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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Janesville Council President Shuts Off Council Member’s Mic

During a discussion on the city’s property tax settlement with Menards at Monday’s council meeting, Council President Doug Marklein shut off Council Member Jens Jorgensen’s microphone when he wanted to respond to a statement directed at him from Council Member Tom Wolfe.

Moments earlier, Jorgensen was generalizing about his position on the issue. He said he thought it was fundamentally wrong to settle and that he is opposed to settling the case with Menards. Jorgensen said he wanted to let others know that not everyone thinks the settlement “is a good deal” and that companies do it because they know cities will roll over. Jorgensen was not pointing his remarks at anyone by name or specifically. He was making a broad general statement on his position.

Council Member Wolfe seemed to have taken Jorgensen’s criticism of ”it’s a good deal” logic personally and said he was responding to Jorgensen’s remarks. Wolfe, in an orderly and measured response, wanted Jorgensen to know he does not think settling is a good deal either, but that it’s the responsible appropriate thing to do at this time (in his view). It was moments after Wolfe finished speaking when Jorgensen signaled his intention to respond to Wolfe when Marklein cut off his mic.

When Jorgensen asked why he was cut off, Marklein said it was because he was being "argumentative." Yet their conversation was not loud, was not escalating or heated by any measure, and seemed very “normal” and necessary to clear up any misunderstanding between the two.

Fact is, Jorgensen’s reply to Wolfe could have been a friendly apology of sorts or an acknowledgment that he now understands what he (Wolfe) meant earlier, OR anything to clarify his statement. But we’ll never know because Marklein cut him off.

Just plain wrong and disrespectful.

Later in the meeting, Jorgensen made an official statement that he is registering a complaint with the city in that council rules are not being followed.

NOTE: The Janesville City Council approved the settlement refunding Menards $403,007.90 with Jorgensen opposed.

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