The Democratic portion of this democratic republic is slip sliding away in the City of Lake Geneva.
Not only did all elected officials run unopposed in this last election, but the city council has delegated and relinquished some of its authority. A couple of weeks ago the city council gave the finance committee the authority to approve city bills. With Ordinance 19-04 passed this week, the city council gave the Chief of Police the authority to deny operators license. The right of self-government is to elect those in authority, but not for those elected to delegate such specifically elected authority to others. The powers surrendered were city council responsibilities being relinquished to others not entitled. Although the city council did retain an after-the-fact authority to overrule on an appeal, or in a later review, this makes the city council more like an appeals court than a true representative city council in which the required burden of proof changes from deciding on the actual issuance of a license to overriding a denial. A license should be issued unless the preponderance of the evidence supports a denial; whereas, on the appeal of a denial, the denial must be upheld unless the preponderance of the evidence supports approving it, which is why very few cases are overturned on an appeal.
A short while ago the city council tried to ban non-residents from speaking at the Committee of the Whole in the public comments segment, but fortunately, that ordinance was defeated. But that same ugly head showed up again on Memorial Day when a veteran who had received multiple bullet wounds in combat and was decorated for his valor asked to say a few words at the City of Lake Geneva’s Memorial Day ceremony, a day set aside in remembrance of those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy today. However, despite his service for our country and civic efforts in the area, he was denied the right to speak at the ceremony, because he was not a resident. As he related the story, the depth of the hurt and frustration became obvious by tears that formed in his eyes followed by a temporary inability to speak. Why he wanted to speak on Memorial Day and what he wanted to say remains unknown, but earlier this year when he spoke at an Honor Flight for Veterans in Washington DC he received a standing ovation from the veterans. For one to remain silent is to live in isolation; for one to speak is to relive the experience, so few are willing to speak about it, but for those combat veterans who hear it, it breaks the feeling of isolation that lives, shattered by the horrors of combat, often feel. In hearing others, they find that they are not all alone, that there are others who understand because they too have had the same or similar experience. We should celebrate Memorial Day as a time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and what they have done for us, but for many living veterans, it is a double-edged day, for it is also a reminder of their time of service and for some that includes the horror of their experience.
A Memorial Day thank you is appreciated by veterans, but after so many have been wounded and died to give freedom of speech, what kind of local arrogance do we have running our Memorial Day celebration in the City of Lake Geneva, when they use that freedom of speech to tell a wounded and decorated veteran that he cannot speak at the Memorial Day event because he is not a resident. He didn’t fight for the town he was born in or where he eventually ended up still living out his life. He fought for all Americans in every part of this land.