The Mequon Police Department stands ready to assist the police in Wauwatosa this evening. So do other departments. There are detailed cooperation agreements among law enforcement agencies. This system ensures that communities can and will rapidly provide necessary reinforcements and that the assisting departments are also able to cover their own communities’ needs. We all are safer because of these men and women.
Author: John Wirth
“SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE A SIGN, BLOCKIN’ OUT THE SCENERY, BREAKIN’ MY MIND…”-Five Man Electric Band (1970)
Some people hate them. Some people proudly display them. Yard signs are part of the American political process.
The City of Mequon respects people’s right to express their political positions by posting signs provided they do so on their own private property.
The City of Mequon, however, does not allow yard signs on public property, and no one has the right to put a yard sign on private property without the owner’s permission.
The Mequon Police Department will remove signs on public property. Public property includes:
- City hall and other facilities
- School property
- County property
- Road rights-of-way
The Police Department will not necessarily be looking for illegally placed signs; however, when it comes across them, or when it receives complaints, it will remove them. Signs placed on public property will be deemed abandoned. They will not be saved for retrieval. The Police Department has already removed and disposed of several for this election.
Determining the area of a road right-of-way is somewhat complicated. Generally, signs are not allowed in the area between a sidewalk and a road or between a drainage ditch and a road.
Private property owners may also dispose of any sign found on their property without permission. The City will not monitor the placement of signs on private property; however, entrance areas to subdivisions and condominiums, business properties, golf courses and undeveloped land are all private property. If you see a yard sign in one of those areas and believe that it is there without permission, call the owner.
Please do not put signs on other people’s property without their permission. It is trespass. And do not remove signs from other people’s property. That is theft. The Police Department will respond to complaints and take enforcement action as necessary.
Civility and Following the Law
“Dirty Jew.” That was what one Mequon resident, enraged his neighbor would post a Biden yard sign, allegedly called the neighbor as he ripped down the neighbor’s sign. The angry resident allegedly got in his neighbor’s face, said he would rip down any replacement signs and told him that “Jews” were the cause of the riots in Portland. He then left and temporarily put up a homemade “Jews 4 Trump” sign in his own front lawn (even though his parents tried to raise him Catholic).
This was absolutely wrong. And, assuming the facts are accurate, it is illegal.
There have always been hateful people with extreme views and awful behavior. Unfortunately, some will always exist.
But over the last few months, some people have excused overt incivility and horrible behavior because an issue is important to them. People picketed the school superintendent’s home – his home where his wife and children live! Some use the term Nazis when referring to Trump supporters. A few of our neighbors gave the finger to Black Lives Matter protesters and asked to have BLM signs banned. Kids made a video mocking George Floyd’s death. People have suggested that supporting our police is somehow an affront to people of color. Small groups on each side of the virus debate have acted vilely toward those with different opinions. People try to shut down discussion about all sorts of topics on social media.
To be clear, I think most Mequon residents abhor this hateful behavior. It is not what we are about.
Yes, we all have the inalienable right to free speech. But having the right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.
There is no societal issue that is improved by hating or demeaning others. Hate and division rarely, if ever, advance a cause and always are destructive.
I stay out of issues when they do not affect city government or its responsibilities. I believe that, as mayor, restraint is necessarily part of my job (one I often dislike). I am supposed to create community, not divide it.
However, incivility is permeating all discussions, including those about city government. And when someone goes onto another’s property and defaces their sign, that rightfully calls the police (the most important service the city provides) into play. Trespass and disorderly conduct are illegal acts (the resident described above was arrested).
Tensions always run high during elections. Even local races become passionate. Presidential elections raise the temperature even higher. Activists, state and national politicians (of both parties) and the media (real and fake) accuse others of ruining our country and imply, in the process, that only people who agree with them have our best interests at heart. They use division to make themselves relevant.
These weeks going into the presidential election, and perhaps the weeks following it, will test our character. Can we recognize that people with whom we disagree are not bad people (even if we believe them to be wrong)? Can we handle our differences civilly?
I truly believe that the vast majority of Mequon residents – people of color and white people; people of all faiths; Republicans, Democrats and independents – are good people. I am hopeful that we can keep our heads.
This election, the discussion about race and our opinions about the virus, as important as they may be, are not so important that we should destroy our community and our humanity.
City government cannot require civility. It can do little about hatefulness. Hopefully, our elected officials will not contribute to it. Mequon’s staff will faithfully conduct the election. All will do their jobs.
But, when people cross the line, as the resident described above did, our fine police department will fully enforce the law. Leave your neighbors’ yard signs alone. Taking them is theft. Do not put signs on public property. It is illegal. Do not put signs on others’ private property. That is trespass. Do not threaten people with whom you disagree. That is assault. Do not provoke fights. That is disorderly conduct. Do not touch your neighbor. At a minimum, it is assault, and it might be battery.
But it is not enough to just comply with the law. Good people follow not just the law, but the Golden Rule. Sometimes, the right thing is to not express an opinion. When we do, we need to be kind. Words matter. Tone matters. Actions matter. It is not easy. I am not perfect, but I am trying. If we all do that, the law becomes unnecessary.
Let’s all pray that we can emerge from this moment without too much damage.
The City’s Emergency Management Committee
Today at 3:00, the City has its biweekly Emergency Management Committee (EMC) meeting. The EMC was designed for various stakeholders to advise the City what the City should do, and what they are doing, in response to the COVID-19 virus. It is not designed for the City to advise the stakeholders.
Representatives on the EMC include me (as mayor). three doctors (one of whom is also an alderman), a State Senator, an Assembly Representative, and a representative of the library, Chamber of Commerce, County Board, Concordia University and Mequon-Thiensville School District.
Today, in response to the school board’s decision to start the school year virtually, members of the community have registered to speak (at last report, 15). I will recognize them to speak.
I will ask, however, that they tailor their comments to advice for the City. The EMC does NOT exist to advise the school district. I recognize that is not what the people who registered want to hear. I will not cut them off so long as their comments for the district are short and provided that the comments are civil. Personal attacks, particularly on an issue like this (which is not the purpose of the meeting) are not acceptable.
I would also note that public comments during a meeting are just that – comments. It is not an opportunity for a back and forth with committee members.
Finally, on Facebook, people have suggested that members of the school board participate on the EMC. They do not. Only Dr. Joynt is a member. Although he advises the school board, he cannot change the policy. The policymakers will not be at the meeting. Therefore, although I always encourage members of the public to participate in the City’s meetings, this will not be the best forum to effectuate change.
Ozaukee County Testing and Contact Tracing
In received the following information from the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department (WOPHD) in response to some questions posed to me. I thought this would be of interest to people in Mequon.
Is there a COVID-219 testing program in Ozaukee County?
Medical providers are conducting testing in our jurisdiction. WOPHD also has a relationship with a provider to conduct testing for certain high priority populations (first responders, health care workers, LTCF residents, etc) and others identified during public health investigations (contact tracing).
How does WOPHD find out about positive (or negative) tests?
We find out about all test results via a state system called the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS). We receive results for individuals who reside in our jurisdiction. So if someone gets tested but has an address in Racine County, the Racine County Health Department would get their results. The entity that provides the testing generally calls with results as well. Individuals who test at National Guard sites are contacted by the National Guard if they are negative, and the local health department where they reside calls if they are positive. If someone is tested by their doctor, the doctor’s office generally calls with results.
WOPHD always follows-up with positives regardless of whether they were contacted by the test provider.
Is WOPHD doing contact tracing? I know people who were exposed to positive cases, but were never contacted.
WOPHD is absolutely doing contact tracing. WOPHD follows-up with all positives and all close contacts that are identified. In addition to WOPHD department staff, WOPHD has hired 30+ LTE contact tracers to keep up with the case load.
That said, WOPHD can only use the information that people provide to it. So if a positive case doesn’t inform WOPHD of a close contact, WOPHD wouldn’t know about them.
Governor’s Mask Order
Mequon will comply with the Governor’s new mask order unless a court says it is unenforceable. Masks will be required in municipal buildings and facilities.
However, like the enforcement of all laws, enforcement involves discretion. Our police department has limited resources. The police are not going to be on mask patrol and spend the time verifying if people qualify under one of the 14 exceptions specified in the order. Emergency responses, robberies and so forth still have precedence over the mask mandate. Although they will not be looking for violations, if the police are confronted with a violation, they will use education as their primary way to address the situation.
The police will, however, fully support businesses and organizations when patrons become belligerent or disruptive when asked to wear a mask.
The Governor specifically states in his Frequently Asked Questions document that, if people see people who are not wearing masks, they should do nothing. They should not call the police.
Mequon encourages wearing masks, social distancing and compliance with the guidelines of the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.
Black Life Matters Mural
Earlier today, a city contractor removed the Black Lives Matter mural on public property along Mequon Road between Buntrock Avenue and Weston Drive. The mural, which was painted on a retaining wall adjacent to Mequon Road and the Spur 16 mixed-use development, was originally installed on Saturday, June 20, following or during a peaceful protest.
The decision to remove the mural does not in any way reflect my or the city’s position about the message the mural portrayed. The city and I value inclusion, oppose racism and are committed to continually examining and improving our procedures and policies to ensure the city treats all people fairly. The City seeks to treat every individual, business and organization with dignity, fairness, honesty and respect, and to apply all laws, statutes and ordinances equally and consistently, without exception. Laws apply to everyone.
The people who created the mural did not have a permit. City ordinances do not allow for the installation of signage, art or other visual displays without a proper permit.
As I understand the law, and as a couple of attorneys affirmed, if the city permitted the mural to stay, then anyone could post any message or art on that wall – a MAGA logo, a NARAL mural, a pro or anti-gun message, Biden or Trump campaign art – virtually anything. Under the United States Supreme Court’s public forum doctrine, with very limited exceptions, governments cannot pick and choose what content to allow in public spaces once they allow signs or murals or other content-based displays in those spaces.
One of the organizers of the protest suggests that she had approval. She emailed me shortly before the march to see if some concerned artists could use chalk on the sidewalk at Spur 16 to create a mural. I assumed she was asking about the many sidewalks in Spur 16. The protest was going to end in Spur 16. I said that she needed to ask the owner of Spur 16 because it would be on private property. She did, and the owner approved the mural.
However, the mural was not placed on a sidewalk; instead, it was placed on a wall. It was not placed on the Spur 16 site; instead, it was placed on public property. Moreover, if chalk was used, it clearly was some unusual chalk because, despite rain on at least three days (one with over 1.3″), it did not bleed or wash away. The sidewalk and street chalk art at Milwaukee festivals (e.g., Bastille Days) or on home driveways quickly goes away.
The organizer acknowledges that the mural was temporary (even though it had not even begun to wash away after almost three weeks). It was never designed to be there permanently.
Under the circumstances, it was appropriate to remove the mural. Without a change in city ordinances, which would need to be adopted by the common council, Mequon does not allow unregulated signage, art or other visual displays in public places.
The Mequon Police Department is Committed to Keeping our Community Safe AND Doing it the Right Way
I am shocked and saddened by the horrific killing of Mr. Floyd. It was criminal and inexcusable.
A silver lining, if there can be one under these circumstances, is that people at every level of government (at least most) are assessing what they are doing right and what they should do differently. There is always room for improvement, but I can report that the people in Mequon should be pleased with the Mequon Police Department.
Over the past year, the Mequon Police Department has proactively prepared an updated policy manual, including policies to ensure that lethal force is only used when absolutely necessary; that force of any kind is not used excessively; that officers de-escalate rather than escalate tense situations; and that bias may not be the basis for policing decisions.
I am proud to say that the Mequon Police Department is ahead of the curve. There have been many policies suggested by residents over the past several days. The department adopted every one of them before being asked under these circumstances. You can see these policies by clicking the following link:
This focus on good, community-based policing centered around fairness, justice and safety is not new. It is how our officers have been trained in the past and continue to be trained.
Importantly, the Mequon Police Department hires good men and women. Policies and training are vitally important, but none of that matters if you did not have officers of high character. Mequon does at every level, from the Chief to the newest recruit. Chief Patrick Pryor, his command staff and the Police and Fire Commission insist on it.
The leadership of the Mequon Police Department is in great hands. We are fortunate Chief Pryor is one of the finest, most honest and most ethical people I know. And he has an exceedingly fine command staff. Like the rest of us, Chief Pryor is appalled by the killing of Mr. Floyd. You can read his statement by clicking the following link:
Statement by Chief Patrick Pryor
Of course, I do not know what each individual officer believes in his or her heart, but I truly believe that our officers treat each situation based on the perceived threat using legitimate criteria. That certainly is the expectation.
There is always more work to do. But I am confident that the Mequon Police Department is committed to keeping our community safe and doing it the right way.
In our nation’s rightful efforts to ensure that police do not perform heinous acts like those that occurred in Minnesota, we must be ever mindful that policing is a dangerous job. Hundreds of police officers die on the job each year. Over the past couple of decades, an average of 85 officers have been feloniously killed each year. And last year alone, police officers were assaulted over 50,000 times.
When compared to the number of civilians killed each year by police, the number of officers killed might appear small; however, the vast majority of civilians killed were involved in criminal acts and had weapons. In almost all instances, the officers who were compelled to use force were protecting their communities in very difficult conditions. I am not defending the use of excessive force, but unfortunately force, if used correctly, is sometimes a necessary part of policing.
Efforts to make positive change must not put our officers further at risk. Officers must be able to protect themselves and to use deadly force when appropriate. They cannot effectively serve or protect our communities if they fear for their lives or if they are not allowed to defend themselves or our people or property. Fortunately, in Mequon, deadly force has almost never been necessary, and the vast majority of police contacts involve no force whatsoever.
Chief Pryor and I have received many questions over the past couple of days. You can read many of the questions, and the Police Department’s answers, by clicking here.
We will continue to look for ways to ensure that ALL people are treated justly.
Support positive, responsible change. Black lives matter, as do all lives. Justice matters. Bias is inexcusable. Bad police officers should be removed from the job. Criminal police officers must be prosecuted.
All of that being said, support our police even while insisting on societal change. They are protecting us. They have a stressful and dangerous job and are on our side, and we have very good people serving us.
This morning I issued a procalamation regarding the reopening of Mequon.
I consulted with a variety of Mequon business people and medical professionals and other community leaders before issuing this. Some members and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce have already expressed their approval of this plan.
Mequon is very concerned about both its business community and the spread of the virus. Mequon businesses and residents have been very responsible, and I am certain they will continue to be responsible. This plan only imposes temporary restrictions on businesses that tend to accumulate larger numbers of people in close proximity and businesses that necessitate close proximity between provider and customer.
All businesses can reopen now, but with some limitations for a short period. Those limitations go away on a weekly basis. In the interim, there is an opportunity to determine if reopening has increased the spread of the virus.
I fully expect that the State will issue rules (but this time going through the proper rule-making process involving the legislature) shortly. This Proclamation provides a bridge to those rules.
I recognize that some people will be unhappy about this. One group will be unhappy that there are any restrictions, and one group will be unhappy that there are not significantly more. I have been fielding calls and emails from both of those ends ever since the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its decision.
I truly believe, however, that the vast majority fall between these two extremes. I have also been hearing from them on an almost non-stop basis.
I agree that adults should be able to make their own decisions. I do not support laws that protect people from themselves (we have too many of them). However, the concern over the virus is not a concern for people getting themselves sick. It is a concern over people getting others sick. There are many seniors and people with health concerns (in Mequon that is a large percentage of the population) who cannot stay at home because of work, grocery shopping, doctor appointments and all of the other things we all need to do.
I also recognize that most people in Mequon have been very responsible. However, laws are made for those who are less responsible.
This is a short interim step designed to find if there is a spike. If all works well, our seniors and the people with health concerns (in Mequon that is a large percentage of the population) will then see that it is safe to frequent our businesses. If all goes well, we will very shortly be fully reopened.
If, on the other hand, the virus spreads uncontrollably and our hospitals become overwhelmed, we have a problem. We do not want that to happen. We live right on the edge of the community with the most infections. We do not want similar concerns.
This is precisely the kind of regulation that both parties in the legislature have suggested. It would not surprise me if the state’s ultimate regulations a week or so from now look something like this.
Unlike what happened at the state, this is not a one person fiat. This kind of Proclamation is specifically allowed under the Wisconsin Statutes, and the Common Council will have an opportunity to modify or reject it. This would have been proposed and done at a Common Council meeting, but we do not have one scheduled for almost a month. I intedn to call a special session, but those take some time. Based on the timing of the Supreme Court decision, it did not make sense to have businesses closed, then reopened, and then partially closed again.
One final point. The Proclamation has not reopened the playgrounds, playing fields and pool. I fully expect the playgrounds and playing fields, and likely the pool, will open shortly. We are not yet even to Memorial Day. We first want to see that there is no short-term spike, to ready them for use, and to at least have a chance to make plans with the groups that run the organized activites.
You can read a copy of the Proclamation by clicking here.
What About Hartford? What the City Can Do in Response to the Extended Order
I have received several emails asking why I am not doing what the Hartford mayor is doing. According to news reports, the Hartford mayor has announced that Hartford will not be following the Safter at Home order.
I am convinced that a mayor does not have the right to do what the mayor in Hartford is doing. I am uncertain that is even what is happening in Hartford. Just because he said something does not mean the Police Chief is following his directive. A Police Chief is not obligated to follow an illegal order.
The question is whether the DHS order is legal.
First, even the legislature is not arguing that the Governor does not have the authority to issue extraordinary orders through May 11 (the 60th day). The Governor has broad powers for 60 days. There are a few provisions (e.g., restricting places of religious worship) that might be unconstitutional even before May 11 (although there is some caselaw and history supporting it), but it appears the Governor has the right to order the rest for 60 days.
It appears, however, that the Governor does not have the right to extend the order beyond May 11. Perhaps recognizing his lack of authority, the Secretary-Designee of DHS instead issued the most recent order (which is largely the same as the oroiginal order).
The legislature is challenging whether whether DHS has the authority to issue any order (rather than a rule that could be modified by the legislature through the rulemakng process) or an order that goes as far as it has.
I seriously question whether the Governor has the authority to do anything that extends beyond May 11. I have been raising that issue for weeks. I also question whether DHS has the authority it asserts.
The issue will be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, most likely within the next week. We will know then what is lawful and what is not.
As a creature of state government, local government’s choice is to follow the rules or challenge them in court. I do not support the right some municipalities have asserted to create Safe Havens for illegal aliens or gun free zones in contravention of federal and state laws. Similarly, I do not believe municipalities should turn their back on state rules here.
Considering that the legislature is already challenging the order, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision within a week, I see no reason to spend the money to file another suit.
I am not defending all the decisions that were made in connection with this epidemic. I expect I would have done things somewhat differently but, then again, if I were making the decisions, I also would have more experts on whom to rely. I certainly would have made things clearer and more consistent. I think the Governor has over-reached, at least by having DHS extend the order past May 11 without legislative approval and by not making clearer and more coherent and consistent rules. He should be working with the legislature as required by state statutes (as I understand them) either by agreeing to and working to pass a mutually agreeable statute or issuing a rule that would be subject to the rulemaking oversight process. A rule under that process could have been enacted in less than two weeks.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the people who have contracted the illness, those who have died and their families, and the businesses and workers who have suffered greatly from this situation. My own income is down, and like everyone else, my retirement savings have been crushed. I am part owner of a business that has lost about 80-90% of its business but still keeps its doors open while losing money, knowing if it closes it is unlikely to ever reopen. Still, I recognize many have been hurt much more than I, and I am fortunate to have some cushion. I am doing what I can on a local level (e.g., we just created a small loan program for Mequon businesses and suspended some regulations). I hope to see some modification of the rules quickly while still keeping in place the most necessary protections.
I fully expect things will change, one way or another, within the next week or so. At that point, I will reassess my position and that of the Common Council. Either there will be a state law that is clearly defined, or the issue will be returned to the local level. Then, we will have to assess whether the Ozaukee County Health Department has authority that supersedes the authority of the City and the extent of the County’s authority (we are looking at that now). Its authority might preclude the City from doing anything. To the extent the authority rests with the City, I will do my best to assist businesses while also keeping people safe.
City Relaxes Some Curbside Business Regulations For the Balance of the COVID-19 Crisis
The City’s primary concern is the health of our residents. However, this crisis is also causing significant damage to our local businesses. I want to help as much as I can. Today, I issued a proclamation relaxing some signage and display rules to assist businesses who are trying to make it with cubside service. Many of the extra signs you see around Mequon are acceptable and understandable. This proclamation largely formalizes what has been occurring. I want to ensure, however, that businesses and residents realize that these practices are acceptable and encouraged under the circumstances. Also, by formualizing this, I have eliminated any questions and concerns city staff might have about enforcing regulations. You can read the proclamation by clicking here.
Effect of COVID-19 Crisis on City Revenues
I received an email today regarding the effect of the current crisis on city revenues. The question was interesting to me, so I thought I would provide a short explanation for whomever might be interested.
Municipal revenues are very different than state revenues. Accordingly, what is happening with the economy should have only marginal impact on the city’s 2020 revenue.
The city’s primary revenue source is real estate taxes. We do not receive income or sales taxes, which fluctuate greatly based on the economy. Real estate taxes change based on the economy, but the change is over a period of years. Real estate taxes used in 2020 were assessed last year and already are largely collected. Real estate tax collections for 2020 will not be materially affected by the virus or the economic fallout from the virus.
The city receives some money from the state. I have asked the governor’s office to let us know sooner rather than later if those shared revenues will be affected in 2020 so we can plan. A recent statement by the governor appears to indicate that there will be no local impact. We will see.
There are some less significant sources of revenue that might be impacted. Those include things like rental fees and permit fees. Rental fees will be down. Building permit fees will be down a bit, but ongoing construction projects have not stopped. To the extent they deviate from budget projections, the city will be able to deal with the changes. The city has some reserves.
2020 should be fine. City revenues change, but the change is not as volatile as the changes on the federal and state levels. Nevertheless, the city will monitor changes closely.
Economic changes have a bigger impact on revenues over time. 2021 real estate tax revenue is based on January 1, 2020 real estate values. However, collectability may be an issue in 2021 if the economy is in a prolonged recession. If that is the case, property values may be down in January 2021, thereby affecting 2022 revenues. However, it is far too early to determine what impact this mess will have in 2021 and beyond.
Mequon COVID-19 Business Loan Opportunity
Tuesday night, the Common Council unanimously approved a small loan program for Mequon small businesses. Many years ago, the City received federal funds for a business loan program. The loan pool is replenished as loans are repaid. The program previously had the normal red tape that you would expect from a federal program. However, due to some loosening of federal restrictions, and in connection with this economic disaster, the City has the opportunity to make it now available simply, more quickly and in small increments.
There are a lot of businesses that are suffering. The loans the City can offer clearly are not a full solution, but they might provide the bridge that allows a business to survive or revive.
Here is a basic summary of the terms:
ELIGIBILITY: Any business with operations open to the public in the City of Mequon. Had to be open prior to January 1, 2019. Must have been in a good financial condition before the emergency order. Maximum 25 FTE employees as of the beginning of the emergency order.
EXCLUDED BUSINESSES: Speculative investment companies. Real estate investment companies. Lending institutions. Businesses owned by members of the Common Council, the Economic Development Board or officials and staff involved in the program.
APPLICATION: Simple city application with financial statements (both for the business and guarantors – 2019 and 2020 to date)
LOAN AMOUNT: Not to exceed $15,000 (there are also three loans available for $5,000 each).
INTEREST: Interest free through June 30, 2021. 1% per year thereafter.
TERM: 5 years. May be prepaid at any time without penalty.
GUARANTY: From each principal owning 20% or more of the equity interests in the business.
Applications will be reviewed and approved or denied within five business days of receipt. The City will be prepared to close promptly after approval. Loans must be closed within five business days of approval. The City hopes to make this process even faster.
The Common Council approved $150,000 for this program. Depending on its success, there is an opportunity for additional loans when and if that amount is fully used.
The City will begin processing applications on TUESDAY, MAY 5. However, applicants can receive applications and other information before then by contacting:
Director of Development
City of Mequon
Please pass this on to business owners you know who could use this bit of assistance.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
– Babe Ruth
Letter to Governor Evers
On April 21, nine days ago, I sent a letter to Governor Evers, Senator Fitzgerald and Representative Vos. None of them responded. Today, I followed up with another letter to Governor Evers. You can read my letter by clicking here. The original letter is attached.
Again, it is unlikely that Governor Evers or anyone else in Madison will listen to one mayor, but I needed to try.
Request by Legislature to Work With Governor
Subsequent to my letter to our state officials (I do not suggest my letter had anything to do with it), Senator Fitzgerald and Representative Vos sent a letter to the Governor’s Secretary-Designee of the Department of Health Services. They state:
Legislative leaders have repeatedly asked Governor Evers to work with them to develop a plan, but he refuses to give us a seat at the table.
They called for “immediate, cooperative work” and asked the Governor and Secretart-Designee to “work with us immediately.”
You can read the full letter here. Since I publiicly called for legislative leaders to seek a meeting, I ought to acknowledge that, to some extent, they have done so.
Have they extended an olive branch? No. The letter is far from that. It is as much an explanation for their lawsuoit as it is a request to work together. But perhaps there is some willingness to engage in discussions.
I can find no evidence that the Governor has directly responded.
Various Republican legislators have endorsed, or at least expressed openness to, some of the other plans that have been proposed. One such plan can be seen here. Another here. There are others.
For purposes of comparison, the Governor’s plan can be seen here, and the federal guidelines can be seen here.
I am not taking a position on which plan is better. They all lack specificity and have omissions. I seriously doubt that any of these plans could receive bipartisan support as written.
The best plan would be one that both parties and most people can support. Perhaps they could take elements from each of these plans and call it the Wisconsin Plan. Purists will not like it – it will in part be too restrictive and in part be insufficiently restrictive. Some will say that it not sufficiently science-based. Some will say that it does not open the economy quickly enough. It will be imperfect, but an imperfect plan is better than either no plan or a plan that half the state will ignore and ridicule. Wisconsin needs a plan that everyone can rally around. That is the best cure for both the virus and the economy. And we have to be concerned with both.
The sooner the Governor and legislative leadership meet, the sooner we will know if they can possibly work toward an agreement on a meaningful plan. Maybe that can only happen after the Wisconsin Supreme Court has weighed in. That would be disappointing.
To come to an agreement, both sides need to be willing to talk and negotiate in good faith, they need to want to reach an agreement, they have to care about mitigating the damage from the virus and the damage to our economy, and they need to be able to share credit. Can any of them do that?
We Need Consensus, Not a Political Battle
There is a political battle brewing between the Governor and the legislature. The solution to this health and economic crisis is not a political battle; rather, we need a consensual plan that we all can rally around. This afternoon, I sent this letter to Governor Evers, Senator Fitzgerald and Representative Vos and this letter to our own legislators, Senator Darling and Representative Ott.
I am not so naive as to think letters from the mayor of a small city will make a big difference. However, I do not want to let the opportunity pass, however small.
Despite COVID-19, Mequon and Thiensville are Still a Community of Restaurants
UPDATED: April 12, 2020
Mequon and Thiensville restaurants have been hit hard by the current public health emergency. Please join me in supporting our restaurants. They are essential members of our community, and we want them around when this ends. I list restaurants that are still offering delivery, curbside, takeout and drive through service.
According to the CDC, “[c]urrently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” If using takeout, please remember to maintain the 6′ social distancing requirement.
Mequon resident Janet Fussell used my prior list from this site and updated it to show who is doing what. Mequon Community Development Department employee Kris Hoeft then double-checked these lists. Thanks to both of them.
I suggest you call before going. This is a very fluid situation. Things change.
Please let me know if you find errors.
If you would like a sortable Excel spreadsheet, click here. If you would like a printable PDF, click here.
|NAME||DELIVERY||CURBSIDE||TAKE OUT||DRIVE THROUGH||HOURS|
|Café 1505||X||X||10am -2|
|Chancery Pub & Restaurant||X||X||M-Sat 11-9; Sun 11-8|
|China Buffet||X||M closed; T-Th 11am-9:30; F-Sat 11am-10; Sun 11:30am-9|
|Cousins||X||M-Sat 10am-8; Sun 10:30am-7|
|Crave||X||M-Th 11am-10; F-Sat 11am-11; Sun 11am-8,|
|Einstein Bros Bagels||X||X||6am-2|
|Ferrante’s||X||M-Th 11:30am-9; F 11:30am-10; Sat 4:30-10; Sun 4:30-9|
|Foxtown Brewing||X||M-T Closed; W-Th 3-7; F-Sun 12noon-7|
|Harvey’s Central Grill||X||X||W; F; Sat|
|Highland House||X||X||11am-8 take out; 12noon-8 delivery|
|Hong Anh Palace||X||M-Th 11-9; F-Sat 11-10; Sun 4-9|
|Leonardo’s Pizza Parlour||X||X||M-Th 11am-930; F-Sat 11am-10; Sun 2-930|
|Mequon Pizza Company||X||X||M closed; T 4-9; W-Th 11am-9; F 11am-10; Sat 4-10; Sun 4-9|
|Noodles & Company||X||X||10:30am-8|
|Pizza Hut/Wing Street||X||X||closed|
|Ruby Tap||X||T-Sat 12noon-6|
|Sobelmans Pub N Grill Mequon||X||Mon-F 11am-10; Sat 11am-11; Sun 11am-9,|
|Zaffiro’s||X||X||Sun-Th 11am-10; F-Sat 11am-11pm|
|Cheel, The||X||W-Sat 2-8|
|Downtown Pizza||X||X||M, W, Th 4-8; F-Sat 3-9; Sun 4-8; Tue closed|
|East Sun||X||X||M-F 11am-9: Sat-Sun 4-9|
|Falafel Guys||X||Sun-Mon closed; Tu-Th 11am-8; F-Sat 11am-9|
|Mila’s European Bakery||X||M-Sat 6am-6; Sun 10am-2|
|Prime Minister Family Restaurant||X||X||M-Th 11am-7; F11am-8; Sat-Sun 10am-8|
|Purple Frog, The (at Glaze)||X||9am-3|
|Shully’s Catering||X||M-Sat 10am-7 (call by 4pm); Sun 10am-5 (call by 2pm)|
|Skippy’s Burger Bar||X||Sun-M closed; Tu-Th 4-8; F-Sat 11-8|
And we do not want to forget our restaurants that are temporarily closed. We look forward to them being back in business soon.
|Fox Den, The||Colectivo Coffee||Mr. B’s|
|Anodyne Coffee||Fiddleheads||Nines American Bistro|
|Bavette La Boucherie||First Watch||Purple Door Ice Cream|
|Beans & Barley||Happy Dough Lucky||Range Line Inn|
|Bowls||Jodi’s 19th Tee at Mee-kwon Park||St. Paul’s Fish Market|
|Café Hollander||Landmark||Wooden Goose Café|
|Remington’s River Inn|
Procedures for City Meetings During COVID-19 Emergency
On Friday, I executed a Proclamation that requires electronic meetings during this emergency and provides the framework for such meetings. The Proclamation follows the state’s advice regarding electronic meetings and open meetings laws,. It also includes practical procedures to ensure electronic meetings can proceed smoothly. There are some limitations to a public phone call or internet-based meeting that could have dozens or more people potentially participating.
The Proclamation was necessary because, without it, the Common Council could not legally hold its next meeting to consider a policy for these meetings. It would violate Mequon’s ordinances.
Staff reviewed and commented on the terms. However, the blame for the drafting is on me (it looks better in its original typewritten form – this website program does not have tabs).
The Common Council will have the opportunity to approve, amend or reject these terms at the next Common Council meeting on April 14.
The folowing is the text of the Proclamation:
I, John M. Wirth, as Mayor and Chief Executive Officer of the City of Mequon, make the following Proclamation in consideration of the following:
A. COVID-19, a novel strain of coronavirus, was detected in December of 2019 and has subsequently spread throughout the world, including every state in the United States.
B. On January 3, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
C. On March 12, 2020, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in connection with COVID-19.
D. On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump proclaimed a National Emergency in connection with concerning COVID-19.
E. On March 16, 2020, I proclaimed, on behalf of the City of Mequon, a Public Health Emergency as defined in Wisconsin Statutes Section 323.02(16) and a Disaster as defined in Wisconsin Statutes Section 323.02(6); accordingly, the City of Mequon implemented its emergency authority under Wisconsin Statutes Section 323.11. The Common Council affirmed that proclamation at its meeting on March 17, 2020.
F. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there were 1,730 total confirmed cases of people with COVID-19 in Wisconsin as of April 2, 2020, with 31 confirmed deaths, and COVID-19 had been confirmed in 52 counties in the State of Wisconsin, including Ozaukee County. According to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, there were 49 total confirmed cases of people with COVID-19 in Ozaukee County as of April 2, 2020, with five confirmed deaths. Mequon-Thiensville had 23 of the 49 confirmed cases in Ozaukee County.
G. With a few exceptions, the Mequon Code of Ordinances (the “Code”) contains various provisions mandating that officials and the public appear and vote in person at meetings of the Common Council, Planning Commission and the City’s various other boards, commissions and committees (each of the foregoing being a “City body”).
H. Meetings of the various City bodies have been postponed since March 17, 2020, allowing the City time to plan for future meetings while maintaining social distancing.
I. The City of Mequon always values public input and believes that, generally, meetings should be in person; however, during the current emergency, and considering various orders of the Governor and the policy in favor of social distancing, in-person meetings would be inappropriate.
J. The City should resume meetings for the following and other reasons:
- No one knows how long the current emergency situation will last.
- Without meetings of the City bodies, the City is unable to move forward with its own policies and initiatives, to proceed with its own construction projects, including its road program, to effectively govern and provide the services the public expects from the City or to support those Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions and Essential Businesses and Operations authorized under Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order (the “Governor’s Order”).
- Various residential and commercial construction projects cannot move forward without approvals by the applicable City bodies despite being Essential Businesses and Operations under the Governor’s Order, and delays in approvals by the City might prompt defaults under various private contracts.
- Fairness to various parties interested in deliberations of the City’s bodies dictates prompt consideration of the matters considered during such deliberations.
K. It is necessary and proper, pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes Section 323.14(4)(b), in order to provide for the health, safety, protection and welfare of people and property within the City, for me to issue this Proclamation in advance of a Common Council meeting in order to allow (a) the Common Council’s standing committees to meet electronically in advance of the Common Council’s consideration and (2) the Common Council to meet electronically to consider the provisions of this Proclamation.
BASED ON THE FOREGOING and pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes Sections 323.14(4)(b) and 323.52(1) and Sections 26-24 of the Code, I proclaim as follows:
1. Generally. Based on the imprudence of holding in-person meetings, the location for all meetings of City bodies shall be held electronically and in compliance with the regulations set forth in this Proclamation. No City body other than the ad hoc Emergency Management Committee or the Common Council, if a special meeting becomes necessary, shall meet prior to April 14, 2020. A City body, at the discretion of its chair and subject to staff availability, may hold a special meeting after that date outside of its regularly meeting schedule to replace a meeting that has been postponed.
2. Architectural Board. Due to the number of reserve panel members of the Architectural Board (as described in Section 2-443(b) of the Code), and the difficulty of coordinating an electronic meeting with a large number of potential attendees, including reserve panel members who only participate for part of the meeting, the Architectural Board will only consist of the five at-large members, as defined in Sec. 2-443(a) of the Code. A quorum shall consist of three members. Any reserve panel member may serve as an alternate member if the permanent alternate member(s) are unable to participate.
3. Regulations. Each electronic meeting shall be subject to the following regulations:
(a) Packets. No paper copies of the packet for any City body’s meeting shall be made by the City; instead, links to the packets shall be electronically transmitted to members of the City body.
(b) Notices. The City shall provide notices of the meeting pursuant to state law and the Code. Notices shall (a) inform the public that the meeting will be held remotely, (b) provide all information necessary for the public to monitor the meeting, including the telephone number, video conference link and any necessary passcodes or other login information; (c) provide that, except with respect to a public hearing, public comments should be sent to an email address specified in the notice or delivered in writing to the City depository at City Hall, in either instance no later than two hours prior to the meeting (except with respect to a morning meeting, no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day prior to the meeting); and (d) provide that reasonable accommodations will be made for people without telephone or internet access or who are deaf or hard of hearing provided that notice of such need is provided to the City in the same manner as public comments.
(c) Platform. Unless otherwise approved by city staff, all meetings shall be held using an electronic (internet and/or conference call) platform provided by the City.
(d) Telephonic Option. To the extent an internet-based meeting is conducted, participants and the public shall be provided with an alternative local or toll-free telephone dial-in option for listening to the meeting so that lack of internet access is not a barrier to listening to the meeting.
(e) Recording of Meetings. All meetings shall be recorded. To the extent a video of a meeting would ordinarily be posted to the City’s website, Channel 25 or youtube.com, the recording shall be posted instead of the video.
(f) Roll Call and Announcement. At the beginning of each meeting, the chair or staff liaison shall conduct the roll call. Upon determination that a quorum is on-line, the chair shall (i) request that members of the City body identify themselves before they begin to speak; (ii) remind all members of the City body not to speak over one another; (iii) tell all people participating in or observing the meeting to silence their phones or microphones except when speaking; and (iv) inform the public that public comments cannot be heard during the meeting (except with respect to public hearings, if applicable) but that, for future meetings, comments can be provided in advance of the meeting as specified on the public notice.
(g) Public Hearings.
- (i) If a public hearing is on the agenda, the section describing the public hearing shall notify the public that, in order to be recognized during such meeting, a person must notify the City of his or her request to be recognized by email to an email address specified in the notice or by leaving a message on the voice mail of a person specified in the notice, in either instance no later than two hours prior to the meeting (except with respect to a morning meeting, no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day prior to the meeting).
- (ii) Only people who have registered as described above to speak during a public hearing shall be recognized.
- (iii) Matters for which a public hearing is held shall be considered by the City body immediately following the public hearing.
(h) Speaking at Meetings. Only the following people may speak during a meeting:
- (i) Members of the City body.
- (ii) City staff and consultants engaged by the City.
- (iii) The public during any public hearing.
- (iv) Whenever a City body is acting as a quasi-judicial body, any party to the matter being reviewed, any agent for such a party and any witness called by a party or the City.
- (v) In the discretion of the chair, any applicant, or the agent for any applicant. An applicant shall be a person or entity who has paid the required fee in connection with the matter being discussed.
(i) Public Comments. Public comments received by the City pursuant to Section 3(b) shall be read (or summarized in the discretion of the chair) by staff or the chair when the applicable matter is discussed.
(j) Recognition by Chair. No person shall speak at a meeting unless he or she first states his or her name and then is recognized by the chair.
(k) Disruption. The chair may cut-off any person on the call if such person is not allowed to speak or if a person is otherwise allowed to speak but becomes disruptive to the orderly conduct of the meeting.
(l) Non-Verbal Communications. Members of the City body shall not communicate with other members during any meeting utilizing any non-verbal means, including without limitation email, text messaging or any digital chat feature within the platform.
(m) Closed Sessions. To the extent a City body goes into closed session, either (i) all connections to the electronic meeting shall be disconnected and locked other than those people legally entitled to participate in the closed session, and no action shall be taken on any matter discussed in closed session until another scheduled and noticed meeting after the closed session; or (ii) people legally entitled to participate in the closed session will transition to a private telephonic conference, and no action shall be taken on any matter discussed in closed session until the City body returns to the original open session electronic meeting if so noted in the agenda, or until another scheduled and noticed meeting after the closed session.
4. Common Council Meetings. In order to keep Common Council meetings orderly, and to reduce the time of meetings that will necessarily be made longer through electronic meetings, the following additional changes are made:
(a) Amendments. Any member of the Common Council who desires to propose an amendment to any ordinance, resolution or other matter being considered by the Common Council should email a written copy of the amendment to the City Administrator, the department member named on the memorandum for the item and all members of the Common Council at least two hours prior to the meeting. No amendment shall be precluded if it is not so emailed; however, if the Mayor or other presiding officer determines that consideration of an amendment offered orally (other than an amendment to this Proclamation when it is considered pursuant to Section 7) will cause confusion or unduly delay the meeting, such presiding officer may order that such item be tabled until the next meeting so the amendment can be put in writing and distributed to the Council.
(b) Public Appearances and Public Comments. The Section of the normal Common Council agenda entitled Public Appearances and Public Comments shall be deleted. To the extent written comments are received by the Clerk that would otherwise be heard in that part of the meeting, the Clerk shall provide copies to the Common Council.
5. Postponement. Nothing in this Proclamation shall remove any discretion by a chair to postpone, to the extent allowed by law, a meeting or matter if the chair determines that postponement is in the public interest.
6. Conflicting Ordinances. To the extent that this Proclamation conflicts with any provision of the Code, the provisions of this Proclamation shall govern and shall constitute an amendment to such provision of the Code until such time as the City’s emergency proclamation is terminated or this Proclamation is amended or terminated. To the extent any ordinance is not amended by this Proclamation explicitly or by necessary implication, including any ordinance governing the procedures of a City body, such ordinance remains in full force and effect.
7. Common Council Ratification. Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes Section 323.14(4)(b), this Proclamation is subject to ratification, alteration, modification or repeal by the Common Council at its next meeting, which shall occur as soon as the Common Council can meet, but the subsequent action taken by the Common Council shall not affect the prior validity of this Proclamation.
COVID-19: What You Can Do to Help
This virus is a challenge. If we all do our part through better hygiene and social distancing, we can reduce the spread of the disease and ultimately defeat it.
Meanwhile, many of our neighbors are hurting. There are things we all can do to help minimize the impact. The following are some of the many great recommendations I have received. I will add more as I receive more recommendations. Check back.
- Keep in touch. Many, particularly our seniors, are feeling closed off and alone. It only takes a few minutes to call someone a couple of times a week to say hi and see if they need anything. We need to stay connected while we are distancing.
- #PayUpFront So many of our local businesses are truly hurting: bars, restaurants, barbers, beauticians, day-cares and merchants, just to name a few. If we want to see them make it through this, THEY NEED OUR HELP NOW. If you can, buy gift certificates or prepay for a few weeks’ of service. Even if they are closed, they have a lot of expenses. There is a little risk – some might not make it – but if each of us who can #PayUpFront does so, whether a few dollars or a few hundred dollars, we can minimize that risk. Have faith.
- Order a meal for pick-up at your favorite restaurant. According to the CDC, food does not transmit coronavirus. Our restaurants need the business. Without it, many may fail.
- Donate to the hungry. On Wednesday, I will be placing some boxes for food (and money) donations for Family Sharing of Ozaukee County inside the front door of City Hall (the doors along Cedarburg Road). I will be picking the donations up and delivering them. Those doors will be open for the next week and a half during ordinary business hours while in-person voting is happening. I plan to follow all of these recommendations, but this is my particular contribution.
- Give blood. Blood is in very short supply and very much needed. One opportunity will be at Lumen Christi Church on Thursday, April 2, from noon until 5:00 p.m. All are welcome. COVID-19 protocols will be followed. I will let you know as more blood drives become available. Or, find a location by clicking here.
- Help with supplies. If your business has gloves, masks, gowns or other personal protective equipment, both the City (firefighters, police and inspectors) and the hospital could use them. Please let me know if you have a line on any of them.
- Even though you can vote in-person, don’t. Instead, please vote by mail. There is still time. You can request an absentee ballot by clicking here. It is simple, and takes only a couple of minutes. If you need more help, you can call 262-236-2911 or email Janet Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you insist on voting in person (but please don’t), bring your own (black or blue only) pen. That way people are not sharing pens. Felt tipped pens are preferable. And keep your distance in line.
Mequon ad hoc Emergency Management Committee
I have appointed an ad hoc committee to provide advice to the City regarding COVID-19. The members include representatives of a variety of Mequon organizations. They can tell the City what they are doing, and the City can provide the same information to them.
I am trying to use as many tools, and gather as many opinions, as I can. It is a committee with diverse perspectives, both politically and professionally.
The committee will not be setting local policy. That is up to the mayor and the Common Council as a whole. Instead, they will exchange information and, with staff and the public, provide advice.
Obviously, most policies will be set at the federal and state levels. However, the city is left to implement some of those policies and to ensure that the City continues to provide essential services while complying with federal and state policies.
There will be no criticism of either the President or the Governor at the meetings. That is not the point of the body. Instead, we want to ensure that we do the best job we can in implementing the policies that exist. To do that, we know to know what others are doing. The inclusion of any member is not an endorsement of that member. It is a recognition that he or she is a member of a body that makes a difference.
The committee includes the following:
|Ascension Hospital||Dr. Jason Staszko|
|Chamber of Commerce||Jessica Liebau|
|Common Council||Dr. Kathleen Schneider|
|Concordia University of Wisconsin||Dr. Patrick Ferry and Gretchen Jameson|
|Mequon-Thiensville School District||Dr. Matt Joynt|
|Other Medical||Dr. David Tick|
|Ozaukee County||Supervisor Dave Henrichs|
|State of Wisconsin||Sen. Alberta Darling, Rep. Jim Ott and Rep. Dan Knodl|
I will chair the committee. The City Administrator, Assistant City Administrator, Police Chief, Fire Chief and City Attorney (as well as other staff on an as-needed basis) will assist the committee.
I continue to seek advice from as many members of the public as possible. Please send your comments to me at email@example.com and/or to the City Administrator Will Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meetings of the committee are available to the public; however, all such meetings will be conducted electronically; therefore, the discussion on the call needs to be limited to the members and staff. Public comments should be submitted at least one hour prior to the meeting. When they are scheduled, meeting times and dates will be posted on the city website and can be seen by clicking here.