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Atheist group: GB Mayor violates policy in push for papal vist

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Logo of Pope to Green Bay Committee (Photo from: Facebook).
Logo of Pope to Green Bay Committee (Photo from: Facebook).

GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - City of Green Bay emails and documents requested by Madison's Freedom From Religion Foundation reveal that Mayor Jim Schmitt and his staff have planned and coordinated a campaign to bring the Pope to Titletown on city time.

"I think that the Mayor is clearly acting as if he's Mayor of the Catholics of Green Bay only," said group co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor. "It does show that city of Green Bay staff have solicited the Pope's visit on city time and involved in this Catholic campaign during city hours."

According to the group, "The City of Green Bay Personal Policy Chapter 24.4 requires: “Employees must maintain a distinction between sharing personal and official City views,” and requires disclaimers for personal views and opinions, which were not employed by the mayor or his staff."

These comments come almost two months after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Mayor Schmitt objecting to his invitation for Pope Francis to visit the Our Lady of Good Help shrine in Champion.

Gaylor says residents need to know what Schmitt is doing during his day, rather than addressing other important issues. She also scoffed at the notion, which Schmitt has previously cited, that it's about economic development.

"It's not going to benefit taxpayers. They're going to get the bill," says Gaylor. "In terms of the security alone, this costs millions of dollars and there have been riots around the world by taxpayers who are upset when they have to fund a visit from the Pope."

WTAQ has reached out to Mayor Schmitt's office for comment, but we have yet to get a return call.

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