Sunday, February 8, 2015

AFSCME, Democracy Again Triumphant In Janesville

A few weeks ago, I reported about the heroic efforts of Dennis Hughes, a staff representative for AFSCME District 40, who, in the course of his duties, found irregularities in the nomination papers for two candidates for the Janesville School Board.

Hughes challenged those nomination papers and they were found to be legally insufficient, taking those candidates off the ballot.  Unfortunately, the authorities mistakenly found Hughes' complaints to be insufficient because he was not a resident of Janesville.  This was the result of a misinterpretation of election laws.

The two candidates appealed their disqualifications to the Government Accountability Board, who not only upheld their disqualifications but overruled the finding regarding Hughes' complaints.  The GAB also found fault with the way the school board clerk handled the entire matter:
The state Government Accountability Board has denied ballot appeals by would-be Janesville School Board candidates David DiStefano and Diane Eyers.

The decision announced Friday means the two will not appear on the April 7 ballot.


School board clerk Karl Dommershausen and assistant board clerk Debra Blazer ruled Jan. 13 that the candidates should be removed from the ballot.

The Government Accountability Board ruled Dommershausen and Blazer erred by “incorrectly informing candidates … that their names would be included in the drawing by lot for placement on the 2015 Spring Election ballot prior to the nomination paper challenge deadline expiring.”

The Government Accountability Board also ruled the clerks “incorrectly rejected the challenges brought by Mr. (Dennis) Hughes based solely on the fact that he was not an elector for the School District of Janesville and therefore did not meet the definition of complainant.”

The clerks ultimately arrived at the correct decision to remove the candidates, according to the Government Accountability Board ruling.
But the story is not done there.

There is also the issue of the improper behaviors by district officials including the clerk and Superintendent Karen Schulte, who tried to interfere with democracy and with Hughes' rights as a union representative.

This could get even more interesting.

I do want to comment Dennis Hughes for his diligence and persistence in seeing that democracy is upheld. It is an fine example of why we all must stay involved in the democratic process, regardless of what level of government is involved.

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