RHINELANDER - *Newswatch 12 was not able to independently verify every voice on the recording in question.
A recording obtained by Newswatch 12 further clarifies what Rhinelander common council members knew about the missing personnel records at the heart of one felony investigation into City Administrator Daniel Guild. Guild was named a "person of interest" in two different felony investigations in November.
The nearly 45-minute audio file reflects the discussion that took place during the closed session of a Sept. 9 common council meeting.
In the recording, alderpersons questioned what records went missing and when they were found to be missing. Guild explained that he found files missing from former Public Works Director Tim Kingman's personnel record when he was hired as city administrator in Sept. 2018. Guild said he also had suspicion that other employees' personnel records were missing from a file cabinet only the city administrator should have a key to.
"There was a substantial lack of documents in many of these records in this file cabinet," said Guild. "When the records request came for Mr. Kingman's record, we gave him everything we had which was just a few sheets of paper."
Later in the recording, District 7 Alderperson Steve Sauer claimed former City Administrator Keith Kost showed the common council a "stack" of complaints made against Kingman after spring elections in 2018. Sauer suggested that display showed the missing files were recently missing.
"In regards to 'they could've been gone for a long time,' that's … no, because we all saw," said Sauer.
According to one search warrant obtained by Newswatch 12, following an investigation into a complaint by a city employee, there would be documentation in the employee files of both the complaining party and the employee the complaint was filed against.
In the Sept. 9 recording, Guild said he could not find documentation of complaints against Kingman in Kingman's personnel file or the employee files of those who complained against Kingman. In an effort to reconstruct the missing files, Guild said employees gave him copies of complaints made against Kingman but he could verify their accuracy.
In the same meeting, District 1 Alderperson and common council President George Kirby said he had "scribbled notes" from his meetings regarding complaints against Kingman. According to one search warrant, Kirby, former City Attorney Carrie Miljevich and Mayor Chris Frederickson sat on a committee that fielded personnel complaints before Guild was hired.
"I just want to say something, all the complaints against Tim Kingman were handled by Carrie and I, all the complaints, Carrie and I handled them all, all the complaints. So, I've got all my copies," said Kirby.
Afterward, Alderperson Sauer told Kirby those notes were not official record but District 5 Alderperson Dawn Rog encouraged him to turn them over if asked.
"I think that if George does have the copies, if he was in the room, if an attorney, an outside attorney who is representing an employee would like those documents, I don't see any reason why you couldn't turn those over. That's something they can argue in a court of law, but if you're holding onto documents and you are physically in the room and you physically were a person that was involved with the complaint and you have a backup witness, then there's no reason why you cannot return those over to the parties that they were looking for those files," said Rog.
Guild later advised Kirby to seek legal advice.
"Just talk to the attorney. Because, if those are the only copies that were created, then you are in possession of official city records outside of the chain of custody," said Guild.
Toward the end of the recording, District 3 Alderson Lee Emmer seemed to tell Kirby to destroy what he wrote.
"I don't think you want to keep them George, kick them onto the burn pile," said Emmer.
In a phone conversation with Newswatch 12, Emmer said he had very little faith in the recording but asserted that if he did make the previous comment, it was a joke.
In a phone conversation with Newswatch 12, Kirby claims he was within his rights to take notes while fielding personnel complaints against Kingman and later revealed the notes were turned over to authorities in October. Kirby also claims the notes mentioned in the recording related to a harassment investigation from two-years ago that would not have been officially documented and therefore could not be missing from Kingman's file. Kirby believes whoever surreptitiously recorded the closed session broke the law.
As of Monday, the common council chose not take action any disciplinary against Guild. The Oneida County Sherriff's Office confirmed Tuesday the investigations into Guild are ongoing.