THE DUKE OF EARLE
Is it time? Nationally, it would seem that the entire country is about to ‘clean house’ come January 20th. Would this not be the ideal time to clean ‘house’ on a more local level?
Two weeks ago, the director of public works, Tom Earle, stood before the BID meeting board (Business Improvement District), a group that represents the downtown Lake Geneva businesses and functions for all intents and purposes as a city committee, and told those members of the board: “I do not have the staff or equipment to plow the sidewalks downtown.” Well, as it turns out, his department not only plows three miles of city sidewalks after snowstorms of a certain magnitude but he also spearheaded the drive to purchase a special plowing machine specifically designed and set up to plow downtown sidewalks. That machine just cost the financially ‘strapped’ city of Lake Geneva $50,000.00 dollars. Yes, that’s a cool fifty grand. On top of that, this same eighty thousand dollar a year director of public works that wears crushed baseball caps, looking more like a failed Norman Rockwell subject of an American Gothic painting, fired the woman who, almost single-handedly, doubled the gross revenue of the city park during the most significant revenue reduction time (because of the virus and the city’s reaction to it) in the history of charges made for beach attendance.
What is the city waiting for? What is the city council doing and why is no city alderperson putting a motion on the floor?
Is there no engineering or city management candidate out there who might come in and actually apply advance higher education learning to administrate this vital department? None of those credentials apply to the Duke of Earle.
What does apply is the kind of money (unknown right now) it took to convert the former street department complex into a prison-looking structure, festooned with impenetrable fencing, electronic locks, and a multi-video security system that would be the envy of any police facility. What has happened to the city of Lake Geneva when it comes to managing its managers? Why is the city council meeting regularly and not putting stuff like this on its agenda? It is flagrantly obvious that the city administrator, David Nord, is too busy doing ‘other things’ to bother with administrating the small but important fiefdoms created in his own backyard. Has Mr. Nord been down to the city facility? The mayor has not, and neither has any member of the city council who wants to admit having been allowed to enter that place.
Additionally, the first job Linda Frame performed, as Harbormaster, was to move her hidden-away little office at the Riviera Pier Complex to the city municipal building. That municipal building was constructed at a very high cost to house all of the department heads in one place so that they could have nearly instant access to the other organs of the city government, and also be nearly immediately accountable to the city’s leadership. Please imagine the city’s mayor, or even Mr. Nord this winter, standing out in the blowing wind and snow, waiting for the gates at the street department to be opened by the Duke of Earle. Both might then be allowed to come in from the cold and sit in the presence of the master. Just how upside-down does this city’s leadership structure have to become before it tilts back to any kind of rational place?
The City of Lake Geneva needs to follow the country’s direction and clean ‘house’ down there.