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The Vanguard

Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.

Village President and Trustee Son Are 10-15 Years Delinquent to Taxpayers for $675,000+ With Falls Fest

falls fest owes $675, 000

Falls Fest Runs July 21st Through July 24th

Falls Fest opens July 21st and runs through July 24th at Village Park in downtown Menomonee Falls in front of North Junior High on Garfield Drive in an area about the size of a glorified football field.

A local event that is around 20 years old and usually features music, food, softball, bingo, kiddie games, fire works and a silent auction.

Falls Fest was an offshoot of the 1992 Menomonee Falls Celebration and incorporated as a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation (http://www2.guidestar.org/) shortly thereafter with a Tax ID Number of 39-1671300.

Local events like this are good for the community as citizens work to volunteer and give back to those in need from the funds that are raised from the event.

Hopefully many people will attend the event this weekend.

While some Falls Fest supporters (Larry Barbera) have testified to the Village Board justifying the existence of Falls Fest because they were caught not reimbursing taxpayers for previous Village Board transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars that, "...some 30,000 people attend the event as it is one of the most successful local events in the Midwest."

Barbera also presented a fake 'audit' of Falls Fest to the Village Board when questions surfaced about their accounting records and sweetheart deals with the Village Board involving Falls Fest Board of Directors.

There was no audit as was documented by the Village's Accountant in a letter to the Village Board at the time!

Of course the local press just ignored the truth and ran with the story that Falls Fest was cleared by the fake 'audit'.

It was simply a whitewashing or what's called 'an agreed upon rules of engagement procedure' which simply means Falls Fest paid the Village's Accountant a small some of money to not have an opinion if the records of Falls Fest were accurate.

Barbera's attendance figures are highly unlikely and very inflated as that would mean nearly the entire village population (35,626 http://menomoneefalls.patch.com/articles/falls-population-and-racial-diversity-continue-to-grow) would be concentrated in an area about the size of a football field at various times throughout the 3 day event or about the equivalent of Fenway Park (36,945-39,928 http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/al/FenwayPark.htm) and or Wrigley Field (41,118 http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/nl/WrigleyField.htm).

A more realistic number might be 2-3,000 for the event.

Let the Falls Fest 'leaders' think what they want, but please don't suffer from the Circus Day Parade and July 3rd Lakefront Fireworks 'event attendance syndrome' where estimates were always some 1,000,000 people attending these events in a very small area or crowd attendance estimates nearly twice the size of the entire population of the City of Milwaukee (594,883 http://milwaukee.about.com/od/governmentservices/qt/MilwaukeeStats.htm).

The Falls Fest Board of Directors has primarily been made up of current and former Village Board Members (Jim Jeskewitz, Jeff Steliga, Bob Steliga and maybe Joe Greco, Don Broesch and Jim Dwyer) along with others who would do whatever Bob and Jeff Steliga would tell them to or else.

The Falls Fest Board of Directors and their operations are run like a 'secret society' as in the words of former Village President and Falls Fest Board Chairman, Bob Steliga, "...you can kiss my &@# if you want to see our records" when they were asked to open their books to a reporter in the early 2000's because questions were raised about their delinquency of the Village Board loan repayment from 1997.

Thank goodness for technology and Guidestar (http://www2.guidestar.org/) where the average citizen can now check on Falls Fest and their records for free without having to rely on whether or not Bob and Jeff Steliga are telling the truth to the generous taxpayers who have propped up this non-profit corporation for many years.

Guidestar is a non-profit portal website where 990 Federal Income Tax Returns are filed for the public to view non-profit corporation's returns.

Taxpayers Owed Some $675,000+ By Falls Fest From Over 15 Years Ago

Undoubtedly Falls Fest has done some good things for Menomonee Falls by giving back to the community some of the funds that attendees and taxpayers have given them over the years.

The truth of the matter is that Falls Fest has run up a bill of over $675,000 since 1997 that is owed taxpayers from various transactions that were voted on by the Village Board in sweetheart or possibly quid-pro-quo deals for Falls Fest because some members served on both Boards.

In any other community, this would be considered illegal, criminal and prosecutable (http://ethics.state.wi.us/localofficials/localofficial1.htm and Chapter 19 State Statues http://legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/stat0019.pdf) by the Police Chief to the DA unless of course the community happens to be Menomonee Falls where the Police Chief appears to be perfectly okay with these types of transactions that are clearly prohibited between local officials and their organizations that benefit them or their organizations directly.

Chamber of Commerce Building and Senator Darling's Office Transaction Examined

The Chamber of Commerce Building and Senator Darling's Office was given to Falls Fest by the Village Board in June of 1994 with the understanding and agreement that Falls Fest would repay the Village Board through a Board Resolution (1076-94) for the acquisition and remodeling of the building voted on by Greco and Steliga the son known as the Kohler Zahn House.

The resolution clearly stated, as did 4 newspaper articles at the time from The Journal and Menomonee Falls News, that Falls Fest was required to repay the taxpayers for the acquisition, improvement and facilitating the building from the rent secured by tenants for Falls Fest.

The Chamber and Senator Darling pay Falls Fest rent annually in the amount of about $20,000.

The rental agreement between Falls Fest and The Chamber was paid for by the taxpayers at the request of Falls Fest when Village Attorney Mike Morse drew up the agreement when he was on retainer with the Village at his former law firm at the time.

The Chamber gets their rent money (about $18,000) from the taxpayers through the Village Board under the guise of what appears to be 'tourism' money to pay Falls Fest for rent.

Senator Darling gets her rent money from the taxpayers of Wisconsin for Falls Fest.

Jim Jeskewitz and Jeff Steliga vote every year to pay the Chamber these funds from taxpayers to Jeskewitz's wife at the Chamber, who has been the Chamber's Interim Director for the last several years, who apparently then turns around and co-mingles the funds with other Chamber funds to pay expenses and rent to Fall Fest.

This would appear to be in direct conflict with the Government Accountability Board's Code of Ethics for Local Officials and Chapter 19 of the State Statutes(http://ethics.state.wi.us/localofficials/localofficial1.htm and http://legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/stat0019.pdf) which could and should lead to the Police Chief asking some questions and possibly referring the matter to the DA unless of course Menomonee Falls Officials are involved and then apparently a blind eye and deaf ear investigations are the norm.

The Chamber annually produces a very attractive and professional tourism map/magazine where they charge advertisers thousands of dollars to produce the publications to cover the costs and presumably generate a profit for tourism.

Resolution 1076-94 is still on file at Village Hall as part of the 'official record' for Village Board matters with the Clerk's signature even though Jeff and Bob Steliga, Joe Greco and Jim Jeskewitz were able to conjure up what appears to be a phantom resolution that mysteriously removes the repayment clause for Falls Fest to reimburse the taxpayers.

The Clerk's Office at the time stated something to the effect that she could not find any record of the phantom resolution being approved or recorded.

Falls Fest has received directly and or indirectly some $400,000 from taxpayers for the purchase and renovation of what became a black hole for them in the Kohler Zahn House.

The Chamber Building was assessed at $229,000 until recently according to the Waukesha County Register of Deeds for the property at N88 W16621 Appleton Ave.(http://dwprd.waukeshacounty.gov/applications/production/ROD_TAX_LISTING/ViewTaxBillB.asp).

The taxpayers of Menomonee Falls are under water on this deal for almost $200,000 thanks to Falls Fest.

This is eerily similar to the Radisson on Main Street where taxpayers gave the owners $18,000,000 for a hotel that was assessed at about $1,700,000 and had a mortgage of $3,000,000 before the Village Board bailed them out.

While Falls Fest claimed that volunteers and donations covered the costs, which it is known that some of the costs were covered this way, the overwhelming majority of the costs were covered by taxpayers to be reimbursed by Falls Fest to the taxpayers for the loan they received from the Village Board.

According to Falls Fest tax returns, Falls Fest has received some $18,000 a year since 1997 or some $270,000 for rent from The Chamber through the taxpayers via the Village Board.

The Village has also produced copies of checks to The Chamber for the public to view through an Open Records Request.

The Chamber subsidy for 'tourism' is part of the annual Village Budget in the Department of Community Development.

The Chamber would not be able to rent the Kohler Zahn House if they didn't receive the subsidy from the taxpayers via the Village Board.

To date, Falls Fest has not paid one penny to reimburse the taxpayers.

Bob and Jeff Steliga 10 Years Delinquent to Taxpayers for Library Fund

The Village built and opened an expansive, opulent and grand new library in 2003, which along with the new Village Hall and Police Station, cost the taxpayers $42,000,000.

Originally taxpayers were told by Jeff Steliga, Joe Greco, Mike Mc Donald and Jim Jeskewitz in the early 2000's that the complex was going to be paid for without any taxpayer money, but of course once the truth was found out, taxpayers were on the hook from day one when the Village Board unanimously voted to use taxpayer money generated from tipping fees from the Orchard Landfill Site to pay for a portion of the $42,000,000 complex.

The tipping fees, a tax on Waste Management in exchange for dumping garbage in Menomonee Falls and eliminating the property to be taxed like a business, corporation or home would be, were woefully short and would be inadequate to cover the $42,000,000 complex costs in 2003.

The Village Board knew this from day one as spreadsheets were later found in the Finance Director's Office that were given to the Village Board at the beginning of the discussions showing that tipping fees would run out in 2016 thus putting a large portion of the $42,000,000 Debt Service directly on the backs of the taxpayers costing the average homeowner around $800 by 2022.

The Village Board later voted to expand the dump out to Main Street and vertically that apparently will cover the costs through 2022.

Only time will tell if those projections will actually be met.

Bob and Jeff Steliga pledged $16,500 for the Library Fund 10 years ago.

Joe Greco headed up the Library Fund Drive of $1,000,000.

The Library Fund Drive fell pitifully short with pledges of $373,000 according to the Village Finance Director's spreadsheet.

On one hand, Joe Greco was trying to raise $1,000,000 for the Library Fund while on the other hand he was running around telling everyone that the Municipal Complex, including the library, was going to be paid for without any taxpayer funds.

Most all of the pledges have been paid since 2002 with the exception of The Menomonee Falls Historical Society which still owes $20,000 of their original $25,000 pledge.

The Menomonee Falls Historical Society has struggled for years with adequate funds, membership rolls and thriving activities.

Taxpayers annually support Old Falls Village at the corner of Pilgrim and County Line Road to the tune of thousands of dollars for various hourly wages, upkeep, improvements and seed money for projects.

To date, 10 years later, the Steligas still owe $14,400 of that pledge according to the Finance Director of the Village.

Falls Fest owes $14,000 and Jeff Steliga owes $400.

The original pledge for Falls Fest was $15,000 and $1,500 for Jeff Steliga.

Falls Fest didn't make any payments toward the pledge until 2008 when it was discovered they were delinquent and of course the local press completely glossed over the issue.

Falls Fest has only made one payment toward the pledge of $15,000 and has an outstanding balance of $14,000.

Jeff Steliga didn't make any payments toward his $1,500 pledge until 2006 and still has an outstanding balance of $400.

If Bob Steliga would open up the records of Falls Fest, it would be interesting to see if Jeff Steliga's personal pledge was paid for by any Falls Fest funds.

Guidestar shows that Falls Fest finances from 2007-09 are as follows:

  • Gross receipts*      2007          2008          2009

                                        $175,851    $165,551   $155,584

  • Expenses**          126,269      119,226     124,302
  • Net Income***      $31,142      $28,259      $13,282

*includes Falls Fest receipts, Chamber and Darling rent

**doesn't include Main St. theater mortgage, property taxes or maintenance

***does include Main St. theater mortgage, property taxes and maintenance

Everyone, even those involved in private matters, falls behind in payments and needs time to make good by those obligations for various personal reasons especially in this economy, but when it comes to 'public officials' involving 'public and private monies', those individuals need to be held to a higher standard because it involves 'public monies'.

Falls Fest had lost substantial amounts of money ($40,000-$50,000) as recent as 2004-06.

Falls Fest Donations Continue to Decline

Bob Steliga has always maintained that, "Everything we make goes directly back to the community."

Well, that apparently isn't true as Guidestar's website shows.

While most non-profit organizations submit an itemized list of expenses and donations with their 990 Federal Income Tax Returns, Falls Fest typically doesn't.

With that being said, it does appear from examining the tax returns of Falls Fest it does appear they have an adequate amount of cash on hand to pay their 10 year old Library Fund Pledge and to give more in donations.

Guidestar shows that Falls Fest donations have dropped dramatically over the last 3 years as follows:

  • Donations          2007          2008          2009

                                  $25,109      $14,125      $11,310 

Donations have gone down by over 55% the last 3 years for Falls Fest.

Falls Fest has done a lot of good things and has made a lot of donations.

Theater on Main Street Continues to be a Drag for Falls Fest

Bob and Jeff Steliga, along with Joe Greco and Jim Jeskewitz, apparently extorted Marcus Corporation out of the theater on Main Street (N88 W15377 http://dwprd.waukeshacounty.gov/applications/production/ROD_TAX_LISTING/ViewTaxListingB.asp) in exchange for votes on the Village Board to approve an addition to the new theater in the spring of 2003 near Home Depot.  

The new Marcus Theater was the source of tremendous controversy in the late '90's with neighbors which ultimately led to an agreement with the Village Board to allow no more than 12 screens when Marcus wanted 20.

Being a 'good businessman', Marcus repeatedly approached the Village Board for additional screens only to be turned down because of the potential of a repeat situation with the neighbors that made for really bad press and a very uncomfortable situation for the Village Board.

That all changed in the spring of 2003 when the Village Board and Falls Fest, almost one in the same, killed 2 deals that Marcus told them they had with a church and the shopping mall owner of Pilgrim Plaza in 2002, in order to get the old theater on Main Street themselves so they could flip it and make what they hoped would be hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling the property themselves to these or other buyers.

The Steligas, Jeskewitz and Greco then denied knowing anything about the quid pro quo even though the attorney for Marcus Corporation signed documents with Bob Steliga and left a recorded message at Village Hall saying that the agreement all along with these 'leaders' was an exchange of the theater on Main Street at a 75% discount price to Falls Fest for Village Board votes to approve new movie screens at Marcus' new theater.

Village Board members at the time were heavily lobbied by the Falls Fest people to approve the Marcus expansion even though the Board members didn't want to go through a repeat situation with the neighbors.

The empty theater on Main Street was assessed at nearly $1,000,000 paying nearly $20,000 a year in property taxes in 2002 with Marcus.

The Police Chief once again turned a blind eye and deaf ear to irrefutable and indisputable direct criminal evidence linking Greco, Jeskewitz and the Steligas to this quid pro quo deal with Marcus Corporation.

The deal was so potentially illegal and unethically bad for Marcus Corporation that they didn't take a $750,000 charitable corporate tax deduction for selling the theater to Falls Fest in exchange for Village Board votes in 2003.

The 'deal' was consummated with Marcus, Village Board and Falls Fest in March/April of 2003.

Marcus got their new screens and the taxpayers got a raw deal from Falls Fest.

The old theater on Main Street was 'magically' reassessed in 2003 at $250,000 and only had to pay a little over $4,500 in property taxes costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Falls Fest obtained a mortgage of approximately $250,000 from Community Bank in Menomonee Falls in 2003 without any substantial collateral except the theater that they had just purchased for $250,000.

Falls Fest still owes nearly $220,000 on their mortgage after making payments for 8 years.

The Community Bank President was given the Citizen of the Year Award for Menomonee Falls shortly after she approved the loan for Falls Fest.

A source intimately familiar with Community Bank was told by the bank president to, "...just get the loan done and don't ask questions" when the question was raised about getting an appraisal for the Falls Fest loan for the theater.

It is a common practice to obtain an appraisal for loan applications especially for loans of this size.

Falls Fest hasn't been able to flip the property for a huge gain, their original intention, and has had to make mortgage, property tax and maintenance payments totaling over $30,000 a year since 2003.

Rumor has it that Falls Fest may have finally sold their 'albatross' of a theater as part of the Main Street Redevelopment Plan and perhaps with taxpayer money.

Hopefully the Police Chief will stay on top of this situation to protect Falls taxpayers from this type of potentially unethical and criminal behavior by 'local officials' and their 'organizations' which stand to benefit from this sale.

Stay tuned....

What do you think?

Should the Steligas make good on their 10 year old outstanding Library Pledge of $14,400 or make the taxpayers eat it?

_____yes

_____no

Should the Steligas and Jeskewitzs come clean on The Chamber Funding with taxpayer funds and repay the taxpayers for the Kohler Zahn House as required by Village Resolution 1076-94 or make the taxpayers eat it?

_____yes

_____no

Should the Police Chief investigate the 'smelly' quid pro quo transaction between the Village Board, Falls Fest and Marcus Corporation?

_____yes

_____no

Should the Steligas profit from the potential sale of the old theater on Main Street as part of the Main Street Redevelopment at taxpayers expense?

_____yes

_____no

Should the Steligas open their books to the public or kiss Bob's %@#?

_____open the books

_____kiss Bob's %@#

Should Steliga and Jeskewitz abstain from voting to give Falls Fest and Jeskewitz's wife funds that are indirectly given back to Falls Fest?

_____yes

_____no

Do you really think it costs between $125,000 - $150,000 a year to put Falls Fest on?

_____yes

_____no

How many people do you think attend Falls Fest?

_____30,000

_____20,000

_____10,000

_____5,000

_____2,500

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