SAN BERNARDINO -- City Clerk Gigi Hanna has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the political action committee responsible for a petition opposing the recall of Hanna and other elected officials.
The so-called anti-recall petition asks for elections officials to remove the name of anyone who signs the anti-recall petition from petitions seeking to recall Mayor Pat Morris, City Attorney James F. Penman, the seven City Council members or Hanna.
"I am opposed to the sale of the City's Water System to any for-profit company," the anti-recall petition says. "I am opposed to the recall of any City Official who is committed to keeping the City's Water System under the jurisdiction of and operated by, The City San Bernardino."
Hanna said that at least in regards to her, the anti-recall statement is misleading.
"I think it's inappropriate," she said. "I have nothing to do with water rates, one way or the other."
Former Mayor Evlyn Wilcox, whose political action committee paid for the anti-recall petition, did not return a phone call Friday, the day after Hanna sent her a cease-and-desist letter.
Even the manager of the recall campaign, Michael McKinley, said at a Save San Bernardino meeting Thursday that Hanna's cease-and-desist letter would probably have no legal effect.
"We think they have the right to do that," McKinley said, referring to Wilcox's group. "We do think it's misleading."
Recall leader Scott Beard insists he has no intention of touching water rates, saying the city's independent water department is well-funded and his goal is to remove the elected officials responsible for the city's bankruptcy filing.
Penman says otherwise, pointing to Rialto, where Beard consulted on that city's deal to lease out its water system. The Rialto City Council then voted to increase water rates 114 percent over four years, which council members said was necessary because of years of deferred maintenance and artificially low rates.
Under Penman's theory, which some other targeted officials say is worth considering but others call outlandish, the recall would be followed by the election of a mayor and council members who would then vote to remove the current water board members. The new water board members would then outsource the water system, and Beard would make millions in consultant fees, Penman said.
Penman said Friday that anti-recall petitions are not only valid, they were responsible for defeating an attempt to recall San Bernardino council members in the 1990s.
"The right doesn't belong to her," Penman said, referring to Hanna. "The right belongs to the people signing the petition."
Hanna said the letter might not have a legal effect, but she wanted people to know where she stood.
"I want to be on record saying I don't support this," she said.
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