St. Francis meeting on Cardinal Stritch: So crowded, it’s cancelled!

The headlines blared: “Public hearing on rezoning of We Energies and Cousins Center parcels at 7pm in city of St. Francis City Hall, 4235 S. Nicholson Ave.”

A public hearing! Who could stay away? Would affected City of Milwaukee residents be able to testify? What would happen when St. Francis was asked exactly what was being asked of their little city?

Well, apparently I was not the only one who had some questions about this. For tonight, myself and at least a hundred people, if not more, tried to fit into the same space at St. Francis City Hall to testify.

As the Bay View Compass said, “The public hearing is for the public to testify on the proposed rezoning to a planned unit development (PUD) as proposed by Cardinal Stritch University for the 129-acre parcels the school hopes to acquire. This area, including a prairie that would be replaced by parking lots and sports fields in the preliminary Stritch plan, includes the east portion of and area buffering the Seminary Woods.”

[Disclosure: I work and write for the Bay View Compass.]

So, what happens when a record crowd turns out to testify? The line wraps around city hall on the cold winter night, and crowded outside the small hearing room on the second floor of the fire house…

And the meeting was cancelled.

I have to say, from a safety standpoint, I supported the decision. From a meeting management standpoint, I supported the decision. On no other grounds did I support the decision, but it seems a smart move. The woman whom I believe was St. Francis City Attorney Michele Ford told me that she did it because the people standing in the hallway couldn’t hear what was going on, which she said “was illegal.”

Now, I’m not an attorney, but I don’t think that’s illegal. It was good that they did it, as this issue will ceratinly require a much bigger room, such as an auditorium, to get everyone’s testimony. I hope that they’ll let us non-St. Francis residents testify, as the construction of a four-story parking garage and the accompanying daytime traffic will certainly have an impact on my neighborhood. There’s the apparently unforseen impacts on the St. Francis taxpayers. For instance, they won’t make a dime on property taxes from Cardinal Stritch. And they’ll certainly need more police, more utilities, more road work, and so on.

This is to speak nothing of the increased traffic, or the negligable effect this will have on the St. Francis economy. Yay, low-paying part-time teaching jobs! Maybe I will have something to do with my history degree after all.


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

4 thoughts on “St. Francis meeting on Cardinal Stritch: So crowded, it’s cancelled!”

  1. Actually, the Compass reported that the given reason for canceling the meeting was, “The attorney said that the meeting would violate Open Meetings Law if it proceeded because people were still queuing outside on the sidewalk trying to get in.” That seems legal and just. Good so many people turned out! Katherine Keller (I like the WordPress Snap Shots feature on your blog.)

  2. Hi Katherine–my own understanding of Open Meetings law isn’t that the meeting has to accommodate everyone who might possibly try to come in. The venue just needs to be reasonable given the anticipated attendance.(Unfortunately, “reasonable” gets decided on a case-by-case basis at court, so it’s hard to know what’s reasonable beforehand.)

    So, the meeting may not have been per se illegal…just canceled to avoid any questions about it (probably a prudent mood given the sheer size of the overflow).

    My (amateur, unlicensed) take, anyway, and not legal advice.

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