Recall has mixed emotions

Residents remember turmoil from 1994 event
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A possible recall of three City Council members is stirring up memories of a recall 17 years ago. Some residents say a recall could divide Lincoln in two and other residents contacted by The News Messenger say a recall is needed. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, resident Bob Birdseye presented a petition, signed by 110 residents, asking to recall Mayor Paul Joiner and Councilman Spencer Short and Tom Cosgrove if council doesn’t remove Lincoln’s city manager and assistant city manager. Some residents who say a recall could divide the town in two witnessed firsthand the City Council recall in 1994. Newly-elected Councilman Stan Nader was one of the council members recalled in 1994. “It divided people, divided friendships,” Nader said of that recall. “I was told that there were people who were close friends who didn’t speak to each other for 10 years because they had differing opinions on the recall.” The 1994 recall took place because the City Council implemented a utility users’ tax without going to the voters, which they were allowed to do at the time, according to Nader. “It did tear the community up,” Nader said. “At this point, I would oppose a recall because, during City Council meetings, some existing council members have demonstrated a cooperative spirit.” Shirley Russell, a longtime Lincoln resident and community volunteer, said a recall would “tear the town in two.” There was “a lot of anger and a lot of animosity” during the last recall of the City Council, pitting “people against people and family against family,” according to Russell. “People talked about it and the anger grew,” Russell said. “Let’s pick up the pieces from here instead of being more destructive.” Russell doesn’t want the three City Council members to step down. “The council knows there’s a watchdog out there now,” Russell said. “They are capable of changing the way the city is run.” Former City Councilwoman Linda Stackpoole, who lost her council seat in the November election, also would not support a recall. “I wouldn’t support recalling any council members unless you can find malfeasance or fraud,” Stackpoole said. “We went through a recall that tore this community apart for 10 years.” Stackpoole said the “community stopped being friendly” after the recall. “I don’t want us to go through that again,” Stackpoole said. “The community was divided and it took a long time for people to become friendly with each other again.” Stackpoole also said the state of California “needs to revise their laws related to recalls” to match what some other states require for a recall. “Before you can solicit signatures, you have to go to a judge and prove fraud or malfeasance,” Stackpoole said of recall law in other states. “There’s nothing illegal about what this current council is doing. There’s been no malfeasance or fraud taking place.” But other residents contacted by The News Messenger welcome a recall. Reid Barney, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council this November, said the recall would not divide the city. “If supporters of City Council are there, I’m not seeing them as being very vocal,” Barney said. “There doesn’t seem to be that alternate voice stepping up for the City Council and city management.” He gave one reason why the recall “would be a good idea.” “The people that made the decisions that brought us to where we are still in power and are not showing the people any solutions for how to fix it, and they’ve had plenty of time to find adequate solutions,” Barney said. Jeff Greenberg “is in the middle” when it comes to whether the three council members should be recalled. “I’m concerned about the circumstances involved in a recall. If the citizens want this, do they have three candidates in mind who will think outside of the box,” Greenberg said. “Will they be able to put this on the ballot for the special election (to fill Ted Gaines assembly seat) or will the city of Lincoln have to foot the bill?” Stackpoole pointed out that a recall election could cost the General Fund and wanted to know if those calling for the recall are “willing to pay for the election.” Richard Pearl, who also ran unsuccessfully for the November election, said he would “not be in favor of a recall.” “We don’t have a city of Bell situation with officials ripping off the city,” Pearl said. “I don’t see any malfeasance or misconduct, the historical rationale for a recall, by our councilmen. The missteps that occurred over the past years were not made for persona aggrandizement by City Council members but for the intended positive growth of our city and our citizens.” Pearl also said a recall would be “expensive and divisive to the community.” “We have some very serious financial challenges ahead of us and we should be using our energy towards designing solutions,” Pearl said. Resident Terrie Robinson said on Jan. 10 she would like to see an “accurate picture of the city’s finances” and a solution for the General Fund budget deficit. “I’m sensitive to the fact that the last recall tore this town apart, however, I’m in the problem solving business,” Robinson said. “If the only way to solve these two problems is a recall of the incumbent City Council, I’m for it because I want to solve the problems and move on. If we can solve it without a recall, that’s fine, but I want to solve it no matter what it takes.”