Board Dismisses Ethics Complaint Against Two Aldermen
There is no conflict of interest by members of the Common Council also serving on the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors, Ethics Board rules.
An ethics complaint filed against two Waukesha aldermen who also serve on the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors was dismissed early Thursday evening without any testimony.
The complaint, which was filed by Leather Restoration owner Shay Johnson, alleged that council members Duane Paulson and Kathleen Cummings had a conflict of interest when voting on issues that also involve Waukesha County. The Ethics Board, a four-member citizen group, quickly dismissed the complaint after showing that the complaint was not applicable under the city’s ethics code. Additionally, state law permits local officials to serve on both Common Councils and County Boards
The Common Council recently decided to maintain its dispatch center at the Waukesha Police Department instead of merging the center with the dispatch center run by Waukesha County. The ethics complaint was brought forward before the city made a decision on the center because Paulson and Cummings also serve on the county board.
The council was examining consolidated dispatch as a potential cost-saving measure as the city looks to trim costs in future budget years. Aldermen will continue to research the issue, and while sticking to the city’s dispatch center for now, the consolidation could return to the Common Council.
“To be very blunt about it, from my position, I don’t think there is an ethical conflict,” said the board’s chairman, Bob Kaplan.
City Attorney Curt Meitz also said that under state law, holding the dual elected positions does not create a conflict of interest.
“We have both come to the same independent conclusion form my legal research and from Attorney Meitz’s legal research as well,” Kaplan said.
Paulson described the complaint as “a push” and “intimidating.”
“So I am not supposed to represent the people?” Paulson said. “If $14 per household is not good enough a reason to research something, I don’t know what is.”
Cummings said she agreed with Paulson’s statements about the complaint being an intimidation tactic. Cummings was happy with the decision by the Ethics Board.
“There has never been a question in my mind,” Cummings said. “I have always represented the people of the ninth, and now the 19th, district. I represent their concerns and issues; I have no conflict.”
Paulson said he would have been surprised if the Ethics Board had taken a different direction or action Thursday evening.
“I did my due diligence,” Paulson said. “I got the city attorney’s opinion on it. I think I did everything right.”