The community discussion about the form of goverment we have here in Oshkosh is apparently over. Later today, the Oshkosh Common Council will vote to do away with the search for an "interim" City Manager and move right into hiring a permanent replacement for Richard Wollangk.
You may recall, the council decided to hire an interim manager to give residents a chance to circulate petitions for a government change--or to at least talk about what format they might want to consider. That came after the council rejected a referendum on government format out of hand--saying there needed to be more "discussion" on the topic.
Now, some on the council believe that discussion has taken place. The only talks I was privy to were my own "Two Cents" features. The first weighed the pros and cons of an elected mayor. The other decried the rejection of the referendum. A show of hands please from everyone else who attended a forum on this topic....that's what I thought. I seem to remember that Mayor Frank Tower saying he also wanted to wait for the next Presidential election to hold the referendum to ensure the best turnout possible. He must figure with Hillary and Rudy guaranteed to drive people away from the polls in droves--turnout may not be as great as expected.
By hiring a permanent manager, the council will be saying "Don't worry Mr New Hire, your position is safe here because we are basically putting the kibosh on any talk about voting your job out of existance."
My other beef with this proposal is that its unfair to those who might have applied for a permanent position--but not an interim one. At least one interim candidate is unsure if he wants to be in the running for a full-time job. If this is going to be a permanent hire--then the position should be re-posted so all of the best candidates have a shot.
Hopefully the council will stick with its original plan--interim first, referendum on the form of government--and the hire of a permanent manager if the position still exists. Otherwise the cities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee will have to continue to fail on their own with their out-dated elected mayor-council forms of governments.