Lake Geneva council infighting rages

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Kayla Bunge
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
— Mayor Bill Chesen promised to put an end to the now two-month political battle that has divided city officials and residents.

"I want it over with," he said. "I will do everything I can to bring this to a conclusion, and it might very well be appointing two new aldermen."

The Lake Geneva City Council on Monday night declined to dismiss charges against four council members and declined to fund a special prosecutor for a hearing of the charges—essentially leaving the matter at a standstill.

Chesen on Sept. 10 suspended council members Mary Jo Fesenmaier, Arleen Krohn, Penny Roehrer and Tom Spellman, accusing them of misconduct and violating the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. He has accused Roehrer and Spellman also of neglecting their duties.

Chesen on Sept. 21 rescinded the suspensions of Roehrer and Krohn to restore quorum to the council, and the council on Sept. 23 approved Larry Magee and Sturges Taggart as replacements for Fesenmaier and Spellman, respectively.

The charges against all four council members still stand, and a removal hearing has been postponed until a special prosecutor is appointed.

"I've been put in a position where I have not a whole lot of choices left," Chesen said.

He said again suspending Krohn and Roehrer and appointing replacements for them might be the only way a hearing before the city council could proceed.

Chesen several times has offered to drop the charges and reinstate all four council members if Alderman Spyro "Speedo" Condos would step down and allow for a special election for the First District seat to which he was appointed Aug. 24. Chesen also has offered to resign himself and drop the charges if Condos would step down.

Condos rejected both offers, Chesen said.

Chesen recently offered to have the removal hearing before an arbitrator or a retired appellate court judge, but both offers were rejected, he said.

"I don't know what else to do," Chesen said. "I can't get funding for a special prosecutor. I can't get a 6-2 vote (to remove the council members from office) in a hearing. What option do you offer?"

A heated back-and-forth erupted between Chesen and Condos.

"This is my offer: You dismiss the charges and reinstate the aldermen, and you knock out the B.S. and personal attacks and going after people because they don't agree with you," Condos said. "It's gone way too far Mr. Mayor, way too far."

"I've given you several options to resolve this," Chesen said. "I'll make you another deal: You agree to only serve out the term until an election in spring and I'll reseat your friends."

Condos insisted Chesen dismiss the charges against the four council members. Chesen said he would think about it.

Last updated: 11:59 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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