Obsessive joiner or compulsive joiner?

Meet Mr. Hanewall

By GEOFF DAVIDIAN
Editor, ShorewoodVillage.com

SHOREWOOD, Wis. (March 20,2004) -- Meet Jeff Hanewall, the up-and-coming Village insider, former Peace Corp worker in Africa, former cabinet maker; an employee of an architect firm involved with the Shorewood Library/Village Center project. Mr. Hanewall is a Library Board member, blood drive organizer, former president and vice president of the Shorewood Men's Club, father of a toddler and candidate for Shorewood Village Board.

Not to be outdone in public matters, his wife is Pamela Pepper, the federal prosecutor-turned-criminal defense practitioner, who also was a former clerk for Frank M. Johnson, Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and who is licensed to practice law in Illinois Twink, twink, know what I mean?and Wisconsin. Ms. Pepper is a member of the moot court team who sits on the Milwaukee Bar Association board, chairs the Law Practice Management Committee and the Judicial Selection Committee, is secretary of the State Bar of Wisconsin, program director for the Association for Women Lawyers, editor of the Seventh Circuit Bar Associationís newsletter, program director for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, on the board of Federal Defender Services of Eastern Wisconsin, an adjunct professor at Marquette Law School and is working on a certificate in dispute resolution.

The last time I saw Mr. Hanewall he was shrieking, "Are you calling me a woman? Are you calling me a woman?" outside a Board of Trustees meeting at Village Hall.

Although he wasn't cited for disturbing the peace (Police Chief Michael Meehan said he had received no complaints), Chief Meehan was called to the scene to try to bring order after the unusual incident drew curious stares from those within ear shot.

With the exception of this outburst, I have only experienced the Hanewall phenomenon once before -- at a candidate forum hosted by the Shorewood Men's Club -- and it seemed to me that Mr. Hanewall's strongest argument to voters is that he is entitled to a seat because he has served the community in other ways.

There is little doubt that by selling hot dogs for the Men's Club, Mr. Hanewall has developed a reputation among and relationship with the local establishment, which wants to place its people in positions to advance their agendas. Hanewall has aligned himself with the likes of FORMER Village president Rodney H. Dow, named with his boss, Foley & Lardner, in a lawsuit alleging he is profiteering off public records, and incumbent Trustee Ellen Eckman, also being sued with her employer, Marquette University, for refusing to provide full and complete access to public records in her possession. Although Eckman barely made it past the Feb. 17, 2004 primary in her bid for re-election, the establishment has hitched Hanewall's candidacy to Eckman's nose-diving star.

Thus the pair is linked in Shorewood Herald forum articles and, now that Eckman's have  mysteriously reappeared on the first day of spring, their yard signs are side-by-side like packaged Hostess Twinkies.

Dow chow
Eckman and Hanewall: Intellectual Twinkies running for office.
Twinkies have little intellectual value

The most memorable position Mr. Hanewall has taken as a candidate was that it might not be so bad that Shorewood had the fourth highest tax rate in the region.

Mr. Hanewall suggested that in other municipalities the lower taxes might be the result of user fees or other revenue sources whereas Shorewood has lower costs or fees while a higher tax rate. In the end, he surmised, maybe it wasn't as bad as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

From the resumes of Mr. Hanewall and his wife, it is evident that these people are driven to be part of committees, groups, clubs and boards; that somehow their identities are found in consensus and membership. Far beyond participating or contributing, membership appears to be an obsession or reason for being.

But what does Mr. Hanewall bring to the board should he win? What's the added value? Unless we design another library or want woodworking or hot dogs sold, what's the experience and expertise Mr. Hanewall would add to the mix on the Board of Trustees regarding parking, planning, personnel issues or budgeting? Without diminishing the value of the experience to Mr. Hanewall, how will his Peace Corp stint in Africa translate to action in an overwhelmingly White community that is over developed?

Here is a look at what we do know.

In a "Public Forum" statement bearing Mr. Hanewall's name in the March 18, 2004 Shorewood Herald, the writer says that "if you look at the amount of staff we have to do the required work, it is clear we do not have a fat laden budget."

But he does not give one single number of staff or define the amount of work required. This is simply a statement in opposition to proponents of efficient government. In the same paragraph, the writer states: " . . . [W]e can't reduce property taxes simply by cutting fat."

Next, without a single fact, the writer begins the argument with "Consequently," as though there is a foundation for what follows in the preceding statement. The writer then dismisses all arguments he attributes to another candidate, but fails to provide a plan or idea in their place.

Nowhere does the writer take into account the fact that "Shorewood taxpayers moved from 11th in 2002 to fourth place on the chart of equalized tax bills," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Regardless of who wrote it, the Shorewood Herald column bearing Mr. Hanewall's name merely takes a pot shot at candidates who PROPOSE something that addresses the huge jump in tax position; candidates who at least come to the table with something more to say than "I sold hot dogs for the men's club."

Not at all ironically, the meeting at which Mr. Hanewall shrieked "Are you calling me a woman?" is the same one at which his fellow Library Board member Jeff Schmeckpeper told trustees that if they refused to forgive a $100,000 loan to the Library the Village would just have to cover the Library expenses from another pocket. When Mr. Schmeckpeper was challenged for his seeming callousness to the realities of the Village budget, Mr. Hanewall rose to defend Mr. Schmeckpeper's honor.

Here we have an example of where Mr. Hanewall's loyalties lie. Instead of taking a position sensitive to reality, Mr. Hanewall defended the status quo, the establishment players who have brought shame and financial crisis to the Village -- those responsible for secret money transfers and lawsuits. Mr. Hanewall wants to be on the Village Board as an extension of his responsibilities to the Library Board. He is willing to give up his seat on the Library Board because he can do more to support the Library from the Board of Trustees than he can on the Library Board.

Being supportive of Library needs would not be a bad thing except Mr. Hanewall appears blind to much of what has been happening elsewhere in the Village and the wasteful excesses of FORMER Village President Rodney Dow's legacy.

Perhaps Mr. Hanewall does not think the services of Village Attorney Raymond Pollen and his firm are "fat," although members of the Village Board have been destroying public records because Pollen never gave them instruction.

Maybe Mr. Hanewall doesn't think pornography at the library, made available to 13-year-olds, is an unnecessary purchase.

Maybe Mr. Hanewall doesn't think forgiving loans to the Library are unnecessary expenditures that impact the availability of resources for other purposes.

Maybe Mr. Hanewall doesn't think that providing legal and clerical assistance to FORMER Village President Rodney H. Dow with regard to public records he is refusing to turn over is an unnecessary expenditure although Mr. Dow is attempting to profit from the assistance.

Furthermore, Mr. Hanewall does not appear to understand the concept of "conflict of interest."

The man whose honor Mr. Hanewall defended, Jeff Schmeckpeper, who is also on the Library Board and contemporaneously on the board of the Shorewood Foundation, has assumed the chore of finding a lawyer to rewrite the $1.1 million Benjamin Trust for the Senior Resource Center despite a grave ethical question of whether he can do what's best for all the parties: the Shorewood Foundation, the Village Library, the Senior Resource Center and the Benjamin Trust. Certainly some other member of the Foundation could assume that role without bringing the conflicting baggage brought by Mr. Schmeckpeper. Really, why Schmeckpeper?

Mr. Hanewall may not be a woman, but he is not mature in his argument, whatever his gender.

Sir, stick with the wieners; you've had success with them in the past. In the end, you'll be more satisfied. ●