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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Recall group wants sign cost returned

The author of a petition to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West filed a claim Thursday with the city for a campaign sign removed by a city Street Department worker in the pre-dawn hours Monday.

Shannon Sullivan said she waited more than two days to hear something – an explanation or an apology – on the incident, in which an unnamed city worker apparently violated city ordinance by destroying the 8-foot-by-10-foot sign. She said all she has heard so far was a message passed along through a television reporter.

So on Thursday Sullivan went to City Hall clad in a “Recall Jim West” T-shirt and filed a claim to be reimbursed for the cost of the electric sign the recall campaign has rented as a replacement.

City officials have acknowledged a Street Department worker removed the sign at the beginning of his shift on Monday morning because he concluded it was violating city ordinances by being in the right of way. City workers routinely remove campaign signs that are improperly placed, regardless of the campaign or cause, they said.

But Sullivan said city ordinance allows the owner to be notified before a sign is removed, and the worker could have asked volunteers to move it rather than taking it. “It had been up for 11 days, and city workers have been in and out of this area,” she said.

City procedures also call for the sign to be stored temporarily at a city-owned lot, where it can be retrieved by the owner.

“I understand the city policy, I just don’t understand why this gentleman took it on himself to destroy it,” Sullivan said.

To replace the sign, a supporter has arranged to have an electric sign placed along North Division in a parking lot between Montgomery and Carlisle. But that lighted sign is costing the volunteer $450, and Sullivan would like that person to be reimbursed.

“I’d like to have an apology or some acknowledgement, or simply a return call,” she said after filing her claim.

Meanwhile, former City Councilman Steve Eugster, author of the city’s strong mayor initiative, reiterated his promise to sue over the recall if it gathers enough signatures to make the ballot.

Eugster sent a letter to attorneys for West and Sullivan, as well as to the Spokane County attorney’s office, that said he believes signature-gathering is premature because the state Supreme Court has yet to publish an opinion that explains the decision to let the recall go forward.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, the county’s chief election officer, has said county attorneys have assured her the signature-gathering effort is proper at this time.

Eugster’s letter includes a draft of the complaint he would file when the signatures are turned in, currently scheduled for Sept. 21. The longtime public activist and attorney said he doesn’t intend to do anything that violates state law or standards for legal practice, and asks them to let him know if they see any violations.

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