Petition drive pinched - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Petition drive pinched

City correct: 75 days total to collect, certify signatures

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Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:15 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Petitioners gathering signatures to springboard a recall election on four Coeur d'Alene incumbents will have less than 75 days to collect enough autographs to make that happen.

That's the verdict after the Secretary of State's office reversed its initial interpretation of statutes that govern the process.

The 75-day timeline to gather signatures includes the 15 business days the Kootenai County Clerk's office will have to certify them, the Secretary of State's office wrote Wednesday in a letter to Coeur d'Alene City Clerk Susan Weathers.

That means the city had been correct all along, and the 15-day certification time frame has to be factored into the 75-day window - not added to it.

"We agree with you," Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst wrote. "In order to avoid a court challenge of the recall election, petitioners need to submit their petitions to you well in advance of the June 19th deadline so the signatures can be examined and certified by the county clerk within that deadline."

Staff from the offices of Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden reviewed the statutes in light of Coeur d'Alene's interpretation.

The statute says signatures on the petitions have to be certified to show proof they are registered voters by the time the petitions get to the city clerk's office, which Coeur d'Alene's legal department pointed out. In order to be certified, it said, the county clerk has to certify them.

Earlier in the week, the Secretary of State's office had said the 15-day certification time frame should be added on top of the 75-day signature gathering period.

Questions about "perfected" and "certified" signatures caused confusion between the county and city, but Hurst's letter said Idaho statute 34-1807 clarifies the requirement.

"We're all in this together, to make sure everything is done right," said Mike Gridley, city attorney. "We're just trying to deal with something that's a very unusual situation, and dealing with it fairly and correctly."

The change means recall petitioners will have less time than originally thought to collect 4,311 signatures from valid Coeur d'Alene voters. They're trying to get a recall election on the ballot for City Council members Mike Kennedy, Woody McEvers, Deanna Goodlander and Mayor Sandi Bloem.

How long the county would need to certify thousands of signatures on four petitions, Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes couldn't say.

But however long his office would need would directly affect how long signature gatherers will have to collect them, so long as the finished product is at the city clerk's office by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 19.

"That's a bit of disappointment," Hayes said Wednesday, after he had sided with the earlier opinion that the 15 days should be added to the 75. "The Secretary of State said one thing, and now they're saying something different."

Hayes is meeting with Coeur d'Alene officials Friday to talk about the state's opinion.

"There are a lot of questions," he said.

It's the first time the recall statute dealing with the timeline has been questioned since 2004, when it was amended from 60 days to 75 days. While there have been recall elections since then, Hurst said, none has been in a district as large as Coeur d'Alene, so deadlines never played a prominent part.

"This is the first one that's come up that's been large enough to push that date," Hurst said.

The citizen group, RecallCdA, is seeking the ouster of the four incumbents largely for their support of the McEuen Field redevelopment project - and not supporting a public advisory vote on it.

Frank Orzell, RecallCdA organizer, said the flip-flopping on the June 19 deadline since Orzell launched the recall effort has been frustrating.

"We're confused by this turn of events," he said. "And there is a question of trust."

He said the recall group is confident it will meet the 4,311 signature threshold regardless of the cutoff date, but added it wouldn't be surprising if dates shifted again.

"We got what we thought was a definitive statement, now that's been retracted," he said. "How do we know that's any more definitive than the one that's been retracted?"

The change also means - if the process gets that far - that a recall election could be Aug. 28, not Nov. 6.

That would be the first available date the city clerk could select for an election.

The other three dates are in November, March and May, but it is the Secretary of State office's opinion that the clerk choose the earliest allowable election date as not to delay the constitutional right of the electors for a recall, Hurst said.

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  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 2:18 pm on Fri, Apr 20, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 181

    Come on Tommy Boy, if your story is the letter. Obviously you are not correct. So much for honest journalism from you.

  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 7:12 am on Fri, Apr 20, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 181

    Still waiting for a copy of the letter from the SoS. Tommy Boy, put it up. I REALLY would like to read the letter because I can not believe that the SoS reversed its position.

  • 56YearOldNativeWithAVoice posted at 4:34 pm on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    56YearOldNativeWithAVoice Posts: 150

    Great "Letters of Support" for Mayor Bloem and Council members from The CDA Tribe, NIBCA, CDA Chamber of Commerce, CDA Downtown Association, City of Fernan, Fire and Police Departments.
    All can be viewed, I beleive, at Spoksman Review Huckleberries Column.

  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 3:16 pm on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 181

    Did the story writer actually see a copy of the letter he wrote the letter?If so, did he actually read the letter? I would like to have a copy of it linked to this story so that it can be read. I seriously doubt that the Secretary of State's office "reversed" its initial interpretation. SO PLEASE POST OR LINK THE LETTER. I for one don't believe a thing that this person writes and I would like to read the letter.

  • Timeless posted at 2:21 pm on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Timeless Posts: 479

    Williamwmiller: put the bottle down, it's too early to be drinking, you are not making any sense.

  • Mark on the Park posted at 11:35 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Mark on the Park Posts: 471

    JQ: You are correct, it will be easy to collect the requisite number of signatures. But maybe the organizers want as much time as possible to let procrastinators participate. Maybe they just want the extra time to relish the have with it, if you will. That sounds like a good idea, I'm sure you would agre.?

  • JonnyQPubic posted at 11:05 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    JonnyQPubic Posts: 325

    Not dreaming JoeIdaho, just an observation. If you & the recall gang claim to represent "the people" then getting signatures should be a snap. Why cry about 15 days when, if representative of "the people", you should already have the petitions filled?

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 9:57 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    I hope the recall organizers will listen.

    Stop this petition, start a new one, they are hoping to have the recall on a special august election, and this reinterpretation guarantees it. Rewrite the petition and submit 20 new signatures, restart the clock. You only have till late June to make to change. But the printing requirements to get it in the general election without extra costs that to city can balk about and push it to the spring needs to be looked at too.

  • milburnschmidt posted at 9:54 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    Since recalls are not a new idea it seems a little strange there could be a difference of opinion on a law that plain. Certainly the county needs time to peruse the signatures but if it comes up again for the other side to want a recall we will see if the rules are the same. If there is a groundswell it seems two months are enough time to get signed up.

  • ancientemplar posted at 9:31 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1227

    Thanks for the heads up Gary."used the wrong code citation. 34-1807 deals with initiatives and referendums. Recalls are in Chapter 17." Sounds like a law suit in the making if there is a time glitch in the process. The city can ill-afford another legal loss like the Dixon case.

  • WilliamWMiller posted at 9:23 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    WilliamWMiller Posts: 106

    Son says of the recalled, if they get away this time they are pretty much toast, no french toast next election cycle anyway. Why prolong the agony?

  • WilliamWMiller posted at 9:21 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    WilliamWMiller Posts: 106

    the big thing here is the 15 days lets them squirm the election off 6 november increasing their chances of not getting the ax

  • WilliamWMiller posted at 9:21 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    WilliamWMiller Posts: 106

    Yea Ingram who are you to tell Hurst anything, except most likely your the author of the legislation he has to go by. Hurst and Wendy 's daddy go way back Gary don't you know that.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:35 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Keep dreamin jonnypubi.
    The recall will be successful, and then they'll have to stop spending money they don't own.

  • Gary Ingram posted at 7:38 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    Gary Ingram Posts: 90

    Interesting that the Deputy Secretary of State, Hurst reversed his earlier reading of the law and in so doing used the wrong code citation. 34-1807 deals with initiatives and referendums. Recalls are in Chapter 17. But who am I to tell the state how to read the law?

  • JonnyQPubic posted at 7:35 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    JonnyQPubic Posts: 325

    Recall says it speaks for the people. If it does these signatures should be easy to get in less than 60 days. If they can't, well, maybe that says more about their efforts than you might imagine.

  • I Carry posted at 5:29 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 468

    So, it sounds like he CDA RECALL has 60 days to gather signatures and Mr. Hayes has 15? days to check them??? So be it.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 5:12 am on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Anything for the government to make it harder...

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