Six months on paid leave for city workers

2012-12-01T00:00:00Z 2012-12-01T08:05:02Z Six months on paid leave for city workersBy BETSY BLOOM | La Crosse Tribune

The city of La Crosse has paid two employees nearly $80,000 in the six months since they were placed on administrative leave for reasons officials still have not disclosed.

Another $25,000 has been spent to have a private law firm take over municipal court duties formerly handled by assistant city attorney Peter Kisken, according to the legal department.

He and Community Development Administrator Liana Escott have been absent from City Hall since May 24, while the city continues its investigation, said Wendy Oestreich, the city’s human resources director.

Oestreich continued to provide no other details on the case, citing laws for personnel matters.

But Escott said this week she received no warning before the city’s action and has never been told the basis of any complaint against her, other than a potential violation of city policy. When she asked which policy, she was told that was not yet known, Escott said.

It has been frustrating, Escott said, “not to be given a reason as to what they suspect you did wrong.”

An attorney for Kisken said he has received no information from the city, either, but has been told interviews will be done late this month.

Both Escott and Kisken still earn $38.72 an hour for a 37.5 hour work week, Oestreich said. She had no estimate on when the matter might be resolved.

State law has no time limit on how long an employee can be kept on paid administrative leave, which in some instances has stretched for years, an attorney with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission said.

Escott noted she had no previous problems on her work record, adding “I’ve never been in a situation like this.“

But Kisken, a city employee since 1992, was reprimanded in 2001 and 2003 by then-city attorney Pat Houlihan for job performance, and also placed on paid administrative leave for about two days in 2002 after a reported confrontation with Houlihan.

The city in 2006 gave Kisken $55,000 and transferred him to a different department to settle a discrimination claim he filed against the city.

Three years after Houlihan retired in 2007, the council recombined legal services into one department under City Attorney Stephen Matty.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 7:34 pm
    I guess I will have to call Monday?
  2. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:31 pm
  3. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:29 pm
    Sarah- The problem is Funding, not leniency! The City Council will walk arouind this growing problem like a road apple. Waking City taxpayers into another emergency Dry Gulch. No money for incarceration, court or enforcement. You have not seen anything yet. Hang on it's going to be a bumpy road.
  4. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:19 pm
    A City is not supposed to be ruled by a tyrannical City Planner.
  5. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:18 pm
    Like I said, nothing of merit. Because they have nothing.
  6. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:17 pm
    Names Nap, names!
  7. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 3:17 pm
    The fact remains, and forget the innuendos and alias'. The Dems on the Council hand out the money to Millionaires.
  8. Sarah23
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    Sarah23 - December 01, 2012 3:12 pm
    Municipal Court not aggressively prosecuting all drunken driving tickets
    Tribune investigation: La Crosse Municipal Court not aggressively ... UndoSep 12, 2010 – City of La Crosse municipal attorney Pete Kisken appears in court at City Hall in this September 2010. Nearly one in five who get their first drunken driving ticket either walk away from La Crosse Municipal Court with a lesser conviction or none at all, even at a time when the public demands stricter OWI laws and the police chief labeled alcohol "a serial killer."
    The conviction rate for first-time operating while intoxicated charges has fallen sharply since 2005, when the city made the municipal prosecutor a free-standing office, reporting directly to the mayor. In one year, the number of tickets dropped or pleaded increased nine-fold.
    A Tribune investigation of more than 1,000 public records revealed ...
  9. america as founded
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    america as founded - December 01, 2012 2:32 pm
    Napolean drinks the liberal kool-aid. He sounds like he is using Obama's class warfare talking points. What will he and the rest of the liberal "takers" do when all of the evil business owners, who provide the jobs for those who want to work, decide it's not worth the hassle and close. How will the liberal takers live? It's business and those working and paying taxes that make America run. NOT government or the takers.
    To your point, as long as the democrats, (tax & spend liberals) run La Crosse, it will continue to go downhill just like all of the other cities across America that democrats have destroyed with their programs.
  10. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - December 01, 2012 1:23 pm
    Some Clowncilmembers are not Dems.. and they've been at the forefront of these corporate-welfare TIF deals. The Clowncil actually pays dues to the Chamber of Commerce, which, in turn, is pro-GOP. The Chamber of Commerce is pro-TIF, big on corporate welfare. Downtown Mainstreet is GOP too. LADCO: GOP.

    Corporate welfare: it's a Republican thing!
  11. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - December 01, 2012 1:19 pm
    They are all Repubs: Tommy Thompson lost against Dem Tammy Baldwin, remember. I know for a fact that the two Dons are GOP... inside info.
  12. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 12:46 pm
    Those that you listed are not Pubs, they are just plain greedy. Like Bill Gerrard when I asked him if he was a Pub or Dem. He smiled and stated it depends on who is in power?
  13. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 12:45 pm
    Come on debate me! With the facts!
  14. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 12:43 pm
    Napoleon- The pure simple FACT is you keep failing to acknowledge time after time that the votes to give them tax dollars. Are derived from Dems on the Council. Also the shoulders behind closed doors, and handpicked Committee Members are Dems as well. The statistics don't lie, and they ar there for all to view. So quit this junk Nap. It makes you look silly.........ier.
  15. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - December 01, 2012 12:13 pm
    pheasant - 59 minutes ago "Sorry, This 'town' is stacked with Dems."

    Sorry, this town is stacked with Republican corporate-welfare TIF recipients: Don Weber, Don Zietlow, Tommy Thompson,...
  16. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - December 01, 2012 12:11 pm
    City Council: secrecy on these things brings public distrust as the comments here show. Backroom dealings on TIFs, corporate freebies, subsidies for your Downtown Mainstreet golf buddies, all that sneaking around behind our backs, well, same deal.

  17. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 01, 2012 11:55 am
    don't like the posters here go somewhere else and post your drivel. No one would shed a tear or be sad if you disapeared.
  18. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 11:10 am
    BTW Reporter Bloom, What Law Firm received the 'contract' to provide services? and WHY?
  19. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 11:09 am
    Sorry, This 'town' is stacked with Dems. So the priority is to vote for those that will coninue to vote for their disproportionate job entitlements and control. While they enjoy 'guaranteed' retirement amounts, dental, post early health, etc, etc. While their neighbors do without, and we all are supposed to beleive it is not so.

    The Truth is that they do not care that we sit on the highest wrung of property mill rate, per student costs, fire costs, and lowest in per capita income. Because you see they are guaranteed, backed by our tax dollars. So they will continue to spend , with no scrutiny, and at the same time pretend that we are not poised to go down a road of financial problems as a Country. Shameless! Like Alcoholism we have no chance of changing and turning about until we hit bottom. See you in the streets. This issue is just another illustration of mismanagement, self serving behavior, and lack of courage and conviction.

  20. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 11:02 am
    I will continue. You had a Senior Councilman of near 30 years that did not know there were no LHI Employees in Riverside Building II. A building that had a TIF hung of it for $16 million amortized for 27 years. On the shoulders of Taxpayers. In a series of Buildings that we subsidized terribly heavily with our Tax Dollars. While a huge percentage of tenants in fact were proselytize from competitor office rentals from down the street. A Theater that was supposed to have a "Free Shell" donated by Weber?????? The fact is that these Councilman, all of them! Do not know the totoal cost of any given project or program. If you asked them what the debt service and repayment for the $130 million in Incentive Projects in Lacrosse for the last calendar year they would not know? They are living a charade, and are quite simply ignorant. BUT! The problem is that this down is stacked with Dems.
  21. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 01, 2012 10:52 am
    These posters? In their minds dispatching the Tribune, and City Department Heads to do their job. Although! They post anonymously, and it would be my guess they do not show their faces at City Meetings regularly or ever. Noise! Asking Bloom to do a investigative story is a joke. The Journalists that could bring in a good story are long gone. If you would like could list them. Bloom is a partisan board piece, and not a Journalist. Moved by Rusty and his Dem Pals. Her recent articles in regard to Kader Recall is proof enough. One sided, partisan, tunnel visioned junk. The first thing is that the mayor does not Lead/Rule this City. Larry Kirch does. If you do not beleive that you are just plain ignorant. This guy is into business that is way out of his job description too many times. And if you had a accurate professional bookkeeping system you could find out that a very large portion of our tax dollars and their usage emanates in his office behind closed doors.
  22. DOL
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    DOL - December 01, 2012 10:07 am
    The City of La Crosse is run like a 9th grade social club. If you aren't in the club, they will try and find a way to fire you. They have been after Kisken for 12 years and every time they try to fire him, it costs the taxpayers b/c they are as stupid as stupid can be. They make up stuff and expect Kisken to roll over in it and take it. Keep the pressure on Tribune. Every week ask Ms. Oestreich what is happening to resolve this.
  23. GrandpaS
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    GrandpaS - December 01, 2012 9:37 am
    Mayor Harter, I would suggest you find out where this is breaking down and instruct those people to "get at it."
  24. GrandpaS
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    GrandpaS - December 01, 2012 9:36 am
    But seriously, folks, what HR issues in the world take 6 months to investigate? No charges have even been made yet?!?! Granted, the public doesn't know the details yet so it's hard to judge, but this is looking pretty wierd. This isn't international espionage here, it's two local employees.
  25. citygirl
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    citygirl - December 01, 2012 9:30 am
    Peter Kisken was given an office on the first floor at City Hall because he was combative with his coworkers. That's old news. Why can't they just fire him?
  26. GrandpaS
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    GrandpaS - December 01, 2012 9:30 am
    "He and Community Development Administrator Liana Escott have been absent from City Hall since May 24, while the city continues its investigation, said Wendy Oestreich, the city’s human resources director." You have to cut the city some slack here, Tax Payer. They've combined doing research for these two cases with research trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's, and they won't announce the results until all three projects are complete.
  27. LaCrosseTaxPayer
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    LaCrosseTaxPayer - December 01, 2012 4:44 am
    our tax dollars at work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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