Riverdale recall efforts fail

By Ed Brock

An effort to recall two Riverdale city council members failed because the sponsors of the petition failed to get enough signatures.

Devele Andrews, a police officer in Clarkston, filed the petition last week with the Clayton County Registrar's Office to recall Councilman Rick Scoggins and Councilwoman Wanda Wallace, part of a recall effort he said would eventually include every member of the council.

In order to go forward with the recall effort Andrews and his supporters had to get 100 signatures on the petition.

"They had 100 signatures but only 77 were qualified to sign it," said Riverdale City Clerk Sandra Meyers.

The people signing the petition had to be registered to vote at the time Scoggins and Wallace were elected in 2001, Meyers said.

"They can do another one if they like," Meyers said.

Andrews, who has lived in Riverdale for two years, said he was initiating the recall because of activities by the council that violate the city charter and state law.

"I can prove that (they) held private meetings and handed out money without it being brought to the council floor," he said previously of the four-member council.

He could not be reached for comment Friday on whether he would try to file another petition for recall.

Andrews' Web site, www.riverdalerecall.com, that previously had detailed information on the recall effort now has only a patriotic "We support our troops" logo on it and links to unrelated news stories.

Previously Wallace refuted the accusations.

"There are no facts there," Wallace said. "This is triggered over allegations that aren't true. If I felt that I had done something wrong, believe me, I would be out there defending myself."

Scoggins said previously that the people behind the recall should have contacted him first so he could explain that under the law the effort is unjustified because they have done nothing illegal.

"The thing I would most like to say to the citizens of Riverdale is that I have done nothing wrong and I have performed legally, ethically and morally," Scoggins said. "I have represented the citizens of Riverdale to the fullest of my ability."

Grounds for recall include an elected official acting in a manner that adversely affects both the administration of that official's office and the rights and interests of the public.

In addition, the official must have engaged in misconduct while in office, violated the oath of office, failed to perform the duties prescribed by law, or have willfully misused or misappropriated public funds or property entrusted to their office.

State law outlines a process for organizing a recall vote, which starts with a two-step petition process. First, residents must apply with the Probate Court to circulate a recall petition. That application must include the signatures of 100 sponsors who live and are registered to vote within the district up for recall.

Within four business days of the application, the official potentially up for recall can request that a superior court judge review the grounds for recall to determine the validity of the charges.

If the signatures are verified by the county Voting Registrar and the court rules the petition may move forward, the sponsors of the petition then have a specific period of time to get the required number of signatures for the recall petition. In the case of officials elected to represent districts, signatures from 30 percent of the registered voters within that district are required for the petition.

Council member Kenny Ruffin said Riverdale has about 5,000 registered voters.

Andrews said previously that he also plans to recall council members Ruffin and Michelle Bruce, but must wait until they've been in office 180 days. Both began their four-year terms in January.

A special election would be held, and the recalled officials could run again for the seats, Andrews said.

Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham isn't included in Andrews recall efforts. Andrews, who has donated $150 to her election campaign, said she was not targeted because city council members have the real power; she only votes when there is a tie.

Andrews said Graham had nothing to do with the recall effort.

Bruce was the only council member to be reached Friday. She said she hopes Andrews and his three-person organization, the City of Riverdale Recall Committee, chose not to try again for the recall.

"A lot of people have to remember that they have to prove everything in court," Bruce said.