TORKELSON'S COMP.-- $168,641
Salary -- $137,937; Benefits -- $30,704
(2nd highest paid of state's 424 administrators)
ACT AND DPI SCORES -- 16.6 & 61.9
(Lowest of 21 Northern WI schools)
MERCER $25,281
Wisconsin $12,842

National $10,667

Friday, November 10, 2017

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof, or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances.
On this Veterans’ Day we need to remember that many Americans have fought and died to protect our Constitution and this First Amendment.  But could Freedom of Speech be in jeopardy in our small north woods community of Mercer?
It would seem that way based upon an ill-advised action taken by the Mercer School Board at its October meeting.  The board – three of four members present – were directed by Administrator Erik Torkelson to give him approval “to pursue legal action related to libelous, slanderous and defamatory material.”
Torkelson is claiming libel in an email which was sent to about 15 Mercer citizens.  The original email was signed by “Dick Kemplin for the Mercer Concerned Citizens.”   But the real target of Torkelson’s so-called libel action is School Board Member Christa Reinert, who allegedly passed the email on to a handful of her friends.  Christa has relentlessly and tirelessly been trying to restore transparency to school issues, and has been rebuked at every attempt.
Torkelson is taking issue with the email referring to Mercer as a “failing school.”  Of course, this is a perfectly legal comment, and the facts behind the “failing school” opinion are based upon the school’s ACT test results.  With a 16.6 ACT composite score Mercer is far below the state average of 20.0 for all of the state’s 424 school districts, and below all other area schools and even some Milwaukee inner-city schools  Of those tested in Mercer 87.5% are NOT proficient in ELA (combined scores for English, reading and writing), math and science.  (See MSF 10/8/17 “More Bad…News”)
It’s doubtful that Torkelson will take issue with some other facts in that email, such as that he took home $168,641 in pay and benefits when his contract provided for only $98,000 in salary and about $15,000 in benefits.  Or, that $169,743, or 75%, of the $213,000 of Fund 80 money went to Torkelson and a few staff members.  This information is from the school’s own records.
A prominent attorney reviewed the email and offered this opinion:
Such a lawsuit “would clearly violate free speech and the democratic process, and the idea that citizens cannot engage in opinionated, political speech without being foolishly sued by the district.  Both the unlawful rule and the current march toward a threatened lawsuit evidence a failure to understand the core principles of a democratic government and freedom of speech.  Political speech is the most protected of all, and it is virtually impossible to prevail in a case where the plaintiff is merely taking issue with opinions.”
Mercer residents have expressed concern about what a lawsuit would cost them.  They recall the faked hacking fiasco which resulted in Torkelson and School District being ordered to pay a fine and legal costs of more than $5,000, and an additional unknown amount paid for the school’s failed defense.  But then it won’t be Torkelson’s tax money that will be wasted because he doesn’t live or pay taxes in the Mercer School District.


Anonymous said...

Pierpont has a strange way of observing Veterans Day by verbally attacking a 88 year old Korean War veteran who lent his name to an E-mail which contained nothing but the truth. The e-mail represented the concerns of at least 452 Mercer residents of which I am one.

Anonymous said...

Didn’t know Torkleson doesn’t live in Mercer or pay taxes here. I’m curious did he ever serve in our countrys military. I hope he’s not one of those with heal spurs.

Anonymous said...

Pierpont demanded the names of the 400 concerned citizens. Keplin refused to provide them because he said people who questioned the way the school was being managed were threatened with the loss of their jobs and business. For what reason would Pierpont demand those names? To send them Christmas cards?

Anonymous said...

Just be thankful that your kids are not near Mercer, otherwise they would do dirty things to them as well.

Seems like we still don't know how low they will go?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anonymous on November 11, 2017 at 7:32 AM

Let's be clear about this, it is not just Deanna. Torkelson, Pierce, Brandt and Koheygi are all in on this. And I do believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's the tip

Ben Dover said...

One can only think that the reason why the school never comes out with a definitive answer is because they are hiding something. Just a thought.

Is it because:

A. Torkelson doesn't want the school board to know.

B. Torkelson and his 4 collaborators don't want the taxpayers to know?

Anonymous said...

I finally found a term for Torkelson's strategies for dealing with people that question him.

He deligitamizes the facts and the media.
He uses "whataboutism:
He and his 4 collaborators employ "trolling".

Not sure what these are, watch the latest episode of John Oliver.

Anonymous said...

MSF, I hear people say that this blog is all negativity. Let's use an analogy. You take your care in for service and they say you need brakes and tires. Is this negative? Nope. It means they found a problem that needs some attention. It could very well negatively impact your life and the lives of others if not addressed.

Too bad that the Mercer School Board deplorable 4 aren't interested at looking at issues brought up by parents and taxpayers.

Please keep up the factual reporting.

Anonymous said...

I saw in the FYI that "50 Shades" Koheygi was upset because her name was mentioned as being a poor board member or words to that effect. In my opinion it is totally true.

But even if it's not, how does it feel Kelly to have your name bashed? You do it to enough people, so as they say, payback is a bitch.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words said...

It would be nice to have a survey to see how many people have been negatively affected by the fabricated stories of some of the so called "town leaders" in Mercer.

Although there are many nice people in this town, they are being overrun by those that are not so nice. Just because they go to church on Sunday, it doesn't make up for their actions.

So where did they learn this behavior? They mostly say they have always lived in Mercer.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin school report cards for 2017 have been released today. Mercer School received a score of 61.9, which places Mercer in the "meets few expectations" category.

For more information here is a link to the DPI website for school report cards