Total Recall: Can It Happen in Broward?

As we watch the images of the common folks -- and multimillionaire Norman Braman -- celebrating in Miami over the successful recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas, it's easy to wonder: Can it happen here?

Can the people in Broward County dump the corrupt and/or negligent bums in office who haven't already been arrested by federal and state investigators?

ritter5.jpg
Ritter for recall?
So what if Ilene Lieberman got immunity from prosecution by the state -- she's part of a self-serving political cult of corruption, right?  

Can we get rid of her ourselves?

Sure. But the road to recall is a long and difficult one -- and, without the aid of a billionaire, it can seem impossible. And the last time I looked, Wayne Huizenga was on the other side of the equation when it came to corrupt politicians. That guy loves them -- and has helped make a number of them.

When thinking of recall candidates, let's forget Lieberman. She's already toast, debilitated by the current scandal, and with just two years left on her term (she should be term-limited in 2012, and depending on how the appellate court rules on John Rodstrom's lawsuit, she may be yet).

A lot of folks are talking about recalling Rick Scott. Sorry, state politicians, incredibly, don't fall under Florida recall laws. There is legislation being proposed now to change that, but I seriously doubt they'll pass considering who is in office.

So let's look at the worst politicians remaining in office in Broward County. Obviously all the veteran School Board members are viable candidates, those being Maureen Dinnen, Jennifer Gottlieb, Ann Murray, Ben Williams, and Robin Bartleman.

But as long as we're talking about it, let's go to rock bottom: Stacy Ritter.

How exactly would you go about kicking Ritter's arrogant Spanx-clad butt out of office? Well, first you have to

come up with legal grounds to do it. In a recall, you can't just say you're doing it because you don't like a politician. You have to come up with a legally sufficient reason to do it that must be endorsed by a judge. Those grounds include "malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude."

Again the grand jury report alone provides the fodder to qualify the School Board members. In Ritter's case, there's obviously a wealth of malfeasance from which to choose. The wild misspending in the 2008 campaign by Ritter and her lobbyist-husband, Russ Klenet, would do the trick easily, especially since the state has already filed civil charges against her. A judge would likely find that her acceptance of the golf cart from dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait would suffice. Other conflicts of interest with Klenet -- the shenanigans with airport manager URS and his then-firm's representation of Vista Health -- would probably do in a pinch as well. There's also the scandal involving Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger.

You can bundle this up in a bow; no judge could justify throwing out a well-formed argument against Ritter. Now comes the first really hard part: Getting the signatures.

Ritter's District 3 is up in northwestern Broward, with parts of Coral Springs, Parkland, Sunrise, and the dastardly Tamarac. I'm not sure of the exact number of registered voters in District 3, but I'm going to take an educated guess that it's somewhere around 120,000, give or take 15,000 or so.

With that size of a voter pool, state law says you need to get signatures from 5 percent of registered voters, meaning that in Ritter's case, you would have to get roughly 6,000 (give or take a thousand). And you've got 30 days to do it, an average of 200 a day.  

Anybody who has tried it knows that would be no small feat, even with a willing populace. You need numerous volunteers, and they have to be willing to stand outside supermarkets and go everywhere else there are large numbers of people gathered and hustle while they are at it.

Even if you are successful at that and the signatures are approved by the supervisor of elections, you then need to go back and get a second set of signatures. The second time around, you need to get 15 percent of the registered voters. In Ritter's case, about 18,000.   

This is why organization -- plus public outrage, as you had with Mayor Carlos Alvarez and the one-sided Marlins stadium deal -- is crucial. You almost have to have a situation where people are running to you to sign the recall petition.

In the case of Ritter, you will have some of that outrage. A well-run organization, with a whole lot of hard work, could likely get the signatures. But then comes the election itself.

Ritter would likely raise a whole lot of money from the special interests that she's pandered to -- lobbyists, contractors, her husband's clients, etc. 

But would that money matter?

Seijas in Miami raised more than $200,000 in a PAC to fight the recall. The recall backers came up with about $20,000. It didn't matter -- voters still ousted Seijas with a stunning 88 percent against her. Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, who helped lead the recall effort, had this quote in today's newspaper: "Natacha Seijas is a poster child for everything that is wrong with Miami-Dade County government, a government that is out of touch with taxpayers and has sold out to special interests."

Replace "Natacha Seijas" with "Stacy Ritter" and you could envision the same quote coming the day after a Broward recall election.

In the case of Ritter, I would strongly believe the vote would be closer. But as her many transgressions are debated across the district, I doubt her fractured condo base would protect her from recall. One of her great political allies in the condos, Marc Sultanof, is one of those who has been arrested on charges of corruption, after all.

So could Ritter be successfully recalled? The answer is yes. Does anyone out there have the wherewithal to put together the machine necessary to gather those signatures and run a campaign? There, again, is the rub. 

Hopefully, the State Attorney's Office -- which is targeting Ritter in the corruption probe -- will accomplish the task soon without having to rely on the people to get it done.

But if it doesn't, a recall drive might be just the right medicine for Broward as it has been in Miami-Dade.

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Ind_Thinker
Ind_Thinker

It's fun to dream, but there's zero chance Ritter would be recalled. I would be shocked if a recall movement could even get the initial 5% signatures. Do you really think that Broward Democrats are going to impeach one of their own?

Cde24
Cde24

The important tidbit in the article is that Florida voters DO NOT have the right to recall state elected officials! The right to recall a state elected official should be a part of the state's constitution. And, should require the same majority as an ammendment to the state constitution. In fact, perhaps such a state constitutional ammendmend should be spearheaded by the citizens.

DeadNorm
DeadNorm

well, interesting comments, and very well worth the look-see, anyway you can always use the Taj-Mahal new courthouse, as the public rejected that and even though it is repackaged as something different it may work. what needs to occur is the utilization of social media. Social media, i.e. facebook and tweeter are the driving forces in the topple in Egypt and Libya. Tunisia also used facebook to rally a few years ago. It more powerful then weapons!!! Look at CleanSweep, they were so afraid of it they resulted to dirty politics to shut it down. I would be interested to know if it played a part in Miami's recall. I know we are all upset and angered by the " let them eat cake" elitist attitude that has prevailed with our local politico's and even more frustrated that some of those that are their support base have an average age of death, and that an election can be won based on a bagel and a sch mere, but look at their faces, look at their demeanor as of late, the lashing out ( ala Jimmy Cefalo) the sulking Ileane, the quietness of these bottom feeders, the Pulpster has irritated them to no end, damn, you just know diarrhea is a daily occurrence as is shingles and flatulence. No, if I have learned anything since being dead is, everybody, I mean everybody must pay the piper. No one gets away with anything...ever. Look at Kenny Felon, Ana da Gardner, for all her vanity God cursed her with an increasing girt and ass that can be used to sell advertising on, Bev, Eggy, and the others and the ones that think they got home free..well dreaded diseases, the big C, and a host of other bad stuff that happens, that is karma and it does not care who or what you are or were, it is color blind and does not recognise wealth, education or contacts, it will reap vengeance, so when these folks close their eyes at night, do you really think they don't hear voices???????

Guest
Guest

Dead on Norm...Very Well said!

Paul Castellano
Paul Castellano

By my reckoning, there are now criminal investigations in progress against Lamberti by FDLE and the Broward SAO. The Florida Ethics Commission is also looking at him. There is an FBI investigation of Lt. Benjamin and they may also be checking out Wheeler. Schnakenberg is under criminal investigation. Miami-Dade PD, FBI, Homeland Security and Secret Service are all conducting their own investigations regarding BSO conduct at the 2010 Super Bowl. Miami is looking into BSO’s conduct at the Orange Bowl the year earlier. The sheriff's XO recently had a newspaper article devoted to his peculiar background and we learned that the Florida Police Standards Board is quite interested and likely to take severe action for failure to follow appropriate state statutes.So do we get any reasonable, literate or candid responses from the sheriff and his staff. No! Instead we are fed a steady dose of the usual fodder to try to divert the attention of taxpayers away from the rampant misconduct and incompetence. Here's a list I came up with in about 3 minutes:Unlicensed contractor enforcement; Shred-a-Thons; Buckle Up campaigns; DUI warnings and checkpoints; Rides and worn-out reminders about the Sgt. Reyka case; Smoke alarm reminders; Daylight Saving reminders; Anti-Bullying tips; Operation Medicine Cabinet; ego driven minor league radio shows, etc.There is nothing wrong with any of these in themselves. But a steady and increased diet of these recycled fluff pieces is a deliberate and insulting attempt to divert attention from the really pressing issues. The media knows it but has done little to ask the hard questions; the people know it, see it, smell it and don’t like it. And Lamberti and his staff must know it because they are running around like an air raid signing up personal attorneys before the fall. Why not some legitimate answers to the questions? How can AL constantly find time to attend tuxedo affairs at big money homes and get his photo in the slick social pages at least twice a month? How can he constantly attend skybox concerts for his favorite Italian performers and cavort at every useless law enforcement seminar and convention across the country, including all the little FBINA meetings but he has no time to truthfully address the integrity allegations that are running rampant and destroying our agency? Is this how an elected public servant, in law enforcement, no less, who created a motto of “Pride in Service With Integrity” conducts business? Not on my dime - and not with my vote.

anonymous
anonymous

Here's a novel idea. How about people not vote the people in that they don't like in the first place. Then, you wouldn't have to do a recall and waste a boatload of $$.

Themugs
Themugs

It wasn't just the Marlin's stadium deal that got Alvarez kicked out of office. No, most of the reason he lost by a 9-1 vote count (the largest margin I ever recall, for anything) is because he raised taxes while raising the pay of public employees.

Notably, you omit that part of the vast voter disatisfaction with Alvarez. Methinks that omission was not accidental.

Christy
Christy

Sheila Nixed Russ Klenet perhaps she can Nixa Stacia.

Hammerhead
Hammerhead

Pulp, didn't one of the Pulp Nation folks provide information that school board members are, somehow, exempt from the recall process? I agree with your analysis, but just thought I remembered someone stating that they had researched the issue and determined that recall was not permissible for school board members. Have you done that research yet? If the Pulp Nation member would please provide some statutory citation on that issue? I would really like it if the statutes allowed it. I think that the County-wide seat for JenJen would fall like blackbirds in Arkansas. Let's see what is possible here. Thanks Pulp.

Christy
Christy

Question:

What is Sheila Alu's opinion about Stacy Ritter?

Stockmaster68
Stockmaster68

Dreaming! If you have lived long enough in Broward, you would know the kind of people who live here. First, Broward has a larger percentage of New Yorkers than Miami. One would ask what does that mean?Well, believe it or nor New yorkers who come down here are escaping the drama and not likely to pick up any cause. Second, if you look at the people who initiated the recall in Miami not just Mr. Brennan. You have a majority subgroup which is missing in broward. Not a chance, too fractured group. I am putting together a group to recall Murray. Not sure if I will get any traction there.

RedBroward
RedBroward

Kuato Lives?

SeeYouSeeMe
SeeYouSeeMe

Thanks for your comment Tommy Boy, I mean Cleansweep, I mean Tommy Boy, I mean Red Broward.......blah blah blah.

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