San Juan City Commission recall, San Juan, Texas (2011)

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An effort to recall Lupe Rodriguez, Armando Garza, Bob Garza and Eddie Suarez from their positions on the City Commission of San Juan, Texas, was launched in the fall of 2010. It was the second attempt in a year at recalling the San Juan City Commission. The first attempt failed due to lack of signatures.[1] The second attempt also failed to force a recall election.

Reasons for recall

The recall effort is being led by a group called the Concerned Citizens of San Juan. Ramiro Treviño is the head of the recall group, which filed a first petition in late February 2010 alleging that all four city commissioners were involved in serious misconduct. The alleged wrongful dismissal of city employees, including the city's former city manager Tony Garza, is one pattern of behavior cited by recall supporters. Recall supporters also say that the four targeted city commission members have undermined the city's bid process. 18 other reasons are cited in the recall petition.

The targeted city commission members say that, on the contrary, the recall committee and those pushing for a recall are nothing more than political operatives in the pay of the political enemies of the targeted commission members.

Path to the ballot

Concerned Citizens of San Juan turned in a recall petition with 1,438 signatures on December 3, 2010. 1,414 verified signatures are required for the recall to succeed.[1]

On January 3, 2011 City Secretary Bobby Rodriguez informed the petitioners in writing that 486 of the submitted signatures were declared invalid. Petitioners had 10 days from the written notice to submit corrections. Further, city officials claimed that petitioners committed fraud when collecting the signatures by misleading citizens as to the intent of the petition.[2]

Petitioners resubmitted the disputed signatures on January 13th. The city hired a private investigator to look into allegations of fraud on behalf of those collecting signatures. Signed affidavits were obtained from citizens who signed the petition claiming they were lead to believe they were signing for purposes other than the recall of the City Commission, including supporting a new restaurant and new sidewalks. Six recall organizers were arrested on January 31, 2011 on charges of forging government documents. They spent one night in jail and were released on $15,000 bond.[3]

In September 2011, a 398th District Court grand jury found that there was not enough evidence of petition fraud to indict the six people who had been arrested.[4] In February 2012, the recall petitioners filed suit against the city, accusing city officials of slander, libel, defamation, assault, false imprisonment and civil conspiracy.[5]

Recall petitioners accused city commissioner Bob Garza of physically assaulting them "during an argument over campaign signs" on April 10, 2011. Garza denied the allegations.[6] A video clip from the altercation can be viewed here.

See also