Monday, February 18, 2013

What You May Not Know: Week Of February 18

Before we talk about this week's council activity, here's a quick reminder that there's a primary election on Tuesday to narrow the field of five candidates running for two spots on the Appleton School Board and three candidates running for one spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Your polling locations are the same as they were for last fall's general election (for residents of District 13 it's Faith Lutheran Church on East Evergreen), but if you need a reminder or are voting for the first time since moving you can find your voting place here. If you're not registered to vote or need to change your address you can do so at the polls.

I'm not endorsing any candidates in these races, but I will say I think the Post Crescent did a great job gathering information on all five school board candidates for their profiles on the paper's Politics page.

Looking ahead a day, the full council meets on Wednesday night and here are some of the big items on their agenda:

Human Resources:

The city's proposed new non-union compensation plan will be before the Council again this week, although not much has changed since it appeared there two weeks ago. The Human Resources committee recommended the proposal be rejected by a split 2-2 vote, which is only different from their last 3-1 vote to reject because different aldermen were absent from the meetings.

Everyone wants the city to finish this plan and do what's right for its employees, but unfortunately it appears this proposed plan has some serious issues. Even setting aside the math issues that took months to resolve, this plan calls for hiring new city workers at an estimated 80% of market value, well below the 83% offered in the previous plan and even less than the 87.5% Carlson Consulting has recommended in other cities.

Another problem with the plan lies in the data collection used to establish those rates, which was done by necessity in secret because the private sector data is proprietary. That doesn't leave room for any transparency in the process of determining salary for hundreds of city employees.

There's still a chance this plan, with its established flaws, will be approved by the council Wednesday night. If not, it will be set aside and staff will be directed to produce a new proposal.

Also denied last week was a proposal to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday for all city employees. The proposal ran into a sticking point regarding the differences between the city's non-union employees, who could have this change made immediately, and the union-represented employees who have already bargained for holidays in their contracts. The proposal was denied by a 2-2 vote, but don't be surprised if it's amended on the council floor to pertain to only non-union employees and passes.

Parks and Recreation:

On Wednesday three members of the Parks and Rec committee voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Friends of Appleton Skate Park, a group looking to build a skate park in Telulah Park. The group is looking to begin fundraising to help develop a facility and will take a key step forward if this memorandum is approved. 

The full text of the proposed agreement appears on pages 188-189 of last week's Alderperson packets.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as a candidate for and a potential member of Appleton's City Council. There's a lot going on and a lot of information out there, but I'm happy to do everything I can to make these decisions and the discussions around them as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested.

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