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Green Bay City Council Hiring Lawyer To Advise On Ousting Mayor

7 To 5 Vote Comes On Heels Of Citizen's Petition To Force Mayor Schmitt Out Of Office

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt
Patty Murray/WPR

The Green Bay City Council will be hiring a private attorney to advise its members on the possibility of forcing Mayor Jim Schmitt out of office.

Earlier this month, Schmitt pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges tied to campaign finance violations. Some aldermen have said they want Schmitt to leave office.

The council’s 7 to 5 vote Tuesday to hire an outside attorney comes on the heels of a petition filed by a citizen seeking to oust the mayor from office. Green Bay City Council President Tom De Wane said the citizen is “filing the complaint and asking the mayor to step down because of these 30-some violations that were brought against him, and because of the severity of it we’ve got to take this serious(ly).”

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De Wane said a yet-to-be-determined outside lawyer will look through details of the state law and ensure the city council is properly advised. The petition also cited state statutes as reasons to unseat Schmitt.

“By law we have to follow this and that’s why we’re asking for an outside attorney to advise us in what direction to go and how to proceed,” De Wane said.

De Wane didn’t have an estimate on what the outside attorney may cost. The city attorney objected to the council’s actions, saying she was qualified to be an objective advisor to the council and would act in the best interests of citizens.

Alderman Guy Zima, a longtime critic of Schmitt, said it’s a good move on the council’s part to hire an outside attorney.

“If you go to court without an attorney, you’re kind of placing yourself in harm’s way,” Zima said. “And I don’t think that the city council wants to be in harm’s way.”

Zima also didn’t have an estimate as to what the attorney may cost taxpayers.

Schmitt pleaded guilty to the three counts of campaign finance violations and the others were dismissed upon his guilty pleas, a judge then ordered Schmitt to pay a $4,000 fine and do 40 hours of community service. He has been in office 14 years and has 2 years left in his term. De Wane is a political opponent of Schmitt’s and has run against him for Mayor.