Riviera recall organizers pledge lawsuit to fight signatures’ rejection


Highlights

A group trying to oust three Riviera Beach council members says it will fight the rejection of their petitions

Organizers petitioning to recall three city council members say they’ll sue to undo the county election supervisor’s rejection of the nearly 9,000 signatures they collected, saying the rejection was based on incorrect information about when they started the effort.

John Whittles, the group’s attorney, said at a City Hall press conference Wednesday that the suit will be filed by Friday to ask a judge “to make a reasonable interpretation” of the law to dismiss as “scrivener’s errors” the ineligible dates cited in rejecting the petitions.

The Greater Riviera Beach Community Group/Recall Committee filed papers with the city Oct. 19 to start collecting signatures to oust council members Terence Davis, Lynne Hubbard and Dawn Pardo, for firing popular City Manager Jonathan Evans without specifying why. Under state law, petitioners have 30 days to collect the number of signatures required to spark a recall election. The petitioners submitted their approximately 8,600 signatures to the city clerk Nov. 14, seemingly within that 30-day requirement.

But City Attorney Andrew DeGraffenreidt, in a letter to Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, pointed to a handful of signatures dated prior to Oct. 19 — including one as far back as January 19, and another dated 2016. And since state law says the 30-day clock starts with the first signature, that meant virtually all the others collected in October and November could not be certified, he said.

Bucher agreed, effectively disqualifying the recall effort and sparing the council members from having to defend their terms in a recall election.

But Whittles and Amon Yisrael, an organizer of the recall effort, said the too-early signatures obviously were incorrectly dated, to a time even before the petition forms had been printed for signing. What’s more Evans had not even started work in January, let alone been fired, so that was months before any recall effort was contemplated, Yisrael said, calling the city attorney’s effort to discredit the recall “hilarious.”

Whittles said he didn’t even draw up the petition blanks until “5 a.m. on Saturday the 14th” of October. Since the petitions referred to Evans’ Sept. 20, 2017 firing, they couldn’t possibly have been signed the previous January, he added.

Thousands of citizens signed the petitions on a timely basis, calling for a recall election to be scheduled, he said. “I’m going to ask the court to give that voice some volume,” he said.

“Thankfully the facts are on our side.”

Mayor’s car repossessed during council meeting

Evans was on the job six months when the three voted without discussion to fire him for alleged “misfeasance.”

Evans had been brought in to replace the previous manager, who the council also fired. He has since been replaced with an interim manager, while the commission searches for a permanent replacement.

The city government has remained in disarray, with several high-level positions unfilled and with the former deputy finance director managing the helm on an interim basis. A few months before the council fired Evans, the assistant city manager who’d been passed up for the manager job resigned. The human resources director gave notice in October. The internal auditor resigned. The city has no assistant human resources director, purchasing director, IT director or fully licensed building services director.

Councilman scolds resident as ‘man with rag around his head’

The police chief, recently the subject of a 67-3 vote of no confidence by the county Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is scheduled to retire near the end of the year. The public works director has been on leave for months, pending an internal investigation, while receiving full pay.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

After the video: Dairy association tries to counter abuse allegations
After the video: Dairy association tries to counter abuse allegations

Florida’s dairy industry has been in an unwanted spotlight since the Nov. 9 release of surveillance videos showing workers kicking cows at Larson Dairy in Okeechobee County. The image portrayed is far from that of cows grazing in idyllic pastures and has the potential to harm both milk sales and economic stability of the industry. RELATED: Three...
Suicide bomber kills 7 in Pakistani church
Suicide bomber kills 7 in Pakistani church

Seven people were killed and more than two dozen were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber attacked a church packed with more than 400 worshippers during a service in Pakistan, CNN reported. A Methodist church in Quetta was targeted by two attackers, but only one was able to denonate his vest, according to Sarfaraz Bugti, the interior minister...
Who was the man taking pictures at this Lake Worth house?
Who was the man taking pictures at this Lake Worth house?

Christina Blanco and her husband, Roger Gonzalez, were having lunch at their Lake Worth home recently. While eating, Blanco, 32, saw a man, late 20s, early 30s, approaching their 1112 North D Street home they’ve shared for two years and taking pictures of their place on his cell phone. Gonzalez, 31, went to the door and asked theman, who was...
Wife gets wedding ring back after husband accidentally drops it in Salvation Army kettle
Wife gets wedding ring back after husband accidentally drops it in Salvation Army kettle

An Oklahoma couple is grateful to the Salvation Army after a wedding ring was accidentally dropped into a donation kettle. It happened while one Tulsa man, who asked not to be identified, was dropping some change into the red kettle. “I had outpatient surgery at St. John's and I forgot to take [the rings] off. So at the last minute, I gave them...
Police: Washington State mother under investigation for infant's death
Police: Washington State mother under investigation for infant's death

A 24-year-old Washington State woman is under investigation for homicide and reckless care that caused the death of her infant son, Kent Police said late Saturday. Medics were called on Dec. 12 after the 2-month old baby was found unresponsive, police said.  Police said the mother placed the child on his stomach on top of a sleeping bag and...
More Stories