Absentee trustee stays on Board

Pfeifer said his job prevented him from attending meetings, but he would have come if asked
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Belgium Village Board on Monday voted to keep a trustee on the board after one of its own members petitioned to have him removed due to lack of attendance at meetings.

Dale Pfeifer will remain on the board after a 3-2 vote denied the petition to remove Pfeifer. Four votes were necessary to remove him.

Trustee Don Gotcher filed a petition to remove Pfeifer from office. His petition said Pfeifer attended two of 17 Village Board meetings in 2017 and two of 10 this year.

The petition cited the state statute that outlines requirements for the removal of officers, which includes “gross neglect of duty.”

Gotcher’s petition went on to read, “It should be emphasized attendance at meetings is critical to the effective operation of any board, committee or commission. A member who continuously misses meetings may be subject to removal and/or replacement at the discretion of the Village Board.”

During testimony at Monday’s hearing in front of the five trustees, Gotcher said he knows Pfeifer works second shift and is unable to attend meetings.

“We should have seven members on the board at all times so we don’t run into any problems with voting,” he said.

Pfeifer said, “I admit that my work schedule actually hasn’t gone how I had hoped.”

He said he “can’t believe how fast time has gone” in referencing how many meetings he has missed in the past 22 months.

Pfeifer said for a while so many of his co-workers were off due to the Family Medical Leave Act that he couldn’t miss work to attend meetings, but that has since changed.

“This will be my third meeting in the last four or five months that I’ve attended,” he said.

Pfeifer is also one of three members on the village’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Committee, which Gotcher chairs. The committee had met on Saturday mornings, but Gotcher holds meetings on weeknights.

Pfeifer said in addition to Saturdays, he is available during the day to meet.

“We always work together on the committees. Don is actually refusing to work together with us on that,” Pfeifer said.

He said it is difficult to find people to run for Village Board, “And now when you have somebody pull something like this. And I’m not disagreeing with Don, but I don’t think it looks good.”

Pfeifer was elected in 2015 without his name on the ballot. He was working second shift when his name was on the ballot in 2017 but said he waited until the last second to turn in election papers, hoping someone else would run.

Once Vickie Boehnlein took over as village president, Pfeifer said she was so efficient that meetings only lasted 30 minutes. There was no need for him to come, but he said if he was asked, he would have attended.

Trustee Rose Sauers asked Pfeifer if a board member contacted him to discuss his attendance. He said nobody had and that he instead received support.

“I won’t name anybody, but I’ve had a couple of board members request that I stay on,” he said.

Pfeifer said if he is still on second shift in April, when his seat is up for election, he would not run again.

“I’m hoping that somebody will run,” he said.

Trustee Victor Lecato asked if Pfeifer finds it acceptable if the rest of the board members attended four of the last 27 meetings.

“It is what it is. It would hurt if everybody did that, but it’s not like that,” Pfeifer said, adding that he could have attended more meetings if he was requested to be there.

In closing arguments, Gotcher claimed Pfeifer misled voters in that he couldn’t discharge the duties of his office and quoted him from the board’s discussion in August about Pfeifer’s attendance:

“As you can see right now it’s 7:30 p.m. It doesn’t pay for me to take a full day of vacation for a half an hour meeting and there’s nothing really important going on here that I need to be here.”

Gotcher said, “A statement of this nature should alarm every member of the board.”

Pfeifer said he brought the issue to Boehnlein and Village President Pete Anzia, who he said didn’t have a problem with it as long as he attended his committee meetings.

“I didn’t mislead anybody on my election. I did not know how long I was going to be on second shift,” he said.

“There are several times I thought, ‘Dale, you know, you’re better off stepping down,’ and the way my luck is I would have stepped down and two days later they would have told me you’re back on first shift. That’s the way things go for me.”

With six months left on his term before his seat is up for election in April, it wouldn’t make sense to try to get another trustee to serve, Pfeifer said.

“I hope Don hasn’t scared anybody away from being interested in running in the future.”

Trustees voting against the petition to remove Pfeifer were Anzia, Josh Borden and Sauers.

Lecato and Clem Gottsacker voted for the petition to remove Pfeifer. Four votes were necessary to remove him.

Gotcher and Pfeifer were not allowed to vote, given they were the complainant and defendant.

“If anything like this comes up again in the future, either go to (the) Finance and Personnel (Committee) or come to me and we’ll discuss this before we spend a lot of money that didn’t need to be spent,” Anzia said. “I mean, there’s well over $400 spent in attorney’s fees right now. This is foolish money spent.”

Anzia told Gotcher, “You were the only person that doesn’t want to bend for Dale. The rest of us all bend to make sure we can make committee meetings.”

Gotcher said Lecato is also on the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Committee.

“If I bend for him (Pfeifer), he’s (Lecato) also on the committee, and he’s got things he needs to do on weekends. I have things I either need to do on weekends, or I go away on weekends,” Gotcher said. “Why should we make any special arrangements for anyone that is on the board? We should go by the letter of the law.

“This has been going on for way too long, and we’re setting a horrible precedent here.”

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