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Monday, September 17, 2018
GARSKI FOUND NOT GUILTY AFTER VILLAGE FILES MUNICIPAL COURT COMPLAINT
A Better Mount Pleasant Sends:
Former Village President Jerry Garski was found not guilty Thursday, September 13, of violating a village ordinance over his home-based business. Wind Point Municipal Judge John Knuteson dismissed the case against Garski, ending a nearly two-year battle with the village that began with multiple complaints filed in 2016 by Trustee Anna Marie Clausen and former Community Development Authority Chair Pat Barlament.
Knuteson ruled that Garski possessed the appropriate permits and licenses approved by village officials in 2011 to operate his business in Mt. Pleasant, validating Garski’s original and consistent assertions that he had not violated village ordinances.
News of the original complaints against Garski were published in November 2016, when four separate complaints about Garski’s properties and businesses were filed within a 24-hour period by Clausen and Barlament.
The complaints against Garski led to additional allegations by Safebuilt, LLC, the independent agency hired by the village to investigate and a State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Review Board investigation filed by the Village of Mt. Pleasant and Safebuilt, LLC.
In November 2017, the Village of Mt. Pleasant cited Garski for operating his business on his property, a violation of his conditional use permit - which could have resulted in a fine of $6,250 - forcing Garski to suspend operation of his business and to retain legal counsel to represent him.
In June 2018, the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professionals Services Review Board dismissed the complaints against Garski, stated that both Safebuilt and the Village of Mt. Pleasant had failed to provide sufficient evidence of violations.
Following the state’s dismissal, the Village of Mt. Pleasant attempted to offer Garski a deal in which they would dismiss the citation with prejudice, if Garski would agree to pay the village’s legal fees of $1,250. Their offer reserved the village’s right to impose future citations against him if he continued to operate his business.
Garski declined, saying he was not violating village ordinances and possessed the appropriate permits and licenses for his business. He said he would rather go to court.
A few weeks later, the village offered to split the cost of their legal fees with Garski for $650, again with prejudice and the potential for future citations. Garski said no.
Knuteson’s ruling on Thursday represents not just the end of Garski’s effort to defend himself, but also eliminates the waste of taxpayer funds spent by the village by having the following public employees fruitlessly pursue the allegations against him:
- Village of Mt. Pleasant Interim Administrator and Police Chief Tim Zarzecki
- Village Clerk/Treasurer Stephanie Kohlhagen
- Village of Mt. Pleasant Planning Director Sam Schultz
- South Shore Fire Department Chief Bob Stedman
- Mt. Pleasant Village Building Inspector Leonard Hannula
- Mt. Pleasant Clerk’s Office staff
- Mt. Pleasant Police Department staff
- South Shore Fire Department staff
- Mt. Pleasant Building Department staff
- State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional -Services Investigator
- State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Paralegal Staff
- State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Review Board
- Wind Point Municipal Judge John Knuteson
- Wind Point Municipal Clerk
In addition to the municipal complaints filed against Garski, Clausen and others also filed a host of additional complaints against him and asked for public requests related to his time as both a village trustee and village president:
- Hundreds of public records on Garski going back years were requested by Clausen and Sam Wahlen, the son of former Village Administrator Kurt Wahen.
- Wahlen filed a complaint with the Racine County District Attorney’s office against Garski saying he was violating campaign finance laws.
- Village Clerk Stephane Kohlhagen accused Garski of harassment for not getting a bigger raise.
- Garski’s opponent, Dave DeGroot, suggested Garski was involved in the egging of his house, issuing a press release and filing a police report during the April 2017 election.
Please see the timeline of events posted below as evidence that these complaints were fueled by purely political reasons. All complaints were determined unfounded, and all records requested led to no additional action against Garski.
The village has 20 days to appeal Judge Knuteson’s ruling. https://www.facebook.com/abettermtpleasant/posts/754499514882245?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCA2SyvDHpICnGTVztJF1KrEEPBR-1_4-sNHhfLueIFIWvJaJMImLXt_qVpqe0X5rSLx4Q9vzUu6FiY0I9lDrz8Wsb0dYlbmkonSkRlZhVkRr-Y5ThHCrKKIbV60O3MfPOc-tvVbb6heMSjrhyyxHC1PnvejNTYor7-vC4oa6SPNjwqJsJc&__tn__=K-R
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