Fullerton Recall Petition Sparks Community Debate - NBC Southern California

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Fullerton Recall Petition Sparks Community Debate

Recall and anti-recall tensions boil with broadcasted petition signing.



    Fullerton Recall Petition Sparks Community Debate

    On Wednesday, Fullerton residents broadcast their grievances against elected officials at a petition signing event at city hall on KFI’s "John and Ken Show."

    Special Section: The Kelly Thomas Case

    The petitions are part of the recall effort directed toward Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead, Councilmember Pat McKinley and Mayor Richard Jones.

    The organizers of Fullerton Recall stand “in opposition to the closed government policies exhibited by the City of Fullerton and the Fullerton PD," according to their website.

    The petitions advocate that these officials need to be held accountable for corrupt government practices and they were unable to do their job effectively in the wake of Kelly Thomas’ death on July 5.

    "I think the primary failing is the lack of leadership in controlling the behaviors of the Fullerton police department and remaining virtually silent in the wake of the Kelly Thomas incident," said Chris Thompson, spokesperson for the blog Friends of Fullerton’s Future. "It took a month to pull these officers off the street.”

    Larry Bennett, Fullerton Planning Commissioner and spokesman for Protect Fullerton – Recall No, says that the lack of leadership claims will dissipate as people begin to look at the issues with cooler heads.

    Fullerton Recall

    [LA] Fullerton Recall
    The Fullerton Future organization is trying to get signatures to recall several Fullerton City Council members.
    (Published Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011)

    Bankhead, McKinley, and Jones were following the law in regards to the Kelly Thomas case, despite allegations that they were participating in a cover up, said Bennett.

    “The Kelly Thomas case is now the DA’s case, and it’s now criminal to divulge any information that would be in that police investigative report to anyone other than the DA, the grand jury and the attorney general,” said Bennett. 

    Thompson was critical of the three politicians for leading campaigns through endorsements by the Fullerton Police Department.

    "I don’t know of any espoused political party that states, 'We like to waste money, we like to spend more than we receive, we like to empower police to do whatever they want, and we like our elected leaders to protect police and go dead silent in the wake of police breaking the laws,'" said Thompson.

    Bennett said that the recall is born out of political opportunism.

    “In a moment when a horrific, tragic accident occurred, it just became an easier thing. ‘Let’s allege this cover up.’ Well, that goes away when people start realizing that the DA took this case on seriously," Bennett said.

    City of Fullerton Public Information Officer Sylvia Palmer Mudrick said that the city does not have a comment on petition signings at city hall.

    "The city has only one role, and that is to certify the signatures when they come in, and if necessary, to schedule the election," Mudrick said.

    Residents began recall efforts over two months ago, when three official petitions were brought to city hall on Aug. 12. All three petitions were approved by city clerk Lucinda Williams on Sept. 9.

    In order for the petitions to be implemented, they each require a minimum of 10,554 signatures, 15 percent of registered Fullerton voters. Signatures are due by Feb. 16, 2012.

    Petition signings have been held at supermarkets across Fullerton. Supporters tabled at Ralphs, Albertson, and Stater Bros locations in the Fullerton area to rally support for the recall.

    Thompson said while he wasn’t giving out specific numbers to gauge the recall’s progress, he said petitioners are on a track that allows them to accomplish their goals in a fraction of the time given.

    A newly created Fullerton Homeless Task force will start work Thursday advocating for the city's needy.

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