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Friday, Sep 20 2013 07:40 AM

Entire GHCSD board served with intent to recall

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Bear Valley resident Mike Lane told the Golden Hills CSD board members that he was unhappy with their decision to assume control of their solid waste collection. Lane was one of a dozen members of the public that expressed their disappointment just minutes after the board members were served with notice of intent to recall. Photo by the Tehachapi News.

A group of residents in Tehachapi has initiated a recall against all five of the Golden Hills Community Service District's board members.

They're upset over the board's approval votes to allow the district to assume authority for its solid waste handling — currently provided by Tehachapi-based Benz Sanitation through a non competitive bidding process employed by the county.

Recall papers signed by 10 Golden Hills residents were served against all of the directors by a man identified only as "Joe," just minutes before the district's' regular board meeting on Sept 19.

The grounds for the recall stated on the notice of intention to circulate a recall petition were that, “the board members of this district are not acting in a manner to serve the best interest of their constituents.”

It also charged the district with misrepresenting itself to a public agency, in this case the Kern County Local Agency Formation Commission, as well as not providing solid information to its residents in support of its decision regarding trash collection.

The group leading the recall is headed by Virginia Staabs, a resident of Golden Hills since 1989.

"They are not acting in our best interest," Stabbs said. "They asked us for an opinion they said they were going to follow in a vote in 2010, and all of sudden now, they chose not only to not follow the vote, but to completely ignore it."

During that vote, Golden Hills asked its residents to choose whether they wanted the district to manage its own solid waste collection. Voters provided an overwhelming "no," with 235 voting yes and 558 against.

Before the meeting, members of the audience passed out bumper stickers that read, "Recall the GHCSD Board," and during the public commentary session some asked the board if they really understood who it was working for.

Following the meeting, board members along with Golden Hills staff made a quick exit and could not be reached for comment.

The district's counsel, Scott Kuney however, said that he, as well as the board were surprised by the action and could not comment until they had time to review the notice.

What happens next?

Board members have seven days to file an answer to the notice to the county and one of the proponents listed on the notice.

The proponents then need to publish the notice in the paper, prior to submitting their proposed recall petition to the Kern County Elections Division for review, which according to Karen Rhea, Chief of Elections for the Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk, can be a drawn-out process.

After the petition is approved, community members will have 60 days to collect 1,190 signatures from registered voters within the district's boundaries to put the recall measure on the ballot for a public vote.

The 1,190 signatures — required on a separate petition for each officer whose recall is being sought — represents 25 percent of the registered voters in the community services district, which Rhea said was last reported by the state to be 4,758 as of Feb. 14, 2013.

The cost of a recall election, should it go that far, would be charged to the district, and according to Rhea ranges between $9,600 and $24,000, depending on if it is consolidated with another election or it would be held as a stand alone special election.

But Stabbs said she is hopeful that board members will just reconsider what they are doing.

"We hope at this point they will just begin talking," she said. "And say why they have chosen to do the things they have done."

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