Citizens seeking recall
of Bridgeport officials
By Ted Pennekamp
This week, some residents from the town of Bridgeport began circulating a recall petition aimed at recalling two Bridgeport Town supervisors.
The petition is seeking to recall Township Chairman John Karnopp and Township Supervisor Mike Steiner. Karnopp and Steiner approved the permit for a frac sand mine within the town, and within 500 feet of the Wisconsin River, despite some opposition by their constituents.
Over the last two years, local taxpaying residents have expressed concern over locating a frac sand mine in the town of Bridgeport. These residents have shared their concerns with elected officials at Town Hall meetings, public forums, and through a circulated petition.
One of those seeking a recall, Bridgeport resident Loren Fishler, said, “Our (residents’) voices are being ignored. Elected officials should listen to the people who voted them in and they should make decisions based on the best interest of everyone in the community.”
Town Board President John Karnopp said, “This is a waste of the taxpayers’ dollars. The taxpayers are the ones that would have to pay for a recall election. It’s a bad deal.”
Residents who are circulating the recall petition also allege that the Town Board did not follow its own procedures. They further allege that when the meeting was held at which the Town Board would vote on whether or not to grant the permit to the Pattison Sand Company of Clayton, Iowa, the board did not allow discussion with the public.
While no discussion was allowed at the meeting in which the vote took place, the board had already heard several hours of discussion about the pros and cons of having a sand mine in the town of Bridgeport. Numerous people, most of whom were from outside of the town of Bridgeport, spoke at length about their concerns about frac sand mining at various public meetings in the weeks leading up to the Town Board meeting at which the vote to grant the permit occurred. At least two of these meetings lasted for several hours and everyone present had their chance to discuss their concerns with town officials. In fact, even people who were not present got a chance to express themselves via letters that were read by several in the audience.
During the meeting at which the vote was taken to grant the conditional use permit, the Town Board’s attorney Todd Infield advised the board that if all the requirements of the reclamation plan as well as the financial assurance requirement were met by the Pattison Sand Company, the board must grant the permit.
“We had to go by the letter of the law,” said Karnopp.
The recall petitioners have 60 days from certifying the petitions, or until April 28, to gather the necessary signatures for a recall election. If they are successful, the recall election would likely occur in early July.