Judge Tells SB City Clerk To Move Recall Forward

(August 30) SAN BERNARDINO—San Bernardino City Clerk Gigi Hanna did not have sufficient grounds to disqualify a recall effort targeting City Attorney James F. Penman and council members Wendy McCammack and Chas Kelley, Superior Court Judge David Cohn ruled on August 22.
Hanna had earlier made a determination that the group San Bernardino Residents For Responsible Government would not be able to proceed with its recall effort because it had failed to include Penman’s, McCammack’s and Kelly’s responses to the stated grounds for the recall effort against them with the published notice of the group’s intent to circulate those recall petitions.
Initially, the group had indicated it would undertake the recall of Penman, the mayor and the entire city council as a gesture of dissatisfaction with municipal mismanagement that had led to the city’s filing for bankruptcy last year. It subsequently dispensed with the recall efforts against current Mayor Patrick Morris, whose term in office will expire next March and who is not seeking reelection in November, and council members Rikke Van Johnson, Robert Jenkins, Fred Shorrett, and Virginia Marquez.
Cohn ruled that as the city’s chief elections officer, Hanna was bound to accept the petitions and signatures submitted to her by the recall proponents and that she had to deliver those documents to the county registrar of voters in a timely manner, i.e., by August 23, so that Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello and his staff would be able to count and otherwise process them to meet deadlines to allow the recall election and an election to choose replacements in the event the recall is successful to be consolidated with the city’s general election in November. Hanna had already accepted a petition and signatures seeking Councilman John Valdivia’s recall. Valdivia, unlike Penman, McCammack and Kelley, had not  to offer a response to the recall advocates’ grounds for his removal from office.
The recall proponents claimed that they would have published Penman’s, McCammack’s and Kelley’s responses, but had not received them in a timely manner. The matter was complicated by the consideration that  city manager Allen Parker, with the apparent approval of the mayor, city attorney and city council, confiscated from Hanna all documentation relating to the recall and held it in his office from May 21 To June 5.
At a cost of nearly $30,000, the city had authorized the firm of Straddling Yocca Carlson & Rauth to oppose San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government’s July 29 filing for a writ of mandate with the Superior Court to force Hanna to process the recall petitions and qualify the recall vote for the ballot. Straddling Yocca Carlson & Rauth maintained that the late filing of certain recall-related documents and delays in the submission of the petitions resulted in Hanna being unable to meet the timelines to allow the recall elections of Penman, McCammack and Kelley to be consolidated with the municipal election.  Recall proponents maintain that city officials, in particular Hanna and Parker, were responsible for several of those delays.
Cohn sided with the recall proponents. Within an hour of his ruling, the recall proponents were in Hanna’s office, where they presented her with the petitions endorsed by more than 30,000 signatures to recall Penman, Councilman Chas Kelley and Councilwoman Wendy McCammack which Hanna had previously refused to accept.
As it turns out, the recall questions against Penman, Kelley and McCammack will now appear on the same ballot on which Jenkins and Shorrett will be seeking reelection to the council and upon which McCammack, Kelley and Johnson will be vying for mayor along with eight others.
By having the recall election consolidated with the regular general municipal election, the city will save roughly $130,000 over the cost of having held those elections separately.
Scott Beard, the leader of San Bernardino Residents For Responsible Government said he was heartened that “the voters of San Bernardino can finally let their voices be heard on those who led our city into bankruptcy and who have failed the city for decades before that.”

Leave a Reply