It’s time for leaders on the Sauk County Board to take control of the search for an administrative coordinator.
Chairman Marty Krueger has repeatedly bungled efforts to recruit and retain the county’s top manager. We call for members of the County Board’s Executive and Legislative Committee to wrest control of the hiring process from Krueger and to start anew.
The county’s effort to replace longtime Administrative Coordinator Kathy Schauf has been rocky. Renae Fry was relieved of duty in a silent, suspicious process last month after her six-month performance appraisal. Her severance package will cost taxpayers $135,000.
Her predecessor, interim Administrative Coordinator Brentt Michalek, was passed over for the permanent job when Fry was hired. He left his job running the Conservation, Planning and Zoning Department — but not before being paid $25,000 to resign. The agreements in both cases prevent the former employees from discussing the circumstances of their departures.
The county paid a consulting firm $24,000 to run the search that resulted in Fry’s hiring. With so much already invested, and facing an immediate vacancy, members of the Executive and Legislative Committee decided Dec. 29 they wanted to review the other finalists. Instead, Krueger took it upon himself to interview his choice, Baraboo City Attorney Alene Kleczek Bolin, and propose her hiring. Krueger already had been laying the groundwork for his move and reached out to her before the committee had even met to discuss a process for making the hire.
After a 3-hour, closed-door discussion at its next meeting Tuesday, and despite calls from citizens and County Board members to reopen the hiring process, the committee voted unanimously to hire Krueger’s selection.
This recommendation goes before the full board Jan. 17.
Going along with Krueger’s rogue mission to hire his personal choice was a mistake. But it’s one the committee’s members can and should correct. We ask them to encourage their fellow supervisors to vote against their recommendation.
The members of that committee, and other members of the board, have the authority to end this farce. Level-headed, courageous leadership is needed.
What’s going on in Sauk County government? Why all the upheaval? We don’t know for sure, but we’re working to find out. Here’s what we do know: The county manager shouldn’t be hand-picked and interviewed by an individual. The board chairman shouldn’t blatantly disobey a request from his most powerful committee. Members of that committee shouldn’t accept a flawed hiring process.
We don’t know what was said behind closed doors. Perhaps Krueger made persuasive arguments for hiring Kleczek Bolin. But we know what it looks like from the outside.
That process has cost the county time, money and public trust. It’s time for the County Board to insist that it start over, and that it be conducted properly.