But we've now heard from
Bob Turner, according to one of our sources, apparently "made a big dramatic statement" before insisting it was illegal to have a forum at City Hall. We doubt that's true -- the illegality part -- since there's another mayoral forum scheduled there next Monday night, by the Young Professionals of Racine and Leadership Racine.
We're also told that Mayor Tom Friedel offered the use of the City Council chambers to Community for Change, for its forum last Monday night, but that organization wisely decided it would be too small, and went to Gateway instead (and overflowed the much larger Great Lakes Room).
In any case, we're told second-hand, Turner was angry because Friedel refused to open City Hall on a Saturday for Turner to announce his candidacy for mayor. But that would have been a partisan event -- whereas a forum is equal treatment.
Turner reportedly said last night that he had called City Attorney Rob Weber about the forum's alleged illegality -- but Weber, we're told, knows nothing of the call.
Regardless, Turner refused to participate last night and stalked out, according to the
Our fourth source was there -- one of only five Realtors present, he said, out of 300 -- and he says Turner arrived while the other candidates were going over the ground rules with the moderator. "Turner said, 'I'm here, but I'm not going to participate because this is an illegal meeting. Things like this should not be held on city property. I don't like the idea that we're here for something that's not endorsed by the city.' "
Our source adds that Turner "ranted for a few minutes."
Candidates present were Pete Karas, Kim Plache, Jim Spangenberg, QA Shakoor II, Raymond Fay, Jody Harding, Greg Helding and John Dickert. Total attendance was about 40.
Update: Bob Turner returned our call when he returned to Racine from today's legislative session. Given a day to reflect on the incident ... he hasn't changed his mind one bit. "In my 28 years as an alderman on the City Council," he said, "they've never allowed a candidate forum on city property." (Note: Chris Terry of YPR says in the comments that his group held one in the Council chambers two years ago.)
Turner said: "Knowing what I know about the City Council, I would not participate in any political forum on city property, I will not attend any political forum at City Hall at taxpayers' expense." Turner asked what would happen if someone got hurt; "who's liable?" And, "Let's say another group, say the skinheads, wants to have an event... what's to stop any group?"
Turner also said, "A few years ago, John Lehman wanted to have a function at City Hall and was told no. Others have wanted to do candidate forums on city property and were told no." Turner confirmed that he'd called the city attorney and asked, "Has the City Council changed the rules to allow candidates to have events on city property?" Turner said Weber said he'd have to do some research on the question.