Tom Stephany been waiting for? It doesn't take much to pick up a phone and make a couple phone calls. Had that meeting already occurred perhaps some of this animosity and bitterness could have been avoided. Now it almost seems like a futile effort.

But for what it's worth, I have invited Chuck Williams to appear on Eye on Oshkosh and he is willing to have a discussion with Mr. Wohler in that venue. Our intent is not to promote a verbal fisticuffs on the set, but rather a good discussion whereby the parties might reach a common understanding. Several attempts to reach Mr. Wohler last night only resulted in getting repeated busy signals. I will keep trying to reach him, however, and see if we can't get a dialogue going between the two sides.

- Cheryl

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: Jim B. on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 12:11 PM MDT
Thanks for the insight Cheryl! For clarification, putting Otter Street Fishing club in parenthesis after Mr. Wohlers name meant that he represents them and they support this. Besides Mr. Stephany and Otter Street, who else thinks this is a good idea? That was were I was going with that question. We have seen both Mr. Stephany and Otter Street, but that is it on the Pro side.

Anyway, one thought that came to mind is Otter Street wants this for their Winter Fisheree. It is purely speculation, but that area is somewhat of a staging area for that event.

As far as Castle, he has been very quiet on this issue one way or the other. I agree he should have abstained! Wonder if he really wants that pier there literally in his front yard???

Jim B.

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: shors on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 12:31 PM MDT
During his comments to the Common Council, Terry Wohler referred
to me as "that woman on Bay Shore Drive" who wrote the letter to
the Editor of the Northwestern regarding the fishing pier. I'm that
woman but I do have a name and credentials and I don't live on Bay
Shore Drive. I assume I must have rattled his cage. Perhaps I have
not been here long enough for his acknowledgement as a person with
a name?

I think a civil discussion presented on Eye On Oshkosh is an excellent
idea. Chuck Williams has been diplomatic throughout this
controversial issue. His support of the preservation of green space in
Menominee Park and preserving the Coles Bashford House in Oshkosh
is admiirable. I hope Terry Wohler can collect himself. Frankly, I will
be surprised if he shows up.
Teri Shors ("that woman")

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: DRR on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 02:02 PM MDT
Mr. Wohler often conducts himself in the same unprofessional manner during parks committee meetings. He resorts to name calling and sarcasm when things do not go his way.

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: Spartanman on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 12:23 PM MDT
Mr. Terry Wohler represents the "Otter Street Fishing Club". This is a very political powerful group in the city of Oshkosh. I do believe that for local elections, they put out a "voters guide" on whom to vote for in their eyes. Remember, that Terry Wohler is "typical Oshkosh" he might be a little crude and rough, but a powerful political voice in the city of Oshkosh. You had better pay him respect or you'll pay the price.

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: DRR on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 12:43 PM MDT
You earn respect based on actions and behavior. You don't get respected based on the fishing club you belong to.

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: admin on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 01:13 PM MDT
Excellent point, DRR. Indeed, the group does wonderful things for the community and probably has a fair amount of political clout. But that is never a reason for someone to compromise their principles or beliefs. That is simply not what self-respecting public and elected officials who have integrity do. Besides, there should be a distinction between political clout and political muscle.

As a side note, I spoke with Terry Wohler yesterday about coming on the show with attorney and park neighbor Chuck Williams to discuss the fishing pier issue. He declined, saying he works shift work and would be unavailable that evening. I offered him the opportunity to have someone else from the club come on, but he said no one else would be interested and that he is the one who usually speaks on issues.

I would think the club president could be just as good a spokesman, but Wohler indicated he didn't even need to ask anyone else. He also said that he didn't think it would make for a very good show, anyway, because he felt it would just get nasty. That wouldn't be the case as long as both parties could control themselves. But he can't appear and has chosen not to ask anyone else. As a result, the Otter Street Fishing Club will not have their position represented on this particular show, despite our efforts.

- Cheryl

Terry Wohler's pier defense
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 02:45 PM MDT
It appears Mr. Wohler either has something to hide, or is afraid the other gentleman that will be on the show for the other side will tear him limb from limb.

Mr. Wohler likes to point out that the people that live near the park don't own the property, and therefore somehow shouldn't have a say what happens in the park. I would like to remind Mr. Wohler that neither he nor the Otter Street Fishing club own the park either.

Both sides should be heard, and a decision should be made on where the pier/dock should go based on logic and rational thinking. It appears Mr. Wohler wants to throw around the weight of the Otter Steet Fishing Club, but not explain why they want it in that particular location.

Mr. Wohler should show a little more respect for the neighbors near the park. And for that matter, he should show more respect to people in general.

I wonder how Mr. Wohler would feel if something was brought to the Parks Board, passed, sent to the Council, and passed in a matter of 25 hours that was detrimental to the Otter Street Fishing Club? I bet he'd be singing a different tune!

Where is George Curtis?
Authored by: shors on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 08:40 PM MDT
I attended the open DNR hearing regarding the fishing pier. Atty
George Curtis started the comment period. He said he represented
the Otter Street Fishing Club and mentioned all of the wonderful
things the club had done and then turned to the DNR representative
and said "can I leave now?" He left without fully appreciating the
location choice and design of the pier which Stephany rifled (pun
intended) through the Park's Advisory Board and Common Council
without any notification to area residents. He had no idea that
Stephany and the Club had not done their homework.

Where is George Curtis now? He silence tells us much. This
"children's fishing pier" has not been designed to be safe for children
and handicapped individuals and the location choice is a selfish one
with no rational justification. Instead Wohler states it has to be there
there because the residents on Melvin street have guns and they don't
want a pier in their front yard. The Club nor the residents own the
park. This is a public park with a proposed privately built structure.
The City Council needs to step up to the plate on this one. They
should not wait for the DNR to make their decision.

Teri Shors

Where is George Curtis?
Authored by: admin on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 09:00 PM MDT
I will be promoting this in another section of this site, but for all those interested, in addition to Chuck Williams coming on the show, City Councilor and parks board member Bryan Bain has agreed to come on the show and speak about the issue as well. And because my co-host Tony Palmeri has professional obligations that evening, another city councilor, Paul Esslinger, has graciously agreed to fill in for him. So we will have two council members to shed some light on this during that show. I encourage folks to send me questions to ask. Please send them to me ASAP so I have time to get them all together for that evening (Oct. 6).

- Cheryl

Meeting Questions
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 04:24 AM MDT
1. Residents have suggested other locations for the proposed pier
such as across from Melvin street (near parking and restroom
facilities), near the water filtration plant (area where the giant Schur
statue is), Rainbow park etc. Why have these locations not been
considered and what are the arguments against a pier in these
alternative areas?
2. Given that on a previous show, Esslinger admitted what happened
with this issue was tragic, why doesn't the City Council rescind their
vote and reconsider other locations and options for pier design?
3. Apparently the club has changed their pier design to be a flat pier
with bumpers (I believe reasoning is that this would be less
obstructive visually). Have they changed their stand on this being a
children's fishing pier?
4. Where is George Curtis? (see prior thread)
5. Is the city liable for accidents which occur on the pier? My
impression is that the city has immunity from playgrounds. But do
they have immunity from a child getting hurt on this pier in a public
park? This is a confusing issue and one that several residents brought
up at the DNR hearing. Who is liable?
6. If this pier is built in Miller's Bay, will the city add lights, railing,
reflectors? Have these costs been calculated? Have maintenance costs
for the pier been determined? Even if the pier is not damaged, it will
need to be power-washed to reduce seagull guano from accumulating
on it (Cheryl--please observe the sailboat pier at any time you will
find it full of seagull guano. Stephany says it is power-washed weekly.
I've never seen a clean pier and I walk the Park nearly every day).

This should be enough to get their neurons firing. :)

Teri Shors

Another Meeting Question
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 05:30 AM MDT
Thank you for organizing this meeting Cheryl. It is the perfect
opportunity to inform the residents of Oshkosh about a controversial

I have one more question for the meeting. I realize that you will ever
have time for the questions I have sent but at least it informs you on
some of the issues. I've been following this for some time and this
may help you gain a better understanding for what has happened.

This should be directed to Bryan Bain. Is the reason why the Council
backed off on rescinding their vote beccause they found out prior to
the meeting that the wood for the pier had been purchased. For this
reason, they were concerned that they would be sued for any costs
already occurred with this project (the wood purchase)? Why would
this be an issue? The Club required a DNR permit. Therefore, the
wood was purchased prematurely.


Seagull droppings are not funny.
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 06:10 AM MDT
Mayor Castle and Burk Tower found the issue of seagull guano rather
humorous when I commented on this at the Common Council meeting.
Since I have seen no plans for the originally proposed pier, I assume
it would be similar to the sailboat pier and we do know it will be made
of wood (which seagulls love, they stay away from metal). The pier
is likely to be another gull attractant, like the sailboat pier.

I wonder if they would be willing to sit and eat and play on the
sailboat pier like a child would? I sincerely doubt any parent would
allow their child to fish on a pier laden with droppings. This pier may
never be used by humans.

Seagull droppings contain E. coli and other microbes. Avian influenza
has been isolated from seagulls for over 40 years. Given the world
news is loaded with stories on avian flu creating the next pandemic, I
would hope they can appreciate and recognize this. The chances of
avian flu from the park seagulls is remote but not impossible. E. coli
is the larger threat. E. coli infections in children can be life-

Adult Gulls are monogamous and will breed for up to 15 years of their
lifespan returning to the same spot every year to nest. Each year they
are capable of raising three young. At 3 years old the young
themselves are able to breed and will return to their birthplace and
fight their parents for the same nest site. Do the maths ! Over 15
years it is possible for a pair of gulls to replicate themselves 22 times
over. All of these gulls will grow up and remain in your local area with
very few natural predators to keep them in check.

Mr. McCandless suggests trapping these birds which will require a
speciial permit. Does he then propose trapping gulls each year and
killing them? This sounds like an expensive way to maintain the
fishing pier. Is it ethical and is it a stand an enironmentalist would
take? Kill the birds so you can fish?

Trapping and killing the seagulls requires: a permit (because gulls are
protected by a 1918 treaty) traps, people, disposal etc. every year.
This means higher maintenance costs for the city. How much money
does our city have to maintain the Parks projects?

This issue is largely ignored but it is still out there for people to


Seagull droppings are not funny.
Authored by: Jim B. on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 06:28 AM MDT

Between Teri Shors questions and mine in the above thread, I think you have more han enough for a whole shows or segments worth.

I am still curious how this pier is not part of the long range plan but was ram rodded through????

If it is true that wood has already been purchased for this project, I think someone has put the cart before the horse.

I have never considered the Otter Street Fishing Club a voting bloc, but based on how many people actually vote in Oshkosh they could be influential. Does anybody know the membership numbers for the club?

Jim B.

Seagull droppings are not funny.
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 06:41 AM MDT
600 members and it seems to be a secret club. As somewhat of a
newbie to Oshkosh, I have found it impossible to learn who is a
member of this club. Wohler is their only spokesperson. I did find an
old web page pertaining to the club at:

I don't knwow if their newsletter is made available to nonmembers or
if it is still being produced.


How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 06:50 AM MDT
The resolution for the pier was carefully worded. It was so vague and
probably appeared as no threat---it was called a deck/pier and a
generous gift. I assume this was Stephany's proposal?

The resolution can be found at this site:

NOTE: the link doesn't necessarily work with Internet Explorer. It does work with


How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: Jim B. on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 11:19 AM MDT
I wouldnt call it a secret club. Just go down to Jerry's Bar on Ceape, and Iam sure you can find some members any time of day. The owner, Scott Engel is often quoted in the Northwestern as a spokesman for Otter Street. Although I don't know him personally, he has always been accommodating and open for discussion.

Jim B.

How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: admin on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 11:27 AM MDT
Because he has been quoted as a spokesman for the group, I wonder why Terry Wohler wouldn't even ask him to come on the show since he personally couldn't make it.

Incidentally, for those interested parties, there is a meeting at Jerry's Bar on Ceape Street Monday night at 6 p.m. between the Otter Street Fishing Club, the neighbors and the city council members. Why it is being held where the club meets and not on some neutral ground is beyond me, but inasmuch as this is a public meeting to discuss an issue concerning a public park, I would encourage any interested citizens to show up if they can make it.

- Cheryl

Fishing Pier Meeting held in the Club house next to Gerry's Bar Monday night, October 3rd 6 pm
Authored by: shors on Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 11:44 AM MDT
Just a quick note, I believe the scheduled meeting between the
Council, Otter Street Fishing Club and concerned residents will be in
the Club house next to Gerry's Bar.........not Gerry's Bar. I hope to
see some you there. I've heard it announced in either place but I
think it's suppose to be in the Club house.

Fishing Pier Meeting held in the Club house next to Gerry's Bar Monday night, October 3rd 6 pm
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 07:52 PM MDT
On the night of a Packer game-- great timing

Nate Josephson

Fishing Pier Meeting held in the Club house next to Gerry's Bar Monday night, October 3rd 6 pm
Authored by: shors on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 06:53 AM MDT
Maybe it'll be a fast discussion since it is Packer night?

How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: shors on Saturday, October 01 2005 @ 12:40 PM MDT
Well, that is good to know. Wohler has been telling some individuals
that he is the only spokesperson for the Club. It's hard to find out
who belongs to the Club. Right now I know Wohler, Mosher and Engel
are members. Do they let women join?


How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:04 PM MDT
Can someone give us a review of the meeting on Monday night? The Northwestern had a story without much substance.

Jim B.

How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 08:13 AM MDT
Maybe if you were at the meeting Jim B, you'd have a clue of what's going on.

How did it get past the City Council?
Authored by: Jim B. on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 10:02 AM MDT
Maybe if I didnt have prior commitment I would have been there. But thanks for calling me out!!! Not that it is any of your business Dose, but my commitment was taking part in the City Academy. This is a nine week program to learn more about the workings of the city and its infrastructure. Since I commited to that in August, I didnt think it would be appropriate to miss a week.

Thanks again for adding your useful comments to the discussion!!

Jim B.

Overview of the Monday Fishing Pier Meeting
Authored by: shors on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 06:16 PM MDT
If anyone has offered their re-cap of the meeting, I am sorry for
being redundant.

I attended the meeting. Meredith Scheuermann acted as a mediator.
Esslinger, Bain and Mayor Castle were also there. A local radio station
person was there and Amanda W.,a Northestern reporter.

This basically turned into an information meeting and open discussion.
Wohler, Stephany, Engel and Mosher were there. Wohler was his usual
self: rude and disrespectful, especially toward women. The Otter
group sat in front, often snickering and not paying attention to the
concerns of residents. They began by stating the NY location was the
only possible location for the pier. They stated Miller's Bay was in
their backyard and they wanted this fishing site in their backyard.
They are using the idea of it as a children's fishing pier to justify this

Residents voiced their concerns over a number of safety issues
including lack of lighting, restrooms and parking, the effect the pier
would have on the scenic beauty of Millers Bay, seagull invasion
etc.etc. They voiced their opinions on many issues. Everyone should
recognize that Mr. Wohler is unprofessional and should resign from the
Parks Board. He has a conflict of interest. Does anyone know why he
has a tatoo of an elderly woman on his arm?

One resident asked Mr.Wohler if the donation money was the result of
a swearing cup.

It was evident that the pier location and idea was created by
Stephany and Wohler. There is no documentation of need. They just
want it, plain and simple.

Chuck Williams and a local fisherman made many good points why the
pier should not be located at the NY site. Wohler didn't want to hear
it. It's already been built in their minds.

Toward the end of the meeting, Esslinger asked the main Otter Street
Fishing members if they would compromise on another location. Some
said no or they would want to put it across from Nevada street (which
would also block the scenic view and be even farther away from
facilites and parking etc.). It was a rather vindictive suggestion.

Bain said nothing. He must play it safe since he voted for it via the
Parks Board and Common Council.

Scheuermann tried hard to maintain focus and keep the meeting
cordial and informative.

Castle said he did not see the new design of the pier from C.R.Meyer.
How could he? He approved a pier with no plans.

Cheryl Laatsch, DNR Water Management Specialist was there. She
was very informative and stayed neutral. She stated the DNR had not
made a decision to regarding the permit and was hoping to make the
decision by the end of the month.

Since fall is approaching, it appears that the pier may not go in this
year. Even if the permit is granted, residents will appeal their

So---all in all, not much really happened other than the fact that
there has been much time and effort put into this ---all because the
citiizens were never allowed any input. Stephany slyly pushed it
through and the Council will not rescind their vote because the Otter
Club has already purchased the wood. They do not want to be sued
for this expenditure. It seems premature to me that they would
purchase the wood before the permit was granted---I'm not a
lawyerbut it seems to me that they purchased the wood at their own
risk and wouldn't be liable but maybe since they passed the pier
resolution, it meant they could buy the wood.

So--that's the scoop. Cheryl Hentz was there. She may also re-cap
this. Everyone views the world through their own eyes and ears so I
would suggest you get more than one re-cap of the meeting. I'm a
scientist and try to be straightforward but others may not interpret the
meeting as I have.

All of the Council members will probably admit that denying the
residents an opinion regarding the pier was tragic. None will amend
their mistakes. They are waiting for the DNR to make a decision for
them. Cheryl Laatsch has the burden of denying or approving the
permit. If she denies it, she will be breaking new ground with the
DNR. I think it is safe to say her decision is an unknown but Wohler
and Co. are determined to get it in as soon as possible. They are on
a mission.


Overview of the Monday Fishing Pier Meeting
Authored by: Jim B. on Thursday, October 06 2005 @ 06:53 PM MDT
Thanks for the review Teri. Can the neighbors appeal the decision by the DNR if it is approved?

This thing seems like it has been a boondoggle from the beginning. Why are council members not making a bigger effort to rescind this vote? This seems like a perfect example of a special interest group attempting to push their agenda on everyone else.

Jim B.

Overview of the Monday Fishing Pier Meeting
Authored by: admin on Thursday, October 06 2005 @ 11:54 PM MDT
Jim, the DNR's decision can be appealed, and most liekly will be - at least if the decision is to approve the pier. I cannot speak for what the Otter Street Fishing Club may do.

As far as the city council rescinding the vote, they surely could, but after talking to both Bryan Bain and Paul Esslinger during last night's show taping, it does not sound like that is going to happen. Paul has said he does not feel that the Otter Street Fishing Club has done anything wrong and has gone through all the necessary steps to get the pier approved. He and Bryan both said, however, that they felt the notification process and hastiness of the approval process was handled very poorly and measures need to be taken to safeguard against this kind of thing happening in the future.

It was brought up on the show that the Otter Street Fishing Club has perhaps already purchased wood for the pier and might have a claim against the city if the council rescinded its vote - to which I replied that the club should never have purchased wood, nails or anything else until the DNR granted the permit. Any purchases they made prior to getting the approval (on which we're still waiting for a decision) would have been premature. Attorney Chuck Williams agreed with me by saying that is a very good argument.

The show was very informative and I hope people will get something out of it. I would also like to say that it would be wonderful if the two sides could come to some kind of agreement - something they each could live with, but such a compromise does not seem likely. That is the other unfortunate piece to this issue: to have adults who are so hell-bent in their own beliefs that they refuse to bend even just a little to meet each other halfway for the betterment and enjoyment of everyone in the community.

Overview of the Monday Fishing Pier Meeting
Authored by: shors on Friday, October 07 2005 @ 04:06 AM MDT
Even though the wood has been purchased, it can be returned. This is
an old boys network and these guys are trying to give themselves
business. I believe Noffke Lumber is providing the wood (How
convenient for the club president, Doug Mosher who owns or works at
Nomke's). Anyone ever notice that C.R. Meyer does much of the
building for the City? They created the 2nd pier design for the Otter
Club. Remember there was a group of people upset that bids did not
go out for the Water Park and C. R. Meyer got the job.............

There were boxes of printing materials at the Otter Street Club Fishing
Club which said Castle-Pierce Printing--------another conflict of
interest for Mayor Castle?

Perhaps only the good that may come out of this is that readers here
will not vote for some of these individuals again and they can be
phased out of city government and lose their power.

This just gets sicker....................

Overview of the Monday Fishing Pier Meeting
Authored by: shors on Friday, October 07 2005 @ 04:20 AM MDT
The best compromise would be either the Melvin Street proposal by
Williams or other locals in the city of Oshkosh outside of Millers Bay
mentioned by other residents. These sites shouldn't have ice shove
problems. Wohler says no to the Melvin street location because
neighbors across from Melvin have guns. I don't see what the big deal
is---neighbors across from that area look into the high activity area.
The view is already obstructed. This site offers restrooms and parking.
That is the best compromise if it has to be in Menominee Park.

Brian Poeschel commented at the last city council meeting that when
he served on the Parks Board, there were no plans to add more to
Menominee Park because it was too full already. Also---there is
nothing in the Park Plan regarding addition of structures to Miller's
Bay---that should be something Bain and Esslinger should also be
reminded of----no one pulled out the Park Plan. The Council should
be aware of the Parks Plan. Stephany pushed it through wrongly in
many ways.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Leach rates published; PMI answers to city clear as mud

Nearly five months after getting the nod from the Oshkosh Common Council to manage the Leach Amphitheater, Green Bay area-based PMI has finally published its rates for using the facility. Or have they?

Here's how the published rate structure breaks down:

Commercial group rate - $2,000
Non-profit group rate - $1,500 (groups must show proof of non-profit status)
These rates are for a period of 14 consecutive hours or less. Anything beyond 14 hours will be billed at $250 per hour. And if more than one performance is given in the same day, the rate is basically 1.5 times the above published rate.

The non-profit group rate is pretty steep, especially when non-profit groups are usually strapped for cash and PMI said it wanted to be community-oriented in its approach to managing this facility.

But beyond that, it would appear that the published rates could change at any given time. Consider this response from PMI's chief operating officer (Cora Haltaufderheid) to questions from the city about their fixed rates:

"As discussed with city officials in our contract negotiations, the first year out was going to be a learning period for both the city and PMI. None of us knew what the Amphitheater would or could bring to the table to enhance the city as a entertainment venue...."

"We therefore, did not post any of our fees having to do with rental rates, as there were (in some cases still are many, many) unanswered questions that need (to be) evaluated before the rate can be determined. (FYI- Our rates at the Resch are in writing but each one changes given the promoter.)"

What exactly does this mean, you ask? One does not need a translator to know what it means, but here it is anyway. These are PMI's published rates for the Leach UNLESS they decide to change their mind at the drop of a hat. Then the rate apparently can become something different.

This COO's statement claims that no one knew what the Leach could or would bring to the table to enhance the city as an entertainment venue. Yet these people got a sweet contract based on their experience and expertise. They are the professionals who have supposedly seen similar type venues in the past. Maybe not an amphitheater, per se, but certainly people with such wide-ranging experience could and should have been able to venture an educated guess. People in business never know for sure what the future holds when they set prices. But you take your chances and set prices based on your past experience, future predictions and/or your best-guess estimates. Then you pray for the best and hope you come out on the winning end of the deal and make a profit. If it doesn't work out you raise your rates across the board, not just on a whim.

Consider this hypothetical situation as an example: The city has published rates for water usage. In setting those rates, city leaders never expected that the city might incur some of the expenses it has, such as needing to create water detention ponds, storm management utilities, etc. Imagine how outraged we as citizens would be if on a water bill the city jacked up the rates and simply said, "Sorry for the higher than expected bill, but we've had some extra unanticipated expenses. We hope you understand."

We wouldn't tolerate that from the city or anyone else and we shouldn't tolerate it from PMI, especially on what was a gift to this community which we have helped pay for and which resides in one of our public parks.

The only exception I can see for fluctuating rates is if an organization needed something above and beyond the norm, which would likely incur a higher cost. But here again, PMI has been in the promotions business awhile now. They ought to be able to anticipate the various things a group renting a facility like the Leach might need and set rates accordingly, based on each type of scenario.

Bottom line: The city needs to demand that PMI come up with some reasonable and complete rates for the amphitheater's use and stick to them. If that can't be done because the council acted with such haste and now has us locked into a contract, we need to see about rescinding that agreement or at a minimum not renewing it when its three-year term is up. At this stage of the game, though, it's apparent that PMI not only did a "sales job" on the parks department and city council, but with their talk of being community-oriented, they have sold this entire community a bill of goods.

- Cheryl Hentz

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So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 07:43 PM MDT
[The following was written by Tony Palmeri and published here with his permission. We thank him for his generosity in allowing us to do so.]

by Tony Palmeri

September 19, 2005

As reported first by Oshkosh News, PMI has now published the rates it is charging for use of the Leach Amphitheater. Given that the city of Oshkosh expended $2.5 million of taxpayer money for this Leach family "gift" to the community, PMI's rate of $1,500 for nonprofit groups is absurd. While one might expect a somewhat higher fee to be charged for the amphitheater as opposed to city park shelters, one shudders to imagine what the relatively inexpensive shelter fees would be if PMI managed the parks.

Back in February, Green Bay based PMI was given the nod to manage the Leach over the local Supple-Hopper group. At the time, Oshkosh Parks Director Tom Stephany said that while "the Supple-Hopper group presented ideas that had a nice local flavor . . . the PMI group demonstrated that they would be community oriented, plus that they had regional and national ties." So far, PMI's community orientation has resulted in the all-volunteer Oshkosh Community Band not being able to afford the facility and the Oshkosh Earthdance organizers having to mount a frantic last minute fundraising drive to make their event happen.

So much for PMI's community orientation.

Back in February the Supple-Hopper group argued that the management selection steering committee was swayed toward PMI because of "a fundamental misconception of the purpose behind this facility: a venue created by the community, serviced by the community and with access for the community." Sadly, Supple-Hopper have been proven correct.

At the time of the management selection, PMI's Ken Wachter said “I’m a believer in, ‘You only have one time to make a first impression.' So, we want to make a good first impression.”

$1,500 for nonprofits. How's that for a good first impression?


So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: Jim B. on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 08:20 AM MDT
According to Tom Stephany, their is a different rate of rental for use of the facility without using the backstage and concessions. I have not seen the rate card on that, but I have heard him say that a few different times. Although the rates seem a little steep, it should be expected to pay for use of a facility that has to be supervised by PMI. I don't think you can automatically assume that the Supple-Hopper group would be doing a better job at this point. The city has done a terrible job of communicating to the citizens how this was all going to work. I am not sure you can put that blame on PMI. They obviously had an agreement with the city to let things ride for this season before establishing rates for rental. Unfortunately, no one told us!!!

This is all fairly new to everyone, and I believe there will be some growing pains before it is all worked out. As usual the council did not do all of their homework before putting everything in place. And now we have questions and issues. Regardless of your position on this "gift", I still truly believe this facility will be a huge asset to our community. It will be interesting to see what happens next season when PMI has enough time to book acts in advance of Summer.

Jim B.

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: Kent Monte on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 11:26 AM MDT
So much for a public park. Let's hire some other out of town management companies to run other things here in town. Maybe the public library, Menominee park, or perhaps the new water park. These all are in need of out of town representation to run them into the ground. They have the audacity to charge a nonprofit (that means they don't make any extra money) groups $1500, which is a savings of only $500, for 14 hours. What a joke!
Maybe we need to look at our representatives when election time rolls around. We need to keep Oshkosh affairs in Oshkosh!

Kent Monte

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: DRR on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 12:07 PM MDT
We are not talking about a park shelter here. We are talking about the stage with its lighting and sound system and the personnel to run it. Please do not compare it to a shelter in the park. If you want to have a picnic on the stage at the Leach you can for free.

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 12:57 PM MDT
Is PMI actually providing personnel to run the sound and electrical equipment? If they are that does indeed make a difference. However, they still need to be more community-oriented as they promised. And they need to publish a set of rates and stick to them for the time frame established.

- Cheryl

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: Jim B. on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 02:06 PM MDT

I believe this is the case that PMI is in charge of running the equipment(sound and light). I agree that rates should be published, but I think your frustration should be directed toward the city and council and not PMI. It is almost as if the city is taking a hands off approach since they have contracted out with PMI. This puts PMI in a tough it is the city that should be communicating these issues to the citizens.

The list continues to grow of "gifts" to the city that are not well thought out and planned properly!

Jim B

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 03:15 PM MDT
I have expressed a great deal of frustration with the city and city council over this issue and others like it. That was one of the messages in my campaign this past spring. I understand that unforeseen events can always come up, no matter how well planned out things are. But the entire amphitheater and its management/operations were pushed through at lightning speed and with virtually no questions being answered. Yet five of our then city council members (Harris, Castle, B. Tower, F. Tower and Mattox) and current member Bryan Bain all thought things were just fine and apparently needed no further clarification before proceeding forward. The city, city council and PMI are all at fault in this mess.

- Cheryl

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 03:56 PM MDT
Cheryl, I think you are mixing two issues together (the amphitheatre project and the management contract). If you go back and watch an interview conducted on your show during the campaign, Bain said he would have voted for Supple not PMI. I think he said he felt they were more community-oriented or something like that. We shouldn't mix the two issues together (the project and the contract). I also believe that Parks should be more hands-on with PMI!

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: admin on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 04:45 PM MDT
If it seems like I am mixing the issues together it is because the entire project and the management thereof has been handled poorly. While they are two separate issues they are, in many people's minds, one and the same. And while Bain may not have voted for PMI, had he been on the counsel - for which I give him credit - he did speak in favor of waiving the construction bids for the bathrooms at the amphitheater. So, again, if there are some generalities in my comments it is because the entire thing - both the project and the operation of it - have been mishandled and mismanaged. And again, that includes by the city, the city council and PMI.

- Cheryl

So much for PMI's community orientation
Authored by: Kent Monte on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 07:41 PM MDT
I agree Cheryl, and although we can not go back and change it, we can prevent it from happening in the future. By simply voting the people who did this out of office. Nonprofit groups should not be faced with such a large price in an attempt to raise money. PMI and the city get all the money that was meant for charity. Would you go to a fundraiser at the Leach knowing that a large chunk of whatever you just spent wasn't even going to the charity? The people who selected PMI and those who voted for them need to wake up and take charge.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fishing Pier Issue

Contributed by: Jim B.
Another gift and another controversy! How did this thing go through so quickly. According to the council meeting last night, this went through the parks board and the council within 25 hours. I completely appreciate what the Otter Street Fishing Club does for the community, but what happened to doing your homework before you agree to something. Last night Warren Kraft said the approval from Council was more of a vote for accepting the gift. At that time they had seen no plans for the proposed structure. Now they are saying it will be bigger than first proposed!!! It just seems like something is wrong with the process. Thanks to Paul Esslinger for asking some direct questions of the staff on this issue!

I live nowhere near the proposed site, but have to fall on the side of all the people that got up last night. This is not the place for this pier. I believe that some of them have a "not in my backyard" mentality, but I think the majority who spoke(some who don't even have a view of the area) have some valid questions about this site. Does this really make sense?

And where are all of the people who think this is the best spot? Not one came up last night. I know I saw a guy from Otter Street the night this was on the docket at the council meeting. He seemed to be more about "how could you deny such a nice gift rather than this was the best place for it". I wonder if they were represented at the DNR meeting?

I am interested in others thoughts on this issue? It sounds like it is a done deal unless the resident try to do some sort of legal action(if they even can).

Jim B.

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Fishing Pier Issue
Authored by: Jim B. on Thursday, September 15 2005 @ 09:33 AM MDT
Now I hear that the pier has no plans for railings? If this is true it does not sound like a real safe venue for kids and disabled citizens!

Kudos to Meredith Scheurman(sp) for bringing up her concerns in June about the neighbors not being notified! It amazed me to watch the meeting with all of the citizens getting up to voice concerns, the lack of feedback from most members. Brian Bain indicated he saw no reason to rescind the vote. If anything I believe the citizens brought a strong argument to take a second look!

Sorry to reply to my own post, but I can't believe they are planning on building a pier for kids and the disabled with no railings!!!

Jim B.

Fishing Pier Issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 15 2005 @ 09:47 AM MDT

It was Burk Tower who said no good argument was made to reconsider the pier.

I agree with Jim B. There were SEVERAL reasons why this pier should be moved.

Fishing Pier Issue
Authored by: DP on Thursday, September 15 2005 @ 08:07 PM MDT
If true that the pier would not have railings, I would think that would be unbelievably foolish for the city to allow something like that (especially considering this not designed for boat docking). A pier that sticks out more than 100 feet without railings is just asking for trouble if they are building it for children! I've taken my small children out on the fishing pier at the end of Michigan Street. That's a nice pier (although the river is much more dangerous than the bay).

Fishing Pier Issue
Authored by: DRR on Friday, September 16 2005 @ 09:33 AM MDT
Brian Bain agreed with Mr. Tower on the pier issue. Brian stated the neighbors did not make a compelling enough argument to bring the issue back.

Fishing Pier Issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 16 2005 @ 05:36 PM MDT
the otter st. fishing club did state the pier would look similar or same as the rainbow park one and it has wire lines between the posts that would add some protection.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chamber wants county sales tax proposal defeated

Eye on Oshkosh has received the following via email and posts it here for your review and consideration.

As members of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce we received this Action Alert from president John Casper. People may want to consider these facts before rendering an opinion on the proposed county sales tax.

To: Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce Members

From: John A. Casper, President & CEO

Date: September 12, 2005

Re: Proposed ½-cent County-wide Sales Tax

Wisconsin statutes (s. 77.70, Wisconsin Statues) give counties the option of instituting up to ½-cent sales tax to support their operations. The tax may be used “only for the purpose of directly reducing the property tax levy.”

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris has proposed to impose a ½-cent County-wide sales tax. Specifically, he is proposing: Impose a ½-cent county-wide sales tax, coupled with 40-cent county property tax rate reduction in 2006 and a 30-cent reduction in 2007. It is believed that the ½-cent sales tax would generate approximately $12 million of new revenue annually. While the property tax rate reduction would lessen the net effect of this new tax, it would only be applied for two years, with no guarantee for the years following 2007. For 2006, the County Executive’s sales tax proposal generates $4.6 million (a net $3 million due from the ½-cent sales tax and $1.6 million from property taxes on new construction within the County) of new tax collections. This reflects an 8.6% increase over the 2005 County Property tax levy (2006: $58,014,371 – 2005: $53,414,371).

The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce STRONGLY opposes this proposal for the following reasons:

We feel that reduced spending at all levels of government is the priority, not increased or new taxes. We reject the notion of raising certain taxes to lower other taxes for one good reason: taxes never go down, they just go up. This proposal shifts the burden from taxes paid by homeowners to sales taxes paid by homeowners. This approach has failed in the past to reduce the overall property tax burden. We are also very concerned about the sheer volume of new revenues the proposed sales tax increase would generate. The tax would generate an estimated $12 million per year. Allowing for sales growth and inflation, this means the tax would generate roughly $250 million over the next twenty years. While there may be a small hole in this year's county budget, the case has not been made for this massive tax and spending increase. While it has been argued that increasing the sales tax would permit the county to reduce property taxes, we have strongly rejected this argument. Every major income and sales tax increase advanced by both state and local government over the past fifty years has been premised on the erroneous notion that increasing these taxes would reduce property taxes. We don't think this is a credible argument. The proposed ½-cent county sales tax is a quiet, invisible way for Winnebago County to raise millions of dollars, without a measure of accountability. The County current budget dilemma was caused by spending and needs to be addressed by expenditure reduction. Growth in all levels of government spending is beyond our ability to pay. This trend needs to stop. The bottom line is that the County needs to explore every aspect of the budget to find ways to reduce spending and provide services more efficiently. Instituting another tax should not even be an option.

Facts to consider:

Winnebago County is in the top quartile for county property tax growth of the 72 Wisconsin Counties averaging an increase of 10.4 percent annually from 2000 – 2003 (Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance, December 2003).

In the ten year period from 1993 – 2002, Winnebago County’s property tax levy increased 98.4%, an annual average increase of 9.84% (Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance, March 2003).

In the five year period from 1999 – 2003, Winnebago County’s property tax levy increased 49.3%, an annual average increase of 9.86% (Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance, March 2003).

In the ten year period from 1993 – 2002, Winnebago County’s population increased 11.3% (Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance, March 2003). From 2000 – 2004 the County’s population increased 3.2% (U. S. Census Bureau and Wisconsin Department of Administration).

In the period from 1993 – 2001, Winnebago County’s expenditures increased 58.0% per capita, 5.3% higher than the State capita average. (Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance, March 2003).

In the period from 1996 – 2005, the Winnebago County property tax levy increased 84% or $24,388,745, an 8.4% annual average. (1996: $29,025,626 – 2005: $53,414,371) {2005 Winnebago County Budget, page 38}.

In the period from 1996 – 2005, the amount of the Winnebago County property tax levy used to support county operations increase 69.7%, a 6.97% annual average. During this same period, the County’s property tax levy used to support debt service increase by 217%. (2005 Winnebago County Budget, page 38).

From 2004 – 2005, overall Winnebago County property tax levy increased 6.04% (2005 Winnebago County Budget, page 27).

It is estimated that the new ½-cent sales tax would generate over $250 million in new tax revenue over the next 20 years.

A study conducted by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance in March 2002 concluded that, while the ½-cent sales tax provides significant revenues to counties, the analysis indicates that, on average, less than 30% of the counties with the ½-cent sales tax use it for property tax relief.

We urge you to contact your Supervisor before Tuesday, September 20, 2005, and let him or her know that you OPPOSE the proposed ½-cent county-wide sales tax. To contact your County Board Supervisor, please click on to the following link - If you do not know who your Supervisor is, please click on the following link and follow the instructions - When speaking to your County Board Supervisor, the message needs to be clear – NO MORE TAX INCREASES OR NEW TAXES!

If you are able to attend the County Board meeting to speak to this issue, I would encourage you to do so. The meeting is Tuesday, September 20 at 6:00 p.m. on the 4th floor of the Courthouse. Should you have any questions pertaining to this Alert, please call me directly at 303-2265 extension 18.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sales tax

Contributed by:
Anonymous How would you vote on the proposed .5% county sales tax, and why?

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Sales tax
Authored by: L Schaffer on Friday, September 09 2005 @ 08:56 PM MDT
I would vote no for this added tax because it is human nature that if you have it to spend, there is a tendency to spend it. You need to control what you have and this present county board is to naive to understand this. This is also true of our present county executive, Mark Harris. When the was on the city council in Oshkosh, he showed he could care less what it cost the taxpayers or what the taxpayers had to say. He is now doing the same as county executive.

Sales tax
Authored by: DRR on Sunday, September 18 2005 @ 11:17 AM MDT
I would vote no because it is an illegal tax.

Sales tax
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 08:56 AM MDT
I don't believe the tax is illegal but some of the intended uses are what may be illegal. At the very least, some of the intended uses seem to be a stretch under the law. Interesting how the county's corporate counsel is just kind of sitting on the sidelines on this one. I haven't heard him saying much on this issue. But perhaps he shares the city attorney's position on certain things coming from the AG's office: "It's just an opinion and I disagree with it." Except in this case maybe Mr. Bodnar maybe feels that former AG Jim Doyle's opinion was "just an opinion and I agree with it." Surely if he felt that some of the taxes' intended uses were illegal he would have come out publicly by now. After all, the vote is tomorrow night.

- Cheryl

Sales tax
Authored by: DRR on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 12:37 PM MDT
Obviously the tax is legal when the dollars collected are used correctly. That would not be the case with this tax. Especially since the state has changed the rules this year.

Sales tax
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 01:04 PM MDT
That was my point. If some of the intended uses are illegal why is the county's corporation counsel John Bodnar sitting on the sidelines and remaining mute on the subject. Surely he should have been speaking out long before this. The fact that he has not tells me he has no intention of doing so. But it does not appear the sales tax proposal is going to pass anyway. So it is a moot point for now, but one that he certainly should address before the next time this subject comes up. And there WILL be a next time. It's just a matter of time.

I think we can also expect that things will get really bad and then we'll hear supporters of the tax saying "Don't cry to us. We told you this was going to happen."

I still don't know how I feel about the tax overall. I see both sides of the issue, though I'm leaning more against it than for it. But the picture that got painted was bleak and I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know that those in charge will make it appear that we are in our darkest, most desperate hour after the sales tax fails and the cuts start coming. That will be their way of "punishing" the people for not supporting this.

- Cheryl

Sales tax
Authored by: DRR on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 01:47 PM MDT
I do know one supervisor who has asked Mr. Bodnar for his opinion. I do not believe he has replied. If I hear the answer I will let you know.

Sales tax
Authored by: admin on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 01:53 PM MDT
That would be terrific. Thank you. If he does not reply perhaps what that supervisor needs to do is ask Mr. Bodnar during tomorrow night's meeting. Then he'll have to answer it on the county board floor and in front of cameras and we can all hear his response.

- Cheryl

Sales tax
Authored by: DP on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 02:16 PM MDT
I was also led to believe that Mark Harris was also asked this specific question. His answer was published in the paper and it appears that he is relying on the 98' opinion by Doyle. However, that opinion is now flawed because of the levy freeze. Doyle's opinion basically said that the budget could be padded to make room for the eventual tax reduction from the sales tax revenue...Basically, reduce your tax levy with the sales tax revenue, but then be free to raise the levy with new tax increases. Flawed now, because that accounting trick is mute because of the levy freeze.

I'd love that sales tax if the proceeds would actually be used for their intended purpose...TO REDUCE MY PROPERTY TAX BILL. When the law is written with words like "ONLY", "DIRECTLY", and "ENTIRETY", it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the intent of that law was.

Shame on Doyle for giving such a wide reaching opinion. But then again, this is the same guy who is now using gasoline tax money (supposedly a tax put in place for roads) to fund education...and also the same guy who has told his Department of Revenue to ignore the law and return legitamately collected tax revenue to taxpayers who failed to pay the proper sales tax on cigarettes purchased on the internet.

Sales tax
Authored by: L Schaffer on Monday, September 19 2005 @ 10:27 PM MDT
Yes cheryl I agree, if this sales tax does fail, we the taxpayers will pay the price. The past and present county board made the mess that the county is in and it is up to them to correct it. This is not the time to pass the sales tax, the taxpayers are now finding it hard to come up with money to pay their bills, but don"t forget this county board is to naive to make the right choice. There is still a chance this board could pass this tax.

Sales tax
Authored by: DP on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 08:59 AM MDT
I agree! This board can be influenced by misinformation and sympathy. Anyway, how could you pass up this "free" money as Joe Maehl said. Wow...if that's not a perfect comment from a BIG government polititian.

Sales tax
Authored by: DRR on Tuesday, September 20 2005 @ 02:25 PM MDT
Speaking of "free" money. Maybe the board will dip into the general fund to avoid layoffs. They did it last year.