City officials defend mayor against booklet’s accusations

Shawano Leader, Wisconsin/October 12, 2006
By Tim Ryan

City officials took an opportunity Wednesday to comment on a pamphlet attacking Mayor Lorna Marquette that has been circulating around Shawano in recent weeks.

During the citizen recognition portion of Wednesday’s Common Council meeting, council president Woody Davis recognized the mayor and defended her against the charges leveled against her in the pamphlet.

"I can assure the citizens of Shawano that the council is outraged," Davis said.

The pamphlet – which calls Marquardt a racist – attributes authorship to Kal Gronvall, a member of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, who has been seen in recent weeks handing the booklet out.

"This has gone way beyond the limits of decency," Davis said.

Davis said that Marquardt is a dedicated public servant who has the backing of the entire Common Council.

Marquardt, who had commented on the pamphlet at last month’s council meeting by saying she would not be intimidated by such tactics, expanded her comments Wednesday night to include a bogus web site put up using her name.

"The statements on that web site were unauthorized, slanderous and untrue," she said.

Marquardt was referring to a web site created on – which has since been removed – that claimed to be Marquardt’s own web site.

Marquardt said the "malicious web site was a disgusting attempt to discredit and humiliate our community." She said it was a clear case of identity theft that would be taken seriously.

"Let there be no question. I will pursue this to the fullest extent of the law," Marquardt said, adding that there could be a civil or possibly even criminal case rising out of it.

Marquardt also thanked the many who have shown support since the pamphlet began circulating, and read through a list of well-wishers that included county, town and village officials, representatives from the business community, schools, churches, law enforcement, and the Menominee and Stockbridge-Munsee reservations.

She said the show of support "has reaffirmed my commitment to this community."

Her comments were followed by applause and a standing ovation.

Tony Zielinski, president of the Police and Fire Commission, who was at the meeting for another agenda item, also spoke out against the pamphlet and said that he stood behind the mayor.

"We have to stop this nonsense," Zielinski said.

Zielinski later expanded on his comments to a Leader reporter, saying that all members of the Police and Fire Commission had been outraged by the pamphlet.

"We’ve all extended an opportunity to this group to work hand-in-hand with us," he said, referring to Samanta Roy’s organization.

"They’ve done nothing to show that they want to be a part of this community," Zielinski said. "They have no interest in supporting, being a part of, growing, or enhancing Shawano."

The Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, led by R. C. Samanta Roy, and its subsidiaries own a number of properties in the Shawano area. The group has had a long history of disputes with the City of Shawano and the Town of Wescott.

Last year, the group filed a lawsuit against the city over its handling of beer and liquor licenses at the Best Western, which is owned by SIST subsidiary Midwest Hotels and Motels of Shawano, LLC. The suit, which among other things claimed the city was acting prejudicially against Samanta Roy because of his East Indian descent, was eventually settled.

More recently, a SIST check for more than $200,000 in property taxes paid to the city was returned twice by the bank for non sufficient funds. Citing city codes, SIST was required to make good on the check in cash. SIST maintained they were being treated unfairly.

The pamphlet claimed that Marquardt directed authorities to a parking problem at SIST’s USA International Raceway at a racing event in August, while a parking problem at Mielke Park during the Folk Music Festival was ignored. Both facilities are outside of the city of Shawano.

Marquardt previously said that she had nothing to do with the complaint, which came from an area resident, according to Shawano County Sheriff’s Department records. Sgt. Staber Cook, who was also criticized in the pamphlet, investigated the complaint. No citations were issued. Cook later said three complaints about parking at Mielke Park at the festival were investigated by deputies, but there was no problem found.

Gronvall, asked for a response to the comments made at the Common Council meeting, faxed a response to the Leader shortly before deadline. Gronvall defended his booklet.

"I felt that it is time for someone to speak out against the racial prejudice and discrimination the mayor is doing. And I chose to do it. It has nothing to do with any individual or group," he wrote. "During my distribution of the flyer, hundreds of people expressed their support for it and asked for more copies. They said that they were so glad that finally somebody had the guts to open their mouth and speak out against the bigotries of the city, which have been going on for years."

Gronvall also said that many American Indians stopped by and took more copies of the flyer, and expressed support for it.

"(They) said they were so glad that finally somebody had the courage to open their mouth and speak out against the racial prejudice and discrimination that American Indians have suffered from for ages," Gronvall concluded.

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