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Two groups seek to recall Filner, but efforts have legal questions

July 29, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego speaks at a news conference Friday announcing his plan to seek professional help for sexual harassment.
Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego speaks at a news conference Friday announcing… (Bill Wechter / Getty Images )

Two groups are vowing to force a recall election that could oust San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but the city's recall law is snared in legal questions.

Among the questions is whether there can be two recall efforts at the same time seeking to gather the signatures necessary to force an election.

A spokesman for City Atty. Jan Goldsmith said the office is researching the issue and plans to issue an opinion within a few days.

Filner is facing an increasing number of calls for his resignation amid allegations that he has sexually harassed constituents and staff members.

The 70-year-old Democrat has refused to resign but promised to enter a two-week treatment of intensive behavioral therapy starting Aug. 5.

One of the recall groups, led by land surveyor Michael Pallamary, filed an affidavit Monday with the city clerk indicating its plans to begin a petition-gathering campaign.

A second group, led by Stampp Corbin, owner/publisher of an LGBT newspaper, published an advertisement on the weekend indicating a similar plan.

Corbin was immediately criticized by anti-Filner activists who say that he is actually trying to protect Filner by launching an effort that will block a real recall campaign.

To qualify a recall effort for the ballot, a campaign must gather 101,597 signatures of registered voters.

The city's recall law is also being questioned by City Councilman Mark Kersey, who says it is inconsistent with a court ruling striking down part of the state law involving recalls.

Kersey, who is among the seven members of the council who want Filner to resign, has asked that the matter be brought to the council so that the section can be repealed.

City law needs to be changed, Kersey said, so that "voters may have confidence in the legal viability of future [recall] elections." In a recall, the ballot asks about recalling the incumbent and then lists candidates seeking to be the replacement.

Kersey noted that a provision in the city rules says that "no vote cast for a candidate shall be counted unless the voter also voted on the recall question." A similar rule in state law for state recalls was struck down by the courts in 2003, he said.

Even if legal problems are eliminated, recall remains a difficult process. Political professionals doubt that a volunteer-only group can gather enough signatures.


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