published Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Mayor tries to move on from recall

by Dan Whisenhunt

Mayor Ron Littlefield says he wants to put the blocked recall attempt behind him and the city, but recall organizers have no intention of going away quietly.

“I’ve extended an olive branch” to recall petition organizers, Littlefield said Wednesday at a news conference. The city should not take its “attention off the task at hand,” he said.

But a spokesman for the recall effort said organizers may appeal Hamilton County Circuit Judge Jeff Hollingsworth’s ruling on Tuesday that petitioners did not have enough signatures to recall Littlefield.

Jim Folkner, head of Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said he did not know whether an appeal would come in time to get the recall election on the Nov. 2 ballot. The Hamilton County Election Commission, which acknowledged the judge’s ruling Wednesday, will approve the ballot Friday.

“We are studying the options for another recall petition,” Folkner said. “We’re planning to take legal action, and we’re investigating our options. An appeal is certainly one of the legal options we’re considering.”

Littlefield said he called the news conference to emphasize unity and several present and past elected officials showed up.

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey spoke about the need to move forward, as did U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., who gave up his 3rd District seat to run unsuccessfully for governor.

Former Chattanooga mayors Pat Rose, Gene Roberts and Jon Kinsey also gave their support at the news conference.

Wamp said that, since he was able to reconcile with his primary opponent, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, recall organizers should find common ground with Littlefield

Littlefield’s successful push for a 19 percent property tax increase was one of the galvanizing issues in the recall, but Wamp said raising taxes is a policy question that should be addressed in regular elections. Recalls should be used in cases of unethical conduct, he said.

Ramsey said he would work with anyone who wants to move the community forward.

“All of us collectively can make good things happen,” he said.

Folkner called Littlefield’s news conference “desperate.”

“People are tired of the mayor and his failed policies and standing up there with other politicians is not going to help him out,” he said.

Littlefield attributed the recall effort to the city’s growing pains, not the property tax increase.

“Growth produces energy and energy produces heat,” Littlefield said. “I mean political heat.”

Folkner said Littlefield is mistaken. He cited recently increased stormwater fees, the city’s aggressive annexation plan and “failure to even recognize the gang problem” as other factors behind the recall effort.

“If he thinks that didn’t play a part, he is definitely out of touch with people that work for a living,” Folkner said.

Littlefield said he already has turned his attention toward other topics. The recall effort sidetracked talks of consolidating city and county services, he said.

“Unquestionably, what we’ve had so far has been a distraction,” he said.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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fairmon said...

Dalton reduced their tax rates. Maybe we can get that mayor to move to Chattanooga. It is sad the mayor doesn't see the opportunities to reduce spending in a way that doesn't stop the cities progress.

The mayor and council had little to do with progress although they jump in front of the camera when something good happens.

September 9, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.
JasonMcG said...

I strongly disagree with Zack Wamp's statement that recalls should only be in the event of corrupt or unethical politicians and not over the public disagreeing on policy.

Recall elections are precisely for the public being dissatisfied with the direction politicians are leading them in due to policy and are simply a natural corrective part of any election process.

Indictments and felony convictions are how corrupt politicians are dealt with, as was the case in the TN Waltz investigation. A recall election would have been sorely inadequate to deal with what was occurring in the Sherrif's dept. at that time.

The recall was the appropriate path as the issue here with Littlefield is whether or not his policies are good for the city, and by city I mean the citizens of Chattanooga- not the government, and there is no issue of corruption at stake here.

I think it was impressive that the recall effort was able to get so many people to participate given that only around 18,000 people voted in the last mayoral election.

Recalls are far less possible if more people vote, so if in the next round of city elections 50%, 70% or even 90% of the eligible voter base participates instead of 10% like the last city/mayoral election, you will get a city government that is more in touch with the city- and again by city I mean citizens of Chattanooga.

That's really the issue here is that the current city government was put into power by so few of the eligible voters. Once that changes issues like this will not come up, as the representation in government will more closely reflect the population and not be driven by catering to a small group of special interests.

September 9, 2010 at 1:04 a.m.
whatever said...

Impressive? Not to me, because unlike an election, they could A) go to where the people are. B) do it for weeks on end.

An election, by contrast, generally has the voter forced to make the effort. Sadly most people are too lazy. Just ask yourself how many people signing the petition would have shown up to vote.

I do wonder how the postal voting option compares though.

September 9, 2010 at 2 a.m.
slr3 said...

The Mayor is not the only one who should be recalled , or if this effort fails , not be reelected at the next election.

Council members who assisted the Mayor in giving us citizens a fourfold increase in stormwater fees and then a 19% property tax increase should be gone. For reference , they are LADD,ROBINSON,BERZ,RICO and BENSON.

Instead of cutting a bloated city government so as not to require additional tax revenue , they "kicked the can down the road" to the next administration and took the easy way out - soak the taxpayers for more money. I , as a taxpayer, am fed up with this type of irresponsible behavior by our elected officials at all levels of government.

September 9, 2010 at 4:27 a.m.

Zach Wamp is a career government suckling just like the mayor. Who cares what he thinks. Zach, please just go away.

I signed the recall because of previous unethical actions by Ron Littlefield. The smug and arrogant Farmer's Market debacle, recyle program debacle, annexation, and proptery tax increases where just additional reasons to boot him from his throne.

Now we find out that Littlefield was the City Councial Chairman when the city charter was s(supposedly) reviewed and changed to apply with state laws. WOW!

September 9, 2010 at 8:21 a.m.

Yes the citizens of Chattanooga must wait 2 years to voice thier opinion. But how long can we stand for these tax increases. Taxes should go down in a depression not up. Doesen't take a genius to figure that out!

September 9, 2010 at 9:05 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Maybe I missed them standing with Littlefield yesterday. There were so many City employees there taking time on the taxpayer clock to rally for the "Prince of Peace" Ron.

But I didn't see Ward Crutchfield, William Cotton, and Charles Love up there.

Did anyone else see them? I can't imagine Lord Littlefield not having all his disciples with him.

Harry Statel

September 9, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.
lgrohn said...

Maybe Zach Wamp lost his bid for the Governor's seat because he, like so many others today in political office it seems, do not actually study the history of their country. The idea of recalls dates back to Athenian democracy and during the American Revolutionary period the Articles of Confederation stipulated that state legislatures might recall delegates from the continental congress. The recall election was one of the major electoral reforms of the Progressive movement in the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s. While most of the time recalls do come about because of malfeasance or misconduct, in eleven states that permit state-wide recall, no grounds are required and recall petitions may be circulated for ANY reason. In addition, Chattanooga and Tennessee also stipulate that a local elected official can be recalled for ANY reason. Mr. Littlefield's recall was about him being completely out of touch with the hard working citizens of Chattanooga. He may hold the position and the title, but his "Unity" address, his actions and words have shown that he no longer represents or will allow the will of a large percentage the ordinary citizens of Chattanooga get it the way of his agenda. His political and personal responses to the recall effort were, in my opinion, misconduct unbecoming a "public servant".

September 9, 2010 at 11:40 a.m.
FM_33 said...

Charles Love up there.

Did anyone else see them? I can't imagine Lord Littlefield not having all his disciples with him.

Harry Statel Username: harrystatel | On: September 9, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.

Charles Love is not gonna be no where around due to the fact that after the TN waltz case went down has him on the down low and out vouge.

September 9, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Charles Love up there.

Did anyone else see them? I can't imagine Lord Littlefield not having all his disciples with him.

Harry Statel Username: harrystatel | On: September 9, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.

Charles Love is not gonna be no where around due to the fact that after the TN waltz case went down it has him on the down low and out of vouge.

September 9, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.
dave said...

The article is "Mayor tries to move on from the recall" ...I wish he would just MOVE ON! Do you think this will just go away...NO WAY...!!! WE ARE .....TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

September 9, 2010 at 3:04 p.m.
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