UPDATED: Littlefield: "The recallers should be ashamed" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATED: Littlefield: "The recallers should be ashamed"

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Mayor Ron Littlefield filed a lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission and attacked those he says that are out to get him. 

Littlefield sent a letter to Eyewitness News claiming the recall violates state law. 

In the letter Mayor Littlefield says "the citizens of Chattanooga have been subjected to the aggressive behavior of a small group of radicals twisting arms at every public gathering and spewing venom and promoting their cause."

But recall organizer Jim Folkner says the Mayor is playing a legal game. 

"I just think it's really sad that the mayor is trying to just insult people who just wanted to have a recall, who've been responsible for thousands of signatures almost 15,000 to which 10,000 have been verified," Folkner says.

Littlefield also says if the recall makes it to a ballot, it won't happen in November. He says a recall election must coincide with county or city elections and November is a national election.

[Read the Littlefield Lawsuit]

Littlefield also made strong accusations against members of the recall group. He's talked about how they've made money and what property they own.

Folkner says, "I'd call it the politics of personal destruction, where people insult other people to bully people and put them down and that's not right." 

Mayor Littlefield's letter:

Leadership carries with it responsibilities.  Foremost among these is the responsibility of a leader to define a course that will produce a positive outcome.  Responsible leaders must also make difficult decisions that are not always popular, but nonetheless necessary.  On the other hand, a nefarious leader follows a dead end path pursuing an agenda that is in conflict with the betterment of the community.

For several months now, the citizens of Chattanooga have been subjected to the aggressive behavior of a small group of radicals twisting arms at every public gathering spewing venom and promoting their cause with a reckless disregard for the truth and the wellbeing of our city.  The chief proponent is a multimillionaire complete with posh mansion and a healthy real estate portfolio.  He made his fortune in assisted living and elder care - an industry that exists because of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  Hypocritically, he now seeks to preach to us about the evils of taxes and government programs.  He has also refused to meet with me, one-on-one, to discuss the questionable tactics that his foot soldiers have used in their crusade.

Another prominent member of the small group is a young man who (in his own words) supports himself by donating plasma and through the largess of friends and family.  In a recent newspaper article he arrogantly states that he refuses to be "a wage slave at Walmart."  He should apologize to all the hard working people who do work for that important employer.

A third member of the group is a perennial publicity-seeking street preacher who first surfaced as sidekick for the late Dan Martino – a strange and misguided man who haunted the halls of local government for years in the 1980' and 90's.

The rest of the small group of instigators are chronic grumblers and complainers well known to this administration and others dating back many years. The common thread seems to be that no one actually has a job other than tearing down what others have worked hard to create.  In that regard, they seem willing to say or do anything.

It is obvious that thousands of dollars have been spent to promote a petition to remove the mayor and ultimately several members of Chattanooga's city council.  There has been no examination of the motives for this well-financed recall drive.  We do know that the principal individual at the head of the undertaking is wealthy and willing to put his personal resources into the campaign, but we don't know what other interests are behind the effort.  We do know that all have refused to publically disclose the sources and amounts of money and a list of contributors.  We also don't know their ultimate goal – other than intimidation.

What do the recallers want?  Do they actually believe that anyone new to office would roll back the bare minimum tax increase that was adopted to keep our city sound and strong?  Do they know that only one councilmember was totally opposed to raising the tax rate and that three of those who voted against the budget actually wanted a higher rate?  Do they, the recallers, think that new city government representatives will reverse the water quality fees carefully calculated to meet state and federal guidelines?  Do they know the drastic and damaging effects that such a course of action would cause to happen? 

As my attorneys have explained in the lawsuit filed today this recall effort is a classic example of a dead-end path followed by a narrow minded fringe group fueled by misinformation and blinded by anger.  They have missed several important points:

First of all, the clear instructions of Tennessee law and the official opinions of the Tennessee Attorney General require that any recall election only take place at general county elections or general municipal elections.  The last general election took place on August 5 and the next one will not take place until August 2012.  The next general municipal election will not take place until March 2013 – a month before my term ends.

A second significant point missed by this recall effort is the failure to adhere to one simple, clear requirement of Tennessee law.  The statute requires that the petition contain a question – not an allegation.  Yet, their petition contains no question, only a false claim that I would be "automatically recalled" if a small percentage of the registered voters of the City were to sign the petition.  This is more than a legal technicality. 

There are other important issues that have already been publically divulged somewhat.  There is the question of State law versus the City charter and the effective requirement of 9,000 or 15,000 signatures.  There is also the matter that several versions of the petition were utilized in the drive – rather than adhering to the form approved by the Election Commission, as required by law.

Perhaps more importantly, the relevant statute also requires that the petition show the date of each signature, an important requirement because all signatures must be obtained in a 75-day period.  However, thousands of signatures of registered Chattanooga voters counted by the Election Commission are not dated.  We are proceeding to audit the submitted petitions and determine the effect of this failure.

Finally, let me say that I have been elected to serve Chattanooga several times over the years:  as Commissioner of Public Works under Chattanooga's old system of government, twice as Councilman for District 6 and finally twice as Mayor.  I served as the first Chairman of the new City Council when the new system of government was instituted in 1990, and then again in 2002.  I have been through many political storms and I have persevered.  Never before in all my years in government have I witnessed such a persistently negative and untruthful campaign as we have just endured.  I hope that we as a community shall never have to go through such a citywide trial again.  The recallers should be ashamed. 

The people of Chattanooga have entrusted me with the responsibility of making our city the best place that it can be.  I am proud to have been a part of the decades long effort that has made us the most transformed city in America.  I love Chattanooga and I will not stand idly by while this or any other group employs lies and deception in their toxic frenzy to destabilize this city.  I refuse to be bullied or intimidated by the tactics of the recallers and I refuse to allow our community to fall into the hands of a noisy and negative fringe group that seeks only to tear our city down and stop our progress.

I believe that the Court will find that this petition drive is fatally flawed and that no recall election will be held before my current and final term of office expires.  However, if there is another election, be assured that I will run.

Ron Littlefield


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