City Attorney: Only one recall effort can appear on San Diego ballot
(CNS) – Multiple recall efforts against the same office-holder are legal in the city of San Diego, but only one is allowed to appear on an election ballot, the City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
The memo sent to city officials and the media cleared up uncertainty created by separate recall efforts that target Mayor Bob Filner. The first was started by Stampp Corbin, the publisher of LGBT Weekly, and the second launched by land use consultant Michael Pallamary.
Corbin’s effort has been beset by accusations that he started his recall effort to prevent others from being successful, a charge he denies. Corbin and Pallamary reportedly met Wednesday and were planning to make a statement Friday.
The memo from Deputy City Attorney Sharon Spivak, the city’s election law specialist, said nothing in the municipal code prevents separate efforts to collect petition signatures to recall an elected official. However, once one is certified for the ballot, the City Clerk’s Office is barred from accepting another recall petition, she said.
In an election, the official can be removed from office by a majority vote. If the vote fails, the clerk is prohibited from receiving more petitions for six months, according to Spivak.
She said if petitions are filed but found to be insufficient to qualify for the ballot, the six-month waiting period does not apply.
“It is the holding of frequent special elections which the law is seeking to prevent rather than the filing of successive recall petitions which the clerk may find insufficient,” Spivak wrote, citing a ruling in the case of Moore v. City Council of the city of Maywood.
Corbin’s and Pallamary’s recall efforts still face legal hurdles because a component of the state’s recall law was struck down by a federal judge in 2003, and the city of San Diego’s code has not been updated since then.
The offending San Diego section nullifies selections of replacement candidates when a voter has not answered the question of whether the official should be recalled.
Numerous experts said San Diego’s recall rules would not withstand legal challenge.
City Council President Todd Gloria said he would place the issue on the agenda of a special meeting he’s planning for sometime this month. However, any amendments approved by the City Council would have to be signed into law by Filner — the recall target.
Eight women have accused the mayor of unwanted sexual advances, which led to widespread calls for his resignation. He plans to enter a two-week behavioral therapy program Monday.
One of the alleged victims, former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, has sued Filner and the city.
Filner has also been forced to return a $100,000 donation to the city from a developer connected to a land deal in which the mayor’s office reversed its position in favor of the developer.
Wednesday, he announced he would pay pay back an Iranian group for the
cost of a trip to Paris last month. He said he will return more than $9,800 to the Organization of Iranian-American Communities because the group wasn’t properly listed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
While Filner’s trip did not come at city expense, his security detail cost about $22,000 in public funds.
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