Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
I didn't think Tom Schellinger could surprise me anymore with the lengths he would go to win an election, but I was wrong!
First, he has his ubiquitous generic Vote Schellinger signs that come out every spring election season, some that still bear the stickers from his run for Assembly rather than Alderman.
When he ran for mayor in 2006, he declined taking part in the candidate Q&A forum our neighborhood hosted, but then showed up (while in progress) expecting to be given time to make a speech and avoid any questions!
In 2008, when running against Renee' Lowerr (to regain his lost Aldermanic seat) he violated campaign sign rules by planting 5 signs on one lawn across from our polling place. One homeowner in the area said he did not ask permission. That stunt prompted me to write Shame on you, Schellinger: illegally placed signs.
But this time, Tom Schellinger has gone too far, in my opinion. He has distributed very misleading campaign fliers, inferring his opponent Renee' Lowerr voted for controversial measures on the council before she even became an alderman!
The first side of his flier just says, Vote Schellinger, but then adds, Republican Alderman for District 7. Never mind spring elections are supposed to be non-partisan races.
I called our Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel about this and the misleading information included on Schellinger's flier. When I mentioned the candidate was Tom Schellinger, he did say "I am used to hearing his name... he does seem to run for everything." Schimel said it is a violation to knowingly put in false information on campaign literature, but proving it is the problem. He then added, it's kind of unethical to put in party affiliation, but it is not against the rules. These elections are supposed to be non-partisan. Yet Schellinger touts his Republicanism on both sides of his flier. On the back side, he infers Lowerr is not Republican by stating, "Vote for a Republican Alderman..." May I say that I will be; I'll be voting for Renee' Lowerr.
While it is true that it is difficult to prove someone is willingly trying to mislead the voters, I would like to at least share some of the facts surrounding the 3 development issues he raises on the back of his flier. Then you, the voter, can decide for yourself.
Issue 1 - Fire Station 3: Schellinger states, "Fire Station 3 was moved out of District 7. A move I would have voted against. In an emergency every second counts! I support tornado warning sirens."
To me, this infers Renee Lowerr voted for or supported the move, except for the fact she was not elected to the Council until April 1, 2008! The move was voted on Oct. 3, 2007. Alderman Lisa Mellone (she defeated Schellinger in 2006) voted no. Since this was BEFORE Lowerr was elected, our other District 7 Alderman was Mike Franz. He voted FOR the move. It was no wonder I blogged, "Sadly, my other district 7 alderman, Mike Franz, voted yes. Yes, to his own district 7 residents soon to have the longest EMS response times in the city. I sure hope someone is considering running for district 7 alderman next spring. We need another alderman who will represent US and our interests."
Renee' Lowerr was at that fire station council meeting and emailed me this report: "The meeting was well attended by mostly Greenfield Heights Residents... I believe that I [Renee Lowerr] was the only resident East of Calhoun that spoke about re-considering their Fire Station move vote & rebuild at current location [on Moorland]." And I am happy to report that Renee Lowerr did step forward the following spring to run for Alderman and won... against Schellinger.
Issue 2 - The former Sentry store, now vacant lot on Calhoun and Greenfield: Here Schellinger writes, "Alderperson Renee Lowerr helped derail this development on Calhoun and Greenfield costing the city thousands of dollars in tax revenue and robbing the neighborhood of the convenience of walking to shops, restaurants, and other services. Was it because Renee's back yard is located right along the lot line?"
Now, it is true that Renee' Lowerr filed a protest petition against the first Deer Creek Plaza shopping mall plan at that location, not because it was in her back yard, but because it was of that Modified Suburban Overlay design that placed the store in the front of the lot and the parking at the back. This was in 2003, 5 years BEFORE Lowerr ran for Alderman and won. This MSO arrangement was objectionable to the neighbors living along the lot line because it put the public in such close proximity to their private property, unlike the former Sentry with its loading dock at the back. Incidentally, the developer wanted to build it in the traditional design; the city was the one mandating the 2020 Master Plan MSO.
Renee got a vast majority of her neighborhood to sign the petition, presented it to the Common Council, and the Council voted to REJECT that plan 11 to 1. Tom Schellinger was one of the votes that voted AGAINST it, thus "derailing" that development. Renee' Lowerr became legendary for she was one of the first people to fight City Hall over unwanted development and win.
Please note that this neighborhood built or bought their homes with the Sentry grocery store in their backyards. Again, it wasn't the development that was a problem, it was the configuration of the MSO with public parking so close to their lot lines.
Another plan was brought forward, with some expensive options, but the developer couldn't afford to build it for the rent estimates. In June of 2005, the developer came forward with a more modest plan, but the Plan Commission wouldn't approve it. There was something on the Common Council Agenda and approved in Dec. 2007 for the strip mall, this time in the traditional configuration of stores in back/parking in front. From the Council Minutes: "• P.C. #3: JBK Properties, Inc., for approval of new plan and method of operation for construction of two buildings...retail space...at the NE corner of S. Calhoun Road and W. Greenfield Avenue...Deer Creek Plaza."
Renee Lowerr was in favor of those other strip malls in her backyard. She was not alderman at the time. If we are pointing fingers, I think the Plan Commission, with their extras, and the 2008 recession are really to blame. I referred to this project in Another planned Brookfield project falls through in 2009.
Issue 3 - The Target Store at former Quebecor site on 124th and Bluemound: Schellinger asks, "Would you want this massive Target store in your backyard? As long as it was not in her own backyard, Renee Lowerr thought so! She voted to put it in someone else's backyard." Schellinger's statement here shows how out of touch he is with this neighborhood, because most residents actually are in favor of the project.
First of all, Renee Lowerr wasn't even an alderman when this project was originally approved over 6 years ago. Since then, Alderman Lisa Mellone, and Alderman Renee Lowerr (when she was elected) have worked in cooperation with the Columbia Gardens neighborhood that adjoins the development. (Photo depicts Columbia Blvd. with development on left and neighborhood on right.)
But even before Lowerr was elected, when the neighbors met at a Plan Commission meeting in 2006, "they were in favor of the property being redeveloped". They did have concerns: #1 restricting development traffic from their neighborhood, #2 keeping the berm on Columbia, #3 preference to condo over apartments and #4 "fear that the retail will remain vacant due to the glut in the retail space already available in Brookfield."
Fast forward 6 years to the present, and those concerns have been eliminated or dealt with: #1 development traffic cannot enter directly into the neighborhood, #2 the berm is being kept and in fact, enhanced, #3 there are no more apartments or condos included in the project, and #4 the retail involved here is very popular: Target and Trader Joes. The 3rd largest retailer has something to do with home goods/products, but has not been announced yet.
As for the accusation that Target is in these resident's backyards, not so. I drove down Columbia Blvd. to see for myself. (Above photo was taken closer to Bluemound on Columbia. Use tan area, where water main excavation was done, as a reference point.) There are 5 homes facing the street adjoining the project (to the left of the street) So there is the street, then grass, then sidewalk/bike path, a berm with trees (more evergreens are to be planted), then parking lot space, and finally the Target store side! And not one Vote Schellinger sign. Wouldn't you think if these people were so upset with their current aldermen they would be supporting their old one?
His last salvo is "Our current Alderpersons are in alignment with developers as long as it's not in their own backyard. Are they representing District 7?" He then urges you to vote for NEW leadership, vote for a Republican...
Don't these statements make it seem that Schellinger opposed development that residents were opposed to when he was an alderman? Well, that certainly is not true if you look at his record.
A quick Google to some past issues I was following show he voted for Capitol Heights, a real heart breaker for District 2. When I voiced my concerns to him over adding 2 restaurants and 2 stores in the parking lot of Brookfield Square, creating more traffic on Bluemound and Moorland in his district, his reply was, You should see the traffic in Europe! He voted in favor of the Gateway corner buildings of Brookfield Square, which was a TIF #3 district by the way. (So much for his concern about lost tax revenues at Deer Creek Plaza on Calhoun and Greenfield from Issue #1.)
How about development approvals since he was voted out of office? Lisa Mellone and Renee Lowerr voted against the Hooters. Before Lowerr was elected, Lisa Mellone opposed the over-sized Fountain Brook Crossing on Moorland and Greenfield. (I also objected.)
And what about the implication that neither one of our aldermen, Lisa Mellone or Renee Lowerr are representing the residents in our District 7?
Here I will take you back to the year 2004. Area residents near Kinsey Park strongly objected to the prospect of the Greenway Corridor bike-path/road--cutting through our small, park and woods. This path literally was in one resident's back yard! Tom Schellinger was our Alderman at the time and also Chairman of the Greenway Corridor. He wanted the trail; residents did not. We organized, and having heard of a woman in the 6th district who fought City Hall and won in 2003 (that was Renee Lowerr), we had some hope of succeeding.
After a lot of hard work holding neighborhood meetings, leafleting the neighborhood, writing letters to the editor, contacting all the aldermen and Park & Rec members, circulating petitions, and speaking before the park department and Common Council, we prevailed with a narrow 7 - 6 victory. As with Lowerr and her protest petition, we weren't sure of Schellinger's support the night of the vote. Schellinger very reluctantly sided with our neighborhood.
So why all this about Schellinger? Because I value hard work. Renee' Lowerr and Lisa Mellone take their job as Aldermen very seriously. They respond to resident questions and complaints. They work with neighborhoods and developers to make sure zoning is followed and resident concerns are addressed. They represent us. And they work well together.
I can't say the same for Tom Schellinger. He can't even be bothered to fill out a candidate info sheet or make sure his signs have the proper office listed on them. The Patch did an article on Aldermanic Election: Challenged by Schellinger, Lowerr Focuses on Development, and he "did not make himself available for an interview"! It seems he is always looking for a short-cut, the easy way out. And that is about how devoted he was to his job as Alderman in the past.
In 2008 I wrote this about Renee' Lowerr in my ballot picks post: "Very energetic, hard worker, and I think will be sensitive to neighborhoods regarding development since she had her own NIMBY experience." My opinion hasn't changed. She has my enthusiastic support this time. I hope she has yours as well.
Incumbents are not noted on our ballots. Schellinger is listed first in the Municipal section, then Renee Lowerr.
Mayoral Q&A a SUCCESS, and a SURPRISE! 2006
Shame on you, Schellinger: illegally placed signs 2008
What a heartbreaker! Mayor breaks tie to move fire station #3
Another planned Brookfield project falls through (Deer Creek Plaza, another revised version approved)
The good old boys: desperate to protect their power ("council blindly approves everything that comes along... Schellinger...stated regrets for approving Capitol Heights")
Oh goodie! More traffic, water guzzling restaurants, and another specialty grocer... 2005
Connectivity will make neighborhood streets a racetrack Oct. 2006
Brookfield's proposed Target Store Public Hearing: Dec. 7, 2010, UPDATE & Maps
Hope things go well for Target / Trader Joe's Jan. 2012 post on Neighborhood meeting
Come back, Lisa Mellone, District 7 needs you!
How about merit pay for aldermen?"...since Lisa Mellone replaced Tom Schellinger in 2006, we finally have an active voice at City Hall and someone down here who will look into and act on a problem. Lisa devotes a lot of time and effort toward being an alderman."
Posts from this election cycle:
Conflict of interest? Schellinger for County Supervisor & Brookfield Alderman with left-over Schellinger for Assembly signs
Voter guide to conservatives on southeast Wisconsin ballots
BrookfieldNOW: Brookfield 7th Aldermanic District Voter Guide
Brookfield Patch: Renee Lowerr Profile
Brookfield Patch: Tom Schellinger I'll save you the trouble. He "Did not respond"
Aldermanic Election: Challenged by Schellinger, Lowerr Focuses on Development
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