Sauk County’s Board of Supervisors approved hiring an attorney as special legal counsel to handle current investigations and litigation the county could be facing.
The board voted at a special meeting Friday to approve the hiring of James Kalney of the Milwaukee law firm Davis & Kulthau to “protect the county’s interests in current investigations involving current staff and elected officials and advise the county with regard to such investigations and pending and threatened internal investigations and/or litigation,” according to the agenda item for the special meeting.
The agenda item also states that Kalney was appointed by the County Corporation Counsel and the Executive and Legislative Committee. However, some supervisors raised concerns, stating that the item had not been through the E&L Committee.
“We have the closed-session meeting minutes that do not reflect any action on that item,” said Wally Czuprynko, a county supervisor who is a member of the committee. “Where’s the resolution? Where’s the vote?”
An item regarding the hiring of Kalney is not present on agendas for the Jan. 7 regular E&L committee meeting, the Jan. 21 special meeting or the Feb. 3 meeting, which are available on the county’s website.
The meeting minutes for both January meetings do not reflect a vote to appoint outside counsel for the listed purposes.
A vote to amend the agenda to take the item regarding Kalney off failed. The vote to approve hiring Kalney carried with 18 in favor, four against and four abstaining.
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There were 26 supervisors at the meeting, with five absent and excused.
According to his contract, Kalney’s attorney fee is $280 per hour, and includes reimbursement for travel, meals and boarding.
At the meeting Kalney noted that he will not be acting as corporation counsel for the county, but will only represent and advise them in matters relating to investigations of staff and elected officials.
Daniel Olson, the county’s corporation counsel, was placed on paid leave Jan. 28 following a special meeting of the board, and Assistant Corporation Counsel Jim Witecha is still on leave after Olson placed him on leave in January for insubordination. The county currently does not have legal representation for matters outside of what Kalney has been hired for.
Friday’s special meeting was held for the county to discuss current investigations of county staff and elected officials, which began when Olson investigated potentially illegal conduct of 11 employees and officials, according to a report Olson gave at the December regular E&L committee meeting. Olson sent findings of his investigations to the Sauk County district attorney in January.
Since then the district attorney has sent the investigation to the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office. County board members said Friday the investigation has since been referred to the state’s attorney general, who will complete the investigation.
The board went into closed session at the Feb. 7 special meeting to discuss internal investigations and potential litigation the county could be facing, where they heard from Olson on his investigation findings.
The board reconvened to open session and adjourned immediately without taking any action.
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