- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Save Our City, a nonprofit nonpolitical organization, yesterday filed “a notice of intent” to recall Mayor Anthony A. Williams with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, contending “malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance.”

The organization accuses Mr. Williams of inviting wealthy developers to the city, building a nearly $1 billion convention center, and trying to get a Major League Baseball stadium even as 5,800 residents moved out because of high rents and 12,000 were homeless in 2002.

The 197-word notice, just within the 200-word limit, states that Mr. Williams’ “malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance endangered the well-being and even the very lives of District residents.”

Mr. Williams vowed to fight the recall. “A recall isn’t warranted, and we’re just bringing unnecessary negative publicity to our city. I will use every effort at my disposal to crush the recall,” he said.

Barbara Lett-Simmons, one of Save Our City’s three co-chairmen, said, “We are not going to be intimidated,” in reference to reputed intimidation of other protesters.

“They don’t know that elected officials are public servants,” said Mrs. Lett-Simmons, a member of the Democratic National Committee and former chairman of the D.C. school board.

Save Our City said that under Mr. Williams’ watch, the D.C. General Hospital was closed and the Greater Southeast Community Hospital has been mired in scandal and financial woes. Organization officials also criticized the mayor for plans to take over libraries and public schools by refusing to fund them fully, and for changing the school board from elective to elective-appointive.

“If this succeeds, this will be the first time in D.C. history that this has happened,” said Adam Eidinger, a Statehood Party member and co-chairman of Save Our City, which has representatives in every city ward except Ward 3. Cardell Shelton, a Ward 8 Republican, is the third co-chairman of Save Our City.

The recall is a long way from being accomplished. Mr. Williams has 10 days to respond with a 200-word answer. The board may then authorize Save Our City to begin collecting more than 36,300 signatures from registered voters.

About 600 volunteers are ready to begin collecting signatures to be turned in to the board July 28. Board employees then would check the signatures to verify that they are from registered voters.

If the signatures are certified by elections officials, the recall petition would be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot for voter approval or disapproval. If voters approved the recall of Mr. Williams, an election would be scheduled in February or March next year to choose a new mayor.

Mr. Williams is in the middle of his second four-year term and has hinted that he will seek a third term in 2006. He first won election in 1998 with about 60 percent of the votes. He won again in 2002, when there were about 363,000 registered voters.

Save Our City said the District has the highest murder rate of any major city in the country because the mayor supports the police chief and a failing police department. Group officials also say that Mr. Williams has renounced home rule and statehood for the District.

If Mr. Williams were recalled, he could file and become a candidate in the election to replace himself.

“It’s his legal right to run for re-election once we recall him,” Mrs. Lett-Simmons said, but added, “I don’t think he can get 2,000 legitimate signatures to [be a candidate and] get on the ballot.”

Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mr. Williams, said Save Our City is hammering away uselessly at problems that have long plagued the District.

“None of these are new issues,” Mr. Bullock said. “They were around well before the mayor was elected.”

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