lawyer: resignations necessary
By Steve Schuster - News Graphic Staff
November 21, 2012
Town of Grafton’s legal counsel, Sara MacCarthy, said that
resignations from two prominent town positions were in order
at the town’s monthly board meeting held Nov. 14 at Grafton
The legality of the newly assumed roles of Amanda Schaefer
and Bonnie Bartel (town chairman Lester Bartel’s wife) were
called into question under a Wisconsin law that prohibits
Wis. Stat 60.323 stipulates that, with some exceptions, “no
town may compensate a town officer for acting in more than
one office of the town at the same time.”
But Bonnie Bartel and Amanda Schaefer's new positions both
had multiple roles. Bonnie Bartel was tapped as treasurer
and deputy clerk and Amanda Schaefer was slated to remain
clerk, community services manager and now deputy treasurer.
MacCarthy said at the board meeting that the town had
conversations with a Wisconsin Town’s Association attorney
Oct. 18 and, in light of that discussion, the town should
proceed with calling for the two resignations.
“It’s probably not the best way for these positions to be
run. I recommended that both deputy treasurer and deputy
clerk, those being Amanda (Schaefer) being the clerk and
Bonnie (Bartel) as the deputy clerk position resign those
offices and assume the original duties they had prior,”
MacCarthy said during the board meeting.
In a follow-up interview Monday, town officials told the
News Graphic that resignations were actually tendered Oct.
Richard Stadelman, an attorney who also serves as the
Wisconsin Town Association's executive director, said it was
town of Grafton Supervisor Tom Grabow who was listed in
their conversation log book Oct. 18.
Grabow could not be reached for comment,
but Bartel said said Grabow had some concerns about the
Meanwhile back at the board meeting,
MacCarthy recommended that the town “revisit the job
descriptions so that there no longer even is an appearance
of impropriety or any type of conflict such that was applied
and that there could be no objection under (Wis. Stat.)
At the meeting, the board then adjusted
the job description titles. The community services manager
position will be called clerk planner and the deputy clerk
role will be taken away from the treasurer's duties, Lester
Bartel said. And according to Schaefer, the change won't
affect day-to-day operations. “It’s merely a formality,” she
No salary adjustments were made, Lester
Bartel said. He did not abstain from the discussion despite
community criticism voiced over an alleged
conflict-of-interest, being that one of the positions
involves his wife.
In a letter to the editor published Nov.
8, town of Grafton Resident Darrel A. Mazzari took issue
with Bonnie Bartel's salary increase (to $50,000), alleged
conflict and the position itself. He wrote: “When I was town
clerk, I did the job, part-time, for a fraction of the
money, and while we were in the height of the real estate
boom. Today, the agendas are anemic.”
Lester Bartel said the town had
previously created the dual-roled positions in the first
place only after relying on representations from the
Government Accountability Board’s ethics division that the
hiring practices would have been permissible in the first
Lester Bartel could not recall who he
spoke with at the Government Accountability Board.
Reid Magney, spokesperson for the
Government Accountability Board, said Monday that
Jonathan Becker, the ethics administrator, has no
recollection of talking with anyone from the town of Grafton
about this issue and can’t recall any conversation with
another GAB employee who would have checked with him on the
“Beyond that, we would not give any
advice on a matter governing town administration,” Magney
MacCarthy did not return several
telephone messages left on Monday.
Meanwhile, Lester Bartel said the town
did nothing wrong.
“We weren’t violating anything, but it
could have been interpreted that way. State law says you
can't be compensated for two positions so it’s in
everybody's best interest that we had them resign their
deputy clerk and deputy treasures positions,” he said.
The board also:
■ Drafted a developer friendly measure on
private driveways that will go before a public hearing at
the next town board meeting Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. If the measure
passes, developers will no longer be required to build a
public road in developments with seven homes or less.
“We trying to keep ahead of the planning
curve,” Bartel said.
■ Went into closed session for more than
45 minutes to discuss legal strategies in anticipation of
litigation over waste management and environmental matters.
A video clip of part of MacCarthy’s
remarks can be viewed online at
Contact Steve Schuster at
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