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Sauk County Board committee supports conflict resolution proposal

October 3, 2018

A committee voted Tuesday in favor of a consultant’s proposal to help the Sauk County Board resolve rancor among its members.

After a discussion with Jeff Hoffman of Applied Conflict Solutions LLC, the board’s Executive and Legislative Committee voted 3-1 — with one member absent — to accept his offer to assist the board free of charge.

The committee is expected to vote on a formal resolution at a future meeting. If approved, the resolution then would be forwarded to the full 31-member board for final consideration.

Hoffman is a town of Delton resident, where the principal office of his private conflict resolution firm is located. He also is a public employee, and heads up University of Wisconsin-Extension offices in Sauk, Columbia and Doge counties.

Hoffman said he has nearly 20 years of experience in the private sector helping organizations resolve internal conflict, and that his proposal is not related to his work with UW-Extension.

He cautioned that the type of project he has proposed can stir up negativity, and asked for a pledge that there would be no retribution against UW-Extension as a result of his work.

Rancor among board members has existed for years, and has boiled over in recent months. Several supervisors in attendance Tuesday said they welcomed the opportunity to participate in any process that might send the board down a more harmonious path.

“To me, this would be something where we can possibly come out ahead, actually learn something about ourselves and possibly get rid of some of the dysfunction on the board,” said committee member Bill Hambrecht of Prairie du Sac, the board’s vice chairman. “And if we don’t gain anything, we lose nothing.”

The committee member who voted against the proposal, Supervisor Wally Czuprynko of Lake Delton, said he believes conflict resolution is premature. Board members lack an understanding of their roles, responsibilities and duties, he said, and that is the root of the problem — not interpersonal relations.

“Once everyone is on the same playing field and everybody knows the same rules, then you can say, ‘Well, there’s an issue here and there’s an issue there,’” Czuprynko said.

As part of the project, Hoffman said, he would meet individually with supervisors who wish to participate and ask them about behavioral expectations. He would take notes and produce a final report offering research-based recommendations.

“This project will be looking at behavioral expectations, what is acceptable, what is anticipated, and what is approved,” Hoffman said.

Voting in support of the proposal were committee members Bill Wenzel of Prairie du Sac, Tom Kriegl of Baraboo and Hambrecht. Board Chairman Peter Vedro of Baraboo was not in attendance.

In other business Tuesday, the committee voted unanimously to forward a new board rule involving advisory referendums to the full board for final consideration. It postponed a discussion about public comment rules to a future meeting.

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