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2 Council Members Served With Recall Papers at Meeting

September 09, 1993|ANDREW LePAGE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

DIAMOND BAR — Sparking a tumultuous council session, a group of citizens served Mayor Gary G. Miller and Mayor Pro Tem Phyllis Papen with recall papers Tuesday night, saying the two use their offices for personal gain and ignore public sentiment.

"It's not my birthday, but thank you, Mr. Gross," Miller quipped as recall leader William Gross handed him and Papen notices of intent to launch a recall drive.

"I and a number of citizens believe you run the city for your own personal . . . and political interest," Gross told Miller and Papen during his presentation on the long-threatened recall drive.

Gross later said he has about 40 supporters who will assist with circulating petitions and spreading the word about the recall effort. According to the recall papers, other grounds for ousting Miller and Papen include "voting twice to increase residents' taxes and fees, wasting taxpayers' money on numerous lawsuits (against a citizens group), and wasting taxpayers' money on out-of-town junkets."

Also, recall proponents believe Miller has tried to mislead the public in explaining his relationship to a development group involved with property in Sandstone Canyon, which is scheduled for development. They allege that Miller wrongfully participated in council discussions and decisions that affected the property, which Miller says he once owned for a short period but sold.

Miller denies the allegations of any conflict of interest, saying the city attorney has a assured him he has nothing to worry about. Also, Miller has vowed to abstain from any votes concerning development of Sandstone Canyon.

After the meeting, Miller said he has been expecting the recall notice.

"That was the purpose of these people going out to street corners last month and handing out lies about me," Miller said, referring to a group of citizens that recently led a referendum attempt against the city's year-old General Plan.

Papen left the council meeting immediately after adjournment and could not be reached for comment.

Referendum supporters passed out literature criticizing Miller and Papen, and Miller has filed two libel suits, naming three individuals and a citizens group called Diamond Bar Citizens to Protect Country Living. The complaints allege that those named--including Gross--in the suits falsely accused the mayor of criminal activity.

"Now this group (of referendum supporters) is doing what it has planned all along: recall the council," Miller said. "These people want a council that is not pro-business or pro-people and that will bend and sway to their threats and demands."

He said the core group of council and General Plan critics, made up of about a dozen citizens, wants to halt development to preserve their own property values, even if that means infringing on private property rights.

Gross said the three other council members--John Forbing, Gary Werner and Dexter MacBride--were not considered for recall because their seats are up for election this November. Council members whose seats will expire within six months cannot be recalled, according to state law. Eleven candidates, including the incumbents, are vying for the three seats.

The recall proponents need to gather about 5,300 signatures from a pool of about 26,000 registered voters in the city to qualify the recall for the ballot for an election early next year. State law requires recall proponents to gather signatures from 20% of registered voters in the city.

City Clerk Lynda Burgess estimated that it will take about a month for her and the recall proponents to iron out the paperwork that must be filed before the petition drive is launched. When the paperwork is complete, she said, proponents will have 120 days to gather enough signatures.

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