Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 26, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild, the subject of a government corruption case, arrived in Rhinelander in September 2018 after resigning from a similar post in another Wisconsin community.
The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday executed two search warrants at Rhinelander City Hall in a rare raid in the name of Wisconsin’s open records law.
Guild is accused of records tampering and failing to release public records to law enforcement and media, according to warrants obtained Empower Wisconsin.
As of Monday, Guild had not been formerly charged and Oneida County law enforcement officials said there was nothing new to report in their investigation.
Before he took the post as Rhinelander city administrator, Guild served in the same role for the Village of Weston, a community of some 15,000 residents just east of Wausau.
Guild resigned the post in July 2018 after the Weston Village Board of Trustees suspended him for 30 days without pay. The board cited breach of contract.
A copy of his performance review, according to the Wausau Daily Herald, noted Guild spent but 10 hours a week in the office, working remotely for the balance of his time. Guild was unresponsive to emails and not always in communication with staff, the review stated.
Guild also was knocked for his tardiness in submitting information to the board, for setting “over optimistic” timelines, and falling behind on tasks. He did not handle constructive criticism and differing ideas well, according to the review.
At the time, Guild publicly stated the board had not made him aware of their displeasure with his performance until his suspension.
He did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment on Monday.
Village Board President Wally Sparks told Empower Wisconsin that Guild’s severance package came with a non-disparagement clause, so Sparks could not comment on concerns he and other board members had with the former city administrator. He did say “the village is doing fine now.”
Guild was intricately involved in what was supposed to be a massive retail development in Weston back in 2015. The proposed 320-acre project, Guild declared at the time, would attract some $200 million in retail development. It has since fizzled.
Weston, according to a May piece in City Pages, has spent nearly $3 million on an empty space, much of which has paid for utility relocation. Four years later, the village is scaling back the development plans. Sparks pointed to previous overestimates, if not exaggerations, about the project.
“I don’t think it will be the off-the-cuff estimations the prior administration had put out there, but I think it will be good for the village,” Sparks told the publication, referring to the scaled-down plan.
Now, Guild potentially faces felony misconduct charges following a very public open records battle in Rhinelander — a battle that stemmed from Guild’s apparent push to get rid of Rhinelander City Council President George Kirby.
As of Monday afternoon, the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office was waiting for the Sheriff’s Department to complete its investigation.
In March, Rhinelander Alderman Tom Kelly told News12 that the city picked the “wrong guy” in hiring Guild.
“How the hell are we supposed to work with a guy like this,” Kelly said.
Guild ruffled feathers when he accused council members of being drunk, dishonest and disruptive.
Kelly told the news organization that the council had many of the same concerns about Guild’s performance that Weston officials had.