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BID Board Moving Forward After Months of Controversy

Alderman Duane Paulson tells Mayor Jeff Scrima "don't let the fruit rot" as the Waukesha Common Council approves his latest appointment to downtown business district's taxing board.

The Waukesha Business Improvement finally has enough members on its Board of Directors that it can start operations.

The BID has undergone a major upheaval after the majority of its 13-member board resigned following accusations of hostile working conditions from its resigning executive director. Mayor Jeff Scrima and the Waukesha Common Council have been battling for months over his appointments to the board.

The board could not meet without a quorum of at least seven members. The council appointed the seventh member during its meeting Tuesday night. Sandy Cianciolo, owner of Mia’s in downtown Waukesha, was appointed on a 7-6 vote.

Voting for the appointment were:

  • Paul Ybarra
  • Vance Skinner
  • Steve Johnson
  • Roger Patton
  • Andy Reiland
  • Joan Francoeur
  • Duane Paulson

Voting against the appointment were:

  • Rick Hastings
  • Joe Pieper
  • Kathleen Cummings
  • Eric Payne
  • Terry Thieme
  • John Kalblinger

Absent at the time of the vote:

  • Chris Hernandez
  • Adam Jankowski

For those approving the appointment, they did it with a word of caution. Ybarra quizzed Cianciolo about his commitment to continuing the BID.

“We need some harmony,” Ybarra said. “We really need a group that can put aside any of these other items, petty issues, and work with a calm, level head with respect. … Sometimes it is tough because people have opposing viewpoints.”

In approving the appointments, Ybarra expressed his displeasure with the mayor for not bring more people forward and for not appoint an alderman to the board. For weeks, the Waukesha aldermen have told the mayor they want more diverse appointments and an alderman to be appointed to the board.

“For some reason, this particular mayor can’t bring one of those names,” Ybarra said about people the council have suggested.

Paulson’s been vocal against the mayor’s appointment selections. He said Tuesday he was disappointed that names the council brought to the mayor were not appointed. However, he decided to extend “the olive branch.”

“Don’t let the fruit rot,” Paulson warned.

City Administrator Ed Henschel, who is a member of the BID board, told the council in a memo he hasn’t discussed the individual appointments with Scrima. However, he urged the council to approve the appointment to get the BID working again.

“This will provie me the opportunity to work with the board to develop a reorganization plan and budget for 2013,” Henschel said in the memo.

“It has been very clear that the council desires to have one of its members on the board,” Henschel added. "I have discussed that with the mayor and he is willing to appoint a council member to the BID board. In fact, he stated to me that if the council would approve Sandy Cianciolo, he would then nominate a council member to the board as well.”

Eleven board members resigned from the board in September following a controversial resignation letter and a council woman's request to remove the entire board.

The controversy stems from a resignation that letter that former Executive Director Meghan Sprager submitted in August that cited hostile working conditions from two BID board members as the reason for her departure.

Properties in the downtown area are taxed a special assessment to fund services of the BID, such as marketing, special events and business recruitment and retention.

Mainstreet TheShaw November 21, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The Mayor of Waukesha is, in my opinion, not worthy of the voters of Waukesha. Joan Francoeur or Paul Ybarra would be a great replacement for this divisive and uneducated Mayor. I am asking for Jeff Scrima to do what would be best for the voters of Waukesha and resign.
travelone November 21, 2012 at 09:35 PM
"I have discussed that with the mayor and he is willing to appoint a council member to the BID board. In fact, he stated to me that if the council would approve Sandy Cianciolo, he would then nominate a council member to the board as well.” This sounds like more manipulation by the mayor.
the 'sha guy November 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
You are joking, right?
Common Commentator November 21, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Those who attack the mayor are attempting to divert attention away from the positive momentum of renewal downtown that the mayor represents. Remember that Mayor Scrima was a driving force behind the expansion of the Farmer’s Market this year, the expansion of Freeman Friday Night Live (through the Downtown Task Force), and brought us the GuitarTown national public arts project. Mayor Scrima also appointed Huelesman, Walters, Henschel, Lostetter, Martinez, Taylor and Cianciolo to the downtown BID taxing authority. Why would some want to create a diversion away from this positive momentum of renewal downtown? Sadly a few folks downtown do not understand that our downtown is the only area of the city specifically designated for cultural, entertainment and urban activities. Sadly a few folks do not like the increased traffic and noise that these activities bring. Sadly a few folks do not want to share our downtown with others. These folks should move out of downtown. Nonetheless, the positive momentum of renewal downtown can’t be stopped. (In fact, the more people attack the people behind the positive and renewal downtown, the more sympathy and under current of support it draws to them.) The thousands of people who have experienced Freeman Friday Night Live, the Farmers Market, GuitarTown and other downtown events, are going to tell their family and friends, and just keep coming and coming and coming and coming!
Mike Talin November 22, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Whoa! Commenter must be a friend of the little guy. Many of us have clearly said for quite some time that our "current" mayor is not fit for this elective position. Are you saying we have no right to our opinion? Or were you just kidding. The mayor has consistently inflamed the process by making snide comments to and about alderperson's and citizen's which have been why off base and clearly inflammatory. It is not the mayor who has gotten us on the map. It has been the BID along with the downtown business owners and the people of Waukesha who have longed for the "good old day's" of having a vibrant down town. We find your comments rude and offensive.
Skip Wieserman November 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM
@ Mainstreet TheShaw, travelone, Mike Talin, and let's not forget the 'sha guy: You pithy cowards come to this forum and rant about everything you dislike about Waukesha, downtown, the Mayor, etc. The sad thing is that you don't even have the courage to use your real name. Obviously your inferiority complex is stoked when you act all important by trying to inject your opinion on various "hot" topics, but its all self serving. The truth is that it really holds no value or authority to anyone in Waukesha who has any level of integrity or insight. Rather than coming in here and whining about things that obviously bother you, why don't each and every one of you take a proactive approach to doing something about what you perceive as a problem. Do any of you have the knowledge, skill or education necessary to really do something.
Skip Wieserman November 22, 2012 at 12:29 PM
@ Mainstreet TheShaw: The truth is that there are several Common Council members who have let the role and power of their position get the best of them. They act like GOD behind their microphones in Council chambers and completely disrespect the Mayor and many others. They do not act on the will of the majority of the people, they act on caprice and serve only their selfish, personal desires. When attitudes such as this possess any person in a role of power its time to find someone to replace them. These individuals are drunk with power and should take notice that their reappointment's are just months away.
Scott L November 22, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Touche Skip! I also find the condescending comments from people who hide behind a pseudonym pretty much useless. What are they hiding from?????? And why don't they do something about things they see that need to be changed??? My motto has always been that if you want something done (or changed) do something about it. As a web developer I invest countless hours (and some money) in bettering the Waukesha area: - For 10 years Friday Night Live didn't have a website to reference who was playing when and where, so I bought several domain variations and launched a website. (waukeshafreemanfridaynightlive.com) - With the Guitar Town Project I anticipated the need for a resource to help people find all the Les Paul Historical areas, etc. I purchased the domain and launched a website (homeoflespaul.com) - I bought the domain and launched aroundwaukesha.com These are just a few of the contributions that I have and continue to make for our city. I don't seek recognition or praise because its just stuff and I have the ability to do it. I'm secure in my character and I'm comfortable speaking my mind. If you don't like what I say or believe in that's fine; after all we all are entitled to our opinion. It take's away from me as an individual if I hide behind a fake name and speak my mind... I think that all of you who are hiding your identity should come out of the closet and let us see who you really are so we know you. It's okay, really!
Victoria Hekkers November 22, 2012 at 02:21 PM
It is clear and common knowledge that the majority of property owners downtown want the majority of the BID board to be property owners. That is just plain common sense. Why would they want anything else? There seems to be a few small business owners who think otherwise and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince others of that. Those few and their leader are most likely the anonymous posters on this site. If they came forward and tried to resolve the issues, they would be welcomed with open arms so they hide so know one will know how few of them there are and how unwilling they are to open discussion and compromise.
Scott L November 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
It appears to be about power and control. If you are anonymous then your voice is not really heard, is it? Excusing all the technicalities and whatnot, I am just glad to see things moving forward. They need 6 more members and hopefully some of those members will be individuals who are not downtown business owners - just to keep the playing field level. I have to do my part by supporting the Mayor, the Common Council, and all members of the BID Board to at least give this new group of people a chance.
the 'sha guy November 22, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Skp, Sorry, but you must have me mistaken for someone else. I don't believe I've said anything really negative about the mayor I've never ranted against anything downtown. FFNL, Farmers Market, Guitar town and the restaurant scene is also nice. Sorry, but I have no vested interest in downtown other than visiting some dining establishments a couple times a year. But since you want to call me out, I'm going to call your own hypocrisy here. Is Skip Wieserman your real name? Or, do you feel you can use a screen name while others should not be allowed to do as they wish. If it is your real name, my apologies, However, I also notice that your other posts on here seem to all be negative towards a few individuals as well, yet you are the one complaining about negative rants. Is there not a need to follow your own set of rules? If you are going to talk the talk, make sure you can walk the walk.
Pithy November 22, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Those who make personal attacks are attempting to divert attention away from the opinion that their target represents. I agree with what the Common Commentator said (above). As for me and my family, we are going to continue to enjoy the fun events downtown like Freeman Friday Night Live, the Farmer’s Market, GuitarTown, as well as the positive businesses like People’s Park, River’s End Gallery, the Steaming Cup, Allo’ Chocolate and others! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!
Skip Wieserman November 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
@ the 'sha guy My humble apologies - you are one of the rare commentators that actually have positive things to say. I cannot edit past posts, so please accept this as my clarification that I wrongfully entered "the 'sha guy" in my preceding comment. As for your statement, "I also notice that your other posts on here seem to all be negative towards a few individuals as well", I agree that they are not real positive. However, I felt it necessary to take a stand and call some of these people out. Whether I do this anonymously has little bearing on the fact of their negative comments and cowardice. Perhaps one day I will shed the very shroud of anonymity that I criticize, but right now is not a good time - at least not until the dust settles... Have a great Thanksgiving and Holiday season overall ;-)
Mainstreet TheShaw November 23, 2012 at 01:18 AM
No, it is not about power and/or control. It is about the proper administration or rules and decorum while increasing the profitability of our community. You mentioned several entities who have clearly have been trying to play by or invent their own rules for their specific events or businesses. You might as well add in The Almont Gallery which is one of the primary cause of the collapse of the BID Board employees and volunteers. I see your condensing remarks and find your "we are better than you" attitude childish and juvenile. Sticks and stones...blah, blah, blah....the fact is we need a change and the change we need starts at the removal of the current Mayor. Our Council Members are by and large comprised with the wherewithal to get business done without the inane temper tantrums of the mayor.
Good, True, Beautiful November 23, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Critics are cold and timid souls. Special thanks to those who are actually in the downtown, come together and devote themselves to making downtown better place for our families to work and play. And please consider shopping local this Christmas season! http://www.waukeshasilverbells.com Many blessings!
jeff Barta November 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Those who criticize the mayor do so with good reason. It has nothing to do with distracting people from the positives of downtown. That is such a ridiculous statement. If the mayor was a true leader he would wouldn’t be playing the games he has downtown and drawing criticism. "Critics are cold and timid souls" is another ridiculous statement. Criticism is how we get better, how we actually improve. Leadership downtown takes every opportunity to suppress criticism. It is why so much is vented in forums like this. There is no voice for anyone downtown who disagrees with the WDBA. Hopefully they will see the light and be more inclusive and nuturing. And yes do shop and play local, downtown has lots to offer! See we can agree on somethings! :)
Scott L November 23, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Jeff: I can't help but notice that you have an incessant vice against the WDBA. Yet, I have never heard (from anyone) how they are [allegedly] so bad for the downtown? What I do know is that they are responsible for some very positive events like Freeman Friday Night Live and Silver Bells in Waukesha - events that draw thousands of people downtown. I am aware of your issues with the street closures. However, any business who is unable to see beyond a relatively minor inconvenience and harness this awesome stream of potential customers, really needs to take a good look at this obvious opportunity to excel and harness it. As the old adage goes, "if you can't beat em, join em"! It appears to me that there are only a few individuals festering over certain things and they need to be buried in the past. Personal experience shows that resentments only take me backwards in life. Probably because resentments are like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I am the one being harmed, not them... Have a great Holiday Season Jeff, and I hope you can see beyond the past and move forward "together" with the downtown merchants. ;-)
jeff Barta November 23, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@ Scott I’m surprised you haven’t heard from anyone about the problems in the WDBA, it has been well publicized on the blogs and in the papers. So let me lay it out for you; their leadership has both participated overtly or allowed bullying behavior downtown in order to quiet any questions or opposition to their policies. This was well publicized when 10 business owners spoke in front of the common council to relay their stories in the wake of the BID staff resignations. Spend some time talking to business owners downtown and you will get confirmation. So while the WDBA has done some wonderful things that doesn’t give them a pass on their bad behavior. That is why I have been critical of that organization. They claim to speak for all of downtown but they don’t. They have marginalized and isolated divergent viewpoints to get their way and create the appearance that they speak for all of downtown. Their willful disregard of other opinions and poor treatment of fellow merchants needs to be exposed so it stops! We could really build on downtown if we had a more inclusive association downtown.
jeff Barta November 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM
@Scott As far as the street closure issue, I’ve repeatedly stated my business is better positioned to deal with the closures than others. Many business are not conductive to a street festival and they are ignored. Don’t they deserve a voice? To say that 18 straight Fridays is a minor inconvenience is simply wrong. The organization has ignored concerns about the long term impact of frequent street closures, the unintended consequences of increased shoplifting, displacing regular customers for extended periods of time, or losing businesses that don’t want to deal with those issues. As an obvious fan of the WDBA you should ask why they ignore the concerns of their fellow merchants. It is not just a couple of disgruntled negative thinking people downtown. Numerous individuals have spoken up in the past couple of months and the WDBA has lost membership because of these problems. You have a great holiday season too Scott and hope to see you downtown.
Mainstreet TheShaw November 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Ditto Jeff, Seems like those posters feel they are right and everybody else is wrong. It is a shame they are so closed minded in their outlook.
Susie November 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
It is just a couple of disgruntled negative thinking people downtown. For the hundreds and thousands of the rest of us: When we finally kiss goodnight How we’ll hate going out in the storm! But if you'll really hold me tight All the way home we’ll be warm The fire is slowly dying And, my dear, we're still goodbying But as long as you love me so Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! See: http://www.waukeshasilverbells.com

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