Petitioners to City Attorney, “A simple yes or no, please”

Update: City Councilwoman Sandy Carmany emails with city attorney Terry Woods response.  I placed it in the comments below.

In an email, recall Bellamy-Small organizer Tony Wilkins sez…

I was part of the last successful petition drive in Greensboro in 1989 (smoking referendum). At that time the City Attorney’s Office not only read our petition they actually had us change a word in the petition to make it valid.  Now, the City Attorney’s Office (Terry Wood) says they will not check our petition for validity. …we made it very clear that we were not asking for any advice, just asking that the Attorney’s Office check the petition for form and wording that it would be valid when presented.”

I’ve said that efforts to to recall Bellamy-Small could be put to better use. But nonetheless, Greensboro’s citizens are afforded the right – and the mechanism – to undertake such an endeavor and should be encouraged to exercise those rights by official Greensboro.

The city attorney’s office was helpful in the successful petition drive mentioned by Wilkins above, and petitioner extraordinary Bill Burckley explained to me that he consulted with those offices to make sure all of the legal “t’s” were crossed before presenting the 2003 baseball stadium petition to potential signers.  It just makes sense to do so.

Then, as now, all the petitioners are asking of Linda Miles’ office is whether or not the wording will pass muster when (if) the proper number of names are assembled and the petition is presented to the City Council.  A simple “yes” or “no” to the question of the petition’s validity is not an official endorsement of what the petition seeks to accomplish. But, as a courtesy to the citizens who pay their salary, the city attorney’s office should do what they have done for other petitioner committees over the years: tell them if their petition will be ruled as invalidated due to its wording.

I can promise you that if some “i” is not dotted on the petition – a draft of which follows the jump below – our city attorney will throw out all 734 signatures that the committee is working to obtain.



            Pursuant to Sec. 2.71 (c) (2) of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, we, the undersigned, hereby petition for and request the removal of Councilwoman T. Diane Bellamy-Small from her office as member of the City Council.  The undersigned are each qualified voters of the council district in which T. Diane Bellamy-Small was elected in the last preceding election. Upon information and belief the undersigned state that the grounds for removal are:

            a.            Councilwoman Bellamy-Small has intentionally or negligently leaked government documents and reports which were confidential, which release caused substantial harm to pending criminal investigations and personnel matters involving present and former employees of the City of Greensboro.

            b.            Councilwoman Bellamy-Small has sought to intimidate, hinder and delay a sworn police office of the City of Greensboro in an effort to avoid being cited for violation of the motor vehicle laws, and has filed an unfounded and vindictive complaint against said officer.

            c.            Councilwoman Bellamy-Small has persisted in irrational and irresponsible behavior in the conduct of her office, including the selection of her physical office, refusal to respond to reasonable inquiries of her fellow council member, the press and her constituents, and  has engaged in other conduct which brings disrepute upon her, the council and the members of her district.

SIGNATURE                                      PRINTED NAME                               ADDRESS

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  1. Posted March 19, 2007 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    If thye went to the council meeting and stuffed this in the council’s faces and asked Miles why the legal dept about Woods bullshit answer it would be solved. They meet tomorrow. Stick it in their face.

  2. David Hill
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I think the recall effort will only serve to divide the community.

    A better effort (in my opinion) would be to get potential petition signers to get together in a mini non-partisan party, find a suitable candidate in the district (which I live in) and help raise money and awareness to replace the current council member.

  3. Posted March 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, David. The effort could be better spent as I alluded to in my original post on the matter linked above.

    But since the Committee is apparently going ahead with the effort, the city should do what it can to help its citizens – like it has in the past.

    The committee isn’t asking for legal advice, they just want to know if the city will accept the validity of the petition.

  4. Posted March 19, 2007 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments David Hill, but divide the community into what?
    Divide people that will do nothing and let DBS run amok for another 10 months from people that actually volunteer their time and efforts into making a change?
    I applaud the efforts of the participants of the recall effort and hope they succeed in either removing (now) or replacing (Nov.) DBS on the City Council. Either one of those results will be more likely because of the efforts now transpiring.
    You can now find the petition at the Coliseum Cafe at 1904 Coliseum Blvd. or call the petitioners at 457-2343 to find out how to sign the petition.

  5. Posted March 20, 2007 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    What follows is Asst. City Attorney Terry Woods’ response as to why his office will not advise the Petitioner’s Committee: Via Sandy Carmany..

    Mr. Wilkins called me several weeks ago and asked for a copy of a Recall Petition. I explained that we have not had a Recall that anyone here can remember so no such Petition would exist. But I provided him with a copy of an earlier Referendum petition which was still in the Clerk’s files. He had a copy of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall provisions of the City Charter and he indicated that if he went through with the Recall Petition process he could modify the referendum Petition and craft a recall Petition. Several days later he called me and asked for me to review the draft Recall Petition to assure that it was valid. I told him I could not pre-certify it for validity because we can only determine the validity of a Petition when it is presented to the Clerk and the City Council. This Office must advise the City Clerk and Council on both procedure and validity of the Petition when the signed original is received, it cannot be pre-approved. Mr. Wilkins indicated that his information was that this Office had pre-approved the smoking referendum Petition and the recent baseball referendum Petition. It is the policy of this Office not to pre-approve Initiative, Referendum, or Recall Petitions. Our obligation as City Attorneys is to advise the City Clerk and Council as to sufficiency. It would be a conflict to do so. Section 2.75(e) of the City Charter authorizes an appeal to the Courts if a Petition, after it is presented, is determined insufficient. Should the Petition be declared insufficient, attorneys in this Office do not want to become witnesses against themselves in such an appeal. It is noteworthy that a Petition may be declared insufficient for any number of reasons, i.e., form, alterations, loose pages, failure of verification, insufficient Petitioner’s Committee, insufficient or defective signatures, etc. A determination of the sufficiency of these aspects can only be made when the completed Petition is received by the Clerk, not beforehand.

  6. Posted March 20, 2007 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Tony, I’m curious: What in your view was the “substantial harm to pending criminal investigations” your petition claims in clause “a”?

  7. Posted March 20, 2007 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I know they assisted in the 1989 petition and you know they assisted in the baseball petition.
    Do you smell an automatic “determined insufficient” coming here?
    I understand their conflict if they validated the petition.
    We did not ask them to validate the petition.
    We did ask them to verify the form of the petition and I do not understand their statement of conflict with that request.

  8. Posted March 22, 2007 at 11:10 am | Permalink


  9. Posted March 22, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Roch,

    I did not write the petition but I am assuming the following would answer your question:

    from the petition…
    “Upon information and belief the undersigned state that the grounds for removal are:”

    from the News & Record Nov. 7th…
    “Before saying whom the leaked copy had belonged to, Holliday read a statement asking the council to authorize release of the forensic analysis and explaining why he felt the leak had been so damaging to an ongoing investigation of the police department.”

    I respect your opinion Roch and would be very interested to know the basis for the question.

  10. Posted March 22, 2007 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I asked because I’ve heard the claim made, but never seen it substantiated. The notion of the information contained in the report being damaging to an on-going investigation was used as an inappopriate threat, in my opinion, to scare the public away from accessing it.

    It seems to me that whoever wrote that into the petition ought to have something substantive to substantiate it. I’m keeping an open mind that such information may exist, but the burden of proof is on those making the claim and Holliday’s unsubsantiated opinion doesn’t cut it. His opinion is easliy countered by the opinion of now Chief of Police, Tim Bellamy, that release of the report did not interfere with GPD investigations. So, where’s the beef? Was that claim inserted into the petition only based on the claim of Holliday or is there anything else?