Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Interim county executive appointment hits snag

Kenosha County Board Chairman Terry W. Rose's plan to nominate fellow supervisor Mark Wisnefski as interim county executive has hit a snag.

First, there are those on the board and in the community questioning Rose's plans to can indicted executive Allan Kehl's right-hand-man, Kenn Yance and reassigned Carrie Kalberg, Kehl's daughter-in-law and staff assistant.

Then questions have been raised about Rose's intentions of replacing Yance with County Public Works Director Fred Patrie in the wake of news about previously undisclosed defecits in the county's golf course operations.

And then there are some very legitimate questions about whether Wisnfeski is the right person to fill in while county executive wannabes vie for votes in an upcoming special election.

My take is that this plan needs some work.

Yance is an "at will" employee and it should come as no surprise that when Kehl is out the door (which will happen with Kehl's resignation takes effect at the end of the month), Yance will follow.

And Kalberg, according to Rose, won't lose any pay or benefits when she's transferred.

In one sense, Rose is correct when he says those moves will give the executive's office a "fresh start" but a closer look suggests that Rose, a Democrat, is kicking out two people with Republican credentials, thus paving the way for Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser, a Kenosha Democrat, to run for the job once held by Kreuser's old boss, John Collins. One might argue that it's merely replacing the stench of one political skunk with another.

As for Patrie, he's a long-standing county department head but it seems like his department, which apparently has some issues these days, demands his full attention. There are other competent county managers who could step in -- finance guru David Geertsen comes to mind -- for the time being.

And then there's Wisnefski.

Does serving on the county board make a person qualified to be county executive? That's a good question and while Wisnefski is a veteran county board member, there has been virtually no discussion about whether he has what it takes to do the job, especially since the outgoing executive's staff has been removed. In this sense perhaps someone like Geertsen might be a better choice to serve as interim executive.

Another name mentioned as an interim executive is outgoing Kenosha mayor John Antaramian who clearly has the credentials to do the job pending the election of a new executive. And it should be up to the new executive to choose his or her staff.

All of this scandal, of course, suggests that maybe the executive's job should be abolished and a professional county administrator appointed. That's an idea well worth considering.


RAG said...

An otherwise interesting comment had to be rejected because it contained foundational inaccuracies. In the law, we call it assuming facts not in evidence, i.e., the old trick question of "How often do you beat your wife?" when there is no evidence of wife beating in the record.

Village People said...

I thought you had said before that political affiliations at the local level are meaningless? I agree that office needed to be cleaned, I also agree that finding someone qualified is important, and I agree that Patrie is probably not the best chioce based on the recent issues. Not sure if Antamarian would be good either since he is 'tired'.