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OPINION: Doubling Down on Village Hall

OPINION: Doubling Down on Village Hall

by | Mar 26, 2016 | 24 comments

On a cold and rainy night this week, five candidates for the Greendale Village Board gathered at Greendale High School to answer voter questions in the candidate forum.

The crowd was almost exactly the same size as the school board candidate forum a week earlier. If attendance were being taken, you would placing a checkmark against many of the same names at both forums. I didn’t hear any major flubs — this time — as candidates fielded questions about a school district parking lot at 84th and Grange, improvements at Scout Lake and the Industrial Loop, economic development and their thoughts on a referendum to remove voting from the schools.

No one was talking about high rise condos at Scout Lake, but there was discussion about a beer garden or a restaurant. And, I heard that flooding on the 60th Street access to Scout Lake is a concern for many.

Some have proposed a bridge or other solution. The land is owned by Milwaukee County and they have been dragging their heels for years. Apparently, it isn’t a priority for County Executive Chris Abele or our County Board Supervisor Anthony Staskunas. No one at the forum seemed to have a good answer.

On this year’s hot button issue, they were asked about a voter referendum on removing polling from schools. The candidate consensus was that a referendum should be a last resort and more dialog was needed with stakeholders. But, no one ruled it out.

There was much talk of joint meetings between the Village and School boards. Such meetings are rather like unicorns. People talk about them, but they are rarely seen. One was held was a couple of years ago and it resulted in the school board bringing forward their ill-conceived plan to unilaterally put a stop to voting in school buildings.

I also heard ideas on how to save money on buying road salt and the candidates explained how they would read and review a contract. Exciting stuff.

The reality is the forums will have had minimal impact on how people actually vote on April 5. As one community insider said at the forum, “There are probably less than ten people in this room who haven’t already made up their minds.”

That doesn’t mean this April’s election won’t be interesting.

If you didn’t know, there will be two Village board races on election day. One race will see incumbents Ron Barbian and Carl Genz facing off against first-time candidates Brian Schuk and Rich Busalacchi for a three year seat. The second contest pits incumbent Bill Kewan against Busalacchi again for a one year term.

The “double down” is a rare and bold political move by Busalacchi and I’ve even heard some call it “greedy”. However, it wouldn’t be the first time a Village board candidate has attempted it — its just been a while. If successful twice on April 5, Busalacchi will have knocked off two incumbents and could become something of a king-maker in Greendale. It wouldn’t be surprising if he had his sights set higher than just Village trustee (think Village president).

Busalacchi has been campaigning furiously to create an Election Day juggernaut. He’s raised and spent a small fortune (by Greendale election standards) to secure a seat and has worked hard to build a coalition of school supporters, Lions Club members, scouting and band parents among others. I know the recent Lions Club Pancake Breakfast/Spring Fling event last weekend often looked and felt like a Busalacchi campaign rally.

In his opening remarks at the forum, Kewan took aim at Busalacchi saying, “Look beyond the bells and whistles and slick advertising and ask, what’s broken that needs fixing?”

It is a fair question. It is hard to argue that Barbian, Kewan and Genz have not been good stewards of our community. However, in last April’s Village board election, an unknown Lauren Kitner didn’t campaign, do an interview, participate in the voter forum or hand out a single campaign flyer and still earned 830 votes against Sally Chadwick and Al Sikorski (two long-time incumbents).

Both Busalacchi and Schuk are considered by some to be “school board” candidates. Schuck — who won the coveted first place slot on the ballot — does appear to have the support of some Highland View families. Busalacchi boasts a litany of endorsements school insiders from Joe Crapitto to Judy Fons to school board candidate Melanie Kuzmanovic. And, I’ve heard that school board candidate Tom Slota has a Bill Kewan campaign sign in his yard.

However, as most astute observers know, you can’t win an election in Greendale on the backs of school families alone — there just isn’t enough of them to make a majority. The school board might make note of that when planning for any referendum. Privately, I have heard more than one person lament that Busalacchi didn’t run for school board, saying that’s where the real help is actually needed.

So, what happens if he actually wins twice on election day? He can’t hold both seats — he’d have to pick — if it were me, I’d take the three year term. That leaves an open a one year seat that could be filled with another appointment, put on the November ballot or left open until April of 2017.

I am making one bold election day prediction: Municipal Judge Mark Kapocius will easily cruise to re-election as he is again running unopposed. In other Village races, incumbents typically have the advantage and I will be curious to see how the Presidential primaries drive turnout on election day. Greendale trends conservative and I wonder if the community will go for Donald, Bernie, Ted or Hillary? Soon, we will find out which candidates do well and who lays an egg.

Happy Easter Greendale!

 

A Parting Gif…

peeps

Image Source: Bloomberg

About The Author

Bill Attewell

Bill Attewell is the editor and publisher of Everything Greendale. He has over 20 years experience as an award-winning newspaper editor, writer and publisher. His work has been read in in over 50 publications across the U.S. and abroad. Bill is a long-time resident of Greendale and a Greendale High School alum. Go Panthers!

24 Comments

  1. Greg

    Isn’t it curious that Mr. Busalacchi at the last minute decided to yell at the Village board and not Joe Crapitto & his school board who made this veterans memorial mess to begin with?

    Mr. Busalacchi, how about thanking the Village board for their leadership in solving a decisive issue? Nope?

    Please don’t bring your school board craziness to the village. I was undecided, but now I’m voting “no” on you twice.

    Reply
    • factnotfiction

      What leadership? The village board punted and had no clue that they had owned the property in the past. Had they done their homework in the first place, this issue never would have been politicized like it was by the handful of people like Kewan, Chadwick who cried like babies to talk radio when they didn’t get what they wanted. BTW, that corner looks exactly the same it did in Sept. 2014. Some leadership.

      Reply
      • The conservative voter

        Let’s face it, the Veteran’s Memorial is about 2,000 pancake breakfasts away from having a shovel in the ground. Doubtful that I’ll see it in my lifetime. To the issue of leadership. The lack of leadership on the issue was established by the School Board. The inability to determine if you had 3 votes for it, before you call a vote, is the definition of failure in leadership. Whether that’s the Board President or the Superintendent’s fault is debatable, but it was one of several factors that got the ex-Superintendent’s contract bought-out. The Village Board prudently made arrangements to save the School Board from themselves (politically) when they took possession of the land. To not see how this matter, coupled with the expulsion of voters, was going to be viewed by the community, is mind-blowing naivete.

        Now, as this relates to the current candidates for office, it looks like the School Board has made amends for their biggest mistake: the former superintendent. The School Board has really two jobs, 1) hire a good superintendent and, 2) get out of her/his way. I’d be inclined to give Ms. Kuzmanovic an opportunity to serve with a competent superintendent and see what comes of it. If she loses the election, it goes to back to #1.

        Reply
      • Original Girl

        They have the OK to build the memorial, now they are fundraising. If you want it built sooner I suggest you write them a check to help them along. This is not going to be built with taxpayer’s money.

        Reply
    • WI mother

      Greg.. The “Vet Memorial mess” you refer to was solved by a majority of Greendale residents “insisting” that memorial be placed on the appropriate site. Can’t believe the Village Board deserves any thanks for that. A thank you to those residents that made sure it happened..

      Reply
  2. factnotfiction

    Mr. Bussalacchi, thanks for your posts telling people what the truth is. The problem with some of these folks is they believe what they believe, damn the truth. Some people are trying to do to you what they’ve tried to do with certain school board members, a lie repeated long enough becomes the truth. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. A handful of people who post here plain make stuff up. The above comments about Mr. Bussalacchi being against the veterans memorial are a prime example. We’ve heard this before about other elected officials being “against the memorial”, which were flat out lies. Good luck to all candidates.

    Reply
  3. Bill Attewell

    I realize it is election season and passions are high. However, here’s a friendly reminder about comments on Everything Greendale: Please be courteous. It is possible to debate without engaging in personal attacks. Do not verbally abuse or threaten other members. Do not make unsubstantiated allegations against other people, organizations or businesses. Posting under multiple names is not permitted.

    To view the Comments Policy, visit: http://www.everythinggreendale.com/blog/?page_id=1075

    Repeated violation of the rules may result in a loss of posting privileges. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. BACSMA

    People honestly need to get a reality check. If you find that shouting automatically means negativity maybe you should realize that you are just hearing emotion in someones voice about what isn’t being done in the so called “Happy Bubble”. Greendale can only continue to thrive if something is done and with the three “so called” incumbents voicing to keep Greendale great and what it always has been I really don’t understand how this can be done. We need new young blood and voices in Village Government. Bully Bill claims nothing is broken, when in fact there are many things that need fixing. Only the polls will tell, but one thing’s for sure if continue to our old ways of silent but one village board members this village will go nowhere. “Double Down on Rich” and Brian too.

    Reply
    • J

      Wow, It looks like a nerve was struck as people and candidates see their view points addressed and disagreed with.

      We can all be better than this people.

      Endorsements are a thing of the past.

      Reply
  5. Polarbear

    Let me just say something to everyone reading this forum. This can be said sure. But when you hear emotion in someones voice that means they care. If we have three trustees sitting on the board keeping Greendale “the same” how can anything ever be accomplished. Bully Bill sure will see that what is broken can be fixed. We’ll see it in the polls. There will be a new generation of Trustee’s upon us “Rich and Bryan”. The future of Greendale lies in the hands of those willing to make change and if things don’t come out according to plan at people are willing to try something different.

    Reply
    • Anthony

      It appears Rich and Bryan are running at as team.

      The endorsements on Rich’s page endorse the school district’s interest in controlling both boards.

      All for bringing the Greendale School District’s foolishness to the Village.

      Vote for the challengers.

      Reply
  6. Greg

    What exactly happened at the forum with Busalacchi? I didn’t go. Inquiring minds want to know!

    Reply
  7. Mark Kapocius

    Thanks, Bill, for your confidence in my re-election ;). First of all, I’d like to thank the voters of Greendale for having the confidence in me to serve as your elected judge. It’s truly an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity (and we’re doing great work, too). For those keeping score at home, this will be my 5th election/4th re-election. Secondly, best of luck to all the candidates for office. It’s a great sign that people are willing to serve the community for purely selfless interests.

    Reply
  8. Auntie Nonymous

    I find it very interesting this reporter didn’t bother to mention Mr. Busalacchi yelling and decrying the veterans memorial plan as a backdoor deal at the forum. Are you in the tank for him Mr. Attwell?? He just lost my vote (twice) embarrassing.

    Reply
    • A Conservative

      We require new viewpoints.

      The silent majority are not for anyone. Candidates and Incumbents that claim they reflect the silent majority are believing their own thoughts that they reflect the Greendale perspective and viewpoints.

      The silent majority show up and vote – for the Presidential candidates and maybe County Executive and Supreme Court.

      All of the local races are just head banging to each other and talking to the same group of people that show up at the same events over and over.

      The silent majority is not backing any one candidate.

      The silent majority doesn’t care, they aren’t paying attention and all the anxiety, anger, or worry add up to a big pile of nothing for the board members or their challengers.

      The election will pick new or the same board members and nothing will really change.

      When or who was the last local elected official from Greendale that ended up doing anything of importance in elected office?

      But they all sure do seem to want a job no one with any ability chooses to put their effort into work or volunteerism that really matters and changes things for the better.

      Reply
    • Original Girl

      No kidding, this was an advertisement not an article, Perhaps it was an advertisement cleverly disguised as an opinion piece. We don’t need a Donald Trump on the village board, those outbursts were an embarrassment and showed the character of the candidate.

      Reply
      • Rich Busalacchi

        Following is the transcript of my closing comments. If you took my inflections as yelling, please accept my sincerest apologies.

        “First I would like to take this opportunity thank the League of Women Voters and the Greendale Chamber of Commerce for hosting tonight’s Candidate Forum.

        I look forward to the support of anyone who is willing to take a look at both sides of an issue and make a decision about what is the best outcome for all involved. It is not about one side or the other, who is right or wrong, who is left, center, or right, but ultimately what is best for Greendale and the residents of Greendale and not any specific interest or agenda. What we need now more than ever is someone on our village board who can think
        outside the box, be entrepreneurial, reach across politics and find common interests and solutions. The Greendale I envision is a village where individuals who have differences of opinion can be respected for their convictions and beliefs but are also able to work with others who have opposing views and find a solution that is mutually beneficial for each other and ultimately has a positive impact and outcome for our Village and the residents of Greendale.

        If elected to the Greendale Village Board of Trustees you will have my commitment to work with the board of trustees, community members, businesses, community organizations, local/regional governments and associations for the betterment of Greendale and the residents of Greendale. I will be YOUR VOICE, will represent Greendale, and will be an advocate for Greendale and not any specific agenda or special interest.
        Please remember when you cast your vote to “Double Down” and vote for Rich for the 1 Year and Three Year Term.
        I am ready to get to work and look forward to your vote. For more information about me or my vision for Greendale please visit http://www.forwardgreendale.com.”

        FORWARD Greendale!

        Reply
        • Bruce

          I voted early and didn’t like the idea of having this guys name on two ballots.

          I have supported the school board before, but stopped in 2013.

          Doesn’t seem like what is right for Greendale.

          I also didn’t like the endorsement page

          This is too much inward thinking and backers.

          This guy is trying too hard and seems to have an agenda to push the school district’s issues.

          A little battle between the village and school district will lead to better decisions.

          When is the next joint meeting they all seem to can’t wait to schedule?

          Reply
        • Original Girl

          I don’t know why you are asking for votes now when you have already told me that you already won both seats and are going to the be next village president. Your arrogance has been very off putting for a while, I was going to vote for you but I just can’t anymore.

          Reply
        • William Kewan

          Dear Mr. Busalacchi,

          No one has a problem with your published closing comments. What has caused all the concern and controversy are the comments you made before your prepared closing statement. Everyone at the candidate forum heard what you said, your tone, volume and demeanor to express yourself and the significance of your remarks.

          What I have learned is that you are very good at innuendo and creating doubt. Your comments about the “process” to develop the Memorandum of Understanding between the veterans committee and village fits into that category.

          As I stated in my rebuttal to your loud statements, the veterans and school board held public meetings for three years to secure the site at Broad St. and Southway. Then the school board held a special meeting to allow the residents to vote on ownership of the land. By a vote of 377 to 54, the residents voted to transfer land ownership from the school board to village. A very democratic “process” in the best of American traditions.

          The truth of the matter is that the attorneys for the veterans and village then went to work to craft a Memorandum of Understanding. As with all negotiated contracts, closed sessions were used to iron out legal issues and formulate a legal document acceptable to both parties. Nothing unusual or sinister about this “process,” despite your innuendo that something was wrong. When you made a reference to a “back room deal,” you crossed the line and offended many veterans. I told you exactly that in my rebuttal comments.

          Following passage of the Memorandum of Understanding by the village, you had every opportunity to speak out during the public comment portion of many trustee meetings to question the legal language, terms, conditions and two parties’ obligations. How often did you do that? But now during the campaign you think it necessary to bring up this issue.

          Again, as I said in my rebuttal to your loud comments, some people try to create an issue where none exists. You tried to do that with the Veteran’s Memorial and failed!

          As unpleasant as it may be, these are the facts. Everyone at the candidate forum can verify these facts!

          Trustee Bill Kewan

          Reply
    • Original Girl

      Sometimes when you “double down” you lose everything.

      Reply
    • Rich Busalacchi

      Let me help clarify the point on the Veterans Memorial. I never decried the memorial or called it a backdoor deal. When asked if I supported a Veterans Memorial my response was “of course, who would not support the memorial”. I then further added that I did have concern on the “process” with the Village Board and that it could have been more transparent. I was at the Village Board meeting when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was approved with the Veterans it is part of the public record at http://www.greendale.org/government/agendas_and_minutes/board_of_trustees.php#revize_document_center_rz53 . The board went into closed session to discuss the MOU and then came into open session to vote on the MOU. Members of the public were asked if they would like to comment before the board took a vote. My concern is it is hard to comment on something not knowing what was contained in the MOU like impact or other studies. Again, my concern is not with the Veterans Memorial but with the process and how do we improve the process moving forward. Also before the spinners start to paint me as anti Veteran let me assure you that is not the case. Since my website (www.forwardgreendale.com) went live on September 1, 2016, I publicly supported the memorial which is also included in all of my campaign material. My father was in the Army (WW2), two uncles in the Marines (Korean War) and my mother was in the Marine Corp League Auxiliary for over 50 years. Fifteen years of my childhood was spent proudly volunteering with her once a month to run bingo and other activities for the vets at the VA hospital. My concern is with how do we improve the process to assure transparency with the Village Board moving forward, not with the vets or Veterans Memorial.

      Reply
  9. Original Girl

    I thought the way Rich Busalacchi shouting at the other candidates in his final comment was an embarrassment and had sadly the same tone as the presidential politicians. We don’t need bullying or yelling like that at a public forum.

    Reply
  10. WI Mother

    Hey, Bill.. What’s broken can be fixed by Rich!!!!

    Reply

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