By Roger Utnehmer
Civil Discourse An Occasional Attempt To Restore Civility to Our Civic Discourse
President and CEO
March 19, 2016
Why Cap Wulf Does Not Belong On The Waterfront Redevelopment Authority
For the good of Sturgeon Bay, Cap Wulf should resign from the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority. Sturgeon Bay is plagued with a public relations disaster. Far too many citizens, enough to elect a write-in candidate to the city council in the last election, seem to reject the perception of a secret, closed-door good-old-boy network that does public business behind closed doors.
Cap Wulf is part of the good-old-boy network. He has bullied fellow WRA member Kelly Catarolozi with disrespect by shouting at her during meetings. He should never have been appointed to a position of public trust. His guilty plea to using his position as a member of the Sturgeon Bay City Council for personal gain alone should disqualify Cap Wulf from being appointed. The appearance of a conflict of interest, as the owner of property in the process of being development with city assistance and support, costs the city more in lost confidence and suspicion than any benefit of his participation could ever justify.
Many good people have little or no trust in their local government. People feel recent development plans had ignored their input, denied their expression and trampled on the principals of good, open, transparent and clean government. Cap Wulf and his behavior contribute to that perception.
It is important to state, as well, that perception is not always reality. Since Cap Wulf’s conviction, I doubt anyone in city government has broken any laws. What they have broken is the public trust. What some have violated is the patience, political skills and leadership needed to bring a community together and support projects like the waterfront development. There is little wonder why so many people have so little trust in their local government.
Cutting off debate, refusing to comment when asked questions about development plans, an unhealthy dependence on closed meetings and less than transparent sharing of things like the agreements between the city and developers all work to create and continue a perception of good-old-boys who have always run Sturgeon Bay getting their way. The recent inclusion of a potentially-controversial harbor development plan on the council’s non-debatable consent agenda is another example of decisions that diminish public trust. That should not happen.
Civility will be restored to civic discourse in Sturgeon Bay when the cloud of suspicion and perception of insider politics is put to rest. That will not happen with people who abuse their power being appointed to important positions like the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority.
That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.