Our Great Downtown and Those Who make it Happen

I love Waukesha!  I was born here and I’ve lived here for the majority of my life.  There are so many reasons to visit the local downtown Waukesha area, and so many events happening in and around our great city throughout the year. I want to offer a tribute to those who help make it happen – to everyone responsible in making our city a vibrant community of exciting fun, great food, and beautiful art.

Unfortunately not everyone shares my opinion, and they don’t think twice about publishing their negative rhetoric; most times targeting and criticizing specific individuals who work very hard in making this city a great place to visit, shop, eat and socialize.

It is very disappointing to once again see one of these criticizing articles published in the Waukesha Freeman from one of these “local bloggers”. (“Scrima the Keymaster”-Waukesha Freeman 12/19/13 p.A6)  There are a few locals who simply hate anything good that comes from within our great city and quite frankly I am appalled that our home town newspaper even publishes their negativity!  I am confused that a newspaper, whose subscriptions are lacking – as evinced by vacancies in their building, continuously publishes negative propaganda that can only serve to drive people away from our downtown and/or from reading their newspaper?  I just don’t get it…


The Blogger Freeman Columnist

In his 12/19/13 column (republished below), blogger columnist James Wigderson felt it necessary to chastise Mayor Scrima for handing out 13 keys to the city.  Widgerson feels that the Mayor gave out too many keys, and some to the wrong people, believing that some how commemorating so many individuals will “diminish” the significance of the key.  That is so ridiculous, and likely the reason he is a “blogger” and not a city official entrusted to honoring individuals for their positive contributions to the community.


Terry Mackay

I am appalled that Wigderson purports that Kerry Mackay is an ally of the Mayor and owns a business downtown, therefore undeserving of a key.  Does Widgerson think that Kerry Mackay earned the key because he supports the Mayor?  Seriously?  Widgerson obviously has NO idea how much Kerry Mackay contributes to the city of Waukesha.  Did Mr. Widgerson ever observe or otherwise ask Mr. Mackay what he does during the Farmers’ Market, Freeman Friday Night Live and Waukesha Silver Bells?  Obviously not!   Let me give you a little insight “blogger” James Wigderson.

I have had the honor of working with Mr. Mackay and he is one of the most selfless individuals who helps the downtown and local Waukesha area thrive.  He often times puts his own business second to organizing and making certain that events such as the Farmers’ Market, Freeman Friday Night Live and Waukesha Silver Bells run smoothly and efficiently.


Chris Becker

Widgerson also bashed the Mayor’s choice to offer a key to Chris Becker, CEO of the Waukesha YMCA – hanging his criticism hat on the destruction of Walley’s Service Station by the YMCA two years ago.

I too was very angry at the demolition of the beautiful historic gas station, but clearly Chris Becker and the YMCA have contributed to the community and are deserving of a key.

I believe that Mr. Widgerson’s ego and preconceived indigent attitude towards Mr. Mackay and many other individuals clearly precludes him from having an objective perspective.  I just don’t understand why the Waukesha Freeman even publishes his self serving propaganda rubbish!

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Scrima the Key Master

Waukesha Freeman 12/19/13 p.A6

Mayor giving away too many keys to wrong people

On the agenda for Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting, Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima handed out 13 keys to the city. Judging from the number that were handed out, some local hardware store had a very merry retail Christmas season.

Scrima handed out so many keys to the city in the last three years it was as if he was trying out to be the Key Master in a “Ghostbusters” reunion. By the mayor’s own count, he has handed out 36 keys in his time in office. He must have been inspired by Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything,” not wanting to leave any keys in the bag.

After a while that many keys tends to diminish their significance, which is too bad because some of the recipients truly deserve the honor. We should wonder why so many keys go to so many recipients.

We don’t have to wonder about one key. In addition to being a business owner downtown, Kerry Mackay has been a loyal Scrima ally, even through the dissolution of the Business Improvement District.

It isn’t too hard to imagine the reaction of some of Mackay’s fellow business owners who may be suffering when the streets are closed. It would also be interesting to ask some of the residents and property owners downtown what they think. Instead of a key to the city, they would like the barricades on Main Street removed.

Police Chief Russell Jack was also honored Tuesday night. It was rather surprising since Jack is likely to be serving awhile. Can we wait until a civil servant retires before we honor him?

This is not to say the Police Department in our city doesn’t do important work. One glance at the police report elsewhere in this newspaper tells a tale of dedicated public servants dealing with sometimes tense situations.

However, let’s also remember there have been a few bumps in Jack’s tenure. The most embarrassing episode was probably the time the department was accused of using excessive force to “take down” a worried father at his daughter’s accident scene. As reported by my fellow columnist Darryl Enriquez, the video of the incident was passed around the department for “training.” When it became evidence, the video was magically erased.

Jack was also instrumental in preventing the city of Waukesha from consolidating its dispatch operation with the county. He had his staff manufacture a crowd against the idea and then personally attacked the members of the Common Council who supported it.

Scrima might have enjoyed Jack’s show but the taxpayers were ill-served.

But the worst offense of the evening came when Scrima handed a key to Chris Becker and the Waukesha YMCA. Instead of accepting such an honor, Becker owes the city an apology.

It was Becker and the YMCA who promised the city a housing development when they tore down a historic gas station.

The promised development was enough to thwart preservation efforts.

The YMCA tore down the gas station and put up a parking lot. No development. Just some asphalt, some grass, and an ironic sign welcoming people to “historic” downtown.

It’s bad enough that this city does not have a proper sense of its own history. Do we have to honor someone who was responsible for tearing our history down?

Becker’s presence Tuesday night cheapened the award and dishonored the more deserving recipients.

At times during Tuesday night’s presentation Scrima was a little choked up. The rest of us found some of the honors handed out just a little hard to swallow.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Scrima still had not pulled nomination papers from the clerk’s office. He has until Dec. 27 to announce whether he is running for re-election.

Regardless, there are at least two solid candidates running to replace him. Perhaps Scrima’s successor will be more judicious in who is honored by the city, and how many.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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