Letters: No need for Hometown Collaboration Initiative

To the editor:

And to the HCI selection team:

There is a belief held by locals in Brown County which is based in truth: that the minute someone moves here from somewhere else, they are ready to change our county to be just like the place they left.

Brown Countians have a long history of resisting this intrusion. Since 1836, our county has endured the influence of tourists and part-time residents, and more recently, county officials who cater to this influence more so than to the people who elected them.

On hearing we were a semifinalist for the HCI, a celebration of the “team” was called. It was then I discovered most of the “team” were people who recently moved here, were Realtors here, or owned tourist-based businesses. When I said in this group that seven generations of my family had lived in the home I own, there were jokes about “one-upping” me with family history involving ancestors on the Mayflower. It became very obvious, very quickly, that the “diverse team” hoped for in our application did not include those Brown Countians with roots. We just get in the way. So, this note comes to tell you what you won’t see or hear at the presentation on April 12.

Speaking of the presentation day, it was also discussed at the “celebration” meeting whether or not to “invite” the public?! I thought the purpose of the HCI was collaboration? So, does this mean collaborate only with those who agree with the core “team” and their ideas of “what Brown County should be”?

At the site presentation on April 12, you won’t hear about these things:

1. Remonstrance of the courthouse. This occurred when our elected officials decided we “needed” an $8 million new courthouse to replace our historic structure. They decided this without our input, but would use our tax dollars to do it. Brown Countians signed and carried petitions and stopped it.

2. Stellar. The Stellar application was a thinly veiled agenda of projects that did not serve any resident of Brown County. The taxation, again, was “on us,” but the projects benefited a for-profit development and other items that did not benefit the people. The town got a surprise when citizens rose up, organized and picketed the Stellar site visit.

This is exactly why the HCI “team” was nervous about an invitation to those “common” people. Already, they are going with the “we know what is best for you people” attitude, which dooms it to failure.

You may believe (incorrectly) that this letter illustrates the line in the application that states: “Communication is the primary difficulty in the near and continuing term, both message and means,” but this is not true. Like any communication, it is often not the words, but the delivery of those words. And when your message states clearly: ”The core of the message must be: ‘the modern-day economy requires Brown County to define and implement actions for a healthy and vibrant future or pay the price’” (page 7, HCI application) you can bet it will be ill-received by most people of Brown County.

When the delivery of your program is left to people who have barely established residency, whose message is “modernize or pay the price,” who have no right to speak for generational Brown Countians and no inclination to reach them because “they just don’t like change,” then you have the wrong people on the team and the wrong message.

If you are wondering, “Where are the Brown Countians on the “team?” “Why didn’t they come to the meetings, or submit letters of intent?” Consider this: Our application was rushed due to lack of planning by our county commissioners. It was handed to the RDC at the end of February. They rushed the public meetings for “team members,” hosting two of these meetings on the same day (which was also the same day the local paper announced it; we have one paper per week) and the last public meeting just three days before the application deadline.

As with the courthouse and the Stellar debacle, our county representatives have no long-term vision for any plan that benefits local people.

It is true that Brown County is special, but what makes it so is the people, like my ancestors and the ancestors of other Brown County families, who made it their home. We, like them, are hardworking and intelligent. We can spot a scam a mile away. We know what is and what isn’t good for us, or we wouldn’t have been in the same spot for seven generations.

And another point on this topic is that Brown County has always been a place where people live, cross a county line and work, and return home again. All the studies WE have paid for at the hands of governmental entities show this, and AGAIN we have been here for many generations!

We are very careful what we put our name to, because our name is important; and it is important to act with honesty and integrity, and to work for the good of all the people, not a select few.

For these reasons and many more, I hereby rescind my letter of intent and my support the latest “new” project, the HCI.

I ask, respectfully, that you give the HCI designation to a county with leaders who plan ahead and have the best interest of their citizens at heart. This, unfortunately, is not the case in Brown County.

Very sincerely,

Tricia Bock, Brown County

P.S. Upon seeing the presentation for 4/12/17, the “team” has noted STELLAR on page 6, after multiple repetitions that “this isn’t Stellar” — and yet, it is on the plan. Do you see why they do NOT have public support? It is more than communication. There is no TRUST and there are good reasons for that.

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