The lawlessness behind Bob Sweeney’s removal of candidates from the April ballot over their personal property taxes was proved once and for all Friday, when Jefferson County Div. 3 Circuit Judge Nathan Stewart sided with North Jefferson County Ambulance District (NJCAD) board candidate Ron Woehrle, and ordered him to be placed back on the ballot. Stewart ruled:
“Section 115.305 is the controlling statute and applies to this (Woehrle) case,” Stewart wrote in his ruling. “Woehrle is not prohibited by 115.342 from running for the North Jefferson County Ambulance.”
This is what I have been telling you, gentle reader, all along. This is also what Bob Sweeney told Arnold City Clerk Diane Waller in a memo in 2011 (the statutes treat municipalities and special districts – fire, ambulance, etc. – identically). Of course, that was when it was his cronies were the ones who were late on their taxes. This year, when the candidates who were late on their taxes were ones that threatened his schemes, Sweeney did a 180 and decided that the law did apply to cities and special districts. Another topic on which he changed his mind was whether or not it is the city clerk’s job to investigate tax status of candidates.
While the Leader has made no mention whatsoever of Sweeney’s actions in 2011, Arnold Patch, to its credit, has done a little digging. They quoted Arnold Finance Director Deborah Lewis, who completely blew up Sweeney’s thin justification for his electoral interference. She said that Arnold in fact does not receive direct payments from personal property tax receipts. Patch also acquired this revealing memo from Sweeney, which revealed the bankruptcy of his position:
His original justification in tatters, Sweeney had to come up with something new. This memo contains no legal citations, besides reference to a law that Sweeney concedes does not apply here. This is because he has no case law or statute to back him up. He uses this memo to further smear disqualified Arnold City Council candidate Shaun Missey (“apparently engaged in a marginally complex scheme to purposefully defraud the taxing authorities”) and place responsibility for this act squarely on Waller (“Diane, as the election authority, is disinclined to certify Mr. Shaun Missey”). But Sweeney gave Waller her marching orders in 2011: do nothing. At some point, he must have told her to do differently this time around. He also tries to deflect blame for his completely incorrect understanding of Arnold finance by saying “staff initially understood that a portion of the tax funded the road and bridge line item of the City’s income.” Substitute the word “Sweeney” for the word “staff” to make this sentence correct.
The gist of this memo is that this is an unprecedented case that the law simply does not know how to handle, and that Waller’s action (no doubt done at his urging) was “perfectly reasonable.” Wrong. As Judge Stewart pointed out, the law is clear. Missey’s removal from the ballot, obviously done for political reasons, was unlawful. Unfortunately, as absentee voting for the April election has begun, it appears that this injustice will stand and Missey will remain off the ballot. But Woehrle will run, and hopefully win.
Sweeney needs to be fired. Now. By both Arnold and the NJCAD.