published Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Judge won’t throw out Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield recall appeal


by Cliff Hightower

A state appeals court judge has declined to dismiss an appeal from a group wanting to oust Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield from office.

In an order filed Friday, Tennessee Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Herschel P. Franks wrote that a time will come when the mayor’s attorneys will have a chance to make their points against the recall.

“The issue regarding the possible mootness of this appeal may be raised and argued by the parties at oral argument,” Franks wrote.

Hal North, attorney for Littlefield, said Wednesday the result was not surprising. He also said the judge didn’t say Littlefield’s arguments don’t have merit.

“The court didn’t deny it outright,” he said.

Mayoral spokesman Richard Beeland said Wednesday that Littlefield had no comment. He directed all questions to North.

Last summer, Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, along with the Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action, began collecting signatures on an ouster petition.

The groups said they gathered about 15,000 signatures, enough needed under city statute to force a ballot question.

Littlefield sued the Hamilton County Election Commission to stop the ballot question, and Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth sided with him, saying recallers did not have enough signatures under state law to force a vote.

Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield appealed that decision earlier this year. Friday’s ruling rebuffed the city’s attempt to get the matter dismissed.

The three-member appeals court panel is expected to rule within four to six months on the merits of the appeal, officials said.

Jim Folkner, with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said Wednesday he thinks Friday’s ruling bolsters his argument that the recall efforts arguments are valid.

“It really snuffs out his ability to kill this thing without arguing,” Folkner said.

He said the recall effort lost a battle, but “we’ve not lost the war.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville is expected to hear oral arguments on the appeal in July or August, said Hal North, attorney for Mayor Ron Littlefield. North said a ruling could be expected within 90 days after that.

Should a recall election go forward, election officials have said it could not be held before August 2012. Folkner couldn’t say whether a special election could be held sooner than that.

“It’s really up to the courts,” he said.

The Hamilton County Election Commission also filed a brief in the case seeking clarity and interpretation of recall statutes and how they should be handled.

Election commission attorney Chris Clem, said the mayor’s dismissal motion was a routine court maneuver.

“I think it was a long shot by the mayor,” he said.

He said he did not think the order handed down by Franks could be good or bad for any of those involved in the court case.

“You can’t read the tea leaves,” he said.

Contact Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.

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sangaree said...

"Should a recall election go forward, election officials have said it could not be held before August 2012"


2012? Isn't that around about the time for a new election for mayor to take place anyway? The mayor can't run again anyway in 2012. Such a senseless waste of the courts and taxpayers time and money to go after someone you have a personal vendetta against.

June 9, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.
brokentoe said...

9,200 registered voters? Out of what total population of registered voters in Chattanooga who didn't sign the petition?

I've known co-workers, neighbors, church members and public service figures who later turned out to be drunks, drug addicts, abusers and perverts. Does that make me guilty a guilty party too just from having known them or having our paths crossed at some time?

I think we've all known someone or crossed paths with someone we thought were decent people only to later find out they weren't. That doesn't make us the bad guy. It just makes us trusting.

June 9, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
MountainFire said...

Kick his butt out. Littlefield is absolutely nuts and is destroying this beautiful city from the inside out with his corrupt politics.

June 9, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
brokentoe said...

pa, where in those numbers does it say that out of the 18,773 voters who voted in 2009 that only 10,000 voted for Mayor Littlefield?

Either way, the mayor's time will be up anyway in 2012 and he can't run again, so what's the point other than to settle a personal grudge?

No matter who is placed in the office of the mayor the outcome is going to be the same. This die was cast several mayors back, beginning with Mayor Kimsey. Mayor Littlefield is just an extension of what was already in the works long before he became mayor. If citizens believe otherwise, they are being duped.

June 9, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.
brokentoe said...

pa, I've read your accusations of alleged corruption. Nothing you've posted shows any direct links to corruption, just a personal perspective. If you really have proof of some kind of back room corruption going on, why haven't you gotten the Feds involved?

Personal grudge, sore loser, vendetta? You exhibit all of those and more. I'm surprised the mayor is taking this all in stride and hasn't filed a defamation suit against you. There's an old Chinese proverb that say, "When you dig a whole for someone, dig two."

June 9, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Just as important as getting Ron Littlefield out of office is getting his "rubberstamp" city council out as well. The city council seems to pass most of his motions. Start with a clean slate when the next election comes around.

June 9, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
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