published Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield ready to sue city council if it tries to oust him

by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, shown speaking at a tourism press conference in August, says he may choose not to run if a recall election takes place in August.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, shown speaking at a tourism press conference in August, says he may choose not to run if a recall election takes place in August.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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Mayor Ron Littlefield says there are four key issues in the recall effort that need to be decided by the courts:

  • Are the signed recall petitions sufficient to meet the requirement of state statute? Littlefield maintains that half the 9,600 certified ballots do not have dates as required by law.
  • Editorial comments exist on some ballots, which Littlefield said is against state law.
  • Does state law or city charter prevail in what rules should be followed?
  • Littlefield maintains state law trumps the city charter and calls for a three-step recall election process: certification, a question on the ballot asking if voters wish to recall the mayor, then a recall election.

Source: Mayor Ron Littlefield

Mayor Ron Littlefield is prepared to sue the Chattanooga City Council if it takes even the tiniest steps toward trying to oust him.

Hal North, Littlefield's attorney, said Monday he has prepared paperwork to be filed and ask a Circuit Court judge to issue an injunction if the council makes any moves toward removing the mayor from office.

"We would attempt to [stop] them before the meeting," North said. "We like to deal with this at the front end."

The City Council is expected to discuss today whether to hire an outside attorney to study the City Charter and tell council members if there is any language that would force them to pass a resolution removing Littlefield from office.

Councilman Peter Murphy, chairman of the council's Legal and Legislative Committee, sent an email to other council members Friday, saying the issue should be discussed during his committee meeting. He said Monday he had no intention of ousting the mayor tonight and would oppose such a move.

"I would not vote for it," he said. "I wouldn't be ready to do that."

The city is bracing for a possible recall election in August after the Hamilton County Election Commission certified recall petitions last week and set an election date. The decision was made after the state Court of Appeals ruled that the commission should have had an opportunity to vote on certification last year when the petitions were first handed in. A local Circuit Court judge stopped the certification at the time.

On Monday, Littlefield sent a memo to council members, telling them they should take a look at changing the City Charter and clarifying its rules about recall elections for future administrations. He said the council should not focus on the ongoing legal issues with his administration.

"These matters are presently proceeding through the courts and any further action by the City Council at this time would only exacerbate an already confused situation," he wrote in the memo.

Jim Folkner, with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, one of the groups behind the recall effort, said Monday it seems reasonable for the city to look for outside counsel on the legal issue. He said he did not understand the mayor's threat of a lawsuit against the council.

"I think it's sad for him to file lawsuit after lawsuit to stay in power, at least for a little longer," Folkner said.

The recall effort started last year when three groups -- Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party -- banded together and started petitioning to recall Littlefield.

The groups gathered more than 15,000 signatures and the commission certified 9,600 of them. But Littlefield's attorneys maintain there are still questions on whether state law trumps the City Charter during recall efforts and if the number of petitions collected are actually valid. The state says more signatures are needed than the charter.

Councilwoman Carol Berz, who will be out of town for today's meeting, sent an email to Murphy on Monday, saying she thought any final decision by the council would be hasty at this point.

"I believe the best course of action is to let the legal process come to completion before we act, if at all," she said. "To do otherwise gives the appearance of bias toward one conclusion or another -- a result that I know the council does not want."

Hamilton County Election Commission attorney Chris Clem also weighed in Monday, saying he does not think the City Council has the authority to remove the mayor before the election.

"I don't think it's fair to say he's automatically vacated," he said.

A provision within the City Charter also states that, if the mayor's position is vacated, a city election must take place within 90 to 120 days. Clem said that is not applicable because state law only allows municipalities to lower the threshold of signatures needed on the recall petitions.

"State law does not allow anything else," he said. "State statute does not say you can modify the election date."

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onetinsoldier said...

Take a hint Littlefield. Read the poll results. Those who want to keep you are about the same percentage as Americans that think Congress is doing a good job. Really doesn't matter though, They will just find another idiot to repalce the current one.

November 22, 2011 at 2:14 a.m.
Emersization said...

I like the idea when the Hamilton County ask for Federal help, because the Littlefield @ the City Council failed big time!

Hamilton County commissioners decided Tuesday to seek state or federal help in stopping more shootings like the two this week in East Chattanooga.

Commissioner Warren Mackey, who recently held a standing-room-only community meeting to field concerns in District 4 about violence, took time in a Tuesday agenda session to ask for a solution.

"We're becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the United States of America," he said. "Some people say this is a city issue. The city of Chattanooga is located within Hamilton County, and we represent the city, as well."

The request comes just after the city had its 23rd homicide victim for the year

November 22, 2011 at 4:18 a.m.
sage1 said...

If the City Charter has not power, as Littlefield and his entourage seems to think, then it's worthless. If it's worthless, then why does it even exist?

November 22, 2011 at 6:32 a.m.
cannonball said...

The lawyers are loving all this. VW and amazon are not.

November 22, 2011 at 7:47 a.m.
lonerstoner said...

You cant fix stupid .

November 22, 2011 at 7:54 a.m.
Overitall said...


November 22, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.

Ok so let me get this straight. He wants to be mayor, wait he does not want to be mayor because he wants metro government with county mayor in charge. He wants to be mayor again but may not seek re-election during special election but now threatens a law suit if council considers to oust him. With this kind of leadership does it leave any doubt to why the city of Chattanooga is in the shape it is?

November 22, 2011 at 8:20 a.m.
klugermann said...

Littlefield uses his lawsuit threat as a political weapon against us much in the same way that Congress used the debt-ceiling crisis against us. "Do what I want or The Public gets it!". Well, The Public is getting sick and tired of being held hostage to corrupt politicians. Go ahead and pull the trigger, Ron. We're haven't run anyone out of town on a rail in a few decades. Heck - maybe we'll even organize a celebration around the event! Maybe Michelle Michaud can organize it with some leftovers from the City Hall Renovation Day party. We'll post photos on the City's $300,000 website. It'll be fun!

November 22, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.
Overitall said...

Ok, I'm calm now. It was too early in the morning for that. Anybody for "Occupy Chattanooga, The Littlefield Edition"? "We are the 99% that want to see you out of office!" I have poster board and I'm not afraid to use it.

November 22, 2011 at 9 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Poor "little" fella, he just can't figure out why folks don't like him.

November 22, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.
lanaland said...

Mayor Littlefield is a money pit for us taxpayers. He already cost us in county court fees getting county judge Hollingsworth to exceed his jurisdiction to stop the recall, a move dismissed by our state appellate courts. That was another costly legal venture for us. What did that cost us, along with getting our city legal team to advise the mayor and the council how to skirt our charter's recall provisions? On top of the costs of other corruption and waste in Chattanooga's government, we can't afford any more mayor's like this. We need a true, representative government, and for real people, not real connected people, to step into the August mayoral race!

November 22, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
lanaland said...

Can someone, perhaps a beat reporter, produce the charter verbiage that provides for this removal of the mayor until recall, so we can see it? What does it say? Or are we just supposed to trust the verbiage of politicians all the time? Perhaps a reporter could even ask what the mayor's fighting the charter with taxpayer resources is costing us in the courts and in legal fees some time!

November 22, 2011 at 12:05 p.m.
mrredskin said...

i thought all this recall stuff was silly to begin with (outsider), but after reading this, the goon deserves to go.

November 22, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
brokentoe said...

Commissioner Warren Mackey, who recently held a standing-room-only community meeting to field concerns in District 4 about violence, took time in a Tuesday agenda session to ask for a solution.

Not surprising. Mackey is aiming to be Chattanooga's first black mayor. Not suprising either if.............well, I don't want to even remotely venture into the what ifs.

November 22, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.
brokentoe said...

lanaland said... Mayor Littlefield is a money pit for us taxpayers. He already cost us in county court fees getting county judge Hollingsworth

Now, I thought I'd heard just about all the dumnb things someone could come with. Then someone tops them all.

Aren't we confused? The ones who started this recall effort are the ones costing the city and taxpayers. They could have just let the mayor's term run out, because he can't run again anyway, and that would have been the end of it. But no! That wasn't enough for them, they wanted to totally destroy the mayor because they hate him personally, and not for his politics or the way he's governed Chattanooga. Now it may all come back to bite them in them, because it really is looking more and more as if some of those recall signatures may have been faked. Maybe there will be an FBI investigation into the recall and recallers afterall? Read somewhere recently the sh*yt-starter who got all this rolling is high tailing it out of Chattanooga and heading out west. Leaving the recall followers holding the bag. Who knows, a few maybe looking at some time in the pokey! LOL

November 22, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.
kdawg said...

Banana Republic of Chattanooga. The inmates are running the asylum. Do any of the D-Bags behind this recall want to step up and actually be Mayor? Anyone who signed these petitions have a hankering to throw their hat into the ring should this recall go through and run this city? Put your money where your mouth is or please just get to the back of the line and shut up.

November 22, 2011 at 3:07 p.m.
JJester said...

In case you were not paying attention. Mayor Littlefield has been pushing so hard for consolidated government because a new charter would have to be drawn up and he would be eligible to run again as "Mayor" of the county/region. The current rules barring him from a third term as City of Chattanooga Mayor would then be obsolete. He is more cunning than most would even dream of. Bank on it! More people to tax, more revenue to disperse to his cronies.

November 22, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
fedup350 said...

To brokentoe, I think you are the one confused. It was Littlefield who is costing the money, all he had to do was run again, no attorneys fees, minimal election costs. Where have you been? Outer space? Nothing wrong with the way he governs? You are kidding with that garbage aren’t you? Surely you don’t believe your own crap. You have to have some kind of stake in keeping that thing (Littlefield) in office. He has been a disaster in everything he has done. Nothing good has come of him being in Chattanooga, let alone being the Mayor. He will go down as the worst mayor Chattanooga ever has had. The only one in the history of Chattanooga to be recalled and you say there was nothing wrong with the way he governed? You have to be one of his cronies. No other normal sane person could post what you did without vomiting all over the keyboard. Nothing wrong with the way he governed? It is the Littlefield administration that the FBI needs to look into. The most corrupt in our history.

Don’t worry JJESTER Littlefield couldn’t be elected as the road kill shoveler in this town let alone County Mayor. He is done, finished. They surely don’t want him back in N. Georgia, both him and Paul Page were ran off from there.

November 22, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
chioK_V said...

@Littlefield did not oppose the recall provision of the Charter until the people exercised their right to recall

Could that be because there was no reason to oppose since there's never been a request to recall any previous mayors? I doubt if anyone has even read that city charter since it was created until the effort to recall the mayor.

I think both sides of the issue should be fully investigated, even if that means bringing in the DOJ. If it's found that any of the signatures were fradulently obtained or any signers were misled those involved should be held legally and financially liable.

Why is that most all of those responding in support of the recall live in the county?

November 22, 2011 at 6:08 p.m.
PinkSalmon said...

If there's so much criminal activity and corruption going on in the city government and the mayor's office why haven't any of you called for a state or federal investigation with your proof? If there's proof this should be a slam-dunk-case against the mayor and city government.

November 22, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
lanaland said...

The mayor isn't threatening to sue the city council. He's threatening to sue us. We pay the legal costs, not the city council! What a whitewash. How does the press get away with this, while failing to enumerate the cost of his delay tactics in the county and appellate courts, and through the city's legal services?

November 22, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
PinkSalmon said...

For the life of me, I don't understand why everyone in support of the recall is so upset with the mayor because he's decided to fight it? Did you all expect for him to just quietly go away in tears? Why couldn't you just let the mayor's term run out? Due to term limits, he can't run again anyway. It's your own decisionto permanently tarnish and shame the mayor that has become costly to you and the city. My guess is, you didn't consider a fight in your decision.

November 22, 2011 at 7:32 p.m.
01centare said...

This is all so tragically funny. It will be interesting to see who all gets caught up in this web. Some unintended victims, no doubt.

November 22, 2011 at 9:15 p.m.
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