Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Where are the opponents?

The filing deadline for two Pleasant Prarie village board seats passed with only incumbents Esteban (Steve) Kumorkiewicz and Michael Serpe filing nomination papers.

That veterans Kumorkiewicz and Serpe will be unopposed on the April spring election ballot is stunning news given the speculation that former Trustee Alex Tiahnybok, who gave up his seat in his unsuccessful bid to oust village president John Steinbrink, sr., would try to get back on the board.

Another rumored candidate was Michael Renner who has attended board meetings for several months.

It's hard to gauge why Serpe and Kumorkiewicz will be unopposed but one theory is that it would be difficult to oust these veterans with a lengthy list of accomplishments.

Serpe is widely perceived as the board's moderate visionary and consensus builder while Kumorkiewicz scores points for personal constituent service.

The village's vocal opposition may be saving its steam for next year when newcomers Monica Yuhas and Clyde Allen are up for election. That logic could backfire as Yuhas and Allen become more well known. Plus, the current village board seems more adept at exploring issues and solutions to problems than the contentious atmosphere that existed when Tiahnybok and Jeff Lauer were on the board.

Nonetheless the fact that Serpe and Kumorkiewicz will be unopposed suggests that village critics may now be subject to scrutiny for failing to act on their grievances. As one of my favorite old specialty ties reads: "Didn't vote? Don't bitch!"


Anonymous said...

Hey RAG, Renner has been attending Board and Plan Commission meetings a lot longer than Yuhas or Allen ever did so I guess that makes him more qualified in your mind, right? Why do you think the Board has been more open and exploring? It was because of Tiahynbok and Lauer plus Kenosha News exposing the backroom dealings. How else do you explain no questions or comments when agenda items come up for review and vote. Stop being such a lapdog for the Village!

RAG said...

I believe Alex Tiahnybok and Jeff Lauer's biggest (and perhaps only significant) accomplishment was to get the starting time of the board meetings changed from 5 p.m. which was far too early for meaningful citizen participation.

That said, the Kenosha News did not expose any "backroom dealings." In fact, it was never able to identify any.

I disagree that there are seldom questions or comments on village board agenda items. I've seen quite a bit of discussion.

Lapdog? Ask John Steinbrink if I am one! :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe nobody ran because they couldn't muster enough money and energy to take on the establishment.

Anonymous said...

Since lauer and tiahynbok voted 96% time with the other three, I'd say they contributed more than you give them credit for. Got a chip on your shoulder? Jealous?

RAG said...

No chip on the shoulder or jealousy but rather a true sense of regret that Alex and Jeff squandered their opportunity to make a difference.

Percentages are meaningless since many of the things on the agenda are pretty much routine things, i.e., whether to issue a license when all the requirements for the license have been satisfied.

It's fair to say that there was little love lost between the incumbents and the newcomers but that doesn't mean all of the criticism they heaped at each other was without merit. It was, however, counterproductive because it never turned into action.

Alex and Jeff would frequently complain but they wouldn't turn their concerns into action. It's one thing to say, for example, "I'd like to see the board meetings televised on our cable access channel." Nice thought but it remains just a thought if it isn't followed by some action, i.e., introducing a resolution or ordinance or making an amendment. Seldom was that ever done.

An argument might be made that they didn't try because they felt it would useless.

To that I say "hogwash."

Yes, it's smart to "pick your fights" and certainly they should have heeded that advice, too, but you never know what's going to happen unless you try.

And you can't legitimately complain about something when you never tried to change it.

Woodrow Wilson once said: "If you come at me with your fists doubled, I think I can promise you that mine will double…but if you come to me and say: ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ, understand why it is that we differ’ we will find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we agree are many."

Yes, Alex and Jeff were not welcomed with open arms. But they also contributed greatly to the schism. Had they done their homework and picked their fights more carefully, I think they would have been much more productive. It's sad that they weren't.