MARINETTE - The case for removing Marinette Mayor Bob Harbick progressed Monday afternoon as city clerk Jim Anderson received a complaint from a resident calling on the city council to remove Harbick from office.
The council has been pressuring the mayor to step down ever since his July 2 drunken driving arrest when he smashed his SUV into a traffic signal pole at the corner of Hall Avenue and Hattie Street.
On July 5, seven of nine city council members signed a petition asking Harbick to resign. Last week, a special city council meeting was called - at which the seven members formally called for the mayor's resignation. But Harbick stood his ground, and since then he's given no indication of budging.
However, at the conclusion of the special meeting, the council voted to authorize the city's Personnel and License Committee to acquire outside legal council in the event that a resident taxpayer brought written verified charges against the mayor.
On Monday afternoon, resident taxpayer Dorothy Kowalski did just that. She wrote:
"As a resident of the City of Marinette, I am charging that Marinette Mayor Robert Harbick should be removed from office by the City Council of the City of Marinette for cause per Wisconsin State Statutes Sections 17.12 and 17.16. The causes for the removal include inefficiency, neglect of duty, and malfeasance in office. The specific charges are as follows:
"1. Mayor Harbick exceeded his lawful authority by first banning Council Person Shirley Kaufman from the City Hall Mail Room and then attempting to physically eject her from the area thus violating Section 946.12 (2) of the Wisconsin State Statutes and thereby committing malfeasance in office.
"2. Mayor Harbick exceeded his lawful authority by disobeying a lawful order by a County Sheriff's Deputy to leave the scene of an ongoing hostage situation at the Marinette High School by asserting his authority as Mayor, and hitting the Deputy with his car as he forced his way onto the scene thus violating Section 946.12 (2) of the Wisconsin State Statutes and thereby committing malfeasance in office.
"3. Mayor Harbick has attempted to exercise his duties as Mayor while intoxicated at City Hall intentionally, failing to properly fulfill his duties as Mayor thus violating Section 946.12 (1) of the Wisconsin State Statutes and thereby neglecting his duties as Mayor.
"4. Mayor Harbick exceeded his lawful authority during his arrest for OWI by requesting that an arresting State Patrol Officer "keep it out of the papers" and asking that he not be taken into custody at the County Jail thus violating Section 946.12 (2) of the Wisconsin State Statutes and thereby committing malfeasance in office.
"5. Mayor Harbick made repeated false statements at a press conference to the media after his arrest for OWI stating that he only had "couple of drinks" prior to his arrest, when in fact, when he was arrested, he registered three times the legal limit for drunk driving thus violating Section 946.12 (4) with false statements and thereby committing malfeasance in office.
"6. Mayor Harbick by the above actions and others has rendered himself incapable of efficiently executing the office of Mayor. He has caused great inefficiencies in City government by creating controversy and ill will among the Council and the citizens of the community, making it difficult to gain consensus on many serious issues facing the City.
"I hereby request a public hearing be held by the City Council and that it remove Mayor Harbick from office following the procedure set forth in Section 17.16 (3) of the Wisconsin State Statutes."
Unless a special meeting is called, the city's next Personnel and License Committee meeting (at which time a decision regarding the hiring of outside legal council could be made) will not take place until Aug. 15.