I am a frequent flyer on the Government Accountability Board (GAB) web site, visiting various sections and pages nearly every day as I strive to become an informed voter and Wisconsin citizen. To help me do this, I’ve added the RSS feed for Recent Clerk Communications to my browser home page so I can easily see when something new has been posted. Now, I’m a little late in getting around to sharing this, but on July 24, 2012, the GAB post a notice to clerks about upcoming recall elections, entitled “Procedure for Conducting a Recall Election during the August 14, 2012 Partisan Primary”. It would seem that this would be big election news - more recall elections - but, as I was to find out, not as far as the GAB seems to be concerned.
“The G.A.B. has been notified by a number of municipalities that will have a recall election in conjunction with the August 14, 2012 Partisan Primary. In our ongoing effort to ensure a successful and problem-free fall election cycle, we have developed two sets of instructions for conducting a recall at the Partisan Primary. Each municipality that will have a recall election on the date of the Partisan Primary has been contacted directly by the G.A.B. with these procedures.
One set of instructions outlines the procedures for ballot preparation and processing for municipalities using hand count paper ballots. The other set of instructions outlines the same procedures for municipalities using optical scan voting equipment…”
“A number of municipalities” will be having recall election? Really? This was the first I'd heard of them!
Curious about these recall elections I’d not heard about, I decided to investigate...and the GAB “Recall Elections” section of their web site seemed to be a reasonable place to start. Oddly, I didn’t find anything about any recall election that’s coming up; everything was about the previous recall elections in the past year. So, I checked their Recall Blog…nothing there, either. Then I did a search of the entire GAB site, but all that came up was the same post to the clerks. Then, just for good measure, I checked the Wheeler Report, thinking the GAB announced them there, and I found a release about the upcoming August 14th election…but not a word about any of the recall elections that the GAB, themselves, said would be happening at the same time.
Gee…a number of municipalities reported recall elections for which the GAB has written procedures, but not a word on their site about these elections. Is this what they call “transparency”?
Of course, I didn’t stop there. I went on and did some basic searches using Yahoo and Google to see what I might find out on the web but, much to my dismay, my searches yielded nothing. (I searched various combinations of “Wisconsin recall election August 14, 2012”). At least, nothing about recall elections that will be coming up; I didn’t even find the GAB’s recent post with “recall election” in the title! So, when I wrote to the GAB on July 30th about my concern about new voter registrations not being in the SVRS in time for the August 14th primary, I also asked about this “number of municipalities that will have a recall election in conjunction with the August 14, 2012 Partisan Primary” - twice:
“...I am forwarding an email I sent yesterday, with questions about the upcoming elections. I understand there will be some recalls. I am wondering where those recall elections will be (for which persons in which municipalities or counties)? I also have a question about new voters who registered on June 5th but aren't showing up in the VPA database yet. My understanding is anyone not listed as a registered voter in the SVRS 20 days before an election will not be on the voter list for that(those) elections...Later that evening, I heard back from Jason Fischer, Elections Specialist at the Government Accountability Board.
“…Yes, there are several communities and one school district/school board holding recall elections on August 14. These communities include: Town of Sumner (Barron Co.), Town of Brazeau, Waterford Sanitary District, and the Boscobel School District…”So, this “number of municipalities”, which Mr. Fischer describes as “several”, totals four. 4. That’s it. I’d call that “a few” but I won’t go there just yet. And I say “yet” because, despite my specific request “for which persons in which municipalities or counties” for these upcoming recall elections the GAB announced to clerks, his reply only provided some of this information: the “where” but not the “who”. For all I know, there are more recall elections and that information is being withheld. I mean, it’s not like the GAB has been publicizing or even forthcoming when directly asked about these elections…
Not wanting to deal with the GAB again (yet), I decided once again to see what I could find on my own. This is what I came up with:
~ Town of Sumner (Barron Co.) recall election is for Town Board Supervisor, Jim Crotteau. According to an article on Rice Lake Online:
“The recall was organized by the Citizens for Responsible Land Use, a group that opposes frac sand mining in the township. Members of the group have said that Crotteau has not represented the town's citizens properly because of his support of a frac sand mine in the township. Group members have said that the majority of Sumner residents oppose mining in the township.”
~ Town of Brazeau recall election is for town supervisors Darrell Enix and James Hanna. The Oconto County Times Herald reports the group Concerned Citizens of the Town of Brazeau gave the following statement:
“…the reasons for the recall drive: poor fiscal management due to large budget overruns for road construction, restricting citizen input at town meetings and a lack of support for emergency services. Enix is also accused of charging excessive personal expenses to the town...”
~ Waterford Sanitary District recall election is for the Waterford Sanitary District President, Bill Gerard. As “My Racine County.com” (southernlakesnewspapers.com) reports:
The “…recall effort follows months of public angst over WSD financial issues, including an aborted attempt to charge about 300 users a separate fee for the WSD-owned grinder pumps that service their properties…’
~ Boscobel School District recall election will be for Charles Clark. Despite my attempts to find out more about this particular recall, all I could find was this from the Telegraph Herald online, which requires a login to read the full article:
“On June 15, Roger Knoble turned in a petition with more than 300 signatures calling for the recall of Charles Clarke.”
So there you have it. Four local recall elections surrounding fracking, poor fiscal management, financial issues, and one over some unknown issue with a school board member, in Barron, Oconto, Racine, and Grant counties. All “red” counties.
No wonder the GAB doesn’t care about them.