Self-proclaimed “co-organizer” of recall cites ‘logistical nightmare’ of unseating popular Councilmember
Published : Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 6:40 AM
A week after the attorney for a petition drive to recall District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo said the effort was still underway despite missing a filing deadline, two major supporters of the recall have called it quits and the effort seems to be dead.
Recall drive backers had failed to file two key documents required by law prior to 5 p.m. last Feb. 25, dooming the process, but the recall’s attorney said that move was strategic and the organizers were going to refile papers.
Then last Wednesday, Feb. 27, a group called Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence announced it was joining the recall and would “co-organize” the drive to “recall Councilmember Victor Gordo and replace him with a progressive leader who will champion police reform and accountability.”
The announcement by the group’s spokesman, Ian Jameson, was notable in its vehemence, blaming Gordo for accepting money from the Pasadena Police Officers Association and a California real estate political action committee. It also accused Gordo of “gentrifying Northwest Pasadena,” and took issue with the fact that Gordo owns property in his district. A later e-mail from the group entitled “Bye Bye Victor Gordo!” featured a photo of a bruised and battered Christopher Ballew after his violent arrest by Pasadena police, intimating that Gordo was somehow responsible because of his police support.
In an email sent to local media Tuesday morning, Jameson directed reporters to the City’s website to peruse Gordo’s campaign finance disclosure forms, which Jameson claimed would allow readers “to precisely and incisively illustrate the pay-to-play dynamic in our city politics.”
But by Tuesday night, Jameson said his group no longer supported the recall.
“Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence, after more carefully considering the logistical nightmare of unseating a five-term councilmember who in the last election garnered 64% of his district’s vote, has decided a recall of Victor Gordo isn’t feasible,” he wrote.
The other vocal backer of Gordo’s recall was Shaun Szameit, owner of the Golden State Collective marijuana dispensary at 50 N. Mentor Avenue.
Szameit has feuded with the City for years over the dispendary’s operations. Golden State Collective has not complied with Pasadena municipal codes and Szameit now faces five criminal charges, 21 zoning violations and $25,800 in fines as the result.
Szameit’s animus towards Gordo may have arisen from the creation and passage of Pasadena’s Measure CC commercial cannabis ordinance, which was drafted by a committee that Gordo chaired and which outlaws Golden State Collective’s continued operation.
Measure CC was passed by Pasadena voters last June.
In February, Szameit emerged as the chief spokesman for the recall effort against Gordo.
The Councilmember hinted the recall had been organized by Szameit.
Bradley Hertz of the San Francisco-based Summit Law firm was the attorney of record for the recall petition. Hertz represents Szameit in various legal matters.
Tuesday night, Szameit also backed away from recalling Gordo.
“The recall effort was brought to me, [and] I immediately became the face [of it], and it has become a very divisive issue, which will not benefit Pasadena in any way. I support Pasadena and have contributed to its betterment. I do not feel it is in the best interest of our city for anyone to move forward with the recall,” Szameit told Pasadena Now. “I have always been transparent and will always support a strong cohesive community.”
Szamiet said he will now be concentrating his efforts instead on an initiative to modify the City’s Measure CC ordinance.
“Cannabis regulations in Pasadena have been improperly addressed and 20,000 signatures over the course of a year prove that. That is the issue that Pasadena should be talking about,” said Szamiet.
According to Szamiet, two separate petition efforts last year to end the City’s ban on licensing “illegal” cannabis dealers gathered 22,750 signatures over the course of 60 days.
Szamiet said paperwork for a revised Measure CC amendment initiative petition will be submitted to the City Clerk’s office this week after an earlier version was reconsidered.
“The language was being slightly amended,” said Szamiet, “to clarify that the initiative reflected the non-offending cannabis operators’ desire to be governed the same as any other operating cannabis business in the city.”
Szamiet added that the initiative is “purely doing what was done in other prominent cities, and has worked very successfully.”
Reached for a response to Tuesday’s developments, Councilmember Gordo declined to comment.