“Fast away the old year passes. ... Hail the new ye lads and lasses.” So we are leaving 2017 in the rearview mirror. Tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve, and we will begin 2018 on a Monday with a full moon no less. For many of us the Christmas tree is out of the house. For others, like my family, the tree will not leave until after 12th night.

In the Dec. 13 edition of the Chippewa Herald, County Administrator Frank Pascarella opined “I would also like to see the print media focus on the facts vs. being hypnotized by sensationalism, emotion and personal friendships and ideology, as a primary means of information gathering and reporting. By taking this approach you have wittingly or unwittingly made it difficult for Chippewa County to move beyond its past.”

Once in a while my work for the State of Wisconsin made it into the print media; that will happen if you have to work with the public. If I had a plug nickel for every time one of the folks said “move beyond the past” I could pay cash for the island of Manhattan.

One thing incoming people/bosses/administrators wish to do are somehow get people and places to “move beyond the past”. They come into situations and look at them and say “behold the glorious things I want to create”. Those people forget that they are the very creation of a past themselves. The more things people in authority wish to change usually the more resistance they meet.

History is a great teacher. History is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “a chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes.” Yet people like the former county administrator appear to have taken little time to study the history of Chippewa County and the fact that many people, both elected and electors, did not want nor ever wished to have a county administrator.

By the time you read this, Congress will have or is on the cusp of passing the new Tax Bill. I view that bill as a gift to the wealthy and privileged class. In view our current place in history 2017/2018 as a prelude to the events of 1920, also known as the start of the Roaring ‘20s.

Americans at that time knelt at the feet of business, just like now. When the crash came in 1929, society was thrown into a panic. The great reforms done by Franklin Roosevelt to answer the crisis of the Great Depression are being chipped away by a nice looking man from southeastern Wisconsin named Paul Ryan; a Calvin Coolidge by another name. History and the past are repeating.

Returning to Frank Pascarella’s remarks, I do sympathize with him in one way. From talking to many folks, I believe he felt that he assumed more power than he really had. Another example of this is the Altoona School Board and its relationship with School Superintendent Connie Biedron. I believe she too assumed more power than she had. If boards are not vigilant, problems erupt.

This can happen to governing boards of all shapes and sizes. The chief executive officer usually reports to the board once a month or so with a positive report of what’s going on. The board takes in the information, nods their collective heads and moves on no questions asked.

Almost any board of directors, including those of corporations, is unwilling to part ways with the people they have hired. They cannot come to the conclusion that perhaps they and their chief executive officer were just not a good fit. In a strange twist of events they can’t get past the present to rectify a problem in the past.

2018 will shortly be upon us. 2017 will recede into the past. The lessons, misfortunes and consequences of 2017 will be recorded, and we will face a New Year. Resolutions will be made and be broken. Life will change, and we will move on. Yet truly successful people will resolve not to forget the past but learn from it. May you be one of those unique people. Happy New Year!

John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.

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Chippewa Herald editor

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