Dropping Of Recall Effort Against 4 SB Officials Spurs Partisan Charges

(July 19) The widely heralded and equally maligned recall attempt of nine San Bernardino city officials by the group Citizens for Responsible Government has taken a partisan turn, with recall organizers giving indication they would dispense with efforts against three council members and the mayor in an effort to intensify the effort against five others.
According to Citizens for Responsible Government, the group will drop the signature gathering campaign with regard to the recall of Mayor Pat Morris and council members Virginia Marquez, Robert Jenkins and Fred Shorett in favor of focusing on the move to oust City Attorney Jim Penman and council members John Valdivia, Chas Kelley, Rikke Van Johnson and Wendy McCammack.
The leader of the group, Scott Beard, said the group is changing tactics in advance of the August 1 deadline for submitting the signature-containing recall petitions because Morris’s term is up as of next March  and he is not seeking reelection in November, while Marquez, Jenkins, Shorett must face the voters in November to remain in office after March 2014. Valdivia, Kelley, Johnson and McCammack would otherwise remain in office until March 2016.
The change in tactics fueled further charges that the recall is a thinly-disguised ploy by Democrats to seize control of the mayorship and council. Morris, a former Superior Court judge, is a Democrat and considered to be the leader of the Democrats at the municipal level. While formerly he enjoyed the support of a bipartisan coalition of three Democrats and two Republicans on the council, over the last year he has been on the down side of 4-3 votes that involved the consistent domination of the Republican-affiliated coalition of McCammack, Kelley, Valdivia and Jenkins, who are aligned with Penman, also a Republican. Penman twice lost to Morris in the 2005 and 2009 mayoral races. While registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the city of San Bernardino, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats at present on the city council.
Beard is the prime mover in Citizens for Responsible Government’s recall movement. He is a longtime associate of Democrat Jerry Eaves, a former Rialto mayor, California Assemblyman and county supervisor.
When Citizens for Responsible Government originated the recall in late April, its spokesmen insisted the membership was  intent on making a clean sweep of all city officials, maintaining the city had been mismanaged in total. They targeted all seven members of the city council, the mayor and city attorney, though they did not launch an effort against the city treasurer or city clerk. The recall effort referenced the negligence or irresponsibility of the council, mayor and city attorney, especially with regard to the city’s financial deterioration that culminated in a bankruptcy filing last August.
City Clerk Gigi Hannah was subsequently targeted for recall by another individual.
In announcing that the group was dropping the efforts against Morris, Jenkins, Marquez and Shorett, Citizens for Responsible Government said the effort against Morris was unnecessary, the efforts against the other three redundant in that they must stand for reelection anyway and the change would streamline the recall effort and save taxpayers resources and money.
But the announcement encouraged already enunciated accusations that Citizens for Responsible Government’s members were not truly interested in recalling Shorett, Marquez and Johnson and naming them as recall targets along with Morris was merely a smokescreen.
Meanwhile, Hanna has made a finding that the petitioners failed to validate the petitions against Penman, McCammack, Jenkins and Kelley when they omitted providing the four with the opportunity to submit a response to the recall proponents’ charges for inclusion on the recall petition.

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