Lake Geneva City Attorney Dan Draper strikes from the weeds.
An insidious and very destructive virus was activated at Lake Geneva’s city hall on the night of November 6th. A virus whose corrupting influence could endanger the entire future of the Lake Geneva community. This virus was transported in from Madison and introduced by one of Lake Geneva’s own trusted municipal officers. The virus certainly infected some of the city alderpersons, and many of those unfortunate enough to be attending the Meeting of the Whole on that Monday. The viral agent was released in a film presented by the city’s liability insurance agent, Dennis Tweedale, following City Attorney Dan Draper’s friendly introduction conveying assurances of trustworthiness, creditability and Mr. Tweedale’s wealth of knowledge.
Under the guise of wanting to protect the Alderpersons and other government officials from liability claims and law suits, Mr. Tweedale,
CEO of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance, warned that in federal court the sky was the limit in terms of monetary awards to successful claimants against the alderpersons. They were told that the risk management circumstances and the public official’s liability presented in this particular film, which was one of many such films in his library, had universal application and was common to all 38 Cities and Villages the League covered across the country. Not surprisingly, this is the very same film he showed back in 2008. The film started with a flash of a disclaimer that the information contained in the film should not be relied upon for appropriate legal advice, and it went downhill from there. True, it did point to the fact that no city alderperson has individual powers of his or her own, but that the city council is a collective body working toward consensus to achieve the city’s goals. The virus lurking inside this film then slithered out in a presented discussion between an alderperson and the Mayor of Cottonwood, Colorado explaining the reasons a former alderperson of Cottonwood was not covered by the insurance company in a “land use” law suit filed against him personally. Because it was a quasi-judicial matter, and the alderman acted outside the scope of his powers and duties as an alderman, the insurance company elected not to provide him with legal representation, or pay the $150,000 in punitive damages the judge awarded the plaintiff. As a result, the alderperson had to get a second mortgage on his house to personally pay all the expenses.
Quasi-judicial matters, the film explained, emphatically prohibit ex parte contacts (which means there can be no discussion of a pending “land use” item with anyone, including the alderman’s constituents), outside the public hearing. If it were to occur, the alderperson must recuse himself from the public hearing and from voting. After the film, Tweedale said this was probably only the second (maybe third) time he’d been asked by the city to come to Lake Geneva to show this troublesome film. Plus, he found it necessary to remind everyone that Lake Geneva holds the record for the largest alderperson lawsuit in Wisconsin (Hummel) history. He made it a point to mention that his insurance company has only denied coverage to four Wisconsin officials, who also just happened to be from Lake Geneva. The inference was that Hummel was a Quasi-Judicial issue, and the four aldermen were guilty of ex parte contacts.
Is it true that the ordinance to change the comprehensive plan and land use map on Hillmoor is a “land use” quasi-judicial issue just like the Hummel Development? Everyone not clued in to Mr. Tweedale’s scam to confuse the new alderperson to vote for the developer, did go into a panic. Alderperson Ken Howell said he was going to recuse himself on the 13th because he didn’t want to be sued by the developer.
Why did City Attorney Dan Draper and Tweedale turn City Hall viral by showing a film to panic and confuse the unsuspecting alderperson? The city administration wants to Super-Size and grow the city because they’re of the belief that more taxes means more revenue. They will then get the citizens to believe that their taxes will go down.
That never happens. The City Planner, Mike Slavney from Vandewalle and Associates, proves he has a conflict of interest because he vigorously promotes development to get more work for himself. He doesn’t work for the good of the citizens of Lake Geneva, because he’s in bed with any developer who’s willing to pay for his time and creative skills. For his work on Hillmoor, Slaveny’s sure to win the Pulitzer for writing the most detailed analysis advocating for a development that surpasses anything seen before. Then he really stuck it in extra deep to the public when he gave the plan commission only reasons to approve, and no list of reasons to deny, the map change forcing the plan.
The plan was denied by the city council, but this virus that was perpetrated on the city council needs to be considered and addressed as to the suitability of continuing a relationship with either Dan Draper or Mr. Slavney.