Last fall, Glenda Hood dodged a recall petition after City Clerk Grace Chewning impounded signatures asking for the mayor's removal.
An ambiguous state law appeared to give Chewning that power. It said the clerk's office had the right to determine if the petition was "facially valid" before being sent to the supervisor of elections.
But that part of the law would render the process useless. What city employee would risk being fired by allowing his or her boss to face a recall petition?
One of the people paying attention was Rep. Tom Feeney of Oviedo. He discussed with his staff whether Chewning had the power to halt the petition. No, he was told. Still, an Orange County judge upheld Chewning's decision. So Feeney went to work in the Florida Legislature, pushing through an amendment to an election reform bill that effectively takes the city clerk out of the process. That change quietly took effect when Gov. Jeb Bush signed the reform measure June 7.
Feeney says he has nothing against Hood. "The mayor is a friend of mine," he says. Rather, he was motivated by the "horrible dilemma" faced by city clerks because he considered it unfair for legislators to place them in that situation. "It is very disturbing any time we have laws that are ambiguous to the democratically-elected process," Feeney says.
Doug Guetzloe, the political consultant and talk radio host who pushed for Hood's recall, encouraged Feeney, but says he has no plans to begin another petition against Hood.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.