Fisher Resigns Saugatuck Council Seat; Vows To Continue Advocating For City
Wendy Wise-Fisher, who previously alleged that the city manager had once been close to physically threatening her and that some of her colleagues had purposely seated her in an undersize chair at her very first meeting in order to humiliate her, has resigned from Saugatuck City Council less than five months after having been elected only last November..
She made her announcement last week via an email sent to media and posted on her personal blog site. She also sent city officials an official resignation via email as well.
At Monday night’s Saugatuck City Council meeting which was standing room only, Fisher sat in the public seating section of city hall and not in her usual council seat.
During the public comment section of the agenda she read aloud from a prepared statement, referring to the schism between her and the council as playing a factor in her decision.
However, she also thanked two former colleagues: Saugatuck City Council Member Jeff Spangler, whom she thanked for making her feel welcomed, and Saugatuck City Councilman Mark Bekken, who she said was the “first person to acknowledge me during my first council meeting.”
Fisher also stated, in part, “I was elected to the council by citizens who wanted change in our community, and though it has become quite obvious that me being a council member does not work for either council or myself, I assure the citizens of Saugatuck that I will continue on the path to bringing about change in Saugatuck.
“Where I sit in this city hall will make no difference in my goals or commitment to this community. No longer sitting at the table as a council member will not hinder my progress, but instead, I am certain, will prove to be an advantage.”
She went on to inform the council that despite her resignation, she will continue to fight for what she believes are big problems locally, including lack of bathrooms on the south side of town, an unkept downtown district, winter sidewalk maintenance, etc.
What this means for some council members, made apparent by the numerous and often contentious engagements with Fisher even before her being elected to council, is that the thorn in their side is far from over.
In late 2011, she petitioned city officials to help her halt a local business’ holiday ad in the Observer Newspapers because it made use of the word “sh—” nine times, claiming the ad was “vulgar,” and as such, would tarnish the image of the city.
The council had to inform her they do not control the local media.
In 2012, she presented council with a petition signed by some local merchants, with the heading, “Our Town is Dirty.” The petition asked city officials to do something about mounting downtown litter and garbage, claiming the responsibility was being unfairly shouldered by the merchants themselves.
Also in 2012, she confronted city leaders asking them to justify a
$14,000 expenditure on furniture for public seating in city hall, while thousands of visitors were forced to walk as far as four blocks to find a restroom, the city having no restroom on the south side.
Not long after her November election she started her own personal blog - blogmytownfromtheinsideout.blogspot - leveling serious charges against some of her collegues.
Those charges included allegations she once felt physically threatened by Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier during a meeting she arranged about the “Our Town is Dirty” petition.
Despite the gravity of the charge, Fisher has never submitted a
formal complaint to the city nor has she made use of legal means to address her concerns.
She also said in her blog that there was a concerted effort by some colleagues to shun and bully her.
Fisher also has severely criticized Saugatuck City Clerk Monica Looman and publicly expressed a desire to see her removed from office.
With the exception of her resignation announcement on March 22, Fisher has deleted all her previous entries in her blog, called “my townfrom the inside out: one merchants (sic) adventure into local government.”
Some merchants and residents are supportive of Fisher, such as former city council member and Maplewood Hotel owner Catherine Simon.
“Some have been critical of Ms. Fisher’s outspoken style and the blog. It’s always easier to attack the messenger, rather than taking the time to analyze the message’s value. ‘Pay Fairly’ (an anonymous emailer who Fisher advocated for and who asked city officials to look into what he/she claimed were dubious 100-percent homestead exemptions) is a perfect example.
“The city would rather identify the citizen who made the inquiry than look at a perceived tax problem. Regrettably, petty retribution often follows those who self-identify themselves,” read Simon from her statement Monday.
Council said little in response. “This is not a debate,” said Saugatuck Mayor Bill Hess. “I know there has been many false statements made….It is unfair to be berating the six people that are in this council that work so hard.”