BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
Mayor Chris Frederickson and three new Rhinelander City Council members were sworn in at Tuesday’s organizational meeting.
Alderperson George Kirby was unanimously reelected as council president, a position that is called on to officiate meetings in the mayor’s absence. Other notable appointments included longtime alderperson Dawn Rog as chairperson of the Finance, Wage & Salary committee and all three new council members to the Board of Public Works, a department that has seen an unusual number of resignations in the past year, with foreman Dan Mulhern’s resignation coming just this month. Alderperson Tom Kelly was not appointed to the Water/Wastewater Utility, a position he had previously held for ten years.
Rog and Kirby raised objections to the reappointment of Todd McEldowney as chairperson of the Police & Fire Commission, whose current term is expiring. Kirby reminded the council of McEldowney’s performance during the search for a Rhinelander police chief in 2017, in which McEldowney did not adhere to certain rules with the application for Dave Funkhouser.
“It showed lack of leadership on his part,” Rog added.
Frederickson, who received assistance from interim city administrator Keith Kost and city attorney Carrie Miljevich throughout the meeting, withdrew McEldowney’s name, tabling the appointment until the council meeting in May.
“I expected there to be a robust discussion,” Frederickson commented after the meeting in reference to McEldowney. “I’ll let him speak to it before I bring it back…I also know he has extensive background when it comes to that, so we’ll look at it closer.”
In reference to the presence of an obsolete committee in the appointments (the Business Improvement District) and some citizen appointees that no longer lived in the city, Frederickson said there had been a “scramble” over the citizen committee appointments in the last day before the council.
Frederickson said he was okay with his performance that evening, despite some irregularities during the proceedings. He closed the meeting with remarks about his leadership style.
“I’m a servant leader first…I’m also a team builder.”
“My leadership and what I might think might be different from what’s been going on,” Frederickson added afterwards, saying he was meeting daily with Kost as he tackled problems and issues.