Fiction v. Fact

Friends and Neighbors:

I have avoided responding to my opponent’s emails, believing that Mequon voters can see through the tactics. But the factual misstatements are accelerating. He can have his own opinions, but not his own facts. Mequon deserves a mayor who knows fact from fiction. These are just a few examples:


FICTION:
My opponent says “Since the city must spend the remaining $7 million of the $12 million in TIF funds Wirth approved on improvements for the Town Center, why not an underpass to solve both the connectivity and safety issues of crossing Mequon Road?”

FACT:
The city has no obligation to spend any of that money. It is like a line of credit – it is there if it is needed. If it is not used, it will ultimately go toward tax relief. The Council voted on the amendment to fulfill state law requirements necessary to be prepared for possible projects and uses. The city has not appropriated the $7 million or borrowed the $7 million. It is concerning that my opponent did not understand what was happening when he voted on this.


FICTION:
My opponent says that the 425+ people who have endorsed my campaign are “the same cast of characters who show up at Common Council meetings disparaging the businesses Wirth opposes.”

FACT:
I do not oppose businesses. I opposed the location of one business. I have helped dozens of businesses cut through government red tape. There is a reason my endorsement list includes seven past presidents of the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce, and why a variety of other local business owners have endorsed me through that the list. The list is truly bipartisan, filled with Republicans and Democrats, and reflects the demographics of Mequon. See the list by clicking here. It is unfortunate my opponent regularly disparages this large group of Mequon citizens. I do not disparage his supporters. We are one community.


FICTION:
My opponent says “Wirth opposes the Mequon Road underpass idea, citing his exaggerated cost estimate of $4.5 million to $8 million.”

FACT:
Click here for the candidate forum and go to 1:03. My opponent, not I, estimated that the tunnel will cost $5 million to $6 million. Independent engineers have suggested it will be more because of a 30″ sewer pipe at 14′ deep set on blocks, a 6″ water main, private utilities (gas, electric, cable), bad soils, the need to acquire extensive private property and easements, ADA, the need to reinforce the railroad, Mequon’s severe drainage issues, and on and on. Even using my opponent’s numbers, that is an incredibly expensive project. It is hard to imagine how someone who opposes TIF wants to borrow that much money through the TIF to resolve an issue that can be resolved equally well at a much lower cost.


FICTION:
My opponent says, “Since the Town Center was initially approved in 2008, the school district has not attended meetings, added input, nor voted on anything regarding the Town Center.”

FACT:
Every year since the Tax Incremental District was approved (2008), the school district has sent a voting representative to the Joint Review Board, the body that reviews the Town Center’s TIF. In 2018, over the course of two meetings, the Joint Review Board, including the school district representative, approved the $12 million amendment my opponent describes. That happened while my opponent was an alderman. He should know about it.


FICTION:
My opponent: “Wirth states, ‘[The Mequon Road Underpass] is more than Mequon has spent on all Town Center improvements.’ Either Attorney Wirth is 100% dishonest or he can’t do basic math. In 2008 he approved $9 million for Town Center improvements. After exhausting that he voted for an additional $12-15 million and quickly gave $4.95 million to his cronies at Foxtown. Do the math, John. That’s $13.95 million and counting.”

FACT:
The amount approved in 2008 was $7 million, not $9 million. Only about 2/3 of that money was used for improvements. The balance was used for development incentives. 2/3 of $7 million is less than his estimate of $5-6 million. I am not dishonest, and I am pretty good at math.


FICTION:
My opponent states that I opposed adding honesty requirements.

FACT:
I assisted Alderman Gierl, the proponent of the “honesty” provision, to pass two separate ordinances, one that applies to employees and one that applies to employees and elected and unelected officials. Together, they enable the city to exercise the strongest remedies for dishonesty allowed under Wisconsin law. The meeting minutes, in connection with one of the ordinances, provide: “Alderman Gierl stated this was a long time coming and that this is a great addition to the City of Mequon.”  Alderman Gierl supported both ordinances. Read more by clicking here.


FICTION:
My opponent says that “the city has been running a structural deficit for the last six years transferring money from the general fund to hide its deficits. Abendroth and Wirth have been the big proponents of this scheme and the fund balance is now extremely low.”

FACT:
The General Fund Balance is not low. It is within the guidelines that the city first set about a decade ago. The General Fund Balance is nothing more than the account in which city surpluses are put each year. Through careful resource management, the city almost always has a surplus. The city attempts to keep this balance in an amount equal to 10% of 12% of annual operating expenses. When the accumulated balance exceeds 10%, the city may use it for tax relief in future years. He should know that. He voted to affirm that policy in June of 2018. You can see the policy by clicking here (got to page 4). The transfers described have occurred for decades. The annual budget is always balanced. There are no actual deficits.


FICTION:
My opponent says that “[his tunnel] is better than wasting $1 million on a Gateway Feature that would have been under eight feet of water two weeks ago.”

FACT:
The city has offered to spend $150,000 toward the cost of the Gateway Feature. The rest would be paid for by private donations, most of which has been committed, and a $50,000 contribution from Thiensville. He knows the city will not contribute if private money is not raised, and he knows the total cost would not be $1 million. In a prior inaccurate email, he said it would be $864,000. And he knew that was untrue when he threw that number out there. He and I (and all other members of the Council) voted to reject bids in that amount only two days before he sent that prior email. Moreover, the proposed location of the Gateway Feature was not under water.


Don’t just read what the candidates write. Judge for yourself by watching or listening to the candidates side-by-side at this week’s forum. You can see it by clicking here (the substance starts just after the 10 minute mark).
 

I am happy to respond to anything else my opponent throws out there. Feel free to contact me.

Together, we can keep taxes low and have excellent police, fire and ambulance departments, maintain roads, improve the city’s other services and facilities, create more of a sense of community, support our schools and plan for Mequon’s future.

If you think city government generally does a good job, and the city is a great place to live and work, I ask for your vote.  

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