Franklin’s fact-checking alderwoman fails to tell all

UPDATE

My representative on the Franklin Common Council, Kristen Wilhelm is running for re-election.  She has no opposition so she’s assured another aldermanic term.

I’ve expressed my dissatisfaction with her in the past. Part of my extreme disappointment is her unwillingness to listen to our family. Wilhelm also despises being criticized, and as one local businessman once wrote sarcastically on social media, and I’m paraphrasing, she’s never wrong, just ask her.

Since Wilhelm’s re-election is in the bag I’m not sure her recent lit piece in my mailbox was necessary, but even though I do not intend on voting for her, being the curious fellow I am I read the piece anyway. This whopper of a line jumped out at me:

I deliver the full story to residents with no hidden agendas or special interests.

Oh, and these bullet points were priceless;

Citation by the Wisconsin State Assembly for skilled negotiations

MRA Institute of Management, Negotiation Skills

I just had to laugh. Great negotiation skills? But of course. That’s why she gets all pissy when you dare disagree with her.

But just remember this as you continue:

I deliver the full story to residents with no hidden agendas or special interests.

(Can you imagine her minions right about now, steam coming out of their ears, ever so anxious to hit the send button to Kristen?)

Back on December 23, 2016, I wrote a blog announcing Wilhelm would be unopposed and some of my concerns. In the comments section Franklin Parks Commissioner Dave Pautz brought up an item that Wilhelm fought desperately for and won: sidewalks on a certain stretch on W. College Avenue.

As Queen, the “Environmental Warrior” was able to wrangle an off budget sidewalk to the tune of $300,000 plus, in front of her condo on College Ave. How she managed to coerce a budget amendment last year to accommodate the nice sidewalk is stuff of legend. A handy source of funds just happened to be the Parks Impact Fee fund and without consulting the Parks Commission, the funds were made available under the concept of the sidewalk being a trail. I am not against environmental stewardship, but become suspicious when the “cloak of the cause” gets tossed aside to satisfy a personal agenda. Just saying. .

I replied in the comments section to Pautz:

David, even though you are completely accurate in your observations, you do realize that you have made yourself an even bigger target than before by those who put personal pettiness ahead of what’s best for the city. They will be gunning for you, mainly because you speak the truth.

Wilhelm was not pleased.

Well after the new year had begun and many weeks after the aforementioned comments were posted Wilhelm contacted me suggesting I make a correction. She sent me a letter printed on official City of Franklin letterhead she wrote to the mayor and all Common Council members arguing that Pautz’s claim of a $300,000 cost for the sidewalks was erroneous (it was). Without mentioning yours truly or this publication Wilhelm also wrote that Pautz’s comments had led to my disparaging response.

I informed Wilhelm that when I wrote that Pautz was “completely accurate I was referring to his stance on her behavior as alderwoman.

I also suggested that if she was that upset that she go right to the source, the comments on the particular blog in question, and write her response to set the record straight. Wilhelm refused.

No correction was ever made on my blog because I felt Wilhelm wasn’t being forthright and was leaving out portions of the entire story, thus, misleading the public.

It’s now March and Wilhelm still hasn’t gotten over this. She sent me her latest e-newsletter that I always post here, despite my frustrations with her (frustration, not a personal dislike). And, sure enough, Wilhelm writes about sidewalks and their price tag:

College Avenue Sidewalk Funding 
I’m taking the time to correct some incorrect statements made in public forums recently.
Here are the actual costs of the sidewalk as compared to the $300,000 total budgeted by the Council. This data is from the City’s Finance Department.

Engineering/planning – $9,100
Public notices – $540
Recording fees – $150
Contractor –  $117,692
Total College Ave sidewalk costs –   $127,482

Resources to pay the $127,482 will be split between a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and a pre-existing Tax Incremental District (TID 3) as directed by the Council. Several hundred feet of the sidewalk were installed by the State in conjunction with the 27th St. reconstruction. No park impact fees were used. No portion of this project serves my place of residence.

Due to significant savings from these opportunistic funding methods – which I researched and presented – three other projects were funded using the surplus College Ave budget. Two were park projects.

Pleasant View Trail project –               $37,000
Robinwood Trail –                                $20,000
St. Martin’s Road culvert project –        $75,000
Total other projects supported by
the sidewalk budget surplus –         $132,000
—Kristen Wilhelm

Nice to see that my lefty alderwoman has turned into such a fiscal conservative.

I deliver the full story to residents with no hidden agendas or special interests.
—Kristen Wilhelm

I thought there was another side of the story that hadn’t surfaced: Dave Pautz’s. So I asked him about the whole $300,000 cost and what Wilhelm was circulating. Here’s what Pautz wrote back to me with his approval to post:

A  recent District Wide Letter to Constituents provided by the incumbent aldermanic representative took on the issue of false or misleading statements in a blog post dated December 23rd 2016.  Apparently, the alderperson felt it necessary to let constituents know that she was addressing false statements in “a recent blog”.  However, her rebuttal presented facts which are misleading and designed to deflect what was stated.

My blog comments on Dec. 23, 2016, indicated that Parks Impact Fee monies were made available as part of the College Ave. sidewalk funding project. There are budgetary documents available that indicate up to $132,000 of Park Impact Fee funds “could” be available for the Off Budget project championed by Ms. Wilhelm. The fact that alternative funding was achieved and project costs came in under the initial budget is a good thing. However, the use of Community Block Grant monies means some other worthy projects didn’t get funded.

Recall also that the sidewalk was never formally budgeted in the budgeting process back in late 2015. There was great fanfare by certain aldermanic reps that the mayor’s budget needed to be slashed. They proudly announced to the world that they stood up for fiscal sanity and passed a revised, much better budget, in their own words. Then, in early January of 2016, they proceeded with a budget amendment to add the sidewalk, which was championed by Ms. Wilhelm. I have no issues with the sidewalk as it was at the time, necessary. The process of coming to fruition was the gripe.

At the time of the Blog post in December of 2016, I wanted to point out the fact that the  Parks Commission, which I chair, was never consulted or requested to provide input, much less recommend to Common Council, the strategy of using Park Impact Fee funds under the guise of the sidewalk being a “Trail”.

It is amazing how pet projects of individuals on the council seem to get pushed through without much input from affected parties. That same sidewalk, somehow managed to have the required wetlands and setback requirements that are vigorously enforced on private developers, somehow become less important to the cause.  Staff has verified that some environmental corners were cut which may be interesting to private developers that had, or have business before the Council. Also interesting is how a certain someone had no issues with that. But then again, without the costly venue of impact statements and delineations reports, we suspect the project that came in well under budget had preferential treatment. Funny how that works in Franklin.

Pautz tells me he can’t understand why Wilhelm keeps dredging this up. I’m sure it’s because Pautz made negative comments about Wilhelm and other members of the Council at a public meeting last year that I posted here and completely agree with.

Let me repeat what I wrote here to Pautz and you:

“…you do realize that you have made yourself an even bigger target than before by those who put personal pettiness ahead of what’s best for the city. They will be gunning for you, mainly because you speak the truth.”

They don’t like it. Pautz bruised, let me re-phrase that, Pautz crushed their egos, this unpaid civic volunteer. So they want him out.

2 thoughts on “Franklin’s fact-checking alderwoman fails to tell all

  1. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (03/20/17) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: The real reason Franklin alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm is so upset about Parks Commissioner Dave Pautz | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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