Letter to the Editor: May 1, 2024

Letter to the Editor published in the May 1, 2024 issue of the Tomahawk Leader.

Transparency in establishing county board policies is essential to a democracy

It was with great interest that I read the opinion article, “A Sharp Reminder from Wisconsin That All Politics is Local” in the April 17 issue of the online edition of Newsweek.

The article featured the closure, and specifically sales of nursing homes in Wisconsin. Lincoln County was highlighted as one of three counties whose conservative county board members lost their seats as a result of selling county-owned facilities to private, for-profit companies. Former Chair Don Friske was mentioned by name in that he spearheaded the drive to sell Pine Crest Nursing Home. Actions have consequences.

Recent actions by the new Lincoln County Board of Supervisors raised some eyebrows regarding its questionable committee appointments at its organizational meeting on April 16th. Of concern is that fact that Supervisor Christine Vorpagel, who soundly defeated Don Friske for District 9 of the Board, did not get a single committee assignment. Historically, each board member gets at least two to three oversight committee assignments, unless they specifically request otherwise. That intentional exclusion should be challenged, and probably will be by the constituents of the 9th District who consequently lost their representation at committee level.

An important note is the fact that many supervisors, incumbent and newly elected, who did not support the sale of Pine Crest, garnered fewer oversight committee seats than those who voted for the sale of Pine Crest.

Also concerning is the fact that a newly elected, unchallenged but inexperienced supervisor to District 14 was appointed to two of the most consequential committees – The Administrative and Legislative and Highway Committees. Normally, the most experienced supervisors get those positions in order to serve the public most effectively. Not so in this case and one has to wonder why. Supervisor Lyskawa was also assigned to the Board of Health, which makes policy for the County Health Department, and also designated as the County Board representative or liaison to the Tomahawk Library Board.

Full disclosure, my husband and I reside in District 14. We do not support political agendas such as the refusal to wear facial masks during pandemics nor the advocacy for parental choices in the banning of library books. Personal opinion is one thing, but transparency in establishing county board policies is essential to a democracy. We sincerely hope that our fears over enactment or continuation of those policies will be unfounded.

Diana C. Smith


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