Updated: Nov 9, 2020
After taking a few days to process my emotions and reflect upon the Strauss special use reversal, I would like to share my thoughts with friends, family, supporters and opposition alike.
It has now been 65 days since I received notice of a public hearing for Strauss Brands’ massive new slaughterhouse in Franklin, Wisconsin. I have sacrificed much during that time, but my family has sacrificed more. My fiancé, children, siblings and parents have watched me pour my heart, soul and everything I have in me into informing Franklin and Muskego residents about this special use application. They have supported me and have been understanding when my fight for justice has limited the time we have had together. I would not be the man I am without the strength and support of my family and loved ones.
I have been fortunate to have an opportunity to expand my knowledge and connect with my neighbors and others who willingly volunteered their time and efforts to our cause. Some of us disagree on many matters, but we agree on a few key things. We agree that we do not want this massive new slaughterhouse in our community. We also agree that we love our city and value the “quality of life” it offers and the City of Franklin website promotes. We definitely care about the property, the character of the area, the public health, safety, morals, comfort, general welfare and property values within the community and our neighborhoods and many have spoken to that.
During recent open meetings of city government, many have shared their thoughts, concerns, personal stories, dealings and experiences regarding Strauss Brands as well as current and former City of Franklin officials. Several common themes, claims, concerns and statements become evident after watching the recordings of the three public meetings regarding Strauss Brands’ special use permit. The contents of these recordings raise legal and ethical questions about what is going on in Franklin City Hall. I and many others have emailed, called and submitted written statements to the common council to explain that Strauss clearly did NOT meet the criteria set forth in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) regarding their application for special use.
There are two groups of people who helped to motivate me to commit my time and effort. The first group is the people of Franklin, Muskego and beyond who reached out to me sharing their personal stories, concerns, and desires to get involved to inform others of how Strauss’ application did not meet the criteria set forth in the UDO. These are the people whose emails, calls and random messages of support kept me going throughout the days when I was fatigued, frustrated or even questioning why I was doing this. To be honest, after sitting in the chambers on Monday and realizing that Alderwoman Shari Hanneman was the one to reconsider, I felt as if I failed every one of those people who supported me. That feeling of failure progressed to disappointment and ultimately to a greater understanding of the next steps in my path.
The second group of individuals who motivated me was those who have attacked me personally, called into question my character, spread lies about me and misled the public. Mayor Olson and his friends Kevin Fischer, Mike Zimmerman, former Alderman Steve Taylor and the various fake Facebook accounts associated with them and their supporters have led these attacks. I have been through a lot of hard times and faced a lot of criticism over the course of my life. I am not thin-skinned, I can handle a personal attack and I don’t really care what those who conduct themselves in the manner of these people have to say.
Mayor Olson’s conduct in this matter reflects poorly on himself and the City of Franklin. Mayor Olson attacked me in an email sent to city officials on the eve of Sept 24th citing the “facts from his perspective” which have since been exposed as nothing more than lies in attempt to discredit the information I had unearthed and shared. It is Olson’s responsibility to inform the “36,000 taxpaying citizens”, not mine. Five city newsletters are prepared and sent throughout the year but Strauss did not appear in one over the multiple years Olson claims this has been public knowledge. While stonewalling the citizens on matters of importance, Mayor Olson leaked official city news, emails, and information directly to blogger Kevin Fischer prior to it being made public through official channels. The irony of the wording of the municipal ordinance Mayor Olson used to protect himself from the 12 protesters outside his house on Sept 25th is rich considering it points out the hypocrisy of his use of municipal codes to protect him from the “detrimental results” of hearing from the constituents to whom he is responsible while simultaneously ignoring other ordinances enacted to protect residents from detrimental results of improper land use. § 183-20Residential picketing controlled. A. It is hereby declared that the protection and preservation of the home is the keystone of democratic government; that public health and welfare and good order of the community requires that the members of the community enjoy in their homes and dwellings a feeling of well-being, tranquility, and privacy and when absent from their homes and dwellings, carry with them the sense of security inherent in the assurance that they may return to the enjoyment of their homes and dwellings; that the practice of picketing their homes and dwellings causes emotional disturbance and distress to the occupants; obstructs and interferes with the free use of public sidewalks and public ways of travel; that such practice has as its object the harassing of such occupants; and without resort to such practice full opportunity exists, and under the terms and provisions of this section will continue to exist for the exercise of freedom of speech and other constitutional rights; and that the provisions hereinafter enacted are necessary for the public interest to avoid the detrimental results herein set forth and are enacted by the Council pursuant to the provisions of § 62.11(5), Wis. Stats.
Many people emailed, called and appeared in person at Franklin City Hall not only in regard to this matter but to other projects and concerns as well. Olson and friends have continually harassed in attempt to cause emotional disturbance and distress to the occupants or opposition. They have limited and silenced the citizens of Franklin and others from exercising freedom of speech and other constitutional rights. Most importantly, his actions and those of Alderwoman Shari Hanneman have gone against the public interest and failed to stand up for the people of Franklin in effort avoid the detrimental results.
Many people have continued to contact me in the days since our collective voice was stripped from us and given to the special interest groups of Strauss and their business supporters. The people of Franklin want our voice back. My goal is to ensure that residents are the ones who shape this city with a positive vision in alignment with our roots and the community. I will continue to stand up to the lies, deceit and indecent behavior of those who oppose our movement. I will not stop investigating any inappropriate or illegal conduct by our elected officials nor will I hesitate to share any relevant information obtained.
Please join us in our path forward to hold our elected officials accountable, make our voices heard, restore fiscal responsibility and support responsible growth that will contribute positively to our community and enhance our area. As the largest contributor to the city of Franklin, the taxpayers deserve to be heard.
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