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AGOURA HILLS : Recall Group Disputes Count of Signatures

Saying they are down but not out, members of a group trying to recall the five-member Agoura Hills City Council have challenged the county’s declaration that the group failed to gather enough signatures to force an election.

Recall group members went to City Hall on Monday to challenge the count, which had been conducted at the Los Angeles County clerk / registrar-recorder’s office. The petitions containing the signatures were returned to City Hall on Friday after the office determined that the number of signatures on the petitions was insufficient to force a recall election.

The recall group is now looking at “what signatures were disqualified, and why,” said Barbara Murphy, the recall leader.

“I’m frankly annoyed because we know we had enough signatures.”

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The group needed 2,405 signatures--20% of the city’s registered voters--for each of the five council members targeted, officials said. According to the county office, the group fell short in all five cases.

County spokeswoman Grace Romero said there were 3,308 signatures gathered to recall Ed Corridori, 1,614 of which were valid. For Fran Pavley, 3,375 signatures were turned in and 2,352 were valid, she said. There were 3,332 signatures turned in to recall Louise Rishoff, 1,854 of which were valid, Romero said.

Of the 3,322 signatures submitted to recall Joan Yacovone, Romero said, 1,685 were valid. For Denis Weber, 3,314 signatures were turned in, and 1,582 were deemed valid, she said.

Several people asked to have their names withdrawn from the petitions, Romero said. Twenty-nine asked to have their names removed from the Corridori, Pavley and Rishoff petitions, Romero said, and 31 asked to have their names removed from the Weber and Yacovone petitions, she said.

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Yacovone said Monday that she believes that the county’s count was accurate.

“The county did a very, very thorough job, and I understand that each signature was checked three times by different people, so I would find it difficult to think that there were too many mistakes,” she said.

The process of recounting the signatures was expected to last at least through this week, Murphy said. Three people from the recall group were on hand Monday at City Hall to begin the process, she said.

Murphy’s group launched the recall in the summer after the council levied a 4% utility tax on residents.

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Council members said the city’s budget woes left them no choice, but the recall group says that the tax was unnecessary, and that the city should have made more cuts to eliminate the deficit.

Pavley and Rishoff survived another recall attempt in 1989, led by a different group angry over the city’s traffic problems and the county’s closing of Medfield Street, among other things. That effort fizzled after the group failed to get enough signatures.

Pavley and other council members maintained that the latest recall effort was financed by local business people angry at the council for supporting an ordinance banning freeway signs, a charge the recall group denies.


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