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City employee on paid administrative leave resigns

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- - More than seven months after two city of La Crosse employees were put on paid administrative leave, one is resigning.   

Liana Escott, the former community development administrator with the city's planning department, submitted her resignation on Sunday.

The city started scheduling separate interviews a month ago with Escott and the other employee on paid administrative leave, Assistant City Attorney Pete Kisken.

Escott finally had her first meeting on Jan. 3, when her attorney Jim Kroner says she was questioned about personal issues and still never given a reason why she was put on leave.

But that is just one of the factors that finally led her to resign.


Kroner says it's been a waiting game.

"Ms. Escott's been on leave for a long time," said Kroner.

Escott and Kisken were escorted from City Hall and put on paid administrative leave back in May.

"She hung on waiting to find out what this was all about as long as she could, and now that the city has finally met to interview about it, she's disappointed in how those interviews went," said Kroner.

Kroner is representing Escott and says he submitted a letter of resignation to the city on her behalf saying, in part, she "is not willing to subject herself to more interrogation about her personal life, or attempts to get her to provide negative information about the actions of other city employees."

During the interviews, she was also questioned about Kisken.    

In the letter of resignation, Kroner stated that Escott felt the city was retaliating against her because of her relationship with Kisken.

"She didn't want to be put on the spot creating problems for Mr. Kisken and other coworkers," said Kroner.

When News 8 talked to Escott on the phone, she said her resignation was also in part due to how difficult the city made it for her to have legal representation.

"She's disappointed that the city is scheduling interviews; making it impossible for her attorney to participate with her," said Kroner.

After News 8 made repeated attempts to get in touch with the human resources department at City Hall, the director did not release a statement but did provide News 8 with a letter she sent to the mayor and council members updating them on the status of the investigation.

Kroner says Escott still has not been given a reason why she was put on leave.

He also notes that her performance reviews throughout the six years of her employment were always outstanding.

Kisken is continuing with the interview process.

So far, the city has paid Kisken and Escott a total of more than $84,000 while on leave.

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