Political foes of Thousand Oaks City Councilman Alex Fiore on Wednesday hailed a decision by the council to accept 1,000 signatures on petitions to recall the veteran city leader.
On a 4-0 vote, Fiore abstaining, the council decided Tuesday night to include all of the 11,096 signatures that were turned in last week by the 1000 Oaks Recall Committee.
The committee filed 1,000 of the petitions about 15 minutes after 10,096 others were turned in to the city clerk.
Dick Booker, a leader of the recall committee, said the petitions fell out of a box in his car on the way to City Hall.
Recall leaders had vowed to sue the city if the council decided not to count the late signatures.
"This removes one issue of controversy," recall committee Chairman Ken Bauer said. "In the next several months, the process of informing the general public is sure to be filled with continued controversy."
Before the City Council vote, Fiore blasted his critics and said the mistake should not be held against voters who want to see his recall on the ballot.
"I don't think the people who signed the petitions in good faith should suffer from (the committee's) incompetency," he said.
The council's decision is the latest wrinkle in the campaign to remove Fiore and Councilman Frank Schillo.
Fiore, a 27-year council veteran, and Schillo, who has been on the council eight years, are the chief supporters of the city's $63.8-million Jungleland development.
The project includes a new city hall and performing arts auditorium.
City Atty. Mark G. Sellers had ruled that City Clerk Nancy Dillon had the authority to reject the signatures because recall proponents had failed to submit the signatures at one time.
However, the council has the authority to direct Dillon to allow the signatures to be counted, Sellers told the council.
County elections officials, who are charged with making sure that the signatures are valid, have until Feb. 28 to verify the signatures to ensure that an election can be scheduled by June 2, said Bruce Bradley, assistant registrar of voters.
City officials say the cost of a recall election would probably be higher if they fail to schedule it along with the June 2 primary.
County elections officials also must verify signatures on an estimated 546 postcards and letters sent to Thousand Oaks by registered voters who want their names taken off the petitions.
Bradley said he has examined the postcards and letters and found that many are invalid because they were improperly completed.
"A great many of them have no signatures and no address," he said.