Sheridan Park Saga
Wrath of Perez
I. THE ABUSE OF POWER
A. RESTRICTING FREEDOM OF SPEECH
- On several occasions, police personnel were called into the Mayor’s office and told to stop writing letters to the editor. They were informed that the first amendment doesn’t hold for public employees and that letters critical of the mayor should be cleared first through his office.
- Mayor Perez issued a memo via police administrators telling staff to "refrain from using the words 'short staffed"' when talking to the public.
B. DISCREDITING RESPECTED CITIZENS AND ORGANIZATIONS:
- Mayor Juan Perez accused former Alderman Anthony Bonnet of stealing files from the Mayor’s office. After a police investigation, no charges were issued against Bonnett and the files were recovered by the Information Services department.
- During an interview on WHBL, Mayor Perez stated that he has a disturbing letter regarding former Alderman Dennis Baumann. The Baumann incident was a personnel issue with his employer. Neither the police nor the sheriff’s department found reason to investigate.
- Mayor Juan Perez made statements on the Common Council floor accusing WHBL radio staff of lying. "There are a lot of half truths, if that’s what you call them, a lot of innuendo, quite frankly folks, blatant lies being told in the community and on WHBL." WHBL asked for proof but none was given.
- During a committee meeting, Mayor Juan Perez said that department heads and municipal employees might balk at any proposed changes. "We’ve got to play mother and father and say, ‘Kids, this is what you’re going to get. I can tell you right now they’re not going to like it and they’re going to find 30 different reasons why they can’t. We need to find 30 reasons why they can".
C. PERMITTING FALSE CLAIMS AGAINST CITY EMPLOYEES:
- Alderman Renee Suscha made false statements about police personnel accepting bribes and lying to the Common Council. The state Department of Justice found the claims to be baseless. There is a pending investigation by the District Attorney into Suscha’s comments.
- Alderman Jeff Radtke filed a false police report claiming a client had a cell phone stolen – to determine how the incident would be handled. He admitted to making it up.
- Mayoral Assistant Susan Hart alleged that a police officer was "an angry man, and angrier since the shooting" and that a Deputy Fire Chief discussed this with her. After a police investigation, it was determined that the discussion never took place.
- Note: No action was taken by the Mayor against Ald. Suscha, Ald. Radtke or Ms. Hart.
On March 6, 2006 the Mayor cast the tie-breaking vote to prevent an ethics investigation against
Alderperson Renee Suscha.
II. THE ATTEMPTS TO ABOLISH THE SHEBOYGAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
- On 9/13/05, James Bohren submitted information to Renee Suscha about Act 40 –
legislation authorizing abolishment of police departments.
- On 5/11/06, Renee Suscha sent an e-mail to Mayor Juan Perez with the Act 40 resolution stating,
"Mary, please give a copy of this resolution to the Mayor".
- On 5/15/06, newly elected Alderman Bohren submitted a resolution for the city to use Act 40 to
investigate abolishing the police department. The resolution was passed.
- Picketers took to the street to protest in an attempt to save the police department from abolishment.
- Note: The night of the common council vote the Mayor finally stated he supports rescinding the Act 40 resolution. This was only after Senator Leibham, Representative Van Akkeren and Governor Doyle spoke against it.
III. THE COSTLY DELAYS, CHANGES AND CONFUSION IN BUILDING A NEW POLICE STATION
- In 2002, the Common Council received results from the Kimme report that recommended spending approximately $12 million for a much needed new police station.
- May 2003, the City and County exchanged proposals for the sale of land on North 23rd street.
- In August 2004, the Council selected Sheridan Park as its site. The expected initial cost was estimated at
$8.8 million for approximately 60,000 square feet.
- May 2005, the new Common Council voted to rescind the Sheridan Park location, after failing on four previous attempts to do so.
- In summer of 2005, the Common Council voted to spend no more than $17 million dollars for the new station.
A new search was on for a location for the police station.
- September 2005, City Hall was picked for the new police site.
- In October 2005, the council slashed the budget from more than $13 million to $7 million with an additional
$3 million to be allocated for remodeling City Hall.
- June 2006, the council decided again to consider the North 23rd street location and to consider negotiations
with Van Der Vaart.
- July 3, 2006, the Common Council voted to purchase the land, again, at 23rd street.
- Note: Negotiations with Van Der Vaart were never started.
IV. BREAKING THE ALLIANCE WITH SHEBOYGAN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
- August 2005, after decades of partnership, the Common Council voted to end its relationship with the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber's request for a one-year extension of the contract
- September 2005, the Council used the money previously allocated to the chamber to create a new tourism department, spending approximately $107,000 for salaries and benefits.
- January 2006, Yolanda Graf, an alderman's wife, was hired as a part-time assistant at $18.51 an hour.
- Spring of 2006, the new "Sheboygan Shores" tourism booklet was created and distributed by the new department; concerns were raised about important events missing from it.
- Note: On August 15, 2005, Mayor Juan Perez cast the tie-breaking vote to cut the city's ties with the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce.
V. THE MISREPRESENTATION OF KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING LIBRARY CONTRACT:
In light of these actions, we feel that Mayor Perez has failed
to uphold his mayoral duties with integrity and professionalism.
- December 8, 2005, Sharon Winkle, Director of the Mead Public Library, told the Library Board "in light of the highly-politicized environment" she'd like to be issued a contract for her employment.
- December 16, 2005, Renee Suscha requested a copy of the contract from City Attorney McLean.
- January 11, 2006, a contract is drawn up by Attorney Mary Lynn Donohue, with the Clause 13 amendment. Negotiations take place in City Hall with Sharon Winkle and Bernie Markevitch in one room, Mayor Perez and Susan Hart in another. Attorney Donohue went between the two rooms acting as a mediator.
- E-mails sent by Sharon Winkle on January 19th state: "Please note that the general content of the proposed amendments was agreed upon by Mayor Perez, Library Board President Markevitch, and me during a negotiation facilitated by Atty. Donohue."
- The Common Council took action to request the resignation of the board members who voted in favor of the contract. On December 29 Mayor Juan Perez told the Sheboygan Press that he wrote the resolution asking for the resignation of board members as a response to the contract.
- January 31, 2006, Mayor Perez was quoted in the Sheboygan Press: "Perez said he found out about the new clause Friday (1/27) 'A stipulation like that has nothing to do with her contract agreement. My reaction is, how in the world did it get in there?'"