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Karvala Conflict

Aldermen, City government, community, Local groups

Last month, New Berlin Now reported that numerous residents  signed a complaint against Laura Karvala and the New Berlin Ethics Board scheduled a hearing on the matter for today. 

 It wouldn’t be the first time that Karvala has stirred up community residents—or that people questioned her judgment, criticized her actions or believed them to be self-serving.

In 2010, she led opposition to proposed workforce/ senior housing in the City Center and got folks riled up.  She urged people to protest a Plan Commission vote on the slated “affordable housing”.  A political action committee called Concerned Citizens of New Berlin (CCNB) formed to fight the housing development.  Karvala was its principal officer and spokesperson.   CCNB  launched a recall against Mayor Jack Chiovatero and  6th District Alderman Bill Moore.  Their targeting of Moore, who was not on the Plan Commission and therefore, had not voted for the low income housing development, certainly raised red flags about Karvala and her CCNB group’s political motivations.

 Needless to say, there was plenty of local media attention.  No doubt the “name recognition” that resulted was advantageous when the opportunistic Ms. Karvala subsequently ran for  2nd District Alderperson, a taxpayer-funded part-time position with $10,000/per year financial compensation.  

Speaking of money, the campaign finance reports CCNB filed, which were required to list any donation over $20, had none listed from Karvala.  

Flash forward---

 Karvala/CCNB’s recall attempt was a dud. They failed to get the required number of signatures to hold a recall election.  

Karvala was elected to the aldermanic seat.  

She continued to oppose “affordable housing” for the City Center, apparently uncaring about legal ramifications and the cost to us taxpayers.   The City was sued by the developer and the Federal government, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act.  The end result?   A victory for the developer.  The housing units were ultimately built.

What about Glen Park Elementary? If Karvala advocated keeping it open, she was ineffectual. The School Board closed the school.

An  Ethics hearing is scheduled for 3 pm today.   Last month, the New Berlin Ethics Board decided there was probable cause for an ethics hearing on an ethics complaint against Ald. Laura Karvala alleging she stands to gain financially by Wilbur Dr. being closed or partially closed to the public. According to the meeting minutes, Ald. Karvala, Ament and Harenda attended. 

New Berlin Now reported that Karvala  lives on Wilbur and the complaint signed by numerous residents (mostly by residents of Redwood Dr.) alleges that her property values would go up as a result of the closure.   The ethics complaint argues that Karvala should have recused herself and alleges she didn’t speak with Redwood Drive residents as she claims.

Oh,  some New Berlin residents are complaining that Karvala failed to communicate appropriately and effectively? !!!! How intriguing.   In 2010, Karvala’s CCNB group was accusing the mayor of failing to communicate appropriately about the City Center housing and cited it as a reason for their attempted recall of him.  Hmm. I guess those CCNB folks weren’t paying attention to the posted agendas and public notices of Plan Commission and Council meetings.   

When Karvala ran for office, she promised transparency and effective communication.  However,  I’ve spoken to people residing in her district who told me they’ve received no communications from Karvala since her election.   I also heard about a controversial meeting Karvala held at the public library a few months ago.   I was told that Karvala  upset some constituents by insisting the residents who disagreed with her leave.  The ruckus led to police being called. Couldn’t this incident have been prevented?  How come Ald. Karvala has not been sending out newsletters to all her constituents regularly,  holding her meetings at City Hall and always posting an official public notice?    

Recently, New Berlin Now reported that  Karvala’s attorney sent the Ethics Board a letter arguing that the ethics complaint must be verified, as required by city ordinance. He contends the ethics hearing should be dismissed because the complaint fails to comply with that law.

 Of course, if Karvala had simply recused herself from voting on the Wilbur Drive issue, there would not be an ethics complaint or hearing.   That would have been the prudent action to take.  Elected officials are supposed to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.

Instead, Karvala has managed to irk and alienate many New Berlin residents, who are questioning her ethics, judgment and motivation.  

Obviously, this unfortunate situation would not have arisen had voters elected Mike Orzel  alderman instead of Laura Karvala.   Mike Orzel is an experienced attorney--- and he does not live on Wilbur Dr. or Redwood Dr.  No one could have credibly alleged he stood to gain financially by Wilbur Dr. being closed or partially closed to traffic. There would have been no public perception of conflict of interest .

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