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Conflict cannibalizing Kewaunee Council

A resolution for Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting granting the Kewaunee City Council to obtain outside legal counsel is part of a simmering feud occurring at city hall.


Last Thursday, District 3 Alderperson Robin Nelson submitted the resolution charging that the current city attorney, Randy Nesbitt, is only serving the interests of Mayor Jason Jelinek and City Administrator Fred Schnook and not Kewaunee’s council or residents. The resolution reads the members of the council have been discouraged to seek legal advice unless it has been approved by the city administrator. Through the resolution, the council would like to hire Madison, Wis.-based attorney Michael May at a rate of $300 an hour, but not to exceed a limit of $10,000. May would act as special counsel for the council, working with Council President and District 1 alderperson John Blaha and District 2 alderperson Wendy Shelton. The agenda packet for Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting includes correspondence between council members, Jelinek, and Nesbitt dating back to May. Jelinek writes several times that city councilor should not be contacting the city attorney without approval.


Tempers boiled over at the council’s last meeting on August 9th when the council questioned the hiring procedures for a new city Public Works Director. Several members expressed that they felt left out of the process. Schnook refuted that, saying the final decision has always been left up to the person who will be the new hire’s supervisors, which include himself and Jelinek. District 4 alderperson Richard Taylor challenged Jelinek and Schnook on their authority before they took a recess.  

Jelinek said on Monday that he feels there have been attempts to strip away his executive power and micromanage city employees over the last three months since the council was seated following the April election. He believes he has reached out to the council on ways to move forward, only to be met with silence. He encourages residents to get involved.

Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Kewaunee Municipal Building. The meeting will also cover discussion around lead lateral replacement and an upgrade of the city’s wastewater SCADA system. 


Screenshot from August 9th meeting via Zoom

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Cheryl Jome

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