Kenosha Common Council approves resolution setting review of city snow-removal guidelines

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, to include more details from the meeting, as well as the full audio of this portion of the meeting. 

KENOSHA ⏤ During a Wednesday night meeting, the Kenosha Common Council gave final approval to a resolution calling for a review of the city’s snow-removal guidelines.

Full audio of the discussion surrounding Ald. Bogdala’s snow-removal guidelines resolution Wednesday night. Video by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

The resolution calls for City Administrator John Morrissey to conduct a review of the Public Works Department’s current snow-removal practices and equipment.

During discussion, Dist. 17 Ald. David Bogdala, the resolution’s principal sponsor, made it clear that nothing will change with the guidelines until Morrissey presents his review to the Public Works Committee on or before Aug. 30. 

resolution
Ald. David Bogdala

An amendment to the initial resolution that passed Wednesday added the Finance Committee and the Common Council to the list of local entities to receive the review. 

The council will give final approval to any operational changes resulting from Morrissey’s review. 

The resolution passed 16-1 Wednesday. Dist. 10 Ald. Anthony Kennedy cast the lone vote against the resolution. 


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Resolution not criticism of plow drivers

Near the beginning of the discussion on the resolution, several alderpersons addressed two emails the city had received from plow drivers. 

Those emails expressed that the drivers saw the potential resolution as a critique of their efforts and their hard work. 

However, co-sponsor Dist. 5 Ald. Rocco LaMacchia aggressively put down that perception of the resolution at the start of the discussion Wednesday.

LaMacchia, addressing Bogdala, stated that the city had received “some emails, some city employees that think we don’t appreciate what they’re doing.”

“We have the utmost respect for our plow drivers,” LaMacchia said. “I couldn’t do what they’re doing. We all got the same emails stating that they feel like we’re tearing them down. We’re not tearing them down. 

“We do appreciate what the plow drivers are doing,” he added. “They do a phenomenal job. It’s the direction that they’re given that we need to work on.”

Dist. 3 Ald. Jan Michalski agreed with LaMacchia, further stating that it is simply a review of city policy.

“This is not recommending a specific action,” Michalski said. “It is recommending a review of the policies.”

“This is not in any way, shape or form, anything about the plow drivers, whom I agree have been doing a stellar job.”

Bogdala responds to emails

Later in the meeting, Bogdala himself responded to the plow drivers’ emails. 

Interestingly, Bogdala had already addressed some of the complaints mentioned by alderpersons at Wednesday’s meetings when he had introduced the resolution. 

A screenshot of a Feb. 2, 2021, Observer article where Ald. Bogdala stated city officials can criticize policy without criticizing employees.

At that time, the Observer quotes Bogdala in a Feb. 2 report as saying:

“As a person who was out and about during almost every snow event, I run into these men and women,” Bogdala said in the report. “They’re some of the hardest-working people we have at the city. They put in an inordinate amount of hours this last snowstorm. I know people who worked 12 hours, then went home and took a nap and came back and worked another 12 hours.

“So you can differentiate between your criticism of the conditions, the policy and still praise the individual for what they’re doing,” he added. “And I think we should do that. We owe them all a big thank-you.”

‘Very specific about that’

Bogdala stayed true to those comments Wednesday in responding to employees’ emails. 

“I got those two emails, and I responded to those two individuals. And I shared with the gentleman from the 10th (Kennedy) my responses to those two individuals. Nobody here can say that they have ever heard Alderman Bogdala ever, ever denigrate a plow driver.

“In fact, when I brought this resolution forward, I was very clear you can criticize the policy all day long, but you don’t criticize the people ⏤ the men and women who are doing the job. Very specific about that.”

However, leadership is “on the table.”

“That’s (leadership’s) job,” he said. “They’re supposed to take that heat. They’re supposed to take the hard questions, supposed to answer the tough questions. That’s what we get paid to do. So yes, I will criticize leadership when I feel they’re making the wrong decision.”

“But I’m not going to criticize the men and women plowing the streets, and never have and never will. And anybody that says that is not telling the truth. So I’m not sure where that started or who started that, but the facts show different.”

Ruffalo wants equipment stored on west end

Dist. 16 Ald. Dominic Ruffalo, during his comments, called on the council to store some snow-removal equipment on the city’s west end.

“Either park a snowplow and some equipment at the airport or the fire station by the airport or have some kind of agreement with the county. I’ve been told, ‘Well, we can’t do that.’ Well, how come we can’t do that?

“… Nobody ever really gave me a good reason why we can’t park a plow or two or a dump truck or some equipment that we need to plow some parts of the west, the interstate and even all the way up to White Caps. Or up past Highway 45 and Highway 50. I don’t know why we can’t park any equipment there.”

Kennedy takes issue with two points of resolution

Kennedy, who cast the only vote against the resolution Wednesday, took issue with two parts of it. 

“It would be my recommendation based on the comments that I’ve heard that we strike the first ‘Be it further resolved …’ and the second ‘Be it further resolved’. If this is truly about studying what’s going on and, as the alderman of the 3rd District said there would be no changes, those two pieces implement a change. 

“So if we’re going to study what should be done and then dictate what should be done now, then those two seem to be in conflict on the intent of this resolution.”

Bogdala responded by stating, yes, the resolution is asking to revisit policy. However, it is “also recognizing that we’d also like to see, as part of that, changes in the salting process that we’re doing.”

“The second (Be it further resolved) that you are referring to, nothing would come forward until after the study is done, until after any recommendations come forward and the snow policy comes before the Public Works Committee, which it already does now,” Bogdala said. “Every year, we review the snow policy and approve it. Those are normally very minor, minor changes. 

“So none of that would actually go into place until the Public Works Committee sees those recommendations and approves the snow-removal guidelines.”

Kennedy proposes amendment

Though appreciative of the explanation, Kennedy still took issue, moving to cut the two portions from the resolution.

“When it comes to strategies and tactics, we set the strategy,” he said. “We set the vision for what snow removal should be. Those people who we’ve empowered to respond to our strategic vision, this is what we empower them to do. Our director of Public Works, our whole snow removal operations team, etc. And I often think that, if we are only looking at policy and how to do things, that’s great.

“I absolutely, absolutely think it’s absolutely wrong that we can now email the snow commander in the middle of a snowstorm. We empowered that position to make decisions, and to have 17 of us coming at that person while they’re in the trenches responding, I think that’s a bad idea.”

Kennedy’s motion ultimately failed, seven voting for it and nine voting against. Dist. 9 Ald. Keith Rosenberg did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. The council excused his absence.

Resolution passes as presented

Following the death of Kennedy’s motion, the council approved a motion to pass the resolution as presented, 15-1. 

However, Bogdala said the council’s work is not over.

“Just because we pass this resolution does not mean we have a pass with constituents,” he said.


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