PARKERSBURG - The Parkersburg Tea Party is moving forward with its attempt to recall city officials, but many questions surround the effort.
Sandy Staats, president of the Parkersburg Tea Party, said the group is proceeding with its recall effort of Mayor Bob Newell and members of city council who voted in favor of the user fee.
"We have to get an affidavit that has to be notarized and turned into the city before we can start collecting signatures," Staats said, adding petitions for the recall should be prepared today.
"They have to be written up a certain way, following the (city) charter on petition rules," Staats said.
Staats said the tea party is not pursuing a referendum on the user fee, but the recall of Newell and the five council members (Nancy Wilcox, Sharon Lynch, John Rockhold, Tom Joyce and Jim Reed) who voted in favor of it.
"We are not trying to recall the law; we are trying to recall bad officials," she said. "That vote is a prime example of elected officials going against the wishes of the citizens."
The Issue At Hand
Sandy Staats of the Parkersburg Tea Party said the group is proceeding with recall effort of mayor and some members of city council.
There is some question as to how long Tea Party officials have to engage a recall.
City Attorney Joe Santer said council members would be subject to a citywide petition.
Staats alleges there is a lot of waste in city government, mismanagement of funds and uncollected taxes and fees.
Staats said officials have sought opinions from city officials, the state attorney general's office and other area attorneys regarding recall procedures. Staats said there is some dispute as to how long tea party officials have to engage a recall. City Clerk Connie Shaffer said the group has 30 days to secure a recall petition. Shaffer said the group has until Feb. 14. According to Shaffer the group's recall clock started Jan. 13, when Staats came in to discuss the recall.
Staats maintains the state attorney general's office and other attorneys have said the group is allowed 45 days for a recall effort.
Shaffer said the recall section of the city charter refers to a section on petitions that allows for 30 days.
"Unless a higher authority decides otherwise," she said.
To enact a recall, a petition must contain the signatures of at least 20 percent of the total number of qualified city voters. The petition must be verified by the petitioner and certified by the city clerk, according to the charter.
City Attorney Joe Santer said council members would be subject to a citywide petition, not one limited to their respective districts.
If the petition is successful, a city election will be held asking voters if the mayor and/or individual members of city council shall be removed from office. According to her timeline, Shaffer said the election would be held at the end of July, about six months before residents begin filing as candidates for office for the 2012 general election.
If any members of council are recalled, it is treated as a vacancy, with the Democratic or Republican executive committee (depending on the council member's affiliation) nominating three people to the mayor for appointment.
If the mayor is recalled, the executive committee would submit three names for consideration to council, even if there are only four council members in office, according to Santer.
Santer said any recalled officials would be removed from office upon certification of the election.
"It's a mess," Staats said. "One big legal mess, but we are going to proceed."