RACINE COUNTY — A complaint has been filed against Racine County Supervisor Monte Osterman related to the Root River redevelopment project.
The complaint alleges that Osterman did not properly disclose financial interests and that the Root River Council, of which Osterman is a member, is not a nonprofit organization like it claims.
Assistant County Corporation Counsel Michael Lanzdorf confirmed Thursday that the county received the complaint. It now goes to county’s Board of Ethics, which will first determine whether there is probable cause to continue, and if so, would hold a hearing and issue their findings, Lanzdorf said.
Osterman said he had not seen the complaint and declined comment.
The complaint was filed Wednesday by Timothy Elmer, in cooperation with the Racine Equality Project. The Equality Project is a group of local residents that has filed several other ethics complaints against local officials. Elmer said Osterman has not been transparent about his economic interests related to the RootWorks: Root River Corridor Redevelopment Plan.
Osterman’s business, Osterman Granite & Marble, leases space in an industrial warehouse at 1251 Mound Ave. The warehouse is one of the buildings the city hopes to purchase through a grant as part of the RootWorks project. Five parcels on Mound Avenue could become the site of a bike path, scenic overlook and outdoor classroom. The city could end up paying the property owner or tenant $25,000 in relocation costs. Osterman told The Journal Times in April that he was not sure if he would receive funds to relocate, but even if he did, relocating would still be a losing prospect for his business.
“(Relocating) creates downtime — you are not working,” Osterman said in April. “Nobody in their right mind would want to relocate their business.”
Elmer, however, said Osterman would benefit financially from relocation fees and has used his position as a county supervisor and Root River Council member to further his personal interests.
Elmer also wants the Board of Ethics to investigate whether the Root River Council is truly a nonprofit organization, saying the group collects donations but he has found “nothing to support” that it is a nonprofit.
“It’s not transparent,” Elmer said. “It’s against good government. High moral and ethical standards among county officials are essential to the conduct of free government.”
Osterman denied the allegation, saying he has the proper paperwork verifying the council’s nonprofit status.