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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Cloudy in Milwaukee and Madison: could be sunny here

Wauwatosa, Common Council

While Milwaukee and Madison are looking pretty bad when it comes to exposing the work of government to the light of day--and the thoughtful eyes of taxpayers--Wauwatosa is considering taking a small but important step in the right direction.

In Milwaukee, the suitors for the city's water are being kept under heavy wraps. No one but a few officals, including city assessor Wally Morics, knows who the 18 are, much less what the details of the deals are. I'm really fuzzy about why the city assessor would have power in such an area, but that's another discussion. In any case, a few sensible aldermen said "not enough information, no go."

And just last week in Madison, the Democrats who control the Joint Finance Committee did most of their budget-making business behind closed doors. That's probably a violation of the open records standards most others are compelled to follow. And it's certainly a violation of the promises that party made to do business differently than it was done in the recent past: more ethically and in a bipartisan spirit.

Tuesday in Wauwatosa, the Common Council will vote on an ordinance to establish a process for city property naming rights. Basically, it outlines what names aren't eligible (liquor manufacturers and the KKK are out of luck) and what names are. It establishes processes and accountability.

It also establishes preferences. For example,  if the city so desires, it can turn down a higher bid for the MadeupName Corporation in favor of a lower bid by the Friends of the Best Guy Tosa Ever Knew. They don't have to, but they can, and everyone knows the basis for that decision.

If I ruled the world, we wouldn't advertise anything but Truth, Beauty, Kindness, and Love in our civic places. But since I don't, it's nice to know that our  elected officials are seriously looking at developing procedures that make for fairness -- and make life easier for decisionmakers along the way.

This is by no means a done deal. The vote in committee was mixed, and aldermanic grumbles have been heard around town. For those who say it's much ado about nothing, I'd like to remind you that you spend a lot of your time voting on things like fences on private property. For those who'd rather do things on the fly or in ad hoc committees, I'd like to suggest that the city's image and sustainability are important areas for citizen knowledge and input.

So let your representatives know that you're glad they are developing this process for doing buisness in a thoughtful, rational, and legally responsible way. And with a little room for empathy, too, by golly!

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