Supervisor disagrees with appointment guidelines

Chair sticks to his personal beliefs when making committee assignments
Kevin Passon

Shawano County Supervisor Joe Miller cast the only no vote when fellow supervisors approved Chairman Tom Kautza’s committee appointments at the May 22 Shawano County Board meeting.

While some committee members are elected by fellow supervisors and others are appointed according to county board rules, many are at the discretion of the board chairman.

Supervisors are asked to submit their requests for committee assignments, which are then reviewed and debated by the Committee on Committees and Kautza. Miller wanted to serve on the public safety committee but was denied a spot.

“I will not put a county board member on a committee where they were an employee. I’m not going to take a member and purposely put them on public safety because they were a deputy in the sheriff’s department,” Kautza said. “You don’t know exactly what that person’s motivation is going to be. Not saying that it’s going to be bad, but you can get someone who’s going to be just a rubber stamp, or you can get somebody who worked at the sheriff’s department and they have a vengeance against someone else that worked there.”

Miller has 30 years of experience with the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation and Shawano County. Supervisor Mike Wizner is retired from the sheriff’s department after 30 years.

“I had put public safety down as No. 1 four previous times, I think Mike had listed it No. 1 twice now,” Miller said the day after the meeting. “Tom, as chairman, has final authority for all committee assignments, when it comes to selection. Why have a Committee on Committees?”

Wizner did not respond to a request for comment.

Miller said he asked the question as he did so new supervisors could hear for themselves Kautza’s viewpoint.

“We just wish we would be shown a bit of respect so our talents and experience would be put to better use for all the residents of the county,” Miller said. “I disagree with Tom’s viewpoint that he thinks we may have a ‘hidden agenda’ or be a rubber stamp for the sheriff. Our experience speaks louder than that.”

Kautza said experience doesn’t necessarily mean a supervisor should be on any particular committee. Sometimes, those without prior knowledge, may ask more questions and serve better because of it.

“I think you can understand our frustration with that,” Miller said. “Sixty years between us, and we don’t know nothing.”

“I’m not saying you don’t know nothing,” Kautza said.

Miller said he would probably make the same case again in two years.

“I’ll give you the same answer, Joe, as I did last year when this came up,” Kautza said. “If you don’t like the way I did it, next time it comes around, throw me out. Elect someone else.”

Kautza said many supervisors want to serve on the executive committee, public safety committee, and the highway and parks committee. County rules dictate some restrictions on the appointments.

For example, the chairman can pick two supervisors at large to serve on the executive committee. Because rules dictate the public safety committee, the highway and parks committee, and the human services board each elect a representative to be on the committee, no one else from those committees can be chosen by the chairman to serve on the executive committee.