Former Lake Geneva alderperson Sarah Hill.
Great intelligent woman. She voiced her objection at the finance committee meeting about the city’s practice of selectively waiving fees, security deposits and other costs for some groups, and not for others. A thank you goes to her for keeping this issue alive, and continuing to speak about it. Having different fees for residents versus not-residents is okay, because it involves the use of many different facilities.
But selectively waiving fees and security deposits for some residents and some groups, but not for others is neither right nor fair. It undermines the principle of fair and equal treatment by the government authority, and it defeats the purpose of charging fees and requiring security deposits from every applicant. In addition to being unfair and self-defeating, it wastes park board, finance committee and city council time in discussing and evaluating the validity of each request for a waiver.
There is a place for selectively waiving fees or charges, and that place is in a private business. But even there it should not be based on subjective criteria, but there’s no place for it in civil government. Selective treatment undermines the principle of fair and equal treatment under the law. Even if well intended, when the city council waives fees for one group, and not another, it shows bias, whether or not a conscious display of favoritisms on the part of the city council members is intended, or not. To eliminate bias, the appearance of bias, and the unfair and unequal treatment of people and groups, the park board, finance committee and the City Council should officially end its practice of selectively waiving fees and security deposits, period.
The city council should eliminate the accepting or giving of any monetary gifts or donations to or from any profit or non-profit business, group or individual. To illustrate this; what gift (monetary or otherwise) should a member of the court (juror or judge) accept from a defendant, or the prosecution, in a criminal case? Why should there be no acceptance of a gift? Because it could affect or alter the ability to be unbiased in actions related to the case, and in the ability to give equal treatment and consideration, under the law, that should be given to everyone. At what level does a gift to the city, or to a department, alter or determine the city’s or a department’s actions, or its ability to treat everyone equally? Is it about a dollar, a hundred dollars, a hundred thousand dollars, or a hundred million dollars?
Perhaps if it was understood how the City of Lake Geneva used the routing of the $600,000 gift from Target (Ryan Corporation) to pay a ¼ million-dollar assessment payment, then everyone would have a better understanding of how even an innocent gift to the city can, and has been, misused by the City of Lake Geneva for the personal benefit of a few. The reason why a no tolerance view on donations should be applied across the board to all decisions made by the city, might be more easily understood. No matter how well intended, or what the benefit to the city, to some the donation will appear to be a gift to the city and its acceptance would likely continue to be used and misused for the selective benefit of a few.