published Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Mayor Ron Littlefield holds press conference, wants to move city forward

by Dan Whisenhunt

The fallout from a judge’s decision to block a recall effort continued this morning.

Mayor Ron Littlefield held a press conference emphasizing unity, flanked by current and past elected officials.

“At this time, we should not take our attention off the task at hand,” Littlefield said.

He said for much of the last few weeks, the recall effort had distracted him from being able to effectively govern.

An hour before the conference, the Hamilton County Election Commission briefly met and decided it did not need to address putting the recall on the Nov. 2 because Circuit Judge Jeff Hollingsworth ruled on Tuesday that petitioners did not have enough signatures.

The commission will meet again Friday to draw up the Nov. 2 ballot, which was on hold until the recall issue was decided.

Though recall petitioners have not said whether they’ll appeal the judges ruling, one member was present at the Election Commission meeting.

Charlie Wysong, a Chattanooga Tea Party member, spoke to the commission, saying recall petitioners are not angry at the commission.

After the ruling, groups involved in the recall effort indicated they’d received bad advice from the commission.

For more details as they develop, keep checking

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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deltenney said...

Interesting how the will of the people carries so little weight these days!

September 8, 2010 at 10:59 a.m.

“At this time, we should not take our attention off the task at hand,” Littlefield said.

What task is that Mr. Littlefield? Is the city buying more overpriced toxic land from your poltical supporters? Is the city giving away more prime downtown property to your political supporters? How about additional city dollars to the privatley owned landfill? Or additional city dollars to the privately owned recycle centers?

So many tasks for so little minds.

September 8, 2010 at 11:14 a.m.
ebrooks104 said...

As far as I'm concerned Mr. Littlefield's victory is a dubious one. Isn't it funny that it is the Will of the People when it is to the advantage of politicians, but the citizens become ignorant malcontents when they disagree. History is filled with individuals who felt that they knew better than their citizenry and the misery they caused. I for one felt that Mr. Littlefield was an arrogant putz who felt that everybody else was stupid and only his agenda was the right one. I will be happy when his term has ended.

September 8, 2010 at 12:41 p.m.
slr3 said...

Remember the council members who voted for the Mayor's 19% property tax increase in the next election. They are LADD,BERZ,ROBINSON,RICO and BENSON. Let's vote them & the Mayor out at the next opportunity.

"Move the City" forward my butt.

Wish Bob Corker were still our Mayor. He has some business sense and , unlike Littlefield, has had a real job during his lifetime.

September 8, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
JasonMcG said...

I don't think Judge Hollingsworth did Littlefield any favors.

Judge Hollingsworth could have agreed to move the issue to Chancery court instead of Circuit court which would have killed any possibility of an appeal.

Rather, I think the Judge had the insight to see the issue needs to be clarified at the state level.

The state law regarding recalls was modified in 1997, and states explicitly that if a city has a recall provision in their Charter, then the city charter provisions will satisfy the conditions of the recall.

There is a contradiction in the state law that needs to be resolved, regarding when city charter's prevail, when the recall is based on a percentage of the population, and when it is based on a percentage of registered voters. Right now as it sits the state law gives all three as possibilities.

What Hollingsworth effectively did was open the door for this issue to come under greater scrutiny at the state level, instead of just local.

Also, I don't think you can call the ruling a vindication of Littlefield's policies.

The ruling is purely that the recall appears to have failed to meet the criteria under the law, and is definitely not an endorsement of the current administration's path.

If anything the ruling is going to cause every little thing the Mayor and City Council due in the future to come under much greater public scrutiny

September 8, 2010 at 10:51 p.m.
JasonMcG said...

I strongly disagree with Zack Wamp's statement that recalls should only be in the event of corrupt politicians and not over the public disagreeing on policy.

Recall elections are precisely for the public being dissatisfied with the direction politicians are leading them in due to policy and are simply a natural corrective part of any election process.

Indictments and felony convictions are how corrupt politicians are dealt with, as was the case in the TN Waltz investigation. A recall election would have been sorely inadequate to deal with what was occurring in the Sherrif's dept. at that time.

The recall was the appropriate path as the issue here with Littlefield is whether or not his policies are good for the city, and by city I mean the citizens of Chattanooga- not the government, and there is no issue of corruption at stake here.

I think it was impressive that the recall effort was able to get so many people to participate given that only around 18,000 people voted in the last mayoral election.

Recalls are far less possible if more people vote, so if in the next round of city elections 50%, 70% or even 90% of the eligible voter base participates instead of 10% like the last city/mayoral election, you will get a city government that is more in touch with the city- and again by city I mean citizens of Chattanooga.

That's really the issue here is that the current city government was put into power by so few of the eligible voters. Once that changes issues like this will not come up, as the representation in government will more closely reflect the population and not be driven by catering to a small group of special interests.

September 8, 2010 at 11:02 p.m.
lgrohn said...

The City Council and Mayor dropped the ball in 2002 in their review of the Charter. Section 3.18 was in direct conflict with TN. Code 2-5-151 on recalls passed in 1997. By not enacting Section 3.18 of the City Charter in 2002 on the August referendum, the recall effort was doomed because of the 15,400 signatures required by State law. Furthermore, the incorrect directions given to the recall forces by the Election Commission meant that the lack of a date by each signature would kayo the recall. Finally, the State law needs to be amended because recall elections can now only take place at regularly scheduled county elections, which take place every two years. A successful recall effort should automatically trigger a special election.

September 8, 2010 at 11:10 p.m.
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