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'Hostile Work Environment' Leads to BID Executive Director's Resignation

Meghan Sprager, second BID director to quit in two years, said she was treated in a "disgraceful manner" by leaders of the business district.

Accusing leaders of the Waukesha Business Improvement District of "excessive bullying" and treating its staff in a "disgraceful manner," the executive director of the organization has resigned.

Meghan Sprager, who has been on the job for just more than a year, will stay with the BID through the conclusion of Art Fest on Sept. 8.

However, Sprager who has played a key role in the success and growth of the  , said she can no longer tolerate the "hostile work environment."

“Please know that my decision to leave the organization was not made rashly,” said Sprager in her resignation letter, which is attached to this article. “It came after months of inexplicable conflict brought on by the BID’s leadership. The disgraceful manner in which I, as well as others who work for or are a member of the BID, have been treated by the present BID leadership is clear to many individuals.”

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Properties in the downtown area are taxed a special assessment to fund services of the BID, such as marketing, special events and business recruitment and retention. Sprager reports to a board of directors made up primarily of local business leaders.

“It is my observation that the BID is very unhealthy,” Sprager wrote. “It cannot continue operating in its current state. As presently configured, the lack of civil discourse among the BID’s leadership provides a playground for manipulation and excessive bullying.

"This, in my opinion, is why it has been historically difficult for the BID to retain executive directors, and it has poisoned the organization to such a degree that I no longer feel that there is any possibility for anyone to effectively administer the organization in this capacity," she added.

Sprager has obtained work with a different organization with help of a BID board member.

Sprager began working for the BID in May 2011 and had an annual salary of $65,000 at that time. She previously served as director of development and communications at .

When she was hired, Sprager said she was “passionate” about the downtown area. Sprager replaced Karen Richards, who resigned from the position in fall 2010.

It hasn’t been without its trouble and drama during the past year. The downtown’s leaders have vastly differing opinions, especially surrounding the and Waukesha GuitarTown.

Still, she earned praise Tuesday from at least one BID board member.

“She always has a smile and always approaches problems with an optimistic approach,” said Alderman Roger Patton, who lives in the downtown. “We have been very happy with her work.”

Anonymous August 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Daniel that was a great article and truly explains bullying in the workforce. Seems like this day and age that more people are falling into this predicament. The attitude in corporate settings is to stay silent or else. When the middle class continues to be squeezed we are left with no voice in order to earn a paycheck to support our families. In the end here the residents need to speak up and get these pompous BID individuals that are the bullies off this board once and for all. Here we loose a hard working and committed young woman with a zest to improve Waukesha and willing to work the extra hours and go way above and beyond! It is fairly evident that the perpetrators here have an agenda and it is not what is best for Waukesha. Also for the record I have no connections with the BID or this young woman in any way. I am just a concerned lifetime citizen of Waukesha as well as a family member of a long time 30+ years Waukesha business owner.
Patty August 23, 2012 at 01:03 PM
The important qualifier for slander is "false".
Paul Paikowski August 23, 2012 at 03:56 PM
People get brought together, some agree, some disagree. There are winners and losers. When the short end doesn't accept defeat and Join the winning side, you have perpetual conflict. SO it goes in the downtown.
stephanie August 23, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Anyone can claim hostility or bullying, however without any specific examples of names or situations, all we are left with is baseless rumor and innuendo. Meghan has provided no specific examples, and therefore has discredited the entire BID and herself.
Jim Hahn, CFRE August 24, 2012 at 08:05 AM
Meghan does NOT need to name names in a public forum -- which is just gossip. What gives weight to her concerns is the respect she garnered as a professional and committed employee. She has made the BID board aware of her concerns (which is a matter of public record) -- it is THEIR job to conduct an investigation, preferably by securing an objective third-party to interview parties and report on findings. What THEN needs to be reported to the public is ONLY whether or not her concerns were found to have merit and WHAT specific steps are being taken to address them moving forward. The mayor should be involved, but his appointments to the board seem to be a part of the tension. Any solution should also address this conflict in a way which gives the community confidence that the board's membership truly represents the district's interested parties proportionately (building owners, business operators, residents). It may necessitate calling for the mass resignation of the current Board to start with a fresh slate and to put the credibility of the BID above personal ego. Who knows? But attacking Meghan is unproductive and malicious. She is only the latest BID director to depart under a cloud. We should, as many here have done, thank her for her exceptional and professional service and wish her well, as we focus on solutions moving forward.

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