Salem supervisors adopt administrator job description and spar with chairman on job’s role

The Salem Town Board adopted a job description for the town administrator at a special meeting Tuesday night. The description was largely the same as one created as part of a comprehensive study of town positions.

The meeting was relatively short for a Salem Town Board proceeding of late — well less than a half hour. But there was still time for supervisors — especially Patrick O’Connell – to butt heads with Chairman Linda Valentine over the proper role for the administrator.

Valentine called the meeting because she said she felt the town needed a job description for the administrator officially approved by the board. She outlined problems she had with the position as specified in the description from the job study, including:

  • A lack of measurement of performance.
  • No residency requirement.
  • No requirement that timely response be made to inquiries.
  • That the administrator not usurp powers that ought to lie with the Town Board.

But O’Connell challenged her view that the board had delegated too much power to the administrator. Instead, he said the idea of hiring an administrator was to improve the professionalism of  management of the town and cast the Town Board chiefly as setters of policy.

“He is the administrator that carries out the policies we set, not you, not me,” O’Connell said to Valentine. “That’s what we had before; that was no good.”

Two additions were made to the job description from the study, at the suggestion of Supervisor Dennis Faber. Language was added to specify that the hiring and firing of the administrator should follow state statutes and that the administrator should assist the town chairman and committee chairman in formulating agendas. That amended job description passed 4 to 1 with Valentine opposing.

Patrick Casey, the town’s first professional administrator, was hired last year.

Here’s the job description. Note that the handwriting is my note taking on the amendments and does not reflect the official language (that is, if you can even read it).



  1. Jackie ciesla says:

    I was at this meeting and I cant believe what I witnessed.I have never witness anything like this even in chicago.Mr. O Connell is so far out line with his remarks and how he goes about saying things Now I understand why people dont come to meeting who want to see this .Even if he feels he right to air out the town business in the matter he does is just wrong I say they need to go behind closed doors GET LOCKED IN and air out all the difference between them ALL With what I witnessed I see why the town people have divided .When our board cant get along and fight during the meeting what does that show us . They should be setting examples but instead they cause citizen to pick sides .This has caused neighbor to go against neighbor and should be ASHAMED Where is the leadership?

  2. Chris Gustafson says:

    The consulting agency charged $25,000 for their services and their job description for the Town of Salem Administrator is officially on the books.
    One major weakness I see is that under “Education and/or Experience” Minimum of five (5) years work experience in economic development is only described as PREFERRED. Yet, under “Administration” one important DUTY is that position is “Responsible for planning, land and economic developement in coordination with the Town Board.”

    Any person or entity responsible to maintain and advance the economic advantage of our town or region or state should posess at LEAST a four year university degree majoring in economics and the larger the land area involved the more brain power needed! YET, SEWRPC who makes “advisory” plans & recommendations for the seven county region only has one economist who does not conduct socioeconomic impact study & analysis about how “TAXBASE PEAKOUT” can be avoided to prevent BLIGHT as has occurred in Milwaukee and what appears to include the Village of Silver Lake’s Downtown area. Kenosha County relies heavily on the good activities of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance but their focus is mainly on existing and future business potential EAST of I-94.

    So I am asking….YET AGAIN….IF…..the Town of Salem Administrator is not REQUIRED to posess a 4-year Degree in Economics for goodness sakes WHEN will the Town of Salem have an Economic Development Committee whose function will be sepperate from that of planning and zoning?

  3. Salemethics says:

    Well Chris may I ask if you have a bachelors or masters degree that you are able to make these make these judgements? Would you please explain to me what a degree 4 year degree in economics will do for economic development?
    I did some research and the information below is courtesy of the Kenosha News. By the way did you call and ask or do some research?

    “He got a college degree focusing on administration, parks and recreation, and worked in the parks system before pursuing a master’s degree in public administration.
    He spent 20 years working for Evanston, a city of 75,000 and home of Northwestern University, working his way up to director of management, business and information systems overseeing a budget of more than $150 million.”

    I would also venture to say not one of the members of the town board has this kind of knowledge or experience. I doubt that you can determine what is needed for the job either.
    Hmmmm masters in public administration is pretty impressive.

  4. Chris Gustafson says:

    Here two truisms in life: Knowledge is Based Upon the Ability to Find the Right Answers and to Reason is to Judge. My 21-year old has a Bachlors in Business Administration but alas, not the 20 years experience directing a municipality’s Information Technology systems. If our Town Adminstrator actually obtained the Master’s Degree in Public Administration he was pursuing, which accredited University is it from, is the more important question.

    I’m frustration about our town’s lack of an Economic Development Committee. If we had one, they could explore the most profitable and beneficial use of those actual and potenial forms of wealth we might derive from our local natural resources. And just in case anyone is wondering, here is the
    A socio-economic impact analysis or assessment is a tool used to determine whether or not a proposed development or other action will have a negative or positive impact on the social, economic, environmental, and fiscal well-being of a community. To successfully measure socio-economic impacts, the analysis must evaluate how a proposed development or other action will impact the lives of current and future residents of a community. In general, most socio-economic impact analyses involve a two-step process. The first step is to determine measurable, quantifiable, and predictive data that pertains to the development. How many jobs will the development create? How many people will need to be housed due to the creation of new jobs? To what extent will the plan spur development, and will this impact population growth over the next twenty years? The second step is gauging the qualitative public perceptions about the proposed development. Do residents believe that the development will have a positive or negative impact on the community? Will the use create a nuisance, or will the supporting infrastructure cost too much? Will it have an impact on housing values? In order to identify what those values and concerns are, the public must be engaged.

    To learn more, about Economic/Community/Business Development go to the website for the Center for Economic Development at UW-Milwaukee at

  5. salemethics53168 says:

    The Kenosha News didn’t state what university. Not even sure if he has completed it or not.
    I have two schools of thought regarding economic development. I understand the town has a new comprehensive plan. I saw it on the website, but haven’t had a chance to read through it. That plan should show the areas of development and their business corrider.
    I personally enjoy a quaint small town atmosphere so I guess the questions would be just how much economic development do we want and what type.
    I would rather see the town attract small, quaint, or even eclectic shops. Something that isn’t available in our town and would draw people from surrounding areas. Look at places like Galena, Long Grove, Richmond, and Cedarburg. If we begin attracting larger industry, then what will that do to what we have now? I’m a country person and enjoy the small town atmosphere. Although I do see a need for jobs in this area.
    This administrator hasn’t been here that long yet. I think he needs a chance to wait for the town’s comp plan to be adopted and then begin working with the board to look at what the town wants to attract. It needs to be well thought out and not rammed down throats or quickly done.

  6. Chris Gustafson says:

    Quaint shops sound like a great idea! But it’ll likely require some indepth analysis to findout exactly which “nitches” meet consumer needs so as to make such ventures as economically feasible as possible. Business Rental Suites fully operationally & furnished for Information Technology Transfer were in Vogue prior to the economic downturn, but it’s not as easy leasing them out anymore, plus thats alot of costly overhead up front, there needs to be ancillary amenities to attract clientele to such spaces.

    The real diamond in the rough being centrally located, near a railroad with an existing siding for the Stone company behind the feed store’s on 258th Ave. is the unicorporated downtown area of Trevor which is bordered by variously zoned parcels, some already for sale & appropriate for a good base of light industries, but too many people don’t think outside the box of “Rust-Belt” Heavy Manufacturing which often leaves communities paying for infrastructure to support TIF district when occupants flee near the term expiration to other countries. To avoid such peril, some places adopt a land restoration ordinance, but landlords whose big box store leasees vacate & still pay rent can’t be made to do much when still yielding an income so those aren’t the Golden Opportunity once envisioned anymore. Plus, any watershed over a certain percentage zoned industrial is going to get slammed soon with costly to implement WDNR’s new polluted runoff they pertain to stormwater wet basin sediment testing for beneficial reuse or appropriate hazard waste disposal requirements.

    Maybe the town could apply for some WDNR Brownfield Redevelopment grant funding for the remediation (clean-up) of the old leaky salt storage dome of the existing town’s public works/highway department building and property or some Main Street Revitalization funding if there’s any left, to do some retro-looking affordable rennovation.

    I do think, aside from an Economic Development Committee, something like a a local Town of Salem Chamber of Commerce might be equally beneficial to small business owners here if they’d be interested in participating. What it feels like we need is a new Business Model instead of being a Kizan Cowboy as Toyota says, trying to paint a room with a paintball gun. I attended a conference at the Raddison in Pleasant Prairie a few years back hosted by MATC, about the needs of this decade, and they’re professors seemed to have predicted accurately so far, what and where we’re at.

    Anyway, I also want to say, I’ve done some additional research on the former Village of West Milwaukee, village adminstrator since 2007 whose now our town administrator, that is or was as of that year, a 25 year member of ICMA, that was also a former City of Evanston Director of Management and Budget. If you “google his first name, middle initial, last name, with City of Evanston or Niles, IL — you’ll find Interdepartmental Memorandums online, plus, you might learn more at by reading posting at the online forum, “Evanston Now.”

  7. Dr. Brad Smith says:

    Is it true that Diann Tesar, as former town chair, approved her board’s payment of a $25,000 fee to a so-called “consulting” firm for an alleged “job description” that any group of prudent citizens could have generated in their weakest moment at a local tavern?

    Let Mrs. Tesar answer “Yes” or “No” whether such an amount was actually paid for that purpose as Chris Gustafson reports.

    Is it true that Diann Tesar supported the failed Salem School referendum? LET MRS. TESAR ANSWER HERSELF! “Yes” or “No”.

    We all have a right to a private ballot. Diann’s defenders have used the lame excuse that her alleged stance on such issues was a private matter. First, you as a potential voter has to ask, “Why doesn’t she answer in black and white? WHAT IS SHE HIDING?” You must wonder whether an affirmative answer would make her appear to be a “liar” to one group of people, or that on the other hand a negative answer would negate her alleged position “for” the referendum to her pro-referendum friends.

    If I was a town official I would consider any taxpayer’s request for clarity on one’s position on such an issue to be both proper and relevant. How can anyone make a proper decision at voting time if we don’t know where a candidate stands on IMPORTANT LOCAL ISSUES.

    Now, did she have a right to an opinion about the Paris referendum? Absolutely. Did she have a moral responsibility to disclose that position?
    Not as a Salem town official representing her jurisdiction’s taxpayers.

    Also, “Yes” or “No”, let Diann Tesar STATE IN WRITING whether the Salem water utility “service fee” entity AS SALEM EMBRACED was SPECIFICALLY MANDATED by the State or not. Other posters elsewhere have said that Salem WAS NOT REQUIRED to specifically create this additional “fee” structure. DIANN, YOU REPRESENTED TO ME PERSONALLY THAT YOUR “HANDS WERE TIED” IN THIS MATTER!

    So kindly answer us IN WRITING, did you “lie” when you told me that the town’s “hands were tied”, when this added burden REALLY WASN’T MANDATED BY THE STATE? How are these funds being used? How? More “fees” to consultants?

    Also Diann, please ANSWER CHRIS GUSTAFSON’S CONCERNS too in writing.

    By the way Diann, at last Monday night’s Salem town board meeting you were uncharacteristically quiet. When Town Chair Valentine offered all candidates the opportunity to speak during “citizen comments”, you were unusually quiet. Why are you afraid to take a public stand on all of these questions?

    Finally, I would like to know EVERY CANDIATE’S and EVERY TOWN OFFICIAL’S opinion on the economic crisis that we are in. That is, do you believe that we are in a “recovery” and that the so-called recession is over? Or do you believe that the worst is yet to come and that America has entered a depression instead? To me, that is a most crucial question. For if we have local government leaders that are realistic about the REAL ECONOMY, then we taxpayers will benefit from more fiscally-prudent stewardship of our challenged resources.

    However, if our local officials (town, village, county, and our various school boards) have bought into the “optimism opium” being peddled by Obama, Bernanke, and even most top Republicans “that the recession is over” (“…oh, but we are having a jobless recovery…”); then such local “leadership” will justify further debt and fiscal irresponsibility.

    So Diann, where do you stand on that issue? Or is that a “private” or “personal” opinion that the people should be denied your stance on?

    $25,000.00 for a “job description”? Really?

    Think about it folks.

    Thank you.

  8. Chris Gustafson says:

    If you read the MINUTES of TOWN OF SALEM
    MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2009 7:00 P.M., item #2 under,
    PRESENTATIONS, PETITIONS, AND COMMUNICATIONS, Victoria McGrath of McGrath Consulting presented their study and recommendations for personnel, wage step grades, and benefits. This is what the Town of Salem allegedly paid $25,000 for.

    We are allegedly now to believe, that this allegedly included the written job description for the town administrator’s position just recently presented.
    And, allegedly, the town DID NOT pay an additional cost for that service.

    However, I wonder WHY DID IT TOOK THIS LONG? When… if you go to, which is the home page for ICMA, the professional and educational association for appointed local government administrators throughout the world, THEY HAVE “performance metrics”.

    On the leftside of the screen is a topic entilted, “Professional Management”.
    Hover your cursor, then click to open the popup to the right,
    “Professional Local Government Management.” Then….

    SCROLLDOWN to, “What skills do professional managers bring to their communities?” and READ what the responsibilities and duties are, which ARE STRIKINGLY SIMILAR to what McGrath Consulting came up with for our town administrator’s job description.

    This information is FREE, now isn’t that PRICELESS!

  9. Chris Gustafson says:

    I wonder what those who feel encumbered by public access to MSB would think about this. Go to

    This is the link to Evanston Now’s article entitled, “Sign up online for arts, recreation classes,”Wednesday, July 26, 2006, at 4:56 am by Bill Smith.

    OUR NEW TOWN OF SALEM ADMINISTRATOR WHO WORKED THERE once upon a time, appearently came up Its about a plan to launch an online registration system for arts, ecology and recreation classes.

    Aldermen of that community voiced concerns about the program’s design — which would require new users to phone the city to request a password, or wait up to three days to have a password e-mailed to them. “Almost any other registration system lets you signup without making a phone call ahead of time,” said one alderman. Another said she feared mailing the passwords would compromise the system’s security.

    Management & Budget Director Pat Casey said, “Somebody has to be the keeper of the password, it’s just like the bank or eBay.”

    To which an alderman responded, “But I make up my own password for the bank.”

    The city plans were to reserve about 30 percent of all class slots for walk-in, phone or mail registration so that those who don’t have computer access would still have an opportunity to sign up. If those slots were not filled two weeks before the class was scheduled to start, they were to be made available for online signup.

  10. Dr. Brad Smith says:

    Thank you for your clarification. Mr. Casey’s alleged “job description” was “part” of that $25,000.00 “consulting” deal.

    However, this is still an insult to all Salem taxpayers when one considers that the town board could have gotten an apparently similar “job description”, along with the other material Chris Gustafson refers to, free of charge from ICMA.

    Thank you.

  11. JC says:

    Remind me on who watch was that My opinion is somebody was to lazy to do research to get information. So much easier to hire someone using our tax dollars And now he has way to much power giving to him by the board Something the town chair tryed to suggest some changes in his contract and was voted down Good thing for election

  12. unknownfarmer says:

    Dear Doctor Slander (Brad Smith)

    Let’s talk about free. I would suspect that if the job description for Casey would have been found on a website for free then you would have questioned it’s viability.

    I am pretty sure that the money you referred to was more in the tune of $13,000, not $25,000 that you alluded to. And it was used for much more than simply a job description but you should know this right? Perhaps you can find this out on Making Salem Worse website.

    Again you blame Tesar. But again you misunderstand how the Town is supposed to work. There are Board Members who make the final decisions, five of them, not one!

    What you want is Linda Valentine to be the Boss. Hopefully you will hold her personally responsible for everything that happens in the Town. So far you have not said one word about all the garbage that I see when I go to meetings. Why did you not talk to Tesar at the meeting? You left after 30 minutes. It’s better to blog. I myself stand face to face with people if I want answers. Guess you don’t do that.

    Did you ever get anything in writing from Linda or any of the other Board Members on there views? Do you continue to ask people to void there civil rights? Because YOU demand it?

    Did you ever find out if the Town’s Lawyer is being paid by the Town for the investigation of the Making Salem Better Website? Can the founder Linda Valentine answer the question?The Attorney General of Wisconsin also gets paid from your tax dollars. Nope guess you don’t want to look into this now do you. Do you have the answer to my question?

    I need to go and vote now. Did I need to tell you who I voted for so I can continue to void my civil rights like you ask all other people to do for you?

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