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home : opinions : letters to the editor
June 3, 2020

4/17/2020 2:30:00 PM
Daniel Guild's contract should end in a 'without cause' dismissal

To the Editor:

For just the second time ever, the City of Rhinelander will be terminating its administrator, this time Daniel Guild. The incoming City Council will decide between one of two methods to dismiss him. Here's a look at both, and a recommendation.

The first is a "for cause" firing. Although his alleged tampering with official records meets the definition of a "for cause" dismissal under his contract (regardless of the outcome of the felony charges against him) it's not the best option. About the only advantage to the City is Guild would not be entitled to his severance pay of $47K.

But there are disadvantages. Most importantly, Guild could choose to sue the city, challenging the "for cause" dismissal. As much as the vast majority of community leaders would like to see the most punitive "for cause" dismissal, I don't recommend it.

The second option is to terminate him "without cause", which I recommend. First, yes, the city will have to pay his severance of $47K. But the advantage is we may avoid paying open-ended litigation costs, which could be far more than the $47K severance. Under the "without cause" path, under his contract and Wisconsin's work-at-will law, there doesn't need to be a reason given for his termination. All failed past attempts to terminate him are irrelevant.The felony charge he faces is irrelevant. The 2-week waiting period is irrelevant. Hopefully the City Council will realize this and not be confused by questionable legal advice that the City has no clean path to dismiss him. Indeed there is a clean path, and this is it. It's similar to the path Weston took to get rid of him - pay him off without prejudice and sever all ties once and for all.

The former City Council tried at least three times to oust him (I myself introduced two motions and tried even more than that), and each time he was saved by the same razor-thin margin with the Mayor casting the tie-breaking vote, or by questionable legal advice that blocked discussion and/or votes. The entrenched pro-Guild position of the former City Council became crystal clear recently when the same Fab-5 who have saved him time and again voted twice (so far) to ensure he received pay for administrative leave even after his arrest, jailing, and arraignment.

As noted above, the outcome of his pending felony case is not relevant to his dismissal under the "without cause" method, and there is no reason to delay his dismissal to wait that out, which could be years. He is a work-at-will employee under his contract and under Wisconsin labor law. The City does not have to 'prove' that Guild altered official city records; secretly recorded closed session and released it to the media; removed and/or absconded with official city documents; tampered with City security systems; masterminded a walking quorum fiasco trying to oust a political rival (and overseeing the cover-up); not-so-secretly hired his 'valued colleague' to investigate no-confidence claims against him; spent hundreds of thousands on legal bills without proper council oversight and little accountability; prepared ghost-written public comments for his supporters to present as their originals (as he allegedly did in Weston also); and committed countless other legal and ethical fouls. Please do not be fooled by legal advice from his supporters that says you can't get rid of him this easily. Of course you can, providing you do it "without cause". Formally tying his dismissal to any one of his alleged criminal or ethical lapses would be a mistake that Guild (and his legal team) would surely love to see you make. This method may not be air-tight, but its far better than the open-ended-litigation first option.

For City residents: Please call or email your alderperson to recommend the second option, "immediate termination without cause", is approved at their first meeting. Then place on that same agenda the plans to begin the search for a new City administrator and move forward.

Dawn Rog

Former Rhinelander City Council President

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2020
Article comment by: Theron O'Connor

Theron O’Connor
PO Box 1192
Bayfield, Wisconsin 54814

April 17, 2020

The Northwoods River News
232 S. Courtney Street
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Dear Editor:

Who is the real Tom Tiffany? Is he the nice country gentleman and family man promoted by his 7th Congressional District campaign materials? Or is he someone else? Let’s take a look.

He is among the Republican leadership of the Wisconsin legislature that declined a federal government offer to fund the expansion of the Wisconsin Medicaid program to everyone up to 133% of the poverty line. They turned it down even though there would be absolutely no cost to us! They have rejected over $1 billion in federal funds (and $324 million in state savings) that would have provided critical resources and jobs in the rural health-care system. Most important it deliberately denied health care to our most vulnerable neighbors. How many lives would have been saved by $1 billion worth of health care? Instead those funds (including our own federal tax dollars) and those jobs and that health care go to our neighboring states.

The only apparent rationale is the ideological purity of right-wing, antigovernment pols like Tiffany who have splendid healthcare plans funded by the taxpayers of Wisconsin. But, rigid Republican orthodoxy can and does have life and death consequences. People die because they cannot get critical healthcare. That blood is on Tiffany’s hands. That’s who pro-life Tom Tiffany is! Pro-life until living!

Let’s take another look. Tiffany and his Republican cohorts refused to postpone the recent election here in Wisconsin. We are in pandemic conditions, under a Trump-declared national emergency, and without urgency to elect a Supreme Court Justice or vote in an already settled primary election. What was the hurry? Their motive was blatantly political – they thought (wrongly, as it turned out!) that the pandemic conditions favored their side.

The result was to brings out crowds of voters and courageous poll workers, highly concentrated in the most densely populated areas, to fulfill a civic duty in acutely infectious conditions. Moreover, these areas typically are residence to our most vulnerable populations. If even one infection occurred, to say nothing of even one death, that blood is on Tiffany’s hands. That’s who pro-life Tom Tiffany is! Pro-life until living!


Theron O’Connor

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