Monday, November 12, 2007


Can anybody tell me just what the hell was going on with the Northwestern's editorial yesterday?

Why are they praising the council for "respectfully giv[ing] citizens one final window of opportuntiy to trigger a direct-legislation referendum to alter the form of government" in one sentence only to slam the council for "twiddling its thumbs" just a few grafs later? You can't have both.

Then we get this bizarre train of thought:

"We need our city council to step up and lead. That means an end to closed-door meetings and strategy sessions. Last Friday's open-air vote was a start."

Jesus, last Friday's meeting was hardly the model of openness -- called two days earlier and at such an inconvenient time that not even one of the members of the council could attend?

The gist of the piece seems to be this: The council better hurry up and start getting to work because this town, and especially City Hall, needs "leadership"!

The council has now established two dates that serve as markers of action that limit what they can do. The first date is the mid-January petition deadline. If the change of government folks are able to gather enough signatures, then anything they do between now and then with regards to the hiring of a new city manager will have to be put on hold. Let me remind the Northwestern that it was in favor putting the change of government question to the voters in a costly single-issue November referendum.

So what are they supposed to get done between now and then? Start interviewing candidates? Begin the search for a job that might not exist in 6 months? Get really stressed out about all of this during November and December, as if there aren't other things going on too (not only for the council member as individuals but also for potential candidates)?

If the change group does get enough signatures the council will have to play wait-and-see until April ... what is the council supposed to do during that interregnum? Background checks on potential finalists? Interviews with former employers? Again, all for a job that might not exist in May?

I'm perfectly willing to grant the editorial's central thesis -- that the city needs leadership A.S.A.P. -- but you know what would have helped with that given the delays that the Northwestern has supported in the past: an interim city manager! something this essay dismisses as "uninspiring."

In the context of a newspaper seemingly doing its damnedest to scuttle a city policy, this graf is particularly worthy of outright derision:
Mayor Frank Tower can start this new process by taking a moment to thank and apologize to the interim manager candidates who, as of Friday, were no longer needed. It'd be a class move to acknowledge the city appreciation.

Excuse me, but this paragraph is the one of the worst examples of sheer, dishonest, hypocritical bullshit I have ever seen roll of the State Street printing presses of the Northwestern.

Last week the NW printed what was essentially a hatchet job on the finalists for the interim manager position by running a disgracefully shoddy and embarrassing "profile piece." That article, very clearly, changed the mind of the a city councilor (by politicizing the search) who almost immediately decided to do away with the search for an interim manager.

Now they want Mayor Tower to apologize? Either the NW has boulder-sized balls or is completely oblivious to its own gross negligence ... If anyone should be apologizing to the finalists it should be the Northwestern.

If there is anyone who should stop dicking around, or "twiddling its thumbs", it's the Northwestern. They should adopt a position on the future of the city and and maintain a consistent position, noting when events dictate a prudent change of course as they happen. In the past the NW has endorsed the idea of a change of government referendum -- does that mean the NW wants to see an elected Mayor running Oshkosh as opposed to a city manager? Why should we wait until April for the paper to make their opinion known on this issue? Wouldn't the NW also be wasting 6 months if it decided to not endorse the change of the government referendum come the spring election?

All I'm asking for is a little consistency, something this editorial and a lot of what the Northwestern has been publishing on local government recently has been woefully lacking.

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