PESHTIGO — Former Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn had plenty of support at Tuesday’s evening Peshtigo City Council meeting after his abrupt termination on Friday morning. John Breault, a former city employee, addressing Mayor Cathi Malke said, “I have struggled with a lot of decisions being made by you. The city needs a city manager, someone who is educated and able to handle situations like this. I believe you are micromanaging every department. Employees are afraid if you are in a bad mood that they be fired. No one wants to work in that type of environment. You are making a lot of decisions that don’t make a lot of sense. It’s like you’re the queen and you can get whatever you want.” 

Malke shot back, “I fired two employees. I can’t discuss one but I can tell you what happened about the other one. When I see an employee mowing the grass, and I tell him, for safety and liability reasons, that he can’t mow the grass wearing sandals and they tell me that their supervisor doesn’t care and swears at me. I will not accept that behavior from anyone. No one swears at me.”

Breault then asked about an invoice that he had photocopied. Breault read off the listed items which included a stealth camera that was able to record and fully compatible with WIFI for a price just short of $900. Malke said that is not for the city but for a third party and that she was simply facilitating the bids. “If I can help another agency, I think that is a great thing and I will do that,” Malke said. 

Another supporter of Zahn, Jenifer Fox-Gerrits, stood up and addressed Malke. Fox-Gerrits described a “caustic” environment at the city rift with hostilities. “I’ve seen you treat staff and residents like they don’t matter,” she said. She went on to outline several points that are key to good leadership according to President Dwight Eisenhower, whom she quoted: “Honesty and integrity, the ability to inspire others, decision making capabilities, accountability, delegation and empowerment, creativity and innovation, being a good communicator.” Fox-Gerrits said that being a good communicator, in particular a good listener, was essential.  

“How do you plan to improve from here?” Fox-Gerrits challenged Malke. “Will you complete your term? Will you take some training from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities?” Both Fox-Gerrits and Breault mentioned the loss of good employees.