Utility smoke and Mirrors.
The strange case of Lake Geneva’s mystery utility department. Six months ago Utility Director Dan Winkler turned in his retirement notice. The utility commission could be criticized for taking so long to start the interviewing process to find a new utility director, which was finally approved at the Oct.20th meeting of the city council. However, replacing Dan Winkler, with his “ability and expertise” in the running of the sewer and water departments with someone else, is a daunting task. As the sole czar of the department, with control over every aspect and detail of it, replacing him has made transition more complex than just hiring any old regular utility expert. His departure left multiple voids in Lake Geneva’s utility organizational structure, and in the required life experience and knowledge needed to run it. Replacing Mr. Winkler is not a simple task, as it also involves some organizational restructuring, as well as hiring appropriate personnel to fill the departmental and expertise voids that Mr. Winkler’s departure has left.
Under Dan Winkler the utility commission, basically a multimillion dollar city business, was run financially as a day to day operation without a budget, and independent of city, or city council, control. In Winkler’s last year, the department ran a $100,000 deficit with infrastructure depreciation (deterioration) being the primary cause of the short fall, and the reason for the 36% rate increase in 2016. Depreciation is, of course, the convenient tool used by corporations and institutions to inflate losses and ask for more money. The Lake Geneva Utility Commission is in the process of setting up its first budget for 2017, and is working with the city’s auditing firm to prepare for the utility’s 2016 audit. The commission is also setting up a reporting means to better inform the commission of the condition of the city’s sewer and water systems infrastructure, and it includes the tracking and reporting of the gallons of water pumped, versus gallons of water billed to help assess and find leaks in the system, faulty meters and meters that are being by-passed. In the past, the utility commission ran independent of the city, and at times butted heads with the leaders of the City of Lake Geneva.
Today, after the retirement of Dan Winkler, and being threatened by the city council with the possible disbanding of the commission itself and possible takeover of the city’s sewer & water departments by the city council, the utility commission has a more cooperative attitude and is getting into better synchronization with city management. What will come of this new transition is still unknown and unpredictable. The utility department was not turned over to Lake Geneva’s City Administrator, as it should have been. Instead, it would appear that the foxes constantly circling this delicious shack of chickens have not yet attacked, but are merely circling at a distance. Waiting. It is vital that a very strong magnifying glass be focused on what’s happening in and around this vital department, because it is such a huge repository of taxpayer and utility usage services. Not to mention an ongoing target for those proverbial circling foxes.
Some have referred to this man, fighting his case of felony assault in the Walworth County court system, the “Midnight Masher,” for his strangulation and assault of a young employee in his restaurant. Is he really deserving of this moniker? Or should he merely be referred to as that poor Greek guy who fell afoul of make believe mafia stories and post-adolescent behavior? The court commissioner in this case, the one who sat before the prosecutor and the defense attorney as evidence was brought forth to see if the case should be continued on to trial and whether the charges would stick, didn’t have any trouble deciding last Friday afternoon. The felonies for strangulation and assault stuck to Mr. Anagnos like epoxy glue. The case will be up for trial at the end of November, depending upon everyone’s schedule. Mr. Anagnos remains out on bail awaiting that trial. He no longer runs Popeyes, and is enjoined from having any contact with the witnesses or the young man he allegedly assaulted. He can’t drink or take drugs.
And the restaurant? It is doing fantastic without his services.