Galesville mayor calls for hearing to remove council member
The mayor of Galesville has filed to remove a city council member from his position less than a month after an ongoing public feud between the elected officials appeared to have been resolved in the Trempealeau County courtroom.
A vote on Tory-Kale Schulz’s removal from the council will take place after a public hearing next month, according to a letter obtained by the Times.
Schulz has been suspended from the council until the hearing, set for June 15 at 6 p.m., the letter from city attorney Dan Arndt to Schulz reads.
The hearing follows state statute 17.16, which says an elected official can be removed by a vote of the council “only upon written verified charges brought by a resident taxpayer.”
The complaint was filed by Howe May 11 — as a resident and not in his duty as mayor — through attorney Matt Klos.
Howe says in the complaint that Schulz deserves to be removed from his position as councilor for multiple reasons:
• The “frivolous” restraining order from Schulz against Howe “for which there was no basis for.”
• “Numerous and frivolous” police reports filed by Schulz against Howe, council member Tom Thatcher, a police officer in the city and Mike Howe, “all of which demonstrate an inability of Mr. Schulz to put aside his personal issues and work for the best interest of the City”.
• The “gross waste” of taxpayer funds in attorney fees from contacting the city attorney, which Howe estimated at $10,000.
• “Not following open meeting laws” by emailing fellow council members on an agenda item.
• Attempting to claim unemployment benefits while on the council.
• “Refusing” to meet with PeopleFirst, the city’s human resources contractor, for city purposes.
The June 15 hearing is also required under the statute and allows Schulz to present a defense.
Howe did not respond to a request for comment.
Schulz, meanwhile, took issue with multiple points presented. One example was Schulz pointing to the allegation of attorney fees around $10,000, saying Howe did not provide billing documents to prove that number and calling the claim “absurdly false, slanderous and downright irresponsible for a person to make.”
Possible removal follows months-long disagreement
Last month Howe and Schulz appeared to work out their ongoing public clash, one that has included a police response from the county sheriff’s office, Schulz’s removal from committees and a restraining order request that was later rescinded by Schulz after an injunction hearing on April 25.
County Judge Rian Radtke told both Howe and Schulz during the hearing that the community deserves a “higher standard” than repeated public fighting.
“I think our society is hungry for people in our leadership who are going to be bound to reason and fairness and treating each other fair and not raising things to the level of vitriol and such,” Radtke said during the hearing.
The restraining order was dropped by Schulz after both sides reached an agreement that said the officials would refrain from negative comments about each other and engage in civil communication.
Schulz told the Times last Thursday that he was disappointed when he learned of his possible removal, adding that he feels he has been a target. The council member will have a chance to defend himself from the allegations at the hearing, which he plans to do.
“It’s an absolute gut punch. It’s sad that this witch-hunt, that this continues to happen,” Schulz said.
Schulz said he tried to solve his disagreement with Howe months ago, asking the council to talk in closed session and also asking Thatcher, chair of the personnel committee, to talk about the issue there.
The councilor said he then took the issue to the legal system because “this behavior goes above and beyond differences of opinion.”
The injunction hearing and agreement through their attorneys was the end to the fighting, Schulz thought.
“When we were able to stipulate that in court and have him agree and me agree, we were able to put it all behind us,” Schulz said. “And now to see that he is doing this is nothing but a personal attack. He just simply doesn’t like me and he cannot deal with me having an opinion that differs from him.”
As for his possible removal, Schulz said the public should be the ones to make that decision.
“He’s not going to kick me off the council. The people who can kick me off the council can do so in April of 2024 if they do not feel I am representing their opinions and their voice. But I believe I’m doing a damn good job at that because I was elected on the things that I am doing.”