To the Editor:
I am a Navy Corpsman Veteran/lab tech assistant who honorably served with the 3rd Marines and a retired 30-year policeman with the Rhinelander Police Department. I received two Department Citations while being a Rhinelander Policeman.
After I retired I had a part-time job doing maintenance cleaning for the Police Department and City Hall. I was told by the park supervisor that bids were being sent out for my job.
So I felt the end was imminent, and I decided as a taxpayer of the city to activate my First Amendment right to inform the city taxpayers by means of a viewpoint in the Star Journal of the ills of the city parks and to list the errors of supervisory lack of attention to detail that cost both the employee health risks and the taxpayer avoidable added costs.
After it was published, I was summoned to the city administrator’s office with the park supervisor present. The city administrator stated that I painted a dark cloud on the city and his position and that he could explain everything that was stated in the editorial. I was advised that a decision regarding my actions was pending.
A few days later I was again called into the office with the same presence and advised that I was being suspended for two weeks without pay. I was then hand-given an order of suspension. A short time later I received a certified letter stating that I was no longer employed.
The number one statement on the letter was that the editorial written was malicious and misleading and that evidence supports it was done in retaliation.
It also stated that I wrote a similar editorial and was counseled by the mayor. That article was concerning the adding of the Historical and Preservation Committee evaluation to the building permit review which I contested as a taxpayer in the article and the meeting with the mayor was so he could tell me that he could keep the chairman of the “society” at bay and that should alleviate my concerns.
It also stated that my editorial caused two organizations to write public rebuttals and in doing so damaged the city’s relationships. Their responses were merely clarifications, not rebuttals.
They added other trivial reasons for my severance which were creative, last-minute fillers to strengthen and distract anything other than my First Amendment right as a taxpayer.
Just prior to this and after the first meeting, I viewed my personal file and found no information that was disciplinary or connected with the performance of my job. Shortly after the editorial was published I was approached by supervisors and employees of the city who went out of their way to congratulate me and stated that the editorial stated what they have known for years. In my written review to the suspension I stated that it was my opinion its intent was personal and punitive rather than objective and disciplinary.
As a result, I question and personally debate the outcome and performance if the taxpayers controlled City Hall verses a city administrator controlled City Hall. Would the concerns of the taxpayers have been addressed rather than a defense of killing the messenger?