Brenda Konkel having been defeated in the last election, Madison Alder Thuy Pham-Remmele looks to be working hard to take the mantle of most notorious Council member in town.
That could be a badge of honor, or a mark of shame.
Controversy and strong opinions about Pham-Remmele's tenure have been building for some time now (as far as I can tell, pretty much ever since the big neighborhood safety meeting last year), and the local press has taken notice. That led to the Wisconsin State Journal printing a piece by Dean Mosiman all about Pham-Remmele and her critics. The article was, in my opinion, somewhat slanted in her favor, making her out to be an outspoken maverick willing to stand up to the mayor and fight for the rights of her crime-weary constituents.
Clenched fists in the air!
This is a tricky issue, though, because the problems faced by those living in Pham-Remmele's district are very real, very pressing, and very complicated. And I can understand why so many of them are so fond of their alder, who has done much to lobby for certain security measures aimed at improving their situation.
The problem, however, is that that appears to be Pham-Remmele's only issue, and she seems to spend the rest of her time rambling on for far too long, asking questions that have no real purpose, and repeating herself. By all accounts, when Pham-Remmele takes the floor at a Council meeting, everyone battens down the hatches and prepares themselves for some long, meandering tirade or another.
At the most recent meeting, she apparently did not disappoint. Both reporter Dusty Weis and former alder Konkel have interesting and detailed accounts of what happened, and I recommend checking out both of them.
Is she drunk on her recent glut of publicity? Or is this just business as usual? I have no idea, but regardless of the reasons, it does appear that she's turning into more of a nuisance than an effective, take-no-shit advocate. And that's a shame, because we need more elected officials who are willing to ask the tough questions and get at the root of issues. We need people willing to disagree openly with the mayor and others when necessary. But we need these people to have some measure of tact and forethought, so that meetings don't get needlessly bogged down. That's where important policies are supposed to get worked out, after all.
I admire Pham-Remmele's obvious passion for the job and the neighborhood, but it's becoming more and more clear that her shortcomings, unfortunately, far outweigh her good intentions.