Dec 2, 2016

Neighborhood Activists Fight Fitchburg, Wisconsin Mayor

Update: Mandatory sidewalks are a central issue in the spring 2017 mayoral election as a pro-let-neighborhoods-deide alder has declared his campaign for Mayor.
Fitchburg, Wisconsin  — Used to be Fitchburg, Wisconsin pols would gloat to reporters over holding the line on taxes, opening up city government, and abiding by simple platforms of safe-and-clean streets to maintain this rustic paradise less than ten miles out from the capitol.

Now, the city of Fitchburg is under assault by the Mayor's office whose vision includes higher property taxes, higher rents, grand urban designs, and mayor-knows-better-than-neighborhoods twaddle, and an off-putting arrogance that should offend households of most every political stripe.

None of the above characterizations are even controversial, so insular has become the Fitchburg mayor. 

What's the matter with Mayor Steve Arnold? At base Arnold is officious and malignant, treating residents showing an interest in City affairs as interlopers, (Thomas, Wisconsin State Journal).

Those beautiful, rustic Fitchburg roads where families have lived for decades? Arnold has decided they need sidewalks and major retrofits, and objecting residents just don't see the big picture that Arnold has divined and laid down in Arnold's Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

Fortunately, a motley coalition has grown in opposition to Arnold, and residents appear to be fishing around for an opponent for the mayoral election next April.

Alders Carol Poole, Julia Arata-Fratta, Jason C. Gonzalez, and Dan Carpenter are responding to the voice of the people, and deserve plaudits.

The four alders have drafted a resolution, (Resolution R-185-16), calling for the residents in existing neighborhoods to be the deciders on the question of whether bucolic roads and neighborhoods need to be retrofitted by Steve Arnold, and whether neighborhood residents should be socked with the unwanted bill.

Mayor Steve Arnold opposes the democratic citizens' resolution of course. Residents just don't realize Arnold will develop policy and their concerns are being addressed, says Arnold.

Arnold couches his opposition to neighborhood sentiment by assuring residents that he too opposes elements of his own mandatory-sidewalks push and that Resolution R-185-16 really is just going to bring more unwanted sidewalks, and "actually weaken ... prohibitions on installing sidewalks in existing subdivisions." Alice in Wonderland.

Mostly, Arnold declares that he knows what's best, hopes residents will come to see this, and that democratic, anti-mandatory sidewalk resolutions are not required. I hope you will see that I am right, says Arnold.

Seriously, and with no hyperbole.

In an email dated November 28, 2016 12:38:02 AM CST to numerous Fitchburg residents, Arnold writes in part, "no resolution is needed," and Arnold hopes residents should "not see a need for a separate resolution."

For a dose of reality, below is a reproductions of Resolution R-185-16, and part of an email chain to Arnold stating in unequivocal words that mandatory sidewalks are a terrible idea, and that Resolution R-185-16 is the mechanism to protect neighborhoods from Arnold. Arnold's repulsive reply is reproduced.

Fitchburg Resolution R-185-16

Email dated November 28, 2016 12:38:02 AM CST

From: Steve Arnold
Date: November 28, 2016 12:38:02 AM CST
To: Jay Hochmuth Cc: , Ahnaray Bizjak , Thomas Hovel , Wade Thompson , Patrick Marsh
Subject: Re: Sidewalk Resolution, R-185-16

... Thank you for your input on the bike and ped plan update and on resolution R-185-16. I think I understand your goals, and believe they are better served by the updated ped policies in the draft bike and ped plan, which were sent to all interested parties on 11/23. Adopting the resolution will actually weaken the plan's prohibitions on installing sidewalks in existing subdivisions. 

In any event, I oppose the concurrent passage of a resolution, [Resolution R-185-16], addressing the same subject matter as the bike and ped plan. Upon adoption, the plan will be Council policy, and no additional resolution is needed. Anything that the Council, as a body, wants for pedestrian policy should be in the plan. 

It is my hope that your concerns will be addressed by the plan itself, and that after review of the next draft, you will not see a need for a separate resolution. 

Feel free to share this with interested neighbors.
 -- Steve Arnold, Mayor ...

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