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Tuesday - July 17, 2018 7:24 pm

Mayor: 'Nothing personal' about booting council member from Human Rights Commission Featured

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A meeting tonight of the Human Rights Commission in La Crosse city hall might not be without some turmoil.

The, at times, controversial commission suddenly has a different city council representative.

In an extremely rare move, Mayor Tim Kabat replaced Jacqueline Marcou after she led the effort to block one of his nominations to the commission. Kabat insists it's nothing personal.

“I take the privilege that’s been given to me to make appointments very seriously and I’m going to guard that privilege very strongly,” Kabat said.

Marcou had successfully pushed for the city council to block the appointment of former council president and La Crosse schools superintendent Dick Swantz to the commission.

Justice Weaver is the new council representative on the commission.

In a response to Kabat’s decision to replace her, Marcou wrote to the mayor, “I believe a human rights commission should be diverse and should look like the marginalized community members that we are tasked with advocating for, and I am surprised you don't understand this.

“When speaking with Mr. Swantz about my position and informing him of the current make up of the HRC, he stated he absolutely understood why I needed to speak out against his appointment and agreed the HRC should include more non-Caucasian community members.”

Kabat insists his dismissal of Marcou wasn't vindictive. He was just protecting his authority.

“My view was the council was thinking, somehow, that they were going to start making appointments,” Kabat said, “and, in my mind, that’s just not how this mayor-council relationship has worked so well all these years.”

Kabat said the extremely rare move was taken as a way to remind the council the authority of the mayor shouldn't be dismissed.

“It’s on me to make sure that the duties and responsibilities that the mayor, and mayors before me, have enjoyed for a long time,” Kabat said, “that those stay in place and that the next mayor that comes along has (those) same abilities that I do.”

The surprise move by Kabat earlier this month followed the dramatic resignation of several commission members over disagreements with Kabat on the role of the commission in protecting human rights.


Last modified on Wednesday - July 18, 2018 7:08 am
Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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