April 1, 2009

Mayoral forums in Council Chambers? Stay tuned

The non-issue -- to everyone but mayoral candidate and State Rep. Bob Turner -- of the use of City Hall for such public meetings as mayoral forums may be on the path to solution.

Turner, you'll recall, stormed out of a Realtors' forum last Wednesday night, and then refused to participate in Monday's YPR forum, both held in the City Council chambers, insisting "a political forum at City Hall at taxpayers' expense would be illegal."

Well, it ain't necessarily so, according to an opinion issued Wednesday by City Attorney Robert Weber, who also draws upon an opinion issued in 1999 by former city attorney Dan Wright.

Not that Weber makes it simple.

First, he says "the allegation that meetings in the City Hall Council Chambers might be illegal stems from an opinion issued by Dan Wright in 1999."

Then he says he agrees with that opinion.

But then he says, "However, I believe the essence of the opinion is that informational meetings for a civic purpose (such as the mayoral forums) are permissible." Weber points to a paragraph near the end of Wright's opinion, which says:
Reasonable regulations relating to rental or free use of Designated Public Forum meeting areas also need to be considered and uniformly applied to each particular area. For example, a policy might be imposed as follows:

Permitted activities: Social, civic, recreational and educational activities, meetings and entertainment (primarily benefiting City of Racine residents ??); candidate forums that offer an opportunity for all candidates for a specific public office to make presentations and/or respond to questions from the public during the campaign period."
As Weber notes, Wright "merely suggested that a policy be adopted." Although in 2001 a community center policy was adopted, "...no specific policy was ever adopted for the use of the Council Chambers."

Weber proposes a solution to repair that gap: he drafted a proposed policy, application form and resolution for the council to clear up whatever uncertainty exists. All the documents are here for those who want to read 'em in the original legalese. It's a 500 kb .pdf.

Stay tuned to learn whether anyone on the council, or the new mayor (unless that's Bob Turner!) thinks this is necessary.


  1. Turner is toast...Thanks to all that made these forums happen and thanks to CH.25 for broadcasting them, it's a great service to the city residents.

  2. Actually, Turner and his campaign strongly believe he will be one of the two candidates headed for the election in May. That is based on getting his voting base to the polls to vote. They believe they will be successful. Question is - with Keith Fair, Craig Oliver, and Jim and Joyce Smith in the campaign - just how are people going to get to the polls to vote? By hook or by crook??? That is the question.

  3. I never had any real issues with Bob Turner previously, but just seeing and reading who is helping with his campaign has changed my mind about him. He's got the biggest fools in Racine backing him.

  4. Tuner if has Smith working for is is simply silly, if Keith Fear is working for him is nuts and unworthy of holding any office, I think

  5. I agree with the comments. Turner is arrogant and bad for Racine

  6. What's even worse is the guy represents us in Madison and has been for 19 years! He must go and go now!

  7. What nonsense. Do we really want someone representing us that cannot think logically? He blows off the Racine tax payers forum, now he has some hokey problem with another. He talks about parks instead of buses. The joke is on us if he stays in office at all.

  8. Mike Shields is also helping Turner's campaign. I heard his campaign thinks the votes will be so divided by the other candidates, that he believes he'll get the inner city votes and win. He would not be a good mayor for Racine. He shouldn't be at the State level, either. Then again, that says alot about why Wisconsin doesn't want to move ahead. We have no leadership.

  9. Megan -

    Turner's people are not very bright. QA will pull inner city votes, as will Leisa Hill. Karas is working hard to get his share, too. It will take more than the hood vote to put Turner over the top.

  10. Oh yeah the hood votes. That is where Turner signs went up and all the rest disappeared. It is so tempting to do the same. But I am not a lowlife.

  11. StopthemadnessNOW4/03/2009 4:45 PM

    Agreed that Rep. Turner has had less than a stellar legislative career. Trouble is, he's had virtually no opposition during that period.

    Only notable exception was when John Dickert attempted to take him out in the Democratic primary. You'd have thought the world was going to come right off its axis when somebody DARED to take on the local Democratic establishment!

    That, in a nutshell, is the problem! NOBODY in public office EVER deserves a free ride. Rather than just bitch about Turner's lackluster performance, the Dems and the GOP (even the Greens) should find someone with the cahones to challenge him in 2010.

    Lay you odds, that ain't gonna happen.

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