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Wisconsin town asks mayor to quit after bar scuffle

Mayor Bob Ryan

On Monday night, a Wisconsin city council will discuss whether the mayor who has admitted to being an alcoholic should step down.

WTMJ reports the Sheboygan, Wis. city council will ask Mayor Bob Ryan, 48, to step down from office after another recent weekend drinking bender in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Ryan admitted to passing out and getting into an altercation during one incident. The council will also ask the mayor to turn in the keys to his city-owned blue minivan.

Sheboygan City Councilman Scott Versey told WTMJ the mayor is too big of a liability to be driving a city-owned car. He says Ryan is embarrassing the community.

“It’s almost textbook to what he’s been doing and saying, to people that I know that have been alcoholics,” said Versey. “They all say the same thing. They almost become delusional. He says he has all of this support, yet I get phone calls daily telling me not to back down, and get rid of this guy.”

According to the Sheboygan Press, the July 22-25 binge in Elkhart Lake is Ryan’s second public relapse, as he admitted drinking in July, 2010 as well, when he first publicly acknowledged being an alcoholic. Ryan lied about the latest bender, initially claiming it lasted only one day and did not include passing out at a bar — both statements he later admitted were untrue.

Ryan said on Thursday he would not resign despite a unanimous vote by a city council committee.

The mayor told WHBL-AM radio that he intended to seek outpatient alcohol rehabilitation treatment while continuing to act as mayor of Sheboygan, a city of 50,000 located about an hour north of Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan.

According to a police report, the scuffle occurred early on July 25 when police were summoned by an emergency caller to the Brown Baer tavern in nearby Elkhart Lake, where a man in a blue shirt was said to be causing a disturbance.

When the officer arrived, patrons identified Ryan, who was sitting on the curb wearing a blue shirt, as the man the caller had been complaining about. But because the bar owners said everything was fine and no victim stepped forward, the officer gave Ryan a verbal warning, the police report said.

The Sheboygan Press newspaper posted pictures on its website of a man it identified as Ryan slumped over a table at the bar. It cited witnesses who said Ryan had been drinking and making rude comments to some female bar patrons, leading to the scuffle with another patron.

This is not the first time Ryan’s use of alcohol has come under scrutiny.

In Sept. 2009, a widely publicized YouTube video showed the mayor making sexually explicit comments about his sister-in-law while he was at a bar.

The cell phone video was released shortly after Angela Payne, the former city human resources director, accused Ryan in a letter of making drunken advances on her at a Sheboygan tavern.

Ryan admitted a relapse in July 2010, saying he went out drinking with his brother, but a city council resolution asking him to resign at the time was voted down 11-5.

The council committee met in closed session on Wednesday night and voted to unanimously to ask Ryan to resign.

To remove Ryan as mayor, a Sheboygan citizen must bring a certified complaint, and the council must vote to remove him, said Alderman James Bohren, the chairman of the committee that asked Ryan to go.

According to the Sheboygan Press, no complaints have yet been filed, but Bohren has said he has heard that some will be. He said citizens have called inquiring about the process.


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