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2 Hermosa Councilmen Face Second Recall Bid : Politics: Robert Benz, Sam Edgerton are accused of ‘obnoxious behavior.’ Benz calls charges ‘silly.’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the second time in a year, Hermosa Beach Councilmen Robert (Bergie) Benz and Sam Edgerton are fighting off critics who want them thrown out of office for “obnoxious behavior” and “foul language.”

A group of residents, including former council members Roger D. Creighton and Nola June Williams, gave notice last week to the city clerk that they intend to circulate recall petitions against the councilmen.

The notices accuse Benz and Edgerton of using “foul language,” and having an “obnoxious and condescending attitude toward city staff, the public and city commissioners.”

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Benz is accused of having a “casual, cavalier and irresponsible attitude” toward controlled substances, while Edgerton is accused of having the same attitude toward alcoholic beverages.

The councilmen’s “total disdain and disregard for the importance of setting a good example for our children, the image of our city and our citizens is unacceptable and inexcusable,” the notices read.

Benz dismissed the allegations as “silly,” saying that they appear to stem from his participation in the Ironman, a controversial Fourth of July endurance event in which contestants must run a mile, paddle a mile on a surfboard and then chug a six-pack of beer without vomiting.

“There’s two camps,” said Benz. “One (group)--and this is a very small fraction--wants me recalled because of the Ironman. The other, much larger portion of the populace, wants me recalled because I came in second place instead of first.”

Edgerton, who attended the event as a spectator but did not participate, could not be reached for comment.

However, he was quoted in a local weekly saying, “They are trying to tie me in with Mr. Benz and insinuate that I was in the Ironman and drinking on the beach. That is a lie. I don’t condone public drinking on the beach.”

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Benz and Edgerton have until Wednesday to respond in writing to the allegations. Their responses would be circulated with the petitions.

Once the city clerk’s office approves the format of the petition, recall advocates have 120 days to collect the signatures of at least 20% of the registered voters. The city had 14,999 registered voters at last count, said Deputy City Clerk Naoma Valdes. Twenty percent of that number is 2,999.

Benz and Edgerton were targeted in a recall attempt last year, but that effort died when proponents were unable to collect enough signatures.

Once the required signatures have been gathered and verified, state law requires the City Council to schedule a recall election in no less than 88 days and no more than 125 days.

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