Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Complaints led to inspector’s replacement
Four trustees say reasons for removal unclear

by Chris Schultz

August 25, 2011

WILLIAMS BAY — Complaints from residents led to the replacement of David Henson as village building inspector, according to Village President John Marra.

In a prepared written statement released on Monday, Marra put down his reasons for wanting to replace Henson, who had been with the village since December 2007.

Or, at least those reasons he said he could relate without violating the confidentiality of items discussed in closed sessions.

“For some time prior to my election as village president and in the days immediately following the election in April, I became aware of what I determined to be notable shortcomings on how Mr. Henson was performing his duties as the village building inspector and was advised of this by numerous village residents,” Marra’s statement reads in part.

He wrote that it was his responsibility to staff his administration with people “to provide professional and sensitive service to the residents of the village.”

Read Marra, Hansen correspondence

“I want a management team I can work with,” Marra said.

However, Marra was unwilling to discuss any specific complaints that may have led to Henson’s nonrenewal.

Henson was let go by the village on Aug. 4 and replaced by Jerry Anderson, a contractor, licensed inspector and Elkhorn alderman.

Anderson’s approval was on a tight 4-3 count, with the trustees splitting 3-3 and Marra essentially casting the deciding vote, although he did not vote last.

Trustees voting against Anderson’s appointment, or at least to delay a vote, were John Grove, George Vlach and Marsha Engquist.

Those voting with Marra were Don Parker, William Duncan and Gordon Roth.

A survey of trustees showed that at least four, Grove, Vlach, Engquist and Roth, were unclear about the specific reason or reasons why Henson was not being reappointed.

Duncan recalled that Marra had concerns about how Henson interacted with residents about issues.

Marra had said that he wanted “a building inspector who would enforce the rules, but interact better with residents,” Duncan said.

Vlach said he had heard there was “bad blood” between Marra and Henson, but he didn’t know the specifics.

He said there had been complaints against Henson during the previous Village Board, but those complaints were reviewed by the trustees, who then supported Henson.

Grove also said he was uncertain why Henson was released.

He said he supported the former building inspector.

“I’m not trying to start a war with Mr. Marra, but what’s right is right,” Grove said.

Engquist said she had not heard any specific complaints against Henson, either.

“What the issues were between John Marra and David Henson, I don’t know,” Engquist said.

“It’s a hard job, like a police officer,” Vlach said of the building inspector. “You’re not going to be friends with everyone.

“My vote was against how a village employee, David, was handled,” Vlach said.

“No reason was given to the board by Mr. Marra,” said Roth, who voted nonetheless to replace Henson with Anderson.

Roth said he voted with the majority to bring the issue to an end.

“We could have kept voting against every new appointment, but I don’t know how far that would have gone on,” Roth said.

Parker could not be reached for comment.

Called shortly after the Aug. 4 meeting, Henson said he didn’t want to comment on his replacement as building inspector.

“Thank you for the call,” Henson told the Regional News in a phone interview.

Hansen said, however, that he did not want to be interviewed.

“It’s not my nature to do this,” he said.