The Vanguard

Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.

Obama Stash...Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Radisson Style

obama stash radisson style menomonee falls

Remember when the news broke in October of 2009 that people in Detroit were lined up for blocks to get their "Obama Stash"? (

It turned out to be a complete hoax, but so many people in Detroit were lined up for a handout and were so easily duped in to thinking that there really was free money. 

The taxpayers of Menomonee Falls would be so fortunate to have had the same outcome as  Detroit when it comes to "free money" and the renovated Radisson Hotel ( Main Street that had a soft opening over the weekend.                                                                         

This posting is necessarily long because of the many spider webs that have been woven over the last 8 years in getting the hotel project on Main Street to where it is today with very little, if any, coverage from the local press and media.

This colossal failure and mismanagement would get anyone who would be willing to do a little investigative reporting many awards if they only tried instead of the sugar coating that has been given to this project for the last 8 years. 

Whatever happened to the good 'ol Journal Sentinel investigative reporters like Dan Bice, Mike Johnson, Laurel Walker and Tom Daykin?

Unfortunately, novices and lay journalists have to do the work of those who are considered professionals that are paid for covering the news of which, if it were any other community than Menomonee Falls, would be on the front page as news for days on end.


Calamity of Errors, Missteps, Oversights, Broken Promises and Illegal Acts Date Back to 2003

Members of The Vanguard have personally been involved with the renovation of the hotel on Main Street through Village Board Closed Session Meetings, negotiations with Village Staff and developers, personal meetings with developers, Village Board Meetings, Open Record Requests and other various communications since the conceptual idea for the hotel on Main Street started in mid-2003.

The prospective hotel buyer informally met at Village Hall with the then Village Manager, Village Attorney, Village Planning and Community Development Staff, financiers, real estate representatives, a Village Board Member(s) and others to possibly look at the purchase of the hotel depending on what the Village's vision was for this area and what the Village's commitment would be in terms of surveys, consultants, analysts, legal options, TIF District possibilities, etc.

Everyone can agree that Main Street between Pilgrim Road (West) and 124th Street (East) has been one of the most neglected areas in the entire Village since the '70's.

Empty storefronts, vacant lots, run down properties, outdated buildings, trashy on and off ramps to freeway, blighted areas, empty Business Parks, "the dump", extremely poor maintenance of roadsides, no charm, multiple for sale and for lease signs, lack of commerce, minimal foot traffic and poor signage have plagued this area for decades.

A big hearty thank you goes out to those businesses on Main Street who are hanging on to their establishments in effort to create jobs, provide services, maintain the tax base and pay their bills to the Village for the privilege of operating a business in Menomonee Falls.

Original Hotel Plan Created Excitement in 2003

After several meetings with all of the parties involved with the potential purchase of the hotel in mid-2003, Jim Heyden, of rural Washington County and Principal Owner, asked the Village Board to take a position to help him secure a loan for the renovation of the hotel.

Heyden did not want money, did not want a handout, did not want freebies, did not ask for a TIF District, did not ask for favors from the Village Board or Staff while considering the purchase of the hotel.

He simply wanted the Village Board to take a position that would help him secure a loan with financial investors.

The Village Board had Closed Session Meetings with Village Staff and outside legal counsel to consider Heyden's request.

In particular, the gang of three and their leading lady, Trustees Jeskewitz, McDonald, Steliga and Ellis, chortled, demeaned and mocked Heyden for his idea to renovate the hotel because for what they stated were his lack of experience, finances and vision.

In reality, it is the opinion of The Vanguard, that Jeskewitz, McDonald, Steliga and Ellis had ulterior motives that directly related to their years of being on the Village Board without getting anything done for Main Street and their outright hatred of other Village Board Members whom had recently been elected to the Village Board with the promise of revitalizing Main Street and its importance to the economic base of the community.

If Main Street were to be renovated after many years of being neglected by the Village Board, that would necessarily poorly reflect on Jeskewitz, McDonald and Steliga whom had been on the Village Board collectively for over 30 years without anything to show for it by 2003.

Then the gang of three would have to explain how things were all of a sudden getting done so quickly for Main Street when the gang of three were telling everyone who would listen that nothing could be done.

Oh my, someone might have then gotten credit for doing the right thing for Main Street in Menomonee Falls which would have poorly reflected on the gang of three's inability of getting things done and their concern that those who were getting things done on the Village Board for Main Street would be given credit for positive results and thought of in a favorable manner by the voters of Menomonee Falls at election time.

Because of the strong negative views and jealousy of other Village Board Members, Jeskewitz, McDonald, Steliga and Ellis railed against Heyden's Proposal and cheered outside legal counsel's view that, "...the Village might as well just buy the hotel for Heyden, fix it up and deed it over to him." 

The gang of three and their leading lady decried and queried as to how they would ever explain this to the taxpayers of their beloved Menomonee Falls if they were to ever approve something so outrageous and egregious as to this failed and challenged proposal.

"What outrage if this were to ever occur that could possibly saddle the already overburdened taxpayers of Menomonee Falls and have them risk so much of their hard earned money by the Village Board!"

"This is Corporate Welfare if we were to agree to this!"

"Who does this guy think he is trying to get Menomonee Falls to do something like this?"

"What shame!"

These were the cries of the Village Board Members who voted against Heyden's Hotel Project

The Village Board, led by the gang of three and their leading lady, voted 6-1 twice to kill any proposal from Heyden for the hotel renovation in late 2003.

Over $1,000,000 of Taxpayer Money Spent on Studies, Consultants, Surveys, Etc. for Main Street

The Village Board approved and has spent over $1,000,000 of taxpayer money on just about everything that could ever be done to study Main Street and its viability since 2003.

The Main Street Plan and costs can be viewed at Village Hall.

The plans are excellent and if implemented, by getting government out of the way, would revolutionize Main Street and possibly make it a destination point instead of the mainly drive-by area that it is at the current time.

One of the main focal points of the many studies and surveys showed that a renovated hotel would be a nice mix for Main Street.

Heyden Told to Stay Away from Certain Village Board Members if He Wanted Project Approved

Heyden was told by former Menomonee Falls Municipal Judge Mike Hurt, who apparently was moonlighting and using his judicial position to earn cash on the side, in late 2003 early 2004 to immediately distance himself from certain members on the Village Board because these certain members were not going to be finishing their terms on the Village Board due to the establishment's ability to "get them off" of the Village Board working with the Menomonee Falls Police Department and Joe Greco (there's that name again).

It has clearly been established to Police Chief Anna Ruzinski of Menomonee Falls, through numerous sources along with the invitation to review irrefutable and indisputable evidence, of the corroborative efforts of the Menomonee Falls Police Department, Village Board Members and some Village Staff of their workings to "get" certain Village Board Members in an effort to deflect, defer and defend what was really going on in the Falls by certain members of the Village Board that were reaping the benefits of being on the Village Board for personal, professional and political gain of which Chief Ruzinski refers to as something to the effect of being nothing abnormal or inappropriate.

Ruzinski has repeatedly reminded The Vanguard of her many years of experience in Internal Affairs with the Milwaukee Police Department and that if there is any corruption in her Department or the Village that she would get to the bottom of it and take care of it.

Have at it Chief!

There's enough here to keep you busy for a long time if you would only have the courage and honor to follow your sworn oath of office and the ethics that govern your profession.

You can't say that you haven't been given a chance to do the right thing.

By the way Chief, The Vanguard has been approached by numerous former colleagues of yours at the MPD and has yet to learn of anyone who enjoyed working with you or your husband and as a matter of fact stated that the only reason you got to where you did with Chief Jones and Hegerty was because, " were the proverbial sycophant".

The Vanguard wishes that all of this stuff could be attributed to vindictiveness and sour grapes, but it can't possibly be made up and pulled out of the thin air when the same pattern of behavior by the same players keeps coming up time after time and the local press chooses to look the other way when the corruption goes on right under their nose.

Judge Hurt's Troubles Surface Involving Hotel

Judge Hurt later (2004-05) met with Heyden and Tom Kelly, Illinois, builder of the Hilton Garden Hotel at the 41/45 Freeway/Good Hope Exit, at North Hills Country Club to discuss how much cash he and Trustee McDonald would have to have now that certain Village Board Members had been "removed" from the Village Board as they promised if Heyden and Kelly wanted their hotel project approved.

Kelly was out immediately if he had to give cash for votes and was never heard from again.

Heyden couldn't get out because he had a massive mortgage ($2,000,000+) on the hotel by this time and was bleeding profusely with little revenue coming in from room sales.

Heyden paid former Municipal Judge Hurt thousands of dollars in cash for "consultant fees" in exchange for votes from the Village Board.

It is unclear if the payments from Heyden to Hurt were made at Hurt's residence or law firm.

Probably Hurt's residence if bets were to be made.

McDonald apparently wanted cash from Heyden too as he didn't want it traced in his checking account for retirement purposes.

Hurt later (April 2007) resigned the Municipal Judgeship in disgrace ( as he violated the terms of probation by the Disciplinary Division of the Wisconsin Supreme Court when he was caught not reporting client lists to various law firms that he represented and apparently "double-billing" clients for cash and then having the law firm bill the client a second time dating back to 1998.

Hurt was warned of his violations starting in 2003 and given many chances by the Disciplinary Division of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and yet chose to continue on in the way in which he could get cash sent to his home by clients instead of to the law firm which is required by law.

These payments at his residence amounted to thousands and thousands of dollars that were not recorded at the law firm that he was presently representing.

Some payments by Hurt Clients were made to law firms that had no record of these clients.

According to the record, Hurt's bank account was often overdrawn at the time he was receiving legal fees at home instead of the law firm.

The Vanguard  was contacted by a former Hurt Client(s) and they confirmed that they had sent thousands of dollars to Hurt's personal residence to represent them which he apparently deposited into his personal bank account according to the Office of Lawyer Regulation of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The check(s) were made out to Mike Hurt and not the law firm and were cashed by Mike Hurt.

The clients also had extreme difficulty contacting Hurt as he wouldn't return calls or show up to court when scheduled.

Trustee Steliga and His Dad, Former Village President Bob Steliga, Wanted in on the Action

Trustee Jeff Steliga and his Dad almost immediately started pressuring Jim Heyden in 2003-04 to purchase the old Marcus Theater just down the street from the hotel if he (Heyden) wanted their support of getting his project approved.

Heyden did not purchase the old theater even though the Steligas wanted to make a quick profit of $300,000-$400,000 from their purchase of the theater for $250,000 when they initially listed it for sale at around $565,000 and have only recently dropped it to $450,000 by none other than former Menomonee Falls School Board Member Ted Klumb who is trying to build a real estate business (

Of course the Steligas and Jim Jeskewitz apparently had insider trader information when they knew of or had a part in the kiboshing of 2 deals in 2002 involving the purchase of the theater by a church and the shopping mall owner from Marcus in exchange for Marcus getting the approval of their new screens by the Village Board which they did in early 2003 by the same Village Board that Jeff Steliga, Joe Greco and Jim Jeskewitz just happened to sit on at the time.

The Steligas and Jeskewitz stayed in the background to give the appearance of strong ethics because of their current and former elected positions on the Village Board while squeezing Heyden every chance they could to get out from under the $250,000 mortgage on the theater that was causing them (Steligas) to lose a ton of money for their so called non-profit Falls Fest Corporation.

The theater on Main Street costs Falls Fest somewhere around $30,000 a year and caused them (Falls Fest) to lose nearly $50,000 in the mid-2000's according to their tax returns on Guidestar (, the non-profit website that tracks the financials of so called non-profit corporations.

The Main Street Theater that Falls Fest had obtained illegally from Marcus Corporation in 2003 for $250,000 when it was assessed at nearly $1,000,000 by the Village, was done so in exchange for the Steligas, Joe Greco and Jim Jeskewitz helping Marcus Corporation add 4 more movie screens at their new theater next to Home Depot on the Village's Northwest Side.

The Village Board had turned Marcus Corporation down numerous times before when they had asked for additional screens at their new theater in an agreement with the neighbors who had been promised by the Village Board to never add screens in exchange for the neighbors support of the new theater in 1998.

Jim Jeskewitz was a Board Director for Falls Fest and may still be.

It is unclear if he is a Board Director at the present time because Falls Fest is run like a secret society even though they have received the Chamber of Commerce Building and over $600,000 from the taxpayers through the Village Board that has never been paid back as was contractually agreed to by the Village Board and Falls Fest since 1997.

Jim Jeskewitz and Jeff Steliga are current Village Board Members.

Jeff Steliga and Bob Steliga are listed as the President and Treasurer of Falls Fest as documented by Guidestar (, the non-profit website that tracks the finances of non-profit corporations.

McDonald's Demand for Cash Payments In Exchange for Hotel Approval Questioned

While it is clear that Trustee McDonald repeatedly asked for cash from Heyden in exchange for his vote on the Village Board, it is unclear if McDonald actually ever received any cash payments from Heyden.

McDonald was vehemently opposed to Heyden's Proposal from 2003-2008 when he mysteriously did an about face.

McDonald did vote for Heyden's Proposal between 2008-2010 involving financing the renovation, sewer and water projects, studies, consultants, surveys, focus groups, etc.

He even bragged about Heyden's Proposal during his Trustee Debate in March of 2010 sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

McDonald has had repeated run-ins with the Menomonee Falls Police Department when he was ticketed and convicted for an OWI Charge in 2003 while also Obstructing an Officer and being in a bar after hours in 2009 in Menomonee Falls that was moved to the City of Waukesha and settled with a small charge and conviction while disgracing the Menomonee Falls Police Department.

Chief Ruzinski has or can have all of the evidence that will prove all of the arrangements asked for by McDonald from Heyden, but for some mysterious reason has chosen to apparently look the other way when apparent crimes are being committed right under her nose.

From someone who boasts of her vast array of experience and background in searching out corruption and dealing with it professionally and legally, it is surprising that the Menomonee Falls Chief apparently just looks the other way.

Hotel Lays Dormant for Several Years Amid Potential Financial Ruin

After paying Mike Hurt thousands of dollars in exchange for Village Board votes and being pressured by Trustee McDonald for cash payments in exchange for his vote, Heyden's Hotel Project was going nowhere fast.

Strapped for cash and having to make mortgage payments of nearly $17,000 a month on an outstanding balance of $3,000,000, the project was headed for apparent bankruptcy in 2005 and beyond.

The hotel was eventually closed in late 2006 because it cost more to keep it open than it did to close it.

Never fear, let's get the taxpayers to bail us out!

With the election of Barrack Obama all but certain in late 2008 and the, "...let's bail them out and call it stimulus" mentality sweeping the nation, the Village Board, led by the gang of three and their leading lady (Jeskewitz, McDonald, Steliga and Ellis), put the taxpayers on the hook with a bailout package for Heyden while holding hands and singing kum ba ya.

Work started in late 2008 on the hotel and everything looked promising.

Just as fast as the work started, it stopped.

Of course the taxpayers had to pay Ernie Von Schledorn $350,000 for some of his properties on Main Street along with attorneys who knew the Village Attorney and the contractors who did some preliminary work involving sewers and water made up the majority of the other payments as part of the project development.

There's only four reasons to explain why a project starts and then suddenly stops...

  • no money for the owner
  • government interference
  • too much regulation
  • violations of code

The hotel laid dormant for two more years.

DNR Cites Hotel Owner for Asbestos Removal Violations and Assesses Fines

The Vanguard spoke with a DNR representative regarding the rumored asbestos removal violations and was immediately provided with the documents that showed the violations and subsequent fines associated with the violations.

The DNR is much easier to work with than Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald when it comes to Open Record Requests and being transparent about government work.

The DNR responds immediately to requests and doesn't try to charge hundreds of dollars for copies.

How refreshing.

The DNR was made aware of potential asbestos removal violations in mid-2008 when they visited the hotel site.

Jeremy Nooyen (remember that name), Gilher General Contractors, told DNR investigators that he was not aware of any asbestos that was being deposited at the landfill in Menomonee Falls from the hotel demolition.

ACM's (Asbestos Contained Materials) were everywhere on the job site including every floor (5) of the hotel, dumpsters, sidewalks and the grounds.

The hotel was built in the '60's when asbestos was a commonly used material.

150 4x8 pieces of transite were also discovered on the exterior of the hotel near the porch area's of the rooms.

A pre-inspection report had not been completed by contractors.

All in all, the project was cited for 4 violations and fined approximately $6,000.

The DNR believes the fines have been paid.

Probably by the taxpayers of Menomonee Falls as part of "project costs". 

The Village Board, Village Manager and Village Attorney approved financing for the project even though it had been cited for numerous violations by the DNR involving asbestos.

Project Revived with a Nearly $18,000,000 Amended Developer's Agreement in 2010

On life support and facing certain bankruptcy unless herculean efforts were made to immediately rectify the situation, the Village Board, with the leadership of Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald and Village Attorney Mike Morse, voted unanimously (7-0) to approve the sale of nearly $18,000,000 of taxpayer's money in a taxable General Obligation Promissory Note at 4.25% with the principal due on 5-1-14 for the hotel project on Main Street.

The Village Board unanimously approved Resolution 806-R-10 on 5-3-10 for the sale of the nearly $18,000,000 note ( page 2).

The Village Board Members are Jim Jeskewitz, Randy Newman, Dennis Farrell, Sharon Ellis, Steve Raymonds, Mike McDonald and Jeff Steliga (contact information provided below).

Are these some of the same Village Board Members who, 8 years earlier, said they would never do anything like this at the taxpayer's expense and risk?

Moody's gave the note an Aa2 rating which is considered to be a "very low credit risk", but "their susceptibility to long-term risks appears somewhat greater".

This is the same rating that Moody's recently downgraded Spain's debt to ( 

This somewhat $18,000,000 note with interest gives the Village a total Debt Service of over $119,000,000 according to the 2011 Village Budget Debt Service Page 20 (

In a move that defies all logic and any kind of perceptual thinking, the Village Board did an about face and put the taxpayers of Menomonee Falls on the hook for something that they said they would never do 8 years earlier with the following policy decisions:

  • Sold a General Obligation Promissory Note at 4.25% to pay off the hotel's some $3,000,000 mortgage on a piece of property (N88 W14750 Main Street) that according to Waukesha County's website ( ) is only worth $1.8 millionBank of Sun Prairie, National Republic Bank of Chicago and Associated Bank to be paid off.
  • Waived the clause in the Developer's Agreement that required the building of 82 condominiums across the street from the hotel on Fon du lac Avenue.
  • Waived the apparent clause in the Developer's Agreement that looked at the purchase of the very run down Metro Pool Apartments next to the hotel for $2.5 million in exchange for paying off the nearly $3,000,000 hotel mortgage.
  • No interest payments from hotel owners for the first 2 years of the nearly $18 million note.
  • Puts the Village's full faith, credit and resources at risk to be levied on all of the taxable property in the Village as a direct, annual and irreplaceable tax in an amount and at times sufficient to pay the principal of interest on the notes.
  • Will use over $13 million of the notes for construction on the hotel.
  • Will recover some of the taxpayer's to date costs of approximately $1.88 million.
  • Will pay Quarles and Brady and Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co. for legal advice and the selling of the nearly $18,000,000 note.  Legal and title fees of $105,000 and $161,000 for the bond premium sale.
  • Requires principal payments from the hotel owners of between $400,000-$700,000 every 180 days starting on the 1st anniversary date of the agreement from 4-26-10 for a total of $4.1 million.  There is a reserve clause for missed payments for the developer.
  • Requires the developer to make a principal payment of $18,400,125 on May 1, 2014 to pay off the note. (Cross your fingers and pray  a lot.)
  • Will give the hotel owner $133,000-$137,000 a year through 2026 for "tourism" or 37.5% of all room taxes.  It is unclear how those funds will be evaluated for proper use.
  • Believes the 133 room sales will net between $1.4 to $2.3 million a year between now and 2017 with room rates between $118-$150 on an occupancy rate in the high 50% to mid-60% range to pay debt service and to refinance the nearly $18,000,000 note for Menomonee Falls taxpayers.
  • Requires a letter of credit from developer of $1,250,000 from Bank of Sun Prairie in case of default.
  • Heyden's 4 Hotel Partners have 22.5%, 10%, 10% and 7.5% ownership respectively.  They are from the De Forest and Waunakee area.  Jeremy Nooyen, the asbestos remover, appears to be related to one of Heyden's Partners who shares the same last name.
  • Accepted the 5 owners financial statements showing their combined net worth of $24.4 million in 2009.
  • Required the 5 owners to submit spousal consent statements, marital property agreements and collateral set-offs in addition to their personal financial statements in exchange for the nearly $18,000,000 note.
  • Accepted as collateral such things as linen in time shares, used boats, jewelry, small equity (2-31%) in some 12 hotels (Microtel, Fairfield, Days Inn, Best Western, Country Inn, etc) around the State of Wisconsin, furniture, personal vehicles, apartment rentals (4-25%), WRS Retirement, fitness centers, jet skis, snowmobiles, life insurance, 401(k)'s, IRA's, TV's, appliances, used cars, collectibles, used trailers, tools, bikes, golf clubs, etc.
  • The hotel is supposed to be worth $17,000,000 180 days from now.
  • Paid Radisson fee of $75,000.
  • Professional Hospitality LLC pre-opening fee of $100,000.

The taxpayers of Menomonee Falls have been saddled with something that they knew very little about because of the secrecy of the Village Manager's Office and the Village Board and the total lack of any substantive coverage by the local press.

This bailout is reminiscent of the AIG, GM and Chrysler lifelines given to them by the taxpayers in 2008-09.

One observer who contributed to this posting stated it reminds them of one of those pay day loans that are out there for those that can't get conventional financing.

The Vanguard welcomes any corrections or changes to this posting.

The Village Manager refuses to answer questions about the project and simply refers individuals to the three ring binders at Village Hall.

Whatever happened to journalistic reporting and coverage of government expenditures and policies that directly effect taxpayers?

Is it gone forever in Menomonee Falls?

Let's Hope This Works

The Vanguard desperately hopes this experiment works.

If not, there's going to be a great gnashing of teeth.

But on the other hand, this is Menomonee Falls and the progressives will probably just look the other way and blame George Bush, Scott Walker or global warming. 

Where is Jack Magnuson, Lew Tietz, Chrissy Obenberger, Harry Stoetzel, Jerry Barnes, Michelle Kellner, Mike Mytch, Larry Barbera, Rick Rechlicz, Joe Greco, Dick Woosencraft, Bob Steliga, Dick Farrenkopf, Sue Jeskewitz, Paul Bucher, Darrick Otto, Dennis Moran, Robyn Turtenwald, Paul Wickesberg, Karen Nelson and Ray Etzel when they are so badly needed to protect Menomonee Falls from this type of bad public policy by the Village Board?

The Falls has needed a good hotel for years while missing out on the opportunity of hotel tax revenue when neighboring communities have reaped the benefit of substantial revenues from their hotels (

Menomonee Falls deserves a charming Main Street similar to Elm Grove, Grafton, Cedarburg, Port Washington, Hartland and Delafield to mention a few communities.

What do you think?

Let us know of your thoughts on this subject.

Should the Village Manager and Village Board have basically purchased the hotel and fixed it for nearly $18,000,000 for the 5 partners at the taxpayer's risk?

Should the taxpayers have been notified of this beyond the public notices posted at Village Hall and on the Village's Web site 24 business hours before votes are taken by the Village Board?

Did the Village Manager and Village Board get enough collateral from the 5 hotel partners to protect the taxpayers in case of default?

Will you have outside guests stay at the hotel?

Are the Village Board Members hypocrites for doing a 180 on something they said they would never do 8 years earlier regarding the financing of the hotel project?

Will the hotel be open 4 years from now?

Will you eat at the new restaurant?

Should the Metro Pool Apartments have been purchased and torn down as part of the project?

Should the on and off ramps to the freeway be cleaned up to complement the hotel?

Should the roadsides near the hotel be well groomed to provide charm and appeal to visitors?

It's too late now, but the Village Board and Village Manager can be contacted with your thoughts at the following email addresses regarding your input on this project:

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