Activists plan would show Katz the door
- Jim Redden
- Portland Tribune - News
Mayor: These recall issues should be decided in campaign
Voter dissatisfaction with the Portland Police Bureau's reaction to recent antiwar protests downtown is fueling a recall drive against Mayor Vera Katz.
Recall organizer Jack Peek said he and other Katz opponents do not believe that City Hall is listening to Portland citizens. They also criticize what they call a hostile business environment Ñ including the plan Katz recently pushed through the City Council to raise business license fees to fund schools.
'There's a lot of unhappiness about the way things have been going, and the mess caused by the protesters just brought it all together,' said Peek, a truck driver and longtime Southeast Portland activist who thinks that Katz should have directed the police to arrest protesters when they blocked streets and bridges.
Katz said such issues should be raised during regular elections:
'A lot of people are crabby right now. They economy is in bad shape, and that doesn't help. But elected officials should only be recalled for malfeasance. These issues should be discussed during normal campaigns.'
The mayor has said she will announce this summer whether she will seek a fourth term next year.
Peek recently formed a political action committee to raise money to help fund a recall drive. Papers forming the Better Portland Alliance were faxed to city and state election officials Monday. The alliance treasurer is Johny Belgrade, a retired construction manager.
Belgrade said the recall committee and petition papers will be filed in June. At that time, campaign organizers will have 90 days to collect 29,788 valid voter signatures to force a recall election. The election can be held after the signatures are verified.
'That's not much time, so we want to be able to hit the ground running,' Belgrade said.
Longtime taxpayer advocate Don McIntire is supporting the recall.
'I'm a Greshamite so I don't want to look like a carpetbagger, but I'm going to do what I can,' said McIntire, president of the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, which has run successful property tax-limitation campaigns in the past.
Veteran Portland political consultant Mark Wiener said the campaign faces an uphill battle to gather the required signatures in such a short period of time. He also called the timing of the campaign odd, noting that by the time the election would be held, Katz would have little more than a year remaining on her four-year term.
The recall petition must include a statement listing the reasons that Katz should be removed from office, according to Susan Francois, city elections manager.
If the recall campaign collects enough valid signatures to force an election, Katz can either resign or file a statement saying why she should stay in office. Both statements would appear on the recall ballot.