If Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas and the Waukesha County Board really want voters to have complete trust in our election system, they’ve got a long way to go, especially after Tuesday night’s County Board Personnel Committee meeting. That’s because, according to Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel, a Waukesha County Supervisor made a motion at the meeting to “remove language in the proposed spending ordinance that identifies specific failings of County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.” The motion failed, but questions remain.
The Waukesha County Board’s Personnel Committee had little to say about the $256,300 needed to resolve problems and reduce risks in the county clerk’s elections operations, recommending approval of the spending request unanimously Tuesday.
Members, however, refused an attempt by newly elected Supervisor Jennifer Grant of Menomonee Falls to remove language in the proposed spending ordinance that identifies specific failings of County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.
Supervisor Grant’s reasoning was that it was too personal:
“The County Board can take care of business in a professional and respectful manner,” Grant said, explaining why she wanted the language removed. “I think it’s fairly personal in nature.”
But when approving such a large amount of taxpayer money to be spent- more than $256,000- to fix errors made by Kathy Nickolaus, wouldn’t it make logical sense to include ALL of the information in the spending ordinance? It’s certainly relevant:
…$15,000 was spent on hiring SysLogic Inc., a business process expert, to evaluate Nickolaus’ operation. And $237,300 is for Command Central LLC, an election software vendor, to program balloting equipment – a job only Nickolaus knows how to do in her office. Command Central’s fees include $136,500 for the May and June recall election ballots and $100,000 for the August primary election.
The avoidable costs also include $4,000 to train others in her office to program equipment for the November election, avoiding further Command Central programming work for that election.
Now, I realize that the Supervisor who filed the motion to exclude Nickolaus’ name from the ordinance, Jennifer Grant of Menomonee Falls, is newly elected, but does she realize how her attempt to shield Kathy Nickolaus from scrutiny looks?
Board members didn’t appear to be troubled by the attempted motion and are moving on, because, while Kathy Nickolaus, herself, was not at Tuesday’s meeting, she has promised to follow proper procedures in upcoming elections.
Nickolaus did not appear before the Personnel Committee on Tuesday. But Norman A. Cummings, director of administration, said Nickolaus told him Monday that she would follow the consultant’s recommendations and work with his department to ensure smoother sailing in the August and November elections.
“We’re delighted,” he said. “That’s music. I’ve been waiting for that for a long time.”
Mr. Cummings seems to have a tremendous amount of faith in Kathy Nickolaus. But after everything Kathy Nickolaus has done and considering the way it has been handled, Waukesha County Board members cannot expect voters to be as trusting.