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Embattled Salem Lakes Village Administrator Lawyers Up After Criminal Investigation Concludes

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Salem Lakes Village Administrator Mike Murdock
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Salem Lakes Village Administrator Mike was caught creating a “hit list” of business to “shut down.” He would frequently use profanity in emails attacking residents and businesses. He was accused of weaponizing the Fire Department to attack his enemies. Now, on the heels of an election that replaced almost the entire Village Board, Salem Lakes Village Administrator Mike Murdock sees the writing on the wall. He thinks he will soon be in the unemployment line. At least, that’s what he seemingly told his attorney. This is also only a few weeks after the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office concluded a criminal investigation into allegations of corruption under Murdock’s administration. Walworth DA Zeke Wiedenfeld (D) said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction, but the investigators note some “off” practices in the Village.

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Murdock hired the same attorneys, West and Dunn, that former trustee Mike Culat hired to sue KCE. In a letter sent to the Salem Lakes village board dated May 30, 2023, seemingly threatening a lawsuit if the board removed Murdock, the attorney makes mention of Murdock’s “employment agreement.” KCE was told, in response to a public records request, that there is not currently, and never was an employment contract for Murdock. We don’t know how his lawyer got this wrong – he won’t tell us. Murdock also won’t talk to us. The letter also says that the new board and president is making “unreasonable” expectations of Murdock. A Village insider says that Murdock wants a raise from his current $140,617.29 salary to do any “new duties.” When KCE sued Murdock, he said, under oath “I do not have a strong interest on who sits on the board of the Village of Salem Lakes.” It seems, however, that he does. The Village recently had a closed-session meeting to discuss the potentially imminent lawsuit.


Salem Lakes Public Works Director Paul Snellen
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Investigation

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According to the police report obtained by KCE, Murdock did a lot of things that the previous Village President says she was unaware of. Former Trustee Mike Culat, who is suing KCE, was alleged to have used a village skid steer on his property. A village employee told Walworth County Sheriff’s Detectives that the skid steer was missing from the shop for about two months. This same employee said that when it was returned, it was in a worse condition, with sticks covering it and the bucket had rust on it. This employee asked Public Works Director Paul Snellen where the skid steer was, because it was needed for village jobs. Snellen told him he didn’t know where it was. The skid steer was also missing the fuel key ring. The employee asked Snellen where the fuel key was and Snellen said “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and looked like he “saw a ghost.” Culat denies using the skid steer for personal use. There is some evidence, however, that he used some major equipment to clear a path in his backyard, during the approximate time he had the expensive village equipment. Satellite imagery is shown below.

Culat’s Home (Source Withheld Due To Pending Litigation)

Investigators later learned from Murdock that Snellen had indeed brought the skidsteer to Culat’s house. This means the Snellen had lied to the employee whistleblower. But why? There was also an allegation that Paul Snellen towed the Village’s man lift on a Saturday away from the Village’s property and returned without it. The whistleblower asked Snellen where he brought the lift and Snellen replied “I don’t know.” The whistleblower believes it was towed to Culat’s house for him to use to trim trees. The whistleblower then told investigators that Snellen and Murdock would allow Village employees to use tools, equipment and some facilities for personal use. Murdock got mad at one point and revoked the privileges for a couple of years, but started up again.

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Murdock and Snellen both admitted to investigators that they store their own personal property at Village facilities and allow other employees to do the same. Investigators believed that the former Village President was unaware of this perk for employees. Murdock also admitted to investigators that he allowed a business owner he knows to store inventory in a Village building for free. This was also unknown by the previous president. Village staff were asked to clear out a storage container on village property. Snellen then stored his personal items in the trailer, like deer mounts. Murdock gave Snellen permission – the previous village president said she was unaware of this.

Menard’s 11% rebates were also asked about. Murdock and the previous Village President said they had a policy that handled the rebates. KCE is told be insiders that there is no such policy.

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Many people who installed the new board – by a 2 to 1 margin, believe that Murdock is responsible for the Village’s decline. They want Murdock gone. One resident, who owns a business in Salem Lakes and lives here, told KCE that “It’s a mandate to get rid of Murdock. These new candidates promised change, and change starts at the top. Murdock needs to go. There can be no change if he sticks around. Thank you for your service, but your time is up, now you want to sue the taxpayers? You’re a joke, Mike.”

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70 Responses

    1. Attacking Mr. Hopkins is probably unfair at this point? My impression, he is a critical thinker and perhaps puts the village first. Gandt and Hopkins tried to speak up, but the prior board, the fire chief, and the administrator just kicked the shit out of them at the meetings. Hopefully they will gather the fortitude and do the job they were elected to do. If they do not, then they need to go.

      What is shocking is the petty things that the village goes after businesses and residents for, but they are guilty of the same shit. Rules for thee and not for me is a maxim for some government employees in Salem Lakes. For example, if a business owner even leans a wooden pallet on a building that is a fire code violation. However, if the village pushes a forest of brush up against a village building it’s fine. Go and drive by the old highway department to see the fire code violation of fire code violations! If anything sets that brush on fire the entire village could have a marshmallow roast over the embers of the highway department building. It is unf—ckin believable! You simply cannot make this stuff up. They are just so inept. Just burn the brush in a controlled area! Instead, the highway department will piss away $32,000 to remove it. Just remember, they care about the hard-earned dollars you pay in taxes.

      This damn village is so focused on fire code that they do not know how to interpret it in a fair just way. The village highway department has a club, and the regular taxpayer is not in it! The oppressed business owner is crying for help, but nobody cares. This new board better wake up to some of the insanity going on in this village! The fire dept under the leadership of Murdock and Lecar is run by insane policies.

      Now it turns out that some of the village employees were using village buildings and equipment for personal use. They are declaring that there was no policy in place to cover assess. Are you f–kin kidding me? Let’s say I want to use the village building to store my boat or cars in a conditioned space for myself and my buddies, for free mind you. Is that going to happen? Not a fu–kin chance!!!!! This is pure lawlessness!!!!

      I am not sure what is going on with equipment use program, but it looks bad if an administrator is allowing equipment to be used at a trustee’s home. It has not been proven that occurred, but let’s look at the facts. I just received a copy of this police report. The employees and trustee cannot even get their story straight between the police report and the public comments made. How has this not been further investigated by the police? Somebody should go to the state because something is definitely wrong. Maybe this story is slanted, but look at the satellite picture! If this is from the same time that the equipment was at that former trustee’s house, then a more thorough investigation is needed. I’ll bet all the tea in China there is more to come! If Hopkins and Gant sweep this under the rug, then they are part of the problem. I wonder if they could have used the buildings to store their stuff? It makes you wonder! It is also rather comical that the taxpayer is scrutinized for petty nonsense, but when village employees personally benefit it’s all good! Why the hell would these people throw stones in a glass house when they have done so much shady stuff?

      Hopkins at C.O.W meeting questioned the new village president for wanting too many things from the administrator. That’s rather curious! Other administrators do the same type of duties that President Bucur wants Murdock to do. For $140,000 a year you would think he should earn his keep. Was Hopkins attempting to helping Murdock out in his lawsuit against the village? It just seems to me that perhaps there is an alliance between those two, and that should raise some eyebrows. Perhaps there is not and that his comment was an honest reflection of his feelings for what the duties of a village administrator should be. I for one think the jury is still out on Hopkins. One this is for certain; the taxpayers should keep a very close eye on him…

      More to come…

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      1. I thought the new board was going to fix this. So now we need to get rid of Hopkins to fix this, please. The people that work for this Village must be retarded to continue this Stuff. Please do something, it’s Ground Hog Day with different people.

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        1. These little villages are always ripe for corruption, nobody is watching, too busy working two underpaid jobs. Hard to believe a government worker would risk their job with stupid risks. They got it made. Nothing like saving on storage fees and equipment rentals to make life complete. Hopefully, it ends up being worth it.

          1. Going to the village meeting might help though. I don’t know when they are for your town, but Steinbrink made it possible so that people can’t show up at ours in Pleasant Prairie…5:00!!!! People are either just getting off work or taking care of their family for dinner. I hope your time starts at a decent hour.

        2. Please give the new board some time. Things within the Village under the old board didn’t happen overnight and can’t be fixed overnight. The new board is addressing issues but can only do so much at a time. Give them a chance to address the issues a little at a time.

        1. I can’t imagine this new board had any idea how much the old board and employes would fight to not make the change this Village Desperately needs. Hopefully they unite as a group and rid this Village of the poisonous people. This is a common thing in Illinois, Every decade you need to flush the toilet.

          1. If they dont act on the 26th, the new group will not prevail for the rest of their terms. The 26th must end with a dismissal of the admin or the rest of the terms will be more of the same craand the election and all the work to make change will be a wasted exercise.

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  1. Need to get rid of the Chief and inspector as well. This explains why both of them were put in their positions under the table which neither are qualified to have. None the less they both need to be gone for violating the core values that the patch they wear and the emblem written on the side of the fire trucks “Honor and integrity” that right there is enough to remove them both.

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    1. They will all probably fight like tooth and nail if they have retirement “plans” like the PP administration. Sweet deals! Glad a lot of this is coming out. Take a look at public records pay for Gov’t employees and see if you think what your town is paying them is a fair wage.

      All these little towns have learned from each other on corruption. Hopefully, they will learn that KCE is out there keeping an eye on them and letting us ALL know what’s happening in these small corrupt towns! Thank you KCE! You have your hands FULL with all this stuff going on in these towns and I certainly appreciate it! Pleasant Prairie wants you to run against Steinbrink!

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    2. Be sure to watch the meeting tonight! LISTEN to the words.
      Petition the Village President for committee person removal if you dont like what you see or hear! Make your voice known. Do not be shut down.

  2. If Diann Tesar did not know, she was not looking, was not available to look, didn’t involve herself in the life of the village, didn’t supervise at least a minimum to confirm appropriate actions of the village in the village and worst, stuck her head in the ground. She seems to have forgotten the issues her mentor Shirley had with George V.

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  3. Why do we think we need any government? We tried this thing called government. We the people don’t like it. Let’s unincorporate the entire Non United States.

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    1. Senor Jantzen is partially correct. The government was not intended to have a military or taxes…it has become tyrannical and pick the winners and losers while genociding whites.

      There is no political solution at this point. When civil war starts, the color of your skin is your uniform. No doubt that the jew political system of republican/democrats, central bankers, major corporations along with secret societies (including you local free masons) need to be destroyed.

    2. Your comments are all fucking ridiculous. You are a fucking moron on your little tiny ranch in drug infested Mexico.

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  4. Seems like this was a play ground for certain employees. There has been rumors, for years about the storage and the equipment use program. Unfortunately it appears it was true, and the previous sleepy board didn’t even know? Makes you wonder why not? Hopefully the new board learns from these mistakes and put strict policies in place to stop this BS. I think all taxpayers of Salem lakes should get a free storage area in Village buildings,
    O’ wait?
    I have to pay for one at the local rental facilities. Probably the same one’s the Village was harassing, too funny. Hopefully this police report will be made public. Storing cars and boats is expensive, I wonder how longs this was going on. I’ve heard these rumors for at least 10 years, very interesting information. It takes arrogance’s to store boats and cars thinking nobody from the board will see, very shocking hard to understand how this was done with no fear of being caught. It makes sense why he lawyered up, but having Culat come and start Shit at meetings is beyond stupid, some best friend. I would think the Administrator would be laying low, not shining a spot light on himself. Seems like some board ass kissing would of been far cheaper than a Attorney and far more effective,IMO. This board has a lot of work on it’s plate, it will be interesting to hear what’s next. Stock up on the popcorn and soda’s.?

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    1. I think that the new president and at least one other trustee – should take the elevator downstairs and see what is stored at the village hall; Open all those doors! And, check in the old Silver Lake buildings and the old highway building and the second floor on the new highway building and the second floor of the Fire section. Oh, and the basement under Fire and Highway there too! Pick a day and have Mike give a tour. Don’t forget the full footprint of the sewer utility! What is being stored outside behind he utility? Remember, people storing material arent really the bad guys. The one that gave the “okay” on the sneak – that is the bad guy! Lord help the bad guy if money traded hands and didnt go thru rental at the Village.

      1. None of it is there anymore. It’s all at Steinbrink SR’s and Steinbrink JR’s barns! Friend’s helping friends out! LOL!

  5. I keep hearing that the truth will come out on Facebook. Interesting, I don’t think this is the truth that they are expecting. Clearly, this police investigation didn’t follow the inconsistencies that were uncovered by those that were interviewed. Not sure what to make of that. It makes you think, maybe the DA’s are just not that interested in Village corruption. If that picture of that trustee property is accurate, then this current board should further investigate with the employees of the Village, something the investigators didn’t do, Why? I would think a poll on the use of Village buildings and equipment would show taxpayers don’t think this acceptable. Maybe more taxpayers will show up at the meetings and say No More. Otherwise free storage and equipment use for ALL TaxPayers!!
    Where’s the sign up sheet? I want to secure my spot.

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    1. Surprisingly, the main players and their facebook pages, are not usually the info providers. It is all those other people making posts that tell the story! One only has to be diligent!

    2. It depends on whose truth you want. Taxpayer truth is always black and white, however, employees are what they can get away with. Right or wrong you can’t police everything.

  6. Sounds like he should be lawyering up.

    My guess is the board throws him under the bus and says they didn’t know this was going on and he was acting outside the scope of his employment duties…..meaning people should be looking to sue him directly eventually..

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    1. Restitution is very common in these public office for private gain cases, time will tell. Surprising the investigators didn’t dig deep enough. This might be more of a state thing. Maybe someone on the legal side can comment.

      1. Restitution please, you can’t even fire employees when wrongdoing is discovered. Have you watched the news lately? You might cause mental distress if you fire them. Don’t do stupid things and you won’t win stupid prizes.

  7. Why hasn’t the new board taking a tour of all Village facilities yet? It would seem this would be the easiest way to find out what personal items are being stored and who needs to be prosecuted. I thought the new board members were going to look into all of this? Am I missing something here?

    1. They should be calling a Special meeting to get to the bottom of this. Why are they not acting, these are serious concerns. Voters want action, no rug sweeping. If The Administrator admitted to it to the police, it’s probably rampant. I’m sure the police got the sugar coated version. Hopefully this board will step up. If the Administrator is getting a attorney it speaks volumes. Not that innocent people don’t need attorney’s but he acted first, very telling. When somebody lawyers up for no apparent reason, it does make a person wonder why? Maybe he likes giving his money to Attorney’s, who knows?

    2. Personal items have been removed now. And the daily use of vehicles for the two has also stopped. The slush fund for lunches is still there from all the scrap from the new treatment plant upgrades. And conveniently the scrap was only taken in by Paul. It made me sick to know where my tax dollars were going and how the ones running it were so corrupt.

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  8. I think the issues with this person may be deeper than whether he stores some personal stuff on village property. That could be the lever for taking action, of course, like tax evasion with Capone and document retention with Trump.

    1. Valid point. My take is more from a Ethical and financial issue. The rumor mill is saying 7-10 vehicles and 2-3 boats, plus a ton a personal stuff, semi trailer amount of car parts,motors, transmissions
      House hold items etc.
      Let’s first think ethics.
      Is it egregious to think that a employee is that sure of the workings of a village, that this can be done and not noticed by anyone on the previous board. Seems that would need to be done by a long time employee that knew nobody would notice or the board had to be in on it. Hard to believe all the Village Assets found a place indoors with this much space occupied by personal stuff otherwise we built too big. Very unethical behavior if true.
      Think of the cost to rent space for these items maybe 5-6 20×30 cold storage rental units. The unit I rent is 250 month for a 19×29 space.
      250×12 =3,000 year x5-6 units
      15-18k a year. Not chump change of Savings, how many years? This didn’t start yesterday or this is one brazen individual.
      So yes, this is concerning, maybe nothing in some eyes but not mine. The equipment use is a whole another issue,
      Easy to see if this was going on. This board should ACT
      With a Immediate internal investigation. Taxpayer deserve to know how their money is spent wastefully.

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      1. That’s great to put the figures out there! People may blow off a 250.00 figure, but adding it all up gets people’s attention! $15,000-$18,000….people start to notice.

  9. I think all these negative comments about Mr Murdock are missing the point. This guy would be a Great Administrator at a Storage Facility. Not all bad news for him, he has a special set of skills, he just needs to embrace his hidden passion. You always need to look on the bright side of life.

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    1. Definitely a special set of skills like a corrupt politician. I wouldn’t hire him to work at the sewer plant.

  10. If you people only knew. All of this is only the “tip of the iceberg”.
    Years ago, he was hired by George V and George was his immediate supervisor.

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  11. Tax payers should be asking:
    How does a person get hired as an administrator, making more money than the previous administrator?
    How does a person get hired as an administrator without a hiring process and advertising for a qualified public administrator?
    How does a person get hired as an administrator without a masters degree or at the very least some type of degree?
    These and a lot of other questions should be asked by taxpayers. If a person is responsible for millions of dollars, I personally would want a hiring process and at the least masters degree in business administration or public administration.

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    1. They get someone else, like another employee, take a test for them to get a false Engineering/Bachelors degree like Steinbrink JR!

  12. 40 comments and not one of them supportive. Ol’Mike must be hoping and praying that Kevin adds another story soon so Mike gets moved to page 2. Alas, search brings up all the stories again!

  13. I was a former employee. I saw it all. I questioned it all and was black balled. I was called into meetings with Murdock and Brad. Nothing but threats. Nothing but scare tactics. A village board member was contacted, Murdock was then contacted and I was again threatened. The sooner Brad, Paul, and mike are gone and you get some new leadership in there that actually care about the place, how it looks to the public. How it’s run the sooner the tax payers dollars will be put to good use. The fact Murdock is making more than almost every other administrator around is a joke. At least him and Brad don’t have personal company 60-70 thousand dollar trucks being used for personal use. A lot of stuff was brought to light. But there is still some stuff that will make you shake your head over. And question.

      1. Sounds like Snellen Will be the fall guy. Hopefully he’s paying attention. If Snellen was smart he better start talking now before they throw him overboard. He who cuts a deal first wins.

        1. He was part of the problem. Cause he was mikes rt hand man. Conveniently he was promoted for how great of a job he was doing

      2. Highway Employee failing drug and alcohol test. Kept his job and given special jobs to do since it was murdocks friends son.

        Murdock and Brad falsifying time cards to let the guys go drink all afternoon and still get paid their full days wage.

        Waste water employees shopping for personal things on the clock.

        Brad going home everyday for lunch to let his dog out. Using village truck. Gone for well over an hour and he lives in kenosha.

        Other employees being late for work so they just wrote their time in cause they wanted to be paid the full day. Mind you this was only for certain individuals.

        Smoking in all the village owned buildings and all the village trucks. Murdock and Paul are the biggest offenders of this.

        Employees drinking while on the clock for special events. (Pumpkin Days). And while drinking they were using the village trucks. Paul was the one running beers to the guys.

        Brad showing up to work drunk.

        Promotions, jobs created, without going through the board or any type of hiring procedures. It was the good ole boys club.

        Accidents by employees with no documentation or drug testing.

        Auto body repairs done by one business with no other quotes and only one person (Paul) was allowed to deal
        With it. 7800 dollars for a rear bumper and hitch.

        1. A job being created is done via the budget.
          The board approved the budget and therefore the job.
          The board should ask if the budget includes any new personnel. If the answer is Yes, then the board shold be removing those dollars before the vote, if they dont agree.
          If the answer is No, then there shold not be any new faces on the payroll. If they are, it should be a replacement person.
          The budget specs from the board should state that any new hires and additional equipment be called out on the budget details.
          Ditto with equipment.
          The boards have been lazy and the admins have taken advantage of this. They only worry for the 45 min meeting where they get the approval and then they are scott free for a year. Sweeting is on the right path. She wants to see a detailed chart of accounts and the budget vs actuals for all these detailed accounts.

          The budget is all encompassing. When the citizens and the board understand this, the budget will be seen in a different light.

    1. Name the trustee . We want to know who dropped the ball. Seriously. Name the person. They are a public official. Basically they have to take whatever you dish out. It is the price of being an elected official. I am sorry you chose the wrong trustee to confide in. I think I understand why you could not speak with Tesar or Nopenz.
      Now you have Kevin. His E-mail address is below.

    2. I also was a former employee and agree with “Been there”. When I spoke up, I also was black balled. Many of us who have been threatened.

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  14. As an employee, the corruption was bad at all levels. Never have I seen so much at one place and so open. I have watched employees leave work on work hours for Xmas parties and get drunk and get paid for it while the admin and superintendent took care of the time cards. I have witnessed scrap money getting used for free meals for employees. I have witnessed certain employees just writing in their times on a time card. Watched employees go shopping for personal items on company times. Deal with smoking in most of the village buildings and village vehicles and equipment. The superintendent drives home for lunch with a village vehicle that is used for everyday commutes to and from work. He lives in kenosha. Secretary cooking and baking weekly instead of doing her job. Village employee arrested for DUI and never losing his job even though he couldn’t perform the work. Administrator parking his personal vehicles in village buildings. Promotions for only certain people that cater to the corrupt administrator. Good employees leaving over harassment from administrator. The superintendent showing up hung over. And remember he drives a village vehicle home. The same unmarked truck that you will find at woodmans and other establishments during work hours and after work hours. There is more too.

      1. Where is the kitchen set up? I want to place an order for lunch tomorrow. Is the menu open or limited? If I call today, she will have time to leave early and shop for tomorrow’s lunch. Thanks for the heads up, this is a service that taxpayers really need.

  15. A lot of “first hand info” being given here. I hope that each has taken the time to Write to Kevin and to the new president. Ifyou sit on your own hands, nothing will change. If you want protection, you need to go to the one that can give it. Again, if you only dump the complaints here, they are only hearsay. To effect change, one must be direct and open to the people who can make change.
    Brad being drunk is not new, sadly. Murdock running with unmarked village trucks, also not new.

    The board needs to create an ordinance now that all village owned vehicles, apparatus and large pieces, like mowers and skidsteers have numbers and village logos prominently displayed on them. front back sides. I am certain the President is reading. Add it to the agenda.

    Covering up a DUI while working for the village is a fireable offense.
    Driving while DUI while ina village vehicle on or off the clock is a fireable offense.
    Sounds like any employee having to meet with Brad or Mike need to have at least a trustee of their choice or an attorney with them.

  16. This is why you should treat people properly. Otherwise they wait for their day of retribution. These are terrible stories, hard to believe any of them have jobs. I wonder who flips first? Drum roll

    1. Interesting.
      I would make a motion to “Dismiss the Administrator Micheal Murdock Effetive immediately.”
      The board must totally embrace the administrator they employe. If they cannot, tey canot trust his decisions or his fairness and ne needs to be gone. In an “at will state” without a contract this is the most prudent action to take.
      If he feels he must deal with the board with an attorney, then it is clear he does not trust the board either so it wold be best to leave the environment.
      To push the board will only make the issue more public and bring negative views on the administrator and deprive himself of a good standing in this job and the jobs prior.
      Always best to walk away in good standing without anything official in the negative. As it is now, only this KCE is public. Luckily the board did not present his name in the agenda which would have made it public forever.
      Make the motion.
      Second it.
      Make it unanimous and be done with it on all sides.

      1. It appears there will be no trust with this current Administrator and the current board. Once you hire an attorney you seal your fate. Who?? gets to dictate job duties with an attorney? I personally think this looks a lot like deflection from the real possible concerns, maybe not? I think somebody gave Mr. Administrator some real bad advice. When elections change the board. smart people change with the newly elected board, stupid people don’t. I guess this current Administrator thought he could bully his job duties. The full-time chief executive of a village should be respected. How is that going to happen? too much baggage. From what I’ve been reading, pretty sure his fate was sealed a long time ago. If he was smart, he would step down, future prospects also don’t like baggage. IMO

  17. You get lawyers when you know you need help, when you need help you know you’ve done wrong, when you’ve done wrong eventually it will come back and kick ya in the rear….. his reset is sore now, from corruption and lawyer bill ?

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