BY MICHAEL SANBORN
UPDATE: I've now confirmed with a second source that in order to advance a recall election of an alderman, 6,229 signatures from Rapid City registered voters is required.
Sometimes, through the alchemy of time, clarity is reached. It might take a while in this case. I have removed the petitions. I still believe they are justified and warranted. And, if someone truly wishes to circulate petitions to put the matter to a vote, I will sign them.
But I had an enlightened conversation with a long-time public servant last night. He made some excellent points.
1. Even if the subjects of the recall deserve to be recalled, what real purpose will the recall election serve?
2. The recall only serves to prolong the pain for the innocent.
3. A recall election will cost the taxpayers even more money than has already been wasted on this travesty.
4. Voters will recall the offending individuals in the upcoming elections. Mr. Chapman and Mr. LaCroix are likely to not be returned to office. Mrs. Gunderson-Olson has declared she is not seeking re-election. Kooiker and Martinson will likely be returned to office. The mayor and Hadcock will get their just rewards in the 2011 elections.
I have little doubt that a devoted effort to recall Hanks and Hadcock could succeed and that the necessary 6,229 signatures could be obtained. If there is someone out there who thinks they want to carry the water on that, knock yourself out. It will be much less divisive and much less expensive, to simply wait and vote them out next year.
People have asked that I post these. They are self-explanitory. Click to make them larger. Download them and do with them what you wish. Page 2 of the petitions is the last here, and is the same for all. I believe them to be warranted, under the circumstances. Once started, petitioners have 60 days to complete them. I am NOT going to lead this charge.
I suggest that if people really want to recall these politicians, that they organize the effort and find out how many names are required for each. I also suggest that you carefully review the statute below and make sure the petitions are completed and notorized properly before presenting them to the auditor. It is unclear to me whether it is required that 15 percent of the voters of the entire municipality who voted in the preceding general election are required for a recall election to take place for aldermen, or if 15 percent fo the voters in their ward who voted in the preceding general election are required.
I would also seek the advice of an attorney to make sure these are properly written. They did not come to me from an attorney.
State law is:
9-13-30. Petition for recall--Number of signatures--Grounds--Time limits. A petition signed by fifteen percent of the registered voters of the municipality, based upon the total number of registered voters at the last preceding general election, demanding the election of a successor to the mayor, commissioner, alderman, or trustee sought to be removed shall be filed with the auditor and presented by the auditor to the governing body. The allowable grounds for removal are misconduct, malfeasance, nonfeasance, crimes in office, drunkenness, gross incompetency, corruption, theft, oppression, or gross partiality. The petition shall contain a specific statement of the grounds on which removal is sought. The form for the municipal recall petition shall be prescribed by the state Board of Elections pursuant to chapter 1-26. No signature on a petition is valid if signed more than sixty days prior to the filing of the petitions.
Source: SDC 1939, § 45.1325; SL 1963, ch 280; SL 1968, ch 184; SL 1979, ch 50, § 6; SL 1983, ch 52, § 6; SL 1987, ch 67, § 13; SL 1992, ch 60, § 2; SL 1997, ch 48, § 1; SL 2009, ch 34, § 2.
UPDATE: I've spoken with someone at the Auditor's Office. The way I read it, and the way she read it is that recalling an alderman requires 15 percent of the registered voters at the time of the last general election. 41,523 Registered voters in the last general. 6,229 signatures required. I have a call in to our states attorney and the attorney general to see if I'm missing something.
a. Behavior not conforming to prevailing standards or laws; impropriety.
b. The act or an instance of adultery.
n. intentionally doing something either legally or morally wrong which one had no right to do. It always involves dishonesty, illegality, or knowingly exceeding authority for improper reasons. Malfeasance is distinguished from "misfeasance," which is committing a wrong or error by mistake, negligence or inadvertence, but not by intentional wrongdoing. Example: a city manager putting his indigent cousin on the city payroll at a wage the manager knows is above that allowed and/or letting him file false time cards is malfeasance; putting his able cousin on the payroll which, unknown to him, is a violation of an anti-nepotism statute is misfeasance. This distinction can apply to corporate officers, public officials, trustees, and others cloaked with responsibility.
n. the failure of an agent (employee) to perform a task he/she has agreed to do for his/her principal (employer), as distinguished from "misfeasance" (performing poorly) or "malfeasance" (performing illegally or wrongly).
is self explanitory.