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Recall push will go door to door
A group to oust a Dade City commissioner plans a petition drive.
By HELEN ANNE TRAVIS, Times Staff Writer
Published August 21, 2007
DADE CITY - About 20 people gathered in the back room of Beef O'Brady's Monday night. Over Philly cheesesteaks and chicken wings, the group discussed the next steps in their effort to recall Dade City Commissioner Camille Hernandez.
"Tonight is about getting organized," said Curtis Beebe, the group's chairman.
Beebe said that on Friday, group members will start knocking on doors, looking to gather petition signatures. They decided to focus their efforts on 26 streets where, according to the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections' Office, more than half of the city's registered voters live.
The petition requires the signatures of 10 percent of Dade City's 3,415 eligible registered voters. More than 500 voters live on Church, Howard and Meridian avenues, and 12th and 10th streets.
The recall group formed in early August, a few weeks after Hernandez wrote a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist calling for an investigation of Dade City Mayor Hutch Brock and former City Manager Harold Sample.
Hernandez could not be reached for comment Monday.
Hernandez wrote that Sample's former role as an adviser to the city was a conflict of interest because he took a position at the Dade City Business Center. She also accused Brock of talking the city out of purchasing a building on Eighth Street so his legal partner could buy it, and silencing the council on a landfill proposed near the city.
In the letter, which is under review by the governor's office, she alleged that Brock and Sample have also been violating environmental laws regarding the city's water system.
At a City Commission meeting in July, Brock passed out a 100-plus-page tabbed compilation of records that he said categorically disproved each of her allegations.
The recall petition text says that Hernandez showed misfeasance in her failure to fulfill her responsibility as an elected official, because she didn't ensure her allegations were truthful, substantiative and accurate, Beebe said.
Sample terminated his contract with the city soon after Hernandez sent the letter.
"This is discouraging smart, competent, capable people from taking roles in public service," Beebe said.
He personally knows Brock and Sample.
"I am not doing it to defend them. I want people like them involved in public service," Beebe said.
If the group can gather enough signatures, the Supervisor of Elections' Office would verify the petition and Hernandez would have five days to write a statement of defense.
Fifteen percent of eligible registered voters must sign another petition that includes the statement of defense. If that happens, Hernandez would have five days to resign. If she does not resign, a recall election must be held within two months.
At the recall election, if it happens, voters will also vote on who fills the vacancy.
The group wanting to recall Hernandez is officially a single-issue committee and does not endorse or support a replacement candidate.
"I would consider running in the spirit of helping to fill a hole I just created," Beebe said. "But I would love to find someone else who would step up and run for that slot."