Common Council to Hear Formal Written Complaint involving Mayor McManus
Marshfield OnFocus – During Tuesday’s regular Common Council meeting, Council President Alderman Tom Witzel requested a special closed session to accept and discuss the formal written complaint against Marshfield Mayor Bob McManus.
McManus has been under investigation by Portage County Sheriff’s Office after a criminal complaint was filed in August relating to an open records violation. McManus on August 7, 2020 told Steve Barg, City Administrator that he was unable to get messages pertaining to an open records request. He further stated that he brought his phone to Matt [Sutton] who works in the IT office of the City of Marshfield. McManus said that in order for Sutton to resolve the issue he “had to wipe the phone clean and do a total reboot.”
IT Director Eng Ng determined McManus’ phone had not been reset as McManus had claimed, but that messages prior to July 22, 2020 were missing according the the Portage County investigation report.
On January 15, Alderman Ed Wagner told OnFocus, “It appears from the record that we have in front of us that there were messages deleted and that is very, very troubling.”
Randy Gershman, President of the Police and Fire Commission, said, “It’s troubling to learn that after the records request was given to the Mayor, he accused City staff of wiping the records.”
In December, Wood County District Attorney Craig Lambert sent a letter to McManus’s Attorney Damon Stichert that he was not able to exonerate McManus of the charges filed.
DA Lambert stated in the letter: “The declared public policy of the State of Wisconsin is that ‘all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.'”
The letter further states that the complainant may seek enforcement through the office of the Wisconsin Attorney General and will be advised of such.
The City of Marshfield was able to provide Verzion as well as First Net (AT&T) phone records that determine over 1000 messages had been sent and received by Mayor McManus to Portage County Investigators. The report indicated that the Mayor had sent and/or received 573 message from January to July of 2020.
The League of Wisconsin Municipalities website states that a city common council can remove an elected official for cause by an affirmative vote of three-fourths of all members.
The Common Council must provide a copy of the charges and a written notice of the time and place for the hearing to McManus no less than 10 days prior to holding the hearing. McManus, under Wisconsin State Stat 17.16, will have the opportunity to present a defense against the charges in person and by counsel.
At the time of the publication McManus’s Attorney Damon Stichert had not responded to request for comment.
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