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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Board Referendum Proposal Is Again Defeated

Issue Date: October 11, 2017

Some Marinette County Board Supervisors have apparently been hearing suggestions that size of the board should be cut from 30 members to 21. A proposal to let the full County Board decide if voters should be asked to settle the question in an advisory referendum next spring was soundly rejected 10 to 2 at a meeting of the board's 12-member Executive Committee in September. A motion to reconsider that action was rejected again on Wednesday, Oct. 4, but this time by a narrow five to six vote margin.

Executive Committee members in favor of bringing the issue to the full County Board were supervisors Ken Keller, Joe Policello, Al Sauld, Cheryl Wruk and Board Chair Mark Anderson. Those opposed were supervisors Russ Bauer, Mike Behnke, Shirley Kaufman, Don Pazynski, Ted Sauve and Vilas Schroeder. Supervisor Al Mans was absent and excused.

If the referendum were held, and if the electors said the board size should be reduced and County Board agreed, the board size would not have been reduced until after the elections in April of 2022. In that year new supervisory district boundaries drawn in accord with the 2020 census will go into effect. The issue suggested for an advisory referendum was whether at that time there should be 21 supervisory districts formed rather than the present 30.

In September, only Anderson and Sauld voted in favor of sending the referendum proposal to the full board with a recommendation for approval. The remaining 10 members, with everyone present, were opposed.

Keller later filed a motion to reconsider that action. He said he personally opposes the idea of cutting the number of supervisors but feels the opportunity to make that decision should be put to the full board. He proposed sending the issue there without a recommendation for or against.

Discord began before approval of the agenda at the start of the meeting. Pazynski moved to remove the item from the agenda and postpone indefinitely any further discussion on cutting the number of supervisors, "We discussed it at length and voted overwhelmingly against it!"

Anderson declared any committee member who voted with the majority can move to reconsider an action. He told Pazynski the committee could vote it down the motion to reconsider when it came up on the agenda, "but he (Keller) has that right."

Pazynski continued to insist. He moved, with a second from Bauer, to remove the item from the agenda. Anderson contacted Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison by phone. Mattison was in court and unable to attend the meeting.

She said they could remove the item under approval of the agenda, and Anderson disagreed, asking if the right to remove an agenda item "trumps" the county board rule that any member who voted with the majority can request reconsideration. Mattison apparently decided the reconsideration rule should apply, and Anderson announced that in accord with advice from Corporation Counsel, "The item stays on unless Keller rescinds his request."

Pazynski disagreed. He said according to advice he had received from Wisconsin Counties Association,"I can kill it right here."

Anderson assured everyone the motion to reconsider did not equate to approving sending it to the full board, and it would take a majority vote to do either.

"I'm not going to be too contentious," Pazynski said. "When we get to Item Five I can move that it be defeated."

Anderson advised Keller that the motion would go directly to him when it came up, and then, "This body can vote it down"If it gets voted down the issue dies."

Asked if they could keep bringing the issue back, Anderson explained again that a rescind motion can only be brought back with a motion at the following meeting by someone who voted on the prevailing side.

Pazynski conceded, "In deference to the rest of this committee, I'll back down."

The agenda was then approved with the motion to reconsider included. Pazynski cast the sole opposing vote.

When the time came, Keller again explained why he had asked for the motion to reconsider. "I don't believe it should go to a referendum, but I do feel it should go to the whole County Board".12 people should not decide!"

He felt it was worth the hour of discussion at the board meeting even though he personally opposed the idea of cutting the board size, and also opposed the proposal to hold an advisory referendum.

"The whole County Board should vote on this, just as they should have discussed and voted on the committee restructuring!" Sauld declared.

Pazynski maintained that with 12 experienced supervisors the Executive committee is vey good cross section of the entire board. "This is our responsibility. Let's live up to it," he urged.

Keller felt many of the 10 Executive Committee members who voted no in September may have been against the referendum, not against allowing a decision by the full County Board.

Sauve declared the issue was voted down at the last two executive meetings and asked, "What is the role of the Executive Committee if we're going to bring everything up to the full County Board?"

Vote on the motion to reconsider then lost by the five to six margin and the meeting moved on.

Supervisors present for the meeting in addition to Executive Committee members were Paul Gustafson, George Kloppenburg and Rick Polzin. There were no public comments from them or anyone else at the meeting.

The committee quickly and without dissent approved a resolution supporting District Attorney De Shea Morrow's request that the state provide a special full time prosecutor to her office for the two year period allowed under a provision in the state budget that was signed into law on Sept. 21. Anderson recommended using a provision allowing the Executive Committee to speak for the full County Board rather than wait for the full board to meet at the end of the month. He felt allowing Morrow's request to be submitted sooner would give it a better chance of success and mean almost an entire month of additional service from the special prosecutor.

County Administrator John LeFebvre explained the state would supply the special prosecutor to help clear up a huge backlog in the DA's office at no cost to the county.

The accompanying resolution explained the office has experienced a repeated staff turnover in the last two or so years, culminating with the resignation of former DA Allen Brey in June which for a time left Morrow as the only attorney in an office that is authorized to have the DA and one and a half assistant DAs on board.

Morrow had been the half time assistant DA until the former full time Assistant DA Kent Hoffman resigned to become a Circuit Court Judge in Sheboygan County. She was appointed to fill the vacant DA post after Brey resigned in what he described as frustration over County Board's refusal to provide the help the office needed.

After other business was finished the committee went into closed session and spent about a quarter of an hour on a performance review to grade LeFebvre's performance during his first six months as County Administrator.

Members had been given rating sheets to fill out at the last meeting. Present for the closed session in addition to the committee members were supervisors Grebin, Gustafson, Kloppenburg and Polzin.

LeFebvre, who had headed the county's Land Information Office for many years, was named acting administrator in December of 2016 after Shawn Henessee resigned, and in March became the official full time administrator.

The committee took no action after returning to open session. Anderson said they had done the six months evaluation, ""and, overall, I believe the committee has recognized that the administrator is either at or exceeding expectations " we are very pleased with the job he is doing."


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