Invest a Little - Save a Billion
Our group HOT (Honest Open and Transparent) Government has filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Appeals Court on the RUSD billion-dollar school referendum. We entered into a recount not questioning the voters but with the intentions of making sure the votes and the high number of absentee votes were counted and counted correctly.
What we found was shocking!
(Appealed filed 7- 24 – 20)
Let me explain
The Racine Unified School District (RUSD) was able to place on the spring 2020 election in Racine County a referendum asking for one billion dollars from the Racine taxpayers over 30 years to fund new schools and new technology. The referendum passed by a margin of 5 votes. Our group (HOT) along with the Racine Taxpayers Association and the Libertarian Party of Racine asked for a recount. During the recount we realized the recount was conducted irresponsibly and asked it to be abandoned.
Jim Sewell member of the Libertarian party stated “That when the recount started he was under the assumption that it was a truth finding process, but quickly realized it was an adversarial process: The recount was run by someone hired by the school district, and important decisions were made by the Unified Board of Canvassers, all employees of the school district who want the referendum to pass.”
The petitioners believe that regardless of how those complaints are resolved, the will of the voters has become impossible to determine and it would be reckless and irresponsible to move forward on spending a billion dollars under present circumstances.
Racine Mayor and ‘Yes for Kids’
We also learned that the Mayor of the City of Racine Cory Mason and his wife Rebecca were extremely connected to the ‘YES for Kids’ campaign. The ‘Yes for Kids’ was the political campaign arm of RUSD which raised over $400,000 to bombard the school district with campaign literature and outreach. The Mayor and his communication director Shannon Powell (Taxpayer paid) along with Powell’s wife (Chelsea) who was the campaign director for ‘Yes for Kids’ were directly involved. Rebecca Mason’s law firm had ‘in kind donations’ to ‘Yes for Kids’ of over $18,000. We believe the RUSD billion-dollar campaign was run largely out of the City of Racine’s Mayor's office.
HOT Government Files Complaint
After the board of canvassers certified the recount HOT and others filed a complaint. The complaint highlights the referendum recount was conducted by RUSD employees, judged by RUSD administration staff, and overseen by the attorney hired by RUSD. We allege the recount in 12 wards were incorrectly counted and there are more NO votes then YES votes. We asked to examine those wards.
HOT alleges multiple votes were not counted correctly subsequently rendering the count inaccurate. Important decisions including remade ballots, absentee ballots and missing ballots were controlled by the tabulators and the Unified Board of Canvass, all employees of the school district who wanted the billion-dollar referendum to pass.
The tabulators acted as 'gatekeepers' on absentee ballots. Absentee ballots damaged during opening or mailing were remade but the original ballots were not found 81 times! When things looked close in the recount the Racine City Clerk found 8 absentee votes that were never counted in the election adding 7 "YES" votes and 1 "NO' vote. The tabulators also selected what absentee envelopes were to be questioned (postmark, signature, date). Tabulators were given the discretion to decide which of the opened envelopes complied with election laws. Thus, tabulators were given the option on which opened envelopes went to the Board of Canvassers and subsequently viewed by the appellants and observers.
Judge Rules on HOT’s Complaint
On June 22, 2020 Racine County Judge Piontek heard the complaint and would make his decision in 10 days. It was obvious to us that he had not even read the complaint. The decision came from the court July 10, 2020. “The Court finds that a full, fair, transparent and accurate recount occurred,” Piontek’s decision stated. However, a Racine resident Jim McClain filed a motion to intervene which stated.
Judge Piontek has numerous connections with RUSD, a party to this action. He has
been a past board member of RUSD and has been past counsel for a RUSD high school group. In his activities as a board member he served on the finance committee of RUSD, the subject of this action concerns the finances of RUSD. All of these issues are conflicts of interest that based on partiality and bias exhibited by the court on Monday,
June 22nd, 2020; demonstrate the ability of this court to rule with impartiality is greatly in question.
HOT’s Initial Response Was Not to File an Appeal
HOT’s initial response was not to file an appeal. After being rejected from Racine Circuit Court on questionable reasoning by the judge we would again be subject to an appeals court that again we felt would be biased. The Chief Judge of the Wisconsin Appeals Court is Lisa Neubauer. Neubauer’s connection to Racine goes deep into Racine's democratic party. Greta Neubauer (Lisa’s daughter) who was a former aide to then Assemblyman Cory Mason is now Assemblyperson in Mason’s former district. Greta was a staunch supporter of the RUSD referendum even attending the recount in support. Jeff Neubauer is married to Lisa Neubauer.
He was elected to the Assembly in 1980, where he served for four terms, leaving in 1989. After leaving office he was elected chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party for four years and a large donor to the party.
Why We Changed Our Minds “HOT Files an Appeal”
Our reasoning was no longer about the school referendum but how mail in votes and absentee votes can be manipulated in a recount or in a general election. By allowing Judge Pionteks decision to stand would conflict with our goal of having our government be Honest, Open and Transparent. By asking the appeals court to hear our augment forces the appeals court to support Pointek’s decision that any recount in the State of Wisconsin could not be challenged. Even with the bias in the courts we feel it is our duty to move ahead with the appeal. This no longer is a Racine school referendum; it is a state issue about legislation to no longer allow the beneficiary of taxpayer’s money to be able to recount votes. It is also the integrity of mail in and absentee votes that can be a vehicle for election fraud. This is a huge hole in our system that needs to be plugged.
Now We Ask for Help!
We have had good support from our local community. However, this fight is much more costly. Can you help by donating to
Without attempting to cast blame nor level accusations, HOT Government calls for an immediate halt of the RUSD referendum recount and total abandonment of the project overall. There have been far too many irregularities that have been imposed in response to the initial disruptive effect of the response to the Corona virus pandemic and an accurate representation of the will of the voters has become impossible.
Voting protocol was disrupted followed by subsequent disruptions of the adaptations that were made. Then the closeness of the raw vote made a recount imperative. Unfortunately, the recount too has been besieged with irregularities which have resulted in some ballots that were improperly cast and collected being included in the final total, while legitimately cast ballots have been randomly removed in a “drawdown” process designed to make ballot totals acceptable.
In addition, reports of electioneering having taken place at some polling places have cast a pallor of legal uncertainty of the voting process itself.
This is a billion dollar commitment that is being imposed on the RUSD public and taxpayers that is far too meaningful to simply be allowed to chance. The citizens of this region have a clear right to be truthfully informed and to have confidence in the voting process and the count. The current process, whether manged in good faith or not, simply offers no possibility for that to have happened.
Let this serve as notice that we, executives and other members of the organization HOT Government, intend to call for the vote and the recount to be declared null and void, and to be rescheduled at a later date of RUSD’s choosing.
Jim Sewell, member of the Libertarian Party, says that several of the Petitioners for the Unified Referendum recount are planning on appealing decisions made by the Unified Board of Canvassers to Circuit Court. Jim said that when the recount started he was under the assumption that it was a truth finding process, but quickly realized it was an adversarial process: the recount was run by someone hired by the school district, and important decisions were made by the Unified Board of Canvass, all employees of the school district who want the referendum to pass. The first decision being appealed is the one to not count ballots in which the 'o' of 'No' was filled in rather than the oval in front of 'No'. It is our contention that the will of the voter was clearly to vote No. The second is their decision to count absentee ballots that were duplicated by poll workers but cannot be verified to be accurate due to: the original is missing, or the originals and duplicates cannot be located because they weren't properly marked and separated. We contend that there should be drawdowns or removals for these ballots since their accuracy cannot be verified. We are thankful for the excellent work and help during the recount process by all those involved , but while we understand the great pressure put upon them due to current conditions, are appalled by the lack of diligence by the poll workers in those wards where the originals and duplicates were not properly kept, labeled and separated as they should be. In many cases different sets of ballots were counted during the recount than on election day solely due to this lack of diligence