Waukesha (WI) Mayor Jeff Scrima promised fiscal responsibility in running for office, but he has drawn criticism for his decision to use city funds to buy books of a campaign contributor and Christian author — and telling agency heads to read and discuss the book with city employees.
The mayor paid $428.16 in tax money for 30 books. The book, “Sequencing: Deciphering Your Company’s DNA” was written by Michael Metzger. His blog gives his bio:
Mr. Michael Metzger is the President and Senior Fellow of The Clapham Institute, whose mission is to help people and organizations advance faith-centered cultural reform. TCI works primarily with business professionals, the arts, media, and civic organizations in a mentoring and consultant role. Prior to launching the institute, Mike was the Executive Director for the Osprey Point Leadership Center, which is part of The Trinity Forum. Before his involvement with The Trinity Forum, Mr. Metzger worked as a consultant and advisor for dozens of organizations and churches, speaking and lecturing throughout the United States and Western Europe. He has also been an adjunct instructor at several seminaries.
The book’s publisher, Game Changer Books, was founded by Gary Lato of Waukesha. Lato who gave $500 to Scrima’s mayoral campaign. The Lato Family Foundation gave $16,500 to Scrima’s New Day in Waukesha charitable fund.
On his blog, Metzger highlights the Christian basis for his work:
Books on Christianity will not trouble those outside the faith, wrote C.S. Lewis. He recommended “more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent.” Latent means underlying or hidden. It fits human design (creation) yet recognizes human corruption (the fall). Sequencing: Deciphering Your Company’s DNA is a case study in latency.
Police Chief Russell Jack has objected to the move as inappropriate, even though he wrote to the mayor saying “I am a devout WELS [Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod] Lutheran, but I don’t believe it is legally appropriate to bring these ideas into a department directors’ meeting.”
Scrima insisted in defense, “The intended focus of the book study is to create dialogue and the conditions that engage everyone to achieve organizational goals.” Well, it certainly has generated dialogue but not type that Scrime probably hoped for.
Waukesha City Administrator Lori Luther has stood by the principle of separation of church and city in a text message that read: “I have a duty to uphold the constitution and protect this organization. Sadly, the mayor’s action puts our organization at risk,” she said. “Without question, there will be no further book discussions in my presence.”
In the meantime, Scrima was criticized in 2010 for not immediately fulfilling a pledge to be a “full-time mayor at half pay” — promising to take only half of his salary. When he came to office, people asked if he was going to fulfill the promise. He insisted, however, that city council members agree to give half of their salaries as well. He then stated that he would not be declining half of his pay (to leave it in city funds) but rather donate it to a new charity.
For his part, Scrima has called Jack a hypocrite for giving free office space and other resources to a Christian minister.