Post Christmas

Fog on the lake.

Post Christmas clean up is underway. Dishes are washed, beds being remade and the vacuum is going full steam after three dogs have played from one end of the house to the other. I’ve found chew toys hidden in the couch cushions, under the couch and in one of the beds.

Our son and daughter just got on the road to head back to Madison. I miss them already. This is really the only downside of living here, not being closer to them. They are fun to be with and both keep me on my toes when we debate issues.

I spent last Saturday at our Town waste and recycling facility, or dump as we all call it. I was getting signatures for our Spring election. Tim Sheldon was there in the morning meeting and talking with town voters and I was there in the afternoon. Tim is also running for Town Supervisor.

If you get a chance, talk with Tim. He has some excellent ideas and would be a great addition to our town government. We both agree that going forward there is a very real need to take our time and have ample research done prior to making further changes. We need to know the pros and the cons of what those changes would cause and if we as the residents of the Town of Spider Lake want to pay that price. We also need the time to get feedback from as many of our taxpayers as possible.

The ATV/UTV survey is an excellent example of how to get taxpayers involved. Unfortunately our town board refused to listen despite having an overwhelming response indicating they did not want our town roads opened to ATV/UTV use.

There is one question that has been asked of me and in all honesty I have no answer. Our town Chairman has stated that there is a minority group of disenfranchised taxpayers that he feels compelled to represent. This was his reason for voting to pass the ATV/UTV ordinance.

Majority rule is one of the foundations of Democracy. We had a majority of our taxpayers who do not want the town roads opened up to ATV/UTV use. So my questions to our Chairman are these. Who are the disenfranchised? Did they not have the same ability to fill out one of the surveys as everyone else? How are they disenfranchised? Is being one of a small group wanting the roads open give them more rights than the majority who do not?

I personally did not want the town roads opened to ATV/UTV use for two reasons. Number one was safety. So many of our town roads have no shoulders, are narrow with many blind curves. On those roads in the summer are cars and trucks pulling boats on trailers, landscaping trucks pulling trailers filled with equipment, large delivery and construction trucks. I took the time to look up the statistics on ATV/UTV deaths and injuries in Wisconsin. Not one of the victims was wearing a seatbelt and only one had a helmet on. Bicyclists, roller bladers and people walking can hear vehicles coming and can easily step or pull off the road. Not true with an ATV/UTV. What’s even more disturbing is the increase in injuries and even deaths of younger riders.

My second reason was our wildlife and many of the fragile wildflowers. During the spring many birds nest in the ditches. If riders run into the ditches, which many do, they will be destroying not only nests but wildflowers.

I went into our town meeting on December 11th not knowing what the results of the survey were. As I walked into the building my thoughts were, well, if the majority filled out their surveys in support of changing the ordinance, I will have to live with it. So I was happy to hear that the response was 2 to 1 opposed to opening the roads. Little did I know that our town board would go against what the majority of our property owners/taxpayers wanted. That they had in reality made the decision to ignore the survey and the majority of our property owners from the very beginning.

Going forward I think it is becoming clearer that we need more taxpayer input in the decision making process that affect us all. We need time to research both pros and cons of those decisions. We need time to get as much input as possible from as many taxpayers as possible. Every decision made affects not only the registered voters of our Town but every tax paying property owner. Who is speaking for them?

Our town deserves leadership that listens to everyone. Not just a small group of people but listen to all the taxpayers. Currently we don’t have that. If we want to maintain the beauty and serenity that we currently have we need to be good stewards and do what protects not only our way of life but the very land and waters we live on.

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