Two groups race to recall mayor
Katz opponents have competing motives for no-confidence vote
Two committees from opposite ends of the political spectrum are rushing to be the first to collect enough signatures to force a vote on the recall of Mayor Vera Katz.
The Recall Vera Katz Committee filed its recall petition May 27 with the Elections Division of the city auditor's office. Chief petitioner Marvin Moore said Katz should be recalled because she has allowed the Portland Police Bureau to engage in a pattern of violence against minorities and political dissidents.
RecallVera.com, formerly called the Better Portland Alliance, was expected to file its petition this morning. Chief petitioner John Belgarde said Katz should be recalled for not having police prevent peace protesters from repeatedly disrupting downtown businesses during the war with Iraq.
The group's Web site also accuses her of wasting public money on what it calls 'dubious' projects, including remodeling PGE Park for minor league baseball and granting tax breaks for Pearl District condominiums.
The committees have 90 days after they file their petitions to submit 29,877 valid voter signatures to the elections office.
State election law requires the city to pay the estimated $400,000 cost of a recall election. If another group submits enough signatures to force a second election, it would have to pay the full cost of that election.
RecallVera.com was started in April as the Better Portland Alliance by Southeast Portland activist Jack Peek. Family health problems have forced him to curtail his activities. The new committee is named after the group's Web site, which will feature downloadable recall petitions.
Belgarde said the alliance temporarily thought about joining forces with Moore's group, which filed its recall petitions first. Alliance members changed their minds, however, after deciding that Moore was too antipolice.
'Anyone who knows any police officers know they work hard and want to help people,' Belgarde said.
Moore is a longtime liberal political activist who has worked against conservative ballot measures in the past. He considers Belgarde's group to be 'right wing' and said he hoped the high cost of the second election would scare off its members.
Belgarde is confident, however, that his group will collect the required number of signatures first. He said about 100 people have volunteered to circulate recall petitions Ñ beginning at the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade on Saturday morning.
Katz said a recall election is not the appropriate forum for deciding the issues raised by the two committees.
'All elected officials have to make unpopular decisions,' Katz said. 'The proper way to address them is at normal elections. That's when such issues can be fully debated.'
According to city Elections Manager Susan Francois, if either committee collects the required number of signatures, Katz can either resign or file a statement saying why she should stay in office. Such a statement would appear on the recall ballot.