Recall effort launched against Muskego mayor, 2 aldermen

March 29, 2012

Muskego - A citizen group on Thursday launched an effort to recall Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and aldermen Neome Schaumberg and Keith Werner over their failure to hold a referendum on a proposal to purchase lakefront property for a park.

The group Muskego for Ethical Government earlier had filed a petition in February for direct legislation that seeks a referendum on the proposed $3.55 million purchase of two Little Muskego Lake parcels along Janesville Road for a park.

City officials rejected the petition, determining the land purchase wasn't the proper subject for direct legislation. The city already has an ordinance that requires referendums to be held on projects of $10 million or more, and direct legislation cannot be used to repeal an existing ordinance.

Although stopping short of holding a referendum, Common Council members put the land purchase on hold to gather more information on what it would cost to develop a park on the 4.6 acres.

That move, Chiaverotti said, shows that elected officials were listening to residents who said they wanted more information about the proposed park.

Chiaverotti criticized the recall effort, saying she and the two targeted aldermen have done nothing to warrant being removed from office.

"I truly believe the citizens and voters are smart. They understand we have representative government and that recalls are not the democratic process. They obstruct the work that needs to be done," she said in a phone interview.

Chiaverotti was elected last April and will finish her first year in office next month. Elected officials cannot face recall efforts until after they have completed one year in office.

Lorie Oliver, a leader of the citizen group, said Muskego for Ethical Government felt it had no choice but to proceed with the recall since elected officials ignored the demand for a referendum on the park issue. The petition for direct legislation contained 3,409 signatures, she said.

The group has 60 days to collect the required signatures to force recall elections. It needs 3,004 signatures to recall Chiaverotti, 433 for Schaumberg and 346 for Werner.

The recall group also took Chiaverotti to task over the Parkland Mall property issue, saying the mayor demonstrates an inability to resolve the lawsuit filed by the mall's owner.

The mall's owner is seeking millions in damages from the city, claiming the city engaged in a conspiracy to thwart or prevent him from developing the property on Janesville Road.

Chiaverotti disputed the group's contention. In an interview and in a statement she released, Chiaverotti said efforts by the recall group and Parkland Mall plaintiffs "are all meant to manipulate the litigation in favor of their private interests and against the city's/public's interest."

Schaumberg and Werner could not be reached for comment.

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