FRANKLIN - Michael Hafemann got the go-ahead from county executive Chris Abele to run the county correctional facility in Franklin. But Sheriff David Clarke is blocking the move, and opponents say that is costing taxpayer dollars.
Caught in the crossfire between the county and Sheriff Clarke is Michael Hafemann, who was tapped as superintendent. Clarke won't let him anywhere inside the jail.
It's Michael Hafemann's first week on the job. The law enforcement veteran is the next pick to run the county correction facility in Franklin. Instead of walking the halls there, he's studying blueprints and pictures in an empty office at the county courthouse. That's not by his choosing.
"I spoke with the inspector, and told him I was on board,” Hafemann said. “I was starting, and tried to set up access, at which point I was told, ‘No, you would not be allowed access.’"
Right now, the center is run by Sheriff David Clarke. Clarke is suing to keep control, though the county board has voted to have a superintendent take over. In the meantime, Hafemann is in limbo, paid by the hour.
"As we move forward, the longer I'm not allowed in, it's going to be more difficult," Hafemann said.
Clarke refused to speak about the issue, but did post a statement on Facebook:
"I am not going to allow anyone around inmates who has not passed our background check. Every corrections officer we hire has to undergo one, and so will he before he gets near the secure portion of the building or any inmate."
"We did background checks," Abele said.
Hafemann's boss, County Executive Chris Abele, said the district attorney already looked into Gafemann's past, which does include being let go by the Sauk County Jail in 2012.
"i'd love permission for the guy we hired to be able to get on the premises,” Abele said. “The better to be ready for a transition."
The sheriff also pointed to complaints during Hafemann's tenure as jail administrator. But Hafemann said he has nothing to hide.
“If there was an issue where an inmate didn't think they were getting proper treatment, we dealt with it," he said.
Hafemann has yet to be confirmed by the board, which is waiting for Clarke's lawsuit to go back through court. That takes place in April.
Hafemann is being paid by the hour, but not receiving benefits while he waits for the transition. His spokesman calls the latest move by the sheriff a “smokescreen.”