Monday, March 11, 2013

What You May Not Know: Week Of March 11

This week we'll start with some announcements:

First, the League of Women Voters is holding a candidate forum Wednesday night at 6 at the Appleton Public Library. I'll be there along with five other candidates for the three contested races in the April 2 election, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to discuss Appleton's future.

Second, I'm expecting yard signs to come in later today (Monday). If you live in the district and would like one, let me know by commenting on this post or emailing me at

Now, moving on to this week's committee highlights:

City Planning Commission, Monday, 4 pm:

The City Planning Commission meets at 4 pm Monday to discuss action items including Alderman Joe Martin's recent resolution to allow honeybees to be kept on urban farms in the city, provided the owners have a permit from the Health Department.

This is certain to draw lots of conversation from both opponents and proponents, and at the moment I'm not entirely sure where I stand on it. I'm in favor of the benefit of having beehives on urban farms in the city, but I'd need to hear more about how these hives are regulated and any potentially related safety issues before I'd be comfortable supporting it.

Human Resources, Monday, 5 pm:

The city's non-union compensation plan is a big story again this week, as Alderman Teege Metille's alternate proposal has been sent back to committee for revisions and cleanup. Metille's plan, which can be seen on pages 61-62 of this week's Alderpersons weekly packet, calls for a classification compensation study team of department heads and non-management employees to work together with the HR department to reevaluate and recommend changes to the city's current compensation plan.

An amendment to remove Alderman Metille's proposal and replace it with the original Carlson Consulting plan was defeated on the floor during Wednesday's full council meeting, so now we're moving forward with a discussion of this new plan.

This has been a hot issue for months and there's been a lot of criticism of the council for the length of the process, but I think when we're talking about the pay plan for hundreds of city employees it's more important to get this right than to do it quickly.

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 4 pm:

 Action item A on this week's agenda is the approval of the addition of bike lanes on Mason Street from Prospect Avenue all the way up to the north city limits, which are a few blocks north of Northland Avenue. The bike lanes will be six feet wide, as compared to the 12-foot traffic lanes.

This is part of the city's On-Street Bicycle Lane Plan, which was approved unanimously by the council back in 2010. Mason Street is listen in the plan as "a critical north-south 'backbone' segment of the bike lane network," and "the only continuous north south connection in the area that is capable of safely accomodating bicycles."

The biggest drawback of this plan is that the on-street parking on both sides of Mason Street would have to be removed to make room for the lanes. The notes on these proposed lanes say "negligible on-street parking actually occurs" in this location.

I'll be curious to see if there's any public reaction to this proposal, the addition of bike lanes or the removal of parking to do so. I'm in favor of adding the bike lanes, but I can see how local residents losing the parking in front of their homes would not be.

Finance, Wednesday, 5 pm:

The finance committee will meet in a closed session on Wednesday, but once their meeting reopens they once again have a discussion planned regarding the proposed change to the interest rate for deferred payments on special assessments. This committee had an interesting conversation with members of the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin two weeks ago regarding the divide over whether these city loans should be viewed as "secured" or "unsecured," and what that could mean for potential interest rates.

It's unlikely anything concrete will be decided this week on this matter, but the groundwork is being laid for a future proposal.

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. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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