If the Racine Equality Project spent as much time drafting their federal lawsuit against assorted public officials downtown as they did on their 1st place float in the 4th of July parade - it might not have been dismissed as a gigantic waste of time by a judge yesterday.
In a 29 page order,U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller gave the plaintiffs a mostly polite lesson in law which boiled down to "WTF?"
For readers who aren't familiar with this potboiler, it basically goes like this:
A bunch of bar owners who got their licenses pulled - not because of an alarming rate of police calls, shootings and mayhem, but because they are minorities - sued the present Mayor of Racine and the previous one and a random assortment of aldermen, city hall staff, the retired County Sheriff, the Tavern League along with the Downtown Racine Corporation for running a criminal syndicate.
The lawsuit alleges they were all conspiring together without actually showing any one person did any one illegal thing. Seriously, even if you don't live in Racine, you should read Stadtmueller's dissection of the case.
"By filing such a broad and vague complaint, the plaintiffs imposed significant burdens on a broad swath of defendants. Many of those defendants seem to have had little involvement in the activities that the plaintiffs complain of. Thus, the Court admonishes the plaintiffs to carefully consider what claims they are bringing and against whom and avoid bringing meritless claims against blameless defendants. The plaintiffs’shotgun approach in their initial complaint is likely one of the reasons that the plaintiffs felt the need to make their individual claims so vague."This is our favorite:
"The complaint is so broad and vague as to be virtually functionless."Ouch. Good people can argue whether or not whether racism played a part in any of this. Racism is a serious discussion. But these knuckleheads didn't try to make that case - they said what happened to their bars was a result of organized crime and racketeering by nearly everyone who has walked through the doors of City Hall.
This was a RICO case, not a discrimination case. As Stadtmueller points out:
"Under federal law, there is no extortion where the sole beneficiary is a governmental entity."So, whether or not one likes John Dickert and the cast of thousands mentioned in the case, this was a giant waste of time that cost Racine nearly $100,000 in legal fees - so far. The lawsuit they filed could have been written better using a Madlibs template and their attorney, Vince Bobot, should get some kind of creative writing award...just after they take away his legal license.
Amazingly, the judge is allowing the plaintiffs to resubmit their case - with very clear instructions on the burden of proof they will need to meet in the next round. Something tells us, they will refile, and refile sucking up more taxpayer dollars while managing to prove nothing.
Perhaps it is the Racine Equality Project that is the real criminal syndicate - funneling cash to Vince Bobot and his law partners.
Racine got sued, and all we got was a $100,000 parade float.