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Committee Split on Alderwoman's Legal Fee Reimbursement

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings is looking to have the city pay for the attorney she hired to represent her in an ethics complaint.

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings has to wait a week to learn if the city will reimburse her for legal fees she incurred over an ethics complaint filed against her.

The Finance Committee was split Tuesday night when it was taking up  Cummings' request to have the city pay $240 to local attorney Shawn Reilly for his representation on the matter.

“I take this very seriously,” Cummings told the Finance Committee.

Because the ethics complaint “would affect my reputation and affect how I would conduct business,” she told the committee she hired the attorney because she wanted to be prepared going before the Ethics Board.

Leather Restorations owner Shay Johnson alleged it was unethical for her to vote on the future of the city’s dispatch center because she also serves on the Waukesha County Board. Also targeted in the ethics complaint was Alderman Duane Paulson, who is a county supervisor.

The city was exploring the possibility of consolidating its dispatch center with the county’s dispatch center when the complaint was filed by Johnson against Paulson and Cummings. The city’s against Paulson and Cummings

"My preference would be that we charge Mr. Johnson for this item," Cummings said.

Paulson, who serves on the Finance Committee, said he didn’t see the need to hire an attorney for the Ethics Board deliberations.

“There is nothing that an attorney was going to do,” Paulson said.

Alderman Joe Pieper voted against reimbursing the fees, saying he felt the legal fee is an expense that should be paid for by the elected official.

“One of the consequences or one of the risks of being a public official is that someone can bring a claim against us. … That is a cost of the position,” Pieper said. “We are compensated by the city for this position.”

How they voted

  • Denying the reimbursement: Pieper; Paulson
  • Approving the reimbursement: Andy Reiland; John Kalblinger
  • Absent: Rick Hastings
Johnny Paycheck August 01, 2012 at 10:57 PM
I have to disagree with your conclusion that the alderwoman made a righteous decision simply because there is no law against what she did.
Shawn Reilly August 01, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Mr. Paycheck states; "someone thought it was a conflict of interest, or there would be no story here." I assume that Mr. Paycheck's point is that in the event someone takes a position that anyone did something wrong, (likes filing a meritless ethical complaint) then it is true that that person did do something wrong. Anyone else agree that it appears that this is the point he is trying to make and if so, do you agree that it is an illogical position?
Johnny Paycheck August 02, 2012 at 04:57 AM
I guess the joke is on me here since I just realized that you are the lawyer that is representing Alderwoman Cathleen Cummings... One could hardly expect that you'd come here and take a position against her, could they? :) Since it's your job to defend her and you've been paid your $240 for it, I now understand where you're coming from. :) The support of the voters comes without cost, however it's a lot easier to lose and unfortunately for her she has probably already lost enough of us that she won't be our alderwoman again.
@-;-'---- Rose August 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I would think being Ms. Cummings attorney makes Mr. Reilly's statements quite credible Why would he lie or twist the truth here and put his own reputation in jeopardy? Also JP doesn't always seem to do his homework.
Johnny Paycheck August 02, 2012 at 07:03 PM
You are asking why a lawyer would twist the truth? That has got to be one of the funniest things I have heard all week. Thanks Rose!

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