being argumentative and asking. According ….
being argumentative and asking. According to Renee Norgaard, her husband jokes and is passionate about things.
At several points through the questioning Renee Norgaard would go back to interactions that occurred in relation to the tax overpayment issue and the accuracy of minutes from board of review sessions. Judge Klein repeatedly directed the questioning to focus on the harassment issue at hand and not to relitigate the tax case.
â€śI believe it is the underlying issue,â€ť Renee Norgaard said.
Klein disagreed saying the court found the tax refund issue to be irrelevant. â€śIt has no bearing on what we are doing today,â€ť Klein said.
Renee Norgaard noted that every board meeting includes a discussion of the finances for the village and that since the finances involve the spending of tax money, by extension the Norgaards should have the ability to talk about the tax issue at every board meeting.
Renee Norgaard also pressed Swenson in regard to if any specific threats were made against her. Swenson testified to Renee telling her that a high school student could be hired to do her job and also referred to Ken Norgaard demanding Swenson pay her $5,000 to leave her alone.
Village president Schreiner was the next witness to testify, stating that the Norgaards had accused him of misconduct in office and tax fraud. He testified that because of the abuse of the public comment period by the Norgaards, the board changed the rules to eliminate citizen comment. The village has also installed a video camera at village hall; and has had to bring in officers to be at board meetings.
Schreiner testified about Ken Norgaard stating â€śIâ€™m going to get youâ€ť to him which he said made him feel intimidated.
According to Schreiner, the interaction with the Norgaards has reduced morale on the board and made it difficult to recruit new board members. He also expressed concern over when Swenson retires in a few years how it will be more challenging to replace her given the history with the Norgaards.
Fire chief and village trustee Russ Bullis testified that he had received numerous letters from the Norgaards with concerns over the minutes being inaccurate. â€śI saw nothing in the minutes that were incorrect,â€ť Bullis said.
He also testified that the Norgaards threatened that they would be in contact with the International Association of Fire Chiefs about Bullisâ€™ alleged misconduct by not cracking down on the underreporting of personal property taxes by other village business owners.
â€śI was called names, I was called a tax cheater and that I was allowing tax cheating to go on,â€ť Bullis said of his interactions with the Norgaards.
Schreiner, Swenson and Bullis all testified to a specifi c incident that they said occurred following a board meeting where Ken Norgaard allegedly approached Schreiner in the parking lot of Village Hall. Bullis said the incident was enough to have him tell Swenson to get in his car and drive her home rather than having her walk home from the board meeting.
For their part, the Norgaards claimed in their testimony that such an incident never occurred because they do not stay beyond the public comment portion of the board meetings and that they could not remember a time when they came back at the end of the meeting.
Ken Norgaard testified that he had no idea where the village was coming up with the allegation. He said he continued the push against the village over the tax overpayment issue because â€śI wanted to defend our honor, I wanted to defend my family. I wanted to defend my wife of 45 years.â€ť
Ken Norgaard went on to state that to him tone matters and complained of Swensonâ€™s personality switching on a dime between when they were alone in village hall and when another customer would come in. He testifi ed that he had begun bringing a recorder with him and having an audio recording of every visit to village hall.
Norgaard testified that he never threatened Schreiner and said that it was Schreiner who had put his palms down on his desk and leaned forward. â€śHe was being a big bully in his office that day,â€ť Norgaard stated.
There was testimony on the billboard the Norgaards have on Hwy 13 north of Medford. Ken Norgaard said they had â€śno intentionâ€ť of taking the sign down until the village does the â€śright thingâ€ť and pays him the money from the tax overpayment. â€śThat is my money,â€ť he said.
During her closing statements attorney Koch stated that there had been years of harassment and intimidation by the Norgaards against what she described as being dedicated village officials. She noted that Ken Norgaard referenced times when Swenson would laugh at his humor and said it was because Swenson was uncomfortable and was â€śgoing along to get alongâ€ť with the hope he would leave. Koch noted the village was asking for a â€śnarrowâ€ť protective order which only sought to eliminate the harassing behavior.
In her closing statement Renee Norgaard denied she and her husband ever harassed anyone describing themselves as honest and respectful people. She defended the billboard as containing factual statements. She also noted Ken Norgaardâ€™s genetic hearing impairment which results in him speaking loudly.
In making his ruling, Judge Klein referenced the Norgaards bringing everything back to the tax issue and refusal to let that issue go even after a court ruled on it. He said the Norgaards have sent the message that until the village does what they think is fair, they will continue down that path.
Klein also addressed the conflicting testimony between the Norgaards and the other witnesses over the parking lot incident, stating the court did not find that the Norgaards position on it held water.
Klein said the actions in court and the testimony showed the path of harassment and intimidation the Norgaards have been on for years. Klein ruled in favor of the village and ordered the four-year injunction with the list of conditions. It was specifically noted that the injunction does not prevent either of the Norgaards from possessing or owning a gun or going hunting.