Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Massachusetts: Fall River Mayoral recall moving forward

The recall against Mayor Will Flanagan is now moving forward, with certification of 3,947 signatures. chugs along,

Michigan: Cottrellville Township trustee up for recall in November

Cottrellville Township Trustee Michael Zoran is up for a recall on November 4. His opponent, Matt Kovalcik, is running as a non-partisan candidate because Zoran is automatically put on the ballot as a Republican.

This second statement seems incorrect:

Ethan Flick, political science instructor at St. Clair County Community College, agreed the ballot will be confusing for voters.
"There will be a lot of voters that will circle Zoran thinking that they are circling him to remove him when, in fact, they are voting for him to stay," Flick said. 
Flick said the rationale behind the recall reform legislation was to stop election officials from being removed for baseless reasons. He said the changes in the law pushes toward recalling officials only for "legitimate wrongdoing." 
It took two attempts to get the recall of Zoran on the ballot because the first language filed did not meet new guidelines set by the recall legislation.
The factualness/clarity requirement that was enshrined in Michigan law did not establish a malfeasance standard. Michigan still operates under a political recall law, where officials can be recalled for their political actions.

I also question the first statement -- the vote would be pretty basic. Vote for one guy or the other. Don't think voters will have too many problems adapting to that.

Ohio: Ohio University Student Senate President facing recall

Ohio University Student Senate President Megan Marzec is facing a recall for having students arrested during a student senate meeting. Marzec poured a fake bucket of blood over her head in a video denouncing Israel.

Petitioners need 300 signatures.

Michigan: New law strips Gaines Township officials of election powers during recall

I've discussed in the past how election officials can throw up roadblocks to recalls -- occasionally killing them outright. Michigan's relatively new recall law attempts to change that, and we are now seeing this new law come into effect -- until their November recalls, Gaines Township Clerk Mike Dowler, Supervisor Chuck Melki and Treasurer Diane Hyrman are losing their election duties (Here's a look at what these three recall are about).

Eric Dresden has been doing a great job covering these three recalls -- worth checking out his coverage of this latest development. Eric notes:

Michigan Election Law 167.965 states when there is a recall of an officer with election duties, an impartial public officer must be put into the position.
In a letter Melki sent to Dowler dated Aug. 12, Melki said it was his opinion that Dowler should step away from the election process and that the election commission should step away as well.
I could see this being used as a tactic to remove an official from running an election, but that is probably a risk worth taking.

Just for more fun with the recall, the city is investigating one of the petitioners against Melki for campaign finance violations -- due to her work as a poll worker.

Nebraska: Fremont Mayor, Council members hit with petitions

Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman (in his first full term) and Councilman Larry Johnson are both facing recall efforts, with petitioner promising to also take out petitions against Council members Kevin Eairleywine, Mike Kuhns and Jennifer Bixby. The other four councilmember seats are up for election in November.
The lead petitioner is LaVern Kucera, who lost a race for primary races for Mayor in 2012 (got 5.6% of the vote in a five person race) and for the city council in 2014 (29.8% in a three person race). He claims that he has a group called the Indispensables, and the issue is a council vote to hold a special election (which lost) asking voters to repeal the housing portion of an illegal immigrant ordinance. 
Petitioner need 35% of turnout in 30 days -- 3526 for the mayor, 783 signatures for the councilman.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Idaho: Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney facing petitions

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Robin Dunn is facing petitions over allegations that he is putting personal interests over his work, primarily over the fact that his law firm charged the county $18,000 for representation in a federal case (Dunn paid the money back) and for representing a city councilman who was charged with theft from an elderly client. Petitioners need 2800 signatures in 75 days.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Idaho: Lacelede Water District Director drops appeal of recall

Laclede Water District director Harvey Hallenbeck, who was trounced in an august 26 recall 114-10, has dropped his attempted appeal over the claim that the petitioners did not get enough signatures. The issue was the number of signatures needed for the ballot, Bonner County Clerk claimed that petitioners only needed signatures from 20% of the electorate, as there was no election being held within the last six years. Hallenbeck claimed that the key year was 2010, which would have required 50% signatures in the district,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Louisiana: Gonzales councilman signatures handed in

Petitioners handed in over  2700 signatures to recall Gonzales councilman Gary Lacombe. Petitioners need 2,145. There is also an attempt to recall councilman Timothy Vessel. Petitioners claim to be focused on votes decreasing police funding, in opposition to Mayor Barney Arceneaux’s proposed budgets. 

California: Modesto Councilwoman petitions due on Monday

The recall attempt against Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer  must hand in 3385 valid signatures by Monday to get on the ballot. The issue seems to be an anti-urbanization -- Kenoyer voted on a plan to include a farming enclave in Modesto's general plan.

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/09/18/3545975/modesto-news-mayor-to-talk-about.html?sp=/99/1623/#storylink=cpy

Illinois: Republican Gubentorial candidate unveils recall law plan

Bruce Rauner, the Republican Gubernatorial candidate in Illinois, has put out an ethics proposal that includes a recall for state legislators. The article notes that most legislators are on a 2 year term, so the impact is not as large. Rauner's plan expands on Illinois' "barely there" recall that simply hit the governor and still required the consent of some legislators.  Rauner's plan doesn't explain how he would change the recall (would it be a political recall or a malfeasance standard one, etc.), so nothing really to report yet.

Michigan: Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in Benton Harbor recall -- impact on signature gathering laws in the state?

The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the Benton Harbor recall case, effectively killing the recall. This leads to some obvious questions about the possible impact of the Court of Appeals ruling in this case.

For some recap here, the recall attempt was started against Mayor James Hightower. Petitioner Edward Pinkney appeared to hand in enough signatures to get on the ballot, but Pinkney was found to have allowed people to sign twice and changed the dates on some of the signatures (Michigan law is unique it gives petitioners a 180 day window to use a petition once the petition is approved, but they only 90 days to actually collect the signatures in the time period. So once the first signature is collect, the 90 day clock is running). Pinkney (who has previously been convicted of election law violations) is now facing criminal charges for the forgeries.

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler (who is now facing petitions) threw out 21 signatures of people who had the dates changes and of people who double signed. Tyler did not limit her ruling to one signature -- she threw out both signatures from people who double-signed.

Her ruling was overturned by a state court judge, who rejected the idea that when a voter signs twice, both signatures must be thrown out. The amount signatures reinstated was enough to get the recall back on the ballot. However, this decision was overturned on appeal (no written ruling) and apparently upheld by the Supreme Court of the state.

It is not clear if this ruling has any impact on signature gathering beyond this case. It seems to require a much harder standard of care for signature gatherers. I don't think other states have that law. The question is whether someone will try and apply it more broadly in Michigan.

California: Letters dealing with the upcoming Yorba Linda recalls


Michigan: Recall law leads to confusing ballot

Arizona: Russell Pearce, recalled State Senate President, resigns GOP position


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Colorado: Durango Natural Food Co-op Board must schedule upcoming recall vote

Durango Natural Foods Co-op Board, including Board President Geoff Wolf, is facing an upcoming recall vote over their discussion to merger with another, much larger, food co-op. Petitioners needed 10% of active members signatures (sounds like it would be in the neighborhood of 130 signatures). They got 14.3%.

Michigan: Three more petitions filed against Berrien County Clerk over Benton Harbor ruling

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler is now facing three more petitions over her decision to reject the Benton Harbor Mayor recall signatures, a decision that was upheld by an appellate court (after effectively being overturned by a district court). One of the petitioners, Edward Pinkney, has already filed three recall petitions before, but all were rejected on clarity/factualness grounds.

 Pinkney is facing criminal charges for his actions in the mayor recall. He is accused of changing the dates on the signatures (election forgery) and allowing people to sign more than once (a misdemeanor). Pinkney has already been convicted of other election law violation in 2005.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nevada: Five Ely Council members hit with petitions

Petitions have been filed against Ely City Council members Sam Hansen, Marty Westland, Randy Lee, Dale Derbidge and Bruce Setterstrom. Mayor Melody Van Camp will be targeted once her term hits six months. Petitioners need 25% of turnout (which ranges from 198-215). The issue seems to be how members of the council got into the Nevada Northern Railway's offices for an audit (a County Commissioner got in through a second story window). The council claims the Railway owes a significant amount to the city.

California: Maywood Mayor/Councilwoman recall petitions to get back on the ballot

After election officials threw out the recall attempt against Maywood Mayor Oscar Magaña and City Councilwoman Veronica Guardado, petitioners are now looking to the courts to get the recall restarted. The recall effort is led by Ramon Medina, who has lost four runs for the city council and a former council member, who lost in November. The issues appear to be leasing the community center to the YMCA and allowing a motel to be built.

Petitioners claim they handed in 5,300 signatures, though the city clerk claimed that petitioners used improper forms and using non-resident petitioners. The City Councilwoman noted that the recall would cost approximately $100,000.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Mexico: Bernalillo County Treasurer recall fails

Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz recall over his failed investment strategy that cost over $16 million. Petitioners needed 82,400 signatures, they claimed to have gotten less than 5,000.

California: Salinas Recall fever


Utah: Grand County Council Chairman recall fails to turn in signatures

The recall attempt against Grand County Council chairman Lynn Jackson appears to have failed, with no signatures turned in. Petitioners needed 580. There is a debate on the deadline, with one of the top recall supporters claiming that it is September 20. The problem is more about scheduled the recall for the upcoming election, not how long is needed for recalls. The overall issue of the recall seems to be Jackson's support for environmental positions. 

My Article in the Week on the politics of residency


UK: New Recall Bill published

Sounds like it is the same weak tea as before, so no surprise.

Massachusetts: Questions surrounding the Fall River recall

Great piece by Mike Moran on the questions that are arising out of an unclear recall law.

Texas: Brewster County's tax law subject to recall petition

An apparent mistake in Brewster County’s new tax rate has led to what they are calling a recall of the law:

The state provides for a recall election upon receipt of a petition by 10 percent of registered voters in the county if a tax rate increases revenues by more than eight percent. It is based on revenue increases, not the rate itself.
In Brewster County, if 10 percent of the 6,946 registered voters sign the petition, it will trigger a county election. Braun said her goal is 800 signatures. Then, if voters approve the rollback, the county would have to lower the tax rate.

New Mexico: Impossible recall law leads to no confidence ordinance

Alamogordo City Commissioners passed a law allowing for no confidence against city officials, something that seems to have erupted over eight hostile work environment claims filed against the mayor.  

 This is a particularly useful point:

Hernandez said the process of a recall election is almost impossible to get accomplished due to the amount of signatures that had to be submitted and the amount of action required to be taken. He pointed out the difficulty of recall elections made it hard to hold a commissioner accountable.

Michigan: Plymouth Township recall effort rejected by board on clarity grounds

Sounds like they can easily change it, but one of these days I should try to come up with a number on how many petitions are sent back for clarity/factualness.

Idaho: Bonner County Clerk facing criminal charges over actions in failed school board recall

Bonner County Clerk Ann Dutson-Sater and Deputy Clerk Charles Konrad Wurm are facing criminal charges over what is believed to be their actions in the failed recall of Lake Pend Oreille School board member Steve Youngdahl.

Dutson-Sater said in an email that she allowed a recall backer to sign off on the petitions "without realizing that he wasn't the one who gathered all the signatures," indicating that the oversight was an error rather than an attempt to subvert the law.Dutson-Sater believes the investigation began when Youngdahl's supporters pushed for charges against one of the recall's architects.
The clerk's office certified last year that recall backers had obtained the necessary amount of signatures to trigger the election. But the Idaho Secretary of State's Office later ruled that the signatures had to be submitted all at once rather than in stages, which derailed the recall.

Minnesota: Duluth City Councilor notes that recall effort not likely to clear malfeasance standard

Duluth city councilor Sharla Gardner claims that the recall effort over the decision to close Park Point fire hall is baseless and won't survive a challenge. She's probably right, as Minnesota is a Malfeasance Standard state

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ohio: Richmond Heights Mayor now being sued

Richmond Heights Mayor Miesha Headen, facing an upcoming recall vote, is now being sued by her former special assistant for defamation for claiming that she used a city car for four days.

Michigan: Plymouth Township Amphitheater results in petitions

Plymouth Township's attempt to build a $350,000 amphitheater  are now on hold as four members of the board are targeted in a recall for the vote. Supervisor Richard Reaume, Clerk Nancy Conzelman, Treasurer Ron Edwards and Trustee Kay Arnold are being threatened.

Canada: British Columbia Liberal MLA faced with recall threats

B.C. Liberal MLAs are facing threats of recall over a teacher's contract fight. However, this article notes the challenges of getting a recall on the ballot:

Since the recall legislation came into effect in the 1990s, there have been 24 applications for a recall campaign filed with Elections B.C. Only a handful got off the ground, and all failed miserably (one was withdrawn after the MLA in question quit).
The bar for recalling an MLA is rightly set very high. For a recall petition to succeed and force a byelection, 40 per cent of the registered voters in the riding in question must sign the petition within 60 days.
In a number of B.C.'s ridings, the number of signatures required actually exceeds the number of people who actually voted, in total, in the last provincial election.
For such a campaign to succeed, 14,226 people in his riding must sign a petition within two months. To put that in perspective, slightly less than 18,000 people in total even voted in Surrey-Fleetwood in the last election (including 8,200 for Fassbender).

Michigan: Can recall petitioners serve as poll workers?


Missouri: Call for a recall of Ferguson city council/mayor

This may be a much tougher road than Charles D. Ellison sets out in The Root. Ferguson does have a recall law which seems to set no limits on the use of the recall (a political recall law). Ellison doesn't make that claim -- he cites Missouri law which would seem to trump the local provision. Missouri is a Judicial Recall/Malfeasance Standard state -- recall petitions must show a cause to get on the ballot. It's not totally clear that this view of state law trumps (I've seen some Missouri recall petitions that did not make a malfeasance claim), but there certainly is a good chance he is correct and Missouri law would rule the day.

Ellison argues that this wouldn't be a problem:
Missouri state law is actually gift-wrapped to give everyone in Ferguson a very important and lasting structural solution to their problem, since the criteria for a recall are fairly straightforward and even conveniently nebulous, if anyone has to play semantics with the enraged Missouri rednecks who would likely go ballistic if this route were taken: “misconduct in office, incompetence and failure to perform duties prescribed by law.” 
If Ferguson’s current government doesn’t fit the criteria above for a recall, I’m not sure what does.
Based on what we've seen of recalls in judicial recall/malfeasance standard jurisdictions, I would say Ellison is being too optimistic about the state courts' willingness to accept this criteria. In the past three years, there has been only one recall that took place in Missouri. There have been other cases where recall were tossed for not stating a claim). In other states with a malfeasance standard, judges may take a hard line on what qualifies as malfeasance (though violation of open meeting laws  qualifies). It is not clear from the article what Ellison thinks should be the specific action cited. Incompetence is probably a high hurdle (here's one time it was used successful) and judges aren't exactly looking to cite officials for misconduct and failure to perform.

It could be that the Missouri Election Commissions and courts would accept a petition against the Ferguson officials. But based on other states understanding of the standard, it is going to be a real challenge for any petitioners to pass the first barrier to success.

Kansas: Humboldt School Board facing petitions

Humboldt School Board members are facing recall petitions for a number of issues, most prominent among them the accusation that they took personal trips with school funds. Sounds like a PE teacher firing might also be involved.Board President Curt Mueller is one of the members facing recall. I'll have more names later.

California: Alisal School Board Member Ousted

Alisal school board Trustee Meredith Ibarra has been kicked out of office by a 71.7-28.2 percent. Turnout was 17%. Estrella Thoeni, the only candidate, will replace her.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Michigan: Benton Harbor recall decision appealed to Supreme Court

Looks like the Court of Appeals decision rejection of the recall (based on tossing out both of the signatures of double-signers of the petitions -- as opposed to just the extra signature) will be challenged at the state Supreme Court level. Stay tuned. In 2011, the Michigan Supreme Court had ruled in favor of a recall against House Rep. Paul Scott, so late breaking developments from that front are nothing new.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Michigan: Court of Appeals stops Benton Harbor mayoral recall

Big development here -- the Benton Harbor recall of Mayor James Hightower is once again off, as the Michigan Court of Appeals held that any one who signed the recall petition twice should have both of their signatures removed. The court rejected a lower court ruling, which itself overturned a ruling by Berrien County Clerk.

Michigan: Sewer support leads five Ontwa Township members to the polls in November

Five Ontwa Township Board members will be on the ballot in November over their support for a sewer plant.  Supervisor John Brielmaier, Treasurer Meryl Christensen, Clerk Paula Ralph and trustees Norman Krupp and Nathan Brousseau are facing recalls. Two other trustees are not. All seven are Republicans. Petitioners needed 457 signatures per. They appeared to get about 680 per.

Michigan: Blackman and Pulaski Township recalls on the ballot

Blackman Township trustees Betty Brockie, Mark Singer and Pulaski Township supervisor Robert Jones will all be facing recall votes in November. The Blackman Township team is being attacked for pay raises for members of the board. The two candidates against Brockie and Singer had to decide who would run against who. Brockie and Singer are Republicans, so this recall does have a partisan tinge.

Jones had seen three previous recall attempts, but this one finally got the language approved and on the ballot. This was related to the firing of Township Fire Chief Ken Watson.

Jones is a Democrat, and he actually beat his challenger, David White, in 2012, 476-402.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

California: Alisal school board trustee facing recall threats from supporters of board member who is up for recall in September

Alisal school board Trustee Guadalupe Guzman brought by the supporters (or the family) of Meredith Ibarra, a fellow board member who is facing a recall election in September.  The claims seem to be that the board has not been agressively investigating the superintendent, who is facing a sexual harassment case.