Clintonville Mayor Judy Magee vetoed the motion that referred the personnel matter involving City Administrator Lisa Kotter to the city’s labor attorney.
The veto allows Kotter to return to work immediately, almost three weeks after she was originally suspended, while an investigation into alleged misconduct took place. The council can override Magee’s veto. Seven votes are needed to override the veto. The original vote to send the matter to the labor attorney was a 6-4.
Magee informed council members of her veto in a letter dated June 1. In the letter, Magee said her intent is to work with the 10 elected council members.
“However, it is not my role to act solely on the will of a majority of the council. My position remains separate from the council for a reason. With that separation I must assure this community that I am acting in the best interest of the city,” Magee said in the letter.
Magee said she has the right to veto actions of the city council under Wisconsin State Statutes 62.09(8)(c). She stated in the letter she was within the five days of the council’s action which gives her the right to veto the decision.
According to the letter, the investigation concluded on Tuesday, May 27, when the council received attorney Warren Kraft’s report. Kraft was hired by the city to conduct the investigation of alleged misconduct by the city administrator.
“The investigation into misconduct is now complete and in my opinion the misconduct did not amount to justifiable cause,” Magee said in the letter.
“Although no misconduct was reported to me it is my belief that the council still desires to terminate the administrator’s employment with the city and I do not believe that her termination is in the best interest of the city,” she added.
Magee said the majority of people attending the special meetings or contacting her opposed the actions taken against the Kotter.
Magee cited that it is not in the best interest of the city to have the city administrator out any longer.
“The volume of work that is not being completed in the absence of our administrator is reaching a level that could jeopardize our city’s future and jeopardize ongoing projects,” Magee said.
She listed 13 projects the city is currently doing, or will be soon.
Business leaders ask for veto
Magee also included a letter dated May 30, that was signed by a plethora of business leaders from the city.
The letter stated, “We are writing to encourage you to use your veto power as it pertains to the current action against our city administrator. As business owners, we do not have a vote when it comes to the elections. We do, however, have a voice and we definitely have a huge stake in the success or failure of the economic performance of our city. The current council has proven to be openly hostile towards business and their current actions certainly demonstrate this. Please do what you know is right and veto these ridiculous actions and in doing so, return our city and its government to the proper path to success.”
Magee also included information about discussions held with Kotter.
One of the discussions revolved around Kotter being interviewed by Kraft, who was conducting the investigation. Magee told Kotter she would be contacted to have her interview with Kraft at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 21. Kotter asked why Kraft couldn’t meet with her on that Monday or Tuesday. Magee told her Kraft would be in Madison those days.
Of note is the fact Kotter was not interviewed for the investigation before the special council meeting Tuesday, May 20. One of the agenda items at that meeting was a closed session item to discuss the investigation. A scheduled special council meeting did not take place, Wednesday, May 21 due to the lack of a quorum.
An email from city labor attorney Jim Macy to Magee was also included in the packet of information regarding the veto.
In the email, Macy detailed a phone conversation he had with city attorney April Dunlavy. Macy said he explained to Dunlavy what his role was in working with the city and what they do in situations where a conflict of interest may be present.
Macy stated in the email, “I mentioned as an example, that when we received a call about the city attorney selection process in Clintonville, I first called our Green Bay office to assist. Since they also worked with the prior city attorney in other communities, we referred the matter to Warren Kraft, limited to the city attorney issue. I did note that I was disappointed to hear that Mr. Kraft also accepted appointment to work on an employment investigation involving the city administrator since that is work we would normally do. While I personally would most likely not work on it for the reasons noted, our Green Bay office certainly would be competent to do it without any conflict. I noted that normally Mr. Kraft would not accept such an additional assignment respecting the original referral, but it really is up to the city.”
Macy ended the email by stating he would assist any way possible.
Eight pages of copies of emails and Facebook postings from residents were also included with the information packet. The vast majority of the correspondences were in favor of Magee vetoing the council’s motion.