By Don Freix
The Sturgeon Bay Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday, asking for special legislation to be written to determine the location of the ordinary high water mark for the TID #4 west waterfront development plans, which if honored and acted upon by any of our state legislators will necessarily produce a change in legal precedent resulting in a direct diminution of the state constitutional public trust doctrine protections currently governing land held in the public trust, our historical waterfronts statewide. The majority Common Council and Mayor Birmingham requested nothing less than an attack on the state constitution, an undebatable, clear violation of their oath of office to protect and defend the state constitution.
Representative Kitchens related in the local news this week that he would not write any such requested legislation and stated that he would prefer a resolution to the TID #4 OHWM determination be accomplished through negotiations. But we have not heard from Mr Kitchens any condemnation of the city resolution or even a hint of criticism of those city aldermen or the mayor’s actions, nor any defense of the public trust doctrine governing ownership of access to the waters of our state since before statehood that would be undermined with this city resolution. Neither has Joel revealed whether or not he would approve special legislation if and when it might be produced and considered for legislative passage.
Mr Kitchens’ failure to promptly declare his full political opposition to this city resolution is very clear here and this contentious local instance of an issue clearly favoring private real estate developers statewide if eventually enacted (as legislators are not allowed to write legislation for a special circumstance) is an untenable and dishonest cop-out, an unabashed pretense to neutrality and a wholly disingenuous and disgracefully inadequate response to his constituents. Protecting and defending the state constitution is not reflected anywhere in Joel’s response to this city resolution at the time of this writing.
An email, a phone call and a brief direct personal conversation with Senator Lasee’s staff has garnered nothing yet in the way of Frank’s intentions or his potential prior actions in preparing for this city request, which the Senator revealed he was fully aware of on local radio back in April. Senator Lasee’s silence to date after this city resolution is equally as unacceptable from him as it is with Kitchens. Yet with neither Senator Lasee nor Representative Kitchens lifting a finger, or to my knowledge vocalizing even one syllable in defense of public trust doctrine ownership of the state ground-water in the SB-76 transfer of the same to industrial agriculture interests, constituents unfortunately can expect that neither man will honor their respective oath of office on this issue either. If only either of them would prove my expectations wrong, that would be a welcome surprise. Neither fence sitting nor silence is an acceptable response at this point.
Fish Creek, WI