We knew that this Recall process might trigger some push back; we were all aware of the big money and heavy political connections behind many of the power players. But I must say that the nastiness of those opposing this process is much worse than I ever imagined.
Currently there’s a secret recording from an unattributed source being published by the Press as legitimate news. There’s a former city councilman who came into the Recall office trying to get damaging information on our efforts. There have been constant attempts by the media to discredit the Recall effort. And there was a recent mass mailing of a Decline letter, chock full of misinformation.
Let me digress briefly to that letter. It tries to make the claim that the Mayor+3 “did nothing illegal”, so they should not be recalled; that “recall is...a tool to be used in extreme circumstances...” Did these people scream at the recent attempt to recall State School Superintendent Tom Luna? Where was their outrage then? Luna did nothing illegal, but some folks didn’t like his policies and started a recall. Agree or disagree with the reasons for a recall, the Idaho Constitution puts the power to “reform government” in the hands of the people “whenever they deem it necessary”.
The letter did not even address one of the biggest problems of all: The public vote on the McEuen Plan that was denied us time and again by the Mayor, Kennedy, Goodlander and McEvers. The letter skipped right over that topic!
The Decline letter balks at us using the $40 million price tag for McEuen, but that IS the plan formally approved by the Mayor and council on May 24, 2011. Their current proposal of $14.7 million is only Phase I of the plan, a critical detail the letter left out.
And high city salaries? CdA has 19 positions that are paid more than $100,000/yr. Compare that to the only two cities of similar size in Idaho: Twin Falls has one person above $100,000, and Caldwell has no one at that pay level. Zero. (updated 2012 numbers) The Decline letter is woefully wrong.
The letter was signed by two young women, both closely connected with local power players: The daughter of Pita Pit owner Jack Riggs, who called our recall effort “unAmerican”, and the daughter-in-law of Steve Meyer, who owns the half block right across from McEuen. As my wise father often said, “consider the source”.
Now let me tell you about the Idaho laws on recall elections and how Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, has completely reversed his own position:
In the Idaho Recall law, there are three sections important to our conversation. The first section (34-1704) talks about collecting signatures and says we have 75 calendar days to get the required number of signatures. Calendar days. The next section (34-1705) tells about forms and notarizing every sheet of signatures. Then the third section (34-1706) says that the notarized signature forms must be turned over, all at once, to the city clerk. The city clerk must deliver them to the county clerk “promptly”. How long is promptly? A day? A week? And then the county clerk has 15 business days to verify the signatures and voter eligibility. Business days.
Business days are very different than calendar days. 15 business days equals 21 calendar days. And no one knows the time limits of “promptly”.
So, when we started this Recall process on April 5th, we were sent a letter by City Clerk Susan Weathers, telling us our signatures must be to her by June 19th. That’s 75 days. She said she would then hand them over to the county clerk for his 15 days. That was fine; we all agreed.
Eleven days into the process, the city changed its mind. They decided the 15 business days for the county clerk and the “promptly” must all be part of the 75 calendar days!
(Their change in opinion came right after they figured out the agreed upon time line would place the recall election on the November ballot. More on this later.)
Our County Clerk, Cliff Hayes, did not agree with the city. He and the Sec. of State’s office said no, the original time line was correct. But two days later... voila!, like magic, the Sec. of State’s office changed their minds and agreed with the City of CdA.
How ridiculous does it seem that 3 totally different time measurements (calendar days, business days and the undefined “promptly”) must be clumped together in one 75 day time frame? Bless his heart, the Sec of State must be smoking something very funny to come up with that conclusion! The clear and obvious interpretation is that these different time measurements are successive; that they were intended to be one after the other, just like everyone agreed at the outset.
Cliff Hayes asked County Prosecutor Barry McHugh to file a legal petition to have the law clarified in court by a judge, and since that time all hell has broken loose. City Attorney Mike Gridley said publicly that “something smells” and unfairly accused the Prosecutor of partisan politics. The top few people of every group that has ever received, or hopes to receive, money or favors from the city or LCDC, have come out publicly to kowtow to the political power grid.
The Press is teetering on the brink of insanity, with overly dramatic headlines nearly every day. Reporter Tom Hasslinger has morphed from a nice guy into a pit bull looking for blood, no accuracy or accountability required. He has hounded Recall leader Frank Orzell several times each day, showed up at his house unannounced and even threatened him, saying “The road is going to get very rough for you...” And Press Editor Mike Patrick acts surprised that their online Poll showes a majority of readers think the paper is slanted against the recall?
But now, dear readers, the game has taken an even more intense turn. On Tuesday, the Sec.of State wrote another letter, basically saying that he’s the king of elections and his newest opinion...not his first one...on the recall law is final, no judge’s clarification should be necessary. After a phone conference with the Sec of State, and bullying threats from the city about making the county pay for all legal costs, Prosecutor Barry McHugh and County Clerk Cliff Hayes pulled their legal request from the court schedule.
Who loses because the county has backed down? The people. Now there will be no clear definition or understanding of the recall law, for this current effort or for the future. Why do we pay big taxes to support these officials who only seem to protect themselves and each other? Who is defending the citizens and our right to fair, understandable laws? Unless some private citizen takes this to court ($$$$), the Sec. of State’s ruling will stand unchallenged.
This decision by the Sec. of State does serious harm to the recall in two ways: We now have only 54 days to collect signatures and, unless this goes to court, we will be forced onto the August ballot which is exactly what the city wants. That was probably their main reason for the switch on the timeline. The August election is much smaller, and a recall election has to have a certain minimum number of people voting. But in August people are vacationing or otherwise distracted and many don’t pay attention or vote. (That’s why the school districts run their levy elections in August.)
We wanted the Recall on the November ballot when the greatest number of CdA voters will come out to vote for President in the general election. We want the largest number of people to vote, but they want the smallest. And they hold all the political cards.
Does this look like good government to you: Play games to avoid the voters? They are afraid of YOUR vote. Here’s a true story sent in by one of my newsletter readers:
“I had a customer yesterday who said his mother was very undecided about signing the recall petition. So she called the Mayor, who actually answered the phone. The mother asked why the council didn’t allow the public to vote on the McEuen park. The Mayor said, “Because they would have voted it down and we know best for the city residents.” The mother said “Madam Mayor, you just gave me the best reason to sign the petition........Thank You!”
The Recall effort may be down but we are NOT OUT! We are already beyond the halfway point in both time and signatures, but we need to ramp it up and kick into high gear. Will you help? I’m serious. WE NEED YOUR HELP...Now! If you believe in this recall; if you want to take back ownership of your town and have a respectful, responsive government, get out and help us bring the petitions to the people and/or the people to the petitions.
Ignore the lies, manipulations and name calling from the people who say you’re too dumb to vote on important changes in our town. They are desperate, dear readers, because they have a lot to lose. We are on the right path and moving forward with speed and conviction. Will you give us some of your time, energy and money? Will you help this Recall effort succeed as a benefit for the whole community?
Ronald Reagan believed in the power of the people. He said, “No weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”
We can do this, but only with your help.
Recall CdA’s office is OPEN everyday. Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat & Sun. 10-4 (see map above)
Send donations to: Recall CdA, PO Box 1095, CdA, ID 83816
Hope you can join us this weekend as we gather signatures! --Mary