15 Sep 2014
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Committee Split on Alderwoman's Legal Fee Reimbursement

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings is looking to have the city pay for the attorney she hired to represent her in an ethics complaint.

Committee Split on Alderwoman's Legal Fee Reimbursement

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings has to wait a week to learn if the city will reimburse her for legal fees she incurred over an ethics complaint filed against her.

The Finance Committee was split Tuesday night when it was taking up  Cummings' request to have the city pay $240 to local attorney Shawn Reilly for his representation on the matter.

“I take this very seriously,” Cummings told the Finance Committee.

Because the ethics complaint “would affect my reputation and affect how I would conduct business,” she told the committee she hired the attorney because she wanted to be prepared going before the Ethics Board.

Leather Restorations owner Shay Johnson alleged it was unethical for her to vote on the future of the city’s dispatch center because she also serves on the Waukesha County Board. Also targeted in the ethics complaint was Alderman Duane Paulson, who is a county supervisor.

The city was exploring the possibility of consolidating its dispatch center with the county’s dispatch center when the complaint was filed by Johnson against Paulson and Cummings. The city’s against Paulson and Cummings

"My preference would be that we charge Mr. Johnson for this item," Cummings said.

Paulson, who serves on the Finance Committee, said he didn’t see the need to hire an attorney for the Ethics Board deliberations.

“There is nothing that an attorney was going to do,” Paulson said.

Alderman Joe Pieper voted against reimbursing the fees, saying he felt the legal fee is an expense that should be paid for by the elected official.

“One of the consequences or one of the risks of being a public official is that someone can bring a claim against us. … That is a cost of the position,” Pieper said. “We are compensated by the city for this position.”

How they voted

  • Denying the reimbursement: Pieper; Paulson
  • Approving the reimbursement: Andy Reiland; John Kalblinger
  • Absent: Rick Hastings

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