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Dear editor,

I am confused as to why Mayor Mielke keeps invoking me in defense and support of his administration’s approach to the Thomas Street neighborhood, its contamination, and its deficient public involvement process. He has done it now on multiple occasions, including in his announcement for his reelection, and he did it again this morning during the mayoral debate on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The mayor stated today that I told him, “You know, Bob, this is something else that you’ve inherited and you’ve at least tried to listen to us.” If I recall, sure, I had communicated to the mayor some time ago that particular elements were more positive than in the past. But this was by no means an endorsement of how the mayor or the city council has handled neighborhood issues. Unfortunately, the mayor has come to repeatedly use it as such with the public.

If I am not mistaken, one of the things that I had found more positive was that citizens could voice their opinions and opposition without literally being threatened by sitting city council members, as had occurred in the past. But, ironically, the mayor cannot claim much credit for that change. He had been emailed a notification of one such threat made by an alderperson to a resident (me, incidentally) over Thomas Street matters on February 28, 2016. To my knowledge, no substantial official action was taken on his part. Thus, it was less the mayor’s action than the alderperson’s ultimate departure which corrected this issue. In fact, the individual who made the threat is now running for city council and I would not be surprised if the mayor is actually a supporter of her election bid. So, Mr. Mayor, please stop trying to leverage me or my name in your campaign.

It was after I had made the comment about certain improvements at City Hall that some of those improvements quickly dissipated. It did not take long before citizens were once again repeatedly derided by certain city staff and council members as the mayor sat and looked on, either indifferent or impotent. Some council and staff behavior was so notably poor that it resulted in letters to the editor by Wausonians. So, Mr. Mayor, please stop trying to leverage me or my name in your campaign.

And while it took decades, efforts on Wausau’s southwest side to address environmental contamination and the mistreatment of residents who live there by both government and corporate entities now enjoy a very high level of support in our community, and that support extends across the so-called political spectrum. Essentially, the jury is no longer out. After all this time, it turned out regular folks had been correct. Citizens’ concerns were both valid and validated in relation to contamination concerns. In my opinion, that is something that should give the people encouragement, but it is not an outcome that politicians should be inaccurately promoting as a result of their leadership – particularly when a politician has been one of the biggest obstacles in getting contamination on the southwest side cleaned up (yes, I am referring to you, Mayor Mielke). And – remember – you were explicitly told in 2014 about past surface soil tests in 2006 and 2008 from the neighborhood that exhibited elevated dioxin levels.

So, Mr. Mayor, please stop trying to leverage me or my name in your campaign.

To sum things up, by invoking me in his campaign comments about the southwest side, the mayor implies that I support his past and present handling of Thomas Street neighborhood and environmental matters, and that these handlings are a vast improvement over prior administrations. That implication is currently disingenuous. I am sure he is aware of it, as neighborhood efforts have apparently so perturbed him that he won’t even greet some of us at city council meetings anymore.

Had this current administration not caused – with such callousness and condescension – the level of hardship for some of our neighborhoods in Wausau, I would not have even taken the time to clarify the mayor’s comments. But since it has, the next time the mayor invokes my name on the campaign trail, I hope the sentence construction more resembles something like this: “Tom Kilian disapproves of the way I have handled Thomas Street matters, environmental contamination, and the treatment of residents on Wausau’s southwest side. Tom Kilian feels many of my policy approaches have failed and does not support my bid for reelection.”

Tom Kilian, Wausau

Tom Kilian is a candidate for alderperson for Wausau City Council’s District 3.