Accord possible in Lake Geneva
Mayor Bill Chesen on Wednesday agreed to rescind the suspensions of city council members Mary Jo Fesenmaier and Tom Spellman and to drop the charges he brought against them and council members Arleen Krohn and Penny Roehrer.
But the agreement is contingent on one thing: Alderman Spyro “Speedo” Condos, who was appointed to the city council Aug. 24 to fill a vacant seat, must resign from his position. He would be eligible to run for office in the April election.
Larry Magee and Sturges Taggart, who were appointed as replacements for Fesenmaier and Spellman, respectively, will step down.
The agreement is to be carried out by Monday.
Walworth County Court Judge Michael Gibbs helped reach the resolution to the divisive political battle during more than two hours of private discussions in his chambers Wednesday morning.
Chesen on Sept. 10 suspended Fesenmaier, Krohn, Roehrer and Spellman, accusing them of misconduct and violating the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. Chesen accused Spellman and Roehrer 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Chesen on Sept. 21 rescinded the suspensions of Roehrer and Krohn to restore quorum to the council, and the council on Sept. 23 approved Magee and Taggart as replacements for Fesenmaier and Spellman, respectively.
The battle had been at a standstill until Wednesday.
Gibbs said it “became clear” during talks with the attorneys representing the mayor and the four council members that a resolution might hinge on Condos stepping down from his seat on the city council.
“Everyone agreed he’s not a party to this action, not a witness to this action—he’s completely outside the confines of this action—but everyone agreed it might be an appropriate lubricant if I were to give him a call,” Gibbs said. “He graciously—for the good of the city—indicated he would tender his resignation …
“The city needs to move forward and put these things behind it.”
Attorney David Williams, who represents the four council members, said they did not request that Condos resign from his position.
“We didn’t even discuss it,” he said.
But Condos said he was just doing what he felt was right.
“… I’ve always tried to do whatever is best for the city, and if this can put this whole mess aside, I agreed to resign …” he said. “It’s not easy, but I’m just trying to do what I think is right.”
Condos said he plans to tender his resignation Monday to allow the restored city council to vote on the city budget and to decide whether to leave his seat vacant or to appoint someone to fill it.
“It’s only fair to let them do that,” he said. “And at the next city council meeting, there will be a vacancy, and they can vote to appoint me or anyone else they want … or they could leave it vacant.”
Chesen said it was difficult to agree to drop the charges he filed against the four council members.
“I’ve made the matter public as much as I possibly can, but I don’t see what other option I had,” he said. “I have to leave it in the hands of the citizens to vote their conscience and do what they feel is right when it comes time to re-elect or not elect these aldermen.”
Chesen also said if the four council members vote to again appoint Condos to the city council, which he is predicting will happen in the coming weeks, his fight would have been in vain.
“I’m sick—literally sick over that thought,” he said. “I will have accomplished nothing if that happens.”
The lawsuit that Fesenmaier, Krohn, Roehrer and Spellman filed against Chesen to get their seats back and to block Chesen from appointing replacements will remain open for “judicial review.” A status conference will be scheduled for April.
The Lake Geneva City Council next meets at 7 p.m. Monday.
New candidate enters recall election race
A new candidate has emerged to run in the recall election next month.
William Mott, 1150 Park Drive, No. 601, has turned in papers to run against Alderman Tom Spellman, who faces recall in a special election scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Mott could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
Sturges Taggart, who was appointed to the city council Sept. 23 to serve as a replacement for Spellman while he was suspended, planned to run for the seat—but only if no one else did. He did not turn in his paperwork.
“I wasn’t going to confuse the issue by having three people running for one post and having the city spend money on another election,” he said.
Only Spellman and Mott will be on the ballot, said City Clerk Diana Dykstra.
The recall effort started after Alderman Spyro “Speedo” Condos was appointed to the city council in late August. Many residents asked for a special election to fill the vacant seat. Many others suggested the council choose Condos to fill the position.
Almost 200 people signed a petition to recall Spellman, saying he does not vote according to the wishes of his constituents.