Kenosha County Eye editor Kevin Mathewson filed suit today in Kenosha County Circuit Court against The Village of Salem Lakes. Also named in the suit are Village Administrator Mike Murdock and Village Clerk Shannon Hahn. In the suit, Mathewson is asking a Circuit Court Judge to order the Village to provide him with the records he requested, and were illegally denied.
Kenosha County Eye has been reporting 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:
We called Rich Scholze at his law firm to try to talk some reason into him. He immediately hung up on us. This is not the type of behavior we should expect from a lawyer that represents government agencies.
We emailed Scholze and all of his partners on February 20, 2023. We told them what Rich was doing. We gave the village until tonight at 5pm to reconsider the denial. Mathewson has won a lot of public records lawsuits, and believe us when we say, this one is the biggest slam dunk. That leads us 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, James Lejcar. Then we remembered, there is an election in April.
“I’m sorry to the taxpayers in The Village of Salem Lakes. I’m sorry that you will have to foot my legal fees and filing costs when I am successful in court. However, the media can’t allow the government to act with such disregard for the law. I pledge to release these records as soon as a judge orders them to be turned over to me. Any punitive damages awarded to me will go back to a Village of Salem Lakes non-profit charity,” Mathewson said Thursday night. “The taxpayers of this beautiful village deserve better.”