All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The HRPS report: All 5 vote Yes, not all enthusiastic about the recommendation

While I really did not expect any other outcome from the Human Resource and Public Safety Committee meeting Wed. night, still the proceedings of the meeting disturbed me. The way the meeting was conducted fully illustrated why committees so frequently unanimously approve ill conceived proposals. It is often said: An individual is much more reluctant to be wrong alone than in a committee. That was certainly true Wed. night.

This is how the meeting unfolded:
Alderman Mahkorn, chair of the committee, asked for some background. Dean Marquardt gave a little history of our fire stations. He mentioned the cost to rebuild & relocate the stations has already been factored into our taxes so there would be no noticeable jump. He also cited a number of statistics that I do not buy into (to be addressed in a future blog).

First out of the gate to heartily support the Task Force resolution was Alderman Reddin. He approved the move because it was best for the majority of people.

Next Alderman Balzer said he did not have a problem with moving station #2 (Lilly & Capitol), because it needed updating. He also wanted the City to engage in further negotiations with the Town for the 4th station. His next response surprised me—it is not in his district. He said, station #3 (Moorland) is in a good location near the expressway, hotels, (etc.), it should be rebuilt on that spot.

Alderman Garvins concurred with the Task Force: move them and sell off the old land.

Alderman Franz agreed with Balzer: Station #3 should stay where it’s at and we should keep negotiating. “Are we still trying to negotiate”, he asked?

Mahkorn realizes he has 2 no votes. The measure would still pass, but he wants consensus. So he now tries to deflate Balzer and Franz’s position of keeping #3 where it is. He defines Franz’s statement as: keep #3 where it is because we might be able to work out an arrangement with the Town. (Trouble is, I don’t know if that was his position. It seemed to me Franz just thought #3 was in the best position regardless of the Town’s offer.) Then Mahkorn adds, I would be surprised if the Town’s proposal would come to pass—it shouldn’t be considered tonight. Then he goes to the big gun: “Would the Town’s offer change your opinion Chief Dahms?”

Chief Dahms, a bit taken aback, but explains: We’ve exhausted exploratory efforts...This is a tough question. Then he quotes the report: Relocation of 2 & 3 captures 13% more people into the 4 min. travel zone, reaching 70 % of households, etc. etc.

Mahkorn then goes on about how we made every effort to negotiate and how the current gesture won’t come to pass. He states his support for the resolution because he cannot justify leaving the (poor) quality of those buildings. (What happened to remodeling or rebuilding at the same location?) He goes on justifying his rationale for supporting the Task Force findings. That rationale was so illogical (too much to go into here, it will be a future blog).

Balzer then states his position again: I think everyone on the panel agrees that the fire stations need rebuilding, but I really have a problem about moving #3. You talk about a life threatening situation—needing to get to the freeway is very important! We need to discuss 1 more time with the Town—you don’t know if/where we are going to have an entrance to the freeway (at Calhoun).

Mahkorn: Would you still feel that way if the town wouldn’t work out?

Balzer: No, but I need to try one more time. Station #3 covers the whole east end and moving it covers ½ of New Berlin! (That fact does not change if the Town addition works out or not!)

Mahkorn clearly does not want to let Balzer be. He pressures Balzer to cave.

Reddin then says, I agree about the Town—it would be silly not to find out what the Town would do. But we should still move ahead and then if the Town works out, great.

Now Mahkorn works on Franz. Would your decision be the same if the Town would not work out? Franz mumbles something inaudible. Must have been a “no” because then Mahkorn asks Marquardt to fashion a motion.

The committee chats while Marquardt works on the motion. Balzer does not like it. He says he is uncomfortable without an amendment about the Town negotiations...he would have to vote NO because he wants to see more negotiating on this.

Reddin says there are plenty of chances to weigh in on this. (He may be too new to realize that the more times something passes committees, the more compelling the measure becomes. Few things ever get voted down later.)

Balzer then asks Dahms, What are your thoughts if we had a Town agreement? Would #3 still need to be moved? Now Dahms really is at a loss for words. He cites the track record of failure, then says #3 would not necessarily need moving, but adds, if located at Calhoun, the fire crew could go either to Barker or Moorland’s entrance ramps.

Mahkorn again states he has never been adverse to negotiating and Balzer again states his reservations about moving #3. Mahkorn really pushes, But if the Town isn’t which Balzer states, We need 1 more try!

The motion language is set—the committee approves the Task Force recommendations with the condition the Council pursues providing fire service to the town for the originally discussed (terms?). 5 yea votes, Balzer adds, Reluctantly.

So there you have it. Under cross examination, the witness caves in. Mahkorn is good at what he does, he is an assistant district attorney after all! The sad part is, no one ever questioned if the Task Force recommendation was a good one or not. It was an all or nothing proposition. It did not have to be. Such is life in Brookfield.


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