published Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Recall organizers aim to oust Benson, Rico

by Cliff Hightower

Two council members now face a recall effort that has been targeting Mayor Ron Littlefield for weeks.

“We need people in government who are responsible,” said Chris Brooks, an organizer for the group Chattanooga Organized for Action.

The group targeted Council Chairman Manny Rico and Councilman Jack Benson in its latest recall effort. The group, along with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield and the Chattanooga Tea Party, have been working on a recall effort for Littlefield for weeks.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Tobiah Tillman hands Debra Powell a petition to sign to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield while Jeff Powell sits at left at Miller Plaza during Nightfall Friday.

On Thursday, Chattanooga Organized for Action asked the Hamilton County Election Commission to approve gathering the recall petitions for Rico and Benson. The commission gave its approval, so now it is up to the group to get the required signatures.

Hamilton County Election Coordinator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said there is some confusion between the city charter and state law as to exactly how many signatures are required.

“Right now, we don’t know how many signatures we need,” she said.

If the city charter is followed, petitioners would need around 900 signatures to oust Benson and 600 signatures to oust Rico. Election officials said it would require between 9,000 signatures to 15,000 signatures to oust Littlefield. The smaller number follows the city charter and the higher number follows state law.

Rico said Friday he is a bit worried about the recall effort.

“You’re always concerned because you don’t know what they are telling people,” he said.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Rico suddenly ended a City Council meeting when members of Chattanooga Organized for Action and Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield were trying to speak.

He told them at the time they were out of order because, under council rules, they could not speak because they already had spoken twice within the past 30 days.

The situation has become “personal” for group members and they are targeting him for it, he said.

“I’ve tried to be nice to them,” he said.

Benson said he felt the recall effort was personal for him as well, and that he had a target on his back with one of the group’s members.

“As far as I understand, it’s a one-person personality conflict with me based upon a delusional problem with me,” he said.

Brooks said Friday that people in Benson’s district wanted the recall effort to go forward. He said it was not personal and could happen for any council member.

“All are pretty fair game,” he said.

He said Rico has shown allegiance to the mayor in the past, siding with the mayor on every issue.


Petitioners have until Aug. 30 to turn in their signed petitions. Election officials will then count and certify the signatures. If there are enough, Mayor Ron Littlefield, Councilman Jack Benson and Councilman Manny Rico will be removed from office, according to election officials. An election will then be held in November for city mayor and the districts. Littlefield, Benson and Rico can all run in those elections.

“Manuel Rico has shown outright contempt for citizens at City Council meetings,” he said.

Jim Folkner of Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield said the ouster for the mayor is in full swing. The groups said they would be going door to door this weekend, along with attending the Chattanooga Market, to gather signatures.

The group’s website said it had collected more than 5,100 signatures so far. But Mr. Folkner said that was old information. He did not know how many signatures the group had.

“It’s a lot more than that,” he said.

Speaking Friday at the Civitan Club, Littlefield was asked about the recall effort. He said he did not give it much thought.

“I’m not tossing and turning at night about it,” he said.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Littlefield suggests home rule for county

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harrystatel said...

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Thomas Jefferson

I hope Chattanooga will become Recall City. Chattanooga has always had its graft and corruption. But the smell now is unbearable.

Begin investigations into all branches and departments of government and quasi-government entities.

We had "The Tennessee Waltz" scandal. Now it's time for the "Chattanooga Two-Step."

Step 1. Watch and document everything they do "officially". Cut them no slack. Put them under the microscope. Question them all the time. Make them believe that citizens are proctologists and they are going to be examined in great detail.

Step 2. When you find evidence of wrong doing, alert the media, tell your neighbors, tell everyone. Raise hell. Civil disobedience will draw national attention. Begin a Recall.

Join the City Council for their pre-meeting dinner.

Now is always the right time!

August 7, 2010 at 8:03 a.m.
sd said...

Hey Harry, I thought I'd find you here. Congrats on the Chattarati plug.

August 7, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.
memphisexile said...

What a waste of time. You guys are going to feel stupid if this works and then these guys get elected again. Talk about a waste of money and time.

August 7, 2010 at 1:31 p.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

How is this even news?

Would these "tea party" people rather us end up like East Ridge?

No taxes and no spending! Great idea.

Now we only have to pay the bill for disaster after disaster because we were too cheap to build a levee.

August 7, 2010 at 2:05 p.m.
crimshaw said...

you always hear rumors and wonder if they are true. thursday a lady and her elderly mother approached me and told me a story of a neighbor of theirs, jack benson. they both stated that benson had talked with all the neighbors and stressed to them if they ever sell their homes not to sell to blacks, being it would cause the property value to decrease. benson needs to go from our governmet service with this racist attitude. i have heard these rumors before second hand but this was straight from the people involved. benson, rico and llittlefield need to go

August 7, 2010 at 2:32 p.m.
Salsa said...

"How is this even news?"

Really? Are you kidding? The possibility exists that the mayor and a couple of council members could end up being removed and you really think that this isn't worth our citizens knowing about it?

August 7, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.
crtsports said...

These people are stupid.

August 7, 2010 at 3:06 p.m.
Gump said...

Amos_Ives_Root: These isn't a Tea Party effort, although Tea Partiers are involved. This is coming from all over the political spectrum, left, right, libertarian, whatever. And it's not just about the property tax, but about corruption, transparency, and shady dealings involving the city government.

I'm all for recalling Rico. I was at the city council meeting a few weeks ago when he adjourned the whole meeting to shut Mr. Folkner up. Rico actually said, "We don't have to listen to anybody." How's that for democracy?

Also, for what it's worth, has reported that the Election Commission did decide that the local requirement for the mayoral recall is the standard, not the state requirement.

August 7, 2010 at 6:55 p.m.
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