By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY-TUESDAY, JULY 28-29, 2014) — THE PLANET has been asked about the recall process for an elected public official in Pittsfield, a city “led” by a part-time, no-show mayor up to his ass in the scandalous muck of Pittsfield’s swamp politics.
The buzz about a recall effort has become hard to ignore. The city’s new charter provides a recall mechanism for We The People to correct electoral mistakes — in Bianchi’s case, what turned out to be a colossal mistake.
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Recall is Largely a Local Mechanism, Eminently Doable
Recall is a political mechanism by which citizens can remove an office holder before his or her term expires. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, historically, recall efforts occur most often at the local level.
Contrary to assumed belief, local recall efforts aren’t typically based on allegations of criminal wrongdoing or other “large” matters. Rather, “mayors are being targeted over issues that in most places would hardly generate headlines. Johnstown, Colo., Mayor Mark Romanowski survived a recall election earlier this year that was prompted, in part, by residents’ opposition to a plan to switch from diagonal to parallel parking spaces. Ogden, Kan., Mayor Jimmy Bonds lost a recall election last year after firing two lifeguards. Opponents said he overstepped his bounds” (Ryan Holeywell, April 2011, at government.com. Here’s the hot link):
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THE PLANET would suggest Bianchi has far exceeded the threshold needed for a recall effort.
From Encyclopedia Britannica: “[R]ecall is designed to ensure an elected official will act in the interests of his constituency rather than in the interests of his political party or according to his own conscience.” It is also designed to remove officials who ignores constituents for selfish purposes or to advance the causes of The Special Interests, as TES has done.
Here’s the oath of office Bianchi took in January:
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An oath is an affirmation. It is not ceremonial. It means something. Bianchi swore to “faithfully and impartially perform all of the duties” of his office, according to federal, state, and local law, including “the ordinances of the city of Pittsfield.” He has neither been faithful nor impartial on matters that go far beyond “parallel parking,” laying a green, globby “loogie” all over the oath.
The City Charter Speaks
Here’s how the charter handles recall:
Application – Any holder of an elected office in the city, with more than six months remaining in the term of office for which the officer was elected, may be recalled therefrom by the voters of the city in the manner provided in this section. No recall petition shall be filed against an officer within six months after taking office.
Recall Petition – A recall petition may be initiated by the filing of an affidavit containing the name of the officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall, provided that the affidavit is signed by at least 500 voters for the office of mayor or councilor-at-large and at least 300 voters for any other elected officials; provided, however, that the signatures for a recall petition for the office of ward city councilor shall be from certified voters in the ward for which the councilor was elected. The city clerk shall thereupon deliver to those voters making the affidavit copies of petition blanks demanding such recall, copies of which printed forms the city clerk shall keep available. The blanks shall be issued by the city clerk, with signature and official seal attached thereto. The blanks shall be dated, shall be addressed to the city council and shall contain the names of all the persons to whom the blanks are issued, the number of blanks so issued, the name of the person whose recall is sought, the office from which removal is sought and the grounds of recall as stated in the affidavit. A copy of the petition shall be entered in a record book to be kept in the office of the city clerk. Said recall petition shall be returned and filed with the city clerk within 28 days after the filing of the affidavit, and shall have been signed by at least 20% of the voters of the city for any officer elected at large and signed by at least 20% of the voters of the ward for an officer elected by ward. The city clerk shall submit the petition to the registrars of voters and the registrars shall, within five days, certify thereon the number of signatures which are names of voters.
Recall Election – If the petition shall be found and certified by the city clerk to be sufficient, the city clerk shall submit the same with such certificate to the city council within five days, and the city council shall give written notice of the receipt of the certificate to the officer sought to be recalled and shall, if the officer does not resign within five days thereafter, order an election to be held on a date fixed by the city council not less than 64 days and not more than 90 days after the date of the city clerk’s certificate that a sufficient petition has been filed; provided, however, that if any other city election is to occur within 120 days after the date of the certificate, the city council shall postpone the holding of the recall election to the date of such other election. If a vacancy occurs in said office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall not proceed as provided in this section.
Office Holder – The incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election. If said incumbent is not recalled, the incumbent shall continue in office for the remainder of the unexpired term subject to recall as before. If recalled, the officer shall be deemed removed and the office vacant. The vacancy created thereby shall be filled under articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this charter for filling vacancies in such office. A person chosen to fill the vacancy caused by a recall shall hold office until the next regular city election. Should the person be a candidate in the subsequent election, that person will not be allowed to have “candidate for reelection” appear on the ballot at such election.
Ballot Proposition – The form of the question to be voted upon shall be substantially as follows:
“Shall [here insert the name and title of the elective officer whose recall is sought] be recalled?”
If a majority of the votes cast upon the question of recall is in the affirmative, such elected officer shall be recalled.
Repeat of Recall – In the case of an officer subjected to a recall election and not recalled thereby, no recall petition shall be filed against such officer until at least 270 days after the election at which the officer’s recall was submitted to the voters of the city.
Office Holder Recalled – No person who has been recalled from an office or who has resigned from office while recall proceedings were pending against such person shall be appointed to any city office within two years after such recall or such resignation.
For any measure to be effective under initiative procedure and for any measure to be declared null and void under a referendum procedure and for any recall election, at least 20% of the voters as of the most recent regular city election must vote at an election that includes on the ballot submission to the voters of one or more initiative or referendum or recall questions.
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A recall effort may be asking you to get involved and flex your electoral muscles. Think of it as not just an offer but an opportunity. Think of it as an opportunity — to wrest back control of your government from the corruptive elements that hold hostage. Sooner or later, one way or the other, Bianchi must go.
“In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there. One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you. Ten true summer we’ll be there and laughing too.” — Yes, “The Roundabout,” (1973).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.