Three Village Board Members Blamed For Hostile Working Envirnoment
The Village of Bonduel is about to undergo some major changes this summer. Recently three resignation or retirement letters have been submitted to the Village. Two were submitted by village employees, and one by an elected official. According to the retirement letter by Bonduel Police Chief Todd Chaney and resignation letters by Village Deputy Clerk Treasurer Katrina Schroeder and Village Trustee Shawn Thorne, all are leaving their positions due to discourse in the Village Board. All three have identified the discourse coming from a group of three Trustees.
“When you lose good employees who have experience and have performed with excellence, and they leave for reasons that are created by dynamics that are out of their control, it certainly can’t be anything but a negative thing for the citizens that need to have this type of infrastructure to keep the village moving in the right direction” Chief Todd Chaney said. “The Village citizens need to know about this.”
Chaney submitted his resignation on June 21st and in the letter referenced a group of village board members that have made his job difficult.
“Recent deplorable actions by three board members have created a hostile working environment for me, village employees and fellow board members.”
Chaney did not mention the names of the board members in his letter, but told TCHDailynews that he was referring to Trustees Mary Barney, Joan Kamps and Margie Qualheim. Chaney also told TCHDailyNews that the original plan was for him not to be done this early, as he was hoping to retire at a later time.
“This Village Board and this community have been functioning well for the six years that I have been here, and then all of the sudden there is all this controversy and discourse and that is perpetuated by three members of the Village Board, who I feel are on there for the wrong reason.”
Discussions held in recent meetings started to show signs of tension and discourse. Chief Chaney referenced a June 20th Public Safety Committee meeting as one of the reasons he decided to move on. Chaney said the meeting was unnecessary.
“The agenda for the meeting was to go over alcohol operator licenses and alcohol license applications that have really already been approved” Chaney said. “The reason for the meeting was two of the members forcing a meeting just to show that they could do it.”
According to the minutes from the June 20th Public Safety Committee meeting, Trustee’s Margie Qualheim and Joan Kamps asked questions of the applications, and questions were asked of the process the Village used to approve alcohol licenses and operation in the Village.
Qualheim asked for the Public Safety committee to be able to see the applications earlier in the process, and inquired if Chief Chaney could attach the background check information of the applicants to the applications for Public Safety approval, something Chaney said could not be done due to confidentiality. The Chief also asked Qualheim if she was trying to micromanage the process. Qualheim stated that was not the case.
Multiple times, Qualheim stated she felt the Village needed to follow the State Statues. To many, including Village Board President Sharon Wussow, it was implying that they were not.
“I am asking to follow the State Statutes that were put in order for Village Board” Qualheim stated during the meeting.”
Wussow even referenced those implications during the meeting.
“I am starting to take offense to the constant that you insinuating that we have not been following the laws” Wussow said to Qualheim in the meeting. “When you keep saying that we have to follow State Statutes, it is implying that we have not been.”
In the meeting minutes, Village Clerk Willa Rusch asked to comment on the thought that they were not following State Statues, but was quickly silenced.
“Your only duty is to take minutes” Qualheim was heard saying in a response in a recording of the meeting. Village President Wussow said she was granted permission to speak so she can.
“She can do that, and that is according to Roberts Rules” Wussow said.
Minutes from the meeting showed that multiple applications were questioned based on the applicants criminal history, and their was a request to know more details.
“I can’t staple those documents to the application, it is against the law” Chaney said in the meeting. “Either you believe what I say, or you don’t.”
Chaney told TCHDailyNews that the problem he had was that the person doing the questioning did not have awareness of a process or guidelines that past Village Boards have set for approving licenses.
“She did not even have a clue that that was the standard, so it was just a ridiculous meeting.”
Minutes from the meeting indicated that it was Qualheim that Chaney was referring to.
Chaney also commented on an agenda item for that meeting which was for discussion of his plans to retire. Chaney stated that the item was not put on the agenda by him and he was not going to comment in open session.
“No one asked me if it should be on there. No one asked me if I willing to discuss it, which I wasn’t” Chaney told TCHDailyNews. “That is a personal matter and it should be discussed in closed session.”
Deputy Clerk-Treasure Katrina Schroeder mentioned in her letter that the actions of Village Trustees Joan Kamps, Mary Barney and Margie Qaulheim, was a large part of her decision. Schroeder stated that she was personally attacked and that damage done by accusations of missing money and overall disrespect was too great to overcome.
The missing money was refereed to during the same Public Safety Committee meeting. Minutes of the June 20th Public Safety Committee meeting showed that Trustee Joan Kamps refereed to a donation that was given to the Village, and according to Schroeder, implied that the money was missing since she did not have a thank you notice or indication that the money was received by the party. During the meeting, she asked Schroeder to comment regarding the issue, which Schroeder refused. Village President Sharon Wussow stated that since the item was not an agenda item, they should move on. Schroeder addressed that accusation and also addressed her concern of Village board member Mary Barney’s requesting of Village Phone records, during a open comment session of the Village Board the next day. Schroeder told the Village Board that it shows a lack of trust in her doing her job.
“I cannot and will not continue to work in an environment where there is a lack of trust, respect and my personal life is brought into question unjustly and behind my back” Schroeder stated in her letter.
Tensions also rose during the June Village Board meeting as personal attacks towards other members were pointed out and Trustee Margie Qualheim left the meeting early after getting into tense discussions with other board members. Qualheim told Village President Wussow that she was leaving early for health reasons.
Village Board member Shawn Thorne did not state any names in his resignation letter, but did refer to the group of three numerous times.
“These members have questioned the Chief’s ability to do his job, the trust and integrity of the Deputy Clerk, and the name calling and personal attacks towards board members has been disgraceful. I believe they don’t understand full ramifications of their actions, and they certainly don’t understand what it means to represent the Village.”
While Thorne said he hopes the best for the Village in the future, he also called for action to be taken.
“The best decision they could make for the Village of Bonduel is to resign themselves, as no member in their position would be better than having them in the position.”
Schroeder had similar thoughts in her letter.
“I believe that if these Trustees are still a part of the Village Board, negative repercussions will keep occurring” Schroeder stated.
Thorne’s resignation is set for July 20th. Schroeder’s is August 3rd.