To the Editor:

The callous disregard by some of our elected representatives for our free speech rights and the rules of open meetings and fair play is eye opening. The tactics used by some members at the recent meeting of the Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Committee were arbitrary and improper. As an attorney, it is my view that the role of the Corporation Counsel is to advise the County Board and its Committees on both law and policy related to their work, not to help them break the law, avoid open discussion of crucial issues or adopt policies that ruin our county.

Sayner resident John Richter attempted to present a petition to the committee but was nearly shut out by improper procedures taken by chair Kim Simac and poor advice by the corporation counsel. The petition asks the county to take a position on the loss of local control over our lakes and shorelands and replacement by statewide standards, which guarantee every lake in the state will eventually become average. The Vilas County economy and tax base cannot survive if our lakes are merely average! We have worked for years to make sure our lakes are well above average and we need to remain vigilant, which we used to do with county zoning controls. The new statewide regulations, sponsored by Senator Tiffany, make that local control impossible.

If our state and county representatives and county employees cannot connect the dots between the threat posed by 2015 Wis. Act 55 against our lake-supported economy, they are not acting in the best interests of the county’s taxpayers, businesses and the lakes that support them. The same reasoning applies to similar legislation attacking local control of our lakes and shorelands. Our economy and tax base are tied to the health of our waters and our ecosystem, so we need healthy lakes and shorelands to sustain our economy and way of life. To protect our resources, economy and tax base we need to restore the local control over zoning that Act 55 took away. It is the county’s job to send that message to Madison.

Let’s let all let these people know that lakes and shorelands are the foundation of Vilas County’s economy and tax base and it is their job to ensure that our lakes, shorelands, economy, tax base and way of life are not placed at risk.

Bill Scott