County Board Supervisor Dan Miller resigns

Board rule won’t let Miller attend meetings virtually amid COVID concerns
Dan Miller, seen here being sworn in as a county board supervisor in September 2019, resigned his seat on Thursday.

File | NEW Media
Tim Ryan

Shawano County Supervisor Dan Miller has resigned from the County Board after the executive committee vote denied him the opportunity to attend meetings remotely as a precaution against the COVID pandemic.

The committee voted 5-2 Wednesday to leave in place a County Board rule that allows board members to participate in a meeting by phone only once a year.

“That’s what I attempted to get changed to more reflect the situation that we’re in and provide greater protection for board members and others in the public,” Miller said. “It was just setting an example that I felt we needed to do a little bit more to help ensure precautions around the COVID pandemic.”

Miller said he checked with six other counties in the area, all of which provide opportunities for virtual meeting attendance.

“I hoped for a little bit more flexibility and understanding based on the COVID crisis,” Miller said. “We’ve been lucky here in Shawano County, but the count continues to go up and it’s surging throughout the country.”

Miller, who attended the June County Board meeting remotely, and Supervisor Jerry Erdmann cast the two votes seeking to change the rule.

Under Rule 22 of County Board rules, “A Board member with prior permission of the Chairperson may appear telephonically but no mileage or per diem will be granted. A Board member is allowed only one call per year, plus the supervisor must pay for the telephone cost.”

Supervisors Mark Bolin, Kevin Conradt, Richard Ferfecki, Rick Giese and County Board Chairman Tom Kautza voted to keep the rule as is at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting.

“At the last County Board meeting, I took a straw poll of the County Board members and asked them if I should bring back a suspension of the rules for Rule 22 so members could call in to the meeting,” Kautza said. “There were about six hands that went up.”

It takes a two-thirds vote of the 27-member board to approve a County Board rule change.

Kautza said he placed the matter on the executive committee’s agenda at Miller’s request.

“Basically the same result came from that,” Kautza said. “There was really no interest in changing the rules.”

The rules are revisited by the board every two years.

Corporation Counsel Tony Kordus said other parts of Rule 22 have been tweaked over the years, but he does not recall any changes made to the limit on telephone participation in the 13 years that he’s been representing the county.

It wasn’t known how long that part of Rule 22 has been in place.

Kautza also took a straw poll of board members to gauge interest in holding the next County Board meeting in a different location to allow for social distancing, something not possible for board members given the space and structure of the county boardroom.

“I basically got the same results,” Kautza said, with the majority opposed to moving the board meetings. “In this country the majority rules, I guess. That’s the way it works.”

The board met in April at the Crawford Center and in May at the Shawano County Park Pavilion, but returned to the boardroom at the county courthouse for its June meeting.

Most board members and other attendees wore masks or other face coverings at the April meeting.

That dwindled down to only a handful of members wearing masks by the June meeting.

“Dan was a very good member of the board, and I hate to see him resign,” Kautza said. “But he was worried apparently about his health and setting an example for others, so that his prerogative, I guess. It’s too bad. It’s unfortunate. But like I say, it goes back to what the board decides.”

Kautza is looking for someone interested in filling Miller’s District 17 supervisor seat for the remainder of the term, which expires in April 2022.

The district includes Wards 1 and 2 of the Town of Belle Plaine and Ward 1 of the Town of Richmond.

Miller was appointed to the seat in 2019 after the passing of Bonnie Olson. He ran unopposed for the seat in April.