Marshfield citizens group seeks removal of two fire & police commissioners
For the Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD – Over 100 Marshfield residents are seeking the removal of two members of the city’s fire & police commission, while also asking for an investigation into possible criminal misconduct by members of the Marshfield Common Council.
The complaints against the commissioners were filed with City Administrator Steve Barg on April 5. At the same time, the complaint against the aldermen was sent to acting Police Chief Pat Zeps.
The group is seeking the removal of Fire & Police Commissioners Andy Keogh and Randy Gershman, and there are five common complaints against both. One misconduct allegation says they failed to provide adequate oversight of Rick Gramza while he was the city’s police chief, and it cites three specific examples.
Keogh and Gershman are also accused of failing to provide a safe working environment at the Marshfield Police Department, referencing numerous personnel complaints filed by department staff members. The group also alleges they failed to maintain proper record of electronic communication, violated the state’s open-meetings law, and adopted a discriminatory “Fit-for-Duty” policy.
Keogh, specifically, is also accused of signing service agreements with the hospital on behalf of the city which were never discussed by the common council.
Gershman, meanwhile, is accused of perjury. The citizens’ group says he lied under oath during the removal hearing for former mayor Bob McManus on March 19. Gershman testified he filed his open records request against the mayor on his own, with no discussion with, or assistance from, any of the other fire & police commissioners or council members. The group references copies of numerous text messages to the contrary.
Gershman is also facing an accusation of using his position on the commission for his own benefit, by asking city employees for assistance with two personal matters.
The group contends there was a clear coordinated effort between Keogh, Gershman, Gramza, and multiple council members to prevent McManus from appointing a new member to the fire & police commission, who would have replaced Keogh in April 2020. A member of the citizens group says that allegation is at the heart of their complaint.
The group also alleges an open meetings violation by seven council members – Ken Bargender, Ed Wagner, Tom Witzel, Adam Fischer, Rebecca Spiros, Peter Hendler and Tom Buttke. Those same aldermen are also accused of failing to maintain electronic records.
The group states that their complaints have nothing to do with the removal of McManus from the mayor’s office, even though much of the information has to do with both.
McManus was voted out of office on an 8-2 vote by the council on March 22, based on a complaint filed by Keogh and a far-reaching open records request filed by Gershman.
The city attorney will now review the complaints against Keogh and Gershman to see if they meet legal standards for consideration by the council, which meets again April 13.