By Shereen Siewert
City leaders in Rhinelander have terminated their contract with Dan Guild, though the former city administrator is seeking a dismissal of all criminal charges filed against him.
The unanimous decision to terminate Guild’s contract happened Monday following a 90-minute closed session meeting. Guild has been on paid administrative leave since early March, when he was arrested on felony charges. Those charges followed a months-long investigation into.
Guild, who was hired on Sept. 15, 2018, is the city’s sixth administrator in eight years. He faces a single count of misconduct in public office, charges filed after investigators searched Rhinelander City Hall and recovered 10 documents.
In a motion to dismiss the charges against Guild, his attorney not only denies that probable cause existed, but also argues that filing records requests is not a “non discretionary, ministerial duty.”
Kevin St. John, a Madison attorney representing Guild, concludes in his brief that the state put a “wrench in the operations of the city of Rhinelander” because police and prosecutors simply do not believe Guild performed his job properly. The brief, filed April 7, is public record and is part of the case file.
“That is not their job,” St. John writes. “Their job is to enforce the law…the complaint fails to allege violation on a single nondiscretionary, ministerial duty.”
A portion of the controversy in Rhinelander stems from a personnel file for former Public Works Director Tim Kingman. Shortly after assuming the role of Rhinelander city administrator in September 2018, interviews with multiple employees who insisted they had previously filed complaints against Kingman resulted in Guild’s discovery that Kingman’s personnel file was basically empty and contained none of the complaints employees claimed were filed against him.
During a closed session meeting on Sept. 9, members of the council discussed the missing records, which by city ordinance should have been kept in the office of the administrator. Department heads are also allowed to keep a copy of the records in their own offices, but the file of record should have been kept in a safe.
At one point in the September meeting, City Council President George Kirby said that he and then-City Attorney Carrie Miljevich both were in possession of some records pertaining to Kingman, records that existed outside of the official chain of custody.
In a recording of the meeting, obtained by Wausau Pilot and Review, council member Lee Emmer asked whether Kirby would “put (the records)” on the burn pile,” to which Kirby responded, “Ha ha, what records?”
Miljevich was terminated from her position in April, while Kingman was fired in June.
Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink was brought in as a consulting administrator earlier this month, a role that will be extended through at least June.
Guild was previously the Village Administrator in Weston for over six years. He voluntarily resigned in 2018, after an undisclosed conflict with the Weston Board of Trustees. Guild alleged that the Weston Board of Trustees violated his right to due process per state law and village ordinance. The Village settled their dispute with Guild, immediately after his resignation, which included a settlement payment of approximately $96,000.
Guild is due back in court June 11 for a motion hearing and a preliminary hearing. He is free on bond.