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Mayoral Appointments Turn Controversial in Waukesha

Some downtown residents angered by removal of Shawn Reilly from the Business Improvement District's Board of Directors.

The Waukesha Business Improvement District’s Board of Directors appointments turned controversial when Mayor Jeff Scrima didn’t re-appoint Shawn Reilly, the current president, to the position. The Common Council approved his appointments Tuesday night despite some community members asked for Reilly to remain on the board.

Roger Igelski and Steve Kassens were re-appointed to their positions. Attorney Jess Martinez replaced Reilly, Kerry Mackay, owner of the , replaced John Trotter and Natalie Walters replaced Ty Taylor.

Jeff Barta, who owns the Nice Ash Cigar Bar with his wife, described Reilly as the most “hard working and dedicated” board member.

“I urge the mayor to re-appoint Shawn Reilly to the BID board,” Barta said.

Reilly was instrumental in keeping the BID offices running when it was between executive directors earlier in the year. The BID is funded by a special tax assessment on downtown Waukesha properties.

Downtown property owner and resident Victoria Hekkers described Reilly as a fun guy who gets along with people. With the new appointments, only five of the 13 members own property in downtown Waukesha, she said.

“Perhaps you can tell me why you say one thing and do another thing,” Hekkers told Mayor Jeff Scrima, saying she supported him in his election for mayor. “You confuse me.”

Taking exception to Hekkers’ comments about the number of property owners being on the BID board, Norm Bruce, who owns Martha Merrell’s, noted that the business owners who are on the BID board do pay property taxes via their rent. They also pay personal property taxes for the items within their business.

“Those people have also done a great investment,” Bruce said. “Without the businesses downtown, the vitality that we have does not continue.”

Scrima defended his appointments, saying the candidates he selected to fill the board positions were extremely qualified.

“We are extremely, extremely blessed to have many qualified people contributing to the renaissance of the downtown and many people on the board and many qualified people that have been on the board in the past, as well as those who would like to be on the board someday,” Scrima said.

Reilly has done a great job for the BID, he said. Reilly, as past president, will remain on the executive committee.

“He will still have an active leadership role in the BID,” Scrima said.

There is still one position that could be open for re-appointment this year as Ron Lostetter from Carroll University’s term is also up this month. Scrima will bring forward appointments for that seat Nov. 15.

 Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, who voted against the appointments because she wanted Reilly re-appointed, questioned Scrima if he would re-appoint Reilly to the board. Scrima said it was possible within a year to place Reilly back on the board.

Cummings pushed for a promise from Scrima, and he replied “that is very likely to happen in the next year.”

Other appointments approved Tuesday night were:

  • Former Alderman Charles Lichtie to the public art commitee. Lichtie replaces Jeff Homar, who resigned.
  • Gina Sanchez Juarez to the Waukesha Housing Authority.
  • Richard Badke to the Electrical Examiners Board.
Peter C. Rathmann November 04, 2011 at 12:02 PM
The same Jeff Barta that invited his friends roach coach to serve food during Friday Night Live which directly competed with other BID member businesses wanted to keep Reilly? Please use the word "utilitarian" in a meeting again Jeff, is suits you well.......Good job Mayor!
jeff Barta November 04, 2011 at 03:49 PM
What Peter said has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the hardest working Board member of the BID was not reappointed. Unfortunately in downtown, it is a common practice to attack and not argue issues on the merits of the question at hand. The tactic of attacking deflects attention from the real issues and discourages future opposing views. It’s been a tactic used downtown for much too long and you know what it’s not working anymore. If Peter wants to take shots at me he should come see me and learn there is more than one side to a story. The real issue is why the hardest working and most qualified Board member was not reappointed and we now have an opportunity to correct that oversight. I hope the mayor does the right thing and reappoints Shawn Reilly to the BID Board.
uncool genius November 04, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Shawn Reilly is one of several good candidates for the BID Board. He will remain on the BID Executive Committee this next year, which gives direction to the Board. And it's not like he still can't contribute to the good of the downtown. This "controversy" is much to do about nothing.

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