March 26, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – Recently Washington County Board Chairman Kriefall sent letters to the editor in support of the Schoemann Campaign for County Executive. He utilized the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of why Schoemann should be elected.
My first thought was wondering why Kriefall is writing about the election instead of showing the community some leadership on the COVID-19 issue. During a state of emergency, the Board Chair alone generally has the authority of the full County Board. As the highest elected official in County government, shouldn’t he be talking to us? What has he done in regards to the pandemic? What is he considering? How does he view the situation and does he support Governor Evers orders?
Is he concerned about the closing of businesses and restricting of our personal freedoms? We don’t know, because the only public statement Chairman Kriefall has made recently is that we should vote for his buddy Schoemann.
I for one would like to see the elected County Board Chairman publicly acknowledge that Governor Evers orders are very restricting to Washington County residents and businesses. Kriefall should communicate to us what he has he done on our behalf to ensure the orders are necessary. He should explain what will need to change for the orders to be lifted or relaxed.
Something else is very concerning. On March 13th Chairman Kriefall issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency and the County Board affirmed that proclamation on March 19.
Broad powers and responsibilities were given to Administrator Schoemann and Chairman Kriefall. Schoemann and Kriefall were given full authority to run County Government and the elected Board is out of the picture. Schoemann is running a campaign for County Executive and Kriefall is his No. 1 fan. When the only public comment Chairman Kriefall has made the past two weeks is to support Schoemann’s campaign, I question the basis being used to make decisions about the COVID-19 response. Is it for our best interests or political interest?
How do we know? I think we should be very attentive, and there may even be a state law that addresses the potential for conflicts of interest and abuse of power.
Statute 323.25(1) states: No personnel, while performing emergency management functions consistent with a plan adopted under s. 323.13 (1) (b) or 323.14 (1) (a) 1. or (b) 1., shall participate in any form of political activity or be employed directly or indirectly for any political activity.
Schoemann and Kreifall are solely in charge of county government now, including its Emergency Management activities. Legally, can either one of these two be doing any political activity at all?
A portion of the proclamation of the proclamation is attached for reference:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Board Chair and the County Administrator are directed to disseminate whatever information they deem necessary to the public and the media regarding the County relating to the ongoing health emergency, and that they may utilize any County resources they deem necessary to carry out this directive.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in addition to the powers and duties set forth in Wis. Stat. §59.18(2), the County Administrator or County Executive in consultation with the County Board Chairman is authorized and directed to implement any and all policies and procedures necessary to administer the County to ensure continuity of operations including all decisions concerning staffing levels and compensation of employees until the expiration of the Proclamation of Emergency, but that all action taken by the County Administrator or County Executive shall be reported to the County Board Chairman, who may refer said action to the Executive Committee, who shall have the authority to affirm, modify, or reverse the decisions of the County Administrator or County Executive.
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London : W. Foulsham & Co., 
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