published Friday, November 18th, 2011

Mayoral recall election set for August

Poll
Would you vote for Littlefield in the recall?

A recall election for Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has been scheduled for August 2012.

Meanwhile, Littlefield and his attorneys are again exploring legal options to stop it.

The Hamilton County Election Commission voted Thursday morning to certify a recall petition for Littlefield in its first meeting since the state Court of Appeals dismissed Littlefield’s attempt to halt the recall earlier this month.

Last week, the mayor filed a petition for a rehearing on the issue, which hasn’t yet been acted on.

But the election commission didn’t wait for the appellate court’s ruling to forge ahead with an action it was set to take when the legal battle began in August 2010. Commissioners voted 2-1 to certify the recall petition. Commissioners Tommy Crangle and Ruth Braly voted for it, Jerry Summers voted against it and James A. Anderson abstained.

Crangle said his vote to certify the recall is a vote in support of those who worked to collect about 15,000 signatures, 9,600 of which were certified by the election commission.

“People think they have the right to recall their officials,” he said. “I don’t know how we can deny that.”

Anderson said he wants to wait to act until the legal action is final.

Summers said recall petitions should be reserved for extreme acts, not just disagreements about policy.

Littlefield’s attorney, Hal North, said the election commission’s action is premature.

“We’ll consider asking the Court of Appeals to [stop] the action the commission has taken,” he said.

Another spokesman for Littlefield also said the election commission should have waited until the Court of Appeals made its ruling.

“No final decision has been reached by a court regarding the legality of the signatures collected or the number of signatures needed to proceed with a recall,” Littlefield spokesman Richard Beeland released in a statement.

Jim Folkner, who heads Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield — one of the groups that championed the recall effort — is pleased with the election commission’s decision.

“I’m hopeful the courts will acknowledge that his legal maneuvering is a delaying tactic and nothing but a delaying tactic,” Folkner said after the meeting.

Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party launched an effort to recall the mayor two years ago.

The matter ended up before Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth last year when Littlefield sued to stop the commission when it was scheduled to certify more than 9,600 petition signatures. That number would have met the city charter’s minimum requirement for a recall.

Littlefield argued that a state law prevailed over the city charter in determining how many signatures are necessary. The state would require 15,262 signatures, as calculated in the Court of Appeals decision. The court cited 9,386.5 as the minimum number for the city’s charter requirement, though the election commission had determined it to be 8,957.

The mayor said only 4,281 of the 9,600 signatures accepted by the election commission met the state requirement that they be dated.

Hollingsworth stopped the election commission from certifying the petition.

The Court of Appeals vacated that decision earlier this month, saying Hollingsworth didn’t have authority to act when he did because the election commission hadn’t made a final decision.

Littlefield then asked for a rehearing and still has time left in his 60-day window to appeal the Court of Appeals decision.

Commissioners also voted to hold the recall election in August 2012, though Anderson qualified his vote, saying he wouldn’t want to hold an election if legal maneuvers in the Court of Appeals aren’t final by then.

North described the process before the election commission over the past year as a “comedy of errors.”

“This commission has compounded those problems today,” he said. “What you’ve done is taken proceedings to certify these [signatures] prematurely.”

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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chrisbrooks said...

On Thursday, November 17th, 2011, history was made in the city of Chattanooga. Nearly one year after hundreds of citizens had gathered over 15,000 signatures to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield, the Hamilton County Election Commission finally certified the petitions and declared Mayor Ron Littlefield officially recalled. Despite all the attempts of Mayor Littlefield to subvert the democratic process through lawsuits and court battles, the grassroots people of Chattanooga proved that democracy works.

Democracy doesn’t end on Election Day. In fact, many democratic governments throughout history have instituted various forms of direct democracy to ensure that the decisions of elected officials could be held accountable to everyday people. Direct democracy usually takes three forms: initiative, recall, and referendum. These tools give ordinary, non-elected citizens the power to propose legislation, remove elected officials, and veto legislation passed by legislative bodies. The modern forms of initiative, recall, and referendum take their roots back to the Progressive Era of American history - a time when ordinary grassroots people gathered together to reform their governments in order to fight back against the power of organized corporate money. But the origins of direct democracy go back even farther, even back to Athens itself! (Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, Part 43)

Chattanooga’s City Charter, the governing document of the City, provides the citizens of Chattanooga with all three avenues for direct democracy. The recall provision, found in Title III of the City Charter, allows for citizens to remove both the Mayor and members of the City Council. The City Charter also allows for initiative and referendum. As found in Title XI, these provisions allow for citizens of the city to place legislation directly on the ballot and to veto legislation that comes out of the City Council. By voting to uphold the rights of citizens to use these democratic tools to change or alter their city government, the Hamilton County Election Commission has created a powerful precedent for bottom-up, grassroots reform.

Now that Mayor Littlefield has been successfully recalled, the doors to direct democratic participation are blown wide open. Now for the first time in our city’s history, the grassroots, everyday people of Chattanooga have recalled a sitting elected official. The future history of our city will no longer be written by land developers, career politicians, and business and political elites. Instead, the history of our city will be written by the grassroots people who have the determination to make change possible.

www.chattaction.org

November 18, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
chrisbrooks said...

The Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump: “Homeless Hilton” A Boon for Businessman, Loss for Taxpayers

After campaigning on the promise to develop a one-stop multi-unit complex to house multiple organizations to meet the needs of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable (the homeless), mayor Ron Littlefield bought a known hazardous waste dump, the old Farmers Market, for an amount approximately $650,000 more than it had been bought for three years prior. The man who originally bought the property (prior to quick deeding it to his children, three months before the sale to the city), William A. Thompson, was a major campaign contributor and personal friend of mayor Ron Littlefield. At the time of the purchase by the city, the Thompsons owed just under $200,000 in back taxes to both the city and county - approximately $70,000 more than amount that William A. Thompson originally purchased the property for. Also, the property could never have been zoned for the purpose of housing the homeless, since the property was a former superfund site and is leeching toxic waste, a fact the mayor, according to at least one news article, was fully aware of prior to proposing the purchase.

Watch the Youtube movie about the Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP54U1vecKQ

November 18, 2011 at 8:45 a.m.
chrisbrooks said...

During the latter part of Mayor Littlefield's first term in office, several female city employees began to speak out against the sexual harassment they were suffering while on the job. These women followed proper procedure and filed complaints against their boss, Paul Page, alleging that Mr. Page was sexually harassing them while on the job. Instead of being protected, however, city hall punished and retaliated against these women instead of seeking to do justice.

So begins the sordid story of Paul Page.

In 2006, Mayor Ron Littlefield hired Paul Page to a specially-created position called the Director of General Services. Paul, who has a history of workplace controversy in other counties, was also known to be a friend of the Mayor's. In 2008, two women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Paul Page. In response, the city retaliated against these women according to a finding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Independent investigations as ordered by the City also found that Paul Page had sexually harassed multiple women.

Equally as disturbing as the claims of sexual harassment is Mayor Littlefield's silence in the face of these allegations. As the chief executive of city government, it is Mr. Littlefield's responsibility to ensure that all employees can work in safe, harassment-free environments. Instead of protecting the victims, Mr. Littlefield instead rushed to protect the predator, Mr. Page, saying in the Times Free Press: "He's expressed a desire to me to get out of the shooting gallery, which I can understand...”.

Mr. Littlefield's eagerness to protect his associates despite federally-verified claims of sexual harassment reveals a good deal of his character. Important questions must be asked: What did the Mayor know and when did he know it? Was Mayor Littlefield aware of the sexual harassment; was he aware that city government was punishing women for speaking out?

November 18, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Dang, I got all excited when I first saw the headline and thought it said "Moral recall in August".

I guess this is just as good.

November 18, 2011 at 10:24 a.m.
shen said...

chrisbrooks said... The Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump: “Homeless Hilton” A Boon for Businessman, Loss for Taxpayers After campaigning on the promise to develop a one-stop multi-unit complex to house multiple organizations to meet the needs of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable (the homeless), mayor Ron Littlefield bought a known hazardous waste dump, the old Farmers Market, for an amount approximately $650,000 more than it had been bought for three years prior. The man who originally bought the property (prior to quick deeding it to his children, three months before the sale to the city), William A

Chris, you left out a few important things.

  1. It wasn't the mayor who back out of the once stop shopping deal for the homeless. It was those suburban elite returning to the city who fought him tooth and nail, because they didn't want to live next to or near a homeless center.

  2. During the period that land was sold, property prices all across Chattanooga and the nation were inflated. Termite riddled homes in Historic neighborhoods worth little more than 20G were goin for well over 100-200+Grand. The buyers were warned that buying those homes just for the image of living in a historic neighborhood was like buying a used car that has lost value. The moment you drive even a new car off the lot it loses value. A used car loses even more value. A lemon has no value and is subject to cost more than it's worth in the short and long run.

In the end, most everyone was in a rush to sell their homes and property at inflated prices. So if there's any guilt there there's a helluva lot of guilty parties who sold their run down homes to unsuspecting home buyers at inflated prices. If the mayor is to be brought down over a piece of land, then they all should go down with him.

November 18, 2011 at 9:23 p.m.
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