Vote for Ann
I am asking you to vote for Ann Lewandowski and Mary Heimbecker for village trustees. I appreciate Ann as a person who listens to both sides and also has the expertise to look into and understand legal and technical implications. She does not rush into things. Ann checks into the facts and weighs all the angles before making suggestions on decisions. Ann also very much cares for the well being of all the residents of Waunakee and keeping our tradition of “The Only Waunakee in the World.” She is a good neighbor.
The same can be said for Mary Heimbecker, who raised her family here and appreciates the rich history in our village and wants to preserve and maintain it for future generations. Both Ann and Mary are present at most village board meetings already, and they see areas that can be improved. Some of these are more meetings that aren’t closed to the public, looking for housing options for people like teachers since the people who teacher our children should be able to afford to live here, and more controlled development. Both Ann and Mary are easy to talk to and will really listen and act on concerns. Please remember to vote for Ann and Mary on April 2.
A new perspective on the board
Do you feel that the large apartment buildings on Main Street were pushed through with ordinance violations? Do you feel that the village board members listened to the community when we asked that the height limit for the downtown commercial district remain the same (hundreds of petition signers)? Do you not bother going to village board meetings because a good portion of the meetings are totally in closed session? Has development happened in your part of the village without sufficient public notice of the hearings related to the new development? The incumbent village board members have voted and approved of an administration shrouded in secrecy.
It’s time for a change. Mary Heimbecker and Ann Lewandowsi are running for the village board and Frank Bergman is running a write in campaign for village president. We are the only Waunakee in the world, but the changes to the downtown alone make us seem like any other suburb. Main Street is becoming a tunnel divided by Highway 19.
Ann Lewandowski, Mary Heimbecker and Frank Bergman are committed to fixing crumbling roads ahead of embarking on new TIF financed residential developments. They also are committed to open and accessible government that involves citizens in the process. Deals have already been cut with the developer by the time public hearings happen and that is wrong. I will vote for all three because they will bring new perspective to the board and it’s time for a change. They understand and listen to the people and research before making decisions. I have lived in Waunakee long enough to understand the history and importance of keeping the small town feel. They will take us in the right direction because they truly care about what happens to our village and the people who live here. It’s time for fresh ideas a return to citizen led decisions. Please vote April 2 for Ann Lewandowski and Mary Heimbecker. They are committed to government by the people and transparency.
Future of our town is at stake
I moved to Waunakee nearly 20 years ago. My neighborhood was quiet and comfortable. I really loved the small town feel it exuded: nice parks, very good schools, and walkable downtown. The small-town vibe died some years back. It was replaced by an ongoing juggernaut of development, favoring monopolies and large corporations over the little guy. Every time we turn around, the Village administration is proposing another TIF/TID. Supposedly, Waunakee can’t attract development without such TIDs. The town has been expanding just fine on its own. Population has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. Why? Good schools, livability, quiet neighborhoods, and proximity to other communities. Waunakee is an attractive investment. Everyone in town can clearly see what has happened, and how the current growth of Waunakee has made it far less quiet and livable. Who’s responsible? A majority of the town administration has gone out of its way to roll out the red carpet for developers. Need an ordinance changed? No problem! Want us to overlook this provision or that rule so your project can proceed? Done!
Have the right last name or connections? Again, no problem! We’ll look the other way. But have an issue as a resident? Are you a non-connected somebody who wants chickens or some other issue? Tough!
The single biggest reason for this nonsense is the Board willfully ignoring citizen feedback, and labeling and blackballing newcomers who moved here for the small town as “outsiders.” Instead, they perpetuate the closed-door, old boys’ network. When regular citizens do provide input, like submitting 260 signatures opposing the Board giving Hovde permission for their 4th floor setback, the petition was ignored. Write a “negative” letter to the editor? You’re publicly shamed and insulted by our “public servants.” This divisive tactic attempting to protect the existing power structure stifles the most important element of small towns: community.
We desperately need new leadership, perspectives, and trustees who will follow our Comp Plan and ordinances, and listen to the residents. Please vote for Ann Lewandowski and Mary Heimbecker for Trustee, and write in Frank Bergman’s name for Village President. Make sure to blacken the circle next to Bergman’s name or your vote won’t count.
In three weeks, we will hold Waunakee’s most important election in decades. Vote as if the future of our town is at stake. Because it is!
End puppy mills
This past week, a puppy mill in Berrien County Georgia was busted. Initially 630 dogs were seized. When officials returned two days later, they found an additional 85 dogs. Most of these dogs were puppies. A local rescue has taken in 21 of these dogs. I was told the story of one of the rescued dogs sleeping standing up. His life has been lived so cramped in a cage that he has never experienced the ability to lie down.
Puppy mills are not rare. They are not something that only happens somewhere else. There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S., including Wisconsin. These puppies are sold at pet stores, on-line and in classified ads. When you purchase a puppy from one of these sources, you are most likely supporting a puppy mill. Thankfully California, Maryland, and over 300 cities have banned the sales of puppies at pet stores. Sadly, no Wisconsin city has passed this ban. Don’t be fooled by ads claiming “adoption.” Selling puppies for profit is not adoption. I hope that Waunakee and Wisconsin someday join the other cities and states that have passed the ban to help put an end to these disgusting and cruel puppy mills once and for all.
Time for a change
I’ve recently become more frustrated in regards to our village’s state of affairs. Last year, three TID deals were negotiated in secret. No developer’s agreements were publicly disclosed before ratification if TIF money was involved. Zero questions were asked by the village trustees of the public. Citizens lost two minutes of time to speak during public hearings. Four ordinance changes relating to height, density, off-lot parking, and setbacks were pushed through over citizen objections. T. Wall filed a $49 million lawsuit due to a hidden developer approval process. Dozens of meetings had notices that did not clearly disclose the subject matter of agenda items, effectively hiding it from the public.
The lack of term limits for officials is also a major issue. Dan Thompson, former director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, estimated in 2009 in The Janesville Gazette that “local elected officials stay in office [for] an average of five years, whether that’s by choice or by election results.” To put this in perspective, take a look at our own village board candidates. The three incumbents running for reelection have served for 14, 13, and 12 years, respectively. Another candidate, a former trustee who was not reelected last year, served on the Village Board for 17 years straight.
In other words, we have career politicians running our Village Board who will remain in office until the voters make a change. Since the three incumbents were first elected, our population has grown significantly. While I appreciate the incumbents’ long-time commitment to the village and its people, it is critical for us to consider and be open to the ideas of new residents and provide places where they can be involved. Appointing the same people to committees for several terms isn’t the answer. If you are tired of the way our community is being run and ready for a change, vote for Mary Heimbecker and Ann Lewandowski for Village Board.
Waunakee High School Student
Too many closed village meetings
This week is sunshine week in government. Waunakee’s government could use a strong dose of sunshine. There are too many closed sessions. Wisconsin’s legislature has made the policy choice that, despite the efficiency advantages of secret government, a transparent process is favored. Closed sessions should be the exception instead of the rule since citizens should have the fullest, most complete information for an informed electorate. The Wisconsin benchmark case regarding closed sessions is Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD) vs. The City of Milton.
In CRD, the Court found that a desire or request for confidentiality by a private developer engaged in negotiations with a city was not sufficient to justify closed sessions for competitive or bargaining reasons. Nor did the fear that public statements might attract the attention of potential private competitors for the developer justify closure under this exemption, because the Court found that such competition would be likely to benefit, rather than harm, the city’s competitive or bargaining interests.
The village could do much better with public hearing notices and agendas. Both are cryptic too often. The notices list new subdivision names. People don’t know where they are located since they don’t exist yet. The public hearing notice for the rezoning of an empty lot on North Madison Street listed the address by street number, leaving out that it was the new library location. Ground was broken before required public hearings took place for the library and Hovde apartment building.
Meeting agenda packets are usually over 100 pages long and released Thursday or Friday for Monday meetings. The public and board members get a weekend to review projects worth millions. The incumbents have become used to this method of secret operations. The joint review board is already being set up for TIF 10 which hasn’t been approved yet. TIF approval requires a public hearing. Do I have any hope that comments at the public hearing will convince board members we don’t need this new TIF? By the time we know about a new development and can comment at a public hearing, it’s a done deal.
It’s time for new representation. Please vote for Mary Heimbecker and Ann Lewandowski for village trustee. They are committed to open government and will bring some fresh ideas to the board to fund roads, build housing attainable by all, and look at cost saving measures such as bidding out large sales and purchases.
Public process needed in development proposals
As I watch the fourth floor party room of the Hovde Main Street project reach into the sky, I am again unhappy with recent development projects and the supposedly “open” village decision process. Village staff and the village attorney (billing by the hour?) meet with developers privately for many months and often years before projects are unveiled to the public. At that point, projects are largely set in stone. Citizens then have input if they are willing to attend and speak out at meeting after meeting: rezoning, TIF districts, project plans, conditional use permits. My clear impression through the series of Hovde project meetings last year, as we pointed out ordinance violations, insufficient public notices, traffic concerns and strong neighborhood opposition, was that we were politely listened to and subsequently ignored. Promises had been made, and in vote after vote, they were kept: nothing substantial was changed in the Hovde proposal.
Respected economists will tell you that TIF financing is not the boon to communities that it is usually made out to be. Governor Evers has called for scaling back the use of TIF in his proposed budget. Here we are told how great it is that TIF money paid for the “needed” Highway Q improvements south of town. Four lanes there, then reducing to two at the high school? Overbuilt by quite a bit, in my opinion, and a boon to the new commercial areas of Kilkenny and their developers, not to me and my taxpaying neighbors. My tax bill will go up to pay for plowing new roads in TIF districts, as they will go up to cover increased school, police, fire and EMS costs from new residential properties in TIFs both downtown and in Kilkenny.
If you are as tired of this as I am, join me in voting for Ann Lewandowski and Mary Heimbecker for village trustee. They want to see open village government, sensible development and a better balance between voters’ and developers’ interests. It’s time for some new voices on the village board!
Write-in Engebretson for school board
I am supporting Judy Engebretson for write-in candidate for the Waunakee school board in the spring election. Judy has spent her professional working life as an educator. She began as a classroom teacher, then as department chair for special education, and finished her career as assistant principal at Madison West High School. She has an exceptional background in all levels of the education process and wants to give back to education.
I have known Judy since 1991 and can attest to the fact that she has the experience that would be valuable in the responsibility given to the school board .She is willing to accept the civic duty to be part of the excellent education program in Waunakee.
I encourage you to write in Judy Engbretson for the Waunakee school board.