NEVADA CITY, Calif. April 18, 2013 - Right before the start of tonight's board meeting for Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (NCCFD) board member Keith Grueneberg was served with a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition to recall and remove him from office. This is the first step to recall an elected or appointed official.
Grueneberg, who first was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board and then was unopposed in the subsequent election, has never been on a ballot in Nevada County.
The notice lists the grounds for removing Grueneberg as follows:
Director Grueneberg has violated the trust of the District's constituents.
First, he did not adhere to the intent of the use of funds from the 2012 Tax Measure. He negotiated and gave back an un-budgeted amount of approx. $20,000 worth of concessions to the firefighters.
Second, against the intent of the 2012 Tax Measure, as lead negotiator, he has negotiated the proposed January 2013-June 2014 firefighter's union contract to give a significant increase to Salaries and Benefits, $81,000-$100,000.
Third, Grueneberg has violated the District's Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Electronic Communication Policy, State and Federal Labor Laws as they relate to protected class. He circulated a video with racial overtones by email to the Firefighter’s Union President, who then forwarded to other members of the District. The email was disparaging and derogatory as well as insulting to the administrative staff it was directed toward.
Lastly, Grueneberg has publically stated his aversion to keeping the public informed of Board decisions and actions as outlined in California ’s state constitution requiring transparency.
Grueneberg has violated the role of a board member by taking actions without Board direction, distorting and abusing the reputations of District employees who do not agree with him.
The petition, which required 10 signatures of registered voters in the district, had over 50 signatures. Former NCCFD HR Administrator Lisa LaBarbera is a proponent of the petition. She resigned earlier this year, citing workplace mobbing and board failures.
Grueneberg chuckled after glancing at the notice.
Cost of the election
Given the timeline below, the recall election would not be merged with the June 2014 primary election. Rather, the district would have to pay for a special, probably all mail ballot, election. The cost for this election could easily run up to $50,000.
If the recall petition fails, no election will be called, no cost to the district.
If the board member steps down before the 4,400+ petition signatures are turned in and the proponents elect not to file the petition, no election will be called. The district could appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term.
If the board member steps down after the signatures are turned in to the Elections Office and there are sufficient signatures the recall election will go forward regardless.
If the recall election moves forward and the voters recall the board member, a new board member will have to be appointed or elected.
Timeline of a Recall Petition
The notice will have to be filed with the Nevada County Elections Office and published in the media.
Grueneberg will have seven days after the filing of the notice of intention to file with the Elections Office an answer of not more than 200 words.
The proponents of the recall petition must submit the proposed language on the recall petition to the Elections Office for clearance. Once the language is approved, they'll have 120 days to gather signatures.
NCCFD had 22,407 at the last report of registration filed with the Secretary of State - meaning that by law they have to collect 20% or 4,482 signatures of registered voters living in the district to initiate a recall election.
Once the proponents submit the signatures to the Elections Office, the verification process of these signatures starts.
If the number of registered voters signing the recall petition is determined to be sufficient, the NCCFD board must issue an order stating that an election will be held to determine whether or not the officer named in the petition shall be recalled.
California Election Code (§11242) states: The election shall be held not less than 88 nor more than 125 days after the issuance of the order, and if a regular or special election is to be held throughout the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled within such time period, the recall election shall be held on the same day and consolidated with the regular or special election.
A flowchart with the relevant election codes and timeframe is below.
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