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Swanson investigation cost nearly $19,400 through April

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – Copies of billing records obtained in an open records request by The Press Times indicate an outside investigation into complaints the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Officers’ Association (APSOA) made about former Village Manager Allison Swanson cost nearly $19,400 through the end of April.

The von Briesen & Roper law firm charged the village $1,111 through February, $8,598 in March and $9,681 in April for the investigation, according to the billing records.

For services charged, the billing records indicate an hourly rate of $285.

Allison Swanson

Two of the entries for April totaled more than $1,700, including: $1,767 for 6.2 hours April 2 to prepare for and conduct on-site investigatory interviews regarding the village manager’s complaint against the union; and $1,795 for 6.3 hours April 28 for phone conferences for finalizing an investigation report, meeting with the village manager and further preparation for and meeting with the village board to report on the investigation report.

The Ashwaubenon village board authorized the investigation Feb. 25 after meeting in closed session and agreeing to hire von Briesen & Roper to look into complaints the APSOA released Feb. 6 when it announced a vote of no confidence in Swanson, who then filed her own complaint against the union.

The union’s list of complaints about Swanson included 22 bullet points containing what it called a “partial list of just some of the egregious behaviors the association has witnessed.”

Some of the union’s complaints resulted in state and federal lawsuits along with labor grievances being filed on behalf of past and present union members.

Swanson responded by saying the union stated “numerous lies” to “imply illegal and unethical conduct by me.”

She accused the union of violating the village’s anti-harassment and whistleblower policy.

After receiving investigative reports provided by Jim Macy of von Briesen & Roper, the board met in closed session May 7 and directed Village Attorney Tony Wachewicz to issue a statement he released May 9 announcing the board accepted the reports’ findings and cleared Swanson of any wrongdoing or unethical conduct.

The statement indicated the board has “full faith and support in Ms. Swanson” and also quoted Macy as saying “some of the allegations are matters of opinion on political and policy matters.”

A copy of the investigative reports obtained in an open records request by The Press Times also indicated Macy did not find the union violated the village’s anti-harassment and whistleblower policy, as was alleged by Swanson.

Macy said he found allegations contained in the no-confidence statement the union made about Swanson “were at times inaccurate, at (times) misleading, at times based on opinion and at times based upon misunderstanding of facts, procedures, management rights and the law.”

However, Macy said the statement was not directed at a protected job classification and did not violate the anti-harassment policy.

“Arguably, the association’s activity is an intent to intimidate and coerce the village manager and village board,” he said. “Yet they do not rise to a level of threats or violence, or potentially violent behavior… In total, evidence is not sufficient to find that the statement of ‘No Confidence’ and actions taken in association with it are a violation of Village Policy 4.14 – Anti-Harassment.”

Macy said the whistleblower policy doesn’t apply in this instance because Swanson didn’t become a “complainant” as set forth in the policy.

“The village board, who the village manager reports to, has not acted against her,” he said. “She is not being retaliated against by the village. Arguably, the association’s activity is an intent to retaliate against the village manager for the management decisions she has made, and with which they disagree. Yet, this is not retaliation in the sense used for whistleblower protection.”

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