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City Of San Diego's Recall Process May Be Unconstitutional

City Function During Filner's Absence
Goldsmith Says Part Of Recall Laws Should Be Repealed
GuestTodd Gloria, Council President, City of San Diego
Recall Process May Be Unconstitutional
The only way to force embattled mayor Bob Filner out of office might not be legal.

There are now two efforts underway to recall embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Council President Todd Gloria, they may not stand up in federal courts.

The problem, they say, is not with the signature collection part of the recall, which is already getting underway. On Monday job ads for paid signature collectors were posted on Craigslist.

The actual work of gathering the required 101,597 signatures can begin 29 days after the recall is officially posted.


In the case of the recall filed today by land use lawyer Michael Pallamary, a petition can begin circulating as soon as Aug. 18. The clock on the other recall campaign started ticking on Friday when LGBT Weekly publisher and owner Stampp Corbin announced he was going forward with a recall campaign.

Corbin said he doesn’t plan to collect signatures himself or pay signature gatherers but that he “just wanted to get the process going so San Diegans can make a decision.”

Two recall efforts are unprecedented, said Gloria. He said they don’t know if it’s even legal because the city has never been in this situation before.

Glora added that what really worries him is the legality of San Diego’s recall procedure.

The issue comes after the signatures are collected and when the voting begins. Voters must vote on the recall before they are able to cast their ballot for the mayor’s successor.


According to a memo from the city attorney, a near-identical law was struck down by a federal district court in 2003 because it was found to restrict the constitutional right to vote and violate the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

Gloria said that is why the council is trying to fix the process. He said he is working with the city attorney and other council members to change the voting requirements so that they are in compliance with the law.

Gloria said he thinks the council can expedite the process so that the law is changed before either of the current recalls go to a vote, even if it means calling special sessions of the city council next month. The council is supposed to go on vacation in August.

Gloria added that if the council votes to change the recall voting process, the mayor could then veto it.

A majority of the city council could override the mayor’s veto.