Sherwood Recall Effort Advances Sloppily

Anna Lee, the chairperson of the “Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee” (RCGS), submitted completed petition sheets to the Glendale City Clerk on Friday, December 19. She was presented with a receipt.

Kill The Casino

The stated purpose of the Sherwood recall is because of accusations of purported open meeting law shenanigans and other things, summarized by the final line of the petition summary:

Mr. Sherwood has disdain for Glendale residents and does not comport himself in a manner befitting an elected member of the City Council.

West Valley Resort

West Valley Resort

As noted in prior posts, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) is the sole financial supporter of RCGS.

GRIC is within their rights to maximize their efforts to quash the Tohono O’odham (TO) West Valley Resort casino. To that end, they are spending hundreds of thousands locally and even more in Washington, DC backing all attempts, no matter how harebrained or poorly run.

Perhaps related, the GRIC Governor Mendoza was recently voted out.

Their opponents, the TO, are also well represented in the local and DC money spending sweepstakes.

Ms. Lee is a member of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, the proprietors of Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona.

So, based on available evidence, can we agree this recall (and the other petitions circulated recently) isn’t about moral high ground objections or anything other than the TO casino?

This recall was funded by GRIC because Gary Sherwood is now supporting the TO casino and his election campaign was partially funded (as were Joyce Clark’s, Gary Hirsch’s, and Jerry Weiers’) by the GRIC.

All of that is legal (other than the egregiously llegal finance reporting) and expected in politics.

2,762 Signatures Are Needed

The City of Glendale has officially stated the number of valid signatures required to trigger a recall election is 2,752.

Some hard-hitting investigative journalism by this author revealed the truth! The actual number required is 2,762. Click here to read that explanation.

* UPDATE 12/23/2014: We heard through the grapevine that the City of Glendale indeed varies from the State regulations and they ignore write in candidates, so the 2,752 number is correct. Not that we thought 10 signatures would be the difference, anyway.

Counting Is Hard

Monkey Counting

Monkey Counting

Petition sheets have fifteen printed slots for signatures. An estimate for counts of signatures submitted is calculated by multiplying the number of sheets by 15.

Unfortunately it appears that, as well as having difficulty following the instructions for filing campaign finance reports, the RCGS committee also finds counting sheets of paper difficult.

The receipt for the petition sheets, signed by Ms. Lee, shows 404 sheets submitted with 6,030 (parroted incorrectly elsewhere) signatures. Now, if you’re following along, you’ll know that there should be 15 signatures on a sheet. Pull out your calculator and do the math.

That’s right, the correct number is 6,060, so Ms. Lee shorted her guesstimate by 30 signatures.

Or, did she?

Why Bother Checking, It’s Only A Fact?

Below Ms. Lee’s attestation is the receipt portion signed by Glendale City Clerk Pam Hanna. Ms. Hanna states there are actually only 398 sheets. Doing some simple (for me or anybody with a calculator) math, we can estimate there were potentially 5,970 signatures turned in to the city.

Still, that’s 3,208 (a calculator thing again) more than required by the regulations.

Local bloggers and newspapers didn’t even bother doing simple math, something to remember when you choose a version of a story to believe.

Who can you believe? Nebulous Verbosity owns both a calculator and the will to use it!

Valid Signatures Only

The City of Glendale has ten calendar days from the date of submission to verify petitions. While volunteering at a City of Glendale function on Saturday, December 20, this author heard that city employees would be working over the weekend and putting in extra hours to be sure the verification was completed on time.

Once Glendale is done with their review of the validity of signatures, they send the petitions on to Maricopa County. The County Recorder then has 60 days to complete their own review process. Signatures, in this case, must be from voters residing in the Sahuaro district of Glendale. There are other requirements as well.

A significant difference compared to referendum and initiative rules which allow the County to review only a small, random sample of signatures.

The reason for the 60 day time limit for the County is that the Recorder verifies 100% of the signatures instead of a random sample. Every sheet and every signature will be looked at, very likely pushing the failure rate above what is normally expected for other petition circulation projects.

Will the failure rate be over 53.73% (calculator again), tossing over 3,208 of 5,970 possible signatures? We have no idea, although a few years ago there was an impressive failure rate documented by a horrendous local paper (click here).

Next Steps In The Process

Glendale CM Gary Sherwood

Glendale CM Gary Sherwood

The County then ships their results and the petitions back to Glendale, who has five business days to determine if the signature count is enough.

Assuming enough signatures, the Clerk must notify Mr. Sherwood within 48 hours of the recall effort against him and that he has the right to provide a 200 word (maximum) statement in his defense that will be published on the ballot.

Part of that notification is apprising Sherwood of his right to resign within five business days.

After the five days expire, the City must issue an order for a special recall election within 15 days. The SOS handbook (and A.R.S. § 19.209) states that the recall election shall be held on the next consolidated election date that is 90 days or more from the date the recall was ordered.

* UPDATE 12/13/2014: I have been informed the City has different regulations and, thus, may be forced to sponsor a special election at their expense. It couldn’t happen much before May, however.

We’ve seen a March recall election mentioned in a local paper because March is 90 days after submitting the petitions.

The election would take place 90 days (in March) after the signature turn-in deadline.

That would be correct, if it wasn’t incorrect.

Add up all the days detailed above in the requirements. Even if you choose to ignore A.R.S. § 19.209 you’ll see it’s not close to true. Imagine that.

What Next?

If Councilmember Sherwood resigned, we believe that (according to the City code book), the Council would appoint a replacement to hold the seat until the expiration of his term.

Because nobody expects a resignation, we’ll take a look at what might happen next in another post.