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Letter to the editor: Good reasons for private negotiations between War Memorial, art museum

To the editor:

This is written in response to a recent article and accompanying editorial, “Privacy not an option for memorial, museum” in the Sept. 24 issue, regarding the negotiations taking place between the War Memorial Corp. and the Milwaukee Art Museum. The objective of these talks is to identify a common ground upon which an improved and sustainable business model can be implemented to benefit the parties, veterans and others. The Daily Reporter is doing a service to its readers in reporting on this important issue.

As the lead negotiator on behalf of the War Memorial, the editorial sought to take me to task for declining to divulge all details concerning the negotiations. With all due respect to the Fourth Estate, I am pleased to explain the ample reasons why these negotiations are being conducted in the manner they are.

The editorial suggests that the parties are obligated to conduct our discussions in public. In fact, there is no such requirement on the part of private, nonprofit organizations to do business in public. Beyond this, the interests of the parties are best served by being able to have frank exchanges in an environment free of the tendency to play to certain constituencies or take positions solely based upon how they might be perceived by the public.

The editorial implies that veterans groups are being cut off from information on the progress of negotiations. That is not the case. I have personally briefed the Veterans Board of Directors, representing 19 veteran service organizations, and have heard no misgivings about a lack of information. Contrary to the editorial’s flawed assumption regarding the danger of rumors, veterans have become ever more engaged and insistent that any solution include fair contribution by building tenants toward operating costs and a greater focus on serving the needs of the military community and veterans’ needs.

At such time as a settlement is reached, the public will be welcome to share in the news and delve into the details.

David Kurtz
department adjutant,
Wisconsin American Legion

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