You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
- Abraham Lincoln
Why are the taxpayers of The City of Racine paying John Dickert’s personal private legal bills, and why has City Attorney Rob Weber failed in his duty to protect the finances of the City from this unnecessary cost? Why has Alderman Greg Helding and Jim Kaplan confused the issue and demanded City of Racine taxpayers bear the liability for John Dickert’s personal, private legal bills? What are they hiding, or hiding from – because the City of Racine clearly has no legal liability for these personal, private legal bills of John Dickerts. Are these people simply ignorant of the law?
John Dickert made some possibly untruthful statements while engaged in campaigning at a Mayoral Candidates Forum while on WRJN. Was he Mayor? Yes, John Dicket was Mayor – but was he of official duty? NO. He was campaigning. The Law is clear on this:
Furthermore, Wisconsin Case Law supports limited liability for elected officials to indemnification only while on Official Duty.
“Is a public official or employee indemnified by their municipality against personal liability for all of their actions while an official or employee for a municipality?”
“State law only requires a municipality to pay any judgment for damages and costs entered against a municipal official or employee for acts performed within the scope of their employment. Under Wis. Stat. sec. 895.46, municipal officials and employees will be indemnified by the municipality for negligent acts taken within the “scope of their employment.” This provision has been construed to mean that the official or employee’s action must have been taken, in some measure, to serve the municipal employer. Olson v. Connerly, 156 Wis.2d 488, 457 NW 2d. 479 (1990).
Once the determination is made that the official or employee was acting in the scope of employment, indemnification may apply even if the act taken is outside what the employer may have desired. Graham v. Sauk Prairie Police Comm., 915 F.2d. 1085 (7th Cir. 1990). Indemnification may also extend to cases where punitive damages are assessed. Kolar v. County of Sangamo, 756 F.2d. 564 (7th Cir. 1985).”
What are the official duties of a Mayor?
The official duties of a Mayor are not what Alderman Greg Helding, Jim Kaplan, or even City Attorney Rob Weber claims those duties are – those duties are defined in State law. Taken from The League of Wisconsin Municipalities:
“1. The Mayor. The mayor is, by statute, a member of the council, presides at its meetings and may vote on measures before the council in the event of a tie vote. The mayor can sign or veto such legislative actions of the council. As chief executive officer of the city, the mayor has a statutory duty to “take care that city ordinances and state laws are observed and enforced and that all city officers and employees discharge their duties.” Sec. 62.09(8)(a), Stats. The mayor’s authority as chief executive officer is not unlimited. For example, a mayor cannot unilaterally decide what uses are to be made of city property and cannot, without prior council approval, enter into a contract on behalf of the city. Also, a mayor cannot, without prior council approval, expend municipal funds.
The mayor is the head of the police and fire departments, except in cities where the police and fire commission has been granted optional powers by the electorate. In cities without a police and fire commission, the mayor appoints all police officers. The chief of police has command of the police force under the direction of the mayor, and must obey lawful written orders of the mayor and common council.”
Discussing NSP programs, employees, and other issues while on WRJN Radio is not an official duty of the Mayor. Further, since it was during the campaign season and while John Dickert was campaigning against Eric Marcus, IF the Common Council has determined that John Dickert was in his official capacity – it is likely Mayor John Dickert was not engaged in activities within the scope of his employment.
SO, once again – Why are taxpayers paying John Dickerts personal private bills and why is City Attorney Rob Weber not protecting The City of Racine from unwarranted liabilities?
NOTE: While the Mayor’s Office is non-partisan, Mayor Dickert has been a very active participant in partisan politics and the lines of distinction can get blurred. Wisconsin law does not recognize campaigning as an official duty.
In both Bell and Hibma, we held that the Wisconsin indemnity statute required municipalities to indemnify employees who had committed intentional torts. The villages and the police commission argue that neither Bell nor Hibma are dispositive because the municipalities in those cases failed to argue that the indemnity statute does not cover intentional tort actions due to the Wisconsin immunity statute–the statute prohibiting suits against a municipality for the intentional torts of its employees. Neither Bell nor Hibma grappled with the issue of how the immunity statute affects the indemnity statute. Rather, this court in Bell and Hibma, like the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Ibrahim, determined that the indemnity statute applied to intentional tort actions because of the plain language of the statute–the statute states that indemnity is proper in “any action” as long as the state or municipal employee was acting within the scope of employment. The defendants’ argument does not affect the conclusion of Ibrahim, Bell or Hibma. By looking at the historical context in which the indemnity statute and the immunity statute were enacted, it becomes clear that the Wisconsin legislature did not intend the immunity statute to create an intentional tort exception to the indemnity statute.
Sources: The Hatch Act, Racine Journal Times, Racine Uncovered, The League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin State Statutes