Councilmember Gordo Recall: Still On, Says Its Attorney; Deceptive, Says Gordo

Published : Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 6:24 AM

Pasadena District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo

One day after a petition to recall District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo seemingly sputtered to a stop by missing a filing deadline, its attorney said the inaction was “strategic,” and the recall petition is being revised for refiling.

Meanwhile, two residents named in the effort to recall Gordo have signed statements saying they were “deceived” into signing their names to the recall’s qualifying petition.

Pasadena City Clerk Mark Jomsky confirmed late Monday the recall organizers had failed to properly file two copies of the draft petition and prove it had been published in a general circulation newspaper, as required by law.

Gordo reacted on Tuesday morning by publicly announcing the recall drive had failed and in essence, was over.

But the attorney of record for the recall petition countered Gordo by saying in an email the petition was simply being modified and the recall effort is proceeding.

“For strategic reasons, the ‘Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition’ with regard to Pasadena City Councilmember Victor Gordo is in the process of being revised and refiled,” Bradley Hertz of the San Francisco-based Sutton Law firm wrote to this publication in an email.

Although Hertz has not identified the organizer of the recall, Gordo has linked the effort to Pasadena marijuana dispensary owner Shaun Szameit.

Szameit has feuded with the City for years over the operation of his Golden State Collective marijuana dispensary at 50 N. Mentor Avenue. The business 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.

His animus towards Gordo may have arisen from Pasadena’s Measure CC commercial cannabis ordinance, drafted by a committee that Gordo chaired, which outlaws the dispensary’s continued operation. The Measure was passed by voters last June.

Meanwhile Gordo said Tuesday night that two local residents have made it known they feel “hoodwinked” by the recall campaign.

Roberta Wilcox and Robert B. Phillips, according to a statement provided by a Gordo representative, said they were tricked by signature-gatherers who came to their door and misrepresented the intent of the recall qualifying papers.

Both said they realized they had been deceived after Gordo, as required under state law, gave Wilcox his formal response to the qualifying papers.

“I felt as if I had been hoodwinked,” said Phillips Tuesday. “Kind of a bait-and-switch kind of a thing. A recall for someone on the Council is pretty serious… Had I known it was a recall petition against Victor, I wouldn’t have signed it.”

Wilcox, who lives in District 5 and says she is a supporter of the Councilmember, said, “The women who came to my door were totally dishonest. They never said anything about a recall. If I could, I would retract my signature if the petition is certainly to get rid of Gordo.”

Wilcox said she sent a letter to attorney Hertz demanding to see his legal file related to the effort.

The demand letter reportedly also asked to see any communication Hertz has had with Shaun Szameit about the recall effort. Hertz has previously represented Szameit on legal matters.

Szameit did not respond to several requests for comments from Pasadena Now Tuesday.

Gordo added in a statement that “it is no coincidence” that after Mrs. Wilcox sent her demand, Hertz did not meet a 5:30 p.m. deadline to submit additional recall paperwork to the Pasadena City Clerk.”

“To purposely deceive two elderly people into signing recall paperwork is shameful and we anticipate that others who were tricked will come forward as well,” said Gordo.

Another petition filed by Hertz, to modify or overturn the City’s existing Measure CC, is on track to appear on the June ballot, although Hertz told Pasadena Now Tuesday that petition would also be “re-filed and revised.”

In preparation for the June 2020 ballot, City Attorney Michelle Bagneris on Tuesday released the title and ballot summary for that initiative’s measure, should it gather sufficient supporters.

The ballot description of the measure reads, in part, “The purpose of the proposed Measure is to modify the Pasadena Municipal Code as adopted by the voters when they approved Measure CC in June of 2018 in three primary ways.”

“The summary continues, “The proposed Measure would amend Pasadena Municipal Code Chapter 5.78 (Commercial Cannabis Activity) to allow cannabis businesses that operated in violation of the Municipal Code in 2018 to operate without the required City commercial cannabis permit until December 31, 2024, unless such business were convicted of a crime in 2018. This would allow such businesses to operate without a permit required of other commercial cannabis businesses.

“The Measure,” reads the summary, “would also prohibit the City from ordering such businesses to discontinue or to modify their operations and would prohibit the City from removing or declaring such businesses to be a public nuisance based solely on their engagement in commercial cannabis activities.”

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