Monday, November 11, 2019

Colorado: Two candidates in recall race against Elizabeth Trustees on December 17

Jason Weiss and Ron Weaver will be running against Trustees Rachel White and June Jurczewsky in the December 17 recall vote. The recall was launched over the Mayor and Councils' support for development proposals.

Recalls against Elizabeth Mayor Megan Vasquez and Trustees Angela Ternus, Steve Gaither, Loren Einspahr, Tammy Payne have made the ballot and should be scheduled for April.  The different time frames is due to the fact that the other officials haven't served six months yet.

California: State Supreme Court looks at proposal to allow judges to defend selves against criticism in context of reelection and recall campaign

This is following the Santa Clara Judge Aaron Persky recall.

Michigan: Arthur Township Supervisor ousted in recall vote

Arthur Township Supervisor Lee Schunk (R) lost a recall vote on election day 94-80 to independent Matthew Bednorek (the Democrats did not field a candidate.

The issue appeared to be the implementation of a fire prevention contract with another jurisdiction's fire department (which is being financed with donations, the critics seemingly want it paid out of the general fund). 

Alaska: Quite a bit more on the Gubernatorial Recall effort

The ruling by the Director of Elections has been appealed to the Supreme Court -- note that Dermot Cole has some great writing on whether the grounds for the recall might work by looking at the 1991 recall effort against Governor Wally Hickel and Lieutenant Governor Jack Coghill (The court helped run out the clock on the effort).

Also, the conservative blog Must Read Alaska, notes that nearly 20% of Alaskan Democrats signed the recall petition, making up 32% of signers (which frankly is surprisingly low). 7% of the signers were Republicans. Most of the signers were Undeclared and Nonpartisan voters (who make up about half of the voters in Alaska).

Additionally, here's my comments on Alaska Public Radio.

Rhode Island: Three Tiverton Council members facing recall threats

Following the ouster of Tiverton Council President Robone of their supporters has launched a recall against new Town Council President Patricia Hilton, Vice President Denise deMedeiros and John Edwards. Edwards was appointed as a replacement to one of the two vacated seats.

The recall was over complaints about an executive session at meetings.

UK: Labour MP, facing possible recall after six month suspension for violating law, agrees not to run for reelection

Labour MP Keith Vaz has agreed not to run for reelection, thereby stopping a potential recall fight. Vaz faced an automatic recall petition after the House of Commons found that there was enough evidence to suspend him for six months after he allegedly expressed "a willingness to help buy cocaine for male prostitutes." A 32 year veteran MP, Vaz has had other issues during his tenure. Because there is an upcoming election, Vaz will avoid the recall by not running in the race.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wisconsin: Vote to end Miller Park tax which fueled famed 1996 State Senate recall

In a throw-back moment for the recall, Wisconsin State Senate has voted to end a .1% tax for Miller Park, the Brewers Stadium that has collected $600 million. The law was adopted in 1996, when Wisconsin Senator George Petak (R) cast the decisive vote for the law after stating that he wouldn't. The result was that Petak lost his seat in a recall to Kim Plache (D), which flipped the Senate from Republican to Democrat.

Ohio: Newton Falls Councilman, who lost in 1993 recall, survives recall vote and wins reelection

A very interesting result in Newton Falls, where Councilman and Acting Mayor John Baryak (D) survived a recall vote and also won reelection in a separate race at the same time.  The complaint against Baryak was a catch-all one of general misfeasance and failing to properly conduct city business.While there was no candidate in the recall, former Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman lost in the general election, with Baryak garnering 70% of the vote (I have yet to see vote totals for the recall on the election site). Hoffman and Councilman Phillip Beer and former Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman lead the recall effort. Hoffman is running against Baryak in the primary in May.

This unusual recall type (reelection and recall at the same time) is unusual, but we've seen it before, most notably in the 2008 recall and reelection of Michigan Speaker Andy P

Baryak had lost a recall in 1993, so he avoided joining the two-time recall loser club.

Newton Falls is no stranger to recalls, as Mayor Patrick Layshock lost in 2010 to Lyle Waddell.

Colorado: Englewood Councilmember survives recall vote

Englewood Councilmember Laurett Barrentine survived a recall vote earlier this year, but that didn't help her come election time -- she overwhelmingly lost reelection to Joe Anderson, 71%-29%. The recall was over claims of bullying and firing threats. Petitioners included two former mayors.

Massachusetts: Fall River Mayor loses reelection run

Election Day saw the end of the long running saga of Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II (D), as School Board Member Paul Coogan overwhelmingly won the mayoral election.

Correia, who managed to get only 7% of the vote, had previously taken a temporary absence from the job and quit his run for another term.

Correia recently survived a preliminary election and has moved into a face off against a school committee member and community activist in November.

Correia lost a recall vote in March yet won his seat in the five candidate replacement race, and is once again under indictment, though this time on bribery and extortion charges over his dealings with marijuana vendors.

Correia faced the recall after being indicted for stealing from investors and tax fraud. He lost the recall run overwhelmingly, 7829-4911. However, Massachusetts allows a candidate facing a recall to run in the replacement race (not that uncommon a provision). In this case, Correia was one of five candidates. He came in first with about 35% of the vote, beating out Coogan, City Councilor Joseph Camara, School administrator Kyle Riley and Erica Scott-Pacheco.

Georgia: Hoschton Mayor, Councilman recall effort appealed to the state Supreme Court

The effort to recall Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly and Councilman Jim Cleveland is being appealed to the state Supreme Court following a lower court ruling that the recall could go forward. The challenge was after the revelation that Kenerly allegedly withheld consideration of a city administrator candidate because he was black. In an interview, Cleveland discussed his opposition to interracial marriage due to his "Christian beliefs." Georgia has a malfeasance standard rule and they claim that the recall reasons do not meet the "for cause" requirement for a recall.

Petitioners handed in 270 signatures to push through the first stage of the recall. They need 96 valids.

California: Orange County Register article on the governor and LA Mayor recall efforts

The Newsom effort has been covered widely. The effort against Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti effort would need 315,724 signatures by February 6.

Washington, DC: Signature collection ongoing against Council member

An investigation into long-time Council Member Jack Evans (D) has revealed 11 cases where he took action on behalf of paying client Evans claims that he broke no rules. Members of the council are calling for his resignation.

Petitioners have been collecting signatures for a recall, claiming they have 4600. They need 4949 by November 18 to get on the ballot.

Arizona: Two recalls look to remove Congress members over impeachment; Almost certainly not going anywhere

Congressman Greg Stanton (D) is facing a recall threat over his support for impeachment of the president and Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R) is facing one for a vote against criticizing the president for withdrawing troops from Syria and betraying the Kurds.

The article notes that petitioners would need 65,311 signatures for Stanton and 76,104 for Lesko. However, as we've seen before, even if they get the signatures, the recall is likely to be thrown out by the courts. While there hasn't been a definitive ruling, there is a strong likelihood that recall of federal officials would not be allowed.

Mexico: Congress approves Presidential recall law

The next stage of the adoption of a recall law has passed, as Mexico's Congress approved the adoption of a recall for president 372-75. The recall would need at least 3% of registered voters. Opponents criticized the law for potentially opening the way to multi-terms for a president (Mexico's president is limited to a single six year term).

A majority of state legislatures must pass the law for it to be adopted (the president's party has control of just such a majority).

Michigan: Petitions started against four Traverse School Board

Petitions have been taken out against Traverse School Board President M. Sue Kelly, VP  Jeffrey Leonhardt, Secretary Pamela G. Forton and Trustees Jane E. Klegman over the resignation by mutual agreement of the superintendent for reasons that are unclear. The petitions still need to be approved by the Election Commission.

Petitioners would need about 11,700 signatures to get on the ballot.

There is a claim that the group would have to pay for the recall -- $80,000. I've seen this provision once (in West Virginia), but never in Michigan. I wonder if that is actually constitutional.

Idaho: Middleton School Board member who survived August recall vote kick out in regular election

Middleton School Board Members Tim Winkle, who survived a recall vote on August 27th with 145 voting to oust and 151 voting to keep him in, lost his seat on Election Day. Briggs Miller beat him 376-319.

The recall was over a vote not to renew the High School principal's contact. The principal has accused school administrators of harassing him.

Texas: Rio Bravo Mayor ousted in recall vote

Rio Bravo Mayor Daisy Lee Valdez was ousted in an Election Day recall vote 288-148 (67% against). Valdez faced the recall over claims that she spent $5000 of city money on gift cards. No word on a replacement yet.

Canada: Alberta Legislature debating Recall bill

UCP MLA Mark Smith has introduced a private members' recall bill for the Alberta Legislature. Smith had previously introduced the bill in 2016 as a Wildrose MLA. The recall proposal would oust the MLA if petitioners get 40% of eligible voters signatures in a 60 day period. There is a long grace period -- 18 months after a general election and 6 months before.

Colorado: Brighton Mayor kicked out in recall vote

Brighton Mayor Ken Kreutzer was ousted in a recall  on Election Day, with 70% of voters (6194-2551) casting ballots for his removal. No word on the replacement yet.

The recall is over the firing of the City Manager. The City Manager was allegedly fired because he uncovered $70 million in unused water money and there have been protests over high water bills.

Kreutzer had raised seven times a much money as the pro-recall effort ($11,414-$1600). The recall is on the Election Day ballot (mail-in vote).

Michigan: Flint Mayor, who survived earlier recall vote, loses reelection race

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who survived a recall vote in 2017, lost her reelection bid.

Idaho: Huntington Mayor, who survived 2018 recall vote, kicked out

Huntington Mayor Richard Cummings, who survived a 2018 recall vote and won the mayor's office last November, was ousted in a recall vote on Election Day. The vote was 93-71 for removal (2 votes were challenged and have not yet been counted).

Cummings was accused of harassment, intimidation and assault over the clean-up of fire that destroyed historic buildings.

Cummings will be replaced by an appointment.

Michigan: Adams Township Board Supervisor, who won office in a 2018 recall, survives recall vote

Adams Township Board Supervisor Mark Nichols, who was elected in a 2018 recall vote, survived a recall vote on Election Day, winning with a 62%-38% margin in his favor. The recall was launched over the repeal of a nuisance ordinance. Nichols was a leader of the recall campaign, which he launched after he received a notice for keeping junk cars in his driveway. He was one of three candidates to win office in the recall effort.

Leading the recall fight against Nichols was former Adams Township Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Rob Glass III, who is running to replace Nichols.

Michigan: Albion Mayor Pro Tempore Recall kick out in recall vote

Albion Mayor Pro Tempore Sonya Brown is set for a recall vote on November 5. The recall is over the removal of the head of the Albion Public Safety Department.

Petitions were also out against Albion Mayor Dave Atchison  and Councilwoman Jeanette Spicer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Texas: Rusk Voting on recall changes

Following the ouster of two Rusk councilmembers in a recall in May, the city is voting on changes to the recall law, most notably providing a provision that allows the City Council to keep working if they have less than a quorum after a recall.

Texas: Mercedes Mayor and Commissioner recall petitions rejected by City officials with minimal details

An attempt to recall Mercedes Mayor Henry Hinojosa and Commissioner Leo Vilarreal is being held up by the City Manager despite  handing in more than 500 signatures (not clear how many are needed to get on the ballot).

The rejection seems very odd, as it does not spell out what requirements the petitioners failed to meet and in a meeting the City Manager refused to elaborate.

The petitioner was one of four people arrested at a City Council meeting after the majority of members began a process to censure and remove a freshman Commissioner, Leonel Benavidez, who has been critical of the majority of the council.

Having officials try to kill a recall before it gets to the ballot by exercising control over the process is not that unusual,  especially in Texas. Some more here and here.

Michigan: Arthur Township Supervisor up for recall vote today

Arthur Township Supervisor Lee Schunk (R) is facing a recall vote today over what appears to be the implementation of a fire prevention contract with another jurisdiction's fire department (which is being financed with donations, the critics seemingly want it paid out of the general fund). The Democrats are not running a candidate -- independent Matthew Bednorek is opposing Schunk.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Alaska: Division of Elections Rejects Grounds for Gubernatorial Recall, setting up lawsuits

Update: I am editing the original post to include today's news:

The Alaska Division of Elections unsurprisingly rejected the recall attempt against Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R), a ruling that is only the kickoff to lawsuits that may finally decide the shape of Alaska's unique recall law, and may eventually lead to a Supreme Court ruling that results in a recall. The Director of the Division of Elections was tasked with deciding whether the effort to recall Dunleavy meets the for cause statutory "malfeasance standard" requirements to allow a recall on the ballot and that petitions can be taken out by recall proponents.

However, the Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson first submitted a recommendation against the recall effort. Here's an example of a previous negative recommendation against State Senator (and Majority Leader) Kyle Johansen.

We should first put this in some national and state contexts. I wrote the following op-ed on the effort to recall Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) after his line item vetoes.

There have been six other governors who have been threatened with a recall this year, though the Alaska recall effort stands out.

1) Dunleavy is the only Republican facing a recall effort -- the other five are Democrats.

2) This recall drive may be seen as significantly less partisan -- numerous Republicans are involved in the petition effort. The others recall efforts appear to be explicitly partisan to the degree that the state party chairs are publicly involved.

3) Unlike the other states, due to Alaska law, if Dunleavy is removed, he will automatically be replaced by a Republican, his Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer. Oregon has some questions in this area, but the the leaders of the other five recall efforts clearly believe that they will flip the State Executive with a successful recall.

4) Alaska and Washington were the only states among the six facing recall efforts that had a "malfeasance standard," which means that the courts could throw the recall out. This already happened in Washington.

The first three points speak for themselves. But the fourth one is arguably the most important.

Nineteen states allow for a recall of a governor. But there is a big division in what is needed to get a recall on the ballot. In 11 states, including the five mentioned above, there is a political recall law. Under these laws, officials can face a recall for almost any reason. Causes of action, such as alleging actual criminal behavior or incompetence, is not required at all for the recall to move forward.

Alaska has what I call the malfeasance or judicial recall (not to be confused with a recall of a judge) standard, requires that the petitioner show a violation of a law, lack of fitness or some manifest incompetence. These laws vary greatly from state to state. In Illinois, only the governor is covered by recall, and in Virginia, there is no election but rather a judicial hearing. But all of these malfeasance standard states require an agency or the courts to hold that a specific, statutorily delineated bad act was performed by the elected official.

The difference is clear. There have been six state-wide recalls in US history, all in political states. There have been 39 state legislative recalls. Only one (in Washington in 1981) was in a malfeasance standard state.

In Alaska, the malfeasance standard appears to operate quite a bit differently than other states, in such a way that it is almost a hybrid version that may allow political recalls at will.

In Alaska’s case, petitioners must first gather verified signatures amounting to 10% of the turnout in the previous election (28,501), and then have the director of the Division of Elections-- headed by the same Lieutenant Governor who would become governor if Dunleavy is removed -- agree that the reasons stated in the petition meets the cause requirements in Alaska’s law. The Division asks for a recommendation from the Attorney General. If the director approves this, petitioners must then gather signatures amounting to 25% of turnout (71,252 signatures). In the past, the division has rejected recalls against a governor, two state senators and one assembly representative due to a failure to state a valid cause of action.

The conservative Must Read Alaska website, run by Suzanne Downing, has some very good details on the recall efforts that have gone to the division. It seems many recalls do not get to that level, as Alaska has had a good number of local recall elections over the years.

On the other side, longtime columnist Dermot Cole has thoughts on why the recall may be able to go forward.

The big question is how the courts will view this. Despite the strict malfeasance standard language of the Constitution, a 1984 Alaska Supreme Court ruling held that the recall law “should be liberally construed so that the people are permitted to vote and express their will” - at least on the local level. In 2017, a Superior Court judge used this decision to allow a recall to move forward against three Homer City Council members over their support for protesters against the Dakota pipeline. In the end, the Homer recall took place, though all the officials survived the vote. The Homer recall is not the only one to take place in recent years. This liberal construction of the recall has led to at least 27 recalls making the ballot since 2011, including the mayor of Whittier and a city councilman in Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla. The Attorney General's recommendation seems to ignore this discrepancy of how courts have used the recall in the state.

What does this mean? One, as always as usual, we are ending up in the courts before this move forward. Two, the petitioners clearly think they have a good chance of success. But plenty of others have thought that in the past. Will the Alaska Supreme Court accept this liberal approach to recall law and allow it to go forward, or will they dial this effort back? It seems like we are about to find out.

Nebraska: Bellevue looking to adopt law giving right to eject members for sharing documents from closed sessions

Bellevue is looking to allow the City Council to have the right to eject members for two reasons, misconduct or "sharing information from closed sessions that aren't open to the public." This proposal is being criticized as a "dictatorship" move by Councilman Pat Shannon, who himself faced a failed recall effort in 2017 and has been criticized by various media outlets for chilling speech and preventing potential whistleblowers.

Michigan: Adams Township Board Supervisor, who won office in a 2018 recall, up for recall vote on Election Day

Adams Township Board Supervisor Mark Nichols, who was elected in a 2018 recall vote, will be facing the voters on Election Day over the repeal of the nuisance ordinance. Nichols was a leader of the recall campaign, which he launched after he received a notice for keeping junk cars in his driveway. He was one of three candidates to win office in the recall effort.

Leading the recall fight against Nichols is former Adams Township Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Rob Glass III, who is running to replace Nichols.

California: Long Beach Councilwoman, subject of DUI recall attempt, not running for reelection

Councilwoman Jeannie Pearce, who faced a failed recall effort over a late-night drinking incident on the freeway, will not be running for reelection. The Pearce recall failed earlier this year after petitioners handed in almost 9500, but nearly half were rejected. They needed 6363 signatures.

Arizona: Inscription Canyon Ranch Sanitary District holding recall on Election Day

Inscription Canyon Ranch Sanitary District Chairman Bob Hilb will be facing a mail-in ballot recall vote do tomorrow. 

The issue is a wastewater treatment facility and questions about a lawsuit over who pays for its maintenance. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Washington: Governor Recall attempt rejected by Supreme Court

An attempt to recall Governor Jay Inslee (D) has been unanimously rejected by the State Supreme Court (and lower courts) for not hitting the for cause requirements of the state's judicial recall/malfeasance standard law. The recall attempt was supposedly over Inslee's out of state trips and failing to declare an emergency over homelessness.

Arizona: Judge rejects Payson Mayor recall's signature gathering amount, resulting in Mayoral recall being thrown off ballot

The recall attempt against Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey is now off the ballot, as the judge ruled that petitioners actually needed significantly more signatures. Petitioners handed in 974 signatures, 821 valids, and thought they needed 770. The Judge ruled that they need 1225.

The controversy is that Morrissey ran unopposed last time. The recall law requires 25% of turnout at the last election for that office. Morrissey claims that they should use the primary race. Petitioners used Morrisey's last contested election in 2020. The Judge felt Morrissey's point won out. No word yet on whether this case is going to be appealed.

There are also recall attempts against Councilmembers Suzy Tubbs-Avakian, Janell Sterner and Jim Ferris over their votes to  fire a town manager and spend and transparency issues.

Opponents of the recall are claiming that the non-recall facing councilmembers "voted against God, out taxpayers at risk in supporting a $43 million prep school project and are trying to bring Chinese and Canadian immigrant students to town to claim taxpayer-funded benefits." Morrisey has said he has nothing to do with the flyer.

In addition, Councilman Steve Smith is now facing petitions over claims that he causes discord at meetings.

Smith was appointed to the seat in a controversial move -- the appointment in between the election for the rest of the council and their inauguration, so there was debate over who should have made the appointment. Smith has since opposed Morrissey and other council members, including filing open meeting violations claims.

Petitioners need 1638 signatures to get the other three recalls on the ballot. Petitioners claim they have over 900 signatures for Ferris, Sterner and Tubbs-Avakia.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Alaska: Trump Tweets Support for Governor Against Recall effort

In the push against the recall, Governor Mike Dunleavy has garnered the support of President Donald Trump, who tweeted:

"My Friend Mike @GovDunleavy of the Great State of Alaska, is being treated very unfairly by the Democrats because he is doing an unbelievable job and fulfilling every one of his promises. Now they are trying to Recall him because his agenda is the Economy, Jobs and protecting... (2nd Tweet) our Military, 2nd Amendment, Energym and so many other things that the Democrats don't care about. Please stop the Dems from hurting a very good and hard-working man! StandTallWithMike.com"


Colorado: Separate Trustee resigns in Nederland; Recall against Mayor and Trustees seems to be set for April 7

Nederland Mayor Kristopher Larson and Trustees Dallas Masters and Julie Gustafson may be facing a recall election, but Trustee James Rawsthorne resigned, complaining about the same issues that petitioners are using to target the three officials.

The recalls are over claims of "dereliction of duty." A regular town critic who is actually lives outside the town is one of the leaders of the effort. The complaints seems to be a kitchen sink effort, including complaints about Nederland's growth and lifting a moratorium on cannabis dispensaries.

It looks like the recall vote will be set for April 7, the next regularly scheduled election day.

India: Chhattisgarh government drops recall provision

Chhattisgarh's government has dropped a provision allowing the recall of chairs of civic bodies. The opposition BJP (who lead the county on the national level) opposed the dropping of the provision.

Oregon: Lexington Mayor, who resigned in face of recall, loses race in moot election

Despite her resignation earlier in the month, voters still cast mail-in ballots to kick out Lexington Mayor Marcia Kemp. Kemp would have lost the race 62-42.

The government was shut down for nine days  after councilors did not show up for a budget meeting, which three of the councilors claim that Kemp did not send them "reminders in order to make them look bad" -- Kemp says they didn't show up to make her look bad.

City Councilman Bill Beard survived an October 1 recall vote, 54-43. A city maintenance worker filed the recall effort against Beard, and has since resigned.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Texas: Austin has one of lowest signature requirements in Texas

A recent report from the City Auditor claims that among major Texas cities, only El Paso has a lower signature requirement for a ballot measure. For recalls, petitioners need 10% of total voters for mayor and 10% of registereds in each council district for a city council recall.