By Roger Utnehmer
It took just a little over three hours for the new majority on the Sturgeon Bay city council to accomplish what others have talked about for several years. At the first meeting of three new council members, votes were taken to remove west-side waterfront dirt piles and move the time of council meetings to 7:00 PM.
Second-term Council Member Kelly Catarozoli was elected president by a unanimous vote. It was the first meeting for newly-elected David Hayes, Kelly Avenson, and Seth Wiederanders.
Avenson raised concern about the number of lawsuits in which the city is involved and asked about more than $3,000 in legal fees that relate to waterfront development issues. Council member Laurel Hauser questioned why Fire Chief Tim Dietman lists revenue on the fire department’s 2017 annual report but does not list expenditures. She said no non-profit organization in which she has been involved files an annual report with revenue listed but not expenses. Dietman will update the report with complete information in response to Hauser’s request.
A proposal to abolish the controversial Waterfront Redevelopment Authority was delayed until the next council meeting. And mayoral appointments that need council confirmation for Robert Starr to the city Plan Commission and Sandy Hurley to the Police and Fire Commission were not approved by the council. Starr is a former mayor and council member who was defeated by David Hayes.
Starr’s campaign set a spending record for a Sturgeon Bay city council race, raising approximately $4,000 in his unsuccessful attempt to return to city government.
Council members also voted to study the formation of an Ethics Committee.
Scott Moore cited members of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority with arrogance and abuse of power. During the public comment period at the start of the meeting, Moore cited fifteen consecutive closed meetings of the WRA.
Don Freix also asked that public officials post their contact information publicly. In 2017 he asked for contact information for Waterfront Redevelopment Authority members as well as other committees. He was told in a letter from city clerk Stephanie Reinhardt that non-elected members’ right to privacy outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Freix says citizens should be able to communicate with elected officials and if their email addresses and phone numbers are not available that communications is not possible.