DEVELOPING: McKenna Facing Disciplinary Action from County Exec
County’s lawyer claims he’s being forced out of position by County Exec
By Brandi Makuski
A lawyer for Portage Co. Corporation Counsel Mike McKenna says a final showdown is brewing between his client and County Executive Patty Dreier.
Jared Redfield, who McKenna hired to represent him during a discrimination complaint he filed against Dreier last year, said he expects Dreier will ask for his client’s resignation during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
According to documents obtained by the City Times, Dreier alleges McKenna has violated several county policies which call for discipline. In a “Pre-disciplinary Meeting” memo hand-delivered to McKenna’s office on Dec. 5, Dreier says she has information relating to McKenna leaving work early, taking long lunches and making phone calls related to his secondary job while on the clock for the county.
Dreier also wrote that McKenna had regularly been “openly critical of my decisions”.
“On more than one occasion you made derogatory comments to about employees about me as County Executive,” the memo reads in part. “Specifically, you have stated that I do not know what I am doing, that I am unfair, and that I have thrown individuals under the bus.”
Dreier also alleged McKenna made a derogatory comment about Mexico, belittled a female employee, has threatened coworkers and on one occasion made a joke about someone calling into a suicide hotline, but she did not provide specifics in the letter.
If true, the accusations subject McKenna to disciplinary action “up to an including termination,” Dreier wrote. The meeting between Dreier and McKenna will be held Tuesday afternoon.
Redfield said Dreier ordered another employee in the Corporation Counsel office to “shadow” McKenna between Dec. of 2015 and July 18, 2016 and keep records of his movements and conversations.
McKenna said the move is retaliatory and in response to a complaint he filed with the state last year. In his original complaint to the Dept. of Workforce Development, McKenna alleged instances of favoritism where Dreier levied no disciplinary action against certain employees for infractions ranging from “huge budget overruns” and unnecessary purchases to lack of training by HR.
McKenna, who has worked for the county for 18 years, also alleged Dreier created a hostile work environment by, in part, replacing various county dept. heads over the age of 40 in favor of younger employees.
The DWD later determined Dreier’s actions were not serious enough for the state to take any action against her. Redfield said McKenna has since filed a retaliation complaint with the state.
“I am the victim of a massive and illegal vendetta — centered and authored by the County Executive,” McKenna’s email statement read in part, adding Dreier’s claims of his racist and sexist remarks are “slanderous and false”.
McKenna also questioned an outside investigation into his office by a Milwaukee-based lawyer Susan Love., who was hired in closed session by the County HR Committee in September.
He called the investigation a “comprehensive and secret all-out investigation of my office and work activities,” adding the surveillance of his computer, emails and phone calls violated the sanctity of his legal work for the county.
Redfield said in McKenna’s 2015 employee review, Dreier marked him as “exceptional” or “good” in various categories of focus, but there was no mention of alleged negative remarks or behavior at that time.
More as we have it.