A recall petition targeting two city councilmen was approved by the city clerk this week and is being circulated throughout San Juan Capistrano.
Local attorney Carlos F. Negrete and Robert P. King, the leaders of the recall drive, have targeted Mayor Kenneth E. Friess and Councilman Gary L. Hausdorfer. In the recall petition approved by the city clerk Wednesday afternoon, they charge Friess and Hausdorfer with "malfeasance and misfeasance" and "dereliction of mandated duty."
The two councilmen are also accused in the petition of putting the city in a "fiscal crisis" and favoring "special interests, development and rapid growth . . . over the rights of the residents of San Juan Capistrano."
"Basically, our goal here is to put an end to the golden handshake, the favored treatment for some, that has gone on at City Hall," Negrete said.
Friess and Hausdorfer have both denied the charges and vowed to fight any attempt at removing them from office. Neither was available for comment Thursday.
An anti-recall group, Citizens Against the Recall, has promised to help Friess and Hausdorfer and is currently soliciting funds. A barbecue fund-raiser is slated for June 22 at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Negrete and King must now collect 2,596 signatures, or 20% of the city's registered voters, in order to force a special recall election. The recall movement has until Oct. 10 to return the petition with signatures to the city clerk.
"We won't need 120 days," Negrete said. "Our polling has indicated we have the ability to gain in excess of 3,000 signatures. We want to get an election going as soon as possible."
After the petition is submitted to the city clerk, she has 30 days to verify the signatures and then must present the petition to the council, according to state government code. The council then must call for an election sometime between 88 and 120 days of that date.
The cost to the city of a recall election could be as much as $15,000, City Clerk Cheryl Johnson estimated. If a special election on the recall alone is called, the cost will be about $1 per registered voter, or $13,000, she said. If a recall election is consolidated with another election, it would cost about 60 cents per registered voter.
The county registrar of voters also charges the city about 65 cents for each signature validated on a petition, Johnson said.