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City Council Recall Effort in Camarillo Fails, Leaders Say

Times Staff Writer

A recall effort that accused three Camarillo City Council members of mismanaging the city’s finances has failed, leaders of the drive said Tuesday.

Bob Garber, a spokesman for the recall committee, said the group stopped gathering signatures last week after collecting 4,000 of the 5,200 signatures per council member necessary to recall Mayor Tom Martin, Vice Mayor Sandi Bush and Councilwoman Charlotte Craven.

Recall proponents launched the campaign in July after it was announced that former City Treasurer Donald Tarnow had lost $25 million from Camarillo’s treasury by making highly speculative investments that failed. He was fired in February for failing to disclose the losses.

Recall supporters blamed the council for failing to supervise Tarnow. On Tuesday, Garber said a lack of manpower prevented the group from continuing to solicit signatures. The petitions are due Friday in City Hall. In addition, the recall drive fizzled because of poor timing, Garber said.

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“If we had mobilized when the issue first came to light and people were angry, then we would have had a better response,” Garber said. “Once several months went by, the loss became less of an issue.”

But Blake Boyle, a spokesman for a group called the Committee to Stop the Recall, said most Camarillo residents never blamed the City Council for the financial losses.

“We feel quite strongly that the council could not have reasonably known about the losses because Tarnow lied to them,” Boyle said. “We are very pleased that this is now behind us and feel it’s time for the city to move forward in a positive manner to deal with the financial situation.”

‘Great Relief’

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Vice Mayor Bush said the failure of the recall drive is “a great relief.” Recall supporters had ample time to gather signatures, she said.

“In 1981, we got enough signatures in about 10 days to put the city’s growth-control initiative on the ballot,” Bush said. “They’ve had months.”

Camarillo voters passed a growth-control ordinance in 1981 that limits new housing construction to 400 homes per year. Proponents of the ordinance collected 3,093 valid signatures between Feb. 2 and 17, 1981, City Clerk Marilyn Thiel said.

But Garber said many residents were afraid to sign the recall petitions for fear of retribution from the City Council.

“This council rules by intimidation, and there were lots of people, especially in the business community, who were scared to sign,” Garber said.

“That’s total bunk,” Boyle said. “The reason it failed was because there wasn’t strong community support for recall.”


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