The Glendale City Clerk notified the “Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood” (RCGS) political action committee that the 398 sheets of petitions they handed in December 19 were all being rejected because the format of the sheets and the information on them was wrong.
A rejection of this sort means the signatures on those sheets, the ones gathered in four months by professional petition circulators, didn’t even get a single glance for verification.
RCGS may litigate this matter in an attempt to force Glendale to consider the signatures they gathered.
Two other related Glendale anti-casino PACs have already sued Glendale for a similar rejection of expensive petitions. They lost their case (CV2014-011334) in Superior Court on December 10 and filed an appeal on December 15, having paid their attorneys at least $32,774.40 already.
RCGS still has almost $10k left in their war chest and they have access to a seemingly inexhaustible source of funds. So, a lawsuit has a chance of happening if RCGS and their sponsor decide they won’t write off this attempt and immediately initiate a brand new four month effort to oust Councilmember Sherwood.
Whoops, Wrong Form
Simply put, an educated guess is that the person in charge of printing the petition sheets had old recall petition sheets lying around the office computer.
Instead of checking to be certain the format was still fine, they just printed bad sheets and circulated them for four months without ever checking.
Rookie mistake. If you’re in the political petitions business, you must remain current on the regulations affecting your clients and your business.
That didn’t happen.
The New Boss Is NOT Like The Old Boss
In the 2014 second regular session, HB 2107 changed some rules for petitions and added the new requirements RCGS ignored.
Since RCGS paid Petition Partners $6,000, we assume that firm was responsible for supervising paid circulators to circulate the petitions and then validating the signatures collected.
The bill was signed by the Governor on April 16, 2014 and was accepted by the Secretary of State the next day. The new requirements took effect on July 24, 2014, based on the published effective dates on the Secretary of State’s website.
A Petition Partners principal posted the photo on the right on Instagram of purported recall paperwork to be filed around August 14. A week later, on August 21, RCGS filed for a recall petition serial number.
We don’t know when the petitions actually began making the rounds, but it was certainly at least a month(ish) after the new format for the petition sheets was required.
We also don’t know who printed a bunch of copies of the wrong sheets. The fact is their four month effort was doomed from the day they started because of a simple mistake.
Ignorance Is Bliss, But Not An Excuse
There are maybe three litigation possibilities for RCGS lawyers might pull out of their bag of tricks.
The first would be the old “substantial compliance” gambit, which states RCGS did their best to comply with all of the regulations and didn’t miss by much.
The second would be for RCGS to plead ignorance they were circulating the wrong petition sheets.
They might pull out a third long shot by stating the Secretary of State didn’t provide a PDF recall petition form on their website for the committee to download and print until October 23.
All three should fail because RCGS hired professional help to get their task completed. A judge will afford less slack to a committee with a lot of political experience, highly qualified expertise funding their effort, and professional petition circulators.
How Would You Like Those Eggs On Your Face?
This failure is only the latest in the effort to stall or kill the proposed Tohono O’odham resort casino in Glendale. All of the projects related to that process have been funded by the owners of competing casinos, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With a $75,000 civil fine due to be paid, and another similar (slight less money) fine likely to also be levied for a similar violation, the bills are adding up. Add those fines to the legal billings for the appeal against Glendale and there’s another couple hundred thousand dollars to be spent shortly.
People often don’t mind paying for tangible results. Nobody likes paying for nothing.
Short of some successful City Council campaign expenditures, there has been exactly zero return on the gigantic investment for the Gila River Indian Community in their effort to protect their businesses.
All the Neighbors for a Better Glendale independent expenditure committee has managed to buy with their stewardship of an enormous local politics budget is egg on the face, with this fiasco being the latest.