A Letter to the Editor in the April 10 Tomahawk Leader:
To the Editor:
As a taxpayer in the City of Merrill and a remodeling contractor, I have been wondering for months why the City of Merrill has had their engineer on paid leave. I have worked a little with Pat in the past and it was obvious that he knew what he was doing and always had the interests of the City of Merrill in mind.
So when the opportunity arose on March 15, to attend the hearing on his job status and learn the allegations that caused the city to suspend him with pay, I, along with 30-40 other citizens attended. I have to be honest, this so-called meeting was a complete JOKE!
Instead of learning what was going on, I got a lesson on politics, Merrill style. The meeting was called to order and the first thing on the agenda was public comment, what the H were we supposed to comment on? We were waiting to learn from the city why Pat was being paid $2,000 a week since
August, 2006 to sit at home.
We didn’t get that. Instead, Mayor Williams just read from a piece of paper the state statute that allows them to go into closed session, shutting the door on the citizens who took the time to attend this meeting. I noted Alderman Paul Proulx quickly made the motion to go into closed session. Since then, I have found out that this is the way Paul and Doug like to work, behind closed doors.
When the group came back in, it was announced by the mayor that they had reached a settlement. He said the meeting was adjourned, slammed the gavel and that was it. No reason was ever provided on why the engineer was escorted out the door by the mayor, chief of police and city administrator. WHY? ... Several people shouted questions from the audience. After all, they put the public comment at the start of the meeting....
I noticed two well dressed lawyers that seemed to be guiding the meeting. Neither of them work for the city. They are contracted whenever the city needs real legal help. ... Don’t we pay a city attorney $90,000 a year? Where was he during all of this, sitting in the back row? Don’t we have the right to know how much money this cost the taxpayers of Merrill?
The thing that struck me as funny, or sad, is when I read stories which quoted our new city administrator saying the city only paid Pat $36,000. But then said he gets paid $80,000 a year and has been on suspension for eight months. ... The city administrator and finance director just got raises totaling over $10,000 of our money and they cannot even do simple math or give us a straight answer.
In the last couple of years the city has reduced itself into a secret society. And when loyal people who work for them raise concerns, they just get run out of town with a check cut by high paid outside lawyers. First it was Marlene Graap, now it is Pat Giesendorf. Who is the next one? I heard they want to get rid of the elected street commissioner and the city clerk. Maybe we can bring some more people from out of town to replace them. After all, the department heads we have from out of town are working out. Just ask Chief Strobel, who I heard is leaving Merrill for a different job. You could ask any of his police officers, you know the ones who grew up in Merrill that he hired. Oh, wait, he has never hired one police officer from Merrill!
I invite all of you to look at your local alderman and ask if they really have your best interests in mind. Three of them had the courage to vote against going into a closed session. I commend Aldermen Helmstadter, Burgener and Kunkel for saying NO. For the other five, I think we should take a hard look at who they are looking out for and find some people in those districts who will run against them. It is also coming up on one year since Mayor Williams took office, the legal amount of time before a recall election can be run against him. ...
All we want to know is WHY Mr. Giesendorf was escorted out of the building and how much this cost the taxpayers?