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The Most Important Issue We're Not Talking About

There was plenty to say over zoning changes and what would stay or go with regard to future lake park possibilities, but when it came to getting help in emergencies, mum's the word.

It is a curious little town we live in.

We can talk ourselves blue in the face over what the proper zoning should be and where it should be applied, but perhaps the biggest issue the city has faced in the past year goes virtually unnoticed.

As time ticked away Tuesday night during the series of public hearings held during the Common Council meeting, the fewest comments came in with regard to the request for an ordinance change that would give the city the first right of refusal on its cell towers. The Muskego Police Department is hoping to make relevant use of the technology and upgrades it has made to its dispatch center,

The goal was to save time for Muskego residents who are in an emergency situation and calling for help on a cell phone to get immediately in contact with the Muskego Police Department. It hasn't happened yet because Waukesha County has refused to relinquish the cellular trunks, so if you're having a heart attack in the city, it's going to take about 45 to 72 seconds (depending on who you talk to) longer to get your own city's dispatch to get emergency personnel to your doorstep.

Police Chief Paul Geiszler spoke during the public hearing session, and earlier Tom Ralston was the only resident who voiced his support for the ordinance change.

"Whether it's 42 or 72 second delay, I don't care," Geiszler said. "If you have a person in front of you without a pulse or isn't breathing, it's time lost that could be spent getting help to that person."

"Let's personalize this for a moment," Ralston, who has been a first responder, said. "Let's say you're in a car accident - seconds count, much less minutes and we need to ensure we have any opportunity to get people help sooner than later."

Perhaps people feel that everyone agrees that it's a slam dunk to get the ordinance passed, and not worthy of adding their approval, but public hearings aren't just for an airing of grievances and perceived conspiracy theories. Folks sitting up at the dais would like to hear your support as well.

This move to change the ordinance will perhaps give the city a better footing in its appeal to cell phone carriers to wrest control from the county. It will probably by no means be the end of this struggle with the county, as Muskego is seen as the trailblazer in this debate. In other words, if we successfully leave the county's 911 dispatch, other communities are likely to follow, which could turn the Waukesha County Communications Center into a really expensive break room.

So folks, step away from the lake shore for a minute, and consider that the turf wars currently being fought are relatively miniscule in comparison to ensuring lives can be saved no matter where you live in the city. We have two county supervisors - Dan Draeger and Keith Hammitt - that have remained relatively mum on this issue as well, so if you hold opinions, and I know you do, please share them with those officials as well.

DB June 28, 2012 at 08:33 PM
speaking for myself, I did not step up because I was relatively uninformed. I would have appreciated a clearer "get up to speed" presentation bullet-pointing here is how cell 911 calls are currently handled (I take it it is different than land line?), here is how we would like them to be handled (and why), and here is how we have attempted to make that happen and now here is what we are proposing to try next. Oh, and here are the differences in cost and performance to the residents. After listening to what the city was proposing to try, I found myself asking "can you do that?" It reminded me of a Family Guy episode where Peter decided to declare his home as his own country. I thought, "It can't really be as simple as writing your own city ordinance of 'it is mine, not yours' and actually have it stick, can it?" It is no wonder that the term 'it's political' is usually a bad thing. In addition, I think they tried to pack too many topics into 1 meeting. 4 job interviews, 3 public hearings, and then a normal CC meeting was too much.
Denise Konkol (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 08:42 PM
We've been covering this issue since March of 2011, so it didn't just come up Tuesday night. Here's our topic page on the news item: http://muskego.patch.com/topics/muskego-cellular-911-dispute

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