RACINE — Who is Oscar Bueno?
That’s the question a local group seeking to recall Alderman Jim Kaplan attempted to prove in documents submitted to Racine City Clerk’s office last week and again on Monday. In those documents, the group explains that signatures submitted with the recall petition and various public appearances made by the 48-year-old should be enough to prove that is not the 28-year-old felon Kaplan had claimed he was.
Back in May, Bueno began circulating petitions to recall Kaplan for what he called the alderman’s “abuse of power,” and was one of two men who eventually filed the signatures the following month.
Last week, Kaplan formally challenged 53 of the petition’s 268 signatures certified as sufficient by City Clerk Janice Johnson-Martin, alleging that 30 of the 53 were gathered by Beuno, whom he alleged was not a qualified elector.
In order to force a recall election for Kaplan’s 4th District seat, 243 signatures are required.
Kaplan’s complaint included an electronic court record of a 28-year-old Oscar Bueno of Racine who pleaded guilty in 2008 to obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a felony.
After the challenge was filed, the 48-year-old Bueno told The Journal Times that the electronic court record was not his, but rather belonged to his son.
In documents filed last week and supplemented again on Monday, a group involved in the recall claims Kaplan has not provided any proof that the Oscar Bueno who filed the recall petition against him was prohibited from doing so because of a felony conviction.
“He’s really just doing this to subvert the recall process,” Ken Yorgan, chairman of the Racine Equality Project, said Monday of the alderman before he submitted the additional documents to the clerk’s office.
According to one of the documents, “The Oscar Bueno who filed the petition had been personally seen by the city clerk as well as many other elected officials and is clearly not 28 years old.”
Additionally, the document points to Bueno’s signature, “which is consistent on all documentation,” including on his marriage license, “which is a record that is maintained by the clerk’s office.”
And to illustrate “how easy it is to find records on the Internet to cloud the waters,” Yorgan also included a Florida arrest record he apparently jokingly claimed belonged to a James E. Kaplan.
“I’m sure Kaplan knows he’s making a frivolous claim,” Yorgan said. “I would be surprised if he is so naïve as to believe what he submitted.”
When asked whether he knowingly submitted misinformation to subvert a possible recall, Kaplan said, “No comment; that’s too much of a joke … That must be wishful thinking on their part.”
“I guess they like to spend taxpayers’ dollars and that’s what an election would do is spend more money Racine residents don’t have.”
Journal Times reporter Cara Spoto contributed to this story.