The City of Marshfield Common Council will conduct a public hearing pursuant to Section 17.16(3) concerning verified charges filed asking for the removal of Mayor Bob McManus.
Hearing dates are scheduled for Friday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m., Monday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. and Tuesday, March 23 at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
Andy Koegh outlined the basis for his complaint, citing issues he had with the the mayor’s behavior since taking office. He noted the intentionality to delete text messages, avoid open records requests, and “his attempts to blame others for the missing records from his phone.”
He added that the report completed by Portage County Detective Jason Meidl was communicating information that had been told to him. “The Council should hear from Detective Meidl and the people he talked to,” he said.
“These are serious matters for the City of Marshfield,” he added. “I ask the Council to be rigorous and vigorous in questing the witnesses. You need to develop your own understanding of the issues.”
McManus began his statement by apologizing to the citizens of Marshfield for what “they have been put through the last several months.” He also apologized to his fellow elected officials and to his wife “because this is too much for what she’s been through.”
He added that the City of Marshfield has been through an “enormous amount this year,” citing the pandemic, income, lost business, an historic tax increase, police chief investigation, and now the hearing taking place against himself.
McManus then began establishing a timeline of events, starting with last April and the attempt to appoint Dean Pitt to the Police & Fire Commission.
“One of the responsibilities of the mayor is to make appointments,” he said, adding that he believes there was a major effort to thwart that appointment.
He noted that some of the requests concerned people he would have spoken with prior to election, issues related to the Marshfield Police Department jobs function test, and the partnership between MCHS and MFRD.
“This request took so long to fill,” he said, noting to a pile of documents. “The things I didn’t get to. I’ll take ownership of that.”
He continued to establish the timeline and his frustrations about what he deemed a “witch hunt.”
“We’re in the cancel culture. We don’t like someone, we kick them out,” he said. “All over the country, the vitriol of cancel culture is killing the country…I didn’t think we had that in Marshfield, but that was wrong,” he said.
He compared the police chief investigation to his current situation and the differences between how the two were approached by PFC commissioners.
He added that it should be the citizens of Marshfield that decide whether the Mayor stays in office.
“Commissions shouldn’t. How do they even think that they have the power to do that?” he said. “It would be different if the allegations or chargers were of a much broader nature. These are some text messages.”
He added that he was under the impression that “all of my communication devices were being archived. When the open records request was being filled, I believe Steve Barg was filling it for me.”
McManus noted that he wasn’t blaming Steve Barg or Matt Sutton, merely stating the facts of who was involved.
In closing, McManus noted: “One member of the PFC filed an open records request. It would appear that in putting that request he was getting help from City staff. I don’t think that’s right. If you are a commissioner, you should not be asking help from a City employee because the average person out there doesn’t have the luxury.”
Attorney Jim Kalny reminded the audience that the purpose of opening statements is to reveal what the evidence is going to prove, not to argue points. He added that when sworn in, both sides are still going to have to prove with evidence.
Detective Meidl was then sworn is as the first witness. Additional coverage will follow.
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