Thursday, February 28, 2019

Rhode Island: Narragansett rejected recall petitions

The town solicitor held that the recall petitions were flawed. The petitioner said he will resubmit.

Ohio: Recall attempt against Amelia Councilmembers

Councilmembers Doug Fischer, Steven Hacker and Derrick Campbell all faced a recall effort -- with the County Board of Elections rejecting the petitions (though Campbell resigned). There is an issue over a change in the law, passed last year, which changed the replacement method from appointment by councilmembers to an election (which would appear on the same day).

The recall was listed for lacking transparency

North Carolina: Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board members facing recall effort

Petitioners have launched an effort to recall Chairwoman Margaret Samuels and Board Members James Barrett and Pat Heinrich over a decision to make one existing school a Mandarin language magnet school. Petitioners need 10% of turnout in 30 days to get on the ballot. The recall would be filled by appointment and all three are up for reelection in the fall (one is running for state school superintendent in 2000 instead).

Chapel-Hill is one of only two school boards to allow recalls in the state (the law was passed in 1993). Also of note is that 24 North Carolina cities allow for recalls.

New Mexico: Legislation proposed to allow state-level recalls

Local jurisdictions have recalls in New Mexico, but a bill by Representative Bill Rehm (R) proposes the recall hit state level officials as well. It would require a showing of cause, so it would be a Malfeasance Standard/judicial recall provision. They would need 25% of turnout.

Nebraska: Op-ed endorsing changing state recall law to malfeasance standard/judicial recall provision


Missouri: State Senators propose law allowing recall of county commissioners

Two legislators from Clay County, Senator Lauren Arthur (D) and Representative Kenneth Wilson (R) have proposed bills allowing for recalls of county commissioners. Clay County Commission is currently fighting a state audit.

The bill would require signatures totaling 7.5% of turnout, but would also include a malfeasance standard/judicial recall provision.

Washington: Onalaska Water Sewer District Commissioner facing recall effort

Commissioner Deborah Hilliard is facing a recall led by Dennis Eros, who lost to Hilliard in a race decided by a coin-toss (the vote was 11-11). Washington is a malfeasance standard/judicial recall state, so there is a "for cause" requirement -- Eros is claiming she has violated statutes. Hilliard has been fighting with another commissioner, Virgil Fox, who is also a developer. There is also a fight over sewer service with another district 2.

Texas: Windcrest holding May 4th special election on charter amendments affecting recalls; Would add Malfeasance "for cause" standard

Windcrest is looking to change their recall laws following the two failed recall attempts last year. The first Proposition would add a malfeasance standard/judicial recall requirement, pushing petitioners to provide a violation of a "for cause" requirement.

Two jurisdiction have undertaken such a move in recent years.

Ohio: Newton Falls Councilman, who lost in 1993 recall, will face new recall on November 5 ballot

The recall of the Councilman John Baryak (D)will be on the November 5 general election ballot -- not on the May 7th one. Councilman Phillip Beer and former Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman are leading the recall effort. Hoffman is running against Baryak in the primary in May. The claim is a general misfeasance and failing to properly conduct city business.

Baryak lost a recall in 1993, so he can join the two-time recall club.

Update: Baryak is appealing the decision that put him on the ballot.

Arizona: Signatures handed in against Douglas Mayor

Petitioner handed in 808 signatures for the recall of Mayor Robert Uribe over issues in city hall, including alleged employee problems and a failure to have a special meeting as requested by council members. Petitioners need 569 signatures.

Michigan: Albion Mayor Pro Tem recall effort ongoing

Mayor Pro Tempore Sonya Brown is facing a recall over the removal of the head of the Albion Public Safety Department. This has been ongoing since at least December.

Update: The language was approved

Missouri: St. Louis mayor facing recall effort led by two Alderman over merger plan

Mayor Lyda Krewson is facing a petition effort over her support for a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. The recall effort is led by Aldermen Brandon Bosley and John Collins-Muhammad. Petitioners would need about 39,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot. The president of the Board of Alderman would step up to the mayoralty until a replacement race.

California: Contra Costa Superior Court Judges facing recall effort

Judges Jill Fannin, Lois Haight and Rebecca Hardie are also facing a recall efforts, with petitioners claiming that they have enough against Haight and are close to getting enough signatures to get the recall against Hardie on the ballot. Petitioners have until March 12 to submit the signatures. The issue is problems with the family court -- seemingly about adoption and foster care. Not clear how many signatures are needed.

This would be the second recall of a judge since 1932 -- the last one taking place last year in Santa Clara County against Judge Aaron Persky.

New Jersey: Rockaway Township Councilman, Acting Mayor facing recall efforts

Councilman Victor Palumbo is facing a recall effort over complaints about his vote, including votes against former Mayor Michael Dachisen and Councilman John Quinn taking health benefits. Petitioners would need 724 signatures to get to the ballot.

Acting Mayor Jeremy Jedynak (R) is also facing a recall effort, with one of the leaders being the widow of his immediate predecessor, Mayor Michael Dachisen (R). Dachisen died on August 15 of a heart attack, leading to Jedynak taking over. The issue is claims of hostile behavior. Jednyak is accused of calling a special council meeting the day after the funeral in "an effort to replace the municipal attorney."

Petitioners need about 4564 signatures to get that recall on the ballot.

Friday, February 22, 2019

California: Two Malibu Councilmembers facing recall effort

Councilmemebers Rick Mullen and Skylar Peak are facing a recall effort led by the Editor in Chief of a local newspaper (called The Local) over their support for the City Manager and Public Safety Manager. The push to remove the managers is over the Woolsey Fire -- and claims that Peak spends most of his time outside the city.

Petitioners need 2289 signatures in 90 days.

Massachusetts: Former Hadley Select Board member running for office for ninth time since being kicked out in recall vote

John Mieczkowski Sr. was kicked off the Select Board 17 years ago n February 2002, and has run to get back on eight times -- all unsuccessfully. Mieczkowski also served on the board in the 1980s and currently serves on the Planning Board (he also won an election to the former Sewer Commission).

Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation looking to adopt new Constitution with recall provision


Canada: MLA blasts plan to add recall to Alberta


California: More on closed marijuana operation push to recall Pasadena Councilman

More on the attempted recall of Councilman Victor Gordo, with further claims that the recall effort is led by a closed marijuana operation. Petitioners would need about 2000 signatures. The original petition to start the process was signed by 88 people, of whom only 35 actually lived in the district (they only needed 25).

Update: Petitioners continue to have trouble getting past the first stage

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Wisconsin: Two Flambeau School Board members kicked out in recall vote

School board President Sam Stewart and clerk Danielle Zimmer were both voted out of office, with Stewart losing 451-284 to Sara Baker and Zimmer losing to Ruth Opachan 444-295. The recall was over claims of disrespectful comments and a host of other complaints has gotten the signatures.

In July, petitioners handed in 481-482 signatures, but the petition was thrown out for improper documentation. That recall also included  Patrick Anderson.

Idaho: Sugar City Mayor and Councilman up for recall vote on March 12

Mayor David Ogden and Councilman Brent Barrus will be facing a recall vote on March 12 over legal costs for rezoning of property that is the cause of a significant battle in town.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hawaii: Hawaii County Recall law discussed in potential charter change

I (and Ballotpedia) have been trying to keep track of how many states have recalls on the local level. The answer is not a simple one, but we had settled on 38 states. But that seems to be off by at least one -- Hawaii's Hawaii County seems to have a recall provision -- Article XII of the charter seemingly adopted in 1979. The recall requires signatures totaling 25% of turnout and petitioners have between 90-120 days (depending on the position). It has one interesting feature -- there is what we can call a turnout veto (other countries have it like Romania and Warsaw, Poland). The vote must top 50% of the vote cast for that office in the last election for it to work (meaning, if 10,000 were cast for all candidates in a 2018 election, the recall must have 5001 votes cast -- either for or against -- for the recall to count). So supporters of the official are usually better off not turning out at all.

This issue came up in an oped/letter from former County Councilwoman Brenda Ford about the Hawaii County Charter Commission, which is considering moving from a two-year to a four-year term. Note that the same issue of increase term length was a motivator in the adoption of the recall in some jurisdictions in the Progressive Era.

Canada: BC Speaker of the Legislature recall effort on hold

The recall attempt against Speaker Darryl Plecas (I) is now on hold after he released a "bombshell" report on legislative expenses that has won him plaudits.

Plecas defected from the Liberals to the minority NDP government. Petitioners would need 16400 signatures to get on the ballot. Plecas won with 52.48% of the vote in 2017.mpaign.

California: Dublin school board trustee forced to step down by signature campaign

Not actually a recall, but an interesting adjacent event. Niranjana "Nini" Natarajan was forced to leave the school board after 75 signatures were handed in. Natarajan was appointed to the board following the resignation of another member. However, the voters had the ability to cause of vacancy for a seat filled by an appointment if they submitted enough signatures. Because the school board switched to a district based (rather than an at-large) system, the amount of signatures needed to trigger this provision was very small.

Dublin has had recent recall threats against a school board member and other officials.

Canada: Alberta's UCP leader announces party platform including recall law

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney is proposing a recall law as part of their platform for the Alberta provincial election. Kenney is also proposing a ban on MLAs switching parties, which I always find an interesting phenomena.

The proposed recall law would require signatures of 40% of eligible voters and couldn't be started until 18 months into the term. This is a very high barrier and it mimics the British Columbia recall law, which I believe has not been used to remove an official since its adoption in 1991.

Arizona: History of the State's adoption of the Recall

Here's a look at the fight over Arizona's adoption of the recall. Famously, President William Howard Taft refused to sign the state's Constitution (passed at a 1910 constitutional convention)  because it contained a provision that allowed for recall of judges.  Arizona removed the provision and it was signed on February 14, 1912. Then, the people added back in the recall of judges provision.

This article notes that one of the major convention delegates was Democrat Jacob Weinberger, later a US District Court judge in San Diego. This article talks about Weinberger's life.

Ohio: Newton Falls Councilman, who lost office in 1992 recall, facing new vote

The recall against Councilman John Baryak (who was removed in a recall in 1992) is being put before the Board of Elections. They will be debating whether to put the recall on the May primary ballot. No word on the recall effort against Mayor Lyle Wadddell. Former Mayor Patrick Layshock is running as a write-in for the council. Layshock was removed in a recall vote in 2010 and replaced by Waddell.

Washington: Cathlamet petitions thrown out; petitioners promise appeal

Petitioners have appealed a decision to toss out the recall effort against Mayor Dale Jacobson and Council members Sue Cameron, Ryan Smith and Jean Burnham. Since Washington is a Malfeasance Standard/Judicial Recall state, a judge was required to pass muster before the recall was allowed to go forward. The judge threw out the recall.

The recall is over a vote to buy a parking lot from a former council member (the price was $68,000 and an independent appraisal put it at $40,000).

Friday, February 15, 2019

Colorado: Fort Morgan Councilmember resigns in face of recall

Councilmembers Dan Marler resigned rather than face a recall - petitioners appeared to have enough signatures to get on the ballot. The position will be filled by an appointment by the council.

The issue was a vote to allow the City Manager to return to work after he was charged with third degree assault (which was over slamming the brakes while the manager was in the car with his daughter). The Manager was found not guilty in the trial. One of the recall leaders is a former council member.

Still no word on the recall efforts against Councilmembers Kevin Lindell and Lisa Northrup.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Nebraska: Senator puts forward bill to eliminate recalls

State Senator Curt Friesen (R) has proposed a bill to eliminate recall elections following the removal of Hamilton Commissioner Gregg Kremer this week.

The article notes that Nebraska has had at least 45 recalls since 2008 -- a number I'll have to check myself.

There have been other attempts to change recall laws in other states, though they rarely succeed. I don't know of a single case where recall laws were dropped entirely. Michigan changed its recall in 2012, though it is still a political recall state. Las Cruces, New Mexico and College Station, Texas both moved from political recall to judicial recall/malfeasance standard requirements.

Idaho: Elk River Mayor recall on the March 12 ballot

Mayor Dave Brown is facing a recall vote on March 12. So far. I haven't seen why the recall was launched or any other details.

Update: Petitioners handed in 18 signatures to get on the ballot. The issue is accusations of public drunkeness, misuse of city equipment and failing to respond to public safety issues. The need at least 32 votes (a larger majority than the last election victory) to have the recall count.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Nebraska: Hamilton Commissioner kicked out in recall

Commissioner Gregg Kremer was kicked out by a vote of 176-167 over claims by a former member of the County Ambulance Department that he represents private interests. Turnout was 29% of voters.

Nebraska: York Mayor removed in recall vote

Mayor Orval Stahr was removed with a vote of 1358-915 over claims of intimidation and misbehavior. The vote was an all mail ballot.

Petitioners submitted 1326 signatures and got 1214 verified. They needed 1149 signatures. Any replacement would be appointed by the council.

Council member Diane Wolfe led the recall effort.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

California: Pasadena Councilman facing recall effort

Councilman Victor Gordo is facing a recall effort over a kitchen sink of complaints -- though Gordo claims that unsanctioned marijuana dispensaries are targeting him after a string of arrests.

Michigan: Kawkawlin Township Supervisor up for May 7 recall vote

Kawkawlin Township Supervisor Dennis Bragiel will be up for a May 5 recall over a no vote on a moratorium on wind turbines. The recall previously faced claims that the County Clerk failed in allowing Braigel to challenge an earlier version of the recall. Petitioners handed in 530 valids and needed 455

California: 2016 Tulare Regional Medical Center Recall apparently a test run for other social media focused campaigns by Psy-Ops group

The recall of Dr. Parmod Kumar -- a seemingly small event that got very little attention -- is now very much in the news. The New Yorker has a big piece on an international effort to support Kumar and defeat Senovia Gutierrez, who won the July 11 recall. There was some evidence of how unusual the race was in just the fundraising.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Colorado: Fort Morgan Councilmember recall gets the signatures

Petitioners seem to have the signatures for the recall of Councilmembers Dan Marler -- they handed in 36 and 34 were valids. The issue was a vote to allow the City Manager to return to work after he was charged with third degree assault (which was over slamming the brakes while the manager was in the car with his daughter). The Manager was found not guilty in the trial. One of the recall leaders is a former council member.

No word on the recall efforts against Councilmembers Kevin Lindell and Lisa Northrup.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Idaho: Dalton Mayor and Councilmembers facing recall efforts

Mayor Steve Roberge and Councilmembers Joe Myers, Denise Lundy, Jamie Smith and Scott Jordan are facing recall efforts over a proposal to build homes on back area land.  Petitioners need between 110-418 signatures to get on the ballot.

Colorado: Three Cripple Creek-Victory School District Board Members facing recall effort

Board President Timothy Braun, Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin are facing a recall effort over claims of violation of the open record act and possibly a suspension of the superintendent. Petitioners claim to have about half the signatures. Petitioners need 400 signatures by March 11. One of the leader was a former Head Start director who lost to Jones by 30 votes in November 2017. A recall would cost about $8500.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Michigan: Leoni Township Supervisor who survived recall vote now facing ouster attempt in court due to failure to re-swear in

Supervisor Howard Linnabary (R), who survived a recall vote on election day while two other board members went down to defeat, is now being threatened with an ouster lawsuit after Linnabary did not reswear in following the recall vote.

Township Clerk Mark Carpenter (who won office in the recall) filed the lawsuit, with the township attorney representing Carpenter.

The issue was their vote that allowed for a percentage of the $5000 administrative fee for medical marijuana applications to go to directly to the seven board members for the extra work they did in approving the applications. The law has since been changed.

Update: The suit has since been dropped.

Arizona: Former House member running in Phoenix City Councilman recall

Former Arizona House Member Mark Cardenas (D) has entered the May recall against Phoenix City Council Michael Nowakowski (D) is facing a recall vote over a vote to study and potentially delay a light rail expansion. Nowakowski was previously threatened with a recall over same-sex marriage and transgender bathroom issues. Petitioners handed in 2361 signatures and needed 1331.

Massachusetts: No Early Voting in Fall River Mayoral Recall


Arizona: Petitions filed against State Representative over racial comments and past arrest

Petitions have been taken out against State Representative David Stringer (R) following a Prescott City Council 6-1 vote asking for his resignation over racially charged comments. This is not the first time that Stringer has been criticized for his racial comments -- the Governor and both parties have called for his resignation. Stringer is also facing a new disclosure that "he was arrested in 1983 in Baltimore on charges including child pornography."

A recall cannot begin until the summer -- Stringer was just reelected and there is a six month grace period before a recall can begin.

Petitioners would need 24,990 signatures to get on the ballot.

New Jersey: Second recall attempt against Phillipsburg Mayor fails

A second attempt to get a recall against Mayor Stephen Ellis (D) on the ballot failed. The recall is over vague claims of incompetence and misuse of office. In August, Ellis claimed the recall is started by "mercenaries" who have accused him of assault (the charges were dropped). Ellis won in 2015, beating a Republican incumbent looking for a fifth term.

One of the lead petitioners, Blaine Fehley, accused the mayor of assault for yelling at him over "crudely manipulated photos."

Petitioners needed 1725 signatures in 160 days (25% of registered voters).

Maine: Judge issues temporary injunction stopping recall vote of three Ogunquit Selectmen

A judge issued a temporary injunction stopping the selectmen from scheduling the recall of Selectmen Madeline Mooney, Charles Waite III and Robert Winn.

The injunction is based on a claim that the petitions and signatures are invalid because one of the petitioners isn't a resident. The recall is for the three selectmen's support of the town manager's decision to fire the Fire Chief.  Petitioners handed in over 300 signatures. They needed 215 valids and got 253-257.

Louisiana: St. Tammany Parish School Board member facing recall threats over shoplifting arrest

School Board member Sharon Lo Drucker is facing threats for a recall after the revelations of her July shoplifting arrest. She was relected to a second term after the arrest (for items worth $58.25)

Crow Agency Chairman kicked out in January 19 recall

Chairman Alvin "A.J." Not Afraid was kicked out of office in a January 19 recall. Carlson "Dukes" Goes Ahead replaced him. The recall was over accusation

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Virginia: Can the Governor be recalled? And what is Virginia's unique Recall Trial law?

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been under a deluge of calls for his resignation since the revelation that his medical school yearbook has a picture of a man in blackface and another in a KKK outfit. Despite a poorly received press conference, Northam has so far refused to resign. So, let's ask the question that naturally would come to this blog -- In the (frankly unlikely) case Northam does not resign, can he be removed by a recall vote? Due to two factors, the evidence would suggest that a Virginia Governor can't be recalled, though there is some slight room for uncertainty. Let's look at some of the strange issues regarding the recall in Virginia:

1) Virginia has an unusual recall provision called a "recall trial." No state has this provision -- it is not clear any place in the world has it. The recall trial is a modification of what we call the judicial recall/malfeasance standard, with a very big twist.

Under the recall trial standard, voters would have to gather signatures equal to 10% of turnout in the last election. Then, instead of a vote, a judge would hold a trial to determine if the elected official violated a specified list of statutory rules. The list includes neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence and conviction on a number of misdemeanors (one of the specified misdemeanors is a "hate crime" -- though I can't imagine any criminal charges).

Having a specified "for cause" list of actions required for removal is not unusual. Among the states that have recalls on the state level, seven have this judicial recall/malfeasance standard criteria (Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Island, Washington). This greatly limits the amount of recalls -- such recalls attempts are generally thrown out very early in the process.

What is unusual is having a trial rather than an election. I'm not sure how this provision came about, but no one else seems to have it.

Would Northam be found guilty and removed in a recall trial? It seems extremely unlikely -- it is not clear what charges could be filed. However, there are very few recall trials in Virginia history (see below), so we can't read much into past practices.

2) Does the Governor even fall under this provision? The applicability portion of the code states that the law: "shall apply to all elected .... officers.... except officers for whose removal the Constitution of Virginia specifically provides." This may mean that the recall may not cover Governors, who face impeachment under the Constitution. Again, this would need to be tested in court for a final answer.

3) Who replaces the elected official? The provision doesn't specify any replacement mechanism, which itself is unusual. Presumably, a recalled official would be replaced in the same fashion as an impeached one -- by the Lieutenant Governor. But if Republicans wanted to test one provision to capture the Governor's mansion, this would certainly be it. In some recalls in Virginia, the position has been filled by an appointment (though that is under local recall laws). If the legislature could select a replacement (and the GOP controls both house of the legislature), this would presumably be the only way to do it.

4) So how often does a recall trial happen? That is unclear. I'm not sure any has actually occurred. In one of the attempts that I've documented since 2011, the judge threw out the recall of Loudon County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R) before it got to a trial stage. In another, against Norfolk County Treasurer Anthony Burfoot (D), petitioners seemed to get enough signatures, but the recall trial was held up until he was convicted of a crime and then automatically removed from office. In the Burfoot case, the prosecutor claimed that he would not try the recall trial because the criminal action took place when Burfoot was a councilman, not as treasurer. The article on Delgaudio notes another case that was thrown out -- that one involved a Supervisor in 1997, though it is not clear if it went to an actual recall trial or not.

Virginia has had a number of recall elections, which are allowed at the local level. One official, former Portsmouth Mayor James Holley III, was even recalled and removed twice.

5) While not on point, it is interesting to compare this to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, who resigned after facing ethical questions in 2015. Oregon did not have an impeachment provision, but it did have a recall law. The fact that he was threatened with recalls may have hastened the Kitzhaber resignation. While I wouldn't expect Northam to stay in office, a clear recall law may make the resignation a more likely and quicker occurrence.

Virginia: Recall Trial of Norfolk Treasurer called off due to conviction

Not sure why this didn't get posted when I wrote, but the recall trial against Norfolk Treasurer Anthony Burfoot was found to be moot after his conviction for selling his votes when he was a councilman and lying under oath. The recall trial was delayed for a year after he was indicted (he was sentenced to six years). The prosecutor claimed he would not have pushed for a trial, as the actions did not occur when he was a treasurer.

Petitioners handed in almost 6500 signatures, 4670 were valid. They needed 4656.