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Mayor Withdraws Veto With Street Closure Compromise

Possible impacts to Freeman Friday Night Live lead to veto and revised ordinance.

Working with city staff, the Common Council and Freeman Friday Night Live organizers, Mayor Jeff Scrima withdrew his veto of the city’s street closure ordinance Thursday night.

Scrima vetoed the ordinance with concerns that the language was vague and could lead to arbitrary decisions in the future, especially when it comes to the popular weekly summer music events in downtown Waukesha. And that veto upset several on the Common Council.

“We have a process and committee is where items are brought up and discussed and vetted,” Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings told Scrima. “It should not be in the paper.”

The council approved Thursday night an ordinance that fixed those concerns. The amended language calls for the city clerk to review the specific zoning code and neighborhood characteristics when making decisions about special event approvals.

“This was a good compromise,” Scrima said after the meeting. “The amended language … was important because it speaks to the character of specific areas within the city, as well as specific zoning districts within the city. Specifically the downtown is the only area of our city that is zoned for cultural entertainment in our city.”

Alderman Steve Johnson said the changes do not change the original intentions of the ordinance, which provides an outline of how special events should be approved.

The majority of the ordinance changes come from a downtown taskforce’s recommendation, including a requirement that event applicants maintain commercial liability insurance.

“What it does is satisfy the concerns of the mayor and the people running the activity downtown, which brought up the veto,” Johnson said.

'Nothing friendly about a friendly veto'

Not everyone was happy with the ordinance change, though.

Alderman John Kalblinger said he hopes the conflict can be resolved a different way in the future.

“I am not thrilled with what happened,” Kalblinger said. “It was not appropriate.”

Cummings was more blunt.

“There is nothing friendly about a friendly veto,” Cummings told Scrima. “These so many words do absolutely nothing but it just makes us all feel better about (the ordinance).”

Mr Lundt February 22, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I find it odd that the Waukesha legal team did not do a proper job of Vetting the bill but Scrima did? Either the city's ability to write legislation is beyond broken or the Mayor has been watching too many re-runs of LA Law and The Practice. I'm not suggesting I know the answer but Mayors typically do not reject bills for this reason.
maestro February 22, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Well we got a better ordinance and the ability to keep Freeman Friday Night Live, and that's music to our community's ears!
Yolanda Medina February 22, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Absolutely! Friday Night Live is one of the best features of Downtown Waukesha. And I view the willingness of the businesses to allow the closures as a sign of goodwill toward the community. I hope those squeeky-wheels don't try to throw a stick in the spokes....again.
Waukytalk February 22, 2013 at 07:45 PM
There was a change in the ordinance. Is a public hearing needed because of that?
Moon February 22, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Glad to see that the Common Council finally supports Freeman Friday Night Live!!!

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