published Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Recall effort now in waiting game


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Staff photo by Allison Kwesell /Chattanooga Times Free Press - Aug 30, 2010 - Chattanooga Tea Party members turned in petitions at the Hamilton County Election Commission. The tea party turned in over 1,000 petitions to recall mayor Ron Littlefield.

Petitioners handed in the last of their signatures Monday afternoon in an effort to oust Mayor Ron Littlefield and now are waiting to see if any lawsuit will take place in the matter in Hamilton County Chancery Court.

“I expect it will probably be in court,” said Mark West, president of the Chattanooga Tea Party. “That doesn’t have to be the case.”

Three different recall groups — Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, the Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action — handed in enough petitions Friday to force a recall election or referendum on the city’s mayor. But now it is a matter of legalities as far as when and how such a vote will take place, if at all.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Hamilton County Election Commission will meet Sept. 8 to certify the results. In the meantime, petitioners are awaiting any lawsuit that might be filed by Mayor Ron Littlefield.

BY THE NUMBERS

* 9,071: Number of recall signatures validated Friday by the Hamilton County Election Commission

* 8,935: Number needed to force a recall

* 1,226: Number of signatures turned in Monday

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

Richard Beeland, spokesman for the mayor, said Monday the mayor had enough “resources and is prepared” for any election that could happen. He said he did not have any updates Monday.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions, and we’ll be seeking the answers this week,” Beeland said.

Election officials said Monday the Hamilton County Election Commission will meet next week on Wednesday and certify the signatures. The petitioners said Monday they had filed another 1,226 signatures gathered over the weekend.

Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, administrator for elections, said Monday the commission is expecting a lawsuit, and she also expects a judge to make some decisions on how the recall will take place. A lot of questions remain about qualifying deadlines for potential candidates, she said.

“By that time, hopefully, the court will decide deadlines,” she said.

Chris Clem, the election commission’s attorney, said there are a number of legal problems. One is that neither state law nor the city charter spell out the amount of time needed to qualify for recalls.

“They don’t have qualifying deadlines, and there’s no time for one,” he said.

The ballots have to be sent out by Sept. 18, he said.

Another problem is that state law is a three-step process with a yes-or-no vote on the ballot followed by a special election, Clem said. The City Charter calls for an election and not a yes-or-no vote on whether the person should be recalled, he said.

He said those questions need to be answered in court.

“We’d be happy if a judge takes it away from us,” he said.

Clem said one thing that would not happen is that the governor and congressional races are held up because of the recall.

Jim Folkner, head of Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said he expected a court fight.

“We’ve heard noises from City Hall,” he said.

He said his organization has retained a “lawyer or two.”

Chris Brooks, senior organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action, said he expects there will be a court fight, but he said the “voters have spoken.”

“We want to have an election,” he said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Recall election may offer quick path to office

Article: Recallers gather enough to force election

Article: Recall effort could be fought in court

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harrystatel said...

The Recall signatures have been counted and verified. Now what?

Tell everyone! Send messages to your friends, family, business acquaintances, fellow church members — and not just in Chattanooga or Tennessee.

Send the message around the country. Give hope to all who have been over-taxed, neglected, abused, trod, screwed and tattooed by government. Let them know they too can fight and demand that politicians are accountable to them—not citizens bowing before the seat of corruption.

Put Chattanooga on the map! Encourage the media around the country to come to Chattanooga. Tell them your story. Put the eyeballs on America on Chattanooga.

It will be much harder for improprieties to occur if outside media is watching the politicians, Election Commission, polling places, courts, and the lawyers.

Let the word go out that Chattanoogans have made the commitment to work for transparency in government, to fight corruption, and to demand fiscal responsibility of government and bureaucratic officials.

Tell the world! Chattanooga—It's Not Business as Usual!

Harry Statel

harrystatel.wordpress.com

August 31, 2010 at 7:23 a.m.
FM_33 said...

Harry good post but Ron aint going nowhere and even you know that one for a fact.

August 31, 2010 at 2:24 p.m.

Waiting game? Not hardly. The Mayor is in full attack mode against the citizens of the city.

August 31, 2010 at 4:49 p.m.
FM_33 said...

The Old Money that controls this town is fighting back !

See I told you so.

August 31, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.
JasonMcG said...

Only 9000 signatures were needed because barely 18,000 voters participated in the last mayoral election and the election commission and City Charter requires 50% of the number of registered voters who voted in the last mayoral election to initiate a recall.

The reality is so few people participated in the last mayoral election and voted for Littlefield, that Ron Littlefield barely has the approval of 10% of the city's population.

There is not a conflict with state and city law as Littlefield claims.

The City Charter applies because Tennessee law says it does, as below from that law which was updated in 1997 to specifically address the issue of when state law would apply and when provisions in local government charters would apply:

Tennessee Code Annotated 2-5-151.

Petitions for recall, referendum or initiative.

(a) Any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition forrecall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section.

(skip to (d) covers number required)

d) Petitions shall be signed by at least fifteen percent (15%) of those registered to vote in the municipality or county. The disqualification of one (1) or more signatures shall not render a petition invalid, but shall disqualify such signatures from being counted towards the statutory minimum number of signatures required in this section.

(Except that....skip to (j)

(j) This section shall control notwithstanding any statutory provision or charter provision of a municipality or county to the contrary; provided, that any contrary charter provision of a municipality or county which is enacted after July 1, 1997, shall control with respect only to the requirements set forth in subsection (d) relating to the statutory minimum number of signatures required in a petition.

The City charter does have a provision for recall, therefore the state law states clearly the City Charter rules would apply under state law, thus all it takes for the recall to be valid is 50% of the number of registered voters who voted in the last mayoral election to initiate a recall.

I'm a bit disappointed in the so called legal and political science experts from our State Universities who keep saying there is a conflict in state and city law. Poor research on their part.

August 31, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.
geraldc476 said...

Who in their right mind would want to work for a City that ultimately does not want him there?

August 31, 2010 at 7:48 p.m.

I think that Ron should just take it with pride and go back to Georgia! Take your friend Anita Ebersole who you gave a $75k per year raise after you took office. Take your followers ( Steve Leach) and your dictators ( Lee Norris ) with you. And dont forget your womanizer Paul Page! You are a liar and we city workers and taxpayers HATE MEAN people like you!

August 31, 2010 at 9:07 p.m.
JasonMcG said...

By the City Council dedicating city legal and financial resources to the defense of Littlefield in a recall campaign, the City Council is violating quite a few state and federal election and campaign finance reform laws.

The City Council is the legislative body of the City of Chattanooga and their oath is to represent the constituents from their districts.

Certainly, City Council members, as individual citizens, have the right to verbally endorse a candidate and financially endorse or defend a candidate out of their own pockets.

However, the City Council does not have the right to commit the city's financial and legal resources to the defense of the Mayor's campaign to hold onto office.

Recalls are part of the election process, not the legislative process, and the City Council is overstepping it's bounds

September 1, 2010 at 1:41 p.m.
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