published Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Judge says petitioners can join recall lawsuit


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press -- Sep 3, 2010 Judge Jeff Hollingsworth addresses attorney Tom Greenholtz at the end of Friday morning's hearing. Attorneys representing Mayor Ron Littlefield and petitioners met in Judge Hollingsworth's courtroom on Friday for a preliminary hearing about the petition to recall Mayor Littlefield.

A judge ruled Friday that one of the men pushing for a recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield can intervene in a lawsuit the mayor has filed to stop the recall.

Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth ruled that Jim Folkner, who heads the group Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, can become a party in the lawsuit, which Littlefield filed to stop a recall election from occurring during the Nov. 2 general election.

As a party to the suit, Folkner has all the same legal rights as the mayor.

Littlefield filed the lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission as a private citizen, not in his role as mayor.

After the judge’s ruling, Folkner said he is glad at least one person will be able to represent those who signed the petitions.

COMING SUNDAY

Read more about the recall organizers and their efforts. In News.

WHAT’S NEXT

Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth will hear arguments at 9 a.m. Tuesday on whether a recall election for Mayor Ron Littlefield should be held during the Nov. 2 general election.

“I’m very concerned that the rights of the 15,000 people who signed the petition not be negated by technicalities,” he said.

Two other groups — the Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action — are also part of the recall effort, but did not file to intervene in the suit.

Hollingsworth denied another motion to move the hearing from Circuit Court to Chancery Court. He told the court the case is “here and I’m going to have to deal with it.”

More than 15,000 people signed a petition to oust the mayor from office. The Hamilton County Election Commission validated 9,000 of those signatures.

City Attorney Mike McMahan said after the hearing that the city also was included as part of Littlefield’s lawsuit after all parties agreed Thursday. The city wants to clarify whether the City Charter or state statutes determine rules for recall elections. The charter says about 9,000 voter signatures are needed for a recall while the state says 15,000.

Joe Manuel, Folkner’s attorney, argued from the outset of the hearing that Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield had a right to be party to the suit because the group represents the very people who would be affected.

“They have an interest,” he said. “They are the petitioners.”

If there were any ruling against the petitioners and they were not included, they could sue, he noted.

Tom Greenholtz, an attorney for Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, which is representing the election commission, argued that the commission represents the same interests as the petitioners and could therefore represent them as well.

Greenholtz also argued that, if the petitioners were taken on as a third party, they should only be allowed to discuss the legal issues between the City Charter and state law, so the case does not become a “he said, she said” argument in which finding someone to blame becomes the main goal.

“This is about application of the law,” he said. “This is about validity of the law.”

Manuel said that argument violated the rights of the petitioners.

“To say you have to go to the corner and be quiet, we think is inappropriate,” he said.

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slr3 said...

Good for Jeff Hollingsworth. This exercise is refreshing!! We still have a democracy & the people are being heard!!

September 4, 2010 at 5:37 a.m.
Tax_Payer said...

I have a good feeling the court house area will be swamped with protesters when this is taking place. The recall must go through. The mayor and his cronies are seeking loopholes to undermine the democracy!

September 4, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
fairmon said...

I am confident at least 95 percent of those signing the petition will vote in the next mayor election. Getting signatures was no problem it was just a matter of getting a petition and opportunity to people. I am confident additional signatures equal to the number submitted could be obtained if needed.

The insensitive mayor and his council puppets must all be replaced.

September 4, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.
fairmon said...

If fifteen percent of the eligible voters in the city and fifty percent of the number voting in the last election publicly stated "we don't like you" "we no longer trust you to govern the city" "we prefer you not hold the position of mayor" "Please be gone, we have been taxed too much already".

Would you protest and say "oh but I want to keep being the mayor, I like the prestige, it is good for my ego" "I know what is best for you". Would you call those citizens names like narrow minded, angry and on the fringe? Would you judge them and say they can't oppose you and be a christian?

Think about it, what would you do? Compare that to what the mayor is doing.

I will not vote for any candidate not willing to commit to: 1-Rescinding the just passed tax and sewer increase. 2-An independent financial audit of the past three years. 3-A wage survey of similar work and making appropriate adjustments. 4-Enlisting the help of experts to assure right size staffing in all retained operations. 5-Reduce or eliminate non-essential operations/spending. 6-Developing a zero based budget instead of the prior year minus one time items plus new spending. 7-Transparency enabling any tax payer to easily access any financial activity the city conducts. 8-Divesting of city owned businesses that compete with privately owned. 9-Being open and honest and assuring there is no cause to qustion their credibility. 10-Support and enable those less fortunate by giving them a hand up. 11-Providing citizens the protection from crime they expect and deserve.

If this puts me in the angry, narrow minded fringe then so be it. Give me a tee shirt labeling me as such, I will wear it.

September 4, 2010 at 9:18 p.m.
moose37 said...

I know for a fact MR littlefield and Paul page both gave a false Address we he was elected. Mr Paul page lives with his wife Libby page right off 2-A . They do not live in East ridge. I know this because i help get Mr littlefield campain also i was great friends with the page's. paul page got in the city because of Littlefield, plus they are best friends. Then i got a job with a company CareHere they got the city contact to take care of the employee's. Mr paul page has been in trouble alot for sex hassament and Littlefield knew that and still gave him a job. Fire both of them.

September 6, 2010 at 11:49 p.m.
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