(First published in the June 21, 2018 issue of City Pages)
Weston leaders approved pursuing a food truck rally, but its handling sheds light on some of the discontent with the village administrator
Nick O’Brien explains his involvement in a food truck rally that Village Administrator Daniel Guild organized and that Weston board members say they knew nothing about.
Village of Weston leaders approved moving forward on a food truck rally that had initially been organized by Village Administrator Daniel Guild, apparently without the board’s knowledge.
Weston paid $3,000 to social engagement company You Are Here to lay the foundations of the event, which would have included elements such as a mural, craft beer and live music, as well as about eight food trucks. Organized by Nick O’Brien (formerly with MCDEVCO and Wausau SOUP founder), the rally was spearheaded by the currently suspended village administrator.
While no one of the village board member specifically mentioned the suspension, and no one faulted O’Brien and his company for performing the work he was paid to do, several bristled that the money had been paid out of room tax money without any committee or board approval. Their comments pointed to discontent with the way the administrator was handling his job. “Here we are behind the eight ball,” says village board member Mark Maloney. “This wasn’t brought through the normal channels; it wasn’t brought before us.”
Maloney and other members, such as Yee Leng Xiong and Wally Sparks, challenged the fact that room tax funds were used to fund a project that is primarily targeted toward Weston residents and not bringing in outside tourists; that there was no actual contract with You Are Here; and that staff time would be used when the village is understaffed.
“Fundamentally, the money comes from the hotels, so it should go toward events that fill hotel rooms and support out businesses,” Sparks says. “The fact that it was a complete surprise and none of the board knew about it is completely wrong.”
The village on May 24 suspended Guild following a closed session. Board members later hired a special counsel, Dean Dietrich, but haven’t otherwise discussed or acted in open session and have refused to explain why they suspended Guild. The suspension covers only working days, so essentially amounts to six weeks.
City Pages and other media present at the June 7 meeting have challenged one of Weston’s closed sessions, in which goals for the administrator were discussed and possibly acted on in closed session; the district attorney is currently reviewing whether that act constitutes a policy discussion that must occur by law in open session.
Board members ultimately approved the project and plan to work with O’Brien to pursue the food truck rally, initially slated for June 24, for later in the year. Staff members at the meeting said they were willing to donate their time to make the event happen.