Superior Council Overturns Mayor Paine’s Censure Veto Of Councilor Van Sickle
SUPERIOR, Wis. – It was another vocal and passionate council meeting in Superior Tuesday night. Councilors voted 8-2 to overturn Mayor Jim Paine’s veto involving the censure of Councilor Jenny Van Sickle and her negative social media comments about City Attorney Frog Prell.
Those comments called Prell incompetent, lazy and a manipulator in response to Prell’s legal opinion that concluded the council could pick a president with a deck of cards to deal with the impasse.
Councilor Craig Sutherland started things off at the meeting Tuesday by calling for a vote to overturn Mayor Paine’s veto.
“Nobody is taking away anyone’s right to say something here. Let’s get that clear. We are simply standing our disapproval for the things that were said. Let’s get back to where we were, let’s treat each other with respect and let’s move on. That being said, I stand with you, City Attorney Frog Prell, and also stand next to every city employee from department heads to laborers who feel they have been treated the same,” Sutherland said.
Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, who Paine recently confirmed to be in a relationship with, addressed the issue saying she is focused on working hard for her constituents every day, but also acknowledged she may have went too far.
“I have not acted immorally or illegally, but I very clearly am aware of the hurt that I’ve caused. I have said before and to Mr. Prell directly, I’m not particularly proud of that,” Van Sickle said.
Council President Brent Fennessey told the council that if the veto was overturned, the city would be condoning and encouraging uncivil behavior and attacks among staff and city employees.
“A vote to overturn a veto makes it clear that the city of superior has a strong majority of elected officials who proudly stand behind all city employees. A vote to overturn this veto makes it abundantly clear that employees should not fear of public and humiliating personal attack that’s not reflective of the employee’s character, reputation or work ethic. A vote to overturn this veto sends a clear message to the people that we all serve that this kind of behavior is not taken lightly or tolerated,” Fennessey said.
Councilor Esther Dalbec read two prepared statements from former mayors David Ross and Bruce Hagen who both condemned Van Sickle’s comments about Prell.
“June 18, 2019
Since retiring from the office of mayor I have purposely and respectively refrained from inserting myself in any decisions or workings of city business. The mayor and you as decision makers should be free of such and allowed to make determinations that are best for the city.
That being said and struggling with shock regarding Councilor Van Sickle’s outrageous personal and professional attacks on City Attorney Frog Prell I cannot remain silent. Doing so would place me, as former mayor, and my high respect for Attorney Prell in a category which I clearly do not want to be associated.
City Attorney Prell has served the City of Superior, a number of mayors, countless councilors and respective city departments with distinction for the better part of twenty years. I am sure previous mayors and councilors would also agree. Did we always agree? Certainly not – and that is healthy in any organization. What is crucial is having legal interpretation and counsel that satisfies public and other legal scrutiny. That is exactly what Attorney Prell has provided the council on the issue before you a number of times.
To my point, Ms. Van Sickle’s attack on Attorney Prell is not only disgusting but extremely unprofessional to say the least. She has zero information, evidence or basic knowledge of law to make such wild comments. Ms. Van Sickle has blatantly cast character and professional assassination on Attorney Prell that demands explanation with verifiable facts and clear legal standing. She should without doubt be removed from office. Barring that, the council should address this matter promptly with a formal and unanimous censure of this councilor. Failure to do so deepens the divide and sets the stage for further disgusting performances.
Thank you for allowing submission of this statement.
Bruce C. Hagen
“Reading councilor Jenny Van Sickle’s comments about long time city attorney Frog Prell. I find her comment to be outrageous. Frog is a competent , hard working city attorney. I always trusted his opinions as Mayor. Frog has always worked hard for the greater good for the citizens of the City of Superior.
Former Mayor of Superior.”
And finally, Councilor Ruth Ludwig took the opportunity to scold Van Sickle, Sutherland and Fennessey for what she called equally immature social media posts by all three, and said she hoped a learning experience has been had.
“If we spend just half as much time volunteering out in our community doing good things as we do insulting each other — creating chaos on our electronic devices — just think of the things we could accomplishment,” Ludwig said.
Councilors Ludwig and Van Sickle voted against the veto overturn. Councilors Tylor Elm and Warren Bender were the deciding votes to overturn the veto – two councilors who originally voted against the censure of Van Sickle.
Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, Prell’s legal notice against Van Sickle still stood, which claims libel for her social media comments. The posts were removed or hidden after the legal notice was issued, as Van Sickle’s Twitter account has been changed to a private status.