Mari Paul said Wednesday she is ending her drive to recall the entire Temple City Council, but is not totally calling it quits. Instead, she said she will change her tactics.
Although Paul said she isn’t turning in the petitions, she plans to refocus her efforts and — when she finally gets the number of voters needed to sign for individual districts — may start another recall petition against Councilman Russell Schneider and go another 30 days.
“There is nothing in the charter that says I can’t start another petition and that I have to notify the city I’m doing it,” Paul said.
“I hope this causes a ripple effect. I will continue to be a thorn in the city’s side. If anyone supports integrity, transparency and doing away with the ‘good old boy’ system, I’ll work with them just as hard as I did by myself,” she said. “I hope this encourages others to come forward. … The council and mayor can’t keep ignoring the people. Are they going to ignore the 1,037 people who signed my petition in only the first 17 days?” Paul said.
She said she was surprised by the number of people who signed the petition and didn’t know who their council representative was.
“This isn’t a win for the council. Those people who didn’t sign the petitions were either unaware or didn’t care. People are so used to being treated like what they think doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like being in an abusive relationship,” Paul said.
City Secretary Lacy Borgeson said that if nothing is filed, the council has nothing to act on.
Paul started the effort when she thought the Council was not responsive to complaints about the status of Mayor Pro Tem Judy Morales, Paul’s former boss at the Temple HELP Center who wasn’t eligible under the city charter to run for office when elected in 2011.
Paul provided a recording during which Morales asked Paul to delete emails sought by a Temple Daily Telegram open records request to Bell County, which funds the HELP Center.
After facing misdemeanor charges of trying to destroy public records, Morales resigned last week on the day a public hearing was scheduled in which council members said they would vote to remove her.
“The city keeps moving the target,” Paul said. “Although I tried to hit it, they kept moving the numbers to include new people moving in and registering to vote. They don’t subtract those moving or dying by the time the petition is submitted.
“There’s only seven days left and their method just isn’t fair. The city never provided me the proper tools, like the numbers. If I’d had them or the city secretary had done her job, I would have concentrated my efforts in areas the people wanted — like removing Schneider from office.”
Although the city had requested the number of registered voters in each Council district from Bell County in 2013, officials said neither entity had the numbers because of the manner Temple redistricting was done. A breakdown by district is required to see if a petition met the charter requirement of 30 percent.
“Temple now says it will have the numbers ready by Friday — seven days before I have to turn them in. That’s just not fair,” Paul said. “So, if that’s the game the city wants to play, then I’ll re-concentrate my efforts.”
Paul and others such as Tony Jeter, former Council member, contend that Schneider and others should not be allowed to do business with the city for financial gain because it constitutes a conflict of interest.
“Why does Schneider spend so much time explaining why what he’s doing is legal instead of listening to the people who want him to stop doing business with the city?” Paul asked.
Paul wants Schneider and any other Council members doing business with the city to submit their tax returns beginning with the dates they were elected for public review so voters can see how much of their income is generated by their business with the city.
She also wants to know how much property Council members or their immediate family members have bought that has been used for city development.
Paul is asking Temple residents to stop doing business with Council members who are doing business with the city.
Jeter gave his opinion on the 30-day time criteria stipulated by the charter for the recall process.
“While I don’t necessarily agree with the recall, I don’t agree in making it incredibly hard for citizens trying to exercise their rights,” Jeter said Wednesday. “The odds of making it over the hurdles are very slim for those asking for recall elections.”