As a resident, when you walk into city hall to get your free parking sticker, beach passes or pay taxes or a parking ticket, and you don’t recognize any of the city hall employees, you are not likely suffering from Alzheimer’s disease nor a loss of short-term memory. No, you are a victim of city hall turnover. Not including the current City Administrator Blaine Oborn, who is leaving after just three years, 92% of the personnel working in city hall were newly hired after Blaine Oborn became city administrator, and 66% of the newly hired personnel were hired within the last year. Turnover, by itself, as a process is natural, and is neither good nor bad, although it can be both. Some turnover is necessary and expected, but city hall’s excessive turnover implies a serious flaw exists in Lake Geneva’s city government. If Blaine Oborn was not leaving, then it would be expected that he was part of the force behind the changes, but he is leaving and that implies that he is not the force behind those changes, but he himself is a victim of the force that is taking over the city.
There was a vacuum left in the City of Lake Geneva after all key management personnel of the city (Dennis Jordan, Dan Winkler, Barney Brugger and Ron Carstensen) left office within a couple of years after the Salt Scandal broke. A vacuum sucks in everything that is around it, and in the case of the City of Lake Geneva, it involves money, image, and power. Those involved in determining and influencing the filling of vacancies, plus those behind the changes in the city’s fire department personnel, and the police and fire commission, appear to be the force changing the city. Those quietly behind the scenes directing the City of Lake Geneva politics, like any political force that takes over a city, hide their true motive until they become entrenched and in control, and by then it can be too late and difficult to do much about it.
Terry O’Neill, former City of Lake Geneva Alderperson and local citizen