published Monday, December 12th, 2011

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield plans to take recall fight to donors

by Cliff Hightower

Should Mayor Ron Littlefield fight the recall efforts?

Mayor Ron Littlefield says he'll keep fighting recall efforts against him and plans to keep raising money to do it.

The mayor is facing increasing legal bills as his battle against recallers proceeds through the court system. The two-time mayor, however, thinks he can gather support.

"Even fans who aren't big fans of Ron Littlefield are interested in ending this for the good of the city," he said.

But the only two ends in sight at this point are either a recall election in August 2012 or the regular mayoral election set for March 2013.

The mayor has been in court struggles over the recall for more than a year. They started when he filed a lawsuit to stop the Hamilton County Election Commission from deciding whether to certify recall petitions against him. Circuit Judge Jeff Hollingsworth ruled in his favor and stopped the process in October 2010.

Two months later, the group Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, one of the groups involved in the recall, filed an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The state court decided last month that the election commission should have had a chance to ratify the petitions.

With that ruling in hand, the commission certified the petitions last month and set the recall election for August 2012.

Littlefield filed an appeal on the election commission's actions to the state Court of Appeals, but it turned down rehearing the case.

The mayor faces the possible recall election after three groups -- Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action -- started a petition drive last summer. The groups collected more than 15,000 signatures and the election commission ratified more than 9,000.

But Littlefield, whose only income is his annual mayoral pay of $146,000, will have to go with his hand out to past and possibly future donors to continue his legal battle. The mayor has said he's not a "wealthy man."

"It certainly doesn't make me happy," he said. "I'll have to go out and raise money again."

Jim Folkner, with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said Littlefield doesn't have to fight the recall. The mayor could spend the money on a campaign to keep his job, he said, and Littlefield is the "one who keeps going back to court."

"He doesn't have to spend a dime," Folkner said. "It's his choice."

Littlefield has already held one fundraiser, an event in September at the home of Capital Ford dealership owner Bob McKamey. Patrons were charged $250 for dinner and a movie detailing recall efforts across the country.

The mayor has not announced how much money was raised at the event.

A poll of some past donors to his re-election campaign in 2009 shows a mixed bag of support.

Fletcher Bright, owner of Fletcher Bright Realty and fiddle player for the Dismembered Tennesseans band, contributed $1,000 to Littlefield's re-election, the highest amount allowed. Bright said he also contributed to the mayor's legal defense and may do so again.

"I think a recall is a pretty stringent penalty," Bright said. "I don't see what he's done ... I'd probably give him some more money. I feel sorry for him."

Recallers have said they started the process due to an increase in stormwater fees, property taxes and gang violence in the city.

Bernard Gloster, of Hixson, said he contributed $1,000 to Littlefield's re-election, but he's not going to give to the legal fund. Littlefield's legal troubles have left him balking at giving anymore out of his paycheck, Gloster said.

"I'd have to see where it goes," he said.

Local sculptor John Henry, who gave $1,000 to the mayor's re-election campaign, said he hasn't been asked to contribute for the legal defense. He said he thinks the mayor has been "maligned" for no reason.

"Has he done anything criminal?" Henry asked.

But he said he is also leery of any recall election in August 2012 and that anyone who runs against Littlefield is simply a part of the recall.

"I would just see that as part of the obstructive process," he said.

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Emersization said...

Mayor LittleFIEND clearly demonstrates misuse of others persons money by being combative in a democratic process that has been drafted by city charter. This man is clearly grabbing for straws and trying any and all loopholes that he can find to preserve his narcissistic ego.

December 12, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Please make sure to follow up and see if Littlefield reports these "donations" on his tax return. Thankee.

December 12, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
fedup350 said...

The only reason these "donors" are contributing money is because they are being promised something. Sure the sculpture man John Henry will support Littlefield, he is being paid back tenfold when his "sculptures" are bought with hard earned City taxpayer money. Littlefield is like a tick, he just keeps biting and digging in and spreading his disease, which will linger long after he is finally dug out and flushed down the toilet.

December 12, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.
Emersization said...

Quid Pro Quo is very unethical in public service!

On the federal level, the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C.A. ยง 1951 [1994]) makes it a felony for a public official to extort property under color of office. Trading campaign contributions for promises of official actions or inactions are also prohibited under the act.

December 12, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.
Facts said...

Attention to the Crutchfiled machine and the Dan Johnson Republicans (Wamp that includes you): This is your mayor who is annexing with no ability to provdie the services to the area, spending federal money on "preferred" projects to pay back for votes and is vindictive because his precious attempt to have one government has been rejected. Thanks to the Tea Party for keeping this joke on the way out!

December 12, 2011 at 10:09 a.m.
jesse said...

i knew bill thompson but i don't knoiw what went on between him and the mayor!

BUT i know how the mayor handled the "paul page"scandal, and thats enough for me to think he needs to leave office!

December 12, 2011 at 1:26 p.m.
Haiku said...

Most of us still don't understand the purpose for the recall. The recallers seem to jump from one excuse to another. However, the core reasons for the recalls appear to be centered around annexation and requiring police to pay for their take home cars. The rest appears to have been thrown in as an after thought of sorts and to dupe voters, they'd have ignored otherwise, into signing the petition.

December 12, 2011 at 6:45 p.m.
ScoopAway said...

My neighbor signed that recall petition. Once on his front porch, once at his job and again on the side of the road next to the election commission building. When I asked why he felt the need to do it he said the petition holder told him they needed all they could get ---- seems like justices to me!

December 12, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
Lr103 said...

Hmmmm! Interesting, ScoopAway. That means your friends' signature was counted 3 times? Wonder if the election commission looked closely enough to make sure registered voters signed only once? Everyone's been saying all along those signatures should be closely looked at. Some have said some of the signatures showed obvious forgery even to the untrained eye.

December 12, 2011 at 8:34 p.m.
ScoopAway said...

Would the recallers be willing to let anyone have copies of the "signed" petitions to look over them?

December 12, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

The jury is still out on who the bigger idiot is: Mayor Ron Littlefield, or anyone stupid enough to give him money for his legal defense?

December 12, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
ScoopAway said...

I was just asking. not picking a fight!

December 13, 2011 at 12:29 p.m.
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