Better Late Than Never

24Feb09

You read it in The Fairfield Weekly:

http://www.fairfieldweekly.com/
Throw the Bums Out!
Rep. Andres Ayala of Bridgeport takes another run at passing a bill that would allow citizens to recall town officials

Thursday, February 26, 2009
By Daniel D’Ambrosio
Many mayors in Connecticut have faced legal trouble. Clockwise from top left: Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, Waterbury mayor Philip Giordano and Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim

Rep. Andres Ayala, a second-term state legislator from Bridgeport, wants voters to have the power to recall any elected town official who has betrayed their trust in one of several specified ways, including the rather broad transgression of “malfeasance that adversely affects the rights and interests of the public.”

…That’s where House Bill 5827 comes in. The bill provides for recall not only in the case of malfeasance, but also misappropriation of public property of funds, violation of the oath of office, any felony conviction, and failure to perform any duty prescribed by law.

It would only take three registered voters to begin the recall process by filing a joint affidavit with the town clerk that names the official in question, requests recall petition forms and details the alleged grounds for the recall. Then the disaffected town residents have 60 days to collect enough signatures of registered voters to force a referendum on whether to throw the official out of office.

The number of signatures required is tied to the population in order to keep the bar consistently high. On one end, the scale requires the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in cities with populations of 100,000 or more. On the other end, it requires the signatures of 30 percent of registered voters in towns with populations of less than 1,000. In Hartford it would require 10 percent of the 50,517 registered voters, or about 5,000 signatures.

Once enough signatures are collected and a referendum is set, the proposed legislation requires only a simple majority of votes to remove the targeted official from office, but the referendum is only valid if at least 25 percent of the registered voters take part. Ayala said he wanted to set the bar fairly high to preclude frivolous recalls — over the mayor’s having raised taxes, for example.

“What we’re talking about is when a mayor does something so heinous or outrageous it goes beyond his normal duties of running a city,” said Ayala. “That’s what I’m targeting. We don’t want to make it easy.”

…That comes as no surprise to Clyde McKee, a professor of political science at Trinity College who is retiring this year after 44 years of teaching. McKee said the recall provision is “not a strong element in Connecticut’s political culture,” and he gives Ayala’s bill little chance of passing.

“If you’re asking me to bet on it,” said McKee, “I would bet that even though there’s a serious problem of metastasized corruption in this state, it won’t fly.”

I think Professor McKee would change his mind if he lived in Stratford. Are you listening Mr. Backer? Mr. Debicella?

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3 Responses to “Better Late Than Never”

  1. 1 sudds

    Is it just me, or does the signature threshold seem way too low??? * Can a Mayor really be effective if he’s constantly dodging “impeachment” votes???

    *this excludes Stratford, where 80+% of the signatures would be disallowed anyway!!!

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    Just getting a petition is one thing. Getting signatures from that many registered voters is another.

    Unless, of course, it’s Miron. Then people come looking for you with pens in their hand to sign it.

    If Councilmen could be recalled, why not a mayor?

  3. 3 1george1

    DEMONcrats like Dead Beat Dick traditionally wind up getting votes from
    people who have passed away.
    I wonder if the TOMB STONE “SHELL GAME” could come back to “debunk them?”
    I wonder if the GHOSTS of CHRISTMAS PAST will “haunt them?”

    The LOW thresh hold of necessary petitioners for RECALL and other petitions
    are a recognition about the low voter turn out of normally 40 %.

    Thanks to C. R. C. # 1 we have a NEW POSITION of MAYOR, which is KNOWN
    to NOT be protected by the GRANDFATHERED RIGHTS of the “SPECIAL ACT
    CHARTER” and is jurisdictional to the “HOME RULE ACT.”

    The gang of the Town Committee Lawyers KNEW exactly what they were doing
    in creating a NEW MAYORAL POSITION, with NO RECALL ability by LAW!


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