I have lived in the Falls since 1968. My great-great grandfather was one of the village founders. I have served the community in multiple ways: Firefighter, various boards and commissions and for many years was president of the Falls Cable Access Corp. Currently I own, and am active in, a restaurant equipment manufacturing company.
A CONTINUING SERIES
REID J. EPSTEIN email@example.com, Journal Sentinel
Published: March 11, 2004
Village President Jefferson Davis has acted in an unprofessional manner and would put the village at legal risk if he didn't change, an investigation has found. The investigation, conducted by a lawyer and other village officials, stemmed from harassment complaints filed by two village workers who said Davis created a "hostile work environment" through "hostile, intimidating and offensive actions." The village paid the lawyer more than $3,700.
While both workers were women, the investigation cleared Davis of any gender-based harassment. The Journal Sentinel had requested records of all complaints filed against Davis, in office since April. The complaints allege that Davis: -- Asked a female employee if she needed a hug. When she said she "stated that she got those at home, (Davis) responded by saying something to the effect (of) 'that's not what your husband says.' " -- Walked up behind a female employee, "placed his hands on her shoulders and asked her to get him a cup of coffee" in front of Village Board members. -- Threatened to call a female employee's husband after she declined twice to have lunch with him. -- Approached a counter in Village Hall where a female worker was helping someone and joked that she was his wife. The worker "quickly stated that she was not his wife." -- On several occasions, accused female employees of leaking negative information about him to news reporters. In response to those and other allegations, records show that Davis alternately told village administrators either that he didn't remember the incidents or that they were defensible because others had told him that the complainants disliked him. Reached at his home Wednesday, Davis declined to talk about the complaints, which were filed last fall. The village closed the matter in November.
The complaints also stated that Davis was replacing women with men on village commissions and boards. Since Davis took office in April 2003, 31 people have been appointed to such boards and commissions. Five of them have been women. Eight women appointed by former Village President Joe Greco have not been retained. One of the women who filed complaints, Kathy Karalewitz, the village's director of clerk services, said Davis "has left me alone" lately. "He talks to me of only business," Karalewitz said. "And that's the way I want it to stay."
Karalewitz declined to talk about most of her specific allegations, she said, on advice of her attorney. She did say that Davis "tried to blame me for his (campaign finance reports) not being complete. I've been doing this for 20 years, and I'm not going to have anyone blame me for their mistakes. "I don't think it could have gone on," she added. A memo that Village Manager Richard Farrenkopf wrote as part of the investigation to Barbara Blumenfield, the village's director of administrative services, stated that "it is apparent that there is a significant communications problem, an inability to get along and a lack of respect that exists between both parties." Farrenkopf concluded that while Davis' actions were "a concern," he determined that they "did not rise to the level of a hostile work environment based on gender." Farrenkopf recommended that Davis "needs to maintain a professional demeanor at all times. . . . He should also be advised and reminded that certain comments and actions such as those now reported and complained of . . . could result in claims against him and necessitate further action by the village."
The records show that the village paid the Milwaukee attorney William Ehrke $3,776 for his consultation on the case. Ehrke talked with Farrenkopf, Blumenfield, Village Attorney Mike Morse and Davis, the records show. Ehrke and Morse declined to comment on the matter. Karalewitz said she will not ask the village to reimburse her for her attorney fees.
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