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New Berlin board drops ethics complaint against Karvala

Jan. 4, 2013

The New Berlin Ethics Board last week unanimously dismissed an ethics complaint about New Berlin Alderwoman Laura Karvala, saying the complaint didn't meet the requirements in the in city's codes.

Michael Neuens, chairman of the three-member Ethics Board, announced that the board agrees with Karvala's attorney that the complaint is insufficient.

In a letter to the city's Ethics Board, attorney Michael Maistelman had argued that the Jan. 3 ethics hearing should be dismissed, citing reasons why the Ethics Board should not have found probable cause to hold the hearing in the first place.

Those reasons included that elements of the complaint were unverified and that Karvala did not get to present her side at the board's meeting on Dec. 4, when it considered the complaint and petition signed by numerous Glen Park subdivision residents.

The complaint alleges that Karvala should have recused herself from a New Berlin Common Council vote for temporary closure of Wilbur Drive. That closure, which may become permanent, would increase the value of Karvala's home that is located on Wilbur, the complaint alleges.

But Maistelman pointed out in his letter that no proof of any kind was presented on that point before the Ethics Board, adding it is up to the complainant to supply evidence to support a finding of probable cause.

"There is no evidence in the complaint (such as an affidavit of city assessor or a real estate agent) indicating (a) that respondent's property value would in fact increase because of the actions she took on the vote and (b) that the increase in value is not 'remote and speculative.'"

Maistelman was pleased with the outcome.

"People who file ethic's complaints need to follow the same laws that they want enforced," he said.

Karvala said afterward, "I was pleased with the decision."

She also said she was shocked and saddened by what she called the board's errors that her attorney called into question.

"I didn't feel I was allowed my due process," she said, because she didn't get to present her case at the beginning.

Nuens could not be reached for comment.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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