Mr. James Connors, the soon to be departed mayor of Lake Geneva, recently lauded for all the projects he participated in making decisions on, believed (during his tenure) in handling situations behind closed doors.
It has been modern day closed-door diplomacy that creates citizen distrust and lends itself to misuse and corruption. However, compared to the bullying tactics of the previous Mayor, seemingly mild mannered Mayor Connors has been something of a relief. To be fair, an analysis of what Mayor Connors has been involved with over the last six years should include some of the behind the scenes activity that were related to his “accomplishments”:
- The Edwards Blvd. extension involved the city not paying its own Edwards Blvd. extension assessment with the $600,000 gift from Ryan (Target), but it did use their $250,000 gift to pay for the assessment of Wright River Crossing, while at the same time deliberately overcharging Mr. Peller on his assessment. The unfair over-changing led to a multi-year lawsuit by Mr. Peller against the city, which Mr. Peller won. It was the city’s actions on this matter under Mr. Connor’s leadership (held in closed session) that was the final straw that led Terry O’Neill to resign from the city council.
- The Mirbeau Hummel settlement involved the city changing the city’s master plan and it’s zoning as part of the settlement agreement. Five members of the city council were sued. For changing the city’s comprehensive plan, and giving a favorable zoning to Geneva Ridge for the Hummel property, they got the case against them and the city dropped. The Comprehensive Plan change opened an area about half the size of Lake Geneva for high-density development. When developed, the impact and run off from that property (Connorville”) has the potential to do more harm to the lake than all the other properties combined.
- Connors committed the city to completing its Tax Increment Finance District projects and then closing the district. The city added to the projects and then changed the pre- 2009 financial records to artificially create the additional millions in TIF spending needed for those projects. The extra millions that the city took from the TIF fund should have gone to schools and the other taxing bodies.
- At the cost of almost a million dollars the new parking meter system was paid for by local taxpayers through TIF spending. The parking rates were doubled, and because of the additional cost of running the Luke system it has only netted a relatively small increase in total parking revenue.
- The city’s treasurer’s position was put on the ballot and converted from an elected position to an appointed position. It was sold to the public as a cost saving measure that combined the assistant deputy clerk position with the treasurer’s position. Around a year later the two positions were separated because one person could not do both jobs, but the vitally important job of treasurer which should be autonomous remains firmly under mayoral control.
- The defeat of the referendum for a parking structure has actually been listed elsewhere as one of Mayor Connor’s achievements, when it was one of his big failures (although the failure served the community well).
- The Wrigley Drive Bridge achievement was listed under the Edwards Blvd Extension. The city’s engineering firm misjudged the needed depth of the pilings so the pilings were too short. After the first bunch was inserted, they had to be removed and new ones made and inserted. This delayed the project for months, added to its cost, and reduced local area business revenue all winter because it blocked the lake walk route from the downtown hotels. This incident (like so many other incidents) was handled out of the public’s view.
The New Year begins and some quietly important persons in Lake Geneva move on.
Michael Huml, otherwise known as “Mikey” worked at the local Lake Geneva Post Office at the corner of Main and Center Streets for forty six and a half years. He retired last Monday. He lives in Lake Geneva so you will see him around. It’s hard to think that there’s anybody in the area who does not love Mikey. What a guy. He’ll be missed behind that counter with his smiling countenance and fuzzy good humor.