Schmitt: Water firings necessary
He promises a 'creative' team will be announced next month
By Ray Barrington
Green Bay News-Chronicle
Mayor Jim Schmitt apologized for the way it was handled,
but said the firing of the members of the Green Bay Water
Commission was necessary to bring about "a long-term
regional water solution."
Schmitt told the Green Bay City Council on Tuesday he
had told the commission members their terms were ended
in an attempt to bring new thinking to talks with the
suburbs on the sale of water.
And he told the council he would have new names ready
for it by Dec. 2, "and some of them may be people
who are on the commission now."
He said he made the decision after a Nov. 11 presentation
by the commission that, he felt, added nothing new to
a possible deal.
"Both plans (presented) had been rejected"
by the suburban Central Brown County Water Authority,"
he told the council.
He also said a missing $40 million in interest income
was a concern. After he brought the issue up, the commission
members said they would not be able to make their presentation
to the council planned for Tuesday.
"I was very frustrated - not over the $40 million,
but the lack of new ideas," Schmitt said.
"We've been doing this for three years with no progress."
He defended himself against charges he was favoring the
suburbs, saying his goal was "a long-term regional
water solution that protects the Green Bay rate payers."
He said the new commission would include qualified people
in water, legal and personnel areas "who are creative
and dedicated to a long-term plan."
"Maybe I should have handled it differently,"
Schmitt said, "and I apologize if I hurt any feelings.
But time was of the essence."
The proposal to be submitted by the Green Bay Water Commission
included three "absolute requirements:" that
the suburbs purchase water at the city's bulk rate plus
25 percent; that the state Public Service Commission could
not be involved in any rate deals between the city and
suburbs; and that the deal be "take or pay,"
with the suburbs guaranteeing to pay for a required amount
of water, whether used or not.
The city had offered to sell four suburbs water on that
basis, with other suburbs required to treat their water
separately to meet 2006 radium guidelines. The suburban
water authority voted against the deal, although Ashwaubenon
had expressed interest in a separate deal.
The suburbs have two other options - a $140 million separate
pipeline to Lake Michigan or a slightly longer pipeline
that would enable it to buy treated water from Manitowoc,
with savings in building a treatment plant for a raw-water
pipe offset by the cost of buying that city's water.
Along with the water commission's presentation, also
removed from the council's agenda was a vote on reappointing
veteran commission member John Brogan.
- The longest debate of the night followed a vote on
approving an escort service license.
The council at first voted 6-5 (with Ald. Guy Zima absent)
to deny approval of a license for SD Adventures. The city
has a $500 fee for the services, which provide female
companionship and in many cases are seen as fronts for
But after the vote, city attorney Tim Kelley reminded
the council that voting against an application that had
been approved by the police could leave the city open
"They are still a legal business," said Ald.
Dan Haefs, who had voted against approval but changed
his vote after hearing from Kelley. "They expect
a fair shake. What if people don't like politicians? You
still expect a fair shake from them when you knock at
Ald. John Vander Leest, who said the city should not
show any support for escort services, said he had many
police contacts who said the services are performing illegal
But Police Chief Craig Van Schyndle said he preferred
the licensing system because it enabled them to keep track
of those services that did apply and gave them another
weapon against those that didn't. The vote was reversed
and the license was approved.