Council passes ‘confidentiality directive’ involving former city administrator
Rhinelander officials, employees ordered to ‘cease any communication’ with Kristina Aschenbrenner
BY KEVIN BONESKE
In anticipation of possible legal action brought by former Rhinelander city administrator Kristina Aschenbrenner, who was terminated Aug. 29 after not quite a year in the position, the City Council held a special emergency meeting with a closed session Tuesday evening and unanimously passed a resolution to keep all information regarding Aschenbrenner’s employment with the city confidential, unless required to disclose by law.
The resolution, which makes reference to media reports about Aschenbrenner considering legal action against the city after the council voted 6-2 to terminate her contract, states that “it is in the best interest of the city of Rhinelander to cease further communication between any elected official of the city of Rhinelander, employee of the city, vendor and/or independent contractor regarding the past employment or future potential litigation with the former city administrator.”
All information regarding Aschenbrenner’s employment with the city, the resolution goes on to state, “shall be maintained in strict confidence by all elected officials” and “shall not be disclosed for any reason to any other person without the City Council’s prior consent, except as otherwise required by law.”
The “confidentiality directive and mandate” called for in the resolution applies to all elected officials, city employees, vendors and/or independent contractors regarding the employment and possible litigation of Aschenbrenner, for whom those individuals are to “cease any communication” with her.
However, the resolution doesn’t spell out any penalties for those who do not follow the confidentiality directive.
Tuesday’s special emergency council meeting, in which the resolution passed, was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. An email message had been sent out to area media outlets at 6:47 p.m. Tuesday with a joint statement from the two council members who opposed Aschenbrenner’s termination, Steve Sauer and Tom Gleason, along with copies of the annual review forms they filled out for Aschenbrenner’s performance evaluation.
Following the Aug. 29 meeting in which she was terminated, Aschenbrenner has questioned whether the proper notice was included in the agenda that called for a closed session to consider employment, promotion, compensation, performance or evaluation of the city administrator.
When reached for comment Wednesday morning, Aschenbrenner said she hadn’t previously seen the annual review forms publicly released by Sauer and Gleason, noting that no performance evaluation had been provided to her at the Aug. 29 meeting.