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KCE Wins Lawsuit Against Village of Salem Lakes: Records And Fees To Be Turned Over

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Salem Lakes Village President Diann Tesar
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kevin Mathewson, Editor of Kenosha County Eye, was awarded a judgement today in Kenosha County Circuit Court. The Village of Salem Lakes has two days to turn over the records requested, and a check for fees and damages.

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Kenosha County Eye has been closely watching the Village of Salem Lakes. We were tipped off last year about a rogue government. We have uncovered much misconduct and bad government. Recently, the incumbent trustees did very poorly in the primary election with one losing his seat, and it’s likely the other three will lose their seats as well. Three challengers had huge wins and landed the top three spots.

Salem Lakes Fire Chief James Lejcar and Fire Inspector Steve Ptaszynski
(Photos by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Most of the complaints centered around Fire Chief James Lejcar and Fire Inspector Steve Ptaszynski, who many business owners contend are trying to shut down businesses over personal grudges. KCE was also told that the Fire Chief is such a bad leader, that many firefighters, paramedics, and EMT’s have left the department since Lejcar has taken over as chief. KCE asked the village, under the Wisconsin public records laws, for the letters of resignation of the employees that left in the last three years. Village President Diann Tesar stands behind Chief Lejcar, and that is why many residents of the Village oppose her re-election. KCE believes that between 20 and 30 hard-working fire department staff members have left in the three years, but we will know for sure within two days. The Village of Salem Lakes denied our request and we quickly sued. KCE made an offer to settle with the Village of Salem Lakes but the only trustee who seemed to question the denial was Trustee Ron Gandt. The rest of the board members wanted to fight until the end.

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KCE spoke with a civil attorney that estimates that the village likely spent between $5,000 and $6,000 in attorneys fees, KCE’s fees, and damages. KCE was entitled to double damages, since the village declined an earlier offer to settle, but we declined in court today, because the hard-working taxpayers are the ones who are actually footing the bill.

Village Attorney Rich Scholze
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Village Attorney Rich Scholze, of Wanasek, Scholze, Ludwig, Ekes & Wishau, S.C., should have advised the board to settle with KCE, but he gave them terrible legal advice. In court today, Mathewson sat at the plaintiff’s table and Scholze and Village Administrator Michael Murdock sat at the defendant’s table. Village President Diann Tesar and Fire Chief James Lejcar were also in court to show their support for not releasing the documents. Village Attorney Rich Scholze tried unsuccessfully to get today’s hearing moved until after the election.

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Judge Bruce Schroeder
(Photo by Nathan DeBruin for Kenosha County Eye)

Today in court, Judge Bruce E. Schroeder didn’t seem to buy Scholze’s argument and ordered the records, and fees to be turned over to Mathewson within two days. We emailed all trustees and did not receive any responses.

KCE promised to donate the money we won in damages to a Salem-Lakes area group. We have decided to donate that money to the Salem Lakes Area Business Owners Association.

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34 Responses

    1. Good job Mathewson,,time to take out the trash! We the people are sick of these pos thinking they’re about the law!

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  1. If the taxpayers of Salem Lakes don’t send these incumbents packing, I will be shocked., These incumbents are way past their sell date. They are gambling with your money,. This Attorney should give a refund to the village, this attorney is acting on emotion not on his craft. I think someone should question whether he should be the village’s Attorney. He Sucks.
    The fact that the majority of the board was lead by this attorney, is another reason to question his competency and those that agreed with his stupid guidance. I think Diann to be a good person, but as a leader, yikes. Those that think the Village is fine, are clueless. These incumbents are destroying this village with theirs and others personal agendas, Why?
    Mr Culat states he’s a resident of Illinois but resides in Wisconsin, WTF does that mean? Is he a legal candidate? Please asks questions, we need answers.
    When this election is over, I think a made for TV movie is in order, you can’t believe the BS these citizens are being put up against.
    This village needs change big time, hopefully the voters are paying attention? Thank God for fighters like Kevin and the citizens that have put their reputations on the line for the majority that remain silent. People need to raise their voices to the injustice. Vote April 4 for Real Change.

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    1. I think the law says( at least for Governor) that a person needs to live in the state of where they are an elected official for 1/2 year plus 1 day.

      I wonder about Steinbrink SR right now. For the past many months we haven’t seen much action by his home. He may show up at the meetings but has he been actually living in WI or somewhere? I dont think you can just “own” a house here and still be an elected official. I don’t know how to find that out. Hey Kevin, maybe your resources could find out for us here in PP???? Pretty sure you need to PHYSICALLy be here.

      The last time I saw Steinbrink SR., he was hooking up or returning a nice travel trailer/camper in his driveway. That was about a month ago. There has only been a couple times I’ve seen JR at his house with his silver truck for a LONG time now and NOBODY at the beautiful new house that was built next to JR’s home(from what I understand, this is JR’s sitser’s home). Where are these people????

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    2. Makes one wonder if the attorney is giving the board bad advice, or is the board telling him what advice they will accept?

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    3. also culat is a disgraced former police officer from antioch… hard to believe he was elected in the 1st place hes a no good pos

    1. You can tell just by his looks, that Lejcar does not like being told what to do.
      I think that will change real quick now, thanks to Kevin and the KCE.

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  2. Now that KCE’s open-records victories are detailed prominently on the website (see the “legal victories” tab at the top), these governmental bodies have no more excuses for losing to the KCE. Just. Turn. Over. The. Documents. Quit getting embarrassed. You are supposed to be transparent “public servants,” so act like it.

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  3. There has to be a reason.
    Simply not releasing resignation letters for exiting people must, on the whole, be an indicator of something much more important to keep covered up.

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  4. There is much more to this then just the fire department. These same people do the same tascs in Paddock Lake with out any of the drama. The difference is the Administrator.
    Salems Administrator is a nobody who sat in the tavern with board members to get where he is, hes good at covering his ass too. What are the qualifications for that job? Does he even have them?
    Maybe someone should look into the finances of Salem for the last 10 years. Our roads sure arent kept up like they were before Murduck was in charge of them, snow removal sucks!

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  5. I’d love to see open records for the Bristol grade school. Principal was forced to resign last year for misconduct and received raises through her gay lover that was the school board president that abruptly resigned after the affair became public knowledge.

    Principal lied and had a parent arrested for calling out her misconduct to her the administration and the school board. Made false accusations to try saving her job.

    Now Bristol is trying to pass a referendum for more $$. How much went to pay people to leave despite breaches of contract, lawyer fees to cover scandals and what the hell is going on at that school?

    Corruption is everywhere in our small communities.

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  6. Those local officials should reimburse the taxpayers.
    From Pleasant Prairie to Salem to Kenosha County. This is ridiculous that I’m not turning over records.
    This is America people fought with their lives for freedom and transparency of government.

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    1. According to the open records received by KCE (thank you again Kevin!), Steinbrink Jr had a fraudulently obtained engineering degree! What would the pay difference be in having one or not having one? If it was required to have the degree, Steinbrink should never had gotten that position and should pay back any money owed to the people of Pleasant Prairie. I wonder if Rick Greeno, who now has Steinbrink JR’s position, has an engineering degree? These people getting hired and getting paid up to 140,00 a year w/o degrees for the past many years is ridiculous! Maybe we can do a background check or PUBLIC RECORDS request on all our public officials qualifications for the job positions they hold in PP and take a look at their pay scale???

      I spoke with Theile when I got a letter about that crazy referendum that came out for new officers and firemen for Pleasant Prairie. I told him the money must not be getting handled well by the people in office or maybe we are paying everyone too much! Maybe people of PP need to see what everyone is getting paid or maybe we need to cut out some useless jobs not needed in the PP offices! I wonder how many other people have fraudulent degrees that are getting paid big bucks in PP!

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  7. you can tell by the way the guy is sitting there he got a complex of ” don’t question me. ”
    This guy is a terrible leader. And would be a great service to have him out of his position AND NO LONGER INVOLVED IN LOCAL GOVERMENT !!!

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  8. I doubt anyone would deny Kevin holding back enough of the award to cover the course of an 1½” Porterhouse-he’s sure earned it!

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  9. Fantastic job Kevin!
    I’d suggest in the future you retain any fees awarded to you.
    You’re setting a precedent that may lead rogue government tyrants to believe your time, money, stress and effort, don’t deserve compensation.
    Your donation is noble.
    If you keep the awarded fees, they will be a “war chest fund” for future battles.
    Taxpayer’s appreciate your hard work on behalf of underdogs.
    Very happy to see “Photo Chad” Nate, taking courtroom photographs for Kenosha County Eye.
    Thank you for your hard work, dedication and sacrifices Kevin.
    We appreciate TRUTH NEWS we read in KCE.
    This is my opinion while I’m still allowed to have one. ????

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  10. I received a letter today from a citizen of Salem Lakes denouncing Tesar and Culat. This was a very thoughtful letter, hopefully many received it. I’m hopeful the residents of Wisconsin in Salem Lakes will vote for Bucur, Barhyte , Sweeting and Young. These are good people stepping up to the plate to truly make our lives better. Our small government can have such a positive or negative impact in our lives, change is a cure for problems. I pray the citizens in Salem Lakes truly see the incumbents as the problem not the solution. They have stuck their heads in the sand, and been told to hold the course by misguided trustee’s and employees. Send a message on April 4th. The taxpayers are in charge, either listen to our concerns and produce solutions or start packing. I’ve seen so many people in our community embrace change, let’s finish the job on April 4th. We all owe gratitude to these candidates for doing the hard work we will hopefully benefit from. Thank you, to all of them.

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    1. Can I asak what is wrong with mentioning Norm Kazumura? He has more qualifications than half of the people mentioned.

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  11. Kevin needs to get whatever he found in those documents that were turned over out on here ASAP……April 4 is coming up.

    These people aren’t dumb…they know if this leaks that they are done come April 4. It’s the whole reason they didn’t it released until after.

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  12. This is slightly off point, but now that I’ve been attending more municipal meetings in Kenosha County (and I would encourage every single neighbor out there reading the KCE to make it a point to start attending your town or village meetings when possible- not only when the shit hits the fan) I notice that the attorneys who act as “village or town counsel” are really not the best and brightest. Totally unimpressed when they have to speak on a matter or are asked a question.

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    1. I dont think that this can be said about Rich Scholze. He is well versed in Muni Law. Merely attending meetings will not make a difference. The difference is made when you run for office, win and then represent the citizens as you campaigned you would. Merely attending elections also doesnt do much unless you know the laws pertaining to elections, otherwise how would you know what is legal and not legal. All Municipal attorneys have more going for them than those, (self included) sitting here and commenting. At the meetings they protect the board, to keep them honest and in a way, are working for us. Typically, they dont work for electors. So, if you see something that you think is illegal, you, can POINT OF ORDER the action or with your own attorney, sue. The state also does not work for us. They work for the state and the board. So, gather your pennies and hire an attorney if you want to make change without running for office.

      1. Rich Scholze is a problem. Anyone who has hired him for their legal issues would know this. He is one of the “good ole’ boys”. He will have his own issues. lets watch and wait… BYE BYE Richie!

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  13. Sounds like what I did in Pleasent Prarrie now needs to be done in the village I live in. Yes kevin you know who this is and I say we expose this as well!!! Great job as always dude.

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