Letters to the Editor

If Geneva Lake had a voice and could speak to the world, it might tell you about its greatest champion and most ardent protector amongst the thousands of people who love it dearly. Without any doubt it would name Ted Peters as its super-hero. Modest and unassuming, Ted Peters will reject such a conclusion and tell everyone he’s just doing his job, but caring for Geneva Lake is not Ted’s job, it’s his devotion, and he’s spent the last 40 years dedicated to it.

But at last Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting a couple of alderpersons began a smear campaign depicting Ted Peters and the GLEA as adversarial villains of the city, who have been swindling the city out of $20,000 per year without returning any benefit to the city. The president of the City Council, Bob Kordus, projected a false sense of confidence, and the illusion of knowing all the facts, but in reality, showed himself to be woefully and wantonly ignorant of the mission and value of Ted Peters and the GLEA. Kordus recommended, and Rich Hedlund agreed, that Ted Peters be basically expelled from the city, along with the GLEA.

The stench of a vendetta so permeated the air Tuesday night that one might have sworn Dennis Jordan still resided in City Hall perpetrating his special brand of “Dirty Tricks.” (Remember, City Planner Mike Slavney said he agreed to keep the erroneous “commercial” land use identification of the Geneva Inn residential properties on the City’s Future Land Use Map at the behest of city staff. So, who could Slavney have been exposing other than Jordan?)

The Geneva Lake Environmental Association was established early in the 1970’s as a quasi-independent, apolitical, advisory organization for the singular mission of protecting and maintaining the water quality standards of Geneva Lake. All four of the municipalities substantially bordering Geneva Lake (Walworth has only about 5 homes on the lake) support the agency with funding, and they appoint two members each to the agency’s board of directors, one being an elected representative and the other a citizen representative, with Ted Peters as Executive Director. It’s obvious from attending just one or two meetings of the GLEA that Ted Peters has no appetite for power or any special need for attention, just a desire to be useful and be the best he can be at standing up for and protecting Geneva Lake and its 13,000-acre watershed. However, although they have no actionable powers over any of the municipalities, Ted Peters and the GLEA are courageous and undaunted about speaking truth to power whenever they feel or see the lake come under any kind of outside threat or abuse.

For instance, when the City of Lake Geneva wanted to destroy half of Big Foot Beach State Park, so it could relocate South Lakeshore Drive and move the city’s downtown boat launch into the Maytag lagoons, Ted and the GLEA were faithful to its mission to protect Geneva Lake, and alerted the Community to the negative and toxic consequences of such an action. Dennis Jordan, Dan Winkler and some members of the City Council didn’t care a bit about the toxic pollution that would have been continually disseminated out into the lake from the lagoons, or the destruction of wetlands and wildlife habitat, or the devastation to the state park, or the safety issues of overcrowding the busiest area in all of Geneva Lake. All they cared about was getting the boat launched moved. Besides all the problems would be out closer to the Town of Linn where they would not be seen or experienced by the city. Likewise, with the Geneva Inn’s demand to commercialize a large section of the residential lakeshore property in Button’s Bay, Dennis Jordan went rogue and used his position as Chairman of the Conservancy to “Green-Wash” and support everything and anything the Geneva Inn proposed. Ted Peters and the GLEA, on the other hand, stood up in opposition to commercialization of the residential lakeshore and the litany of other problems that would negatively impact Geneva Lake should commercialization be approved.

This protective stance happened in 2015 in the Town of Linn and again in October of 2017 in the City of Lake Geneva. However, in 2017 the Conservancy put a leash on Jordan and didn’t allow him to play his dirty tricks. This time the Conservancy Board along with the Geneva Lake Association wholeheartedly opposed the Geneva Inn commercialization of residential lakeshore property. Irrational authoritarians like Bob Kordus resent any criticism of their pet developments or special projects no matter the correctness or expertise of the person making the claim. That person is to be despised and must be eradicated or punished severely with no exceptions. Facts like Mayor Kupsik never appointed a citizen representative to the GLEA and the elected representatives the Mayor did appoint could only attend a few meetings over the past 3 years are meaningless. Kordus, Hedlund and City Administrator Oborn demand things go their way or someone is going to pay a price. This time the GLEA may be paying the price of having their funding stripped away, run out of town and their Director Ted Peters held up to ridicule.

Terry O’Neill Former Alderman and Political Activist


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