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Lake Geneva City Council tables talk about charges issue

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Kayla Bunge
October 27, 2009
— Alderwoman Penny Roehrer on Monday again pleaded to have the charges against her and three other city council members dismissed, and again her request was denied.

The city council on Monday voted 4-3 to table a discussion and possible vote to dismiss the charges per a recommendation from the independent attorney advising the city on the matter.


Council members Spyro "Speedo" Condos, Arleen Krohn and Roehrer opposed the action. Roehrer and Krohn requested the item be placed on the agenda.


Mayor Bill Chesen on Sept. 10 suspended council members Mary Jo Fesenmaier and Tom Spellman, as well as Krohn and Roehrer, 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Chesen on Sept. 21 rescinded the suspensions of Roehrer and Krohn to restore quorum to the council, and the council on Sept. 23 approved Larry Magee and Sturges Taggart as replacements for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.


Monday night was not the first time talk of dropping the charges against the four council members has surfaced.


Roehrer at a previous meeting offered to drop the lawsuit the four filed against the city if Chesen dropped his charges and reinstated them, but the mayor and the council declined.


Chesen has offered to drop the charges and reinstate the council members if Condos would step down and allow for a special election for that seat. Chesen also has offered to resign himself and drop the charges if Condos would step down. Condos rejected both offers.


It was clear from their comments at the start of the meeting Monday that residents want the political wrangling to stop.


Resident Ellyn Kehoe offered in August to fill the vacancy left when former Alderman Gary Dunham resigned until a special election could be held in the First District. But her attempt was "circumvented" when the city council narrowly voted to appoint Condos to the vacant seat.


"I wasn't offended," she said. "I was just ding-dong mad. When it comes to the right to vote … I think that's a fair and just reason to be absolutely disgusted …"


A special election for Dunham's seat would have cost only $1,200, but the legal counsel on the matter already has cost tens of thousands of dollars.


Kehoe said it's time for the council to end the disagreement.


"What are we fighting about here?" she said. "The fact that we didn't get to choose who we wanted to represent us. I'm sorry I'm fighting about that, but it's just a symptom of all the other things going on …"


Resident Peg Esposito said no one should take away the representation residents have in city government—even if it really did something wrong.


"I am unrepresented. My district is unrepresented," she said. "What has been done is undemocratic. I want my representative back."


Pete Peterson, a former alderman, asked the council not to table the issue and asked Magee and Taggart to help "remove" themselves from the council so elected council members may again serve their constituents.



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