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Deadline Looms for Senate Recall Petition Drive

Feb. 26, 2007 — Organizers of a drive on St. Croix to recall four senators have a few hours left to turn in their petitions, which must be at the Board of Elections office by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Elections will then determine whether petitioners were able to collect the required amount of signatures needed to oust Sens. Juan Figueroa-Serville, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste and Ronald E. Russell.
The recall drive was initiated after senators passed a controversial bill during a session held at the end of December. Community members have since spoken out against a number of proposals included in the bill, such as pay raises given to top government officials, changes made to the Government Employees' Retirement System (GERS) and a $15 million loan guarantee given to hotel developer Paul Golden.
At a press conference Monday on St. Croix, recall organizer Michael J. Springer Jr. discussed why community members have opposed the provisions and what can be done to change them. An alternate proposal, drafted by the watchdog group Crucians in Focus, has been circulated to senators' staff members, and will soon be sent up to Government House, he said.
The group's proposal seeks to involve community members in the legislative process, establishing such things as a citizen-review board, which would be charged with analyzing pay increases proposed for senators and other government officials.
"We just don't want to be preaching repeal or recall," he said later on Monday. "We also want to offer some solutions. The recall process will take some time, even if we are able to collect all the signatures we need, but these issues still need to be addressed as soon as possible. We are flabbergasted that this bill was passed, and something has to be done about it immediately."
In the meantime, recall efforts are still in full swing. With the deadline looming, organizers have been collecting petitions and tallying signatures. "So far we have counted 4,000 signatures," Springer said. "But we are still counting, so I can't say right now exactly how many we have. But I do feel that we're going to be able to meet the required amount."
According to Elections Supervisor John Abramson, some 8,691 signatures — or, two-thirds of the individuals who voted for any St. Croix senator during the 2006 General Election — have to be collected. Elections then has 60 days to verify the signatures and make a determination on whether a recall election will take place.
"If a recall election does take place, two-thirds of the individuals from the district who voted in the General Election have to show up at the polls," Abramson said during a recent interview. "Then a majority of those individuals — 50 percent plus one vote — must vote to take that senator out of office."
Abramson added that Elections would then have to organize another election to replace any senator that has been successfully recalled. "And any individual who has been taken out of office can still run for the position of senator in that second election," he said. "So people can vote to take them out, but a majority can also vote to put them right back in."
Each election would cost the government, and taxpayers, $200,000, Abramson said. "Right now, we don’t have that kind of money," he explained. "So we would have to go to the Legislature for an appropriation."
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Feb. 26, 2007 -- Organizers of a drive on St. Croix to recall four senators have a few hours left to turn in their petitions, which must be at the Board of Elections office by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Elections will then determine whether petitioners were able to collect the required amount of signatures needed to oust Sens. Juan Figueroa-Serville, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste and Ronald E. Russell.
The recall drive was initiated after senators passed a controversial bill during a session held at the end of December. Community members have since spoken out against a number of proposals included in the bill, such as pay raises given to top government officials, changes made to the Government Employees' Retirement System (GERS) and a $15 million loan guarantee given to hotel developer Paul Golden.
At a press conference Monday on St. Croix, recall organizer Michael J. Springer Jr. discussed why community members have opposed the provisions and what can be done to change them. An alternate proposal, drafted by the watchdog group Crucians in Focus, has been circulated to senators' staff members, and will soon be sent up to Government House, he said.
The group's proposal seeks to involve community members in the legislative process, establishing such things as a citizen-review board, which would be charged with analyzing pay increases proposed for senators and other government officials.
"We just don't want to be preaching repeal or recall," he said later on Monday. "We also want to offer some solutions. The recall process will take some time, even if we are able to collect all the signatures we need, but these issues still need to be addressed as soon as possible. We are flabbergasted that this bill was passed, and something has to be done about it immediately."
In the meantime, recall efforts are still in full swing. With the deadline looming, organizers have been collecting petitions and tallying signatures. "So far we have counted 4,000 signatures," Springer said. "But we are still counting, so I can't say right now exactly how many we have. But I do feel that we're going to be able to meet the required amount."
According to Elections Supervisor John Abramson, some 8,691 signatures -- or, two-thirds of the individuals who voted for any St. Croix senator during the 2006 General Election -- have to be collected. Elections then has 60 days to verify the signatures and make a determination on whether a recall election will take place.
"If a recall election does take place, two-thirds of the individuals from the district who voted in the General Election have to show up at the polls," Abramson said during a recent interview. "Then a majority of those individuals -- 50 percent plus one vote -- must vote to take that senator out of office."
Abramson added that Elections would then have to organize another election to replace any senator that has been successfully recalled. "And any individual who has been taken out of office can still run for the position of senator in that second election," he said. "So people can vote to take them out, but a majority can also vote to put them right back in."
Each election would cost the government, and taxpayers, $200,000, Abramson said. "Right now, we don’t have that kind of money," he explained. "So we would have to go to the Legislature for an appropriation."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.