published Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

State law trumps city in petition drive, attorney says

by Cliff Hightower

A legal consultant for the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service has said that state law trumps the City Charter in any recall effort.

“Those provisions of the charter (regarding signatures) are not operative, having been superseded by Tennessee Code Annotated,” MTAS consultant Sidney Hemsley said in an eight-page opinion.

The Hamilton County Election Commission ruled two weeks ago it would follow the City Charter, which says a recall petition must be signed by at least 50 percent of the number of people who voted in the last mayoral election. That’s more than 9,000 signatures.

But Mr. Hemsley said the petition drive would have to follow state law and get 15 percent of the city’s registered voters, about 15,000 valid signatures.

Jim Folkner, with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said today he trusted the opinion of the attorney for the election commission over a “bureaucrat from Knoxville.”

Read a copy of the attorney’s opinion online.

For complete coverage read Thursday’s Times Free Press.

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