The LiberalOC has learned that an organized group of Tustin residents will serve Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante with a recall petition at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. While the organizers of the group have not yet revealed their identities, the petition adheres to the standards required to recall public officials.
We also learned that Amante is likely aware of the pending action, which may explain why he’s holding a fundraiser at the Tustin Ranch Golf Center on Wednesday April 6. We questioned why a termed out Mayor/City Council member, with no office to run for, would hold a fundraiser. The consultants managing the event refused to explain what the funds were being raised for.
We believe the funds raised are likely to be used by Amante to fight the recall in an election should organizers get the 7,000 signatures required to place the recall on the ballot. The general theme of the fundraiser is “support Jerry Amante.”
Organizers have 120 days to gather the needed signatures and have been advised to get more than necessary to ensure the recall of Amante goes to the voters. Amante can respond to the petition of recall within a 200 word limit.
The grounds for the recall are as follows, from a draft copy of the petition (we’re told a final copy of the petition will be sent when completed).
During Jerry Amante’s term as City Council member and Mayor of Tustin:
- Amante consistently bullies, belittles and humiliates council members, staff and citizens. In an attempt to promote his own agenda, he has publicly abused citizens who spoke out at City Council meetings, including recently clearing public citizens out of the council chambers.
- Amante’s disregard for taxpayer dollars has tripled Tustin’s legal fees over the last 5 years from under $700,000 in 2005-06 to over $1,600,000 in 2009-10.
- Amante lead the charge in firing the new City Manager after only four months, leaving taxpayers with over $190,000 in termination costs.
- Amante lead the charge to file a costly and frivolous lawsuit against the Tustin Unified School District (TUSD) and opposed the TUSD’s Measure G which was designed to improve our schools.
- Amante has used thousands of hours of staff time to back his personal agenda, including the recent appeal of a planning commission decision and subsequent harassment of the property owners in Old Town Tustin.
- Amante condemned pillar organizations of Tustin; American Legion, Tustin Fine Arts Council, Tustin-Santa Ana Rotary and the Tustin Preservation Conservancy and began a campaign to shut off their funds.
While the initial petition only requires 10 signatures, organizers tell us when they present the petition for recall at the city council meeting, they are hoping for 25 signatures. The group is seeking support from Tustin residents with help gathering signatures and voter registration efforts.
Copies of the Amante letters that show his disconnect from various community organizations are still posted on a website from former Tustn Council candidate Sherri Loveland. In the letters, Amante cites political positions taken by organizations against candidates he supported as reasons for withdrawing his membership and support.
And while the letters show Amante to be a vindictive sort of guy (would he have written the same letters had said organizations backed his candidates?), it’s the fiscal mismanagement and partisan politicizing of his office that have this citizens group up in arms. We’re told that the group includes both Republicans and Democrats; Amante is apparently a uniter and not a divider. The group expects Amante to retaliate against them.
Political observers in Tustin believe the grassroots group can easily gather the needed signatures. And the fundraiser for Amante on April 6 surely means that Amante knows they can, and he’s raising money to challenge the recall. Once the measure makes it to the ballot, expect a group of possible replacement candidates to step forward much like the model used for the recall of Governor Gray Davis. So the ballot may look like two questions:
1. Should Jerry Amante be recalled from the city council (yes or no).
2. If Jerry Amante is recalled, which candidate from the list below should be elected to replace him for the remainder of his term? Followed by a list of candidates.
It’s going to be fun to watch.