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Letter to the Editor - Serpe Says County Took 'Nuclear Option'

To the Editors,

I am really disgusted, mortified and heart-broken at the course that was taken in this matter. The County made a conscious decision to take the action that it did rather than give me the same consideration that it, and I, had always given to individuals confronted with allegations such as these. I left the County on February 22 to attend to family obligations in Kenosha and within forty-eight hours I was suspended based on allegations and accusations that had never been brought to my attention. Instead of handling this matter in a calm and measured manner, the County took the nuclear option, which has resulted in great public consternation regarding my character. Speech and mannerisms that may have occurred in private high level staff meetings were not to be matters of privilege but rather tools to be used if necessary in character assassination.

Rather than give me the professional courtesy to discuss matters with the supposedly aggrieved parties, I had six years of work conversations subjected to out of context editing in a successful effort to make me out to be a creature of less than desirable leadership quality.

For the record, on February 24 I was instructed at the outset not to enter county buildings and have no contact with elected officials, who have now heard only a totally biased account, a work of fiction concocted by disgruntled and opportune employees. I was going to be given an opportunity to appear before the board to be "heard"; a board that would likely have no trouble at all mustering eleven votes to take any action it liked according to Section 59.18 (7) Wisconsin Statutes. Most observers understand full well that there are enough supervisors who yearn for a return to the days of the Administrative Coordinator to make it happen. There's certainly nothing wrong with that per se, but it should be done in a logical and intelligent manner.

Timely consideration of the allegations and accusations might have resulted in a much different outcome than the one that we had Friday. The County could have avoided the loss of faith in its ability to handle its affairs fairly and dispassionately, if careful consideration had been given to the points I've raised.

For over four weeks, I dealt with the Kafka-esque scenario of constantly having to prove "you are who you say you are", ultimately to no avail.

The County chose to insist on going forward in a manner in which I was denied an adequate opportunity to defend myself. We received the report one working day prior to the scheduled hearing and promptly alerted opposing counsel that there was inadequate opportunity to prepare any meaningful defense to the allegations. The end result was my being constructively denied the right to participate in a contested hearing. My attorney informed the Board I would not participate beyond his written submission. That decision was the result of the County's refusal to allow a more orderly process for my defense.

We did advise the County of our wish to resolve the matter in a negotiated fashion but believed that our presence and participation in the hearing, as it was designed by the County, would serve no valid purpose or obtain a thoughtful outcome.

Actions have consequences and the actions the County has taken in its rush to judgment will have consequences for the County. Time will tell what they are.

A pall has been cast on my reputation that cannot be erased. My colleagues, family and friends in Door County and Kenosha are shocked and dismayed at the unfairness of this process.

This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other matters in which I have participated.


Mike Serpe
Egg Harbor


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