City News

City council member accused of improper involvement in beer garden contract

The Madison Ethics Board is set to decide Tuesday if a complaint filed against a city council member for improper involvement in a contract will go forward.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

A Madison alder is set to go before an ethics committee Tuesday after being accused by a resident of improper involvement in creating a contract between the city and a business—which her husband is involved with—that’s planning to build a controversial beer garden near Lake Monona.

A complaint against Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, was filed last month by city resident Janet Etnier, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. It alleges the council member had “significant and extended involvement” in parts of the project.

Etnier said in the complaint that emails and other records show Eskrich acted unethically and includes a timeline summary of her associations with the project.

Eskrich’s attorney has filed a 12-page motion contending her actions to be above-board and in full compliance with the city’s Ethics Code.

A contract was awarded to Eric Kestin, Eskrich’s husband, and Mike Bare, a friend of the couple, earlier this year. It grants their company, BMK Group, LLC, a liquor license along with a contract to run the proposed beer garden at Olbrich Park.

The complaint includes speculation and personal opinion, but fails to present evidence, according to the State Journal.

Eskrich will go before the Madison Ethics Board at 5 p.m. Saturday for a jurisdictional hearing to determine if the complaint has grounds. Further motions will be considered and another hearing would be scheduled if the board determines the complaint has standing. 

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