Recall Petition Costing Time & Money At City Hall - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/21/07

Recall Petition Costing Time & Money At City Hall

The second petition to recall Lubbock City Councilwoman Linda DeLeon failed by 16-signatures.  City Secretary Becky Garza made that announcement Tuesday afternoon.  Garza and her staff invalidated 78-signatures over all.

Garza says 40 signatures were not registered voters, and 23 signatures were people not registered to vote in District 1.  15 other names were thrown out for other problems, including incorrect birth dates, no signing dates, and some people signed twice according to Garza.  She says duplicate names were counted, but only once.

The city says they spent nights and weekends counting these signatures which is overtime for some employees. While petition organizers have said repeatedly DeLeon should resign to save the city time and money. DeLeon says petition organizers should use their energy to help the community.

"I'm hoping that this group of citizens can see the good that can become of us working together," DeLeon said. 

DeLeon is calling on her constituents to work with her, after the second attempt to remove her from office failed. 

"I think it's an exciting day to know that this petition has failed," DeLeon said. 

It took city staff five days to complete the count.  Organizers turned in their petition just before the 5:00 p.m. deadline on August 13th.  Garza addressed the media the following two days, and denied the petitioners' request to have a third party observer present.

On Friday, organizers requested Garza reconsider that decision, to no avail, and Tuesday, the results were released.

"We spent a lot of hours, and hourly staff spent a lot of overtime hours.  We were here all-day Saturday," Garza said. 

Garza says she cannot do anything about that extra time or money.

"It's out of my control until the city council changes the charter; it's out of my hands."

"So, the city staff is using tax payer money to address this petition each time it's being submitted to us, so it's time spent where we ought to spend it somewhere more effectively," DeLeon said. 

Garza did address her decision not to have a third party observer at Tuesdays press conference.  She told us it was her job to protect people's private information, and while her staff verifies the petition, they have to pull up people's social security numbers, drivers license numbers, and dates of birth.

We asked why she didn't tell us that last week.  Garza says, in retrospect, she should have.

NewsChannel 11 did contact petition organizers. They tell us they will make a comment after checking over the city's work.

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