Saturday, February 16, 2008

Resignation: It's Kehl's call

Kenosha County Board Chairman Terry Rose wants indicted County Executive Allan Kehl to resign.

Maybe Kehl should, maybe he shouldn't. But the last person he ought to be taking advice from is Rose, whose self-professed altruism may have deeper and darker meaning.

First, as he occasionally does when he appears on behalf of accused criminals, Rose, a well-heeled criminal defense lawyer and Democratic party activist, spouted off without first checking the law. He said that Kehl should take a leave of absence.

But state law only recognizes a temporary vacancy due to "the inability of the county executive to serve because of mental or physical disease." That's not the case so Rose's idea, however plausible it might seem, is legally dead on arrival. You'd think such an experienced lawyer would bother to open the state statutes before his mouth. You'd also think he'd give more than just lip service to the notion that Kehl is presumed innocent.

It gets worse -- much worse.

When Corporation Counsel Frank Volpintesta apparently didn't give Rose the answer he wanted to hear about Kehl taking a leave of absence, Rose wanted Volpintesta to get a second opinion from the attorney general.

Sometimes that's a good idea. But in this case Volpintesta didn't have to travel far for an unequivocal answer -- it's right in the state statutes which are on his desk. See Wis. Stat. s. 59.17(7) and (8). You don't have to spend $70,000 for a 70 cent answer, folks.

In plain English, here's what the law says -- and how Rose is knee deep in the muck.

Under Wisconsin law, only the governor can remove Kehl and then only for cause. That's not likely to happen because an indictment is just an accusation and Kehl, as noted, is presumed innocent.

The other rub is that state law only recognizes a temporary vacancy due to "mental or physical disease" which isn't the case here.

But, if that was the case, guess who would get to be the acting county executive?

The county board chairman -- none other than Terry Rose.

Guess who also would become acting county executive should the office become vacant and serve until a successor is appointed and then confirmed by the county board?

The county board chairman -- none other than Terry Rose.

And who gets to appoint the successor to serve out the balance of Kehl's term, subject to county board confirmation?

The county board chairman -- none other than Terry Rose.

Rose cloaked his call for Kehl to step aside under the label of "integrity" but duplicity could also be argued, especially when Rose fails to give more than lip service to the notion of "presumed innocent." As a defense lawyer he's perfectly capable of and well-versed in banging that drum -- if you're paying him to do so.

Kehl didn't retain Rose.

No doubt about it, if the accusations against Kehl are even slightly true, it stinks. But so does Rose's call for Kehl to step down. That has about as much credibility as Bill Clinton preaching against sexual harassment in the workplace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So true, So true. Rose as an attorney tickles me pink. He has one objective with a Kehl resignation or removal and that is to obtain the power that he can never have through the election process. If I where Kehl, I would hold on to the job until the April elections and the placement of a new chairman of the county board. At the least we won't have to deal with Rose.