Lawsuit latest shot in city-SIST rift

Shawano Leader/July 20, 2007

The R. C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) and its subsidiaries have had a contentious relationship with the city of Shawano and its mayor, Lorna Marquardt.

Though the city is not a party to the current libel and defamation suit filed by Marquardt, the city was in a legal battle with SIST last year.

SIST filed suit maintaining the city violated equal protection laws and interfered with property rights and business operations at the Best Western Village Haus.

A business license for the recently purchased property was held up due to confusion over the closing date.

The lawsuit alleged discrimination due to Samanta Roy's East Indian descent. That suit was dismissed after a settlement agreement.

Last year, licenses for the sale of soda, beer, cigarettes, and the operation of arcade games were revoked at SIST businesses after a check for property taxes was returned twice for insufficient funds. The licenses were restored about a month later after SIST paid the taxes in cash, as demanded by the city.

SIST representative Kalmar Gronvall accused the city of making it difficult for SIST to pay the delinquent tax bill because of the large amount of cash required by the city.

Shortly after the tax bill was paid, pamphlets were distributed referring to Marquardt as a racist. The material, titled "The Racist Lorna Marquardt," included doctored photos, one of which portrayed Marquardt as an orangutan.

Gronvall claimed credit for creating the pamphlets, which were distributed at businesses owned by the two SIST subsidiaries named as defendants in the suit: Midwest Properties of Shawano, LLC, and Midwest Oil of Wisconsin, LLC.

The pamphlet material has also been posted on a web site, for which Gronvall also claims authorship.

Marquardt has filed a libel and defamation suit seeking $100,000 in monetary damages and at least $500,000 in punitive damages. She is also seeking injunctive relief to have the web site taken down and cease any further such material from being distributed.

This month, the city denied licenses for the sale of soda, beer, cigarettes, and the operation of arcade games to SIST businesses for non-payment of property taxes, which were due at the end of June.

As of Thursday, that $243,443 bill has not been paid, according to the city.

The businesses were cited last week for selling the unlicensed items. Two new pamphlets critical of Marquardt and the police department were distributed this week.

Gronvall does not represent SIST

Shawano Leader/August 2, 2007

In stories published in the Friday, July 20, 2007 and Sunday, July 22, 2007 editions of the Shawano Leader, Kalmar G. Gronvall was incorrectly identified as a representative of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology Inc. (SIST).

Gronvall is not a representative of SIST, according to the attorney defending Gronvall and SIST against a libel and defamation lawsuit filed by Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt and her husband Donald.

Gronvall resigned from SIST's board of directors on June 1, 2006, according to an affidavit he signed and filed in Shawano County Circuit Court on June 22, 2007. A copy of the resignation letter, along with minutes of a SIST meeting in which Gronvall's resignation was discussed, were part of Gronvall's affidavit.

The attorney, Rebecca L. Gietman of Kaukauna, noted Gronvall left the board before producing a booklet in September 2006 criticizing Mayor Marquardt, other local officials and the Shawano Leader.

The Leader regrets the error.

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