Rides available for COVID shots
In response to a recent letter in the Waunakee Tribune concerning how older adults will get to a location to receive their COVID vaccine, I wanted to inform the community that there is transportation available for those age 65 and older living independently in their own home or apartment.
This is a free ride service funded by Dane County Department of Human Services. This service is not available for those who are residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Rides are not available for drive thru vaccine locations at this time.
The number to call for this ride service is (608) 512-0000 Ext. 3
If you are 65 or older and in need of assistance with signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact a case manager at the Waunakee Senior Center and they will be happy to help you (608) 849-8385.
Cindy Mosiman, Waunakee Senior Service Director
Case law explains restrictions for closed sessions
During a closed portion of the last village board meeting a mic was left open. What was supposed to be a discussion of a request for funding of a workforce housing project near McDonald’s devolved into bashing the project by Trustee Gary Herzberg, and opposition to it by Phil Willems and Bill Ranum.
Willems and President Chris Zellner had voted for the project at the Plan Commission level and all board members have publicly stated there is a need for affordable housing. So the difference in what they had stated in open meetings vs. discussion in closed session is disappointing.
Government meetings are supposed to be open to the public with closed sessions requiring strict limitations. The exception the village used was a closed session is authorized for “deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session.”
The DOJ open meetings compliance guide regarding closed sessions states “Governmental officials must keep in mind, however, that this exemption applies only when competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session. The exemption is restrictive rather than expansive”. The use of the word “require” in Wis. Stat. § 19.85(1)(e) limits that exemption to situations in which competitive or bargaining reasons leave a governmental body with no option other than to close the meeting.
Did the village need to secretly discuss how much they were willing to fund the project or the developer’s agreement in closed session? I don’t think so. Lot size, traffic, safety, or aesthetics were not tied to the developer agreement in the closed session. What I heard was concerns about doing the project, which shouldn’t have been discussed at all in closed session.
It’s time for the village to limit the use of closed sessions, and when they are used, the board needs to stick to the topic listed on the agenda. That topic needs to be very narrowly defined. Citizens should be able to hear what our elected officials are discussing in meetings. This type of behavior in closed session is wrong. Whether you like the Cohen-Esrey project or not, this use of closed session for secret discussions needs to stop.
Ted Frey for
“What makes a great school board member?” That is the question we asked Google before writing this letter to the editor. Here are some of the characteristics listed in the answer to that question:
-Communicate well with various audiences.
-Be transparent and accountable to the public.
-Be willing to work closely with the community, staff and students.
Those traits certainly seem critical when we think about what it means to be a great school board member, but the phrase that really got our attention was: “Great school board members focus on what is best for all students.”
We can confidently say that Ted Frey fits all of the qualities listed. We have known Ted and Rebecca Frey and their family for over 14 years. Our children were in classes together, participated in school activities together, and became friends. If you know the Frey family, you will know that they are hard-working, active members of our community.
When we heard that Ted was going to be running for the school board, we were excited for the future of Waunakee schools and the children of our community. Ted is a down-to-earth, intelligent, thoughtful and caring person. If elected, he will put his heart and soul into being a great school board member because that is the type of person he is.
In these interesting times, it is more important than ever to have level-headed, fair and passionate people on our school board. People who will understand that they are representing the entire community and will “focus on what is best for all students.” Ted Frey fits the bill on all counts and we are appreciative of his willingness to step forward as school board candidate.
Please join us in our support of Ted Frey for the Waunakee School board. You can see more details at www.tedfreyforschool.com and please vote on April 6.
Gerry and Vicki Benusa
Apartment proposal treated differently
On Feb. 15 Village Board met in closed session. The audio was not muted as it was intended. The topic was supposed to be the developers agreement and a request for funding for a proposed apartment complex at 701/705 W. Main Street.
I didn’t hear any financial discussion. It should have been fairly boring to listen to. Yet the discussion struck a nerve and eroded trust in closed session discussion and dealings.
Trustees Moran, Frye, and Runge all spoke with evidence based supportive messages consistent with their open meeting messages.
It seems to me some others on the board are treating this project differently than other multi-family developments. A trustee claimed that this affordable housing building would attract more children than other apartment projects as a reason to vote no. From their perspective, previous larger projects on Main Street were supposedly different because the price of apartments meant less children in those apartments. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 clearly states it is illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, color, familial status, or age. There were speculations that were made that were not factual and therefore discriminatory.
Lamphouse is 101 units on a 2.2 acre lot, and directly adjacent to Highway 19. Board members were eager to approve that development and provide them with $5.5 million in TIF funds. Cohen-Esrey’s proposal for affordable apartments is 50 units on a 2.5 acre lot and also on Highway 19. Kids live and cross safely on Main Street from Madison and Main and Lamphouse apartments. All locations have stop lights and cross walk signs.
Some board members are not pleased with this development nor their $330,000 TIF funding request. Less then most single family homes in Waunakee. Why the difference? I believe it’s implicit bias against affordable housing.
This project has been in the pipeline since 2019 and it appears some on the board are trying to kill the project by stalling to meet the developer’s deadline. Yet they all claim to “support affordable housing.” The moment is here. Don’t let unconscious bias prevent an equitable housing opportunity from happening.
We have an election coming up on April 6. I encourage you to take the time to read about candidates running for trustee and village president.