Recallers unhappy with Littlefield fundraiser
CHATTANOOGA (WCB) - A group of Chattanooga residents have spent more than a year trying to oust Mayor Ron Littlefield. Now, they're outraged the mayor would hold a fundraiser to set up a defense fund.
The recall efforts have cost Mayor Littlefield $50,000 in legal fees-- personal money, not taxpayer dollars.
So he's holding a fundraiser Thursday night.
That doesn't sit well with a group of residents who have dubbed themselves "Citizens to Recall Ron Littlefield".
They issued a letter to the media Thursday, stating the mayor's funding raising efforts are "belittling" to his constituents.
Jim Folkner, the organization's leader, calls the fundraiser Littlefield's latest attempt to suppress the voices of 15,000 voters who signed a petition against him.
A judge halted the group's efforts to recall Mayor Littlefield last year, saying petitioners failed to follow state law when they collected signatures.
The group is appealing that decision. They took their case to state Court of Appeals in August.
But, it will likely take several months for a ruling to be made.
Complete text of Folkner's letter:
Tonight, Mayor Ron Littlefield is holding a fund-raiser, hoping enough constituents show up to ward off a recall attempt from 15,000 of his other constituents.
Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield say this is yet again the wrong response from the mayor.
"Fifteen thousand people say Littlefield is going the wrong way. So he throws a party?" Recall Leader Jim Folkner said.
The mayor claims the recall was illegal. However, recallers want the local recall law followed, as directed by the Elections Board and city charter.
Folkner said Littlefield's fund-raiser is just his latest attempt to suppress the voices of 15,000 voters who signed the recall petition.
"It's the wrong response, just as Littlefield's requested 33% tax increase was the wrong response to Chattanooga's budget shortfalls, record home foreclosures and employment declines. And now that
Littlefield faces our appeal in a Knoxville court, he responds by soliciting private money in an expensive bid to keep the case in court to continue misusing our public money.
Recallers are frustrated with the consistent failure of the mayor's priorities to align with theirs, Folkner said.
"This is not just about excess taxes and fees. When a mayor is so corrupt that he brags about influencing judges, even in federal court, it's hard to expect him not to waste money. It's hard not to expect his administration would have several federal complaints from city employees concerning harassment and retaliation. Our government needs to be cleaned up."
Representatives of several citizen groups said they proudly partnered in the recall, including Democrats, Republicans, TEA Party, and COA members, because of the across-the board threat.
TEA Party Leader Mark West said, "Contrary to the Mayor's allegations, the effort to recall him was a grassroots-initiated and grassroots-funded effort. The recall was not a referendum on Ron Littlefield, the man, but rather the policies of Mayor Ron Littlefield that were hurtful to the city and its residents.
"Unfortunately, the Mayor spurned the people, and chose to snuff out the will of 15,000 of his constituents through his strategy of engaging some of the highest-priced lawyers in Chattanooga, and seeking a slick legal maneuver to overturn the recall.
"Even today, one year after the recall, a majority of the city's residents would recall the mayor again, if given the opportunity. This is the story and legacy of Mayor Littlefield. Recallers say the mayor is more interested in hanging on illegitimately to power than serving his constituents. "Ron Littlefield's sympathies lie with himself," said Charlie Wysong.
"When he needs money he takes it out of the taxpayer's hide, or runs to his friends for a fundraiser. However, the citizens of Chattanooga on fixed incomes have fewer and fewer such resources, because of Littlefield."
Recallers say the mayor deliberately shrank the pay of city emergency personnel as he bloated salaries of select City Hall staffers.
Officer Phil Grubb, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said, "I find it appalling that Littlefield asks the citizens pay his legal fees for his personal legal action. It's insulting when he claims he is not a wealthy man. He makes five times what the ordinary police officers are paid."
Voters want a mayor who brings justice, not fundraisers, said Art Rahn. "Only a moron would throw more lead ballasts at that sinking ship."
Instead of creating an environment for an economic boom, the mayor consistently shifts our public funds away from taxpayers into the pockets of special interest groups and networked cronies, Sharon Peker said.
"I've heard over a hundred stories from individuals on how the mayor had hurt small businesses. If the mayor wished to not have legal costs, he shouldn't have opposed the recall election. He could have saved his money for the election," she said.
Recallers didn't have a fundraiser, but say they gave from their own pockets to bring integrity to the office of Chattanooga mayor. Even the recall attorneys chipped in.
"We're grass roots, not big money," Peker said.
Folkner said the mayor should be belt tightening like the rest of us.
"Mr. Littlefield has not been able to run the city without a 19% increase on the backs of people struggling in this economy, people losing their jobs and homes. The stormwater taxes that he requested, are over 10 times the amount Knoxville spends on stormwater. People are tired of elected officials not being able to do the job without increasing taxes."
Submitted by Jim Folkner
Citizens to Recall Ron Littlefield