Michael Serpe’s tenure as Door County Administrator came to an end with a 19 – 0 vote of no confidence by the Door County Board Friday morning. Two supervisors were absent for the historic meeting the began shortly after 9am and ran through the noon hour at the County Government Center in Sturgeon Bay and included 2 closed door session, and evidentiary hearing in open session and a vote on Serpe’s status.
Attorney Tom O’Day of the Milwaukee office of the legal firm of Godfrey and Kahn presented an oral report on the allegations he followed up on as part of an investigation into Serpe’s conduct in office. O’Day noted that he had interviewed Serpe’s two accusers, finance director Shirley Scalish and personnel/human resources director Kelly Hendee and Serpe himself and came up with a list of ten allegations. The information provided by the 2 women painted a picture of a man who wore his emotions on his sleeve, was volatile and crude at times, and who was prone to making inappropriate comments.
Serpe’s conduct was first called into question following a January 12th incident in which he angrily accused Scalish of not supporting him during a meeting where he took heat for his handling of the retirement of then EMS Director Dick Burress. Serpe reportedly shoved his middle digit within inches of Scalish’s face. He was also accused of berating Hendee for not supporting him at the meeting. Serpe said he remembered the committee meeting as being a difficult one, but did not remember the incident in the office.
Scalish also felt she had been the butt of a number of Serpe’s jokes or comments about age. Hendee said Serpe seemed to be fixated with the age of employees and brought the subject up on several occasions. There was also an inference that the county administrator used age as a determining factor when considering promotions, something he denied.
In his summation, O’Day indicated three areas he said were of concern..
*The possible denial of a promotion due to age
*Making inappropriate comments based on age
*Making inappropriate gestures with his hands that could have been construed as being sexual in nature
For his part, Serpe denied the bulk of the allegation and said his intentions had been misinterpreted by others. He also said Hendee’s motive for coming forward has based on a desire to get back at him for an unfavorable letter he filed about her work. The letter was later rescinded.