The removal of a sitting politician is certainly not a matter to be taken lightly. As the "recall mania" of 2011 and 2012 proved here in Wisconsin, residents don't like having their political decisions overturned or challenged before the terms of the winners are concluded. But I still hope we do get a hearing before the Green Bay City Council tonight on the removal of Mayor Jim Schmitt from office for campaign finance violations.
For those not familiar, Mayor Schmitt accepted campaign contributions in excess of legal limits for his re-election campaign--falsified the reports provided to the Government Accountability Board--and then tried to get his campaign contributors to change their statements once an investigation into his finances was launched. He pleaded no contest to a couple of charges and avoided jail time or probation.
One resident--Scott Vanidestine--felt that wasn't a suitable punishment for a politician that knowingly broke the law and made efforts to cover up his crimes, so he circulated a petition to have Schmitt removed from office and got enough signatures to force tonight's hearing--maybe.
You see, Mayor Schmitt--in a move all slimy politicians would love--claims that taking the illegal campaign contributions and falsifying the reports and trying to change donation documents after the fact were all done while he was "Jim Schmitt Private Citizen--and not as "Mayor Jim Schmitt"--so the City Council has no right to remove him from office. He's even found a lawyer willing to defend that claim in court--in an effort to block tonight's hearing. The case has been assigned to an Outagamie County Judge--because all the judges in Brown County cited a potential conflict of interest--who decided to wait until the last minute today to decide if there will be a hearing.
Hopefully that Outagamie County Judge will allow the hearing to go forward so that the people of Green Bay can seek more suitable punishment for their small, petty and vindictive Mayor. If only the City Council could also vote to remove his equally small, petty and vindictive political adversary--Guy Zima. That would be a double win for good government.