The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) issued an order to the Clintonville City Council that it promptly convene to call the recall election involving Alderperson Greg Rose.
The Clintonville Tribune-Gazette obtained a copy of the order from the GAB. It was dated Oct. 1.
In the introduction of the order, the GAB stated “the City of Clintonville Common Council has failed to order a recall election of Fourth District Alderperson Greg Rose following the certification and filing of a sufficient recall petition.”
It also stated that Clintonville Clerk Peggy Johnson had requested that the council schedule the recall election for, Tuesday, Nov. 18.
In its findings, the GAB said Johnson determined that the petition included 81 valid signatures, which was more than the required 56 signatures. After Rose challenged the petition, and William Van Daalwyk provided a rebuttal, Johnson determined the recall petition was sufficient.
According to the findings, Johnson issued a Certificate of Sufficiency regarding the recall petition on Sept. 22. A special council meeting was scheduled for Sept. 23 but was canceled due to the lack of a quorum.
Another council meeting was scheduled for Sept. 30, with acting on the certification part of the agenda. At that meeting, the council didn’t dispute the validity of the recall petition, but it defeated a motion to order a recall election.
In the order, the GAB cited Wisconsin State Statute 9.10(4)(d), “Promptly upon receipt of a certificate under par. (a) the governing body, school board, or board of election commissioners shall call a recall election.”
It also stated, “The duty of a governing body to order a recall election upon certification of a petition by the municipal clerk is a mandatory duty. The failure of the majority of the council to order the recall election as requested in Clerk Johnson’s Certificate of Sufficiency is contrary to Wisconsin’s election laws.”
It then stated that for the council to comply with Wis. Stat. 9.10(4)(d) the council “must promptly convene to order the recall election as a result of the petition filed against Alderperson Rose. Failure to do so would constitute willful neglect or refusal by an election official to perform a duty prescribed by Wisconsin election laws, in violation of Wis. Stat. 12.13(2)(a).”
The findings also stated that since the Certificate of Sufficiency was filed by Johnson on Sept. 22, the recall election date should have been Nov. 4, the same date as the general election. Since ballots for that election were already ordered, and holding the recall election on the same day “would create excessive administrative burdens and costs, the City of Clintonville Clerk has requested permission to schedule the recall election after the date of the General Election. Since Tuesday, November 11, 2014 is a holiday. Clerk Johnson requests permission to conduct the recall election on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.”
When contacted on Friday, Oct. 3, City Attorney April Dunlavy confirmed to the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette that she received the order on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
The Clintonville Tribune-Gazette also asked Dunlavy why she didn’t inform the council at the Sept. 30 meeting that it was obligated to order the recall election. She said nobody asked her for a legal opinion, and that she doesn’t engage in debate with the council.
When asked when the council would meet to vote on a date for the recall election, Dunlavy said she didn’t know. She said a meeting had to be set when there would be enough council members to make a quorum.
Later that afternoon an agenda for a special council meeting for, Tuesday, Oct. 7, was sent out by the city. The recall petition Certification of Sufficiency was on the agenda.
The Sept. 30 meeting
Even though Dunlavy said she wasn’t asked for a legal opinion regarding the Certification of Sufficiency, there were questions raised at the Sept. 30 council meeting. Before any discussion began, Mayor Judy Magee asked how to proceed with the discussion.
At that point Johnson said each council member had a copy of the Certificate of Sufficiency in front of them, and that Tuesday, Nov. 18 would be the recall election date.
Alderwoman Mary Beth Kuester asked Johnson how much the recall election would cost.
Johnson said she had previously said $2,500.
Kuester then asked why it couldn’t be part of the Nov. 4 general election.
Johnson said because the ballots for the Nov. 4 election were already ordered, so a separate election would have to be held at a different location. She cited that the city also didn’t have enough poll workers.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to front the additional $2,500 to run the election,” Rose said. “In the event the petitioners and those who signed the petition win in a hypothetical election it’s only going to replace me on the council for about five months.”
Council President Jeannie Schley said she thought a recall election was a waste of taxpayer money.
“They’ve spoken and they want to have it so I guess we will have a recall election,” Schley said.
Schley voted no when it came time for the council to order the recall election.
“It’s a little bit of sour grapes,” said alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy.
More questions arose as it neared time to vote. Kuester asked what exactly the council was voting on, and what the vote would mean.
Johnson told the council that it would be agreeing that she processed it in the proper manner, and followed all the guidelines.
Alderman Bill Zienert moved to accept the Certificate of Sufficiency as presented by the clerk. Alderman Phil Rath seconded the motion.
The motion was defeated 2-4 with Rath and Zienert voting yes. Aldermen John Wilson and Mark Doornink were excused from the meeting.
Immediately after the vote, Kuester asked what the next step would be.
Johnson said she’d have to contact the GAB, and another special meeting would probably have to be called. She said the GAB will order the recall election.
Kuester asked what the GAB is.
April Dunlavy didn’t speak during the entire discussion regarding the recall election.