By Shereen Siewert, editor and publisher of Wausau Pilot & Review
Happy Monday, readers.
I hope you had the opportunity to get outside a bit this weekend and enjoy the sunshine and above normal temperatures. Driving home from brunch yesterday, we saw a man on a motorcycle and several people driving with their windows down. Only in Wisconsin.
Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season. For Christians, Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter that marks the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert. On Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent, Catholics age 14 and older are expected to abstain from eating meat, and many other Christians follow this tradition. Consequently, many churches offer fish fries on Fridays, while some area restaurants ramp up their offerings during the season as well.
On Wednesday this week, we’ll publish a list of the top 10 fish fries in the area with information on their menu items, prices and hours, and we’re gathering votes now. If you missed it, vote here for your favorite, and if we’ve missed yours on the list, there is an “other” category where you can fill in your choice.
One thing we learned already: People are passionate about their fish fries. Wow! We received more than 700 responses in the first 12 hours alone.
Later today, expect a couple of stories coming out of City Hall. One relates to those planned candidate roundtable discussions, which have now changed significantly. The other poses questions about a request for proposals to develop the former Connor Industries parcel, which has had some whopping environmental challenges in the past. We’re also taking a look at why a second request for proposals is circulating for salvage services at Great Lakes Cheese, since we were under the impression that demolition was already underway. Stay tuned for that.
We’re also following the ethics issue brought forward in the mayoral race and received an answer to our open records request asking for the recipients of a Feb. 6 letter signed by the mayor sent to some area businesses and individuals. We asked because the language of the letter is similar to his campaign kickoff speech, the same language used in the “Mayor’s Message” that was the subject of the ethics complaint filed against him. Distribution of 50 or more of substantially identical materials during certain time periods (now, during the campaign) may violate state law, a rule that is the basis for that complaint. What we found: the Feb. 6 letter was sent to 81 recipients.
A roundup of what happened in last week’s Marathon County board meeting is also on the way today. Our reporter who transcribes meetings from audio and video recordings is visually impaired and performs her work by listening, not by attending, meetings. We were surprised to learn that few, if any, of the Marathon County Board’s committee meetings are broadcast, though the full board meetings are.
Wausau broadcasts all standing committee meetings, which is important because that’s really “where the sausage is made,” as one council member put it in an email to me last week. Consequently, I sent an email out to Romey Wagner, who is now on the county board, asking for his thoughts on the matter since he was instrumental in improving access to city meetings when he was a Wausau alder. He promised to look into it, and I hope he’s able to make some headway. Making those meetings accessible to all (especially considering a lot of those meetings happen in the middle of the day, when working people cannot attend) helps better inform citizens about how their dollars are being spent and how officials’ decisions will impact their daily lives.
Now that the primary is over we’re speeding toward the April 7 election, and that means we’re working on coverage for all our local area races. As host of Route 51, I’ll have the pleasure of moderating a mayoral debate on Friday, March 20th.
Route 51 aside, Wausau Pilot & Review will be circulating Q&As for candidates in all contested races. We like to go well beyond the typical “why are you running” questions, and we’re researching topics of discussion now. In the meantime, if you have a question for us to consider, email me at email@example.com.
Oh, and that’s also the best way to submit a letter to the editor — email. We get a lot of letters during election season and we welcome yours. There is no word count limit (we’re digital, we have all the space in the world, so write away!) but you must include your name and city of residence. If you have a formal connection to a campaign, that’s okay too, but be sure to let us know so we can disclose that to readers. Also include contact information for verification purposes (don’t worry, we don’t share that with readers.)
One final thing — a note about anonymous tips. We get them a lot, and we understand if you don’t want people to know where the tip came from. It’s a lot more helpful to us if you DO tell us who you are (confidentially!) and how to get in touch with you privately to follow up with questions, though I do understand the fear of speaking out. If you don’t want to be publicly named and you don’t want the information traced back to you in any way, we get that and we’ll respect that. We don’t ever publish the names of tipsters without their permission. Unverified tips aren’t published as stories, but we do often use those tips to help point us in the right direction to find records or other verifiable information that later becomes a story. We do have a secure inbox if you’d like to communicate that way: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great Monday, readers.