COEUR d'ALENE - Despite a rally, chanting and signs, the petitions to launch a recall effort on four Coeur d'Alene City Council officials didn't pass legal muster, meaning they'll have to be submitted again.
The ones submitted to the city Wednesday morning lacked a reason the citizen group, called Recall CdA, wants to remove the officials. That means Frank Orzell, who is spearheading the effort, will have to drop off completed versions to get the process under way.
"Not a problem," Orzell said outside City Hall around noon Wednesday after learning the news, some two hours after 75 or so people, some with signs and chanting, rallied outside City Hall in snow and sleet in support of the recall.
The incomplete documents didn't state a reason for the recall to remove City Council incumbents Woody McEvers, Deanna Goodlander, Mike Kennedy and Mayor Sandi Bloem. They only stated the authority granted under the Idaho Constitution to allow the citizenry to do so.
A reason is needed, the city clerk's office said after its legal team reviewed the petitions, so the city can formulate language to counter the effort so Coeur d'Alene voters can decide when they vote in November - if the matter gets that far.
Orzell said the group will craft that language, and will deliver the new 20 signatures - the amount required to begin each recall petition - to the city clerk's office today. City Clerk Susan Weathers said once the documents are delivered, it could take a day or two to certify, after which the group has 75 days to collect 4,311 signatures from registered Coeur d'Alene voters on each petition to get the recall effort on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The reasons for the recall effort stated in a press release from the group targeted the incumbents primarily for their stances on McEuen Field, but cited other issues as well, like employee salaries.
People gathered outside City Hall before Orzell delivered the petitions. Orzell pumped his fist in the air while the crowd chanted.
Some held signs that read "stop spending our money" and "get the vote they denied us," referencing the council's decision not to issue a public advisory vote.
"If they are so sure this is what the majority wanted, then why not give us a vote?" said Darlene Blomgren, standing in the crowd. "It's always been the American way - the majority rules."
A few people stood nearby in a counter protest, holding signs of support for the incumbents.
Jennifer Drake, accompanied by husband Ben and friend Sara Meyer, showed up to support the mayor and council members, as she has done at several McEuen Field meetings in the last year.
They believe redeveloping McEuen Field is a positive step for future generations in Coeur d'Alene. She said those opposed to McEuen Field, or in favor of the recall, are misinformed and use exaggerated numbers when it comes to the park cost.
She said the council has showed compromise by scaling back Phase 1 of the park plan, but "no matter how much they compromise, these people want more and more and more."
The most senior councilman, Ron Edinger, hasn't seen a recall in Coeur d'Alene in his 57 years of living here.
Edinger wasn't targeted by the recall. He said he's disappointed in the depth of disagreement leading to a recall attempt but doesn't regret bringing the McEuen Field debate to meetings repeatedly.
"I'm very disappointed this is happening in Coeur d'Alene," he said. "This council and I have worked together on many issues, agreeing and disagreeing. McEuen is a very polarizing issue and many in our community, I think, feel strongly about this. This has caused a definite split in our community."
Orzell said the group has around 50 volunteers so far to go door-to-door seeking signatures, which will be the main approach it takes.
All of the council members not targeted said they didn't - and wouldn't - have anything to do with the effort.
Dan Gookin - who called threats of recall excessive in a Press article before the Jan. 17 advisory vote decision - said it would be "inappropriate" to weigh in.
"This is backlash," council member Steve Adams said earlier this week. "It's not a surprise, I guess."