Archive for May, 2013

Latest doings and the 10-10 Rule of public discourse

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2013 by Jim Rosenberg

I try not to give out too much free advice — (and to be completely honest, I don’t get paid for much of it, either) – but it’s been an interesting several weeks of wading into a few things.  The most enjoyable event was being an inaugural speaker up in Merrill for a group of people from business, government and the citizenry who are discussing ways to improve their community. I had two hours on the program, which is long for me (and probably a lot longer for them.) That said, it was great to have the luxury of being able to go into some detail on how we were able to create change in Wausau over the past 15 years through a combination of vision, strategic investments, the organizational capacities of a number of different groups who were interested in making things happen – and some good, old-fashioned luck.

I have a fairly substantial file of the things that we did here, as well as some of the places where those ideas were stolen from.  And even with that much time, there were still things that had to be left out, including Wausau’s whitewater course, our new 8-sheet curling center and our never-ending effort to complete our River Edge trail project.  (Those are some pretty big things to leave out, but I didn’t have as much to do with them.)

Merrill is dead serious about this stuff and their speaker this Thursday is Peter Kageyama, a fellow who works with Richard Florida researching and sharing what goes into creating and maintaining dynamic urban environments:

http://www.creativeclass.com/_v3/creative_class/author/index.php/peter-kageyama

In a semi-related matter, the Marathon County Education and Economic Development Committee, which I chair, sponsored a seminar on Tax Increment Financing that brought attendees from a number of area communities to learn about laws and the goals of TIF.  (How’s that for an eye-glazing topic?)

Personally, I thought one of the best things to come out of the discussion was simply to have it. But another really cool thing was total surprise: a piece of work from the Wausau Daily Herald that took what can be a very dry topic and making it, well, entertaining.  Be sure to click on the link to “Katy Perry and Ryan Gosling explain TIF districts:

http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=U0&Dato=20130426&Kategori=WDH01&Lopenr=304260295&Ref=PH

Also in April, the Marathon County Board voted down a proposal for a study of the impact of immigration in the county. It was unfortunate, but not unexpected. The county board has dallied on the subject for essentially a year. There seem to be some members who believe that not taking up the fact that there are hundreds — perhaps thousands — of undocumented workers here supporting the agriculture, hospitality and other industries is better than facing some the of the issues it necessarily entails.

Rejecting a study would seem to support the status quo – a set of circumstances that is ripe for exploitation and does nothing to cultivate an environment for productive, useful policymaking in the future. Some simply choose to avoid potential controversy. Others seem to embrace a closed-door vision that is fast being rejected by many conservative Republicans who saw what trying to keep the blinders on with respect to immigration did to them in the November 2012 elections. To me, the “debate” seemed more like listening to a litany of rationalizations than anything else.

But in the end, the biggest problem with the immigration study proposal was the same thing that makes it challenging to lay out winning positions on a lot of other things: it violates something that I call “The 10-10 Rule,” which is this: you have 10 seconds to explain your position to a 10-year-old. If you can’t do it, then you’ve got yourself an issue that is complicated enough to leave a good share of the electorate clicking the remote before you ever finish making your case.

And speaking of media, I had a lot of fun with Twitter this afternoon when I stumbled across a picture on a certain organization’s Facebook page indicating that Scott Parks was being appointed to the vacant office of Marathon County Sheriff by Gov. Walker. This would not be such a big deal, except that it was news that hadn’t appeared anywhere else.  Some of the hijinks are captured here, but the real fun was on Twitter:

http://wsau.com/news/articles/2013/may/06/spoiler-alert-social-media-leaks-upcoming-sheriff-appointment/

This one fit nicely inside the 10-10 Rule and it really had legs, while it lasted. So whenever the announcement is made later this week, try to act surprised, okay?

And speaking of things that have legs: the continuing cat fight over the Humane Society:

http://wsau.com/news/articles/2013/may/07/marathon-county-committee-approves-cat-care-cuts-for-shelter/

This one also appears to violate the 10-10 Rule.

JR