Friday, July 06, 2007

Get Rid of Doug, Donald Urges

My old friend Donald called me this morning wanting to know why we don’t just get rid of Mayor Doug, instead of always complaining. You have to understand that Donald is a bit of a radical; in his day, he marched against the Grenada War and held up a sign in Lafayette Park denouncing the marriage of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon. So I was not particularly surprised by his attitude.

“We will get rid of him,” I told him, “in November 2008.”

“No need to wait, you can get rid of him now!”

My first impulse was to hang up. I don’t think anybody would understand me discussing Doug’s assassination on the telephone. I mean the guy often drives me nuts, but killing him seems a bit extreme.

“I’m willing to wait for the election,” I replied. “Besides, he has this big security detail.”

Donald laughed for a good twenty seconds. “No, doofus brain, I’m not talking about killing the sucker. I’m talking about removing him from office.”

“Donald, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Donald then explained it to me. Apparently, under section 24.2-233
of the Virginia Code, pursuant to a petition, a circuit court can remove an official from office
“For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office”
Further, with respect to the Mayor of Richmond, section 3.04.1 of the City Charter provides that the mayor can be removed under the procedures contained in the Code of Virginia, provided that a petition is
“signed by a number of registered voters in each council district equal to at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last general election for mayor in each respective council district.”

“So,” said Donald, “all you need is a petition signed by ten percent of the voters and you can get rid of old Doug.”

“How many signatures do we need?” I asked.

“It says you need, for each council district, ten percent of the total vote for mayor in the last election. Go look it up.”

So I did. This is what I found.

To petition for Mayor Doug’s removal we would need a petition with this many signatures per district:

District 1....... 936
District 2....... 754
District 3....... 675
District 4.......
District 5....... 672
District 6....... 354
District 7....... 407
District 8....... 581
District 9....... 461

(And we’d need to add another hundred or more per district because the Times-Dispatch article I looked at didn’t have complete election returns.)

“Donald, there is no way we can get that many signatures.”

“Of course you can. Just get some friends and start ringing doorbells.”


Louis Schultz said...

I'm am very interested in petitioning the court to remove Charlottesville's entire City Council. Do you have any more information than you have posted here?

I have asked my local registrar, the clerk of court, and the VA Board of Elections. I still can't find out exact requirements for forms, information to be presented with signatures or whether to approach the court before or after gathering signatures.

If I'm just gathering signatures without an official form, seems like I could just get them and then add whatever petition I want. Don't plan to do that, but seems like a way to dismiss a petition once it shows up in court if no official stamp is given before proceeding.

I announced my intention at monday's council meeting, so I am going ahead. Readers, do any of you know more?

Bert Berlin said...

My friend Donald says that the provision on removing officers is section 24.2-233 of the Code of Virginia. You can look at it online. As to whether there are any specific provisions that apply to Charlottesville, you'll have to look at the city's charter or provisions of law that created the city.

Louis Schultz said...

Thanks for answering so quickly Bert. I have looked at that section of code, but what I'm still not able to figure out is just what has to go to the court to get it to act.

I don't want to go to the court after gathering 600+ signatures and be told that I need green paper or that I need some seal on each page before someone can sign it or I should have gotten phone numbers or whatever else they might throw at me.

There will certainly be an effort to defend the current councilors and I want something solid that can't be blown off by a procedural objection. I have found a Petition of Qualified Voters form here but that isn't exactly what I'm trying to do. It has a couple of not necessarily obvious format requirements. From what I understand, that isn't petitioning the court either. Petitioning the court is what 24.2-233 offers as a method of removing an elected official.

Bert Berlin said...

I would check with the clerk of your local court to find out if there is any specific form you need to use.
BTW, what's wrong with City Council in Charlottesville?