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Recall petition signing started

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The petition to recall three incumbent Lincoln City Councilmen is official as of May 25, two months after they were served with recall notices. Lincoln resident Bob Birdseye served Mayor Paul Joiner and Councilmen Tom Cosgrove and Spencer Short with notices of intent to recall on March 8. “Joiner, Cosgrove and Short act like they own this city. The people of Lincoln own this city, and we’re voting to give Joiner, Cosgrove and Short layoff notices like they allowed the city manager to give to four police officers,” Birdseye said. “The budgetary problems continue to plague the city and Lincoln and there does not appear to be any solutions for new revenue streams on the horizon.” Short is calling the recall “dishonest,” Joiner said he will not let the recall “distract” him from finding solutions to the budget and Cosgrove said “resouces would be better spent working to improve our city” than on a recall election. City Clerk Pat Avila sent a letter May 25 to Birdseye about the recall petition. “On May 18, 2011, we received your revised ‘Petition(s) for recall’ and following a comprehensive review, it has been determined that the Petition(s) meet mandatory Secretary of State requirements,” Avila wrote in the letter. “With this notification, you may proceed with the collection of signatures.” Avila thanked the proponents for “ensuring all of the requirements were met.” “Now the clock starts ticking,” Avila wrote. Birdseye, spearheading the recall effort with a group of “four to five people,” said the petition was “bounced back” to him three to four times for edits. He would not name those helping with the recall effort. “I am not going to be naming people,” Birdseye said. “I just want to respect their privacy.” Recall proponents now have until Sept. 21 to collect and submit to Avila petitions signed by 4,775 “qualified registered voters.” That’s because the California Elections Code states that 20 percent of Lincoln’s registered voters must sign the petition to initiate a recall election, according to Avila. As of May 25, Lincoln has 23,786 registered voters, Avila said. Birdseye said the reason he initiated the recall is that “we need responsible and effective leadership in this town.” A special recall election could cost the city $2 to $3 per registered voter up to $8 to $9 per registered voter, according to previous News Messenger reports. The News Messenger asked Birdseye why he would initiate a recall election that would be paid out of the General Fund, which is projected to have a $431,602 deficit. “The members of the City Council, along with the city management team, are costing the city a hell of a lot more money than a special election will, because up to this point in time they are making some steps,” Birdseye said. “But I consider them to be baby steps.” Birdseye will be out for medical reasons until later this month. “Allen Cuenca will be running things,” Birdseye said. Cuenca said he has been involved in the recall effort for “a few weeks.” “Bob’s been doing everything, Bob and a few others,” Cuenca said. “When I found out, I said let me know how I can help. I’ll get signatures.” Cuenca was asked why he wanted to help. He responded that he’d “lost faith” in the three incumbent councilmembers, citing Measure K, the utility users’ tax the city failed at passing in November. “Measure K was a big one. I’m against new taxes period, out of principle,” Cuenca said. “These are super duper hard times, and to go to the public and ask them for money without making deep cuts, it’s a stretch.” Measure K would have provided revenue for General Fund funded services, which are police, fire, library and recreation, according to previous News Messenger reports. The News Messenger called the three incumbents on Tuesday to get their comments regarding the advancement of the recall effort. “I would be doing the 12,440 voters who elected me, and the citizens in Lincoln in general, a great disservice if I were to allow the actions of a few individuals to distract me from working toward solutions to the very difficult and complex challenges (that) confront our community,” Joiner said. Cosgrove called for an “objective analysis by the media.” “(An analysis) will show that the claims made for a recall are simply not true,” Cosgrove said. “As a community, our time and resources would be better spent working to improve our city, not spending nearly $200,000 of taxpayer money on a recall, money that comes from the General Fund that supports public safety.” Cosgrove added that “the time to settle this issue would be at the next election cycle which would follow a possible recall election by only months.” Short, on Tuesday, called the recall “fundamentally dishonest.” “Because of the things they are suggesting that are recallable, the fact that we put forward Measure K, the primary reason for collecting signatures,” Short said. “The proxy of this recall group on the council have suggested we need revenue so I view it as fundamentally dishonest.” The proxy Short was referring to are Councilmen Stan Nader and Gabriel Hydrick. “It’s their people who are supporting the recall,” Short said. “These are the people who supported Stan and Gabe, and now Stan and Gabe are saying we need a revenue measure. I just find that fundamentally dishonest.” The News Messenger asked both Nader and Hydrick for a response to Short’s comments. “I didn’t totally dismiss the fact that there was revenue needed. I just wanted to go about it in a different manner,” Nader said Tuesday. “I expected the city to be more accountable and more transparent in a way that they are presenting the numbers. That was a very important part of why people did not support Measure K because they lost trust in the city and we have to build that trust back.” Nader added “the city staff is resisting my moves to make the numbers more accountable and understandable to the public.” “We’ve been asking and all we get is ‘We’re too busy with the budget,’” Nader said. Hydrick said what Short said “sounds like an emotional response.” “As far as the people, I don’t know what he means by my or our people. I don’t have any people, not that I’m aware,” Hydrick said. “I supported myself and I was against Measure K and I’m still against Measure K.” Hydrick said the tax was “ill-prepared” and that “it was not clearly identified what we would be getting in return for the money.”