A no-reason recall
Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 2, 2010; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A
A no-reason recall
Alderwoman Peggy Bull facing unjustified recall election
(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)
In Waukesha’s 7th Aldermanic District, Alderwoman Peggy Bull is facing a possible recall for reasons nobody can quite explain.
The catalyst for the recall was the placing of a state transitional home in one of the neighborhoods of her district. Included in the transitional home are a couple of sex offenders.
The neighbors are concerned and, understandably, they looked for someone to blame. In this case, they misdirected their fire at Bull.
They gathered the signatures for a recall petition, recruited a novice candidate, and now the residents of Bull’s district will have the option on Sept. 14 of firing their alderwoman before her term is scheduled to expire.
Recall elections are drastic measures not to be entered into lightly. If there are cases of elected officials abusing their power, or using the office for personal gain, or acting disreputably to the discomfort of the entire community, those are the circumstances when a recall might be justified.
None of those circumstances apply in the recall of Alderwoman Bull. None of the people organizing the recall of Alderwoman Bull have even suggested anything approaching a justification for a recall.
I spoke with Bull’s opponent in the recall, John Kalblinger, on Monday night and asked him about Bull. Kalblinger told me he would not say anything negative about the alderwoman. He repeated to me at least three times, “I appreciate what she has done.”
I asked Kalblinger what he would do as alderman and he said he would increase the amount of communication in the district. He was going to keep a website presence (not yet fully launched) and he was going to think of something to keep up communication with those not on the Internet. That’s his agenda.
There is not even a policy disagreement between the two candidates because Kalblinger does not have an alternative plan for what to do about the transitional home that sparked the recall effort. Kalblinger’s only plan is to see what other communities have done to try to block these homes.
On the one issue that you would think might be driving the recall in the background, Waukesha’s water future, Kalblinger would not commit to any position, saying only that he had questions.
I think for someone who has lived in Wisconsin for only 18 months, Kalblinger is doing his best to catch up. Under normal circumstances, I think he would even be an interesting candidate. I hope he retains his enthusiasm for our city and his neighborhood and chooses to remain involved.
However, nobody can say Alderwoman Bull did not do anything about the issue of sex offenders living in our community. Nobody can say she has committed some sort of misconduct in office. Nobody can honestly say that she isn’t trying her best to represent her district.
Kalblinger also told me he was concerned about the tension that develops between council members over some contentious issues. If he is concerned about the tension now, wait until they wonder if they’re next to be recalled without justification.
Meanwhile, some of the recall petitions themselves were questionable. Bull raised the issue that the signatures of one of the circulators allegedly did not match. Bull even had a handwriting expert alleging the signatures didn’t match.
The signature of the circulator certifies that the circulator witnessed each person signing the petition. To the naked eye, the signatures of petition circulator Frank Greuel appear not to match from one petition to the other.
We’ll never know whether or not they really were the signatures of the same person because Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel bizarrely decided not to investigate. Schimel couldn’t imagine a possible motive for someone forging a signature saying they witnessed every signature on the petition. What is the point of having a Republican District Attorney who does not have the imagination to see possible election fraud?
I’m not a big fan of Alderwoman Bull. I haven’t been since she thought it was OK that some businessman could land a helicopter near my neighborhood instead of at the airport. I’m sure I could come up with a list of issues where we disagree.
But before her district decides to run her out of office before the end of her term, with no justification, they should ask themselves: “How long until her replacement is recalled because something isn’t absolutely perfect in the city ?”