By Catherine Pentoney
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Homeless Union and the Committee to Recall Darrell Steinberg attempted to serve the Sacramento Mayor in person here last Friday with a “Notice of Intention to Recall,” but the crowd was thwarted by security at City Hall.
Anthony Prince, general counsel and legal organizer for the Sacramento Homeless Union, said, “Sacramento Homeless Union and other individuals and organizations (will) file for a recall against Mayor Darrel Steinberg (because) we feel that the Mayor is not a suitable person to remain…chief elected official in the City of Sacramento given his failures over the years, and more recently his admitted failure, to see to it that a shelter announced publicly would be open during the storms, and in fact it was locked.
“The Mayor came out at City Council meetings and to the media and assumed responsibility, publicly assumed responsibility, for what happened and asked the community to hold him accountable. Not only to hold him accountable but, and I quote, ‘hold me accountable at the ballot box.’ So, that’s exactly what we intend to do – we’re going to take the Mayor’s invitation to hold him accountable at the ballot box,” Prince added.
Prince read the 200-word Notice of Intention to Recall aloud, which states in part:
“Darrell Steinberg has accepted personal responsibility for these six deaths, dozens of injuries, and widespread destruction inflicted on the unhoused by the massive storm on January 26 through 27, of which he had advanced notice. He had the authority to open a warming shelter and failed to do so.
“Lining up to find the door locked, the homeless were exposed to 70 mile per hour winds, losing tents, blankets, and personal property, including items to protect against Covid-19. Mr. Steinberg has increased the number of homeless by opposing rent control, which has led to thousands of evictions of low-income Black, Brown, and other working-class families who cannot afford sky-rocketing rents and have nowhere to go.
“Under his watch, Black, Indigenous, People of Color – BIPOC – homeless, and other marginalized groups continue to suffer police violence and even death on the streets, in all of its forms. Steinberg was successfully sued last year for having violated Sacramento County health orders prohibiting the clearing of homeless encampments during the pandemic.”
The notice as served contained 30 signatures, although only 20 valid signatures are required to initiate the recall. Mayor Steinberg will have seven days, if he opts to file an answer to the notice.
Prince said the groups are not circulating the actual petition with names because “we fear possible retaliation, we don’t want that to happen. At some point, the entire petition and the signatures will be public document because this is something that is a matter of public record. We’re first going to make sure that all of the people who signed know in advance what’s going to happen and we take measures to protect them.”
The recall proponents entered the doors of City Hall with plans to personally serve Mayor Steinberg with a photocopy of the Notice of Intention to Recall, and then deliver the original copy of the Notice to the City Clerk’s Office.
But City Staff had other plans.
Prince was informed that the Mayor, City Attorney, and City Clerk were not in the building. After a prolonged discussion with multiple City Hall security desk personnel about whether the lobby drop box would constitute proper service, the crowd was told the drop box would constitute valid service.
Prince was skeptical and decided to drop-box the photocopy of the Notice, and said, he would “notify the City Attorney that we’ve done that, and that we still have the original signatures that we want to file with the Clerk, and will she accept the service here?
“I’m not going to take any chances with our original signatures, but what I will do is go ahead and serve the Mayor and get confirmation today from the City Attorney of whether or not they accept service,” added Prince, noting he was aware that many city officials are working from home due to Covid-19, and that drop box contents are delivered to their personal residences’ daily.
“Not only do we feel Mayor Steinberg has failed the people of Sacramento – not just the homeless, either – but failed the general population, in particular the most at-risk segments of our population: people of color, the poor, people with disabilities, seniors, low income renters, who are faced with possible evictions,” said Prince.
Emphasizing those people “constitute the majority,” Prince added that Steinberg “is one of two co-chairmen of the state-wide commission on homelessness and supportive housing. He was appointed to that commission one year ago this January, it’s been about a year and one month, and to my knowledge they’ve done almost nothing, except spend approximately 33 million dollars to write a report.”
Because of that, the recall in Sacramento has state-wide implications, said the Homeless Union.
“Here is a man who now is subject to recall, he’s a defendant, was a defendant, is a defendant, and was found to have violated the County health officer order with regard to Covid-19 by a Superior Court here in Sacramento.
“So, his continued service on this state-wide commission is unacceptable… You can’t recall someone who’s been appointed, you can only recall someone who’s been elected. At the same time, we are putting pressure on Governor Newsom to remove him from that position,” said Prince.
The attorney said he hoped people would join them in their efforts.
“We are also putting pressure to strongly urge and put pressure on the governor not to even consider, let alone appoint, Darrell Steinberg as the new State Attorney General… we fear taking someone who, in our view, has violated court orders, has accepted – as he did on television – responsibility for what happened during the storms.
“Not only accepted responsibility, but last week said, ‘Hold me accountable in the community.’ And then he said, and we have it on tape, ‘Hold me accountable at the ballot box.’ That’s what we’re trying to do. So, we’ll find out how sincere the Mayor was. Did he really mean that, or are they going to try and throw obstacles and legal challenges to our recall effort?”
Catherine Pentoney is a 2L at Lincoln Law in Sacramento and works in the Vanguard Sacramento Bureau.
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