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BID Board Moving Forward After Months of Controversy

Alderman Duane Paulson tells Mayor Jeff Scrima "don't let the fruit rot" as the Waukesha Common Council approves his latest appointment to downtown business district's taxing board.

The Waukesha Business Improvement finally has enough members on its Board of Directors that it can start operations.

The BID has undergone a major upheaval after the majority of its 13-member board resigned following accusations of hostile working conditions from its resigning executive director. Mayor Jeff Scrima and the Waukesha Common Council have been battling for months over his appointments to the board.

The board could not meet without a quorum of at least seven members. The council appointed the seventh member during its meeting Tuesday night. Sandy Cianciolo, owner of Mia’s in downtown Waukesha, was appointed on a 7-6 vote.

Voting for the appointment were:

  • Paul Ybarra
  • Vance Skinner
  • Steve Johnson
  • Roger Patton
  • Andy Reiland
  • Joan Francoeur
  • Duane Paulson

Voting against the appointment were:

  • Rick Hastings
  • Joe Pieper
  • Kathleen Cummings
  • Eric Payne
  • Terry Thieme
  • John Kalblinger

Absent at the time of the vote:

  • Chris Hernandez
  • Adam Jankowski

For those approving the appointment, they did it with a word of caution. Ybarra quizzed Cianciolo about his commitment to continuing the BID.

“We need some harmony,” Ybarra said. “We really need a group that can put aside any of these other items, petty issues, and work with a calm, level head with respect. … Sometimes it is tough because people have opposing viewpoints.”

In approving the appointments, Ybarra expressed his displeasure with the mayor for not bring more people forward and for not appoint an alderman to the board. For weeks, the Waukesha aldermen have told the mayor they want more diverse appointments and an alderman to be appointed to the board.

“For some reason, this particular mayor can’t bring one of those names,” Ybarra said about people the council have suggested.

Paulson’s been vocal against the mayor’s appointment selections. He said Tuesday he was disappointed that names the council brought to the mayor were not appointed. However, he decided to extend “the olive branch.”

“Don’t let the fruit rot,” Paulson warned.

City Administrator Ed Henschel, who is a member of the BID board, told the council in a memo he hasn’t discussed the individual appointments with Scrima. However, he urged the council to approve the appointment to get the BID working again.

“This will provie me the opportunity to work with the board to develop a reorganization plan and budget for 2013,” Henschel said in the memo.

“It has been very clear that the council desires to have one of its members on the board,” Henschel added. "I have discussed that with the mayor and he is willing to appoint a council member to the BID board. In fact, he stated to me that if the council would approve Sandy Cianciolo, he would then nominate a council member to the board as well.”

Eleven board members resigned from the board in September following a controversial resignation letter and a council woman's request to remove the entire board.

The controversy stems from a resignation that letter that former Executive Director Meghan Sprager submitted in August that cited hostile working conditions from two BID board members as the reason for her departure.

Properties in the downtown area are taxed a special assessment to fund services of the BID, such as marketing, special events and business recruitment and retention.

Scott L November 23, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Jeff: I can't help but notice that you have an incessant vice against the WDBA. Yet, I have never heard (from anyone) how they are [allegedly] so bad for the downtown? What I do know is that they are responsible for some very positive events like Freeman Friday Night Live and Silver Bells in Waukesha - events that draw thousands of people downtown. I am aware of your issues with the street closures. However, any business who is unable to see beyond a relatively minor inconvenience and harness this awesome stream of potential customers, really needs to take a good look at this obvious opportunity to excel and harness it. As the old adage goes, "if you can't beat em, join em"! It appears to me that there are only a few individuals festering over certain things and they need to be buried in the past. Personal experience shows that resentments only take me backwards in life. Probably because resentments are like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I am the one being harmed, not them... Have a great Holiday Season Jeff, and I hope you can see beyond the past and move forward "together" with the downtown merchants. ;-)
jeff Barta November 23, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@ Scott I’m surprised you haven’t heard from anyone about the problems in the WDBA, it has been well publicized on the blogs and in the papers. So let me lay it out for you; their leadership has both participated overtly or allowed bullying behavior downtown in order to quiet any questions or opposition to their policies. This was well publicized when 10 business owners spoke in front of the common council to relay their stories in the wake of the BID staff resignations. Spend some time talking to business owners downtown and you will get confirmation. So while the WDBA has done some wonderful things that doesn’t give them a pass on their bad behavior. That is why I have been critical of that organization. They claim to speak for all of downtown but they don’t. They have marginalized and isolated divergent viewpoints to get their way and create the appearance that they speak for all of downtown. Their willful disregard of other opinions and poor treatment of fellow merchants needs to be exposed so it stops! We could really build on downtown if we had a more inclusive association downtown.
jeff Barta November 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM
@Scott As far as the street closure issue, I’ve repeatedly stated my business is better positioned to deal with the closures than others. Many business are not conductive to a street festival and they are ignored. Don’t they deserve a voice? To say that 18 straight Fridays is a minor inconvenience is simply wrong. The organization has ignored concerns about the long term impact of frequent street closures, the unintended consequences of increased shoplifting, displacing regular customers for extended periods of time, or losing businesses that don’t want to deal with those issues. As an obvious fan of the WDBA you should ask why they ignore the concerns of their fellow merchants. It is not just a couple of disgruntled negative thinking people downtown. Numerous individuals have spoken up in the past couple of months and the WDBA has lost membership because of these problems. You have a great holiday season too Scott and hope to see you downtown.
Mainstreet TheShaw November 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Ditto Jeff, Seems like those posters feel they are right and everybody else is wrong. It is a shame they are so closed minded in their outlook.
Susie November 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
It is just a couple of disgruntled negative thinking people downtown. For the hundreds and thousands of the rest of us: When we finally kiss goodnight How we’ll hate going out in the storm! But if you'll really hold me tight All the way home we’ll be warm The fire is slowly dying And, my dear, we're still goodbying But as long as you love me so Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! See: http://www.waukeshasilverbells.com

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