After listening to more than a dozen speakers Aug. 9 supporting Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger, the county board soon will reconsider his 30-day suspension for participating in a controversial peace rally.
But that means the floor will be open for ideas on what to do instead. The county could completely eliminate the penalty, Marathon County Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett says, or go as far as firing the administrator. Karger has gained a wave of support following the suspension, including a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures calling for his reinstatement.
Related: REVIEWING KARGER
Karger was sharply criticized by law enforcement, including Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel, for participating in the May 31 March for Peace rally at The 400 Block. The rally was a response to the guilty verdict handed down to Dylan Yang, who was 15 when he stabbed 13-year-old Isaiah Powell in a fight outside Yang’s home. Karger was suspended July 21.
Among those who took to the microphone Tuesday in support of Karger was 60-year-old Hmong resident Cheng Khang, who spoke about taking up arms to fight for the United States under Gen. Vang Pao. “I fought for freedoms such as Brad Karger’s,” Khang said, through an interpreter. “If we don’t have those freedoms, then our troops died for nothing.”
An email from county board supervisor Sherry Abitz to Wausau School Board member Mary Thao also drew criticism. Abitz in her email compared the rally to “bringing the KKK to their doorstep.” Abitz says she meant the comparison as “the fear factor” of having a crowd of protestors coming to the courthouse.
Supervisor Jeff Zriny said this issue is dividing the county and it needs to end. “I’ve had strangers walking up to me and asking me about this,” Zriny says. “We need to resolve this issue, because it’s escalating.”
Several county board sources told City Pages that the legal fees related to the Karger suspension have now topped $30,000. The county board will vote on the reconsideration at its Aug. 18 meeting.