Political leaders here agree that the competing recall efforts launched last week against all five City Council members are foolish, divisive and bad for the city’s image.
But they are pressing ahead anyway, scrambling to recall one another, apparently over long-standing political feuds.
Both sides filed formal notices with the city clerk Tuesday that they will continue the recall fever that broke out a week earlier at a council meeting.
During that meeting, recall notices were served on Mayor Kathleen Navejas and her two council allies, Rosalie M. Sher and Venn Furgeson. Within minutes, Navejas and her supporters served recall notices on the remaining two council members, H.M. (Lennie) Wagner and Donald Schultze.
‘A Negative Situation’
When people are attacked they have to “retaliate” to protect themselves, the mayor said this week. She and her husband, Carlos, a former mayor, are trying to recall Wagner and Schultze. But the mayor added, “Nobody wants to waste their energy on a negative situation like this.”
Wagner and Schultze, Navejas says, helped launch the recall movement against her, Furgeson and Sher. “If there’s a recall on three of us,” Navejas vowed during a telephone interview, “there will be a recall on everybody.”
Navejas said she and her husband are willing to drop their recall effort against Wagner and Schultze if the recall effort against Navejas, Furgeson and Sher is dropped.
The mayor says the recall effort against the council majority actually is being led by three former council members who want to regain their power in city politics. She identified them as Lupe Cabrera, a former mayor, and Margaret and Richard Vineyard, who are husband and wife. She said Wagner and Schultze aided the recall effort.
Cabrera denied any involvement. “I am against recalls unless a person did something really bad,” he said.
Margaret Vineyard also denied any involvement, saying that she has better things to do than work on a recall campaign. “Somebody’s always recalling somebody in that city,” she said. “It’s their favorite pastime, I guess.” She said her husband was not involved “because, first of all, he doesn’t know how.”
Schultze also said he was not involved in a recall effort. After the formal recall notices were filed with the clerk, Schultze issued a statement saying Wagner and the Vineyards started the recall effort against the mayor and the two council members.
“I had no part in the recall even though I got blamed for it,” Schultze said.
Wagner said she was ill and had “no comment on anything at this time.”
The recall notices against Wagner and Schultze were signed by Public Safety Commissioner Art Perez, a Navejas appointee. The recall notices against the three other members of the council were signed by Joseph Barrios, a part-time outreach worker at Cerritos College.
In his statement, Schultze said that he believes Barrios’ “embarrassing antics” can be traced to the Vineyards and Wagner.
A recall election will cost the city about $8,000, according to City Clerk Carol Dorfmeyer. Under state election law governing recalls, the clerk must review and certify the recall notices that were filed on Tuesday and then mail them to the various council members for responses to allegations against them. The recall allegations against the various council members range from malfeasance to allowing oneself to be manipulated.
Once the targets of the recall reply, backers have 60 days to collect signatures on petitions asking for a special election. At least 850 of the city’s approximately 3,500 voters must sign one or both of the recall petitions to force special election is to be held.