Library Board seat in question
When all New Richmond City Council incumbents win re-election, there is usually very little drama expected at the body’s annual reorganization meeting.
This year, a potential shakeup on the Library Board put the City Attorney Ron Siler in the spotlight when the council met last Thursday afternoon to elect a council president and approve Mayor Fred Horne’s committee appointments.
The council elected District 4 Alderperson Jane Hansen as council president, and appointed members to the city’s various committees, boards and commissions, except for the Library Board. That appointment became contentious and the decision was tabled for the council to take up at a later meeting by a 3-2 vote. District 6 Alderperson Jim Zajkowski was absent.
At issue was Horne’s desire to appoint District 2 Alderperson Scottie Ard to the library board to replace District 3 Alderperson Bobbie Dale-Wozniak.
Dale-Wozniak, a staunch library supporter, had no intention of leaving the committee and pointed out that according to state statute, Library Board trustees are appointed to three-year terms instead of one-year terms as the city has been practicing.
Friction between Horne and Dale-Wozniak has increased in recent months as the council has considered a building site for a new library. Dale-Wozniak favors the site of the current Friday Memorial Library while Horne prefers other potential sites, including the Community Commons.
“I don’t want it to be divisive. I want to get people to work together,” Horne said. “I want to get everybody to take a step back. I struggle with whether Bobbie is the best person to do that. She has a pattern of lashing out against people who disagree with her.”
Regardless of whether the mayor wants Dale-Wozniak on the Library Board, she may have a legitimate claim to the seat for the next two years.
According to Siler, the mayor cannot make an appointment to a seat that isn’t currently open. What isn’t clear is exactly when the seat is legitimately up for re-appointment. Dale-Wozniak has served on the Library Board since January 2006 when she was appointed to the City Council for the remainder of a term.
Because the mayor has consistently appointed a new alderperson to the Library Board each year and council appointment records through the years are inconclusive, Horne suggested that the council consider last year’s appointment the beginning of a new three-year term for Dale-Wozniak, which will expire in 2016.
Dale-Wozniak, along with Ard and District 1 Alderperson Craig Kittel seemed to agree with that line of thinking during discussion. Hansen and District 5 Alderperson Ron Volkert seemed to agree with another line of thinking Siler put forward. In that scenario, which Siler called “an educated guess,” he used an old council document to show a lineage of the seat with terms ending in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. However, Siler conceded that he didn’t know who created the document and couldn’t vouch for its authenticity.
“The bottom line is, based on the information I have, I can’t give you a rock-solid answer,” Siler said.
Ard moved to table the issue for 30 days as Library Board appointments don’t take effect until July. The motion was approved, 3-2, with Hansen, Volkert and Ard voting yes, and Dale-Wozniak and Kittel voting no.
After setting aside Ethics Board appointments, the remaining slate was approved by a 5-0 vote. Hansen moved to alter the appointment slate for Ethics Board to remove Dale-Wozniak and add Ard to join Volkert.
Kittel asked Hansen, “What’s the point?” to which Dale-Wozniak simply said “Spite.”
Hansen then explained that she thought Ard was a better candidate who didn’t swear in emails and didn’t demonstrate a lack of ethics.
The Ethics Board appointments were approved by a 3-2 vote with Dale-Wozniak and Kittel casting the dissenting votes.
Finance Committee: Fred Horne, Jane Hansen, Jim Zajkowski
Public Works Committee: Zajkowski, Ron Volkert, Craig Kittel
Public Safety Committee: Hansen, Bobbie Dale-Wozniak, Scottie Ard
Plan Commission: Hansen
Park Board: Zajkowski
Ethics Board: Volkert, Ard
Airport Commission: Dale-Wozniak, Kittel
Board of Review: Hansen, Volkert, Zajkowski
Historic Preservation Commission: Dale-Wozniak
Ambulance Board: Hansen, Ard, Dale-Wozniak
Fire Board: Hansen, Zajkowski, Horne
Community Development Authority: Dale-Wozniak, Ard
Housing Authority: Dale-Wozniak
Utility Commission: Gerald Warner
Plan Commission: Kyle Hinrichs
Library Board: Keith Stuedemann, William Ruyle
Park Board: Craig Kittel, Jon Hailey
Ethics Board: Rick Cooper, John Lowe
Airport Commission: Mary Hailey
Board of Appeals: Bernard Peterson, Bob Pierson
Police and Fire Commission: Dave Levi, Jim Jackson
Historic Preservation Commission: Mary Sather, Kyle Hinrichs
Economic Development Commission: Judy Simon, Chris Polfus
Community Development Authority: Gary Cronick
Housing Authority: Jerry Frey