Recall powers put to the test against Newsom, Garcetti
It was titled, “All that’s missing is the popcorn.” The writers wondered why Californians would spend $60 million to recall Davis, “who has not committed any malfeasance and whose major sin was hiding from them the seriousness of the problems ahead when he was running for re-election.”
But Californians were not amused that Davis had informed them, a couple of months after winning re-election, that the state government had an unexpected budget deficit of $35 billion and he was going to cut school and health programs, raise state university tuition and fees and triple the car tax.
The power to recall an elected official was first adopted into law in the United States in 1903 in, of all places, the city of Los Angeles. The next year, L.A. Councilman J.P. Davenport was recalled for his support of a controversial contract. The vote was 1,837 to 1,083.
The rest of California officially acquired the “right of removal” when the state constitution was amended in 1911 to adopt a package of reforms backed by Gov. Hiram W. Johnson.
Between 1903 and 2003, there were 31 separate efforts to recall governors in California, but none made it past the signature-gathering phase until Gov. Davis tripled the car tax.
Today, there are two recall efforts aimed at throwing Gov. Gavin Newsom back to private life, and there’s also an active recall effort to send Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti packing.
You can track the progress of the Newsom recalls on the secretary of state’s website at sos.ca.gov/elections/recalls/current-recall-efforts/.
A group led by former United States Senate candidate Erin Cruz, now a candidate for Congress, was first out of the gate with its recall petitions, approved for circulation on Sept. 6. The group has until Feb. 13, 2020, to gather the minimum number of valid signatures required to qualify the recall. They need 1,495,709. That’s 12% of the 12,464,235 votes cast in the last election for governor.
Under state law, each county must report to the secretary of state every 30 days on the number of unverified signatures submitted. The Cruz group’s first report covered the period between Sept. 6 and Sept. 30. They submitted 16,972 signatures. They have a long way to go.
The second group is led by Dr. James Veltmeyer, a San Diego physician. His group’s petitions were approved for circulation on Sept. 27, and their deadline to gather 1,495,709 million verified signatures is March 5. For the first reporting period, between Sept. 27 and Oct. 21, the group submitted 10 signatures.
Well, nobody said it was going to be easy.
Any registered voter in California may sign both petitions to recall the governor. Just one petition has to reach the minimum number of signatures to qualify the recall. You can download a printable official petition from the Cruz group at RANAF.org and from the Veltmeyer group at recallnewsom.us.
Only voters who are Los Angeles city residents are eligible to sign the petition to recall Garcetti. It’s not enough to have waited in line for a shuttle at city-owned LAX. It may seem that you were on the sidewalk long enough to establish residency, but you have to have a tent for that to count.
The Garcetti recall is led by Alexandra Datig, and the official petition can be downloaded at recallthelamayor.com. The group must collect 315,724 valid signatures, 15% of the registered voters in the city of Los Angeles, by Feb. 6.
If the effort to recall Garcetti gets close, someone should ask a judge why the city sets the signature requirement as a percentage of registered voters instead of votes cast, and how they determine that the voter rolls are up to date and accurate.
The “right to remove” an elected official is a powerful tool for the public to hold its government accountable.If you’re not happy with the way things are going in Los Angeles or in the state, exercise your rights.
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