Letter: Resident questions councilwoman’s ethics

To the Editor-

How can the questionable ethics of one person reflect poorly on city government as a whole? I have an example to share.

There are many roles of an alderperson. Among those, as detailed in the City of Stevens Point City Brochure titled “Role of Common Council and Alderpersons”:

  • Represent the interests of the district’s constituents, as well as those of the entire city.
  • Serve as a link between district residents and the city in resolving issues, need and complaints.
  • Communicate with residents using a wide variety of means.

So, if the person elected as a liaison to represent our opinions and concerns, lets us down, what can we do? The answer is ‘nothing’ because we elected her. We have to swallow it—all of it—and wish, in retrospect, that there had been a different result.

Specifically, a sidewalk continuation project has been slated in my neighborhood. Whether we have a leg to stand on to question the strategy and logistics is a moot point. We never had a chance. We never had the opportunity to get involved.

Unless we look at the report of every committee, every meeting minutes, unless we researched every Director of Public Works report, projects slip by us because ignorance is no excuse. The city has no obligation to knock on every resident’s door when some decision might affect him or her. I get that. Enter our alderperson—our representative. So, when surveyors, Public Works employees and Public Service workers showed up on multiple occasions, with flags and spray paint, I asked the question—what is going on? The answer was a surprise.

Logically, the next step was to email my alderperson. The responses were unquestionably indicative of a personal agenda that contradicts a key element of her responsibilities: educating constituents about topics that directly impact them.

Alderperson Dugan, your written responses to me were inaccurate and misleading. You said that “when a city department has a project coming up that will affect residents’ properties, that department sends notifications to those property owners.” You asked if I got one. You don’t know whether a letter was sent to the residents in YOUR district? The next response contradicted the first. You said “it is the city department’s responsibility to inform the neighbors,”….but not until the project is finalized, officially approved, and a timeframe is set. So, Alderperson, which is it? Should that department have notified us or not? Regardless, does ‘pass the buck’ apply?

You said, “I can let people know that the project is being proposed for a 2020 budget item, and I have.”

Alderperson, I contacted 30 residents in our neighborhood. Not one indicated to me that they knew of the project.

You said, “this project has not been approved.” On the contrary, what I have learned is that the project was approved to move forward and all that is left is the ‘rubber stamp.’

You said, “I am meeting with the Director of Public Works and after I have gotten a clearer picture of the plans, I will let you know.”

That was September 3—over two weeks later, we have heard nothing.

Most importantly, you asked, “How did this get LEAKED?”

Is it just me or does that seem inappropriate? To me, that implies an attempt to deceive rather than to inform.

Thank you, Alderperson Dugan. You have left us a day late and a dollar short. The time for information, inquiry, and opportunity for participation has passed. You have done nothing except demonstrate a conscious decision to deflect any opinion that lends deference to your personal agenda.

You pulled the rug out from under your constituents, and you hid behind the pretense that you are acting for the benefit of a greater good. That, in my opinion, is a disingenuous excuse. You have cost one constituent in particular, a financial loss that could have been avoided had you communicated this project. An underground sprinkling system was just installed last month. Had the homeowner known of the project, this could have been postponed. It is now in danger of being dug up and re-positioned at the homeowner’s expense.

Alderperson Dugan, you had an obligation to represent us and you not only failed us; you also failed the city government that you represent. This will, unfortunately, reflect on that body and fuel the suspicions, however misguided and inaccurate, that sometimes elicit distrust of local government.

Your response and hollow words will fall on deaf ears. There is no justification for your lack of concern for us in the 8th District. We pay the price for your self-indulgent motives. If you need shoulder surgery from patting yourself on the back, this is one constituent who will offer as much sympathy for you as you have given us.

Lois Precourt
Stevens Point

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