Opinion by Kenosha County Eye Editor, Kevin Mathewson:
Kenosha County Eye has been very interested in behavior from elected officials and other employees of the Village of Salem Lakes. Most of the tips we’ve received have proven to be true. One such tip, is that the embattled Fire Chief, Jim Lejcar has been such a terrible leader, that many quality firefighters have resigned in the last year. Of course, before reporting on this, we started a fact-finding investigation. On January 28, 2023, we asked the Village of Salem Lakes for the resignation and/or termination letters from the fire department for the last three years. After slow-playing the request for almost a month, Village Clerk Shannon Hahn denied our request today. She cited a statute that has nothing to do with our request.
A Village Clerk like Shannon, likely consulted with the Village’s Attorney, Rich Scholze before making this determination, especially becuase we’ve never lost a public records lawsuit. In fact, we’ve won over eleven lawsuits and administrative appeals in Illinois and Wisconsin. This denial is especially laughable because the Village has provided KCE with a letter of resignation on January 20, 2023, just over a week before this request. Here is the resignation letter that Hahn provided to us:
I called Rich Scholze at his law firm to try to talk some reason into him. He immediately hung up on me. This is not the type of behavior we should expect from a lawyer that represents government agencies.
I emailed Schoze and all of his partners today. I told them what Rich was doing. I gave the village until Thursday night at 5pm to reconsider the denial. If not, I will be filing a lawsuit this Friday, February 24, 2023 in Kenosha County Circuit Court. I’ve won a lot of slam-dunk cases, and believe me when I say, this one is the biggest slam dunk. That leads me to be extremely suspicious about why the Village of Salem Lakes doesn’t want the public to know about the failed leadership of the new Fire Chief. Then I remembered, there is an election tomorrow. With a government agency that is as non-transparent as Salem Lakes, they likely know they will lose this lawsuit and the taxpayers will have to foot the bill for my attorneys’ fees and costs. They are willing to spend the hard-working tax-dollars of the Salem Lakes taxpayers for political gain.