No interruptions so far in 3rd recall attempt
LINDSAY — The recall proponents are trying it again.
After two failed efforts, those who want to see all five members of the City Council recalled have the wheels turning on a third attempt to send the matter to a special election.
City Clerk Carmen Wilson said Monday that the recall proponents completed all of the necessary steps to be able to craft five recall petitions, which she said she was in the middle of reviewing Monday afternoon.
Wilson has 10 calendar days from Nov. 10 — when the petitions were delivered to her office by Lindsay resident and recall proponent Yolanda Flores — to determine whether the proposed forms and wording of the petitions meet the necessary requirements and to notify the proponents in writing of the findings. Wilson said she will work with Tulare County Elections office officials to determine if the petitions are satisfactory.
If the petitions meet the necessary requirements, the recall proponents will have 60 days to gather at least 549 valid signatures from registered voters in the city on each council member’s recall petition to get the special election they have long wanted.
“It’s hard enough to get voters for the election,” said councilman Danny Salinas, who was appointed to the council in July 2001 and elected in November 2002. “That’s a lot of work (to get 549 valid signatures).”
Like councilwoman Pam Kimball said a few weeks ago, Salinas said he believes the recall proponents should wait until the November 2012 election to make their voices known.
“If they feel that strongly about our city, they should run (for election) and voice their opinion that way,” he said.
The council members — mayor Ed Murray, vice mayor Esteban Velasquez, Salinas, Kimball and councilwoman Ramona Padilla — have come under heavy fire in recent months after Thomas Young of Bakersfield-based Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corporation, revealed the findings of his highly critical audit of the city.
In his audit, which was presented Sept. 27 to the council for acceptance, Young claims, among many other things, that former City Manager Scot Townsend and former Finance Director Kenny Walker “deliberately ignored” eligibility requirements to dole out millions of dollars in home loans to city employees and/or their relatives, used city resources on the clock to make their private businesses “very profitable” and engaged in “wasteful spending.”
Many Lindsay residents have said the council members, four of whom have served on the dais for at least a decade, should have demanded clearer reporting from the previous administration.
“We the people of Lindsay deserve transparency, accountability and oversight in our city Government. You have failed and outright refused to provide us with that,” the recall proponents write in their original Notice of Intention to circulate a recall petition.
Flores delivered new notices Oct. 31 to Wilson. Enough signatures on each notice were declared valid by the Elections office, allowing the process to move forward.
The recall proponents then had the notice published Nov. 9 in The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper in Exeter. Doing so enabled them to begin crafting the actual recall petitions.
The recall proponents’ first attempt at sending the matter to a special election failed in mid-September when four signatures on each notice were declared invalid by the Elections office.
Their second try fell through in late October when they failed to have the notice published in a local newspaper in the time they were allotted. Flores had said there was some confusion over whether she and the other recall proponents had 10 “calendar” days or 10 “business” days to do so.
In both cases, the process had to start over from scratch.
The recall proponents have now reached a point where they only have to worry about getting the recall petition right. If it is declared to have deficiencies, they will have to work on correcting them. The entire process will not start over.
“We’re looking forward to completing [the petition] so we can start with the recall,” Flores said, adding that she feels she and the other recall proponents can gather enough signatures to have the situation settled at the voting booths.
Salinas said he believes the recall proponents should focus their efforts elsewhere because a special election will “cost the taxpayers and the city money.”
“I feel like I’ve done a great job in my tenure so far,” he said. “The majority of the people (in Lindsay) are still backing us.”