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Media Coverage
Recall Drive Starts For 4 On Richmond's Council
November 26, 1997


Wednesday, November 26, 1997
Section: news
Page: A03
Scott Andrews
Caption: Photo. People pushing for a recall of four Richmond City Council members sign petitions to start the campaign Tuesday at City Hall. (Herman Bustamante Jr./Times). 

RICHMOND A campaign to recall four City Council members who last week voted to oust the city's top executive, Floyd Johnson, began Tuesday with a signature-gathering event at City Hall. 

About 40 people at the rally put their names on the first official documents required to begin the recall campaigns. The meeting was scheduled to be outdoors, but rain drove the activists inside. 

It was the first public demonstration that people are serious about the arduous task of recalling council members. 

To get the measure on the ballot, they must first get 15 percent of voters, or 7,622 signatures, to ask for a recall. Then they must win a majority vote on the removal. 

"I'm surprised by how much the public has made an outcry," said Harpeet Sandhu, who recently worked on City Council campaigns for Gary Bell, a banker, and Councilman John Marquez. 

Speakers at the rally said they opposed the council's decision on Johnson because he "has done a great job" and because they felt excluded. The council's decision on Johnson was announced at 2 a.m. Nov. 19, when only one person was in the audience. 

Council members have declined to explain their decision in detail, citing fears of a lawsuit by Johnson. 

The four threatened with recall Donna Powers, Alex Evans, Nat Bates and Tom Butt were scheduled to be in a meeting during the 6 p.m. rally and could not be reached for comment. 

George Harris III, an attorney organizing the recall drive, said he was still considering requesting an injunction to suspend the council's vote. 

Harris suspects the council may have violated state open-meeting laws by not explicitly informing the public the council might vote on Johnson's contract, which expires Jan. 9.