Wisconsin News

City releases reasons for firing asst. attorney

LA CROSSE, Wis. - The City of La Crosse released the reasons for firing Assistant City Attorney Peter Kisken, whose termination was effective April 12, 2013.

Kisken and Community Development Administrator Liana Escott were escorted from city hall on paid administrative leave on May 25, 2012. Escott eventually resigned her position in January.

Following a "thorough investigation" Kisken was let go for "engaging in a personal and sexual relationship at work while using city resources, including inappropriate emails," in addition to other things, City of La Crosse Human Resources Director Wendy Oestrich said in a news release.

Oestrich said some of the other reasons Kisken was fired was because of insubordination; engaging in disparaging and derogatory emails at work using city resources; breaching confidentiality; abuse of authority; wasting city time and resources for non-city matters during paid work time; and failing to protect his city computer password, which enabled a co-worker to access confidential legal department records.

Oestrich said the city "strongly denies any allegations by Mr. Kisken of retaliation and discrimination. This is simply a personnel matter involving an employee who engaged in misconduct and had deficient work performance. Mr. Kisken's actions demanded that the city take appropriate action, which was termination."


Former Community Development Administrator Liana Escott was put on paid administrative leave at the same time as Kisken, but Escott resigned in January.

Escott's attorney Jim Kroner 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 investigation, Escott was questioned about Kisken.

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.

In a written response to Escott's resignation letter from the Human Resources department, the city said it questioned Escott on whether she had used Kisken's city password. She refused to respond citing her Fifth Amendment rights.

The city also said in it's response that the timing of Escott's resignation was an indication that she was trying to avoid answering questions regarding her use of city resources.

During Escott's 6 1/2 months of leave and Kiskens 11, the City paid the two more than a total of $100,000 in salary.

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