Time and money, two of life's basic limitations. Both have significant impact on our efforts to recall Pacific Mayor Cy Sun. On the one hand is the hard and fast deadline issued by the city's insurance carrier of December 31st when they promise to drop Pacific's coverage. But they need to see significant change long before that deadline if they are going to change their minds. Another time crunch is the lead time needed in order to place an issue on the ballot. Details must be filed with the elections office well before the day we vote. We are fast approaching the deadline to get this recall on the November ballot. The next possible date for a vote would likely be a special election in February; and likely at a higher cost to the city.
On the other hand, money has prevented the Committee to Recall Cy Sun from formally beginning the recall process. The committee has been in fundraising mode until today. But as of this date, the first goal of $5,000 has been met and the attorneys are hired. The complex recall process has finally begun.
One of the reasons the fund raising has been so slow is because current Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) rules require that recall initiatives operate as a political campaign rather than an initiative. Fundraising rules are much more strict for political campaigns. Many believe the reason the recent recall effort against Pierce County's Assessor Dale Washam failed was due to this limitation. As with the Cy Sun recall, the Washam recall faced deadlines that were almost impossible to meet without decent money to help get the word out and quickly cover all the costs of the campaign.
There were many lessons learned from the failure of the Washam recall that Pacific will benefit from. The committee has hired the same law firm that ran the Washam recall. The Oldfield and Helsdon Firm have been to court on this issue and know the process inside and out. They have argued the merits of a recall and know the PDC rules. They have agreed to take this case on a step by step basis as we raise the funds for each step. Committee coordinator Tracey Apata outlined the agreement:
The first $5000 will be due as a retainer. The second $5000 would be paid and deemed
earned when they file the motion and other pleadings in support of the
petition filed by the prosecutor for the purpose of obtaining the order
of the Superior Court approving the ballot. The final $5000 is to be
paid and deemed earned when they attend the Superior Court hearing.
Jeff and Tom are really working with us to make this easier. They have
the experience and have successfully achieved getting the petition to
the ballot. We are in good hands.
Even with the urgency of looming deadlines, the Cy Sun recall has been severely hampered by the PDC application of campaign rather than initiative rules. For example, a citizen tried to donate $5,000 to our effort this week and we had to turn them down. Under political campaign rules, donations are limited to $900 per person or business and must be donated with the name of the donor and their employer. Those limitations do not apply initiative campaigns.
This rule is ripe for a challenge and our new attorneys are ready. They have contacted the Institute for Justice, who have agreed to defend our campaign if needed. We now have the legal resources to apply the more logical initiative campaign rules to our fundraising and fight the PDC if needed. So $5,000 donations are allowable and very welcome!
Now the complex recall legal process begins. Documentation of Cy Sun's wrongdoing must be filed with the prosecutor's office after review by the auditor. The recall effort must document that Mayor Sun has engaged in the "commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or ... has violated his oath of office."
The prosecutor determines the ballot wording and then the issue is reviewed by a judge. Mr. Sun can defend himself before the judge if he chooses.
If the judge rules the recall can proceed, Sun will have 15 days to appeal that decision. If no appeal is filed, the recall campaign must collect signatures of support from at least 35% of the voters from the last general election.1175 votes were cast in Pacific in the November 2011 election that put Sun in office. 411 voters (35% of 1175) must sign the recall initiative in order to have the issue placed on the ballot at the next election to be voted on by all the citizens of Pacific.
Each step is complex and subject to many rules and detailed legal requirements. We can't afford any delays or take time to redo a step. We have experienced legal representation to guide us and we have hit the ground running. We need to raise another $10,000 very quickly, so get out your checkbook and tell your neighbors to do the same. This recall is the only way to stop the insanity that has infected city hall. It's up to us. Donate today!