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Campaign launched to recall Sheriff Baca

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Times Staff Writers

A former Los Angeles County employee launched a campaign Monday to recall Sheriff Lee Baca, citing last week’s early release of Paris Hilton as an example of gross mismanagement of the nation’s largest Sheriff’s Department.

Andrew Ahlering conceded that recalling Baca would be costly and time-consuming but said the public frenzy about Hilton’s release could generate the necessary interest. He discussed the recall drive live on CNN Headline News and has been interviewed by half a dozen local television and radio stations.

To qualify the recall effort for the ballot, Ahlering must collect more than 395,000 signatures of registered Los Angeles County voters within 160 days.

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“It’s a massive undertaking,” Ahlering said by telephone while preparing for an appearance on CNN’s “Nancy Grace” show.

Ahlering is familiar with Baca’s jails. He served 23 days in County Jail last year after he was accused of disrupting a Board of Supervisors’ meeting. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge. He was placed on probation and ordered to stay away from board meetings.

Baca declined to comment on the recall effort. He released Hilton last week, citing concern about her health, only to have a judge order her returned to jail.

Most recall campaigns rely on paid signature gatherers who receive as much as $1 per signature. That could bring the costs of a Baca recall close to $500,000.

Ahlering said he was concerned by the department’s handling of several high-profile cases, including last year’s drunk driving arrest of actor Mel Gibson, and by racial violence in the jails.

Ahlering’s political experience includes an unsuccessful campaign for supervisor last year against incumbent Gloria Molina.

Molina swept to victory with 67% of the vote. Ahlering came in third with 11%.

It was during that campaign that Ahlering was arrested in downtown Los Angeles after allegedly disrupting a supervisors’ meeting. A month later, he was fired from his county job.

Ahlering has appealed his firing.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

jack.leonard@latimes.com


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