April 3, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Owen Robinson posted this story a couple weeks ago. I tried a number of times to get a hold of Nancy Justman, who is running for West Bend School Board. She said she’ll be available Monday after 11 a.m. We’ll bring you her story Monday.
One of the West Bend School Board candidates has a troubled history in Washington County. Before taking her current job, Nancy Justman was the Executive Director of AIS, which runs the Washington County Fair Park, for about eight years. She resigned abruptly after a lot of heat for botching the budget and running up a massive debt. Mark Petersen, one of the now defunct liberal columnists for the local paper, has some of the background:
The Education Committee minutes, starting on March 31, begin to tell the story. Nancy Justman, chairwoman of AIS, “presented a draft master plan for Fair Park dated February 11, 2008, and reviewed the 32 items identified in the plan. It was noted the items have not been prioritized and there are no cost figures associated with the items.” The Education Committee members approved the draft – apparently on the basis of trust, since they accepted a “master plan” that had no cost figures and no spending priorities. In the months that followed, no plan beyond this draft was approved by the County Board.
After March 10, new supervisors were elected, summer passed and, by early November, the Finance Committee had hammered out and approved a solid county budget.
Then something odd happened: a few weeks after the budget was finished AIS asked for the extra $410,000 to cover its overruns. AIS had to know about the additional $130,000 worth of improvements, apparently approved on the fly as construction was underway. Moreover, since the summer’s main events had failed to produce the anticipated profits, someone at AIS had to have known, well before the budget was finished, that they needed an additional $410,000. So why would AIS bring it up after the budget was passed? I’d like to know.
More alarming, when the request was finally presented in December, it was still missing the dollar amounts any competent County Board needs to make a good decision. The minutes from the County Board proceedings on Dec. 9 indicate that, as they’d done nearly seven months earlier, members of the Board asked for an updated business plan, this time to be submitted no later than Jan. 15.
While not excusing the poor management of the Washington County Board at the time, Justman’s failure to provide basic budgetary information was negligence bordering on incompetence. Justman resigned and ran for the hills a couple of months later under a cloud of controversy.
TOWN OF POLK – Nancy Justman, Executive Director of the Washington County Fair Park since July 2001 has accepted a new position outside of Washington County. Her last day at the Fair Park will be April 9.
“We are sorry to see her leave. She did a good job for the Agriculture and Industrial Society,” said Gordon Tonn, board of directors president. “We wish her well in her new endeavors, and it’s unfortunate that she had to leave us. She did a good job for both the AIS and the county.”
County Board Chairman Herb Tennies was surprised when notified by the Daily News that Justman had submitted her resignation. He declined to comment until he read a copy of the resignation letter.
Justman touts her experience working with a board as a qualification for the West Bend School Board. Experience does not always mean successful performance.
Side note – Owen Robinson is a local blogger who publishes Around the Bend every Saturday.