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Friday, Jul 26, 2013 - Last Blog on Earth | News

Recall overhaul

Council member asks for policy review

By Joshua Emerson Smith
IMG_1946 Mayor Bob Filner at today's press conference
- Photo by Kelly Davis
Amid sexual harassment allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, city leaders are taking a close look at flaws in the city's recall law.  

Despite Filner’s vow to enter treatment at a packed press conference today, opponents have pledged to move forward with a recall effort.

La Jolla land-use attorney Michael Pallamary says he'll kick off his recall campaign in earnest on Monday and LGBT Weekly publisher Stampp Corbin, an ally of the mayor, published a notice of his intent to circulate a petition, Voice of San Diego reported, apparently to thwart other recall efforts. Petitioners would have 39 days to collect 101,596 signatures, with an additional 30-day extension should they fall short.

But, in May, VoSD raised questions about the constitutionality of the city’s recall-election rules. As Zachary Warma wrote:
The city’s Municipal Code, which lays out the rules for the process, contains what could be a key flaw. Chapter 2, Article 7, Section 27.2726 of the law, states, under a heading “Validity of Votes Cast,” “No vote cast for a candidate shall be counted unless the voter also voted on the recall question.”
Basically, if you want to vote for a new official to replace the booted one, you have to have also voted on whether to recall the official in the first place.
That provision could spell trouble for the city—a federal court has already struck down a similar statewide rule.

The City Attorney and City Clerk have been reviewing the law. And, today, City Councilmember Mark Kersey sent a memo to City Council President Todd Gloria urging expediency.

"Given the events of the past few weeks and the strong possibility of a recall petition's being circulated, we have an obligation to reconcile our Municipal Code with state law," Kersey wrote.  

In the memo, Kersey asks Gloria to docket the matter at the next council meeting. A spokesperson for Gloria told CityBeat that September is the soonest this could happen. The council has two more meetings scheduled before going on recess in August.

Update: In a memo this afternoon, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith says San Diego's recall law "would be found unconstitutional if challenged in court" and that it should be "promptly" repealed. 
 
 
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