I have been a citizen of Brookfield for 24 years and a member of the Brookfield Common Council for eight years, including two years as president. Many blogs in the past have contained false and distorting info about public affairs. I will provide truthful information and maintain an influence on city policy.
Yesterday the JournalSentinel newsstand copy and the internet version both gave us the good news that WE Energies announced a 7 percent rate increase. This should be a call to arms for local tax payers. What would we think if the headline read: "7% property tax increase proposed ". This would spark a minor insurrection and state legislators would have TABOR enacted in no time. So far, I haven't heard a word of protest. This 7% increase wil be loaded onto the residential electric bill of property tax paying home owners beause of a projected 13.6% drop in electricity sales to LARGE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMERS. Why not make the big users make up the shortfall? WE Energy pays no local property taxes in spite of the fact that they have tens of thousands of utility poles, transformers and other facilities in the city that are tax free. We energies pays only a nominal permit fee for pavement cuts to access their facilities. Not only that, but their heavy equipment puts stress on local streets every day. and street obstructions are usually cauaed by utility trucks.
Now for those profits! Their profits increased by 7% in 2008 ($33.56 mil) and another 1% in 2009 ($3.6 mil) while revenues are declining! Why doesn't this compute? In a severe recession let profits go.
Recently I attended a meeting of the City of Brookfield Board of appeals. This blog however has nothing to do with the agenda items. My point here is the meeting venue itself. First, the committee members are seated with their backs to the audience or at a ninety degree profile view. Even worse, it is impossible to hear the discussion among the committee members or between the committee, citizens, and/or officiials. At this meeting, I was unable to hear any discussion or the committee's vote on the issue. I had to ask someone after the meeting adjourned what the committee's action was. They passed the issue unaimously! As far as I could tell, the only microphone in the house was at the podium where the petitioner and the public spoke. I was unable to tell if the committee members had any microrphones. It is impolite at best to have Committee members sitting with their backs to the audience and to those of us who take government seriously. Some years ago, the council authorized a video recording system, an electronic vote counting system and an electronic tote board to display the results of council votes. There also was much discussion as to the type of microphones to use. As of today, there is evidence of none of rhese in the council chambers. It would seem that individual lapel microphones would be the answer, but nothing has happened there either.