Spivak cited as expert in So. Cal. story


MAY 17, 2009
    Edwin Snell is ticked off at Republican Assemblyman Anthony Adams and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and he wants them out of the office.
    Adams' vote to pass the Schwarzenegger-endorsed state budget and raise taxes has prompted the Apple Valley resident to start a recall process.
    "We are just trying to take back our government," Snell said. "Anthony Adams lied to the people. Heads on the stick!"
    "They (people of California) wanted a real weapon that voters can use," said Joshua Spivak, a research fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Center for Government Reform at Wagner College in New York. "You just have to convince enough of your fellow citizens."
    To begin a recall against an elected state offical, proponents are required to serve, file, and publish or post a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition.
    In April, Snell paid $1,000 each to publish notices of intention to recall Adams and Schwarzenegger.
    He then submitted two blank copies of the petition he intended to circulate to Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office.
    The petition prepared by the state must be followed to a t. All sections must be printed in uniform size and have uniform spacing.
    Snell's first petition for Adams needed 11 corrections. One of them dealt with seemingly minute issue.
    "On your petition, the phrase 'TO THE HONORABLE ANTHONY ADAMS' is followed by a colon," the letter stated. "On your notice of intention, that phrase is followed by a semicolon."
    Barb Stanton, a local talk-radio host, helped Snell prepare the recall documents.
    "It's very difficult and it's not user friendly," Stanton said. "It's a very precise form. Smallest, most minute things can go wrong and you have to start all over again."
    Other issues addressed were more serious. According to California's Elections Code, recall proponents must be registered voters in the district of the official they seek to recall. Seven of the 11 names on Snell's petition could not be verified as registered voters of Assembly District 59.
    Snell had to file two blank copies of the corrected petition within 10 days after receiving the state notification.
    The 10-day correction notification period and 10-day filing period for corrected petitions is repeated until the state finds no more changes are needed.
    Snell went back and forth three times with the state until May 7, when both his petitions were approved.
    About the same time Snell was working to get his recall petition corrected, David Bartels was going through the process to oust Adams on behalf of Atlas PAC.
    Adams responded to Bartels' effort.
    "The petition you hold is a creation of two very wealthy Orange County men who care less about our community and more about their political ambitions," Adams wrote to secretary of state's office.
    Bartels, an attorney, said it took only 10 days from when he first submitted his petition until May 4 when it was approved.
    "Ours went really quickly," Bartels said. "We misspelled one of the names on the first one. If you're not an attorney I could see how it would be more difficult. Resources are there, be diligent and make sure you are following everything precisely."
    Snell withdrew his recall petition of Adams after seeing that Atlas PAC had its approved.
    The recall process first appeared as a constitutional amendment in 1911. There were no recalls of California state legislators from 1914 to 1994. Gray Davis is only the second governor in U.S. history to face a recall vote.
    Recalls are strategically very enticing, Spivak said. Generally, there is much lower voter turnout for a recall, or any other special election, than there is for a regularly scheduled election.
    "Recall proponents and supporters are motivated and angry. They are likely to turn out to vote," Spivak said. "However, the elected officials supporters have to be notified to come out specifically to vote for one race.
    Signature gathering is the biggest barrier for a sucessfull recall, Spivak said.
    Snell is now allowed to begin circulating a petition to recall the governor. He has 160 days - or until Oct. 14 - to submit at least 1,041,530 valid signatures, which is 12 percent of votes cast for governor in the November 2006 election.
    Signatures must be obtained from at least five different counties and must be equal in number to at least one percent of the last vote for office in each of five counties.
    The number of signatures needed to recall members of the Assembly must equal at least 20 percent of the last vote for the office.
    The recall committee will have to gather 37,000 signatures from registered voters in Adams' district in order for a special election to be called, said Lee Lowrey, co-chairman of the Committee to Recall Adams and chairman of Atlas PAC.
    A state official who is not recalled must be reimbursed by the state for their expenses.
    In the past century, there have been 145 recall attempts against California state officials, said Nicole Winger, spokeswoman for California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Nine have qualified for a ballot and only five have been successful in removing an official.
    Assemblyman Anthony Adams represents the San Bernardino County communities of Apple Valley, Hesperia, Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, San Bernardino, Highland, and Mentone. Adams also represents the Los Angles County communities of Claremont, La Verne, Glendora, San Dimas, Monrovia, Bradbury, Arcadia and La Crescenta.