Attorney: Zeglin letters do not ‘justify’ removal

Three citizen complaints about the behavior of the chair of the county board do not “justify” removing an elected official from office, nor were chair Tim Zeglin’s action illegal, a letter from an attorney representing the county says.

The decision to send the letters, as well as set meetings about a formal complaint from the highway commissioner and to possibly act regarding Zeglin at their next meeting, all came after a closed board of supervisors meeting last Wednesday. 

It was not clear as of Monday what type of action the board is considering.  

In his letter to the three citizens, La Crosse attorney Francis Doherty said “I have reviewed your letter and Wisconsin law and have concluded that the conduct outlined in your letter did not violate Wisconsin law and the letter of complaint does not justify initiating the process to remove an elected official from office.”

Doherty’s letter notes that the county “appreciates” the letters of concern and “will be meeting further to consider your complaints and whether to take other action on it in the near future.”

At a Jan. 8 public hearing on opening county highways to use by ATVs and UTVs, Zeglin said county highway commissioner Al Rinka and economic development and tourism director Rob Grover “orchestrated” interest in the ordinance change and acted as “lobbyists.” The proposed ordinance that would have opened highways to the vehicles has since been modified to making it easier to have just certain sections opened.

In a Jan. 21 written update to the board of supervisors on the issue, Zeglin said he was representing the board at the public hearing and that Rinka and Grover had a conflict of interest and abused their job positions.

Both Rinka and Grover have objected to the characterization, saying they were responding to citizen interest and promoting tourism. Rinka filed a formal complaint that Zeglin has created a “hostile work environment.” He said Zeglin’s criticism was “fictional, derogatory, shocking and malicious.”

Rinka and Zeglin are slated to meet separately with a second outside counsel to discuss Rinka’s complaint.

Each of the three citizen complaints said interest in the ordinance change came from ATV and UTV enthusiasts and was not generated by county employees. They all called for Zeglin to be removed from office.

Action on the ATV and UTV ordinance change began last June and was discussed during intervening months by the highway commission, executive finance committee and the parks, tourism and economic development committee.


Special Sections

Comment Here