published Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Recall effort could be fought in court


by Cliff Hightower

The effort to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield likely will be detoured to Hamilton County Chancery Court if backers gather enough signatures to get the question on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“It’ll go to court,” said Hamilton County Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. “It’ll have to.”

The groups Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party have filed petitions to recall Littlefield as well as Councilmen Jack Benson and Manny Rico.

Chris Brooks, with Chattanooga Organized for Action, said the group has handed over 12,000 signatures for the election commission to check. Organizers believe they are within striking distance of the 8,957 needed to force a recall election under the city charter.

Mullis-Morgan said that, as of noon Wednesday, 9,323 signatures had been checked and 5,937 were valid.

All petitions must be turned in by Monday to allow time for the ballots to be printed and for candidates to qualify for the post.

“We’re working on a real close time frame,” Mullis-Morgan said.

Littlefield could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

But the recall could be headed for court over questions of its legality.

The county election commission has said that, under the city charter, 50 percent of the voters in the last mayoral election must sign petitions to get a recall on the ballot. That’s about 9,000 signatures.

However, a senior law consultant for the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service has issued an opinion that state law trumps the city charter. That would mean getting signatures from 15 percent of registered voters, about 15,000.

BY THE NUMBERS

* 9,323: Signatures checked by the Hamilton County Election Commission

* 5,937: Signatures approved

* 3,386: Signatures thrown out

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

“Those provisions of the [Chattanooga] charter are not operative, having been superseded by Tennessee Code Annotated,” Helmsley wrote. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Election Commission Attorney Chris Clem agreed that state law supersedes the city charter. But he said state law specifically allows cities to require fewer signatures for a recall.

The divergent opinions mean that “there’s no doubt this is headed to court” if enough signatures are turned in by Monday, he said.

Benson and Rico said Wednesday they have hired attorneys and will go to court if enough signatures are collected to recall them.

“Whatever they do, it’s going to have to face the challenge of legitimacy,” Benson said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Remaining signatures to recall Littlefield scheduled to be filed today

Article: Recall organizers aim to oust Benson, Rico

Article: Recallers knocking on election door

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Allison12 said...

Intestesing, if the citizens aquire enough signatures to have a special election. The slimely incumbants will sue to stop a new election. It appears that the voters cannot wash the Littlefield nasty off of our City. I just want to vote for a new Mayor. The Farmers Market land deal was enough for me.

August 26, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.
harrystatel said...

"Whatever they do, it’s going to have to face the challenge of legitimacy,” Benson said."

Jack, the Recallers are asking you to face your challenge of financial responsibility to the taxpayers, your flip-flop ethics, and your belief that citizen complaints are worrisome, ill-advised, and "will cause businesses to avoid Chattanooga."

The "Tennessee Waltz" scandal comprised of Chattanooga's office-holders past and present didn't put a damper of "business", now did it Jack?

Citizens are tired of your double-speak, elitism, and lack of responsibility. Just how legitimate are you?

Your own words say it all.

http://wp.me/p10KwY-7o

Harry Statel

August 26, 2010 at 9:17 a.m.
harrystatel said...

"Whatever they do, it’s going to have to face the challenge of legitimacy,” Benson said."

Jack, the Recallers are asking you to face your challenge of financial responsibility to the taxpayers, your flip-flop ethics, and your belief that citizen complaints are worrisome, ill-advised, and "will cause businesses to avoid Chattanooga."

The "Tennessee Waltz" scandal comprised of Chattanooga's office-holders past and present didn't put a damper on "business", now did it Jack?

Citizens are tired of your double-speak, elitism, and lack of responsibility. Just how legitimate are you?

Your own words say it all.

http://wp.me/p10KwY-7o

Harry Statel

August 26, 2010 at 9:18 a.m.
FM_33 said...

Ron's gonna cream them so good in court and then after it's over with all 3 of them groups are gonna be ran out of town and told never to come back.

August 31, 2010 at 5:53 p.m.
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