Recall hammer: it’s a heavy lift

THOR’S HAMMER is powerful, but not everyone can lift it.

Recalls are like Thor’s hammer; each are powerful weapons that are blunt instruments and heavy lifting.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Huntington Beach City Council, a group called “Save Surf City” introduced a notice of intention to circulate a petition to call for a recall election.

The target? All six members of the city council who were present. Erik Peterson was absent that night, which may have been a good idea.

Yes, even Rhonda Bolton, who was just seated on July 26 to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Tito Ortiz, who had been elected in November 2020 (along with Mayor Kim Carr and Councilmembers Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser).

According to its website. www.savesurfcity.org , the six are targeted because of a “failure to protect the interests of the citizens of Huntington Beach and damaging the city charter by surrendering local zoning control to the state” along with other unnamed offenses.

Let’s take a look at this. Much of the impetus for this comes from the council’s decision to select Bolton as Ortiz’ replacement. At the meeting when the selection was made, two themes were common to those who wanted the council to instead select Gracey Van Der Mark. She was the next-highest vote-getter (fourth in a race in which three people were elected).

Not an unreasonable stance, but why Mike Posey? He didn’t vote for Bolton, and – frankly – there was no way that a majority of the council was going to select Van Der Mark. She has been controversial for some of her remarks about race and her only supporter on the dias on July 26 was Peterson.

Secondly, under state law, Bolton cannot be recalled because she has not served long enough.

Some of those who spoke angrily on July 26 were angry on the grounds that because Huntington Beach had more Republicans than Democrats, the council should reflect that. But by state law, city council elections are non-partisan.

As far as the charge of surrendering local control over zoning, there are two hiccups here. The first is that City Attorney Michael Gates has been a tiger in pushing back against the sometimes heavy hand of Sacramento, and it’s unlikely there are many cities in California that have sued the state more than Huntington Beach has.

Concerning the zoning issue and the infamous “regional housing needs assessment” mandate, it’s a hot mess but it’s state law and a city can’t just ignore it.

As we suggested earlier, a recall – especially in a city as large as Huntington Beach, with over 200,000 residents – is a heavy lift.  Isn’t it going to be a challenge to get almost 20,000 people to sign a petition to recall people who were elected just nine months ago? And why would conservatives want to kick Republicans Posey and Barbara Delgleize off the council?

Questions without answers – so far – as the latest drama of Surf City rolls along.

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted on alternate weeks, rotating with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.







2 replies »

  1. Thank you for some sane thoughts on all this. This save surf city group (40 of 200,000) residents of the city were petulant, out of control and making conspiracy theory comments during the city council meeting. I was impressed by how composed the city council members were during the entire debacle.

  2. There is a recall-mania that has been unleashed in California, where all the attention is drawn to the process instead of focusing on how HB (or any other place, for that matter) is being governed. As correctly pointed out in the article, local government is non-partisan. That is part of the state’s Progressive Era legacy, and we need to remember that public service trumps party affiliation.

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