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Is the Lake Geneva City Council and mayoral system all but dead when it comes to doing anything other than passing some Mickey Mouse ordinances and putting rubber stamp approval on stuff already decided by the real powers that be?

  • Why does the elected city council have no say over the appointed Police and Fire Commission?
  • Why does the city council have no ability to make the Utility Department do anything or agree to anything it doesn’t want to?
  • Why does the Lake Geneva City Council not even have the right to look at the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce books or finances when it uses its own tax authority to give them money?
  • Why does the city council end up as the last bus stop when it comes to private parking stall partnership owners to collect parking revenue from the public?
  • Why does the city council have no authority to stop board members of the supposed Lake Geneva Development Corporation from having that corporation buy property from them personally?
  • Why does the city council have no authority to assure that all bids submitted to Lake Geneva by any would-be contractors be submitted in a sealed form, instead of appointed supposed subalterns?

How did it happen that the one body of elected officials, elected to make the city’s biggest decisions on personnel, money and everything else, has been reduced to a body of poorly advised bobble head puppets more likely to be seen in the back window of some 1957 Chevy, than up on a dais overlooking the public domain? It happened slowly and incrementally in the Communist style. When the Cold War was fought definitive lines were drawn between opposing powers. The Communists didn’t violate those borders except with the smallest nail on their smallest toes, which they stuck over the lines and asked (without asking) “going to nuke us for that tiny violation?”

What can be done to bring back elected representative government to Lake Geneva?
The first thing that must be done is for the city council to admit that its power has been diminished. The second thing it must do is realize that although many of its responsibilities and protections have been eroded away over the years, its power has not been diminished. The Lake Geneva City Council still retains the ability to reign in its committees and commissions. It could take possession of the Lake Geneva Utility Department overnight, if it so chose. The Lake Geneva City Council can become responsible and effective again if it will simply decide to do that. Since the council consists of eight elected alderpersons and an elected mayor, however, it may experience the difficulties faced by any sociological effort to invoke unified group behavior. It’s time for the city council to act as the kind of representative organization it was intended to be, but that will take time, effort, and fortitude to wade through a lot of resistance and bad advice.

Dan “The Don” Draper, Lake Geneva’s City Attorney, is not likely to be of much assistance or the city would not be in the powerless position it sits in now simply because when the council’s power is diminished, as has occurred over time, then ancillary positions (like the city attorney’s position) become more powerful. Power is never surrendered easily, nor is control of the many millions of dollars that flow through the city’s bodies and agencies

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