By Callie Koehne
The struggle over the Town of East Troy’s Communication Committee and the fight for transparency dates back to 2020 when the world, and the town had the unprecedented challenge of learning how to cope in a post COVID-19 world.
Then the Town Board was made up of three people, who took the opportunity during a chaotic time when most were focused on their health and keeping their families safe, to vote to spend $200,000 of the town’s money in an attempt to build a $4 million municipal building. Electors in the township who found out about the potential building just before the July 2020 meeting and responded by demanding a special meeting through the voice of 300 citizens in a petition presented by almost 100 residents.
The electors rescinded approval of the $4 million building and took authority from the board regarding future decisions and froze the board members salaries. At the annual meeting that followed more than 250 residents were in attendance, and electors increased the number of board members from three to five, along with officially halting the proposed municipal building project. It was clear that town residents were demanding transparency from those they had elected to act in accordance with their best interests.
In response to the fumbled attempt to pass such a huge project, the board had a small window of opportunity to change the way they were being perceived. They decided to create an ad hoc communications committee at their April 2021 annual meeting to force transparency so that a $200,000 mistake that could easily have turned into a $4 million debt for the town, wouldn’t be made again.
Chairman Joe Klarkowski, who was on the board in 2020, appointed most of the committee himself. Though Michele Reyes, a newly elected board member, requested to be the chair of the committee, Klarkowski appointed husband and wife team, Linda Johnson-Dynek and Jess Dynek as co-chairs. Community members John Jacoby, Bill Wucherer, Mary Schmitendorf and Bob Rice were also appointed by Klarkowski.
In April 2021, Jess Dynek, John Jacoby and Bill Wucherer would attempt to run for the Town Board and lose.
The committee worked through the summer from June 2021, to about September of the same year. Linda Johnson-Dynek, co-chair of the temporary ad hoc committee said that they spent nine weeks working hard in the name of transparency to produce clear goals for the Communications Committee to accomplish. The original report is still available for public viewing.
The official committee was formed in January 2022, and ran smoothly. According to Communication Committee members who were interviewed for this article, no one from the ad hoc committee had additional input or insight to the workings of the newly appointed Communications Committee after they handed their report over following their nine weeks of work.
Over the next two years the Communications Committee accomplished much of what they set out to do, though their findings were often disregarded by the Town Board which, it seemed to Committee members, had only appointed the Communications Committee in the name of transparency to save face following the municipal building debacle.
For the full story, please see the print edition of the East Troy Times or News.