Thursday, July 24, 2003
C.A. Denies Writ Petition Seeking to Block Recall Certification
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Acting as a deadline for verifying signatures on petitions to recall Gov. Gray Davis loomed, this district’s Court of Appeal yesterday rejected a bid to block Secretary of State Kevin Shelley from certifying the issue for a vote.
In a per curiam order, the court’s Div. Eight dismissed arguments by lawyers for Taxpayers Against the Governor’s Recall that an election should be blocked until allegations recall petitions were illegally circulated by non-voters who frequently left the petitions unattended instead of witnessing the signatures, as required by state law, can be resolved.
Presiding Justice Candace Cooper, joined by Justices Laurence D. Rubin and Paul Boland, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carl J. West did not abuse his discretion when he denied the temporary restraining order sought by plaintiffs in the case. West has set a hearing on their request for a preliminary injunction for Aug. 8.
In their petition for a writ of mandate, the recall opponents noted that Shelley had asked county registrars to report numbers of verified signatures by yesterday, and contended he could certify as early as today that the recall has qualified. Their suit before West seeks certification of a class action on behalf of all California voters and taxpayers.
“While petitioners generally claimed that California taxpayers would have to bear the cost of a $25 to $40 million recall election if the requested temporary restraining order was not issued, no evidence was presented that substantial expenditures would necessarily be incurred between July 23 and August 8,” the appeals court order declared. “According to petitioners’ own evidence, the bulk of such costs concerns the production and mailing of voter information guides to 11 million households. There was no evidence these costs will be incurred prior to the August 8 hearing.”
The court denied both the writ petition and a request for a stay which would have blocked Shelley from finding the recall has qualified for the ballot.
Supreme Court Review
Attorney Paul Kiesel of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson in Beverly Hills, who filed the writ petition, told the METNEWS yesterday he would be filing a request for review with the state Supreme Court by the end of the day. Kiesel said he thought the Court of Appeal’s focus on election costs reflected too narrow a view of the damages a recall election would cause.
The attorney said mere certification of the issue for a vote would cause political and economic disruption, damaging the state’s reputation and its viability as an issuer of bonds.
“Once the secretary of state has certified it the damage has been done,” Kiesel declared. “California’s stock will be going down.”
County registrar Conny McCormack reported to the state yesterday that she received 331,513 signatures in support of a recall of the governor, and a small sample showed more than 83 percent of them to be valid.
California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley must now “do all the math” to determine if there are enough signatures to qualify for a recall election in September or early October, McCormack said.
The Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office verified a 3 percent sample of the 331,513 signatures it received, McCormack said. The validity rate was 83.12 percent and there were no “duplicates” in the sample, she said.
If the validity rate were applied to the total number of signatures the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office received it amounts to 275,554, McCormack said.
The county sent its numbers to the state at about 1:15 p.m., she said.
“This is the easy part,” she said. “Doing the election’s the hard part.”
If, as expected, yesterday’s reported signatures statewide are enough yesterday to trigger a gubernatorial recall election, Los Angeles County will have to do its vote counting the old-fashioned way.
County officials recently celebrated the replacement of the antiquated punch-card system by holding a “retirement party for old chad”—the left- over paper that sometimes protrudes from the back of a punched ballot.
But the more accurate high-tech system—slated for use in the November elections—is not ready yet, the Daily News reported yesterday.
Petition signature reports from the counties were due at 5 p.m. yesterday. Davis said he expects a recall challenge and expects to prevail.
“This election is not about changing governors,” he said Tuesday in East Los Angeles.
“It’s about changing direction,” Davis said. “And I am confident that the voters of this state will not opt for a right-wing agenda over a progressive agenda.”
Meanwhile, the man charged by law with setting the date of the recall suggested he may not have the authority to set an election to choose a replacement candidate.
“The Constitution, the way I read it, says two things,” Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said yesterday. “It says I’m the person who has to submit the proclamation for the election, and it gives me the discretion to set the date. That’s it. I don’t believe in my read I have discretion to do anything else.”
The decision on whether a slate of candidates to replace Davis would appear on the same ballot as the recall—which is how local recall elections in California have typically been conducted—was probably not his to make, Bustamante said.
“I suppose the Supreme Court will deal with that,” the lieutenant governor declared. “It’s not mine to deal with.”
Recall supporters said they are prepared to take Bustamante to court over the matter if necessary.
Candidates would have to file campaign papers at least 59 days before any election.
Republican businessman Bill Simon, one of those considering a run for Davis’ office, told KTKZ-AM of Sacramento yesterday that he would make an announcement Saturday. Simon lost to Davis in November.
Elections officials in California’s 58 counties had until 5 p.m. yesterday to finish counting 1.6 million signatures and verifying them through a random sampling process. If counties report more than 110 percent of the needed valid signatures, and barring court intervention, Shelley will certify that the recall has qualified.
The only declared major-party candidate for Davis’ job said he expected the governor to be recalled “by a substantial margin.”
“The only thing that’s in doubt is who will replace him,” said GOP Rep. Darrell Issa. He planned to return from Washington on Thursday or Friday, earlier than expected, to enter the race, his spokesman said.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, another potential Republican opponent to Davis, returned Tuesday from promoting “Terminator 3” in Europe and his political adviser said he expects him to run.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company