Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tensions high on county board

The Walworth County Board is no longer one big happy family.

Emotions have been raw ever since the proposal was put forward (which was approved by voters in the spring) to reduce the number of supervisors on the board.

At the Tuesday, July 10, 2007 board meeting, a vote is scheduled to strip chairperson Ann Lohrmann of her title. The move is spearheaded by Supervisor Jerry Grant.

Lohrmann's supports say it's payback for her support of downsizing. Critics say it's a lack of leadership and the way she treats some of her fellow supervisors.

In the meantime, Grant, along with Supervisor Joyce Ketchpaw, have been targeted for recall.

Reporter Mike Heine reports that Jim Simons, town of Spring Prairie chairman and a vocal downsizing supporter, pitched a proposal to Ketchpaw whereby she would not vote against Lohrmann in return for the recall effort against her being dropped.

Ketchpaw hasn't indicated how she'll vote Tuesday.

Below are letters on the issue from the July 8, 2007 edition of The Week.

Add your own comments below. Comments will be reviewed and posted as soon as possible.

~Dan Plutchak, editor


Anonymous Jennifer Karr, Town of La Grange said...

Dear Editor:

I attended the recent Walworth County Executive Board Meeting where a vote was taken recommending to the full County Board that current Chairperson Ann Lohrmann be removed from that position.

Ann Lohrmann is the representative from my district and I fully support her. It is obvious to me she attends committee meetings, asks pertinent questions and researches facts related to issues before the County Board, something she also reminds other supervisors to do.

These are characteristics of a good chairperson and should be examples to all supervisors. So what is the furor really about?

Supervisors are upset Ms. Lohrmann recognized voters felt the board should be downsized.

She supported efforts to put the question to a formal vote because the board declined to voluntarily downsize. I found claims of some supervisors at the recent executive board meeting that the downsizing had nothing to do with the removal issues unconvincing. Only after the referendum on downsizing passed was the removal effort initiated.

A Wisconsin attorney general opinion to the board stated the removal could be done by a simple majority of the supervisors without giving a particular reason. However, Supervisor Grant, in a letter to Supervisor Weber asking that the removal effort be placed on the agenda of the recent executive board meeting, incorrectly interpreted the attorney general opinion as stating removal required a two-thirds vote. Do these supervisors know what they are doing?

I believe this attempt is inappropriate and shows lack of concern for the wishes of the voters.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Grant, Whitewater said...

Dear Editor:

In reply to the letter of Jennifer Karr, I have some comments and corrections. I am a member of the Walworth County Executive Committee.

All Ann Lohrmann did was complain of being "picked on." Ann Lohrmann and her supporters need to stop using the smoke screen of the downsizing issue and get to the truth. None of you have discussed the insulting and degrading remarks made by Ann Lohrmann against the rest of the board. Lohrmann has never responded to this issue either.

The first request for Ann Lohrmann's resignation as the County Board chair was written and recorded on Nov. 20, 2006. Other letters were recorded complaining of Lohrman's behavior shortly thereafter. The referendum wasn't voted on until April 2007. The request for the attorney general's opinion was also prior to the April voting date. This makes it obvious the referendum outcome has nothing to do with the removal issue.

There is a concern for the taxpayers. The leader of the County Board needs to set an example for the rest of the board members to follow and look up to, based on behavior and attitude. Lohrmann has failed.

Jerry Grant
Walworth County Supervisor District 7

The opinions expressed are those solely of the author.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Paula McGowen, Elkhorn said...


The citizens of Walworth County will have an opportunity to support their county board chairwoman, Ann Lohrmann, Tuesday, July 10, when a vote will be taken of the county board supervisors on removing Lohrmann as their chair.

Her board position came in jeopardy when she supported downsizing the board from 25 to 11 by referendum, which passed.

So now it seems a lame duck group of supervisors, led by Supervisor Jerry Grant of Whitewater who proposed this action, is having its last hurrah.

Ultimately, these supervisors will bear the responsibility for their actions and have to live with them. It can only be hoped that not much damage will be passed before some members of this board are put out.

How will a proposal in a letter to the board by Supervisor Larry Hilbelink of Elkhorn, of a pay raise from $6,000 to $30,000, be taken by the voters?

Support Walworth County Board Chair Ann Lohrmann by attending the board meeting on Tuesday, July, 10 at 6 p.m. at the Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn,

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Margaret C. Downing, Lake Geneva said...


I was surprised to learn that Jim Simons and Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) were working to recall County Board Supervisor Joyce Ketchpaw from East Troy. Since that time, I have been even more shocked to learn that Simons has apparently made Ketchpaw an offer. On July 10, vote not to terminate Ann Lohrmann as chairperson of the County Board and her recall will "disappear."

Simons and CRG were the same group so active in downsizing the county board from 25 to 11; this was done by seeking a referendum and presenting information in such a way that constituents who previously felt the county to be run effectively were now under the impression that the "sky was falling."

With the tactics that this group is now using on Supervisor Ketchpaw, it is clear we are regressing from fair and principled leadership to intimidation and control. I believe Supervisor Ketchpaw is being threatened with a recall solely because she was vocal in her decision to support the termination of Chairperson Lohrmann.

Ketchpaw is a woman of principle and integrity and her reasons for seeking the termination of Lohrmann are well founded, as she understands the danger that manipulative and self-interested leadership represents to all citizens of Walworth County.

The County Board has remained dedicated to providing our constituents with responsible government.

Supervisor Ketchpaw is the embodiment of this dedication.

I have witnessed her passion for a government that serves the people of Walworth County, and while we have disagreed in the past, I have always respected her intelligence and the reasons behind her positions.

Hold fast, Supervisor Ketchpaw. There are many people who believe in your style of fair and honest government.

I wonder, who will Simons go after next?

Margaret C. Downing
Walworth County Supervisor District 14

The opinions expressed are those solely of the author.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Don Felten, Delavan said...

Dear Editor:

I am writing concerning the recent report that the County Board will have to vote to remove Ann Lohrmann as chairwoman.

This is a vicious attempt to retaliate against the majority of the voters that voted to downsize the county board.

It wasn't Ann Lohrmann that caused the downsizing to pass; it was the board themselves and their outrageous spending habits and bad decisions that made it happen. The board is trying to punish one of the very few supervisors that really cares about the taxpayers.

The downsizing will happen. Move on, people. Concentrate on county issues and leave your chairperson alone.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Joseph C. Guido, Delavan said...

To the Editor:

On July 10 the full county board will vote for a new county board chair. On June 20 the Executive Committee voted 3-2 to elect a new chair and forward that recommendation to the full County Board.

The removal of the chairperson of a County Board is governed by Wis. Stat. 59.12(1) which provides that the chairperson serves in that position "until the board elects a successor."

Wis. Stat. 59.12(1) contains no limitation on the time when the board may choose to terminate the tenure of the incumbent chairperson by electing a successor. Indeed, the history of this provision shows that the Legislature intended to permit a county board to change persons whenever it chooses to do so.

Thus, a county board may remove its chairperson at will by a simple majority at any time and in this respect it should be noted that the legislature has simply applied to county boards the same rule it has applied to itself. Officers elected by either House of the Legislature may be removed by the House that elected them "at pleasure," Wis. Stat. 17.07(1) (2005-06).

According to parliamentary law (Hill and Surgis):

The presiding officer should be chosen for one reason only-his/her ability to preside. He/she is a judge rather than a partisan advocate and as such must preserve an attitude of impartiality for even the appearance of partisanship will mean the loss of the respect of the members on both sides. The chairperson should be ever conscious of the fact that he/she exists to carry out that will of the assembly and not to force the assembly to carry out his/her will.

Joseph C. Guido
Walworth County Supervisor District 17

The opinions expressed are those solely of the author.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Trudy & Phil Schulz, East Troy said...

Dear Editor:

The voters have spoken Joyce Ketchpaw and it’s all perfectly legal. What part of that don’t you understand? Get over your personal issues, the voters have spoken! You have used your leadership position to intimidate
and control long enough. You are NOT a woman of principle or integrity or you would leave Ann Lohrmann do the job she was elected to do.

We commend Ann Lohrmann’s efforts for a formal vote on downsizing. She has not failed the majority, only those that seek their own agendas.

The FACTS speak volumes: Had Ann Lohrmann not done the research, or not been in touch with the voters, the referendum would not have passed. However, Ann Lohrmann did the research and was in touch with the voters and the referendum did pass.

8:02 PM  
Blogger paula mcgowen said...

Dear Editor:

Over the months since the Walworth County Board downsizing became an issue, the people in your readership area have been thoroughly entertained by the posturing in the media of many of those supervisors trying to save their "good old boy status." This has escalated to the mutiny to remove their Chair , Ann Lohrmann, who has proven to have a spine, contrary to the wishes of many supervisors who expect her to conform to their wishes. These supervisors apparently are looking for a follower to lead them, if that makes any sense.
Supervisor Joyce Ketchpaw has spoken of being intimidated by the action to recall her, and has been backed up by Supervisor Magaret Downing who in addition has publicly called it blackmail. But what would they call the clandestine get together by Walworth County Supervisors Dave Weber, Nancy Russell and Jim Van Dresser, along with Excutive Vice President of The Walworth County Economic Developement Corp., Fred Burkhardt on July 6th at The Latimer House restauraunt in Delevan. As a result of this groups discussion, Chair, Ann Lohrmann was called and asked to meet with them there. At the same time Supervisor, Joyce Ketchpaw was conducting a luncheon meeting of her Criminal Justice Committee which she chairs and feeds on the taxpayers dime. Who says their is no free lunch. Just ask Ketchpaw's brother and sister in law.
What was discussed at this Delevan get together was a proposed option of Walworth County Board Chair, Ann Lohrmann to resign and save face by not being forcibly removed. Ketchpaw and Downing; is this good old politics or blackmail and intimidation?

Paula McGowen

Elkhorn, Wi.

10:21 AM  

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