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Published: Tuesday, 4/14/2009

Thousands of mayoral recall petition signatures thrown out

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

City Clerk of Council Gerald Dendinger will seek the advice of an outside lawyer, respected election law attorney Don McTigue of Columbus, to help him decide whether the petitions seeking to oust Mayor Carty Finkbeiner are valid.

Mr. Dendinger is also expecting an opinion from City Law Director Adam Loukx, but said that Mr. Loukx reports to Mr. Finkbeiner.

He told city council Tuesday that the cost of tapping Mr. McTigue's expertise will be about $1,500.

City Councilman Frank Szollosi earlier today called for an independent lawyer, saying he was concerned about the independence of an opinion rendered by a law director who serves at the pleasure of the mayor.

From earlier editions of toledoblade.com

The checking of signatures on a petition to throw Mayor Carty Finkbeiner out of office could turn into a nail-biter - and not just because of the legal challenges that are starting to arise.

With about 12,000 signatures reviewed by the Lucas County Board of Elections as of Tuesday morning, just about half are valid.

That's according to the latest count after one full day of reviewing signature petitions turned in last Thursday by Take Back Toledo.

Take Back Toledo is trying to get a recall question on the city’s Sept. 15 primary election ballot, and needs a minimum of 19,753 signatures from Toledo registered voters. The group turned in boxes containing 45,500 signatures.

The board of elections temporary staff has reviewed 12,198 signatures and validated 6,108. Of those ruled invalid, the two biggest causes are the person is not registered at the address claimed or the person is not registered at all.

Brian Schwartz, coordinator of the Take Back Toledo petition effort, said a validity rate of about 50 percent is "about what we predicted.

"That’s why we went out and got more than twice as many as we needed," Mr. Schwartz said.

Jeremy Demagall, the deputy director of elections, said the process is on track to be complete by Friday.

Meanwhile, a challenge filed by a citizen is still under legal evaluation by the city law department.

Point Place resident David Schulz called on the clerk of city council to halt the signature verification process, which is costing up to $15,000, on the grounds that the petition is deficient. Mr. Schulz contends the petition is required by state law to state in capitalized, bold-faced letters that election falsification is a crime punishable as a fifth-degree felony.

Tom Schlachter, spokesman for Take Back Toledo, said the language only has to comply with the city charter, and he says a lawyer has assured him that the petition is valid.



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